January 26, 2009

A Call to Responsibility

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

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 🙂


January 23, 2009

Phone Pitching – one foot in the proverbial grave

Posted in Industry Standards, Social Media at 9:30 am by R

Allison and I were reminiscing about the good old days of PR (three years ago) when you could zip off an email with a press release and POOF! it would show up as news print a few days later with out so much as the dialing of a telephone.

During my years in the PR industry, the mantra for contacting reporters has generally been:

Email. Follow up phone call. Leave voice mail. Call back. Zero out. Email. Follow up phone call. Hang up. Call back. Hang up. Call back. Hang up. Have boss tell you to zero out. Call back. Leave voice mail.

But it seems that everything past the first ’email’ is utterly superfluous these days. The desk phone is futile. Phone pitching is dead.

So how do you get a hold of a reporter to talk about a GOOD, SOLID pitch?

You’ve got options. But it really depends on the reporter’s preference.

  • Twitter — oh yeah, this goes back to some ideas shared here about selling a story in 150 characters or less. Quick. Concise. To-the-minute. Reporters following you get insight into the projects you’re working on and can express interest. Simultaneously, we get to see what they are working on and offer input, resources or other perspectives that ADD to their stories or lighten the work load.
  • Facebook — whether it’s through the chat function or a private message, Facebook offers a platform to share visuals, video, links and content in a more appealing and interactive way than a traditional email.

Nearly all of these applications have interfaces for Blackberries, iPhones and other multi-function cellular devices…so it’s a higher touch method, allowing us to reach reporters wherever they are…

BUT that being said…

Whatever your method, the pitch has to be really tight. One can only imagine how much more information reporters will be bombarded with have access to, which means your content must be timely, relevant, complete and ideally, have multi-media components attached to it.

Rest in peace desk phone. It seems I hardly knew thee…


The Rising Pop Culture Conciousness of Social Media

Posted in Media, Social Media at 8:37 am by ageorgoulis

This past Sunday, ABC’s hit show Brothers and Sisters aired an episode revolving around Sarah Walker’s (played by the amazing Rachel Griffiths) new website launch. After Sarah and her colleagues give an (off screen) presentation at a tech conference before a group of potential investors, she bemoans the fact that she did not know what Twitter was or have a Facebook page.

This marks the first time I recall seeing a network TV show using the rising importance of social media as the subplot to an episode. In my opinion this signals the beginning of the ‘Tipping Point.’

Pop culture is now echoing the growing number of voices shouting from the digital mountain tops that the new era has begun. No more can social media be relegated to the “younger generations,” “computer geeks,” and “stalkerazzi.” It is mainstream and taking over how we communicate.

Bravo to ABC and Brothers and Sisters for its de rigeur subtext (and for providing me with an excuse to enjoy 60 minutes of unabashed screen drooling at Dave Annable – Justin Walker on the show)

I mean, c’mon, how can you not LOVE this show!

January 20, 2009

A New Media Inauguration

Posted in In the news, Political Punditry, Social Media at 12:13 pm by R

Barack Obama broke ground during the election with his use of social media.

Continuing on that trend, Obama’s inauguration today made history in the way it was viewed and even participated in. According to Mashable.com

The stats released, as of noon ET:

1. There were 200,000+ status updates through the Facebook integration on CNN.com

2. at that time, 3,000 people commented on the Facebook CNN feed per minute

3. Obama’s Facebook Fan Page has more than 4 million fans and in excess of 500,000 wall posts

As of 11.45am, CNN:

-had served 13.9 million live video streams globally since 6am

-had broken its all time total daily streaming record (from Election Day) of 5.3 million live streams.

Um. Wow!

That’s the power of social media.


When History Strikes

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:12 am by R

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 17, 2009

Social Networks Are Only As Robust As Their Users

Posted in Social Media, Uncategorized at 9:07 am by R

According to a recent Pew Internet & American Life Study reported on by the Phoenix Business Journal, social networking site usage has risen 27 percent in the past four years!

Leading the pack of these social networking sites:

  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn

The usual suspects.

But there are many others out there. Businesses, industries, publications and many a start-up site have tried to break into the social media space by creating their own networks.

But these “niche networks” — if you will — often flounder and lack the influence their creator(s) desire.

The broader the social network, the more opportunity for out reach. Plus, the Goliaths of their class (refer to the list above) have functions that allow for specific breakdown of interests, region and a host of other demographic information creating those “niche networks” inside of larger social networks.

Let me make an analogy. It’s like going to a big university and finding your place by participating in the Greek system and pledging the right fraternity/sorority you fit in to; versus going to a small school where where the entire student body is the community.

For both scenarios, groups can have tremendous enthusiasm for their community, but the fraternity/sorority has the opportunity to influence more people by virtue of the fact that they are just one distinct piece of a much bigger crowd.

Continuing on this collegiate theme…

I’ve been using Facebook since shortly after its inception in 2003. As a college student at the time, I was an early adopter. So were many others. Universities clamored to be included in the Facebook network…then highschools…then cities full of professionals…then the world.

The early adopters continued to use Facebook post-college, and, indeed, innovated FOR Facebook to address needs/wants as their needs of Facebook evolved by creating web applications. This is a critical measure for network robustness — are your users helping to make the network you offer better?

Facebook estimates that there are more than 52,000 applications for the network, with an average of 140 more being added per day.

For me, it makes more sense to have a brand presence in a larger space with more reach than to own a smaller space, with potentially limited activity, therefore less enthusiastic users and smaller opportunity to be truly robust.

One thing is for sure. The phenomenon of social networking and social media is no longer a fad, but the norm. Figuring out just how to  measure the impact is something we have yet to nail down as a communications community. But if you or your clients don’t participate, you’ll get no return. Play the game and the opportunities are huge.

The numbers from the Pew study will only go up. Be sure the brands and people you represent are a part of those increasing statistics.


January 16, 2009

Bring Back the Presidential Hat

Posted in Political Punditry, Projects at 8:52 am by SD

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

Shouting an authentic story

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:55 pm by SD

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

Waves of change

Posted in Industry Standards at 9:01 am by R

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:

  1. Use the 150 rule. If you can’t sell your client’s story in 150 words, you may need to evaluate the angles
  2. Bullets. Who. What. Where. When. Why. How. Journalism 101. Address these at the top of any pitch.
  3. 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

How Social Media Will Solve the Generation Gap

Posted in Millenial Mumblings at 8:38 pm by R

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.


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