|Original articles from Mike Bush.|
|5 Ways New Grads Can Stand Out|
Hello, recent grad. You just got your diploma, and now you’re trying to figure out how to get in the door. Like many of your classmates, you may be frantically filling out job applications (seriously, why can’t Taleo ever get the “import from resume” function right?!), sending resumes and cover letters, and hoping.
You’re not alone in this endeavor. We’ve all been there.
|Fitbit Acquires Pebble, Alienates Pebble Fans|
The idea that Fitbit would be acquiring Pebble, makers of the super-successful Kickstarter smartwatch, has been written about pretty heavily in the tech space. As far as secrets go, this one was about as poorly kept as is possible to imagine.
However, the actual communications around the formal agreement leave something to be desired. A lot to be desired, in fact.
|PR Titles are Out of Hand|
A former colleague of mine showed up in LinkedIn's "people you may know" section, and I was stunned to see the title associated with this person's account: Account Supervisor. That's impressive, especially since this person has only been in PR for about three years.
|Motherboard's Classy Move|
All over the interwebs, tons of digital ink has been spilled regarding the value (and honor system) behind the embargo system, where PR people offer journalists advanced looks at upcoming news. The goal for PR is simple: line up coverage in advance of the news becoming public. It's equally simple for journalists: have an idea of what's coming up, and be able to take the time to write a story, as opposed to simply rehashing what's in the press release.
It all sound simple enough, except there are any number of things...
|Getting the PR Gig: Part 5|
The first four posts in this series aimed to set you up for success in the interview process to ultimately get you the gig. That said, it didn’t address every possible misstep that you might make. This post won’t do that either, but it will offer some cautionary tales from the field…showing things candidates have done to ruin their chances of being hired.
For me personally, I don’t think that i’ve ever completely sabotaged myself in an interview situation (nothing comes to mind, anyway).
|Getting the PR Gig: Part 4 |
Let’s assume that you’ve followed the advice in the first couple posts in this series, made it beyond the call screening, survived a group interview, and maybe even knocked it out of the park via a video conference. Now you’re into the home stretch, and have lined up the final interview with an executive at the company...
|Getting the PR Gig: Part 3|
This is the third installment in a five-part series about how to get hired in PR, and will look at perhaps the most intimidating of the interviews: the interview performed via video conferencing. While there is no assurance that a video interview will happen for every role, the reality is that this type of interview is becoming far...
|Getting the PR Gig: Part 2|
In the first part of the “Getting the Gig” series, we asked marketing and PR professionals for their best advice for getting through the first round of interviews, and moving beyond the call screening. This part assumes you’ve taken our advice and made it through the screener, and are now set up for a group (or panel style) interview.
Group interviews are tough. Like, really tough.
|Getting the PR Gig: Part 1|
You, dear reader, have obviously stumbled on to a marketing and PR blog hosted on a career site for PR and Marketing. As such, there’s a chance you’re looking to find a gig (could be entry level, could be senior…we here at Talent Zoo like to offer an awful lot of each). So, it seemed to make sense to ask professionals in the space about their hiring experiences.
|MicroLink, LinkedSoft, Eh…Whatever|
Let’s get past the immediate shock of Microsoft buying LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. Yes, $26.2 billion is a lot of money. I mean…it’s a marathon of billions. Literally. But going beyond that, let's even try to move past the snark that comes with an acquisition like this.
For all you fans of schadenfreude, here’s a terrific example of the snark I’m referring to:
Microsoft and LinkedIn: finally, one company owns all the world's worst UX design.
— Patrick Coffee (@PatrickCoffee) June 13, 2016,
Let’s address why this deal makes absolutely no sense, and then maybe play devil’s advocate.
|Alexa, What’s the Future of PR?|
Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google. Four so-called virtual assistants that are aiming to capture market share offering voice commands that result in anything from turning on the lights through providing an update on last night’s big game. Each has its own bells and whistles, but combined, these might just be the four horsemen...
|Five Lessons PR Should Learn from 'Top Chef'|
Each season on Bravo’s Top Chef, restauranteurs and chefs alike gather to compete for the title of...yeah, you guessed it…“Top Chef.” The competition brings out fairly unique challenges along with a veritable who’s who of established chefs to serve as guest judges.
For PR people paying attention, the show also carries lessons that we as flacks should incorporate into our regular media, err...mixing bowl.
Everyone has their own palette. One of the most unique aspects of Top Chef is the variety of guest judges...
|3 Startups Keeping the Media Alive|
Sure, it may feel like a bit from a Monty Python movie, but the reality surrounding the so-called “death of the media” is maybe not as bleak as one might be persuaded to believe. Slowly but surely, we are seeing a variety of new media business models start to trickle out, with companies like Blendle, Texture, and AdBlock Plus (really!) finding ways to help the media monetize its content.
|The Shrinking Wall Between Editorial and Advertising|
There seems to be a growing trend in the media that’s blurring the lines between editorial and advertising, and no, I’m not discussing Native Advertising. For PR Pros, this trend is creating awkward conversations with clients, the need for apologies, and even questions like “But aren’t you a reporter?”
In the past six months, I’ve pitched stories to media (like everyone else in PR).
|Five Things to Ask Before You Engage in PR|
Whether you’re a startup or an enterprise, PR can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line. It can generate thought leadership, create lead generation, enhance mindshare, improve reputation, etc.
But before you, Mr or Ms. Business Person, decide to engage a PR Pro (whether that’s a freelancer or a firm), there are...
|Badlock, or Bad Form?|
For about a month, an Internet security company hyped a vulnerability that they’d discovered. They created a logo and a website and even did a countdown. The PR folks behind the initiative? They did a good job getting coverage for their client. But when you stop and think this one through...
|Is Advertising Making PR Harder?|
Ad Blocking has become a thorn in the side of many publications. 144 million people use some type of blocking every month (Ht/T Digiday, numbers from Adobe and Pagefair). There’s plenty of blame to go around as to why these handy little tools are gaining widespread adoption, but the reality is simple...
|Takeaways from 'Why So Angry'|
It started out as a simple question. “What are your pet peeves, PR people?” It turned into a three-part series railing on the media, trashing clients, and abusing vendors. Don’t get me wrong, a LOT of the angst was deserved, but now that Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the Why So Angry series are published, what conclusions can we draw (and did we scare away folks considering a career in the field)? Some conclusions:
It seems like PR people are just...
|Why So Angry, PR Peeps?: Part 3|
This is Part 3 of a four-part series, looking at the ways in which PR people are maybe driven a little crazy. Part 1 focused on the things our clients do, and Part 2 discussed our pet peeves with the media.
Again, I’m posting these without attribution (or commentary). I don’t want someone's (or my own) current clients or reporter colleagues to see something written by a flack and decide to fly off the handle. This wasn’t meant to be about flaming the fires…instead, it’s about catharsis.
|Why So Angry, PR Peeps?: Part 2|
Last week, I kicked off a series on what drives PR people a little crazy, and highlighted a few of the things our clients do to make us debate whether mom was right when she told us to consider med school.
Again, I’m posting these without attribution. I don’t want a reporter to see something written by a flack and decide to ban them from future pitching. I’m also posting without comment, because I may or may not agree with some of these.
As such, here are the things hacks do (or have done) to torment flacks...
|Why So Angry, PR Peeps?|
Sometimes, PR people get a bad rap. Whether it’s a journalist having a crappy day and firing off a nasty gram, a client whose expectations fall outside of reality, or the faithful and steady stream of articles telling us why we suck at our job, PR people can take a lot of… well… flack.
|A Chat with Coverage Book|
Sometimes, success breeds…more work? This is particularly true in PR, where getting your client lots (and LOTS!) of coverage can mean lots (and lots :-/) of reporting on that coverage. Whether this is combing Excel (or PowerPoint) with some sort of metrics (via media kit, Compete.com, Twitter followers, or any number of other things), success in a campaign can mean someone on the team is taking one for…well, the team.
Coverage Book is out to ease this process.
The company, which is a little more than a year old...
|Twitter Algorithm Didn’t Signal the Apocalypse|
The hashtag #RIPTwitter generated an awful lot of buzz when speculation picked up that Twitter would be moving away from its typical reverse-chronological timeline, and instead showing Tweets that were out of order.
The echo chamber hit full fever when Twitter’s CEO chimed in with a non-denial denial...
|Sympathy for a Journalist, Part 4: Emasculation|
It’s not often that reporters at top-tier publications offer their readers a look inside at how the sausage is made. And while the story by Conor Dougherty at the NY Times about trying to interview Google’s Co-Founder Larry Page feels like something that fits better on Medium than the Grey Lady’s pages, it did provide a really interesting take on how reporters can sometimes be shut out from the sources with whom they’re most interested in speaking.
I had the same experience recently, and found myself able...
|50- 30- 20...HIKE!|
In the past, I’ve gotten the opportunity to chat with Jason Kintzler, founder of PitchEngine (the article can be found here). TL;DR version: Jason’s a smart guy who’s trying to change the way PR and media work, and change it for the better.
