Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Today we are witness to a no holds barred, full court press by the reigning party, people. Lie, cheat, steal whatever it takes to preserve the Republican majority in both Houses of Congress. For a lesson on just how far this party will go to advance its political ends, read Jeff Toobin's book Too Close to Call, which recounts the 2000 election. Unfortunately, Too Close was published too close to 9/11, which all but put the kabosh on sales of the New Yorker writer and Harvard Law alum's meticulously researched tome.
To understand how much money will be spent, I'm reminded of a "Business Development" workshop I attended at my former agency. It was led by the legendary, larger-than-life and exceptionally brilliant Geoff Nightingale. When the question of fees arose, the conversation turned to the concept of "value billing," i.e., if you land a "Today Show" interview for your client, should you charge solely for the quarter-hour of time it took to do so? What is the true value...and appropriate fee to the client?
Geoff had a simple rule. Assess the downside of a client's PR conundrum, then set the fee accordingly. Huh? Take, for example, a company in crisis. Should the company fail to favorably prevail in the court of public opinion, the CEO could very well lose his or her job, the company could be sold or its reputation tank so badly, it would take years to recover. In those terms, how much is an effective communications program worth? Answer: A lot.
Assessing the current political climate, this is do or die time for the Republican political and social agenda. The Administration has mobilized every individual and institutional entity under its control to preserve its very survival. What will they spend? Answer: A lot. It may never be learned, but you can be sure that the hundreds of millions squandered in Iraq by Halliburton sub KRB pales in comparison.
PR Mid-Term Elections Republicans Jeff Toobin campaign spending public relations politics Geoff Nightingale
Monday, October 30, 2006
Over the weekend, the influential TechCrunch chimed in on the antithetical company PayPerPost whose business model entails paying bloggers to write about (its clients') commercial products. No disclosure required. TC founder/editor Michael Arrington: "This 'virus' seems here to stay."
This follows on the heels of the much-publicized banishment of PR professionals from Wikipedia by the founder of the definitive dynamic encyclopedia. And let's not forget the brouhaha that resulted from that ill-conceived astroturfing effort to blog happy about that happy-faced retailer.
Then we have that perennially profane pot-stirrer "Amanda" linking to a Second Life lifer unceremoniously unloading on the arrival of corporate America to his virtual world: "They came late to a world they didn't understand and hyped what they thought they saw without research, reflection, or understanding."
How did it come to this? Why all of a sudden has the anti-PR vitriol surfaced in the blogosphere, on Second Life, and on Wikipedia? Is it a natural offshoot of the insidious ways of the Beltway boys? Can a public proclamation of adherence to WOMMA's stated standards sufficient silence the naysayers?
Me thinks that the industry needs to take serious stock in our trade...before the brave new world we've stumbled into slams the door shut at a most propitious time in our history.
PR weblogs Second Life Wikipedia public relations TechCrunch Jimmy Wales astroturfing
Friday, October 27, 2006
"PR wranglers, on the other hand, owe their sole duty to the products that they are pitching. Their duty is simply to make their current product look good no matter what it takes (without harming coverage of future products, of course). Whether through spin, building of relationships, buttering up targets, bribery-in-effect or outright lying, their duty is simple: make the game look good."The pseudonymous "Mr. Media Coverage," writing for GameDaily Biz, which chronicles the world of "tricks" and "cheats," makes some reasonable points including something I've said over the years: the client may pay the bills, but the trust we earn from journalists is our real bread and butter.
Nevertheless, Mr. Media Coverage's overall insinuation that the tenets of media relations are "tricks" designed to delude and deceive is so, well, Pac-Man'ish. Sure, there are PR practitioners who'll sell their souls for the quick hyperbolically-fueled media hit -- unfortunately, too many of them. Still, the vast majority of PR pros know the value of cultivating long-term media relationships, especially since journos still have the firmer grip on the media relations game controller...for now.
Maybe, as this columnist nearly admits, the problem really does rest on the media side of the equation?
"The vast majority of videogame journalists never set a foot in journalism school. For the most part, that's probably a good thing. However, journalist ethics don't happen by accident; without some kind of training strategy built into every publication, new editors will simply have to learn the rules by themselves. Until they do, they are prime targets for PR shenanigans."How's this, Mr. Media Coverage? We'll continue to teach our ascendant colleagues about how an open and honest dialogue with reporters, reviewers, etc. will rack up more media points over the long haul, if you refrain from castigating most of our profession as unethical and deceitful, while recognizing that some in your profession also have flaws, e.g., think free product.
