Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'm an open book -- at least now I am . . .

thanks to Kami Huyse, APR. (For the next couple days, my main PR blogging site will be down due to server issues, so I'm posting here at my "back up" blog for now.)

So, the game is for me to state five things you don't know about me? I could go with Todd's "five things" approach, but . . . . well, maybe I might. So, here we go:
  1. My wife and I are expecting our fourth child. We thought we were done with three -- two boys and a girl, ages 8, 5 and 3 -- but guess God had other plans. (Okay, we were involved with the outcome as well, but there's more to it than that. And, it's stuff you probably don't want to know.)
  2. In high school, among the flattering and not-so-flattering nicknames I had were Larry Bird (I was much blonder then; but didn't have any nears the basketball talent) and Shaggy.
  3. I've seen The Wiggles live in concert at least four times . . . can sing a pretty mean (and awful) "fruit salad." Before my daughter was born, my wife and our two sons even dressed like the Wiggles for one concert trip. (I was Murray.)
  4. I'm balding (but at least I have more hair at this age than my older brother did!).
  5. I was a newspaper journalist for the first four plus years of my working career.

Now, let's see if Peter Shankman, Bob LeDrew, John Guifoil, the good folks at BlogWorks and Sherrilynne Starkie have played this game yet?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fake blogs are fine . . .

if we know they're fake.

B.L. Ochman doesn't agree, though, BTW, thanks to her blogging about the Hotel Campari campaign (promoting Italian liquor). Apparently, MRM Worldwide -- the agency -- has set up fake profiles on Flickr, MySpace and YouTube in conjunction with the campaign. (See Richard MacManus for details.)

Ochman writes:
I think this campaign is just as unethical as Wal-mart and other flogs. And that it abuses the trust upon which social media is built. What do you think?
The Edelman/Wal-Mart fake blogs were purposefully deceitful. Intended to look like a grass-roots, genuine effort. That was wrong.

However, unlike Edelman/Wal-Mart, we know from the get-go the Hotel Campari blog and the social media profiles are fake. If a blog is upfront, fake is fine. It makes it into a game. That's what many social networking sites are about anyway -- entertainment.

If a company wants to try to sell me along the way, that's fine. Transparently fake is fine.

Just look at John Tucker or Borat. Those are obviously fictional characters set up on MySpace to promote a movie. (Disclosure: Borat is a friend.)

So, go ahead and set up fake blogs and social profiles. Involve us. Just make damn well sure we know it's fake.
-- Mike

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pick your battles

Anyone in public relations or other professional communications -- and every public official and public figure, for that matter -- should know that you can never -- NEVER -- win a battle with the media.

Now, yes, I've posted about how companies and organizations successfully "battle back with blogs" against the media. See here and here plus an update here.

Now, "battle" is a bit strong and I use it primarily because I like alliteration. But the examples I've blogged about did not battle the media directly. They were/are using blogs to voice their side of an issue, story, or just getting messages out to their respective audience(s) that they feel are not getting out via the traditional media means.

Prime examples of how people and organizations are really battling the media -- and will ultimately lose -- have come up of late.

First, locally. Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner doesn't like how WSPD-AM 1370 voiced opposition to a proposed bike path in one Toledo neighborhood. So, he called the A.M. drive host Fred LeFebvre a liar, and threatened to contact the station's advertisers (see "stalemate"). Plus, Mayor Finkbeiner has banned all city employees from talking on air with WSPD, has stopped informing WSPD news personnel of news conferences, and stopped sending the station any news releases.

In return, WSPD has banned Mayor Finkbeiner from the station until he apologizes for calling LeFebvre a liar.

It's getting pretty ugly and not good for Toledo, especially since it looks like WSPD is not backing down in its rhetoric of the mayor. But, ultimately, WSPD will win because it'll have the last word.

Now, let's go national, and get into the sports world. As you probably already know, the New York Knickerbockers -- not liking the media scrutiny and criticism it's been under this year, and of late regarding fired Coach Larry Brown -- scheduled a news conference and only invited a select number of beat reporters and other media outlets (including one owned by the team's owner).

Of course, the reaction to the Knicks' poor media relations judgment has not been favorable.

Ultimately, the Knicks should stop its arrogance, open up, take the heat and move on. If the team wins, it'll all get better. If it loses, the criticism will continue -- justifiably. If Knicks management persists in excluding most of the media interested in its team, the team will be continually crucified.

Plus, that tact won't work. Reporters are resourceful. They are paid to be. They'll get the story -- whether the Knicks like it or not. The Knicks can be left out, or it can contribute and do their best to get their side story out. In other words, participate in the conversation.

Locally, as I commented a day ago, WSPD should take the high road, skip the controversy tact, be reasonable and don't tick off listeners with extreme programming. It'll be better off in the long-term.

