October 30, 2008

Why Polls Matter

Posted in In the news, Political Punditry tagged at 1:29 pm by R

There’s been a lot of speculation in the past few weeks over what election polls are accurate, why they matter and what, if anything, they actually tell us.

It’s my personal belief that the only poll that really matters is the one calculating actual votes on election day. BUT, polls leading up to November 4th do matter, because they are a persuasive form of PR.

My father-in-law (the king of one-liners and other comments that will make you laugh hysterically) has a saying:

“I only root for the winner.”

People feel more motivated than ever to put their civic stake in the ground and say they contributed to the course of America. Citizens are voting in record numbers and in a more passionate way than they have in decades. But ultimately, people want to vote for the guy who wins, be part of the reason why the “right guy” got into office.

And if not, well, there’s always the “Don’t-blame-me-I-voted-for-the-other-one” bumper stickers.

Polls contribute to this process as influencers. When we see a candidate pulling ahead or leading in repeated polls, it leaves an impression. It’s a “Get-on-the-bandwagon” effect. Polls affirm people who are leaning toward the leader and cause people to question about the candidate coming from behind.

In an election where people on the fence about their vote are of critical importance, so are the polls that influence those still-undecided voters.

What do you think?



October 27, 2008

From Green to Greed

Posted in In the news at 9:05 am by R

I sincerely thought the word of the year was going to be “green” hands down. But over the course of the past month, I’m seeing a new theme take over the media…greed.

With the crisis on Wall Street and the fall out on Main Street, focus has shifted from sustainability to culpability for this situation. Company leaders at fallen Goliath’s like AIG are coming under serious scrutiny after lavish spending has come to light, including enormous expenditures after the bail out like a $400,000 spa retreat and a luxurious vacation to Cotswold, England for a merry little hunt.

I suppose they should enjoy it while it lasts, because now the media and their audiences are paying close attention to the luxury line items and they are none-to-pleased. While many of us are battening down the financial hatches, some are still living quite high on the hog.

Here are the news stories I expect to see for the next four months:

  • Who spent what — C-levels abusing the privileges
  • How should they pay — what kind of penance should these people do for their crimes of greed ( a whole LOT of Hail Mary’s)
  • What do we expect of corporate leaders now — how main street expects corporate leaders to act now

And of course on the flip side of things:

  • Budget buys of all kinds
  • Living rich with out making anymore money
  • On-going financial hardships
  • etc.
  • etc.
  • etc.

Greed will be the hallmark for the rest of the year. People are angry and they need to get it out of their system by reading about it, talking about and then focusing on their own situations and how to make their lives better.

Put down your luxury holiday pitches, that’s just not gonna fly. Think budget friendly, think positioning CEOs & CFOs as responsible with funds. Think anti-greed.


October 24, 2008

X marks the spot?

Posted in In the news tagged at 4:05 pm by R

There’s been a little controversy brewing here in Phoenix.

The downtown area of Phoenix has been known for eight years as “Copper Square.” This branding effort was  marginally successful.

Last year, the Downtown Phoenix Partnership solicited for Public Relations & Branding agencies to help them evaluate the viability of “Copper Square” to either refresh the brand or change it alltogether.  The job went to area firm SHR Perception Management.

After more than a year of research and work, they came up a new, refreshed and completely different brand for Downtown Phoenix…Drumroll please…

Downtown Phoenix…’X’ marks the spot.

Seriously? It tooka year’s worth of research and $160,000 to call Downtown Phoenix, Downtown Phoenix!? Now I don’t know what SHR’s process is for branding and I don’t know what the Downtown Phoenix Partnership’s reaction to any of this was, but for that amount of money  to be invested in a project like this, I’d expect some more creativity.

Try these on for size:

  • Center of the Sun
  • 1 hot spot.
  • Pho-Town or No-Town
  • I don’t know anything…besides the utterly, blatantly obvious!

“‘X’ marks the spot” reminds me of pirates. We live in a desert, therefore we don’t have water, and thus it follows that we have no pirates. It just doesn’t work.

I suppose as a person in the business and as Phoenix resident, I’m just a lot little disappointed. I see so many unique features and characteristcs about my chosen home that I’m insulted no one — especially marketing & branding professionals — could come up with anything better than “Downtown Phoenix.”