So when he puts together a post about “new rules” of PR, I tend to take notice (and recommend that other flacks do the same).
I completely miss it, let it sit for nine months before someone else tweets it, and then I find myself wondering what the heck I’ve been reading the last three quarters before frantically scrambling to post on Flack Me as though it is some sort of revelation to me.
This post is the latter.
|Doing the Web Better: An Interview with Erin Commarato|
PR folks are doing the Internet wrong. So says Erin Commarato, Chief Creative Technologist at Theory Digital Group, a web design and development firm that aims to help PR people and firms be more effective online for their clients.
I met Erin at a terrific PR Innovators MeetUp in NYC, and, to be fair, Erin didn’t exactly say PR folks are “doing it wrong.” She more intimated that there are things PR people can be doing better. The following is an e-mail exchange she and I had regarding how her company...
|A Launched Peach Makes a Splat|
In the past few days, the media has been aflutter over a new social app that…well…if you’re an Android user, you don't have a darn clue what it does. The reviews ranged from glowing to middling to adding Peach to the deadpool.
CNET may have said it best: “...if nothing else, just claim your username..."
|The Boston Globe's Mixed Bag|
Annoyed to hear (presumably on a recurring basis) that readers weren’t receiving their copy of The Boston Globe, the editorial team set out to fix the problem. Taking an “if you want it done right, do it yourself” approach, the writers and editors spent Saturday night delivering papers themselves. Brian Stelter has the details.
When I first heard this was happening (on Twitter…where else...)
|2016 PRedictions from Flack Me|
Regular readers of this column understand that I recently came to the conclusion that making predictions is easy… but making accurate predictions is maybe a little harder (there’s a reason I don’t work on Wall Street). So this year, rather than making my own predictions and basically ending the year...
|Three Things I Hope Santa Leaves Under My PR Tree|
For flacks, this this time of year typically means a few things: client planning for next year (or, given the date, hopefully finalizing client PR plans for next year), making sure client thank-you notes/holiday gifts have been sent out and arrived, and, of course, lots of year-end gathering. But between company outings and scouring editorial calendars, it’s also the time of year when some of us put on our PJs, sip hot chocolate, and draft our letters to the heavyset guy dressed in red who resides up in the North Pole.
Santa, my tree is decorated, I’m three candy canes in, and I don’t mind telling you...
|2015 PRediction Revisit|
In earlier drafts, the title of this piece ranged from "Check Out All the Things I Said That Were Wrong" to "Accurate Like Trump" to "Good Thing I'm Not a VC." Heading into 2014, I made a trio of PRedictions that, as it turned out, weren’t so good. Heading into 2015, I again made PRedictions...
|OK, Fine; I Hope Things Suck|
Just before Thanksgiving, Richard at Champion Communications unveiled his very own version of Christmas Creep, channeling his inner Grinch to toss the turkey, step in the stuffing, and, yes, gum up the gravy. The target of his ire: variations of the phrase “I hope you’re well.”
|How to HARO Better|
My Flack Me colleague and super-flack Jeannine Wheeler talked about how valuable HARO can be as a tool in the flack’s toolkit. If you aren’t familiar with HARO, you should take the time to go read Jeannine’s piece. Here’s the link… I’ll wait.
One of the great things about writing for Flack Me is that we can use tools like HARO as reporters might, in order to find additional sources for stories (it’s something I’ve done a few times). As such, here is a set of tips on how to HARO better, written for flacks, by a flack...
|As Yahoo Shows Us, Making the Sausage is an Ugly Process|
Every flack has the story of sending the wrong draft of a document to a client. Maybe it was the fake, sarcastic version of a press release you wrote to get a quick rise out of colleagues. Maybe it was the version with the extra comment of “Hey, why are we letting them refer to this as news?” Or maybe it’s the version with changes still tracked...
|No One Does Easter Eggs Like Google|
Yeah, I know…wrong holiday. But if you search “A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away” via Google, you’re in for a Star Wars fan delight. To be fair, putting out Easter Eggs like this isn’t something new for the search giant. They’ve been doing this for a long, LONG time.
And they’re spectacular at it.
Without spoilers (all you have to do is search the terms), I present five Easter Eggs that surprise...
|Facebook Ads for PR|
Last week on Flack Me, fellow PR Pontificator Doug Bedell gave his view on whether or not it is OK for PR people to use email tracking software when pitching the media. Spoiler alert: He’s not a fan.
Well, if a little tracking software got under his skin, wait until he gets a load of this.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlights the way in which some agencies are buying Facebook ads...
|Hyper Aggressive Social Marketing Might Make Everyone an Influencer Target|
A startup named HyPR garnered some digital ink a few weeks back for its concept of identifying social media influencers, and attempting to build a layer of programmatic advertising into influencer relations. Essentially, the company seems likely to approach folks with more than 10k follower, segment their follower bases, by a variety of demographics such as location, gender, etc, and then try to sell promoted posts to advertisers (assuming those identified as an influencer sign up).
|Remembering the People Behind the Campaign|
During the first game of the World Series, the broadcasters at Fox ran into a snafu: a power outage. The delay resulted in a few different things happening, including Fox switching over to the international feed (which meant that typical announcer Joe Buck’s voice couldn’t be heard). Listeners of The Gist heard the show's host spiel...
|Yahoo, The NFL, and OTT Streaming|
This past Sunday, the NFL streamed a football game live from London, eschewing traditional TV in favor of a true Internet-only offering. The game was between the Bills and Jaguars—it’s like the NFL looked around and figured that this match-up of less-than-marquee teams was their best chance to ensure...
|Takeaways from the Gray Lady and Amazon Knife Fight|
Around two months ago, the NY Times ran a scathing article painting a picture of life as an Amazon employee being somewhere between indentured servitude and being the kid who sits alone to eat lunch in the high school cafeteria. Long hours and a lot of crying.
Generally speaking, time (and a killer online reputation management firm) heals all wounds, and generally speaking...
|The Oddities of Transparency: A Case Study in Google Docs|
Whether it’s the scalability, inexpensive costs, or “cool factor,” it seems that Google’s productivity suite has gained a foothold with tech startups. The obvious benefits, such as the ability to log in to Google Drive from anywhere, real-time collaboration...
|Crisis Extended: How Experian Made Things Worse|
File it under data breaches, hacking, or maybe even “irony,” but the recent data breach that saw Experian lose the personal information of 15 million consumers (including social security numbers) opened up a new can of worms.
Upon realizing they were breached, Experian offered their own breach remediation solution to customers impacted by the breach.
|The Reader: A Platform Wars Casualty|
As companies like the Washington Post move their content to Facebook’s Instant Articles publishing platform, it begs the question… who is now in charge of making sure customers are happy. This isn’t a shot at Facebook’s recent struggles in… well.. keeping it up. Instead, it’s a question of which company will ultimately be responsible for delivering the content...
|Ad Blockers Are a Big Deal|
We knew it was coming...the ability to block ads in a browser. Apple had previewed it as part of their upcoming iOS, and we knew a ton of digital ink would be shed over the launch of ad blockers.
I touched on it a while back here. People who are far smarter than I am, like Nilay Patel and Mathew Ingram, also chimed in.
And today, we’re in a place where publishers must frantically be looking around for a lifeline, which may or may not come in the near future. The Washington Post tackled the issue head on...
|Three Things Agencies Should Do to Protect Their Client Info|
When you spend a lot of time in Tech PR, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll carry at least one security company on your client roster. It might be for IoT, Enterprise technology, financial services, or any other number of applications…but the reality is that the security space is booming, and that means most tech firms have some experience in the space.
|Three Tips for Getting More Value from Twitter|
Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist, theorized that the typical person can only maintain around 150 stable relationships with other people. On social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, we tend to carry far more relationships than Dunbar thought possible.
Personally, I tend to follow around 500 people on Twitter (sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less), and generally speaking, I try to perform list-hygiene every couple months, looking at people who've perhaps become less active or changed beats.
|Time to Turn Off the Megaphone|
Social media, when done effectively, offers companies the ability to surprise and delight their customers. In addition, companies regularly say they’re looking to have a two-way dialog with their customers and provide rewarding experiences, even in the face of customer disappointment.
I once gave a presentation where I explained social media this way:
"It used to be that a customer who had a lousy experience with a brand told his or her friends about it at the bar."
|Three Things Flacks Should Take Away From Chris Sacca|
PR people in the tech world know the name Chris Sacca. For those outside tech, here’s what you need to know: He’s a former Googler, and his investments are a who’s who of tech companies. The guy has the Midas touch.
