Mar 12

A higher concentration of more intelligent women

Some time ago, a gifted junior employee left one PR firm to join another. Fair enough. It happens all theShocked
time. But, in doing so, she’d ruffled some feathers along the way. Again, fair enough. Stuff like that happens as well.

Now, fast forward to a recent industry event in which the CEO of the woman’s former agency bumps into her new boss. Pleasantries are exchanged. Backs are patted. Success stories passed back and forth. Then, as an aside, the woman’s name comes up in conversation. ‘How’s LaSheika doing?’ asks her former employer. ‘Oh, she’s a superstar,’ responds the new boss, with the slightest hint of a smug smile. ‘And, she’s much more content now since she says she didn’t feel intellectually challenged before.’

‘Oh, really?’ asks the erstwhile boss, starting to feel his gastric juices boil. ‘Yes,’ sighs her current employer, ‘she feels we have a higher concentration of more intelligent women.’

Befuddled, bewildered and, by now, totally batshit, the original CEO wraps up the small talk and beats a hasty retreat into the evening air. The next day, he passes along the message to his troops. They, too, are befuddled, bewildered and totally batshit with rage.

Now, fast forward to the present and foreseeable future: the intellectually-sated employee goes about her business at the new firm blissfully unaware that she has done a major job on her image and reputation within the industry. If, and when, she grows tired of the higher concentration of more intelligent women at her current job and begins floating her resume, those toxic remarks will come home to roost in a very big way.

Moral of the story? Loose lips sink ships (and careers). They can also put a real damper on a cocktail reception.

Mar 10

And the finalists for best corporate campaign of the year are Golin Harris, Golin Harris and Golin Harris. And, the winner is…

PR industry awards programs are a total joke. Aside from awards-submission savvy midsized firms likeAward
CLS and Cone, a few large firms totally dominate every awards category of every awards competition every year.

It’s embarrassing and absurd at the same time. Big firms have the resources, time and wherewithal to submit 70, 80 or more programs to every competition. How difficult is it to be a finalist in a given category when 60 percent of the submissions come from the same agency?

One would think the cash-strapped publications sponsoring these industry love-ins would figure out how innately unfair they are and, dare I suggest it, hold two awards competitions: one for the T Rex’s of the industry, and another for the rest of us.

The big guys would still rake in their usual quota of 15 or more trophies per show. The independent firms would finally be competing on a level playing field. And, the media properties would pocket more cash. So, what’s the delay? Oh, and the winner of that particular award was, believe it or not, Golin Harris.

Mar 07

Would journalists do the same for us?

Lloyd Trufelman, president of Trylon SMR (a PR firm) told O’Dwyer’s Newsletter that PR people need toCpj
step up to the plate and provide financial support to The Committee to Protect Journalists.

The committee, which tracks harassment of journalists worldwide, reports that at least 65 journalists were killed around the world in 2007 because of their work.

Trufelman says "…there would be no such thing as PR without journalism." He also thinks "…PR needs to show greater interest in journalists as dedicated professionals and not just vehicles for pitches."

With all due apologies to the family and friends of slain journalists, give me a break. Does Trufelman not read the various and sundry bashings of the PR industry by the media? Does he not see the journalism-PR relationship as a mutually beneficial one? Would journalists ever contribute money to a ‘Committee to Protect PR People’ who might also work in high-risk zones? (I’m joking, btw). Last, but not least, is Trufelman’s plea not akin to slapping a PBA sticker on one’s car windshield to avoid paying speeding tickets?

Me thinks he’s sucking up big time to the working press.

Mar 03

When a new sheriff comes to town

We were just gunned down by the new sheriff in town. Sheriff

He’d arrived before the holidays, carrying the title of chief marketing officer and maintaining a very low, almost secretive, profile.

Townsfolk and hired guns alike were nervous. What would the new sheriff do? Would he maintain things as they were, or would he come out with his six guns blasting?

As the town’s resident hired guns, we made the first move. We unstrapped our holsters, stuck out our hands and e-mailed a great big ‘Howdy, partner.’ The wind howled and the dust swirled, but there was no response. We sent more notes, fired off reports and even left voice mails. Dead silence. To quote an oft-used Western phrase, ‘It was quiet. Too quiet."

It became obvious the new sheriff wouldn’t give us our day in court. And, so, we kept our noses to the grindstone, churning out work and hoping the dreaded ‘Dear agency’ letter wouldn’t come blasting through our firewall.

Finally, inevitably, it was high noon. The lawman struck with a swift and deadly vengeance. We were dead before we could hit the reply button…The reason? ‘The town needed to re-think things and move in a different direction.’ It was the usual new sheriff talk. But, it still hurt.

Why do so many new sheriffs hang the hired guns without a fair trial? Even worse, why do they let us dangle in the wind for a few months before pulling the trigger?

Ironically, many such lawmen eventually lose their jobs and one day come blowing through our office like tumbleweed. When they do, we push back our stetsons, put our boots up on the desk and sigh, ‘Sorry podner, but we have nice, law abiding publicists here. There’s no need for your type in our town.’

Feb 13

Can PR move the markets?

Bill Lane, erstwhile speechwriter for Jack Welch and author of ‘Jacked up,’ thinks speeches and articlesWelch
can move the markets.

In his kiss-and-tell book, Lane points to at least two occasions where his words moved GE’s stock price. The first came about as a result of a Welch speech to analysts. The second followed a USA Today article that lifted key words and phrases from a Welch annual report letter. The speech and letter were written by Lane.