We will, however, pay heed to your threat:
PR Mr. Media Coverage XBox 360 Game Daily public relations
"The enthusiast press' most powerful weapons against PR tactics are a long memory and the ability to hold a grudge. After all, if PR owes its highest duty to a line of products, we can make sure they think carefully about every tactic if every dishonest dealing has long term effects. "
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Hence, the ability to prepare clients for media interviews remains a core PR competency. Top pros will have researched the outlet, reporter and reporter's past coverage in an attempt to successfully predict most if not all of the journalist's prospective questions. Remember, mainstream reporters and talk show hosts don't offer their questions in advance (except perhaps to ultra, in-demand A-listers).
So it is with this lengthy preamble that we arrive at the case of Pete Townshend. Who, you ask? Exactly! Parked in the Sirius Satellite Network's green room yesterday awaiting his turn on the Howard Stern hot seat, the rock legend overheard the shock jock's editorial intentions, which included asking Townshend about his kiddie porn rap, dalliances with men, a new "Yoko-like" girlfriend.
Townshend, to his (and his PR handler's) credit, bolted, never likely to return. Hey, why predict the line of questioning when you can get it right from the source? Howard, next time tell Gary to turn off the speaker in the green room.
PR Pete Townshend Howard Stern Sirius The Who public relations
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Today, I attended the annual luncheon for the Center for Communication (a great organization) where Mr. Freston was honored (and roasted) by the likes of News Corp's Peter Chernin, MTV's Judy McGrath, and keynoter Steve Colbert. So? What does any of this have to do with PR???
Here's why. Mr. Freston came on last. Here was a man who ruled the roost for so many years; someone who had "thousands of Viacom employees," many in tears, descend to the company's Times Square lobby to bid him farewell on his final day. (Pictured at right.)
If you're his PR counselor, how would you advise him on what tact to follow for today's luncheon at The Pierre? What exactly should he say? What wisdom could he impart to his former colleagues and the hundreds of media and entertainment industry movers & shakers who gathered with curiosity (and reverence) to hear Tom speak -- from News Corp's Rupert Murdoch to Page Six's Richard Johnson?
The founder of MTV did not disappoint. He took a completely self-effacing approach by first explaining that he finally got around to buying a computer. Then he showed his MySpace page (with Bill Ford, Carly Fiorina, etc. as his friends), and ended with a music video, shot throughout his NYC apartment, in which he lip-synced his way through Daniel Powter's "Bad Day." (Below)
Tom, this approach struck exactly the right chord -- a feat that we, as PR pros, continually strive to achieve. You earned the standing ovation you received from this most discerning audience of your (former and future) peers.
Where is the moment when you need it the mostPR Tom Freston Daniel Powter Viacom Steve Colbert public relations Center for Communication MySpace
You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost
Tell me your blue sky's fade to grey
Tell me your passion's gone away
And I don't need no carryin' on
You're standin' in line just to hit a new low
You're fakin' a smile with the coffee to go
Tell me your life's been way off line
You're fallin' to pieces every time
And I don't need no carryin' on
'Cause you had a bad day, you're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know, you tell me don't lie
You work on a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day, the camera don't lie
You're comin' back down and you really don't mind
You had a bad day... you had a bad day
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Featured on a most provocative and plugged-in political panel (pictured at left) were former New York Congresswoman and Ketchum DC's top PA person Susan Molinari, the Wall Street Journal's Alan Murray, and the omnipresent Mike McCurry who yesterday sat opposite Nicolle Wallace on the set of CBS "Evening News" with Katie Couric for a rather civilized interview...at least compared to the histrionics we're used to seeing on the cable nets. He and Ms. Wallace will join Ms. Couric on Election Night.
I was so excited to have my digital recorder with me, since I planned to grab Mr. McCurry for a few minutes following the panel discussion, and then stream the audio on this very blog. I've chatted with Mike over the years, and it was great having him in New York at this most propitious time in the political discourse.
The event ended and Mike, as expected, was most accommodating. I asked him about new versus traditional PR; How the Democrats fared versus the Republicans in terms of using new media; Why the Dems just can't seem to deliver consistent and strong messaging (given all the good material this Administration serves up), etc. We spoke for about five minutes.
When I returned to my office, the tape was empty. Geesh. What a dolt! Suffice to say, Mike was at the top of his game, articulate, and very much immersed in the social media tools that allow candidates (or companies) to pinpoint their messages to the exact audience in a most fragmented media environment.
Was it blog relations or the creation of optimized (Google-findable) content that enabled such precise targeting? Both, he said, but don't forsake the traditional tools, e.g., ed. board meetings, etc., nor advertising. In fact, he said it's all of these delivery mechanisms in combination that provide the most effective means for winning converts. Also don't forget about constituency building. Could it be that integrated communications, (e.g., the whole egg approach) is finally living up to its promise?
