August 28, 2009

Why the new media crisis isn’t new

Posted in Social Media at 8:18 am by R

The world of the Web has thrown some pretty tricky curve balls at established media formats, namely newspaper and television. But this isn’t the first time that media companies have had to re-invent themselves in the face of a technological revolution.

Let’s rewind, shall we, to 1949. Radio was king. But TV was beginning to captivate the masses thanks to a massive cable that connected 15 TV stations throughout the East Coast and Mid-West. A single show Texaco Star Theater, hosted by Milton Berle, catapulted TV into the next stratosphere converting loyal radio listeners to tune in and WATCH.


Terry Teachout wrote a great post about this entire episode (pun intended). He included some telling statistics about the impact of TV’s arrival and what it meant for media consumption:

…a survey of 400 TV owners in Washington, D.C., told the tale: Adult attendance at movies was down 72%, while 36.7% of TV owners attended fewer baseball games. Meanwhile, the average amount of time that these Washingtonians spent listening to ­radio each day had plummeted from three hours and 42 minutes to less than half an hour.

I couldn’t help but recall the Social Media Revolution video when reading this part of Teachout’s post. When new mediums arrive, their impact is imperceptible at first, but takes hold and grows like wildfire.

So it is the same with social media. Our consumption patterns have changed and we have left newspapers and television to grapple with their business models in order to preserve their livelihood.

The good news is, companies like CBS and NBC survived the change from radio to TV, as evidenced by their existence today. NBC is working to transition to online and social interactivity through Hulu (an evil alien plot to take over the world I hear).

Another interesting point Teachout makes is that TV operated in the red the first few years of its existence. Sound familiar? Social media outlets are still struggling to define their worth and their revenue streams. YouTube seems to be developing some interesting tactics. Facebook is working on it, Twitter too. But no advertising format has emerged as the silver bullet for any of these platforms.

Perhaps the most shockingly similar part of this entire idea of changing media paradigms is that the argument remains the same among those who “grew up with” a certain type of communication.

“Maybe we old people can’t adapt successfully to video.”

— Jim Jordan, star of the radio show Fibber McGee and Molly

I’ve heard lots of people limit themselves to what they are familiar with when it comes to social media. It’s daunting to turn away from what you know by heart. But it’s rewarding to discover (and utilize!) the possibilities of something new!

Whatever impact social media is having on your business or life, whatever frustrations this conversion might cause, we can all take comfort in knowing that we’ve been here before and pretty much everyone survived.


August 25, 2009

Gen Y’s Secret Career Management Weapon

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:14 am by R

Shortly after launching Cut Me Some Flack, we caught the eye of a very forward-thinking and proactive network of bloggers on Brazen Careerist.

Through this powerful network, the CMSF girls have been able to share our ideas among a peer audience and have met some pretty awesome Gen Y professionals who will no doubt make an enormous impact on this world in their respective industries.

If you haven’t visited this site and experienced the community on Brazen Careerist…GO NOW!

Brazen Careerist launched today a fresh new site enhanced with career management tools for Gen Y. So whether you’re just getting into the job market, working to become a better professional or just developing your personal professional brand this bigger, better community is a powerful resource.

This collaborative, professional site is an unprecedented approach to professional development. Brazen Careerist realizes that while the job market is competitive, the path to career success and satisfaction shouldn’t be. So here is this unique community which shares its collective experiences and offers solutions and ideas to help each network member.

It’s an “it-takes-a-village” attitude toward personal and career development.

This idea and anecdote sharing space has been an incredible resource for me personally, giving me insight for how the PR industry is shifting for other Gen Y practitioners all over the country. And it’s an opportunity to connect with people whose thoughts I really respect. If it weren’t for Brazen Careerist I might never have had a chance to interact with innovators like @ryanpaugh, @MsCareerGirl @danschwabel or @caitlinmc to name just a few.

Don’t be surprised if you start hearing A LOT about Brazen Careerist. The impact this online community is set to create is like nothing else in social media. The combination of career management tools and close-knit community are powerful…one might even call Brazen Careerist Gen Y’s secret weapon.


August 21, 2009

To Borrow Tom Ridge’s Words, “For that?”