In June, he wrote a very, VERY long blog post about what Twitter can be. If you’re in PR…the entire thing is worth reading. However, knowing how many of us subscribe to the TL;DR school of article reading...
|Comcast's Focus on Watchable Could Be a Boon to PR Pros|
As longtime readers probably know, I’m absolutely fascinated with how TV and video are changing on a daily basis, and what these changes mean for the PR industry. What opportunities will open up? Could we see established players lose market share, or even disappear altogether? Are the major dollar sponsorships between sports and TV networks the last hope for Cable?
|Getting to Know Dot|
Sometimes, as flacks, we tend to get so wrapped up in whatever product or service we’re pitching that we lose sight of the big picture. We think about how to get our product in front of the biggest number of (qualified) potential buyers, perhaps building thought leadership, how to earn third-party credibility...all the stuff we include in our sales decks.
|Writing a (Google) Plus Obituary|
Mashable has penned what appears to be the definitive obituary for Google+, the social network launched by the search giant as a way to tap into the social media landscape. It’s a killer read if you have a few minutes, and discusses many of the (mis)steps Google has made with regards to social media...
|Someone is Earning Their Crisis Cred|
Over the weekend, it emerged that a PR firm has been brought in to do some sort of damage control for Gawker, the embattled media company. Gawker’s obviously built on snark and celebrity news, and when a news organization like this comes under fire, well, let’s just say that don’t do it small.
|LinkedIn Attempts to Put Its Finger on The Pulse: A Review|
The LinkedIn Pulse application attempts to bring relevant stories from across a person’s network to their smartphone, serving as a sort of curated news feed based on professional interests. For the past couple weeks, I tried to use Pulse as my go-to source of news. Below is a review of how things went.
LinkedIn obviously has the eyes and ears of the PR world.
|A Kinder Gentler Apple?|
The past few weeks have been curious for Apple, a company who was, well, let’s call it “measured” in their communications approach. Apple backtracked on a stance in their music business based on a post from noted technologist Taylor Swift.
|Buzzfeed’s All Growns Up|
In September of 2001, the day planes crashed into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and field in Pennsylvania, a communications professor at George Mason did something that everyone thought was insane. He held class. He turned the news on (it was a comms class, after all), and as the students watched (I was one of them), he talked about how different media had become. He discussed how different things were in 2001, as compared to other major, US altering events, like the JFK assassination.
|Publishing Platforms May Come to the Forefront for PR|
Generally speaking, PR people have typically been platform agnostic in terms of where we are happy to see earned media feature our clients. By that, I mean that a blog using WordPress as its back end was just as good as a blog using a homebrew solution.
|Ferris, Google, and Twitter|
In one of the most interesting things ever, it turns out that June 5, 2015, is the 30th anniversary of Ferris Bueller skipping a day of class. Not the movie being released… the actual day he skipped.
We know that because Larry Granillo and Baseball Prospectus are amazing.
|Sympathy for a Journalist, Part 3|
In the past, we here at Flack Me have occasionally thrown a note of sympathy to our counterparts in the media industry. We can understand the barrage of off-target, unsolicited e-mails. We’ve even gone as far as saying “get me off of this list.”** Today, however, I find that there is a new sympathy I have for journalists, and it revolves around the no-show.
One of the exciting things about writing for Flack Me is the opportunity to meet interesting people in the field.
|With Instant Articles, Facebook Launches a Media Company|
For a few months, there’s been an image circulating on LinkedIn (if you’ve been on the site lately, you’ve probably seen some iteration of it). It says:
"Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. ..."
|Fly Swatted: Annoying Habits Flacks Could Stand to Change|
For years, we PR folks have always tried to listen in, fly-on-the-wall style, to the interviews our clients are having with various analysts and media members. But over the past month, a few journalists I have a ton of respect for have asked for one-on-one meetings with clients, leaving this flack feeling like he just met the business end of an 18-wheeler’s windshield (much like the bug who kicks off Men in Black).
|Maybe Not Time to 'Fold'|
Earlier this week, a new site for storytelling launched, aiming to connect traditional news with today's content consumer. For a bit, as reporters and general consumers toyed with the new idea...
|Four Crazy Pitches|
This week, I set out to find some of the strangest pitches flacks have used to secure coverage. Among the responses, there are four that really stood out for me, and each brings with it an important reminder for PR people.
Shaun Walker, from HEROfarm marketing, offers:
“Last Christmas Ever” — In 2011, HEROfarm launched the Last Christmas Ever campaign on behalf...
There is a reporter I think should cover a few of my clients (and yes, that is an acknowledgement that not EVERY reporter should cover my clients). And, well, despite doing everything “right,” I haven’t managed to get anywhere with this person.
I’ve read their articles, followed them on Twitter, and sent relevant pitches that, based on their previous stories (which I referenced in those pitches), ought to catch the person’s attention.
|A Down Year for April Fools|
Over the years, April Fools' Day has been home to some of the funnier meme generators on the web. Gmail may actually qualify as the best of the best. For those of you too young to remember, the service was announced on April 1, 2004, and most people who saw it said "man, that’s funny, no company could EVER offer an entire GB of storage for free." A few days later, people were stunned to find out that it wasn’t a prank, but a legit offering. (Yeah, the web was a different place a decade ago.)
|A Look at Facebook's Play for Publishers|
Sometimes, what’s old becomes new again. In case you missed it, the New York Times quoted anonymous sources saying that the New York Times would be moving its content into Facebook’s new publisher platform (presumably, the anonymous sources were legit and not something someone overheard an intern discussing...
|Survey Says: Writing Questions May Be a Hidden Skill in PR|
How many times in our PR careers have we said something like “boy, it’s an interesting angle, but we really don’t have the data to back it up” when crafting a pitch?
Probably too many to count.
The point is, we live in a time where turning a survey around, from conceiving it to putting it into the field to having results in house, ready to be turned into content...
|Taking a Test Drive with PitchEngine|
For two years, I’ve been saying that wire services like PR Newswire and BusinessWire are ripe for disruption. See here for 2014 and here for 2015.
And now, I’m excited to roll out someone to serve as a challenger.
Jason Kintzler, Founder of PitchEngine, took some time to answer a few of my questions about his company’s service, and I don’t mind telling you that I came away impressed. Let’s start with the basics. Here’s Jason’s description of PitchEngine:
"PitchEngine is a tool for packaging up announcements for the modern web — social networks, email, mobile, etc. There is no traditional distribution (meaning we don't spam it to a list of unwilling recipients on your behalf). ..."
|Fifty Shades of Ello|
Earlier this week, users of Ello received a message from the fledgling social network, explaining that unlike Blogger, Ello would not only allow but would promote National NSFW Month on the service!
Uh, Ello, WTF?
Let’s start with the fact that this feels like what most people would call a PR stunt.
|Verizon PR Taps Out|
Yesterday, in what many are calling a victory for the Internet, the FCC ruled in favor of Net Neutrality. You can find more info about the whole issue and what it means for PR here.
Verizon has long been an opponent to the concept of Net Neutrality, and upon the FCC announcement, Verizon’s PR team tried to have their Oreo Cookie moment by publishing their response in Morse Code as a way to accuse the FCC of enacting old rules.
The response from Verizon wasn’t exactly well received...
|Microsoft is Suddenly Killing It on PR|
Like most folks in PR, I keep a running list of things I want to write (or perhaps various pitches I’m thinking about using). The list is in a notebook sitting on my desk, and to be honest, the notebook looks like it has survived a war. It kind of has.
Earlier this week, I wrote, “Microsoft has had a couple good weeks,” with the idea of offering credit where it’s due. I should have written sooner, because apparently Forbes agrees with me so much they went ahead and scooped me.
|'House of Cards' Just Gets It|
For a brief hour or two yesterday, Season 3 of House of Cards leaked onto Netflix and turned Twitter into an all-out swoon.
If you work for Netflix, or you’re the team behind the hit show, you may not be thrilled to see the leak. However, you’d never know it from the response from the House of Cards team. "This is Washington. There's always a leak. All 13 episodes will launch February 27."
|The FCC's Take on Net Neutrality May Impact PR|
Let’s start with the obvious here: The Chairman of the FCC just opened an immense can of “Who’s Your Daddy?” on every Internet service provider in the US. The three “Bright Lines” rules of the Chairman’s, discussed expertly on GigaOm, are: No Blocking, No Throttling, and No Paid Prioritization. In practical terms, it means companies like Comcast or Verizon have to treat ESPN.com ...
|4 Tips for Making Your First Day Better|
Since Talent Zoo is a site dedicated to getting folks hired, it seems like a brief reminder on how to efficiently onboard (either in agency or in-house settings) might be a worthwhile subject to explore. This way, you’re ready to go once you find your next dream role on our site. Whether you’re an old hat taking on a new challenge or a NooB looking at the daunting task of your first day...
|A New Sharing Site Aims to Infect Users With Content|
Sometimes, the headlines write themselves. This post was almost called “Journalists finally correct, PR people are infectious,” but I held off. A new social network called Plague has grown pretty considerably since November, and may force every PR firm...
|Suggesting New Year's Resolutions for Five Companies|
In an effort to find out just how long I can drag out the “New Year’s Resolution” theme, I’ve come up with a list of resolutions that I think five companies should consider. Some are based on experiences with a company, and some are just because I’m impressed. Feel free to make any suggestions for other companies in the comments. For Roku: Keep doing what you’re doing, full steam ahead.
|Sling TV Has Already Been Shot|
At CES, Dish Network fired a shot across the bow of bundled cable companies, launching a new service called Sling TV that’s served over the Internet (OTT for short) and includes some of the top cable networks. ESPN and ESPN 2, Disney Channel and ABC Family, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, CNN, TBS, TNT, Food Network...