Other sound bites from the morning:
-- A very well-spoken Ms. Molinari more or less endorsed Rudy Giuliani for the Republican nomination for President.
-- Ms. Molinari derided Nancy Pelosi as someone who would find it difficult to build consensus across party lines.
-- Mr. McCurry told the audience that he and his colleagues in Boston on that fateful night in 2004 were so convinced of the outcome, they directed Sen. Kerry to his suite at 7pm to write his victory speech.
-- Mr. McCurry said that he is standing ready to go to work for Hillary should she decide to run and tap his expertise.
-- Mr. McCurry predicted a Democratic win in the House and the defeat of Rick Santorum.
-- When asked what this President should be doing (or should have done 2, 4, 6 years ago), Mr. McCurry said that Mr. Bush should have replaced Don Rumsfeld with James Baker and Dick Cheney with Condi Rice! But it'll never happen since "he's pig-headed." His words. Not mine.
PR Mike McCurry Ketchum Susan Molinari Mid-term elections public relations politics
Monday, October 23, 2006
Heather Mills, Sir Paul's second wife, promises to do a number, of the non-musical variety, on the former Beatle's carefully honed public persona in this, his 64th year.
The Daily Mail reports:
"Miss Mills, 38, claims Sir Paul stabbed her in the arm with a broken wine glass, pushed her into a bath, grabbed her by the neck and pushed her over a coffee table. She also says he drank to excess and took drugs."No, it can't be true! Drugs? Ahhh, that explains Magical Mystery Tour.
In either case, this most acrimonious divorce is headed to open court where the couple's dirty laundry will make the White Album blush.
"She is said to be ready to back up her claims with recordings she has described as 'dynamite'."So how would you advise Sir Paul to navigate this full frontal assault? A) Pay Heather the $825 million British Pounds she seeks? B) Play hardball in the court of public opinion? Or, C) Try to maintain some semblance of dignity? The answer appears to be a combination of B) and C) Let others do the dirty work while you stay out of the limelight.
"Sir Paul has refused to comment on any of his wife's allegations in public, apart to say he plans to 'vigorously and appropriately' contest them. In private, however, he is said to be 'incandescent with rage.' A spokesman for Sir Paul would not comment on the latest allegations."Instead of directly commenting, The Times of London reports he's getting "a little help from his friends" to balance the pre-trial publicity:
Ms. Mills may be singing "Baby You're a Rich Man," but Sir Paul hopes she'll soon segue to "You Never Gave Me Your Money."
"FRIENDS and associates of Sir Paul McCartney stepped in yesterday to defend the singer in his acrimonious divorce battle, and to ridicule Lady McCartney’s claims against him. Details of the divorce papers were disputed by Geoff Baker, a senior member of Sir Paul’s staff for 15 years. 'To brand Paul a wife-beater is the most absurd f***ing claim anyone can make,' he said."
PR Sir Paul Paul McCartney divorce Heather Mills public relations Beatles
Saturday, October 21, 2006
This weekend we learn of another finger-like additive found in a Subway sandwich.
I suppose without the chain's heavy-weighted TV campaign featuring the pudgy Jon Lovitz distorting the trademarked "Eat Fresh" slogan to sound like "Eat Flesh," this blogger wouldn't have lifted a finger to digitize an item on this brisk sunny Saturday in New York. But I couldn't resist.
What's more, the Subway chain has re-energized its brand by marketing its fare as weight-reducing and nutritious.
Here's the brand-detractive quote from the (unauthorized) Subway worker in response to the finger find:
"'It looked like a thick piece of fat,' she told The Fresno Bee. 'It doesn't look anything human to me.'"PR lesson learned: try not to let the counter girl talk to The Associated Press.
PR Jon Lovitz Subway Eat Fresh finger public relations
Friday, October 20, 2006
Story over. With one fell swoop, the issue went away...or so we thought. One thing about that pesky blogosphere is that it has the capacity to give legs to stories that otherwise might have died quietly on the vine.
In the wake of the apology, others began to did deeper into the firm's blog tactics for its high profile client. Today, those transgressions have surfaced into the mainstream media...including a second Business Week piece and a post that moved moments ago on CNN/Money.
I know the firm truly wishes to do the right thing, but was its leader's high profile apology sufficient? In fact, I had wondered on Susan's blog why the numbnuts who conceived and drove this inherently flawed "grassroots" blogging plan weren't shown the door. After all, the potential risk to the agency's (and client's) reputation could not have been more apparent, especially given the me2revolution culture permeating the firm.
Update: Richard Edelman institutes internal audit and company-wide safeguards. Paul Holmes weighs in.
PR Business Week Edelman astroturfing Wal_mart public relations blogging
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Now that he's out, don't feel too bad since SEC filings report an $85 million severance package. At least Tom put in the time, Mike.