For the Toledo mayor, get over it. Suck up your pride as there are other issues that you will need WSPD and other media as allies. Or, at least, not as your adversaries.

-- Mike

Technorati tags: Toledo, media, PR, public relations, New York Knicks

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I have the power!

Well, not me necessarily. But, companies do have the power . . . to control their brand. Some may call it a company's "tag."

Granted, not total control, but, do we really ever have total control over anything? Not really. Companies never did, do and won't have total control over their brand. That's one area where I agree with a fellow blogger or two.

But, companies do have more control over their brand than any other entity, individual or groups of individuals. Period. So, get over it. ;)


  • Through marketing materials like ads, media and public relations, direct mail, sales literature, etc.
  • Through communication with customers, prospects, decision-makers and opinion leaders via Web sites, corp blogs, sales people, customer service, purchasing personnel, etc.
  • AND through acting consistently and with focus through the above people and during the above activities.
Only then will the brand, image or tag companies wish to convey predominantly come out.

Will everyone have the same perceptions of the company? No, but the prevailing perception will be the one, or very close to the one the company is trying to convey. As long as the brand and effort remains consistent and focused.

Now, how to be consistent and focused is a topic for another post.
-- Mike

Technorati tags: branding

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What's your new year's resolution?

Yep, it's that time of year. Time to start anew. Start refreshed. A clean slate.

So, do you have a resolution for 2006?

What about resolving to keep an open mind? To start each project with a fresh slate.

The great thing about being in marketing and communications is the variety. Whether you work in-house or for a firm, every day and every project is at least subtly different.

Another great thing is the redundancy: the annual trade shows, new product launches, and even new business strategies and rebranding.

While no two projects or campaigns are exactly the same, you do get opportunities to try new strategies and tactics. You can prove yourself all over again.

So, for 2006, the next time you have a new product launch, don't get lazy and dust off last year's plan. Take a serious look at who you really want to target. Conduct research or even do some brainstorming about why your audience(s) should purchase or specify your product. Then, research or even brainstorm about how you can reach your audience(s) with your message(s).

Think outside of your specific job responsibilities.

What new technologies are available you can use? What old ways could still be effective? Can you combine the new with the old?

What about a PR stunt? What about developing a sales incentive program or sales contest? Instead of issuing a news release, why don't you take your story to the media. What about an online news conference?

Whatever you resolve, don't make resolutions only in January. Make resolutions -- a fresh start -- with each project.
-- Mike

Technorati tags: Marketing

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Citizen Columnists

Many bloggers have been called and some even like to banty about the term "citizen journalism" or "citizen journalists."

I don't think that's an accurate, or best term to describe it. (Technically, maybe, but I'll get to that later.)

Actually, bloggers are "citizen columnists." Right?

Blogs are mostly opinions and comments on news. Not really primary news. Isn't that what columnists do? Comment? Opine? Speculate?

The other main classification of how bloggers blog is by providing links to news media and other blogs. (In keeping with the journalism jargon, let's call these "calendar of events" blogs.)

Granted, since columnists are a subset of journalists, technically, bloggers can be called citizen journalists. But, "citizen columnists" is more accurate. For a citizen journalist, you'd expect some news. Something that you can't really find elsewhere, correct?

NOTE: I've never heard the term before, and initially thought it was my own brainstorm. But, I'm wrong. Regardless who coined the phrase, it still it more accurate than citizen journalists.

The only exception to the rule is when bloggers post interviews. I've done it (okay, just once). POP! PR's Jeremy Pepper has done it often. Even Microsoft's Robert Scoble has done it. And, I know other bloggers have, too.

Really, other than these interviews, the only true citizen journalism site I know of is

Am I dead on? Or, am I slicing hairs and being picky?


Technorati tags: Citizen Journalism, OhMyNews, POP! PR, Scoble

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

True Citizen Journalism

There's been a lot of talk about citizen journalism. Steve Rubel touts it. You also see it at Poynter. The Cyber Journalism site even has a list.

But, likely one of the oldest (if not the oldest) truely citizen journalist site around is The SF Chronicle had a great piece on it in Sunday's (Sept. 18) edition.

Nothing but news from "citizen reporters" across South Korea, and even outside the country. Yes, South Korea. Not the the U.S.

According to the story, the site very much has an "us vs. them" attitude:
"'So here we hoist our flag and declare war on the old media system. ... We are overthrowing the basic principles of news reporting, which for many years has been taken for granted by many of the world's newspapers,' declares one of the company's brochures."

The site, which pays for submitted stories (about 2 in 3 are accepted) generates revenue from ads (70 percent), syndicated sales and premium contents.

Wonder when the first one will be nearly as successful here in the states?

-- Mike

Technorati tags: South Korea, Citizen Journalism, Journalism, Media