O6/22/13: Communications Stories from Here & There

Below are four recent noteworthy communications stories.

Washington Post Opens Online Opinion Pages to Sponsored Content by William Launder, on the Washington Post’s website, June 12.

In this article, Launder points out that the Washington Post is now accepting branded content from trade groups, lobbying firms and companies as responses to the paper’s editorials. This action by the Post further widens the opportunities for marketers and others to deliver their specific messages to targeted audiences without relying on traditional advertising or earned media coverage. Several other publications also are moving into sponsored content in their printed editions as well as on their websites.

Social Stories: How to Use Storytelling on Twitter by Shanna Mallon on Spin Sucks, June 17.

Mallon writes, “The limitations of Twitter are no excuse for not putting storytelling to work, especially when you consider the ways others are turning it into a powerful tool.” She offers a few helpful tips on sharing your company’s narrative or your personal story on Twitter, even within its limit of 140 character per tweet.

What Is Brand Journalism? Get the Answer in Fewer than 3 Minutes on Ragan’s PR Daily website, June 18.

In this short video, Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications, and Jim Ylisela, head of Ragan Consulting, provide a clear definition of the term brand journalism and explain the idea of “a company as a media outlet.” While neither the term nor the idea is new, PR people just being introduced to them will find this discussion valuable.

Avoid Social Media Slipups the Dunkin’ Donuts Way by Dave Johnson on CBSNews.com, June 19.

Johnson writes that when confronted by an angry customer wielding a smartphone with video rolling, a Dunkin’ Donuts salesperson handled the situation appropriately, perhaps avoiding a viral video that would be damaging to the company. He says the salesperson acted “calm, cool and polite through the entire TV ordeal,” and in the end the customer came off looking like the villain. Johnson provides lessons other companies can learn from the situation.

05/11/13: Communications Stories from Here & There

Below are eight recent communications stories of note.

The 10 Best Words the Internet Has Given English by Tom Chatfield, in the Guardian, April 17.

In this article, Chatfield, a self-described etymology addict, looks at the history of ten words that are gaining new life and, in some instances, new meanings on the Internet.

The New Look of Public Relations by Stuart Elliott, in The New York Times, April 28, discusses PR firm FleishmanHillard’s rebranding as an integrated marketing communications agency. The New Look of Public Relations—A Dissenting View by Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, in his 6 A.M. blog, May 8, looks at his firm’s approach to preparing for the future.

The PR business is in flux. And agencies everywhere are trying to determine their future role in the overall marketing space and in controlling their clients’ paid, earned, owned, and shared media mix. The best way for them to brand, or rebrand, themselves for this challenge is up for grabs, as these two articles show.

Solving Equation of a Hit Script, With Data by Brooks Barnes, in The New York Times, May 5.

Barnes writes that a former statistics professor thinks he can improve screenplays by comparing “the story structure and genre of a draft script with those of released movies, looking for clues to box-office success.” Vinny Bruzzese is not a writer. Instead, he’s interested in using data, which he gathers from focus groups and interviews with moviegoers, to suggest script changes. One screenwriter calls Bruzzese’s approach “my worse nightmare.”

Linguists Identify 15,000-Year-Old ‘Ultraconserved Words’ by David Brown in The Washington Post, May 6.

Some words are coined and then disappear in a matter of years. Even the strongest usually last only about 9,000 years before becoming extinct. But linguists have discovered a few words that have been around for 150 centuries, and they’re wondering why.

Grammar Rules Everyone Should Follow by Thomas Jones in the Guardian, May 9.

Jones says that although these “rules” are really conventions not rules, they’re worth following “in the right kinds of discourse” because they make writing clearer and more elegant. He is correct in eight of his suggestions, but I think he’s wrong about the use of who and whom.

Trying to Be Hip and Edgy, Ads Become Offensive by Stuart Elliott and Tanzina Vega, in The New York Times, May 10.

The authors say that advertising agencies and their clients may be trying too hard to reach millennials and “to create ads that will be noticed and break through the clutter.” The result: They are creating more and more offensive ads, leading to public outrage as well as embarrassment (and worse) for Madison Avenue and the brands being promoted.

The 30 Most Influential Bloggers in Public Relations on The CyberAlert Blog.

Today, there are more than 180 million blogs published worldwide on the Internet. Most have only a handful of followers, and their comments leave little or no trail. But a few bloggers are extremely influential, with thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of followers who can’t wait for their next post.