As an outside observer, I attribute his surprise demise to how his boss and his boss's bankers perceived him. They simply did not see the MTV man moving fast enough into the digital and social media worlds, at least compared to at least one other media mogul. ("Why did My Space have to grow so fast and be so profitable?. Damn that Rupert!")
My arm's length and armchair assessment actually gives Mr. Freston credit for having some decent digital irons in the fire. I just think the communications surrounding them fell short. Just this week, his beloved MTV network announced a boffo content deal with Baidu.com, the Google of China. Do you think that deal happened overnight or had it germinated under Freston's leadership?
Hey look. Lorne Manley's New York Times story extolling Freston rival on the other side of the Viacom split probably sparked the conversation on Freston's future. Nonetheless, making media hay nowadays about digital deals -- no matter how small -- can help drive perceptions, e.g., they can actually make a YouTube -- with its Web 1.0, non-profit sensibility -- seem like the second (life) coming.
Now everyone's clamoring for a piece of the perception. Be careful what you wish for.
PR Tom freston YouTube severance vision public relations Baidu.com
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
In fact, it's not unusual for clients to complain that their agency reps don't take the time to learn the client's business. One current client of mine repeatedly implored its west coast PR reps to spend time on his web site, which the client had the ability to track. The reps didn't, and soon were given the heave-ho.
Another big difference between corporate PR and agency PR -- from a media relations perspective -- has to do with pro-active versus reactive. Many noteworthy enterprises have enough to do just to satisfy the media's incessant requests for company info and access, whereas agencies often are tasked to pro-actively make things happen editorially. One would think that reacting is much easier than pro-acting. Right? Not necessarily.
Last night, I stopped by The New York Times headquarters where the New York chapter of the IABC named NYTCO's VP of corporate communications Catherine Mathis as its "Communicator of the Year." During the reception Arthur Sulzberger and Janet Robinson, NYTCO's chairman and president/CEO, respectively, praised Catherine for her poise, professionalism, work ethic, and "respect for all journalists." That's the least of it when one considers Jayson, Judy, the NSA, secret prisons in Europe, etc.
Those are just a few of the minefields The Times -- and specifically, Catherine and her communications team -- deftly navigated over the last several years. So don't let anyone ever tell you that reacting to media queries is any easier (or any less stressful) than pro-acting media coverage (which her team also does). This was a well-deserved honor for a true pro.
Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention some news about this blog. At a luncheon ceremony today at New York's Grand Hyatt, PR News recognized this blogger (and his irreverant musings) with a 2006 PR News Platinum Award as the year's "Best Blog." How cool is that?
PR IABC Catherine Mathis PR News Platinum Award public relations
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Media relations, third-party constituency-building, political wrangling all come into play here.
"The Vote No on Question One committee has paid Rasky Baerlein more than $200,000 to oversee its campaign, according to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Regan, which is handling day-to-day press strategy for the Food Association, has been paid $62,000."I guess the wine merchants have deeper pockets, but it's really not about the money, according to the Herald:
"Also up for grabs are bragging rights, a precious commodity in the professional world of spin. Those stakes are racheted up by Regan and Rasky's almost 30-year history of being on opposite sides."At least the writer recognizes "the world of spin" as being "professional," though I'm not sure this article does much to advance the collective reputation of the PR biz. For the sake of the profession, the two should break bread over a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon...after the vote, of course.
PR George Regan Larry Rasky Boston Herald Massachusetts Question One wine public relations
Monday, October 16, 2006
Lots of PR bloggers jumped onto the naysaying bandwagon when it was learned that the couple traveling around the country in an RV and blogging about the virtues of America's biggest retailer were actually hired hands by Wal-Mart's PR consiglieres. Fans of Wal-Mart they may be, but handsomely paid fans nonetheless.
The rub, of course, lies in the fact that the drivers of the PR revolution supposedly have a hand on the RV's steering wheel.
Business Week exposed the ruse. MediaPost picked up on it. PR blogger John Wagner chimed in. Kevin Dugan amplified it. Now ZD-Net has weighed in. And I'm sure I'm missing scores of others.
The big hole in the story? Where's Richard (and Rubel) during this maelstrom surrounding one of their agency's most high profile clients?
I actually posted a comment on Constantin's weblog over the weekend suggesting we cut Richard some slack, e.g., give him some time to formulate a measured response.
After all, as good as the work Edelman is doing for Wal-Mart, I'm sure the client wishes to weigh in on this sticky wicket. This takes time, but my bet is that we'll be hearing from Richard sooner than later. He is a true believer, though probably a tormented one right now.
Update: Richard and Steve weighed in...finally (and admirably).
