Mortal Friends, best selling novelist Jane Stanton Hitchcock's latest book, is the perfect summer read. Set in Washington, D.C., it's part 'girlfriend story' filled with power, intrigue, adultery, and part murder mystery with a serial killer on the loose. Reven Lynch, the narrator, is a super social forty-something divorcee about town -- Georgetown, that is.
When another body is found in a local park, Lynch is drawn into the case. A detective with a story of his own is convinced that the perp is a Washington bigwig, so he solicits her help in navigating the terrain known as Washington society. Why would she co-operate? It "had always been a question in my mind," Reven muses early in the novel, as she thinks about the murder investigation, "Would I recognize evil?"
Mortal Friends is what Bob Woodward calls, a "dazzling, wicked murder mystery that unmasks most of Washington, which may never be the same." But, read between the plot lines and you'll find a primer on how to survive and thrive in social D.C.
As a New York transplant to Georgetown, and wife of Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Jim Hoagland, Hitchcock is very familiar with the social terrain. "The social life in Washington is so much more consequential than anywhere else," Hitckock explains, "because the feuds and friendships of Washington can have national even global impact."
Hoping to get some helpful advice for the new team in town I sat down with Hitchcock and asked her for a cheat sheet. Here are her seven rules you'll need to survive in the Capitol city:
1. Always remember the cover up is worse than the crime. Don't use your mouth as a shovel to get deeper in the dirt. When in doubt, keep it shut.
2. Women rule Washington. Do not let the pastel suits fool you. They can be artful, concealed weapons of mass destruction. If they start a whispering campaign it is worse than having Bob Woodward on your tail.
3. Always get two sources. In Washington there is the official source, but look for the 'super-ficial' sources (spouses, hairdressers, gardener, best friends, assistants, drycleaners) because they have a much better idea about what is really going on.
4. Seating does matter. It tells other people about where you are in the pecking order. Don't complain, but charm, even campaign your way into a better seat. It is time well spent.
5. Do not invite people to dinner if you do not know them or if you do make it worth their while. Powerful administration officials only show up for social dinners if they think they can do business or they are long time friends.
6. People survive scandals here all the time so never count anyone out. From Richard Nixon to Gary Hart to Elliot Spitzer -- in politics, everybody has a second act.
7. You can buy your way into Washington, but you better make sure you are nice about it. Washington is still a Southern town so manners matter.
And remember, as Reven says in the book, "Social life may look like it's all jewels and clothes and parties. But actually, it's helmets, guns, and trenches." So read Mortal Enemies and get ready for the fall social season.
On Thursday night, Bill O'Reilly responded to Jon Stewart's recent skewering of Fox News Channel, in which he joked that the network is secretly liberal.
O'Reilly claimed that Stewart took two clips of him out of context to make his point that Fox News had become "liberal" by defending town-hall protesters and by continuously whining that the network was under attack.
O'Reilly said he likes Stewart but claimed that since 45% of his audience is liberal, Stewart adopts the same stance: "He continues to dance down the liberal yellow brick road."
Facebook has steadily been adding Twitter-like features to its site—and now it’s introducing a feature that can automatically cross-post updates from Facebook Pages on Twitter. The feature only applies to Pages, which are typically run by celebrities, companies, and organizations, and not to individual profiles (Individuals can easily add their Twitter updates to their Facebook profiles by installing a Twitter app, but they can’t automatically update their Twitter status by simply posting a Facebook update).
However, it’s possible that additional integration between the two services is on the way. Facebook recently purchased FriendFeed, a startup which makes it easy for users to track activity on various social networks from one place and also lets users automatically “cc” their updates to Twitter. In a post announcing the new feature, Facebook acknowledges the wide interest in linking up Facebook and Twitter updates, saying, “Many people have asked us to make Facebook and Twitter work better together for those times when they want to share their content as widely as possible.”
An aside: It turns out that Twitter too was interested in purchasing FriendFeed. Twitter founder Biz Stone tells VentureBeat that his company had “on and off” talks with FriendFeed about purchasing the startup.
Enough of the mommy-bloggers. Sony (NYSE: SNE) Electronics has launched a social media marketing campaign around blogging dads, according to AdAge. Dubbed the DigiDad Project, the dads, which include marketing execs like Clickable’s Max Kalehoff and New Marketing Labs’ Chris Brogan, will get various gadgets and devices on loan and write up their experiences with them.
The goal is to create more than just a bunch of product reviews disguised as blog posts; Sony has tried to craft meaningful projects—like gathering 100 digital portraits, or using GPS-enabled video camera to document a historical trip—that inspire the dads to write real stories. It’s the company’s first dad-focused social media campaign, though Sony has worked with mommy-bloggers before.
So how to keep the Feds from nosing around like they’ve begun to do with the mommy-bloggers?
First, the dads aren’t getting paid for the products, and they have to return them when the project’s finished. That’s not to say that mommy-bloggers all keep their products, either—but it’s easier to track items like digital cameras vs. food, toiletries or baby supplies. Sony also chose not to drive sales through affiliate retail ads on the blogs, though it’s not clear how or whether the posts will be branded as promotional content.
Marcy Cohen, senior manager of communications at Sony Electronics told AdAge that the bloggers would be treated “like journalists”—with the freedom to write reviews about the products as they saw fit. Success metrics include staples like the number of comments each post gets and mentions on Twitter, but it’s not exactly clear how the exposure that these DigiDads help generate for Sony will be any different than the buzz a mommy-blogger could generate for a brand like Kraft or Mercedes-Benz.