Claiming that PR moves markets is a slippery slope. PR certainly had a huge impact on day traders during those Wild West dotcom days. But, that was pure hype and, as we all know, pretty much a joke.

I do think public relations can have a profound impact on financial analysts’ thoughts and feelings about a publicly-traded company. And, those feelings could, in fact, result in a ‘buy’ recommendation that moves the stock. But, as Peppercom Editorial Director and former Wall Street Journal Editor Gene Colter is quick to point out, “It’s a company’s operational excellence (or lack thereof) that moves a market. Period.”

I’ll stick with Colter and distance myself from Lane when it comes to PR moving markets. Plus, I doubt any words I’ve written or will write will ever appear on an analysts’ radar screen.

Feb 12

Another reason why advertising is Yin to PR’s Yang

Nina DiSesa, chairman of McCann Erickson, has written a new book entitled, ‘Seducing the boys club.’Boysclub
Summarized in a recent Adweek column, DiSesa’s book makes the point that advertising, like most industries, is still dominated by a boys club mentality. Women, says DiSesa, need to use the arts of seduction and manipulation ‘…to earn men’s affection and even their respect…’

Many industries may, indeed, still have the glass ceiling DiSesa complains about. But, PR isn’t one of them. Today, PR has many powerful women running agencies of all size. They range from Marcia Silverman and Helen Ostrowski at Ogilvy and Porter Novelli, respectively, to Margi Booth and Marina Maher at the midsized agency level. And god knows how many gifted female PR solo practitioners and small agency owners are out there.

I’m not sure exactly why women have done so well in PR, but it’s probably a combination of people skills, being more consensus oriented and a host of other attributes.

Unlike the ossified business model that’s hampering advertising’s ability to adapt to our quicksilver Web 2.0 world, public relations provides a level playing field for men and women. It’s one of many reasons why PR is growing in importance while the S.S. Advertising continues taking on water and listing to port.

Feb 11

I’m pretty jacked about ‘Jacked up’

Bill Lane’s kiss-and-tell book all about the lunacy and leadership of Jack Welch’s GE is a ‘must read’ forJacked_up_2
anyone in public relations and anyone looking to lead a business.

In essence, the book distills Welch’s methods for not only transforming GE’s business model but, more to the point, how he totally changed the way company executives communicated.

Welch was absolutely ruthless in the way he coaxed, coerced and chastised company leadership as they’d present in front of him. He’d scream, throw papers at them or get up and simply walk out. And, if Jack walked out, the odds were good the presenter would be walking out of GE on a permanent basis.

Jack’s presentation philosophy was as blunt as the man himself: give the audience something they can act on immediately. Don’t bore them with minutia and pie charts. Don’t wax poetic about the time and effort involved in putting the presentation together. And, by all means, DO share best practices fron within and without the company.

Lane goes on and on about Welch’s egomaniacal ways but comes across as pretty self absorbed himself. In fact, the book jacket laughably calls Jacked up ‘…..the only book a leader or aspiring leader will ever need on effective communications.’ It’s excellent but, c’mon Bill, the BEST ever? What would Jack have to say about that?

Feb 01

Rumblings of a recession cause discomfort

Steve and Ted discuss the present state of the economy and the possibilities of a recession. Repchatter_logoWhat impact
could this have on the PR industry?

This discussion centers around the recent doom and gloom stories presented by the media at top tier publications.

Should we be worried about our jobs? Is the media contributing to the problem by hyping the recession to a point where it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy?

Jan 30

Here’s why some surveys lack credibility

The media may say otherwise, but they have an insatiable appetite for surveys. Which is why we publicSurvey
relations types churn them out in endless quantities. Some are well done and contribute to thought leadership. Others tell you what you already know. A precious few actually break through and identify new and noteworthy trends.

Then there are those like this one from Cision that simply defy logic and strain credulity.  It reports that General Motors finished SECOND in Cision’s annual corporate reputation index just behind Microsoft.

Talk about stupifying! General Motors is the second most admired corporation in America? Is this the same company that has handed away its market share year-after-year to Toyota? Is this the same company where management is totally insulated from reality and continues to churn out inferior products year-after-year? Is this the same company that helped turn Detroit and the state of Michigan into a 2008 version of ‘The grapes of wrath’?

I’d love to know what hallucenogenic drug the Cision survey respondents were ingesting when they selected GM for such an accolade. It has to be some kick-ass stuff.

Jan 29

What would you do with $2.7 million?

I know what I wouldn’t do with $2.7 million, and that’s blow it on a Super Bowl commercial. And, now atBudbowl
long last, comes scientific proof that, unless you’re Budweiser, you’re wasting your cash on Super Bowl spots.

A study just released at the Cognitive Science Conference (and what a fun group that must be!) showed that ‘…ads with poor cognitive skills were misattributed by consumers, and beer ads were attributed to the huge Super Bowl presence that is Budweiser.’ Translation: people simply don’t remember the ad they just saw. So, regardless of the category or the cleverness, Super Bowl ads don’t work.

This comes as no surprise whatsoever. Yet, the ad trades still routinely go nuts about ‘first time’ Super Bowl advertisers. And, Monday morning water cooler conversationalists everywhere will debate the most creative Super Bowl spot.

But, none of it matters because, unless you’re Bud, you’re ad’s going to be a dud.

Now, imagine for a minute how far $2.7mm would go if those very same marketers allocated the funds towards a mix of traditional and digital PR. It boggles the mind.

So, as you’re sipping your brew and eating that slice of pizza on Sunday, take a longer look at the ads. You’ll be watching $2.7 million literally going up in smoke.