PR Business Week Edelman astroturfing Wal_mart public relations blogging
Friday, October 13, 2006
Next to "Page Six" and my Scooper buddy (and former Intel doyenne) Jeannette Walls of MSNBC, Intelligencer has somehow managed to stay relevant in an age when gossip, and the purveyors of it, permeate our lives.
I remember years ago when Mike Hall, who made a business out of nothing but planting items in the columns, looked at me incredulously when I presented him with an expanded list that tripled his columnist mainstays of Liz, Earl, Suzy, Eugenia, Phil & Tom, Intel, and, of course Page Six (as edited by Brady, Cohen, Mulcahy, Stivers, DiGiacomo, Johnson, etc.) Today, of course, the choice of which gossipist with which to plant an item is dizzying when the bloggosphere is folded into the mix.
Anyway, not to digress, I got a kick out of the item in yesterday's Intel column that had the famous NY-branded PR agency Howard J. Rubenstein (not to be confused with off-shoots Dan Klores Communications or Rubenstein PR) tooling with his company's phone system to give the impression that his publicity-hungry pitchers hail from The New York Times.
Those who've toiled in the biz know very well (and even get a visceral charge) when the numbers 111-111-1111 suddenly pop on their telephone screens. That caller is from the newspaper-of-record. No longer exclusively. For whatever reason, Howard's helpers have helped themselves to the loneliest number. Gee, I wonder if this phone-y tactic could be construed as astroturfing???
PR Howard Rubenstein Intelligencer Jess Oxfeld Page Six gossip Jeannette Walls public relations
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I've written here on many occasions how the PR pros have grappled with finding the most effective means for engaging bloggers on behalf of their clients' products, services or issues. PR/marketing types also have learned to mine the blogosphere as an aggregated bellwether of current public opinion or trends, let alone a precursor of what may arrive in the mainstream media. For the former, the answer is to engage citizen journos in an honest, two-way and transparent manner. (Gee, that just may work with mainstream journalists too!) For the latter, examples of companies that monitor and measure the mood of "the conversation" are referenced in yesterday's post.
Techdirt's new line of business, from what I understand, is seeking and will compensate bloggers who agree to offer their expert opinions to businesses on a given topic. When Verisign wanted some insights into the issue of net neutrality, it retained the Techdirt Insight Community to tap its resource of registered expert bloggers to provide it. Obviously, the bigger the sample, the greater the odds of obtaining that deep and specific knowledge being sought.
The company therefore is presently seeking bloggers to sign on (only experts need apply). It still reminds me of Web 1.0's Abuzz, which built a community whose "expert' members were tapped to answer community members' questions based on the in-depth profiles they provided. While Abuzz was c-to-c and TIC is c-to-b, the basic concept remains.
The second reason for re-visiting Techdirt lies in the company's press announcement itself. Recently the editor of the influential blog wrote a caustic missive to the PR community titled: "Attention All PR People: Stop Sending Us Press Releases." It went on to chastise our like for spamming journalists (and him) with unsolicited press releases. It wasn't very nice, and was condescendingly reminiscent of the Web 1.0 tech beat writers' exasperation with the inane stuff that filled (and undoubtedly continue to fill) their e-mailboxes. Frankly, I can't blame them.
So guess what? To announce its new business offering yesterday, Techdirt's PR operatives sent out to the media, unsolicited, five documents, as PDF file attachments no less, including the news release. What am I missing here? Short e-mails with links (only) to the press materials should suffice.
But then again, as a highly trafficked and linked-to blog, simply writing about it should also do the trick.
Correction: I have been informed by Techdirt that it did not send unsolicited press materials to reporters. Those that did receive materials requested them after being pre-briefed on the story. Geesh, this blogger can't seem to get it right! Oh well, there goes half of this post's raison d'etre. Mike's "caustic" message is still a good wake-up call for PR pros.
PR Techdirt news release corporate intelligence weblogs Verisign
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Gee, I thought that's what Technorati, Nielsen Buzzmetrics , Hitwise , Converseon's Conversation Mining, and countless others already offer more or less.
According to the news release issued today -- with a hat tip to that Brazen Careerist Penelope Trunk for bringing it to my attention -- Techdirt expects the new service to "fill a gap between broad consumer testing services and expensive traditional polling services."
It's no secret that monitoring "the conversation" can offer PR and marketing types timely intelligence that can lead to more focused communications programs. The news today actually reminded of the nascent days of online intelligence gatrhering and surveys. We had Harris Interactive as a client, which had a proprietary panel whose numbers dwarfed the sample sizes used in traditional focus groups and phone surveys.