CyberAlert, a media monitoring service, has identified the 30 most influential bloggers who write about public relations and social media. PR and corporate communications professionals might want to take a look at what these bloggers have to say.

03/16/13: Communications Stories from Here & There

Below are seven notable communications stories from the two weeks ending Saturday, March 16.

Blogs Outrank Social Networks for Consumer Influence: New Research by Patricia Redsicker, on the Social Media Examiner website, March 6.

Redsicker reports some interesting findings of Technorati’s 2013 Digital Influence Report.

Among the six findings she highlights are: One, blogs influence consumers’ purchasing decisions. In fact, they are “the third most influential digital resource (31%) when making overall purchases, behind retail sites (56%) and brand sites (34%).” Two, brands and influencers measure success differently. “Brands see success as increased activity on Facebook, Twitter or their websites, while influencers rank blog or website page views as the best measure of success.”

9 Tips to Enhance Your Content Marketing by Bill Miltenberg, on the PRNews website, March 8.

Miltenberg provides tips culled from PR News’ recent Digital PR Summit that featured three PR/content marketing professionals: David Patton from Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, Chad Melton from Ingersoll Rand, and Eliza Anderson from Intrepid Travel.

Why Brands Should Embrace Honesty by Nicola Kemp, on the MediaWeek website, March 13.

Kemp leaves no doubt how she feels about honesty: “At a time when consumer trust in businesses and institutions is at an all-time low, brands can no longer afford to shroud themselves in secrecy and hide behind generic press releases and oblique statements.”

She also makes it clear that achieving honesty will not be easy for businesses: “While the corporate communications industry has effectively built its trade on helping businesses save face, it has a long way to go in adapting to a world in which consumers are demanding that the face in question is a true and honest one.”

Pope Francis, Need Some Public-Relations Help? Here’s Advice from America’s Political Consultants by Brain Resnick and Elahe Izadi on the NationalJournal website, March 13.

For this piece, the writers asked a number of political consultants what they think Pope Francis might do to improve the image of the church and to shore up its support and confidence.

Democratic strategist Mo Elleithee says, “It’s not that different from politics here—you’ve got [to] connect with people, convince them that you ‘get them’ and that you’re willing and able to fix institutional problems.” Kevin Madden, a Republican advisor, says, “Presenting a reformist agenda will be a critical part of generating goodwill with Catholics around the world as well as those Vatican-watchers.”

Other consultants offer suggestions. Most are not only appropriate for the Pope and his church but are relevant for corporations and other large organizations facing their own crisis.

Gartner Finds Corporate Websites Still a Higher Digital Marketing Priority for U.S. Marketers Than Facebook—Just by Natasha Lomas, on TechCrunch, March 13.

In this article, Lomas says a Gartner survey of U.S.-based companies shows that “corporate websites are ranked as the top digital activity for marketing ‘success’ — beating marketing on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.” Forty-five percent of the survey respondents say that their corporate websites contribute to their companies’ success, while 43% say their social media efforts boost marketing success.

Lomas quotes Gartner’s research director as stating, “The survey results suggest that the corporate website will not be displaced anytime soon by a brand’s social media presence.”

The Journalist and the PR Pro: A Broken Marriage?” by Peter Himler, on the Forbes website, March 14.

“The historical love-hate relationship between journalists and PR professionals has taken a distinct turn toward the latter in recent years and cuts across virtually every media beat,” Himler says. But he doesn’t see the relationship as being completely broken.

Himler, a seasoned PR/media strategist, gives a few suggestions for what each side of this media-relations equation might do to do improve its relationship with the other.

How the PR Industry of Yesteryear Compares with Today by Michael Sebastian, on Ragan’s PR Daily, March 15.

Sebastian begins his piece by stating, “In just a decade, aspects of the public relations field have become unrecognizable.” Then he provides an infographic from InkHouse Media + Marketing showing how today’s PR industry compares with itself of a few years ago.

At the bottom of the piece is a link to another story worth checking out. This one lists 10 signs that show you are an old-school PR pro.

02/09/13: Communications Stories from Here & There

Below are five noteworthy communications stories from the week ending February 9, 2013.

“Age, Gender Determine ‘Go-To’ Devices” on eMarketer website, February 4.

As this article explains, TV in 2013 is still the go-to source of news and entertainment for most Americans, according to a new study by Harris Interactive. But young adults—those between 18 and 34—are quickly turning away from TV and relying instead on their laptops and smartphones.

Charts in this article show the percentages of different age groups moving to new devices and those considering replacing their computers with tablets.

