Monthly ArchiveMay 2007
PR Humor 30 May 2007 10:53 am
Eiler Communications had an office in the Bay Area for 2 years. In the height of the dot.com burst it was an almost impossible task to find competent staff. California companies recognize the need for PR and the growing industry was demanding. Many firms were just hiring bodies without PR experience. Staff would stay 6 months and go to another firm for more salary. This prompted me to write this following spoof, though never published.
For Immediate Release:
Contact:Sandy Eiler, Eiler Communications, 734 761 3399
Innovative Approach Eases Staffing Deficit
San Francisco, Eiler Communications, public relations and marketing firm based in Ann Arbor, MI and San Mateo, CA unveiled today a revolutionary approach to the public relations operations of the company. Eiler, whose niche market is maintaining full public relations programs for hi-tech companies, revealed that they have been utilizing lobotomized baboons for the past year to orchestrate press tours for some of their clients.
Eiler announced that he has utilized the “total hi-tech” approach with his animalistic androids. Communications with clients in today™s world generally consist through fax, phone, email and overnight delivery. There is very little personal contact. We have saved our human professional staff for those clients that are reasonable to communicate with and want to interface with the agency.
The Androids undergo an extensive training program, post-lobotomy. Their skill sets and articulation have been calculated at an IQ range of 165. Currently, Eiler had six Androids and in process of training more for the growing firm. “The proficiency that the Androids possess is remarkable and akin to years of exposure in the industry that humans must have to equal.”
Eiler’s Androids just completed a highly successful press tour for one of their hi-tech clients, BananaTech. BananaTech was chosen for the Beta Test site of this innovative project primarily because of the lack of response by the client’s marketing management and the inaccessibility for Eiler staff to interface with them.
The press coverage that BananaTech received from this revolutionary tour is the proof of the excellent public relations effort and success. Reginald Stoneworthy, BananaTech’s VP of Marketing said, “I was amazed at the excellent results of the press tour. I now know that I should have been a responsive client and been able to deal with the PR firm’s professional staff. The Androids were not the only monkeys involved.”
The firm’s only concern is that this success could portray this profession as “monkey business” but unresponsive clients do not deserve the efforts of the highly professional human staff.
Wild west web 2.0: the value of professional writing in a lawless frontier of widely published amateurs
What happens to language when people are both encouraged to write and encouraged not to write properly? How can we maintain some sense of law and order on the frontier of new media? What is the role of the professional writer – someone who knows how to clearly, concisely and accurately communicate—in a system that doesn’t seem to uphold any standards? The mass abbreviation and simplification of our language, coupled with the rise of user-generated content in even the most legitimate of media, has created a free-for-all that may cause us to wonder whether precision and clarity matter anymore. They do, but first, let’s look at our circumstances.
The “Evolution” of Language
Language is a necessarily dynamic component of culture. In 2006 alone, Miriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary added nearly 100 new words. Some of these, like “gastric bypass” and “spyware,” reflect technological innovations. Others, like “drama queen,” “sandwich generation” and “Google” (as a proper noun and a verb) illustrate cultural change. These lexical additions positively impact our ability to communicate.
At the same time, our cultural preoccupation with ease of use is causing a widespread over-simplification of language, grammar and syntax. A recent Cingular Wireless commercial, entertaining as it is, shows us what can happen when we apply the “œquick and easy” philosophy behind microwaves and Swiffer Wet Jets to our key communication mechanism. We may not have regressed to “idk” (I don’t know) or “np” (no problem) yet, but how many times do we begin inter-office e-mails with “fyi,” and how many of us really know where the comma or apostrophe goes?
The “Evolution” of Media
In the Web 2.0 world, user-generated content is king. Last month, MySpace was at the top of the 20 most popular website in the U.S. as ranked by Hitwise, an online competitive intelligence research firm. Facebook, YouTube and ebay also appeared on the list, competing only with Google searches and various e-mail clients.
Many national and local newspaper sites are taking note of this trend and offering a comment feature so readers can interact with their news. Just glance at the New York Times website, with its 20-some blogs, to find why many of us believe our opinions “fit to print.”
But good writing is not a historical artifact. Despite these linguistic and cultural shifts, many of us still care about precision of language. Some get it wrong, but wrong is not the new right. We know this intuitively because many of us are still offended at the sight of “your” instead of “you’re” or “its” instead of “it’s.” Monstertrak.com’s article “Avoid the Top 10 Resume Mistakes” puts typos and grammatical errors at the very top. Why? Because “employers will read between the lines and draw not-so-flattering conclusions about you…” We draw those conclusions because we know how important it is to make a good impression. Language is a large part of how we represent our businesses and ourselves. It’s our vehicle for communicating who we are and what we have to offer.