The big question back then was whether the panel was statistically valid since computer access was relegated to a less-than-representative sample of the general population. Today, however, with 50 million+++ bloggers, the intelligence gleaned from mining them should be much less subjective and much more valuable. The Economist:
"The direct, unfiltered, brutally honest nature of much online discussion is gold dust to big companies that want to spot trends, or find out what customers really think of them."Even so, Techdirt's entering an already very crowded space. I wish them much success.
Update: Mick Masnick, president of Techdirt Corporate Intelligence, sent this blogger a note to make sure I get it right. In his words:
"...this new service has nothing at all to do with monitoring, but in proactively getting analysis from the smartest people in the community. It's not about collecting what people are saying, but aggregating the people so that they can act as an instant expert analyst firm. So, customers for the Techdirt Insight Community will put forth an issue or idea that they want feedback on -- and we will pick the people in our community who have expertise in that area, allowing them to respond in the system."Thanks for the clarification, Mike. Do you remember The Times's Abuzz.com?
PR Techdirt Brazen Careerist Technorati weblogs Buzzmetrics Converseon Hitwise
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Huh? Could it be? The "real thing" and death squads in the land of the coca bean? Highly unlikely, but the stories persist, especially on college campuses. Smartly, the Hotlanta company, using Google AdWords, purchased key search terms, like "killer Coke," so that when someone searched on the term, the company's text-based advertorial message would pop on the right side of the organic results rankings page.
My friend Rob Key of Converseon has built a strong business on what he calls "search engine reputation management," which is a must for any company plagued by rogue websites determined to take it down on the reputation ladder. To understand where it's all headed -- both from a marketing communications and crisis management perspective, grab a copy of John Battelle's The Search.
In the interim, Coke's PR counselors are astute to use search engine marketing to directly speak to those intent on learning the truth about "the carbonated cola's crisis in Columbia.
PS While we're talking about AdWords, I just noticed that The New York Times appears to have "purchased" the names of every one of its reporters. Key in to Google the name of a Times scribe and a link to nytimes.com pops on the right.
PR SEM Coca Cola Columbia public relations Converseon The Search John Battelle Adwords
Monday, October 09, 2006
I'm talking about Messrs. Dilenschneider and Zarem.
Bob led the pre-eminent 1980s global PR agency brand, has written books, exudes gravitas, and now heads a successful high-level communications consultancy.
Bobby allegedly threw a book at Warren Cowan, pissed off Liz (that's a whole other story), claims full credit for the "I Love New York" campaign, made Elaine Elaine, made Arnold Arnold, and was cast in a most unflattering spotlight in both Graydon Carter's Spy magazine and Al Pacino's "The People I Know," which he nonetheless encouraged everyone he knew to read and see.
I spent my first three years after college with Bobby, and the next five with Bob. It was like night and day, but both were wickedly smart. Bob's Notre Dame. Bobby's Yale.
One of my first accounts with Bobby was the motion picture "The China Syndrome," which featured a Three Mile Island-like meltdown. One of my early accounts with Bob was Kerr-McGee, which built Three Mile Island.
Both Bob and Bobby will continue to flourish in their respective realms -- in spite of cries of disintermediation from those driving the digitization of our industry. Still, I think it would be great to read personal blogs penned by Bob and Bobby, though I'm not holding my breath.
PR Bobby Zarem Bob Dilenschneider I Love New York China Syndrome public relations
Saturday, October 07, 2006
"Don't bet on his absence. I'm sure the film's marketeers are presently weighing just how to channel the newly notorious Mr. Gibson's "mediability" to drive box office. Three-parter on "GMA," anyone?"But it turns out that Disney's marketing plans will only birth a two-parter on the ABC-TV News morning show. Oh well:
"Gibson spoke with Diane Sawyer somewhere in Southern California recently for a two-part TV interview scheduled to air on Disney-owned ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Oct. 12 and 13. This is the first time he has talked to the media since his arrest."One has to wonder whether Diane Sawyer's employer's financial stake in the film will temper the tenor of Mr. Gibson's first TV interview since his tumultuous tumble from Hollywood's A-list. We know how he made out with the crucifixion. Now let's see how he does with Easter.
PR media Mel Gibson Disney Apocalypto marketing public relations Diane Sawyer GMA
Friday, October 06, 2006
The always astute Julia Hood chimed in by reminding the 200 attendees that the Declaration of Independence might just qualify as an early iteration of a press release, while Bishop took it a step further by citing an apple-promoting snake in the Garden of Eden. Anyway, the event wasn't so much about the press release as much as about the changing dynamics of the public relations industry. An audio webcast of the event can be found here.
