Monday, June 29, 2009

Obscenity in the News

Last Thursday, at 6:25, Brian Williams broke in five minutes before the start of The Nightly News with a story so humongous he couldn't possibly wait the extra five minutes. The world had just learned of the death of Farrah Fawcett and now, Brian was telling us, Michael Jackson was dead.

The coverage since has been non-stop. We're hearing from people in the music business, people who knew Michael growing up, people who were closest to him, people who loved him, people who once bought his album, people whose lives were changed when they saw the Thriller video, people who lost their virginity to his music.

Why is no one talking about the fact that he was a child molester?

Am I alone in thinking the coverage is obscene?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kudos to PETA

Apparently, while taping an interview with CNBC, President Obama swatted a fly.

Breaking news? Hardly. But it's funny to see.

Our friends at PETA, however, get the Opportunistic PR Award for the following item. They believe in the protection of ALL animals, regardless of size or how annoying they are.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Of Definitions - and Unnecessary Complication

When I present on the subject of public relations, I usually like to begin by asking the audience to define PR for me. Not surprisingly, people have a hard time defining it. Usually, I get something like, "I know it when I see it."

When I first started in public relations, the definition I was taught was pretty straightforward - PR is about influencing your target audiences by leveraging the credibility of a third party. Basically, PR was media relations.

About 10 years later, I was introduced to the "Rose Analogy," which is a elegant way of verbally painting a picture about how PR works. The essence, though, remains the same.

Apparently, for some in the PR world, this is no longer sufficient. I'm hearing definitions that go on and on, seemingly making what is moderately complex downright incomprehensible. The Canadian Public Relations Society has now come up with:

Public relations is the strategic management of relationships between an organization and its diverse publics, through the use of communication, to achieve mutual understanding, realize organizational goals, and serve the public interest.

I don't agree with the definition. I think it's overly complicated. (Is "publics" a word? Does PR "serve the public interest?")

Lest anyone think this definition was hacked out by a couple of yahoos in no time at all, the process apparently began almost one year ago. You can read a bit about the process here.

Point is: PR was and always will be about getting the help of a credible third party in broadcasting your message to your audience.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Vendor Client Relationship

If you're a service provider, you simply must invest the 2:19 in watching this.

Diplomatic Learnings of Borat for Make Benefit Public Relations of Glorious Nation

There's an old joke about the US president (the era doesn't matter), Russian president and Israeli prime minister who are all sitting around talking shop.

The Russian says, "I have the hardest job as I am responsible for almost 200 million people, most of whom do not have enough food on their tables."

"That's nothing," says the American. "I have the hardest job leading a country of 300 million and the entire free world."

"You both have it easy," says the Israeli PM. "I'm the leader 7,000,000 presidents, all of whom know better than me!"

Today, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official likened Israel's public relations plight to that of Kazakhstan as a result of the fictional Borat. (You can read articles here and here.)

The official, who is responsible for the Brand Israel project, laments the false perception many have of Israelis.

The challenge of perception and public relations is finally coming to light within the higher echelons of Israeli government. I maintain, however, that almost all efforts are destined to fail unless certain basic truths are taken to heart. Here are three:

1. Speak with one voice.
2. Elect - and stand behind - a strong leader.
3. Recognize that not everyone needs to be convinced and "converted."

Friday, June 5, 2009

Here's something I love.

This is a blog that usually makes me laugh.

His most recent post just serves to remind us that one can never do too much research when launching a new product or company.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Master Communicator

President Obama just spoke in Cairo. I caught some of it live on tv.

I'll say up-front that I didn't like some of what he said, but there's no denying the man's an orator. His cadence is hypnotic; his tone alluring.

I guess I was wrong. Sometimes, the message isn't as important as the style because if people were really listening to the content of his message, they'd be a bit less in love.

What is Twitter, really?

What is Twitter? Interesting article from the good folks at Harvard B-School.

To hear the evangelists tell it, everyone's on Twitter and they're all talking to one another. Quick! Jump in now or risk being labeled a dinosaur.

Not so fast. Turns out everyone's following a very, very small number of users.

What does this mean from a public relations perspective? Not much. Companies should still explore how to use it - some are doing so very well.

But it's time everyone calmed down a bit.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hugging in an Era of Overcommunication

Your kids, like mine, probably communicate with their friends mostly through the written word - email, text, etc. Interesting, though, that The New York Times recently ran a piece about hugging in school.

One of the conclusions was that perhaps kids hug more now because most of their communication, otherwise, is through a computer screen of some sort.

Interesting. What does this mean for us as communicators? Maybe it means that as companies continue to communicate through a variety of media and even though they are "always on," those with whom we are communicating still crave real interaction.