Posted in Political Punditry at 10:17 am by R

Let me start off by saying that I’ve known Tom Ridge since I was a little girl. He and my mother worked together on the Erie Historical Society and did a number of projects together surrounding Veteran’s Affairs. Long story short…I’m a little biased.

That being said….

A press release from Mr. Ridge’s publisher  on his new book “The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege … and How We Can Be Safe Again” notes that:

Ridge says he objected to raising the security level despite the urgings of former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft…

An MSNBC article discusses the content of the book, addressing the political motivations for raising or not raising the Terror Level. Naturally, Mr. Ridge’s publicist indicates that his client is unavailable to give interviews until his book is release September 1.

Ok, here’s my issue: Why would you release text from the book as part of pre-promotion that has people coming out of the wood-works to contest the validity, honesty and credibility of the author!?

Case in point: Michelle Malkin is attributing this tactic to Ridge himself calling him a “weasel” for this type of pre-promo…and the commentary left under her post on the topic is less than glowing.

Some people believe that any press is good press. I’m not in that camp.

It is my position that as a publicist — or even a publisher — your job is to present your client in a positive light. I get it, controversy sells books. But there must be more in this book!

How can we be safe again? The title leads me to believe that Mr. Ridge has some solutions. Why not offer a few of those as part of pre-promotion? Be part of the solution, not party to beating a dead horse.

I worry that this book will be cast off as just-another-former-administration-expose because of this type of launch.

This book — from what the title implies — is an examination of the utterly changed world we live in from the perspective of a man charged with the nearly impossible job of adapting to that change on a federal level.

So, I have to question the strategy on this. For the publisher to issue a release and come out of the gate with controversial language from the book seems to draw attention to the wrong message. Let book reviewers draw attention to (and form their own opinions on) the content.

Stay positive I always say. And with such a great character to shine a spotlight on, that should have been really easy. One only need say, “What must it have been like to undertake the task of protecting our homeland in the wake of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil…Tom Ridge knows.”

Publicists for authors, I’d love your opinions on this one. Was this a smart publicity move? Would you recommend this to a high-profile political client? Would you launch a book in the press this way?

I admit though that the end goal was achieved: I know about the book and I plan to read it.


August 20, 2009

The new 9 to 5

Posted in A walk on the "dark side" at 9:07 am by R

Darryl Ohrt observes in Small Agency Diary that the work day is “all day — and night.”

It’s true that the barrier between work and personal is leakier than ever. Professional emails are answered late into the night and we spend time on “personal” sites like Twitter and Facebook during the day — though plenty of work gets done there too.

Social media and technology like smart phones have made the ages old “traditional work day” obsolete. These new tools have also made the idea of he-or-she-who-works-latest-works-the-hardest moot.

I don’t think that ideal ever really resonated with Gen Y anyway. We’ve always been so mobile and accessible that it’s hard to understand why the physical confines of the office were pressed so hard upon us. Showing your commitment to a job is in the response…not the physical location.

Granted, some things must take place inside the office. Teams have to collaborate together. Meetings must be had at some point. But Ohrt offers an excellent argument and solution for a less traditional office schedule:

What if employees were required to be at the office from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but the rest of the schedule was left to their personal preference? Meetings could be scheduled, clients could make contact and collaborations could continue to flourish during the core part of the day. But otherwise, morning people could be morning people, and night owls could be night owls. A morning person might come in at 8 a.m. and leave at 5 p.m. A late sleeper might come in at 10 a.m. and leave at 7 p.m.

Executives and senior creatives are already working with open schedules, as management trusts that employees at this level have dedicated themselves to a career, and are going to work day and night anyway. Freelancers and independents also enjoy a schedule of their choosing. Naturally, some agencies require a 12-hour work day for all employees, and can’t even enter the discussion.

Giving employees the flexibility to work at their highest potential on their natural schedule seems like a great way to increase productivity. You can only fight your circadian rhythm so hard after all.  It appears to be the solution to burning out or being stressed about accomplishing, well, anything in your personal life.

Ohrt acknowledges, and so do I, that this type of scheduling wouldn’t work for every office, every position or even every person. Some companies require a lot of “face time” due to the nature of their client roster. So positions are, by design, “office jobs.” And then there are some people who require enforced structure to get the job done adequately. Ultimately, the call is individual by business, boss and personal evaluation.