Frankly, it was a little disconcerting for me to see only a couple of hands rise when I informally asked the audience who knew: "John Battelle," "AdWords," "Technorati!" As many strides as we've made in the digital space, I suspect that the indsutry's rank and file remain woefully in the dark. Who among us has actually read Naked Conversations, We the Media, The Search, The Long Tail -- all books that directly speak to the paradigm shift in the very profession we have chosen for our livelihoods. What happened to the PR pro's innate curiosity???
To remind us of just how social and consumer-generated media have changed the landscape, we only have to turn to the front page of today's New York Times where we'll find a piece on how ordinary Americans -- not radical Islamists -- are posting on YouTube graphic footage of U.S. troops being attacked in Iraq. This may be the last thing the America's command-and-control crowd in Washington wants in the U.S. public domain, but there's little they can do to paper over the truth.
"At a time when the Bush administration has restricted photographs of the coffins of military personnel returning to the United States and the Pentagon keeps close tabs on videotapes of combat operations taken by the news media, the videos give average Americans a level of access to combat scenes rarely available before, if ever."Then there's the piece in today's Washington Post that discusses how the blogosphere is increasingly used as a weapon to advance or derail political fortunes.
"Cumulatively, the stories highlight a new brand of politics in which nearly any revelation in the news becomes a weapon or shield in the daily partisan wars, and the aim of candidates and their operatives is not so much to win an argument as to brand opponents as fundamentally unfit."Perhaps the days of top-down control are waning, but the core competencies that define our profession -- and the social media tools that bring them to life -- are far from obsolete.
PR Business Wire YouTube Matthew Bishop Julia Hood public relations Todd Defren news release
Thursday, October 05, 2006
The media pitch revolved around how enterprises could now afford supercomputing power without having to lease another building to house it. I think I even tried to convince Lewis of the merits of the story...to no avail. Today, of course, that supercomputing power would probably pale next to one's Blackberry.
Apollo's nemesis was an upstart California company led by a brash, outspoken and soon-to-be industry legend named Scott McNealy. Well, we all know how Mr. McNealy took his fledgling workstation company, Sun Microsystems, to the pinnacle of tech stardom in the Valley and beyond at the expense of Apollo and others like it.
Sun became a key client of my next agency where I had a chance to briefly meet Mr. McNealy. I was asked to accompany him to a "Today Show" interview following his Congressional testimony lambasting Microsoft for its monopolistic ways. We were in the green room at 30 Rock, and I figured I should chat him up about what he planned to say. With little prompt, he offered this metaphor: "Imagine if you owned the alphabet...and you had the ability to add or subtract letters at whim. This is Microsoft." Well, that was good enough for me. I kept quiet after that.
In spite of McNealy's winning ways -- boy is he a great communicator! -- Sun hit hard times when the tech bubble imploded. Since then it has struggled to regain its mojo, and to some degree has, which brings me to the catalyst for today's posting: Second Life.
I remember ten years ago telling friends about avatars and how virtual communities would one day meld the physical and virtual worlds. Even Steve Rubel predicted that Second Life represents the next big thing. I'm not so sure about the hype, even with some 800,000+ Second Life residents. Sure, many are tech influencers -- or e-fluentials as my old friend and colleague Leslie Gaines-Ross liked to call them. Some are gamers, and many, I'm sure, are lonelyhearts looking for a little diversion in their ho hum lives.
I was therefore interested to hear that tech PR firm Text 100 opened "an office" in the growing virtual community and, by doing so, generated some good industry buzz for itself. Next week, Sun's co-founder and head of its gaming division will hold a presser in Second City -- in the guise of his avatar -- to court the "droves" of "software development professionals" that Sun's agency consiglieres say reside on the site.
A cool and certainly mediable idea, but I'd be curious to learn whether this tactic measurably motivates the software developers, or whether this virtual event by virtual characters in a virtual community is the end game in and of itself -- by virtue of the media buzz it generates.
More significantly, we learn this week that Sun president Jonathan Schwartz (an A-list blogger) has requested of the SEC to allow him to break company news on his weblog:
"If we have material news to disclose, we have to hold an anachronistic telephone conference call, or issue an equivalently anachronistic press release," Schwartz wrote in his online diary Monday. "I would argue that none of those routes are as accessible to the general public as a blog, or Sun's Web site."Now this is real news the PR profession needs to follow.
PR weblogs Second Life Sun Microsystems public relations Apollo Computer Scott McNealy Peter Lewis e-fluentials Jonathan Schwartz Reg FD SEC
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
The staged eating event was missing one important ingredient: the infamous ingestible. Apparently, the local markets still hadn't re-stocked the leafy legume, but the media show went on, producing this tasty little tidbit. Oh well.
Now where's Thomas Keller and California's other celebrity chefs when you really need them to rally around the spinach leaf? Eggs Florentine, anyone?