“Nine Writing Mistakes You’re Probably Making” by Ben Yogada on The Huffington Post, February 5.

Yogada, the author of How to Not Write Bad, says that for writing, it’s the best of times because so much writing is being done and it’s the worst of times because much of this writing is bad.

He lists nine writing mistakes and explains how to correct them.  The first mistake, for example, is being wordy. By “wordy,” though, he does not mean writing long sentences. He means using words that should be omitted.

“Pentagon gearing up to fight the PR war” by Walter Pincus, in The Washington Post, February 6.

In this informative article, Pincus says that although public relations (referred to as Inform and Influence Activities) is not new to the military, the U.S. Army is now embracing PR as a key element of its 21st-century military operations. He quotes the new Army field manual as stating PR is critical in “. . . leading operations toward attaining the desired end state,” and that “Victory depends on a commander’s ability to shape, sway, and alter foreign audience perceptions, and ultimately behavior, especially in the area of operations.”

These objectives would fit into almost any good PR campaign.

 “The Peculiar Twitter Tactics of Social Media Influencers” by Haydn Shaughnessy, on the Forbes website, February 7.

Shaughnessy, suggests in this post that Twitter has “become the channel for the new motivational micro-speech,” leading the trend in social media to provide readers with inspiration and motivation. He says there are “social media influencers whose tweets and interactions are regularly interspersed with homilies,” and he gives interesting examples.

“10 Tips From Boing Boing On Making Online Content Sing” by Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield in Fast Company, February 8.

Sweeney and Gosfield are the authors of The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well. In this article, they excerpt from their book ten tips for building an addictive, compelling website. Their tips come from Mark Frauenfelder, founder of the online magazine Boing Boing, which has been published since 1995 and has 2.5 unique visitors a month.

The tips provide good advice. For example, the second one—be original—says, “Make the blog that doesn’t exist yet, but that you’d want to read.”

01/26/13: Communications Stories from Here & There

Below are five noteworthy communications stories published during the week ending January 26, 2013.

“Saying What Matters in 701 Words,” by Ronald C. White, Jr., in The New York Times, Sunday, January 20.

White, author of Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural, writes in this article about what many consider to be the best inaugural address ever written.

In his short speech of only 701 words—taking him perhaps about five minutes to deliver—Lincoln chose not to give his audience what they expected but instead to surprise them in a number of ways.

Read the story here: http://ow.ly/h2B7v .

“Don’t Write off Print Ads Just Yet,” by Michael Wolff, in USA Today, Monday, January 21.

Wolff makes the argument that print ads still work (look at those by Apple Google, IKEA, Lego, Ray-Ban, Old Spice, Harley-Davidson, for example) and they should not be overlooked by ad agencies and their clients, who often do so because agencies can make more money from TV and digital ads, and the clients find these media more exciting than print.

He also points out that many of the young agency people hired today create ads for TV and digital because, in part, they have trouble mastering language skills. “They live in an unwritten world and cannot, practically speaking, produce a written ad,” he says.

Read the story here: http://ow.ly/h2AYt .

“10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a PR Firm” by Jane Porter, in Entrepreneur, Tuesday, January 22.

These are ten very good questions that every business should ask before deciding which PR agency to hire. Large businesses have most likely been through this exercise a number of times and so know what questions to ask, but small companies need to be especially diligent in making sure they ask these questions and get the answers that will be best for them.

All the questions are asked of the PR agencies being considered. And I would add that the initial question—How are you going to measure your success?—should first be asked of the company itself (and answered carefully) because the way the agency measures success must align with the way the company wants the agency’s success measured. Counting media mentions might be nice but may not be useful to the company that really wants to know how PR will increase sales.

Read the story here: http://ow.ly/h2zQA.

“Pope Benedict on Social Networking: The Virtual is Real” by Nicole Winfield, on The Huffington Post, Thursday, January 24.

Winfield writes in this story that the Pope, who, at 85, tweets in nine languages and has 2.5 million followers, said this week that the Catholic Church must use social media to better engage young people and to attract new members.

Read the story here: http://ow.ly/h8lxq.

“Inside Forbes: A New Wave of Digital Journalist Is Showing a Profession the Way Forward” by Lewis DVorkin on Forbes.com, Friday, January 25.

In this interesting piece, DVorkin, a Forbes staff member, writes about the way the publication’s digital journalists go about doing their jobs and how their approach differs from that of traditional journalists. The article, which includes a video with interviews of some Forbes digital writers, lays out a model for the future of journalism.

Read the story here: http://ow.ly/h8jWo.