And how should we do that?
There are a number of excellent resources that offer easy-to-understand tips and tricks of the trade. Three of my favorites are Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss, The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and On Writing Well by William Zinsser. Even if you don’t read grammar- or language-specific books, reading regularly is a great way to familiarize yourself with proper grammar and sentence structure; making you a better writer in the long run.
Write and Rewrite
The old adage is true; the essence of writing really is rewriting. Focus on content when you first sit down to write. After you’ve included all the necessary information, take a break and return with an eye toward style and accuracy. Have a colleague or other trusted person look over your work, and don’t be discouraged if you receive constructive criticism.
Consult an Expert
Despite our best efforts, many of us recognize we’re not experts. We may be successful entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, etc., but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are effective communicators. Realize there are professional writers out there and make these people part of your brain trust. Let them help you reach potential customers with a well-crafted message that adequately communicates who you are and what you do.
Posted by Nicole
Media 18 May 2007 05:30 pm
Media relations, one of the most powerful tools of public relations, can be difficult for businesses to understand. The tight deadlines and long lead times of reporters are often hard adjustments when beginning relationships with the press. To make it more complicated, different kinds of media prefer different styles of outreach.
Here are some general guidelines for how your company can best work with the media, with whom timing is everything:
The timing of a news announcement is not as important to a monthly reporter as a weekly or daily since they have a longer time span between issues. It is important to remember, however, that monthly writers work two or more months in advance on their stories. So, they are less interested in breaking news (which will be out of date by the time it’s published), and more interested in trends, new technologies and hot industry topics.
Writers for monthlies will want to know less about your product and more about how it solves a critical business problem impacting corporate America—there needs to be business value to your company’s news. They look for stories for which they can talk to several sources, including vendors and customers.
Some writers cover your industry all the time but some are on assignment armed with only basic background, so it’s helpful to ask about their familiarity with the topic before launching into a discussion.
When preparing for an interview with a monthly publication, think less in terms of specific your products and more in terms of market issues, the direction of the industry, business benefits and customer examples.
A weekly reporter’s job is as it sounds – to turn out stories every week for their print and/or Web news source. Weeklies publish on different days depending on the publication, so do your research to figure out your target weekly’s schedule. Don’t try to meet with or call writers on their “deadline” day – they are writing their articles on a time crunch and are not open to ideas for the next issue yet. Understand where their window is for receiving news for the coming issue.
Weekly and daily reporters (more on them later) are competitive. They like “scoops” – stories that other media don’t have access to. It’s smart to offer your story to one publication at a time and let them know they have the opportunity for an exclusive. Or, provide your news a week in advance to the reporter and issue your news release to the masses a week later.
Because they have to turn out stories more rapidly, these writers are not usually able to take as much time to meet with you (expect 20 to 30 minutes). You can ensure enough time is devoted to desired topics by asking the reporter what he/she would like to cover before the interview begins.
Keep in mind that even if you are interviewed, many factors influence whether your story will actually appear in a weekly publication. If a major local news event happens that week, you could get bumped.
Daily reporters are on deadline every day, so they usually need to get your news well in advance of the time you would like it to appear in print. On the other hand, they may call you and request information for a story that will publish that same day.
The best way to help a reporter in this situation is to ask what the deadline is and then work to get the information they request as quickly as possible. If you are able to aid a reporter on a tight deadline, your responsiveness will likely make you a source they will want to return to in the future.
Both daily and weekly reporters are less likely to have as in-depth industry knowledge as monthly writers, and will often be more focused on your business’ value to consumers than the industry. Feel free to ask a reporter how much background he/she needs before the interview, and understand that you will need to explain why your news matters to the general public.
The most time-sensitive of all news media, TV actually prefers not to receive your news more than a day or two in advance. News desks keep a day book of potential events for their camera crews to attend each day, and two sets of show producers meet, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, to decide which events make the cut.
TV media want to see your news in short and sweet form. Translation: don’t send them your news release. If you want to publicize an event, provide key information as concisely as possible (what, where and when) and detailed information about the visuals available for cameras (i.e. “kids playing on new donated playground”, “governor cutting ribbon in front of new building”, etc.). Coverage of your event depends largely on whether a camera crew is in your vicinity at the time. Understand that even if a TV station says they are coming in advance, they may not be able to get their cameras there if something newsworthy happens across town.