I may have struggled with predictions heading into 2014, but if at first you don't succeed, try and try again, as they say. So with failed attempts as the background of this post, here are my three predictions that we should be able to mock together in around 12 months. 1. PR firms will become more scalable by bringing in situational talent.
|2014 PRediction Fail|
Heading into 2014, I published 3 PRedictions for what the year would bring.
I was generally, well, wrong.
I predicted the fall of the wire services through some sort of disruption. Didn’t happen. I stand by the prediction (it will be in my 2015 predictions next week) because the digital age doesn’t require these services. I predicted that native advertising would “go the way of MySpace.”
|Maybe Radio Isn’t Dead|
While the overall number of folks tuning in on their AM or FM dials is dropping, a podcast is showing that perhaps the long-talk format isn’t dead, just on-demand.
Serial, a podcast from the creators of This American Life, has taken the Internet and the U.S. by storm. A Google search for the podcast shows it’s been covered by the Huffington Post, Washington Post, Seattle Post Intelligencer, The Atlantic, Slate and the BBC (flacks everywhere are impressed with the earned media), and most interestingly, the show...
|An Uber Eff Up|
Here is all you need to know. An executive at Uber made statements about hiring researchers to dig up dirt on a reporter and then broadcasting the info they found.
The history of Uber, which is a “ride-sharing” company, is fraught with executives saying dumb things (the company has been in trouble for the way they screen drivers and scam competitors), but this is a whole new level.
|How 10 Minutes Daily Can Save Your Client Relationships|
There are certain PR responsibilities that I’ve never been fond of handling. One of my all-time least favorite things to do is to maintain a clips book for clients. When things are going great and you’re regularly securing quality earned media, it almost seems unnecessary, because you’re sending your client regular updates with good news.
|Sponsored Comments Might Just Break the Internet|
“There goes the neighborhood,” is only an appropriate phrase when it’s a neighborhood somehow going downhill. Maybe it’s a house on a particular block selling for half of what it’s worth, and everyone else’s property value being brought down. Perhaps it’s as simple as a sewer pipe bursting and making a mess.
So it begs the question, what happens when the neighborhood with the worst reputation goes downhill?
|Give A Guy a Break, and Stuff...|
So, the San Francisco Giants are again world champions of baseball. Their starting pitcher, Madison Bumgarner, has earned his place among the baseball legends with a performance for the ages. And this morning, somewhere in the bowels of their Detroit headquarters, their corporate communications team...
|Microsoft Qik Fliks Are Retail Marketing Gold|
If you search for “hot brands use Snapchat,” the floodgates open. Case studies of five smart brands! What 10 early adopters are doing! Don’t miss out on Snapchat’s Potential!
And yeah, recent troubles aside, Snapchat took the world by storm.
However, without much (any?) fanfare, Microsoft launched a new Video Messaging app that might just be a retail marketer’s dream (assuming their customers sign up for the app, and assuming there is one-to-many broadcasting built into this...)
It’s finally happening. After years of hoping, praying (begging?), and keeping our fingers crossed, those of us who have been advocating cutting the cord from Cable are finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
It started Wednesday, when HBO announced that, yes, they would be unbundling from cable and building a standalone service.
|What to Do When HR Gets a Facebook Page|
Some of us in corporate comms can be a little, well — let’s be diplomatic and call it territorial. We aim to use PR and other tools to control the message and present a unified company front. We’re storytellers. We’ve always got an eye on the big picture. And a little secret — we have literally no tangible skills. None. Seriously, if a zombie apocalypse started tomorrow and you had your choice of a PR person or, well, someone who works in literally any other profession, you’re taking the other guy or gal… unless that person works in HR.
And this is why things get weird as companies start to incorporate “organizational life” ...
|Insert a Pun with the Word 'Ello' Here|
Say Ello. Ello Mate. What the Ello is that all about? There have been lots of stories beginning with some variation on the name Ello. Regardless of the (sometimes) witty intro, once one of the Talent Zoo (and Flack Me) powers that be sent me an invite to the site, it became pretty obvious what my next post was about.
I don’t want to write this from the “here is how it works” perspective. I’ll leave that to other folks.
|In Defense of Flacks|
A reporter writes a story about how PR people suck, and usually, the Twitter-verse blows up with flacks pointing at each other saying, “Told you not to do it that way,” (or more accurately…the normal statement is "I would never do it that way"). In fact, there is a tech blog that I’m fairly sure looks at page views...
|Pandora Isn't Killing the Music Business|
Flack Me isn’t, to the best of my knowledge, supposed to be a place to rant and rave about industries. However, when it comes to issues pertaining to corporate communications, sometimes a situation arises that requires, at the very least, an examination of both process, and the company (companies?) involved.
Pandora is destroying the Music Industry & Musicians Hate Pandora.
|A Case for Ending Automation|
Parts of this post may seem insensitive. They’re not meant to. Steven Sotloff is an American Hero, and should be recognized as such. His passing should be mourned, his life honored.
The folks at 20th Century Fox had a bad day.
Minutes after they launched a campaign called “National Headless Day,” aimed at promoting the DVD release of their show Sleepy Hollow, the awful video footage of the Steven Sotloff, the American Journalist who had been taken hostage by ISIS, showed up online. (Side note to this story for another day: people buy DVDs).
|Writing for Wearables May Be the Next Big PR Skill|
The smartwatch is becoming more and more of a reality. Pebble got its start on Kickstarter and now has a couple versions available at retailers (disclosure: I wear a Pebble and adore it). LG has one. Samsung has one, and according to Re/code, Apple is about to put theirs on the market.
If you thought Twitter had an impact on the way flacks write...
|Uber Needs to Go Out for a New Spin|
Uber, the “car sharing” company that’s competing with taxi companies, is no stranger to controversy, but their latest ploy seems to have crossed a line. A couple weeks ago, it was reported that employees of the site have ordered (and canceled) more than 5,500 rides in the last 10 months...
|The Day Ralph Trended on Twitter: A Story of Karma|
For the non-baseball (or sports) fans, hang in there on this one; there’s an important lesson about being first on Twitter. For anyone who follows sports, go ahead and skip the next paragraph, which gives a little primer on what a league’s trade deadline day means to its fans.
Background: In each of the major sports leagues (Baseball, Football, Basketball, and Hockey)...
|Straining to Look at an Ad|
Generally speaking, I tend to look at ads with a jaded eye, more often than not ready to roll my hazel greens at the first sign of anything that screams "look at me."
Also, I'm not yet a parent, unless you count my four-year-old lab/spaniel mix, who still believes she is a puppy.
But somehow, the image at the top of this post got to me as I was taking the train home this week.
I understand that zombie shows are kind of popular or whatever, and that there is a pressure to be the most "in your face" marketer (look no further than the Walking Dead's campaign to scare the hell out of New Yorkers), but somehow, this feels like FX took it too far. Somewhere, there is a flack for FX who saw this ad concept and immediately prepared a canned apology...
|A Truce the Government Missed|
A few weeks back, Flack Me counterpart Doug Bedell covered a statement issued by 11 (darn big) PR Firms recognizing the way that PR folks should be able to edit articles on Wikipedia. Essentially, these 11 firms agreed that it was time to play fair, admitting that maybe, in the past, that hadn’t always been the case on the website that has become such a major source of information.* Essentially, we have two truces being mentioned here.
|When 40 Minutes Just Isn't Enough|
Yesterday, Facebook released their Q2 earnings, and one of the numbers I’ve seen bandied about this morning is the daily time the company claims users are on the site: 40 minutes (more than double the metric it shared last year).
In that time, you could:
Cook a healthy meal.
Work on a better butt.
Write a post for Flack Me
Catch a rerun of House on Netflix
|Comcast Fail: Customer Service Drops the Ball|
In a piece of audio that sounds more like a radio stunt than an actual customer service call, a representative from Comcast added to the already-horrific reputation of the company. It all started when a pretty well-known, somewhat influential blogger tried to call Comcast to cancel his Internet service with them.
|Anyone Pitching Canadian Press Should Read This, Eh|
Last week, Canada set into motion the most ferocious anti-spam laws in the world. Called the CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Law, for anyone who questions the creative genius of our neighbors to the north), the law can fine for a single commercial e-mail sent without permission. And the fines, (up to $1 million Canadian for individuals)...
|Did Google Take out the Trash?|
For a few years, when Google was looking to find its way in the social networking space, it seemed like there was always a mention of Orkut (one of the search giant’s early social escapades), and with any mention of Orkut...
|Aereo Got Dunked|
One of the more interesting product attempts on the market over the past year has been Aereo, which takes over the air cable channels (major networks) and essentially turns them into online feeds that can be watched on a consumer’s schedule. The company is backed by IAC’s Barry Diller, and has been sued. And sued. And sued.