October 15, 2008

Someone Please Media Train the McCain Campaign

Posted in In the news, Media, Political Punditry tagged at 8:53 pm by R

I’m watching the debates right now and one thing keeps driving me nuts. It’s the same thing that’s been driving me crazy every time I see a McCain adviser, spokesperson or family member speaking to the media on his behalf.

Evidently no one media trained John McCain and crew.

Rolling of the eyes, general angry look, interrupting, flip remarks, etc. all fall under the category of unacceptable for me. I don’t care who you are what office you’re running for, what candidate you represent — it’s. not. ok.

Politics aside, this campaign just isn’t well behaved with the media. I have seen them behave in ways I would NEVER allow my clients to behave on air, not even on the tiniest local TV station.

The top three rules:

  1. Don’t interrupt — your mom told you not to and most PR pros will reiterate it.  It’s rude, it’s unprofessional, it makes you look bad. Just DON’T.
  2. Keep your emotions off your face — this takes some mastering (which is why we do media training). When you show your anger/upset you lose your power in the conversation. Practice, practice, practice not getting flustered by hair-raising questions. Note: this trick may help with blood pressure as well.
  3. Sweet speech — Never respond with too much emotion either. Again, you lose your power when you lose your cool. And you only get three-or-so minutes, so don’t waste any time. Chances are you’ve got a stronger message than anger/upset anyhow.

I watch TV, especially in election season, with a critical eye. I expect that politicians their spokespeople will be highly trained to handle media interviews. I’ve been disappointed by the McCain campaign’s showing in this regard.


October 6, 2008

Feeling the Pinch

Posted in A walk on the "dark side", In the news, Media at 8:45 pm by R

Times are decidedly tough. Newsroom layoffs abound lately and communicators fear for their jobs as the budget numbers decline (but we all know they are the ones companies most desperately need in times like these).

…and the hits just keep on coming…

Today the Associated Press reported that the East Valley Tribune, a paper I regularly work with, is becoming a shadow of its former self – withdrawing from Scottsdale and Tempe, becoming a four-day, no-subscription publication. The East Valley Tribune will still offer service seven days a week through its Website.

Worst of all…the East Valley Tribune has cut 40 percent of it’s staff.

These times call for more quality reporting to inform the public about what is going on in this nutty world!

But the fact that the publication will be devoting coverage to the Web says something important: the life of public relations is on-line. Both by innovation and by necessity, many many media outlets are taking their emphasis on-line.


October 3, 2008

Why Is Phoenix Not On The Map?

Posted in In the news tagged at 8:58 pm by R

It seems like every time I look in a publication with a directory in it, Phoenix/Scottsdale is perpetually not included.

I’m going to use Allure as my premier example. They have a services directory included every month. Every month I look for a spa, waxer, colorist, manicurist, etc., but lo, there NEVER seems to be anything in Phoenix.

It’s not relegated to fashion magazines either. There have been numerous media outlets lately where I’ve not been able to find my home on the map when I know the Valley is pertinent and newsworthy.

I wondered why…

Phoenix, Ariz. is the fifth largest city in the United States, but it’s got this dusty old west quality to it. It’s a big city where everyone knows everyone somehow. It’s the largest small town you’ll ever visit.

We’ve got world class resorts, international company headquarters, celebrities, but somehow, we just haven’t come into our own as a metropolis.

Is it our vastly different climate?

Is it that there’s practically no natives?

Summer is brutal. Winter is beautiful. Everyone is somewhere else.

The unique (hot) climate definitely ostracizes us. When the rest of the world is switching back to hot coffee, we are still in iced mode…for about three extra months. Our stores rarely stock a pea coat, an umbrella, wellies or snow boots. When the media is doling out advice on studded tires, it’s only just cool enough to use the sun roof in our fair Valley.

Phoenix is a great melting pot, (and believe me there are days here when you really think you’ll melt) people are consistently from other places. I’m a native of Pennsylvania. My hubby is an anomaly, he actually is a native! But the first question anyone asks in business or at a bar is: “So where are you from?”

Houston, Philadelphia (I was born there!), Minneapolis, Detroit even; they all seem to have more media street cred. And I still don’t get it!

On the national stage, Phoenix has a lot to offer. With a unique climate, unique culture and unique conglomeration of citizens, Phoenix deserves a few more nods.

National media, take a look around. There’s some good stuff here!