If you are aiming for an on-air studio interview, provide some background about why your topic is relevant by including relevant statistics and trend information, and why you are qualified to talk about it. TV news producers will make content decisions based on what they think the viewing audience needs to know, so if you can show that your news is relevant they are more likely to set up an interview. Be prepared—interview segments sometimes tape very early in the morning! Understand that your interview may occur outside the 9 to 5 realm.
More resources on this topic:
- Cision’s white paper, Targeting the Media, available on the Bulldog Reporter web site
- The Bad Pitch Blog from Richard Laermer and Kevin Dugan—thoughts from journalists on what NOT to do, and what works in media relations
- The American Journalism Review, for articles about journalism and the news industry
Posted by: Rebecca
Parenting 16 May 2007 12:03 pm
With Mother’s Day just behind us, it occurred to me that I might have some words of wisdom for new mothers. I have raised seven children, have six grandchildren and was a pediatric nurse for 10 years with another 15 in emergency medicine.
I observe many new mothers totally overwhelmed with their children and totally frenetic about what needs to be done for them. There is far too much information out there and new Moms trying to be perfect are absorbing far too much information. They are reading everything and I would guess not enjoying motherhood as much as is possible.
Babies need some basics. Warm, Dry, Well Fed and lots of Sleep. Babies should be asleep when they are done eating. I call it a “milk coma.” If they are awake at the end of a feeding, then they are still hungry. A well-fed baby will not have awake periods until 6-8 weeks. Think about how much growth and development a child has to do in the first year. Takes lots of food and sleep.
Over the course of 41 years the pendulum has swung many times in regards to childcare. When I had my first baby the only reference books were “Dr. Spock” and the “Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.” Early solids to waiting six months; schedules to non-schedules; whole milk at fifteen pounds to formula for a year. Bottom line is that they all grow up just fine.
One of the problems that I see for new Moms is that they do not have their parents, aunts and grandmothers around who can reinforce the ease of which babies can be. Take time and listen to their “words of wisdom.” Sift through the advice, but do listen because there may be some jewels that will help you.
I wrote a book called “Honey Bits” for my grandchildren’s parents. I have also given it to many others
Posted by Sandy
For a free copy of “Honey Bits” email firstname.lastname@example.org
Public relations is the art of managing communication between an organization and its key constituents to build, manage, and sustain a positive, realistic reputation.
It is developing rapport and good will through a two way communication process, and fostering positive relationships between an organization and its target constituents.
Having directed the business operations of our PR firm for 20 years, it strikes me that every one of us could benefit by conducting our relationships with others by being honest, cordial, credible and always reputable. That does not always happen.
We strive to produce positive PR results for our clients with those qualities and performances in mind, why not let those practices fill our everyday lives. Twenty years of cultivating excellent vendor relationships has paid off in spades. I’ve had vendors turn around printing projects in hours, duplicate DVDs while I wait as well as many others going above and beyond. People recognize and reward those that treat them well.
It’s not that hard to be nice and smile. My grandmother used to say, “Sugar goes farther than salt.”
What would our world be if each of us took heed?
Posted by Sandy
Media 03 May 2007 03:19 pm
Social Media Disrupting Information Channels
We are all aware of the move of consumers to get information faster online. We observe this daily and the trends in advertising that have been emerging now for some years keep showing huge growth in online services not just for search, but for ads.
Concurrent to this mass movement is the oft-cited decline in print ads.
This is a very real issue and the trend is even more brought to light by Paul Gillin’s new book, “The New Influencers,” just now being published by Quill Driver Books (www.newinfluencers.com). Social media is disrupting the media and marketing worlds, creating new dynamics of influence shaped by millions of voices.
Gillin, founding editor-in-chief of Tech Target and former editor-in-chief of Computerworld, explains his thesis in his article “How the Coming Newspaper Industry Collapse Will Reinvent Journalism.” (www.paulgillin.com)
Its key points:
- The 150-year-old newspaper business model is broken. People can get their news faster, online, and advertisers are moving fast the past few years to online products such as Google’s AdWords where ads can be placed and seen across the world in virtual seconds. Ad results can be measured by AdWords users.
- Capital costs of newspapers are extensive. In addition, the costs of people to be trained to run the presses, gather and edit the news, sell ads and deliver the papers all contribute to the high fixed-cost model of newspapers. And for that matter, of printed magazines as well.
- Emerging media—not only the Internet itself, but also podcasts, webinars, blogs—is growing in understanding and usage at warp speed. The advantage of this is instant gratification of information for Internet users and people seeking news.
“What emerges from the rubble of the newspaper industry will be a fresh, vibrant and very different kind of journalism. It will make a lot of traditionalists uncomfortable.
“But it will ultimately be an evolution of the profession into something that is richer, more inclusive and much more dynamic.”