I’m no lawyer, but the basic argument went as follows:
Cable companies and content providers said Aereo was violating copyright.
|Another Series of Tips on Publishing|
Scoop.it has an excellent post on publishing content in our social media age and the challenges we’re all, as content creators, seeing. This particular post focuses mainly on Facebook.
However, it also does a great job showing how other platforms, both search and social, all seem to have the same exact requirement:
Create. Better. Content.
|4 Tips for Better Client Relationships|
Last week, while being introduced to a new VP in my day job, a discussion of past roles came up (a typical introduction discussion, including things like "Where were you before joining the company?"). The new VP, like me, has been on both sides of the desk, agency and in-house, and when she asked what I thought the biggest differences were, I couldn't help but think there was a Flack Me post waiting to be written.
So, without further ado, here are my four things I wish I would have known when I was at an agency...
|GigaOm on Why We Can't Have Nice Things|
Early in 2014, Google’s Search Genius, Matt Cutts, blogged and provided a video saying that guest blog posting was becoming something that PR people may want to consider staying away from (and SEO folks should really take notice of).
|A Wonderfully Contrarian View of Native Advertising|
I’m skeptical of “Native Advertising.” This whole concept of “the brand creates ‘content’ that people will want to read and then pays to pass it off as journalism” seems…dirty. I mentioned being skeptical when a PR firm launched an Ad Network on LinkedIn.
And yesterday, I read an interview with Andrew Sullivan...
|Most Valuable Brands List Offers Surprises|
Analyst firm Millward Brown released their annual list of the 100 moist valuable brands in the world, and while many of the brands you’d expect to be on the list make the cut, there are a few surprises as to who fell where.
Health Conscious Doesn’t Mean Brand Equity: People are wearing health monitoring devices.
|Skype Adds A New Wrinkle for Media Training|
There was a time when, if a Washington DC TV station wanted to interview someone in New York, that person had to go to a sister station and do a satellite interview. Very fancy companies might have had a Polycom video conference solution, and maybe, just maybe, the techies at the company could get on the phone with the techies at the station to work something out.
|Flacking on Facebook|
Some of us can’t get enough Facebook. It’s a place to catch up with friends and family, check in on people you maybe haven’t thought about in a while (maybe in a creepy manner, maybe not), and of course, flacks ought to be helping our clients with their Facebook presence.
Which is why an article on ReadWrite caught my attention.
|PR Firm Launches Ad Network on LinkedIn|
Earned, Owned, and Bought. PR was about the former, advertising about the latter, and this whole new middle ground has blurred the lines in a way that makes Robin Thicke blush. And yesterday, noted PR Firm FleishmanHillard earned media in Ad Age by launching a “Native Newsroom” on LinkedIn. Certainly there’s some irony about earning media to promote an ad service...
|A Paywall I Can Get Behind|
We’ve all seen a headline to an article and thought, “I can’t wait to jump into this.” Maybe it is about a hot new technology. Perhaps it’s some celebrity gossip. Maybe it’s an article about a baseball player cheating. (It could even be the latest Flack Me post).
And, as soon as we click to read this story that’s left us with such anticipation...
|US Airways Social Media Team Crashes But Their Flack Deserves Parachute |
It may be a bit of a piling on, since most folks have, at the very least, heard a bit about US Airway’s recent social media…turbulence? The gist, for those who missed it, is as follows: Passenger sends tweet complaining about delay. US Air says “we’re sorry."
Passenger continues to complain.
|Witty Content May Come at a Cost|
One of the most difficult things about being in the content game (and as flacks, we’re certainly playing) is to provide relevant, timely, and sharable materials. Whether through video, text, or images, at least part of the job is now judged on how many people “Like,” “Favorite,” “Retweet,” “Post,” “Tag,” or “Share” the content we throw at the interweb.
So when a social media person at an NYC drug store saw an image of Hollywood’s Katherine Heigl coming out of their store, they probably felt like they had struck gold.
However, if she has her way, the only pay-dirt coming will be headed towards Heigl, who is suing Duane Reade for $6 million for using her image.
This seems like a perfect reminder for all of us that while we’re supposed to move at the speed of light, it’s important to stop and make sure we’ve got all of our ducks in a row.
|Showcasing Upcoming Changes to LinkedIn|
You don’t read about it nearly as often as Facebook or Twitter when discussing social strategies, but if you ask your HR department, they’ll certainly tell you about how important LinkedIn is to the quality of applicants coming through the door for job openings (they’ll likely put it right behind Talent Zoo for marketing people).
Hat tip to the publisher aside, LinkedIn recently announced changes that are coming up on their platform...
|Sympathy for a Journalist, Part 2: How to Get Removed from a List|
It may seem like a small complaint, but it’s one that every flack has heard at any number of events where a journalist lists off the things they like least about PR people: I get so many emails that aren’t related to my beat, and PR people just keep sending them.
In short, too much communication about something a person doesn’t want. Sounds familiar.
|Measuring PR Success is Currently Mission Impossible|
How do clients know they’re getting value for their PR dollar spent? They can look at earned media placements, and if they’re particularly savvy, maybe they assign different values for different types of hits (New York Times perhaps more valuable than a trade magazine…depending on what the goal of the PR campaign is). There’s advertising equivalencies, which should make any flack stay up at night pulling his or her hair out. A flack can track the number of “shares” a story gets, assuming the target audience is in the demographic that shares regularly.
|Does Vince McMahon Read Flack Me?|
About two and a half weeks ago, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE… formerly WWF, which the World Wildlife Foundation somehow believed would confuse consumers… apparently people can’t tell the difference between an actual panda bear and a dude wearing tights dressed up as a panda bear?) launched its online only streaming service.
|A Pic May Be Worth 1,000 Words, But How Many Words Equal a Dollar?|
So often, as comms professionals, we overlook a simple truth. We tirelessly edit our press releases, blogs, tweets, status updates, etc., to ensure that every word carries meaning. As the saying goes, we make sure that not a single hair is out of place. Then we slap stock photography into the post...
|Did Frank Underwood Assassinate The Water Cooler?|
There’s no doubt in my mind that House of Cards is currently the best thing on TV. You may disagree, have different taste, what have you, but for me, this show is a dark version of The West Wing (I would have said that The West Wing was the best thing on TV when it was still airing).
|Book Review: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook|
If you’re in the communications and/or social media space (read, everyone in PR today), you’ve hopefully heard the name Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s an author, a Twitter deity, an entrepreneur, and a wine connoisseur whose brilliant pairing ability literally know no bounds (hello Taco Bell wine-pairing, really).
Oh, and he recently started a $25 million venture fund backed by the owner of an NFL team.
His most recent book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World, should, probably be considered required reading for anyone in our profession. Here’s why:
The title is an obvious reference to boxing, and this book paints a picture of how marketers and flacks can effectively position their brands with their consumers...
|Mother Nature Needs a Flack|
The Super Bowl: Football’s biggest stage. When you think of the NFL, you’re supposed to imagine modern-day gladiators heading off to battle. In their ads, we regularly see massive, bone-rattling hits. And we almost always see these padded warriors playing in miserable conditions.
|Blackfish Paints PR in a Dark Light|
A documentary available on Netflix (and dozens of other places) tells the story of a killer whale, currently in residence at SeaWorld, named Tilikum. The movie tells many stories, but one of the most poignant might just be about why PR has such a bad name.
Before jumping in, let me throw out a disclaimer here. Blackfish is a truly sad movie. The allegations of the way killer whales are captured and trained are pretty heart-wrenching. The idea of an animal that’s essentially being treated as a pet...
|Everything Old Is New Again: Optimizing News for Paper|
Facebook this morning announced the launch of a standalone app for news discovery and syndication, dubbed Paper, which based on reports will allows users to aggregate news from social feeds and around the web into one mobile experience.
According to Mashable, the new application will have 19 sections, including most you’d expect to see in a newspaper...
|KSDK Apology Hits the Mark|
Love them or hate them, there is something to be said for local news stations and the value they (sometimes) bring to the community. For every silly bumper (Is your pet considering eating your brain? Tune in at 11 to find out), local news stations can play an important part in highlighting the good things happening in a town or city.
