January 26, 2009
The other night over dinner, my mother-in-law made an excellent point with respect to the call to responsibility that President Barack Obama made in his inauguration speech.
Here’s what she said:
I hope the media does it’s part in helping to turn the country around. Reporting the news is one thing, but excessive negativity in coverage is another.
A brilliant point I think.
There’s a palpable connection between the media and the level of confidence in our country. I’ve heard frightening reports from journalists that they are under strict directives to stick to the bad news, tell stories of failure, smear frightening unemployment numbers on the front page, capture pictures riddled with uncertainty and fear.
And what good does that do? ‘Cause it sure ain’t sellin’ papers! And it sure ain’t helping the economy.
All that being said, it wouldn’t be responsible simply to tell cheerful, happy stories either. But there’s a balance to be struck. Now-a-days it IS newsworthy to be successful in business. In a climate like this…uh, hell yeah!
You have to report the good along with the bad. I think that’s something our new president would want to see. He would want people to know that progress is being made, but there’s still room to improve, more progress to be made.
I think that’s the responsibility my mother-in-law was talking about, seeing positivity, even among all the negative. Because it is there. Good PR people just have to bring it to journalists attention :)
Today is monumental.
Today the paper’s will sell out.
Today, no PR stunt or adjacent story angle will touch the huge news of Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration.
Today IS history. Everyone can feel it. There’s a reverence in the voices of every news correspondent. There’s an energy in the crowd that is just electric.
For a day we want so much to describe…there just aren’t words right now. Perhaps that speechlessness and breathlessness — and simultaneously screaming, cheering and laughing — that seems to be the hallmark of the day so far says it all.
Though it may be hard to believe, there are some people who don’t care about today. I can only hope that looking back they will appreciate that today is about American History, far more so than American Politics.
January 16, 2009
Fashionistas around the country are speculating about Michelle Obama’s Inauguration outfit. Personally, I am more concerned with what our President-elect will be wearing. It’s old news that he plans to wear a Hart Schaffner Marx tuxedo.
The big question is, will he be wearing a hat?
The inaugural hat used to be a staple for every president from Truman to Johnson to Kennedy, the list goes on. A new hat was a must have for the new President-Elect to wear on Inauguration Day. However, in recent years, this time-honored tradition has faded.
The time has come to bring back the hat!
Follow Josh Shayne at http://www.hatforobama.com as he journeys to Washington, D.C. to hand-deliver a hat to the President Elect.
Stetson, the American icon, will donate a portion of the sale of every Stetson Presidential Hat sold through this website up to $50,000 to Hats Off For Cancer . Hats Off For Cancer provides hats for children who have lost their hair as a result of cancer treatment.
You can learn more about the mission by watching this video http://hatforobama.com/the-mission.
Let’s bring back the hat.
January 14, 2009
Information is at your fingertips. Literally. It’s on your iPhone, a few clicks away on your laptop, on the podcast you’re listening to on your iPod or the magazine you’re scanning as you eat your breakfast. While this makes our lives as consumers much easier, it creates unique challenges for businesses as they strive to communicate their messages across several different mediums, rather than just the one or two
So what does this trend mean for businesses? It means communication efforts have to be unified across the board. Speak with one, clear voice. And that voice must be authentic.
As my friend and mentor, Sydney Ayers, stated in her recent article in PR Tactics & The Strategist,
“Maintaining honest talk in everyday communications will not only be critical for long-term business success, but will also impact the way in which we as PR professionals are expected to operate in the year to come.”
As communications professionals, we’re tasked with ensuring that we are clearly communicating authentic messages with our key stakeholders at all times. Whether we’re talking business goals, company culture, new products, or recent layoffs, we must share honest and consistent information. Our stakeholders will appreciate hearing the truth, no matter what it may be. With information so readily available, there is nothing to hide behind and communications that are not wholly truthful will quickly be discovered and exposed.
As we go shout our stories from the multiple communications “roof tops” available to us, let us take a few minutes to ensure they are authentic and consistent stories that accurately represent who we are.
January 13, 2009
I was building a proposal for a potential new client yesterday. My boss and I discussed the various aspects of what media would be good placement, how we could work with the budget and then my boss said something that sounded strange to me:
Did you build in time for a press release?
Without even thinking I asked:
What’s the point?
The mediums through which we communicate have shifted fundamentally. Opening up a paper more often means opening up a Web page any more. Live TV coverage and streaming live Web video coverage compete in the same space. Journalists are no longer challenged with simply finding a good story, they are charged with finding multimedia angles to bring these stories to life on the Web! (Watch a great video interview from Ragan Communications on this point.)
Because so much has changed in the mediums, the way we communicate with journalists — and let’s face it each other — has to change.
If 150 words (or less) on Twitter can inspire great articles, why on earth would we write pages long releases?
Perhaps this is our new guideline. 150 words or less. Can we as PR pros be more successful by being less verbose? Probably so.
Certainly journalists don’t have time to wade through miles of prose in an email pitch, much less copious press releases. Not only that, it’s clear that journalists are no long just looking for words. They need to tell a story with a photo gallery, exculsive video, polls, graphs, anything multimedia.
So challenge yourself to be a succinct and clear cut as possible in your communication with the media.
Here are my guidelines for doing it:
- Use the 150 rule. If you can’t sell your client’s story in 150 words, you may need to evaluate the angles
- Bullets. Who. What. Where. When. Why. How. Journalism 101. Address these at the top of any pitch.
- Added Value. To Shannon’s point we have to offer value to the media as well. We know what they are asking for. So give ‘em some multimedia added value.
I’m about 210 words over proving my point in practice.
January 6, 2009
It could easily be argued that one of the major themes of 2008 was the emergence of Gen Y in the corporate world and the ruckus we caused in all sorts of ways.
Terms like “spoiled,” “job-hoppers,” “craving affirmation” and “gold-starred” aside, one positive thing Gen Y has been acknowledged for is their natural aptitude for technology…more specifically in relation to social media.
While the divide between Gen Y and, well, everyone else seemed wide in 2008, I strongly believe that 2009 will be the year we bridge the gap, in a truly unlikely manner.
This bridging of the gap I speak of, will come about as a necessity. As traditional media formats give way to newer social media alternatives, the people in charge will need experts who can teach them how to use, utilize and effectively implement social media strategies into various facets of communication and basic business function.
Who will those experts be???
Gen Y, of course.
I predict that our aptitude for adapting to social media will help Gen Y-ers across the board harness leadership and earn respect in a way that no one really expected. After all, some of these social media — MySpace, Facebook — are practically synonymous with Gen Y and perhaps some of the frustrations of 2008…
For Gen Y, social media is really second nature. For other generations, the prospect is intimidating.
Granted, social media is a bit nebulous. It’s ever-growing, ever-expanding and far-reaching. The thought of being that exposed and “out there” is a little daunting.
Savvy Gen Y’s (I’m talking to you communicators of the world) will help higher-ups adapt and implement social media strategically with a mind for taking the lead and keeping others informed about the goings-on in social media.
Once we’ve helped our managers, bosses and the like capture the principles of applications like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. half the gap will have been closed…all because of social media.
Yes, other differences between generations will remain. But if we can start to tear down the social media wall that’s between us…that bridge will be well on it’s way to built.