Journalists on PR: A newspaper reporter sets ground rules

April 9, 2009

Good PR pros spend a lot of time trying to think like journalists in order to serve them better, and to better secure coverage for their clients.

nbc_the_more_you_know1It’s always refreshing, then, when a journalist takes the time to address the PR community directly and professionally with his or her needs in an informative fashion.

Richard Bammer, a staff writer with Vacaville, Calif.’s The Reporter, did just that yesterday. It’s rather basic stuff but it’s always good to take a refresher course. And, as a PR person, I greatly appreciate the gesture.

Posted by Joe Paone

Double Your Brand Exposure, Double Your Risk

February 10, 2009

It’s been a rough few weeks for celebrities and their endorsements.   First, pictures emerge of gold-medal Olympian Michael Phelps smoking marijuana from a bong at a party and Kelloggs follows suit by dropping his endorsement campaign.  Touche.  Now, Chris Brown, after being arrested for assaulting his girlfriend, pop-star Rhianna this past weekend (classy stuff, Brown, really) has had his Wrigley’s advertisement campaign suspended indefinitely.  You know the one – featuring Brown’s chart-topping hit “Forever” (essentially a wrip-off of the brand’s commercial jingle anyway, double your pleasure, double your profits). 

Everyone makes mistakes – some more forgivable than others.  (Though sending your girlfriend to the emergency isn’t really one of them).  Some might argue that if someone can win 14 Olympic gold medals, the things you ingest own your own time shouldn’t really be cause for concern.  (I don’t think anyone believes marijuana is a performance enhancing drug.  But that’s neither here nor there).   But whether the crime is petty or serious, the true problem here lies in the value celebrities place on their image and its ability to make them money.  Celebrity endorsements are heavily relied on by many companies to put their message into the hands of consumers, especially young impressionable ones.  It’s no wonder why a company would then panic and cancel all ties to a celeb when things in their personal life appear not-so picture perfect. 

Kelloggs doesn’t want to be associated with a drug-using lifestyle and Wrigley’s gum certainly doesn’t want to appear sympathetic to a perpetrator of domestic violence.  But it is the risk they take when pairing their brand with the brand of the rich and famous.  Their lives, chaotic and constantly under a magnifying spotlight are breeding grounds for scandal and misconduct. 

I’m not sure Wrigley’s will ever get out from under their partnership, however, as everyone will always remember that one infamous line, ringing in their ears of gum chewers and R&B fans alike. 

Posted by: Ashley / ashleyatcaster on Twitter

Bad PR Gone Good…

January 16, 2009

It happens sometimes to assiduous Flaks that your carefully sculpted, brilliantly messaged inquiries or pieces of literature fall before the eyes of an unintended recipient resulting in the ubiquitous, “Please remove me from your email list, I do not cover trends in small-dog winter fashion,” or some such reply.
Such an occurrence confronted me during my steadfast International Builder Show (IBS) outreach on behalf of the preeminent brand in loudspeakers worldwide ( The offended was a senior editor from a major national consumer magazine who also writes a blog and presented me with a valuable fork in the road.
HIM: Please remove me from your email list, as I do not cover electronics. Thank you.
One option was to disregard a response, remove him from all lists and go on sending emails while watching street fights on Youtube (haha, jk Boss). Or, I could stand up for myself and try to turn the situation into a positive (and blogpost) by taking the time to see where I went wrong.
ME: My apologies (obscured), we’ll make sure you’re removed from our list. For your reference, the Vocus media service has this listed under your profile: (obscured) is a senior editor at (obscured) and covers appliances, do-it-yourself, gardening, home furnishings/housewares, electronics, and technology. He has written five books on consumer topics.

With a feeling of slight exoneration I continued my servitude and was pleasantly surprised a few minutes later to receive the following:
HIM: It’s wrong! No wonder I get plagued. Thanks for the heads-up. Here’s something more precise: (obscured) is a senior editor at (obscured) and covers appliances, home improvement and outdoor power equipment. He has written no books on consumer topics.
Ha, the homefield advantage has shifted. Once seen as the villain, I now held court over the situation and was actually thanked for offering the enlightenment of our media services’ failure (Don’t worry, I still heart you Vocus). One more exchange and I think our lesson should come full circle:
ME: If you don’t tell them to change it, maybe next year you’ll have written 10 books and be interested in water sports and nanotechnology.
HIM: Alas, I won’t be going after all—but I was registered, so your info isn’t off-base on that count. But I like those additions.
A little extra legwork with a positive attitude can mean the difference between being a good PR person and an indolent blob disseminating information to those who don’t need or want it.
– Nick

If you don’t have anything nice to say…

December 19, 2008

Good knowledge spewed by Seth Godin on his blog about “staying busy” with online marketing/social networking vs. actually accomplishing objectives and making a difference for your business.

Godin writes, “For big brands and marketers with significant budgets, the internet represents a loss of leverage. Money doesn’t buy you as much attention, and you have to work much, much harder for every eyeball.”

“For individuals, the internet represents an increase in leverage. One person with a blog or a lot of followers or friends can reach more people, more quickly, than ever before.”

Which leads me to this:

Yesterday’s example of a tech industry PR vet getting burned at the stake for a boorish but comical (hug or slug, C’mon that’s just funny!) email response to editor Michael Arrington showed how quickly a reputation can be sullied from something as simple as a single email. Many people had no idea who Lois Whitman was two days ago yet she has been negatively labeled to a far more expansive audience of consumers based on this single correspondence. She even issued an apology.

Am I playing defense? Hells no! Personally, I prefer a pseudo-comical, hyperbolizing brown-noser approach to building relationships. However, the lesson to be learned here is: Don’t write something to a relative stranger that you wouldn’t want several million other people to read as well.

Editor’s Note: Pedialyte and Vodka are an excellent comfort when you are home with a sick kid.