Last week (in what now probably seems like an obviously terrible idea), a reporter at KSDK in St. Louis decided to see how effective school security was at a local high school. Again, with the benefits of hindsight, we can pretty clearly guess how this is going to turn out (hint: not very well).
|A Court Decision that Could Profoundly Impact PR|
If you follow technology news, you probably caught a bit of the news on Tuesday that an appeals court in Washington DC has struck down the FCC’s rules for Net Neutrality. The decision could have stunning repercussions for the PR industry, given what we could be about to witness. In the simplest of terms, prior to Tuesday, any company that provided an Internet connection had to treat every piece of data it carried as equal.
|We Will We Will Roku|
So often, we read about social media crises. Or, how some company has let someone down. I try to stay away from using my (very limited) social media presence on the net as a sort of bully pulpit for companies that I perceive have done-me-wrong.* But by and large, I sometimes think Kevin Smith was right:
The Internet is a tool used the world over...
|3 PRedictions for 2014|
Since every journalist, news outlet, blogger, and person with a keyboard is about to start their “predictions for next year” stories, I thought it made sense to add to the fray. Here are three things I think will happen next year. Someone will disrupt the wire services — PRNewswire, BusinessWire, etc.
|A Tale of 2 Airports|
While we in PR aren’t necessarily in customer service, the reality is, we kind of are.
If you’re an in-house comms person, you probably do (and absolutely should) have some input into messaging aimed at your customers.
The following is the tale of two airports, and a discussion of how all it takes is one, small overlooked department to completely obliterate...
|For A-Rod, Premeditation Trumps Sympathy|
Yesterday offered all the compelling courtroom drama you’d expect from an Aaron Spelling made-for-TV blockbuster. The antagonist, confronted with evidence of his wrongdoing, in a final act of defiance, smashes his hands on the table while cursing his accusers and the system alike.
|4 People That Muck Up Your Press Release|
They say a camel is simply a horse drawn up by a committee. As flacks, inevitably, our press releases have to go through some sort of review processes. Whether we’re in an agency setting (where presumably the account team all has some sort of input into a release) or internal comms (where there are multiple constituents), there’s a real danger...
|A Little Nostalgia for a Fallen Disc|
Yesterday, it was announced that Blockbuster would be closing its doors, with more than 300 stores in the U.S. ending operations by January. Blockbuster’s DVD by Mail model will also be shutting down.
While I’m fully on the “everything digital and cord-cutting-rocks” bandwagon, there’s something sad about a bastion of my childhood being put out to pasture.
|Sympathy for a Journalist |
In PR, we’ve all read or listened to a journalist when (s)he says something like “try to send me information that’s relevant to what I write.” And yes, we’ve all, at some point or another, ignored this simple request, pulled a media list out of Cision and blindly sent a mass pitch to people who we hoped might be relevant.*
I always understood this journalist request, but in some cases, I thought there was a little bit of arrogance. While trying to take it to heart, and making a point of trying not to send unnecessary pitches...
|Seriously ESPN, WTF?|
I know that ESPN is occasionally a bit of a four-letter word to some of the sports cognoscenti among us, sometimes glossing over the intricate details and minutiae that some diehards crave. I sometimes feel that way about their baseball coverage, but by and large, I think ESPN is great at what it does: Sports news and analysis for the every-fan (not the superfan).
This week, listening to Mike & Mike in the morning, I heard them explain their “Word of the Day” contest.
|For Alex Rodriguez, Maybe It Is Time To Stop Talking|
So often, as sports fans, we look at a player’s salary and include the numbers as part of our opinion of a player. “Boy, Dustin Pedroia took a hometown discount to stay with the Red Sox for a long time. I can respect that.” “I can’t believe Josh Hamilton left the Rangers after all they’ve done for him. Sure it’s a little extra money, but what a sell-out!”
And then there’s the Alex Rodriguez contract, which comes into play almost as much as his steroid situation. Ten years. $275 million. Biggest contract in baseball. A record Alex does hold. And by the way, when Alex decided to opt out of his previous record-breaking deal in order to sign his “new” record breaking deal…
|Amazon Press Release Is Twitterific|
Last week, Amazon published a press release discussing the new Kindle Fire HDX. It was 14 lines, all less than 140 characters. In other words, Amazon published 14 tweets as a press release.
|PR is Unnecessary...Except It Isn't|
The original headline for this was going to be “Uberflack says Flacks Are Unnecessary… then extols virtues of flacks,” but that didn’t seem likely to fit onto the homepage. In a meandering piece featuring Brew Media Relations founder Brooke Hammerling, Brooke gives advice to start ups about when they do and don’t need PR. Some of her advice is truly outstanding, and if you’ve been in the field for a while, you tend to agree with it. Note: some of those skills require a communications professional...
|Media Fail: In a Crisis, the Facts Matter|
In what can only be described as a tragedy, 13 people died Monday as a gunman opened fire at the Navy Shipyard in Washington, DC. While it’s understood that the media has a job to do, namely disseminating information in as timely and accurate a fashion as possible, a number of media attempts to be “first”...
|For Apple, Loose Lips Sank a Ship|
“One more thing.”
Steve Jobs' signature phrase, uttered at the “end” of an Apple press event, used to send shivers down the spines of everyone in attendance (in person, or online). The phrase was actually enough to break Twitter (when that wasn’t so hard), and would light up tech circles around the globe. In short, when Steve Jobs said “One more thing,” he was about to change the way people think about technology.
|Caring Company or Big Brother Watching?|
A while back, I wrote about how using different angles, such as the perks your company offers, can lead to great coverage for your company and your clients.
Today, the Washington Post shows us the other side of the equation, showing how Google, the poster-child for awesome workplaces (seriously, the article mentions a desire to have no employee ever more than 200 feet away from free food), may be taking things to the extreme.
|Tackling Writer’s Block to Push Through a Deadline|
As Flacks, we’ve all been there. It’s a situation we share with journalists. Maybe it’s a blog post we’re ghostwriting for a client. Perhaps it’s a press release about recent survey data. Maybe it’s a post for the Flack Me blog on Talent Zoo…Regardless, we’ve all had that situation:
We’ve got a deadline, and we’ve come down with a case of writer’s block.
|Does Native Advertising Need More Oversight?|
Let me start by saying…there are a bunch of terrific reporters, reviewers, and editors at CNET. This isn’t meant, in any way, to reflect poorly on any of them. However, the website’s most recent foray into Native Adverting should send up flags for flacks everywhere, because it significantly blurs the lines between editorial and advertising.
|Google Did Not Kill PR, but Newswires Might Want to Worry|
My Flack Me colleague Ashtan Moore stole my thunder recently discussed how Google’s algorithm change can have consequences for some PR practitioners. The main takeaway from the recent shift in algorithm seems to be “don’t be spammy” (which seems like a close cousin of Google’s ‘Don’t be Evil’ motto).
|Hey Captain Jack, Aim Those Cannons Somewhere Else|
Johnny Depp is kind of famous. He’s played a boatload of roles in his life, including Edwards Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd, Willy Wonka, George Jung, and of course Captain Jack Sparrow.
Jerry Bruckheimer is sort of a big deal, too. His production company boasts credits for movies like Armageddon, Coyote Ugly, Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down, Pirates of the Caribbean...
|Perks in a New Gig|
It’s no secret that some tech companies are known to spoil their employees with outside the box perks. Somewhere along the way, some aggressive flack pushed the idea of highlighting perks at particular companies By way of example, Fast Company, The Washington Post, and even Bon Appetite have covered the food available in the Googleplex.
|Even the Bra(u)ny Guy Can’t Clean Up This Mess|
Major League Baseball (gleefully) announced a suspension for one of its biggest stars, Ryan Braun, for using banned substances (read: Steroids). Braun will miss the entirety of the rest of the 2013 season, a total of 65 games, and will forfeit his salary for those games (over $2 million). That, of course, doesn’t count the endorsement money he will lose.
|PR Fail: Rolling Stone Jumps the Shark in a Blatant Shill for Page Views/Magazine Sales|
Word on the street is that traditional media, especially print media like newspapers and magazines, are really struggling to survive in today’s digital world. Flacks know this. Reporters and editors know this. It’s not a secret in any way.
If you spend even a couple minutes on Twitter, you can likely find a decent amount on information about this phenomenon (you can start with the aptly named @themediaisdying).
So, while some groups try to work together to find new business models, occasionally a media outlet will go to the old school playbook of “as long as we sell copies of the magazine, advertisers will keep coming back.” Enter Rolling Stone Magazine.
|Kicking Rocks, Throwing Stones, and Losing Pebbles|
The Kickstarter dream for products probably goes something like this:
Step 1: Have a great idea.
Step 2: Present it to the crowd.
Step 3: Be showered with adulation and get the funding you need.
Step 4: Build your product.
Step 5: Have a major retail chain pick up the product. It’s the American dream we’re all taught about as children. And, it’s also the exact path that smart watch maker Pebble...
|Stick a Fork in Her; She's Done|
Food Network icon. Restaurateur extraordinaire. Southern Belle and Dairy Queen (seriously, no one EVER used more butter).