Personally, I like to show up early. It feels proactive and it’s quiet! I love the calm of the phone NOT ringing off the hook while make serious headway on my to-do list.

With Gen Y becoming an increasing number of the workforce, I think demand for schedule flexibility will rise…and probably productivity.


August 17, 2009

Social Media = Next Industrial Revolution

Posted in Social Media at 9:35 am by R

Watch and be convinced.


August 13, 2009

Who’s the most ethical of them all?

Posted in A walk on the "dark side" at 8:40 am by R

A new paper “The Moral Development of Public Relations Practitioners: A Comparison with Other Professions and Influences on Higher Quality Ethical Reasoning” written by some of the brilliant minds at Penn State’s Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication, definitively states that PR practitioners aren’t B.S. artists.

This study examined the moral compasses for people in 19 professions by administering a a test where respondents answered on a scale the importance of decision-making with relation to a dozen different ethical scenarios.

After all the results were tallied, public relations practitioners scored high in the same bracket with medical students, practicing physicians, journalists, dental students and nurses.

PR practitioners weren’t tops on the list…that honor goes to seminarians and philosophers. (And frankly you’re not very good at either of these professions if you don’t earn high marks on an ethics test! Morality is sort of their bread and butter.)

Who ranked the lowest? If you thought criminals or politicians you’re close but no cigar — it’s junior high school students. What hormones-raging, Jo-Bros-obsessed teen can really be bothered with moral fiber anyway? The study notes that this result explains why teens still need the guidance of their parents — even though they know everything already. 🙂

So what does this study mean for public relations practitioners?  Well, in a day and age where we are perceived as low-down-and-dirty scoundrels (at worst), it’s a little bit of vindication. Especially when journalists are giving us more flack (pun intended), we need a little ammo to turn that perception around. Here’s the trick. You can’t just throw this study out at everyone who challenges your ethical nature — you actually have to live and practice PR like a deeply moral person.

Actions speak louder than words after all…

So it seems that the brand of the PR practitioner has been tainted by a few bad apples who have lost their moral compass. The rest of us who preach credibility, humility and authenticity to our clients ought to up the ante on representing those PR brand characteristics ourselves.


August 11, 2009

The changing face of Facebook

Posted in Facebook tagged at 10:21 am by R

Way, way back in 2003, I was a junior at Gonzaga University. At the time, Facebook was a brand new way to communicate about parties and events, to see pictures of the parties you couldn’t make it to (or couldn’t remember). It was a way to keep up with your friends from other schools. Facebook was our own safe little network where we shared our college antics, thoughts and other information with peers.

Six years later, those early adopters to Facebook are professionals working hard for a living. Six years later, bosses, managers, clients and other work related individuals are signing on as well and — if your profile is not properly managed — have access to some of those less-than-professional photos, posts, etc.

According to a study from Printproof, eight percent of U.S. companies have dismissed an employee for behavior deemed inappropriate on social media. Mashable gave a hilarious example in their post on the study yesterday.

So what does it mean for the average Facebook user? Get in control of who sees what in your profile.

Just as you’re not likely to share money woes, relationship troubles or many other personal matters with a boss or other person with authority in your office (though that closeness does sometimes exist), don’t allow them access to the really personal stuff on-line.

Facebook has settings which allow you to control who sees personal information, photos, specific photo albums, videos, status updates and links. You can even create lists to categorize and easily manage how different categories of contacts view your profile content.

It comes down to a personal branding issue really.

Think about the sub-brands you personal brand is comprised of:

  • Friends (college, high school, etc.)
  • Family (mom, dad, bro, sis, etc.)
  • Work (clients, boss, colleagues, outside associates, etc.)

Think about the brand perception you want to have among certain groups:

  • Should mom, dad and your boss be able to see all your photo albums?
  • Do you want your colleagues to have access to that status update rant?
  • Should your clients be able to access links to news stories on politically sensitive topics?

Establish and maintain the characteristics you wish to present to each of these groups. And keep in mind that while you may limit the access of some, it’s important to be your own editor on appropriateness and language (and even grammar!). It can feel like an overwhelming and unending task but it is worth the diligent work.

Facebook is no longer just a college playground. Facebook has become your face to all the worlds you participate in — with HR managers, bosses and other professional contacts watching your every status update.

Fortunately, you do have some control. So take it! Brand yourself well.