PR spinach Salinas County e.Coli public relations Thomas Keller
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
As for those journalists, who can resist the lure of an exotic location whose proprietors bend over backwards to make your stay as comfortable and entertaining as humanly possible? (Nice gig if you can get it.)
The travel media A-list includes Peter Greenberg of NBC "Today," The New York Times's Joe Sharkey, Conde Nast Traveler's Wendy Perrin, and the countless travel editors, reporters, producers and SATW members who toil for the monthly glossies and daily newspapers, let alone travel-oriented cable programs and weblogs.
If you find a moment today, be sure to read one such A-lister's first-hand account of his "fam trip" (in travel PR parlance) aboard an Embraer Legacy 600 jet as a guest of the company that just took possession of the jet. This particular jet happened to be the one that clipped the Boeing 737 over the skies of the Brazilian rainforest causing it to crash. The reporter, Joe Sharkey, was free-lancing for Business Jet Traveler magazine.
It's a harrowing tale that we now know led to the deaths of all 155 people aboard the 737. The damaged Embraer, losing speed, somehow managed to find a military runway 100 miles from where the two planes collided. While it remains unclear how two modern jets were at the same altitude in the same air space at the same time, the pilots' deft handling of this crippled small private jet spoke volumes.
We are thankful that Joe Sharkey is still with us, and have sympathy for the families of those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy.
PR Joe Sharkey travel PR Peter Greenberg SATW public relations Embraer
Monday, October 02, 2006
The show's opening night was memorable for many reasons, not the least of which was that, unbeknownst to the cast and crew, its legendary director/choreographer Gower Champion (pictured above) died earlier in the day after a brief illness. Other memories included WWD theatre critic Howard Kissel helping this 23-year-old straighten his black bow tie; AP photographer Richard Drew capturing Mr. Merrick on stage for the curtain call to announce Mr. Champion's death with a stunned cast as his backdrop -- a picture that landed on the cover of the New York Post with the headline "Lullaby on Broadway. Drew won an award for that one; And, last but not least, it was The Times's Frank Rich's first day on the job as the paper's Broadway theatre critic (soon to be known as "The Butcher of Broadway").
I had learned of Champion's death some time before intermission. When the show ended, I remember Mr. Rich making a dash for the exit to meet his filing deadline. We sort of knew one another from his previous job as a film critic for TIME magazine. I was able to catch him on the way out to tell him about Mr. Champion's untimely demise. I then headed back into the theatre to lead the TV crews and stills to the front of the stage for what I was told would be photos and footage of the audience's standing ovation. (Merrick's appearance on stage surprised me as much as it did everyone else.)
Anyway, with all this a distant memory, I remain a big fan of Frank Rich's writings in Sunday's New York Times. Mr. Rich, however, is no fan of our profession -- at least as it's practiced by the current residents of the White House. His new tome "The Greatest Story Ever Sold" eviscerates the media, and especially those who spin it. From Publisher's Weekly:
"This blistering j'accuse has vitriol to spare for George Bush—calling him a "spoiled brat" and "blowhard"—and his policies, but its main target is the PR machinery that promoted those policies to the American people. New York Times columnist Rich revisits nearly every Bush administration publicity gambit, including Iraqi WMD claims, Bush's "Mission Accomplished" triumph, the Swift-boating of John Kerry and the writing of fake prowar letters-to-the-editor from soldiers."As this blog has written on many previous occasions, the duplicitous approach to PR by this administration has tarnished any respect our profession has managed to eek out over the years. Frank, for what it's worth, please know that there are many practitioners who also abhor the bygone brand of PR that is plied in the Beltway.
Postcript: Mr. Rich did send me a nice note after I reminded him of my small role in that famous opening night, which he recounted so colorfully in a NYT Magazine cover story "The Butcher of Broadway." That was then. This is now.
PR WHite House Frank Rich The Greatest Story Ever Sold public relations
Sunday, October 01, 2006
You may call me crazy, but I'm having some of those same feelings right now about the U.S. Secretary of Defense. (No, this administration has not suddenly discovered the notion of corporate governance.)
Bob Woodward's well-researched and articulated (on "60 Minutes) revelations alone will not do the trick, but they may just be the straw that broke this old camel's back.
I've been wrong before, but it's a reasoable assumption that as we speak, W and his consiglieres are weighing options to quell the growing public firestorm. Canning Rumsfeld just seems like a canny move right now...even considering this President's inexplicable and perilous obstinance.
Stay the course is about to be sidetracked...I think. The choice of The Donald's successor, however, will need to have gravitas up the wazoo, and Colin Powell isn't about to return to this administration anytime soon. (Though I'm sure he was on the short list.)
PR Donald Rumsfeld Bob Woodward Patricia Dunn