These are all terms that could be used to describe Paula Deen.
Other words? Alleged Racist. In case you missed the news, Paula Deen gave a deposition where she admitted to, among other things, the use of the N-word.
|Digg This Reader|
Less than two weeks from now, Google Reader will officially shut its doors. And while, like many folks who rely on a reader, I’m searching for a replacement, I came across an amazing article from Wired about how Digg is doing their best to build the replacement of my dreams. If you’re in PR but don’t work with Tech companies (or want to work with tech companies but aren’t doing so yet)...
|Senator McCain Could Single-Handedly Drive Cord Cutter Adoption|
I’ve written a lot about the Cable TV space here on Flack Me, because I think it’s important that we, as an industry, are able to speak to our clients intelligently about where viewers are going. Yesterday, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) sent a letter to the FCC asking for support in his recent bill, which would require cable companies to offer consumers the ability to unbundle...
|PR Fail: Major League Baseball Wins the Battle While Losing the War|
Baseball’s greatest home run hitter ever may not get into the hall of fame. Arguably, its best pitcher won’t get in either. The catcher who hit the most home runs from the most demanding position on the field? Yeah, he didn’t do so well in hall of fame voting either. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Mike Piazza are among a few of the true baseball stars who have seen their careers tarnished...
|Public Speaking is Part of the Job Description|
Last night, for the first time in a while, I attended a local Toastmasters meeting as a guest, and it reminded me how much this group should be a requirement for anyone in a PR role.
If you’re unaware, Toastmasters is an organization dedicated to helping its members become better public speakers. Meetings are structured in a way to promote different speaking opportunities...
|Flickr Comes Back From the Dead...Again|
When Facebook changed the terms of service to Instagram after acquisition, an alleged digital rebellion took place. After all, why would anyone feel comfortable with Facebook (allegedly) selling pictures that never belonged to Facebook, (especially without compensation for the actual photographers)?
|46 Days Until D-Day|
46 days. Excluding today, it’s about 1,100 hours.
That’s how long we’ve got left with Google Reader as an option, because as discussed previously here on Flack Me, the service is shutting down on July 1.
|Joining a Community to Open Opportunity|
As pointed out on PaidContent, Gawker’s automotive blog, Jalopnik, recently hired a new editor based on his participating in the comments section of the blog. As author Matt Ingram points out, this isn’t the first time that Gawker has used their comments section as a virtual “farm system,” and Gawker is hardly alone in the practice.
|The Death of Cable TV…Or Not|
A pair of articles caught my eye this morning based solely on the fact that they couldn’t be more different.
First, ReadWrite calls 2013 the Year Cable TV Went Mainstream. The thesis is that well-known shows, such as All My Children and Arrested Development, are creating shows meant for online consumption...
|A Request for the Media: Don't Try to Be First, Aspire to Be Best|
A pair of crises took over social media for a weeklong period, with the bombing and subsequent manhunt in Boston and the tragic explosion in Texas. Because of the always-on, 24/7 social media echo chamber we now live in, news organizations raced to provide coverage of each event, often looking for a unique angle or a scoop to be in front of the other reporting agencies.
|Social Media Etiquette During a Crisis|
One of the job functions we as flacks should be cognizant of is our duty to be our brand’s social conscience. While there’s always a nimrod who decides to attempt to build awareness of the brand by “capitalizing on current events” during a time of emergency* we need to know better.
|Media Non-Fail: When Forced to Make a Correction|
Since the PR Fail Meme on Flack Me has gathered some steam, it seems only fair to call out a job well done, with acknowledgement to folks who are rarely known for their sense of humor: Newspaper Reporters and Editors.
Last week, The Tampa Bay Times sent a reporter to cover the local Comic Con gathering...
|Two Sides of an Aereo Cookie|
If you live outside the NYC area, or don’t follow the cable industry heavily, there’s a chance you haven’t heard of Aereo, an over-the-top service that has cable companies up in arms (and filing lawsuits). The service works as follows:
Aereo basically grabs over-the-air TV programming (think of the major networks, CBS, Fox, etc), then changes the feed...
|Pandora Killed the Radio Star|
If you’ve ever worked in or followed the radio industry, you’ve likely come to one inevitable truth. It’s an industry that is going to be killed off. First, cassette tapes were going to kill radio (if people can simply record the songs they hear off the radio, why would they keep listening?). CDs played a small part in the alleged murder of radio (songs over the air will NEVER sound this good). And, of course, the digital world (Napster first, and more recently, legal streaming) are having an impact on radio. Well, Comscore released its Top 50 Digital Properties this week, and something jumped off the page. Pandora is a top-20 most-visited web property, which I suppose isn’t that surprising.
|I Don’t Want To Share My TV|
In case you missed it, last week, Netflix announced what has been billed as a “long awaited” integration with Facebook that allows people’s friends to see what they’re watching. It’s dubbed Netflix Social, and while my immediate reaction was one of dread (more on this in a minute), it apparently has lots of control for its users.
|Up in Smoke|
No, this isn’t a post about the guy who was elected to begin living in Vatican City. It’s a post about a decision made by Google that might be the most disappointing thing I’ve read since Facebook started having dead people like brands.
[Insert something witty]
Google announced yesterday that they would be killing off Google Reader...
|Reconsidering Twitter as Mass Opinion|
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of tools aimed at capturing both the volume and the sentiment of what’s being expressed on Twitter at any given moment. Of course, brands are able to take advantage of these tools to maintain their reputation, as well as monitor, in real-time, what’s being expressed about them.
The digital age we’re living in can be sort of creepy when you think about it.
|A Hundred Channels and Ninety of Them Stink|
For years, there has been an arms race between cable providers to offer more channels. When you peruse the websites of cable providers, you are whisked away to a land where there appears to always be something on for everyone, and almost everyone’s choice of what to watch comes in HD.
|Hackers Drive Through a Pair of Brands on Twitter|
Last week was a tough week to be a brand on Twitter. The accounts for both Burger King and Jeep were taken over by hackers, and…well…hackers enjoyed themselves.
Burger King’s Twitter account started showing McDonald’s logo along with a few McDonald’s specialties. And, it included a bunch of crude tweets. Jeep was next, “announcing” on Twitter...
|Amazon Earns Top Reputation|
A study by Harris Interactive shows that Amazon has earned the top spot in the U.S. when it comes to company reputation.
Based on a sample of over 14,000 people, and ranking 20 attributes across six dimensions, the Web Retailing giant took the top spot away from Apple, which is now the second-most reputable company in the U.S.
|Appreciating Community Managers from a PR Perspective|
Last Monday was the 4th annual Community Manager Appreciation Day, and as part of the festivities, Altimeter Group Analyst Jeremiah Owyang identified the 5 most influential community managers. Seeing how my view of this new-fangled, social media-driven, fake-title-to-make-yourself-sound-important, PR-wanna-be employee is a little less than flattering, I reached out to the most influential community manager on the list asking for clarity, and Jenn Pedde was happy to oblige (after I promised that I’d be open minded).
|A Shout-Out to Creative Folks|
For all the flack that we as Flacks take, I thought it was worth giving a shout-out to our brothers-in-arms (sisters-in-arms as well) in the creative field.
Inevitably, if we’ve been at it long enough, we’ve advised a client to try something that didn’t work, and last week it seems as though the creative team behind a Taco Bell ad...
|February 1: Time to Cut the Cord?|
After posting fantastic year-end results, Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix called their upcoming show “a defining moment of Internet TV.” Starring Kevin Spacey, House of Cards is set to go live on February 1, with the full season available at the launch (the idea of tuning in once a week for 13 episodes is being turned on its head).
|Missing the Digital Point|
Yesterday, the Harvard Business Review published a piece that was, well, shocking.
It seems as though one of their contributors, who happened to also write a book called Working Smarter with Evernote, took it upon herself to explain to folks that the days of paper and pencil are over, and how folks pitching her for business that bring these archaic tools...
|PR Facepalm |
I know that I should link to the site, but I can’t bring myself to actually help its SEO rating. If you want to find a link, go to Gawker and search for it.
Apparently, there’s now a company out there offering PR for $100.
|Flacking Around Terms of Service|
There’s something about the way Facebook operates that, well, just doesn’t sit right. I don’t think it’s just me who has noticed, but the company seems to have a recurring pattern:
1. Create something completely onerous for their users.
2. Watch users threaten to revolt.
3. Retract part of the onerous “something,”...
|A Like from the Grave|
So, let’s get this straight.
First, Facebook (appears to) begin stifling the number of people who see your updates in an effort to get people to pay to promote their posts. Now, the company is seemingly pumping up the number of folks who “Like” a brand page, by either simply guessing that you might like a brand, or by having folks who have passed away “like” brands (warning, there’s a bit of NSFW language in the link to ReadWrite). Seriously…people are “liking” McDonald's from the grave.
|Photos, Sharing, and PR|
Apparently, Instagram has told Twitter that the photo editing and sharing site is taking its ball and going home. In an update to Instagram’s service, they are no longer using Twitter’s defined sharing tools, and as such, Instagram photos no longer appear within Twitter feeds (you have to leave Twitter’s site in order to see a photo the people you follow have uploaded).
|Perhaps PR Should Uncross Our Wires|
If you believed the news last week, Google acquired a wireless hotspot provider named ICOA. The cost was $400 million, and the deal had the potential to help Google keep eyes on its search, as opposed to moving to Apple’s Siri, and GigaOm* pointed out in their original piece.
|Native Advertising Could Massively Impact PR|
In many, many sales pitches (especially with start ups), I’ve had the experience of discussing the value of earned media, as opposed to pay-for-play opportunities. But last night, a piece on GigaOm started with the simple question: Should the New York Times consider Native Advertising?
|Remember the Presidential BlackBerry?|
Around four years ago, when President Obama was being sworn in the first time, much of the technology world (and I mean this from the perspective of folks who were technology fans, and casual technology observers) were listening to the President’s discussion on and fight to keep his BlackBerry. His BLACKBERRY.
|November Means MUSTACHES|
If you’re not familiar with Movember, it may be time to hear about it.
Each November, men grow mustaches and raise funds to promote awareness and research for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives.
It’s a Dude-version of Susan G Komen.
|Did Apple Innovate Too Fast?|
First and foremost, it must be a blast to be a flack for Apple. The fanboys come out in droves for virtually every product the company releases, and there’s enough media folks that worship at the altar of Steve Jobs that positive coverage is basically assumed.
However, the company’s recent launch of the “New iPad” has ruffled the feathers of quite a few folks.
|Separating the Spokesperson from the Brand|
Livestrong is offering a real-time case study of what an organization can do when one of its most public spokespeople suddenly needs to be separated from the brand.
If you’re unaware, seven-time Tour de France winner (and cancer survivor) Lance Armstrong has just been accused of doping in a report by the US Anti-Doping Agency, and this time, it seems like the organization has enough evidence to prove that Armstrong was a cheater.
As reported by Mashable, the “exclusive” 11K Club is now accepting membership applications. Membership for what, you ask? Oh, the exclusive club. That’s what.
In fact, that’s all the info that is available.
If you’re hoping to find out details of what you’d be signing up for, well, you’re out of luck.
|KitchenAid is About to Go Through the Blender|
Dear social media folks, have we learned nothing yet? Whether you’re a flack creating content or a customer service person helping out a consumer, the number-one rule should be something along the lines of “Don’t be stupid with the brand you protect.” One of the first things any of us are tasked with is protecting a brand.
|Hockey’s PR Problem|
|Happy iPhone 5 Day|
The new iPhone hits stores today, and if pictures are to be believed, there are folks literally lined up around the block to get their hands on the new, slimmer phone. This is a pretty common occurrence when Apple launches a new phone, and truthfully, no one does it better.
As Janet points out, many customers simply gloss over higher prices or the need for new accessories...
|Stop This CEO Before He Speaks Again|
If you’ve been to Europe, there’s a good chance you have an understanding of the love/hate relationships folks have with budget travel provider Ryanair.
On the one hand, the airline makes it incredibly simple to junk all around the continent at unbelievable prices (lucky travelers have actually been able to fly from London to Dublin for as low as a penny).
|Using Social Media to Achieve our Clients' Goals|
Jay Baer published a list of 8 wrong questions that PR folks might be asking about social media, along with what the questions should be. For example, many PR folks may be asking, “How can we create a killer social media campaign that will get noticed?” when we should be asking “How do we develop a sustainable, ongoing social media strategy that will turn customers into advocates over the long haul?”
|Local and Travel, But Not a Staycation|
Ryan Kim lays out an interesting theory that “local” and “travel” are actually two very similar markets on the web, and he uses Google’s purchase of Frommer’s Travel Guide to highlight his thesis:
"...the deal also highlights how the worlds of travel and local are converging, with the two databases coming together as one big resource for consumers."
He’s right, and for PR Folks (as our own Doug Bedell points out), understanding the SEO and communications ramifications of this is important to flacks like us.
|A Little Wit for a Lot of Delight|
For your clients, it’s no longer about customer “satisfaction.” Customers “content” with the offerings they receive are officially customers your clients could be in jeopardy of losing.
Today, “satisfaction” has been replaced by “delight.” And as a flack, it’s your job to find new ways to help your clients delight their customers.
|PR Ain’t Easy|
Jennifer Leggio (@MediaPhyter) kicked off a heck of a conversation Friday morning. In case you don’t know of her, she’s a contributor to Forbes, among many other talents and interests.
Despite PR progression, I still get pitches that are ill-advised. Is this poor leadership? Are we not investing enough in our young blood?
Her question can’t accurately be answered in 140 characters. However, here’s an attempt to answer it by discussing the three separate challenges.
|Did You Digg It?|
If there’s one site that really launched the PR world into social media, it was Digg, which recently sold for $500,000 to NY Incubator Betaworks.
If you came of age as a flack around the same time I did, there’s a pretty good chance that in addition to posting press releases on a wire service like PRNewswire or BusinessWire, you started to realize there was a whole new way to distribute news: It could be shared socially. The fun part was that you probably had two types of clients.
|Is the NFL’s PR Team Blacking Out a Major Issue?|
The NFL has always been about tough guys and outlaws. The Green Bay Packers' trainer once said of (linebacker) Ray Nitschke, “The most amazing thing about Nitschke is the he played his entire career on one leg. His left leg had been injured so much in high school and college that the muscles had atrophied and never fully regenerated. His left leg was 50 percent smaller than his right.”
|JetBlue Flies High|
If we believe that there is a shift that blends customer service and PR, then it’s important to highlight companies that both understand this shift and take advantage of it.
As such, JetBlue’s recent post, highlighting a day in the life of one of their customer service folks, deserves to be mentioned and praised. With one swing of the bat, they drove home a message of caring to their customers, increased employee morale...
|The Delicate Balance of Simplicity and Social|
Recent research from the IBM Institute indicates that customers — you know, the people we ultimately want to hear about the news we’re pushing out in a release — would prefer that companies keep it simple. The study shows that while many marketers (and for purposes of this discussion, we PR folks are also marketers, since we create much of the content that becomes the conversation).
|'Better Blogging' Doesn't Mean You Should Blog|
Jason Falls (found via Chris Brogan) highlighted a Digiday post that begins to bury the agency blog. The money quote from Sam Weston (Director of Communications at HUGE, a digital agency) is: "Nobody reads agency blogs, and there are so many out there it’s impossible for people to keep up anyway."
|Hat Tip to Microsoft's PR Team|
For years, they were the dominant technology company. No one could imagine Microsoft being vulnerable to anything. Windows was so dominant that Microsoft basically had a right to print money.
|If You Build It, They Will Come ... Skeptically|
As flacks, we both understand the need for our clients to have a strong, reliable social media presence and the need for our clients to engage with the customers who seek these clients out. It’s obvious to us that if we help our clients cultivate relationships with their customers, we can build an army of brand ambassadors on the ground for us (if you’re looking for a company that has an effective army, look no further than yesterday’s WWDC, in which Apple products dominated every available feed on the Web).
|Airtime’s Current Non-Impact on Your PR Efforts|
In case you missed the news, a startup named Airtime launched today that aims to layer the “interest graph” over video chat. Mashable describes Airtime as connecting people you do and don’t know based on a variety of interest (mutual friends, interests in common, etc.).
Practically speaking: a group of Red Sox fans can end up in a video chat discussing the team’s playoff chances.
|Content Marketing Can Be Serious, Too|
Mashable highlighted five content marketing lessons that can be learned from the President, and the list... well... the list basically highlights five different ways that Obama uses a technique we flacks probably refer to as a Distraction. Or, if we’re being politically correct (pun somewhat intended), we refer to it as a viral branding campaign. It’s something to make people talk.
|Are You Down With O-T-T?|
There’s a movement in the US of people discontinuing their cable service, and only the Internet for content. This doesn’t mean only reading blogs and watching Goodnight Burbank though. With Over-the-Top (O-T-T) services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, along with MLB.TV and other sports networks...
|Don’t Forget Your Customers’ Content|
This week, Doug brought up the concept of the social media blender, saying we’re all in it and that we, as flacks, are well served to learn certain skills. But how much mixing has already been done, and what exactly does it mean? More importantly, and are there any other skills beyond social media that we should be considering? The Internet writes in ink, and it’s important that companies are putting their best foot forward in every online conversation.
|The Man Can Still Speak|
Love him or hate him, you have to acknowledge that Bill Clinton can still captivate a room. BuzzFeed did a strong job of highlighting the discussion that resulted in the mainstream media from the former President’s appearance at the DNC.