Tag Archives: for immediate release

Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, A Review

One of my favorites podcasts is FIR (For Immediate Release) with Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson. I was intrigued with a recent interview  with Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge about their new book Putting the Public Back in Public Relations.
I bought the book.
I’m working my way through it now. I say “working” because it’s not an easy read. I appreciate that. I’ve read so many breezy books filled with slogans, cliches and battle cries that having to really concentrate is a nice change of pace.

I’m reviewing this in two parts because it brings up a lot of issues in this time of apocalyptic transition in communications.

The book revolves around the concept of “PR 2.0,” coined by Solis. It takes a realistic look at what’s wrong with PR today (PR hacks, spammers, lazy “pros” who don’t know or care about the audience they’re pitching to).  I like it.  Call a hack a hack and go forward.  Show them how to improve and if they don’t, follow Wired editor Chris Anderson’s lead and blacklist them.

The book has five parts: “The True Value of PR;” “Facilitating Conversations: New Tools & Techniques;” “Participating in Social Media;” “A Promising Future;” “Convergence.”

The authors do a good job of looking briefly at the history of PR and how after 100 years it has morphed from “throwing it out there and seeing what sticks” to getting to know the “people formerly known as your audience,” participating in conversations and giving and taking.

It’s a huge  transition to go from a century of traditional media that force fed the masses to a global community of “tribes” as Seth Godin defines it.

I started my career as a reporter for a daily newspaper.  I also wrote review columns and did weekly radio shows.  I was an intimate part of the traditional media and I welcomed its downfall in the onslaught of  the rowdy, free-for-all world of blogs, podcasts, vidcasts, and Twitter.

Putting The Public. . . captures this transition very well.  In every chapter I learned something new.

There are also things  I take issue with.

More in Part 2.

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Ignore Questions & Critics at Your Own Peril

Listened to a great episode  on the For Immediate Release podcast. An Australian  t-shirt company, Cotton On was making t-shirts for babies that were a little risque.  (It looks like they’ve since pulled the line).

One saying was particularly offensive.  A mother sent a note to a prominent mommy blogger about the slogan’s  insensitivity.  The mommy blogger wrote to the company asking for clarification about the offensive t-shirt.  She received what appeared to be a standard committee-written response that did not address the issue.

She sent another email asking if the company understood that the saying was offensive and asking if they were going to do anything to correct it.  Result:  another canned response.

The mommy blogger’s posts  began making the rounds.  A Twitter conversation formed.  You know how it works after that.  As people share the messages, make their own comments and create their own posts, it radiates outward creating a firestorm of activity.

A hash tag was created on Twitter reading “Cotton On Are Sick”.  A lot of comments were retweeted.  It finally hit the mainstream media and  Cotton On finally responded.  By now, of course, it was too late.  There was no way to undo their mistake.

They withdrew the offensive slogan with a long apology.

The lesson is not new to us in the business.  If you get inquiries from someone ins the social media, your response needs to be honest, personal, and immediate.

What used to be a 24-hour news cycle is now an immediate 140-character news cycle, as FIR cohost Shel Holtz points out.  He quoted another expert who says when queried, you have to respond immediately and in the same media where the issue appears.

It’s a fascinating episode with a case study that can apply to all of us in the business.

Some Favorite Sites, Part 1

I just discovered For Immediate Release on a Blog High Ed post.  I don’t remember whose post it was so I apologize.  FIR has been around for years and simply eluded me but it immediately became one of my favorite podcasts.  It’s hosted by Neville Hobson in England and Shel Holtz in California.  It’s intelligent, informative and full of news about marketing online, the latest developments in the technology and the emerging media.  It airs Mondays and Thursdays.

I also listen religiously to No Agenda, hosted by Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak.   Curry, a 1980s  MTV VeeJay turned entrepreneur was one of the pioneers in developing and promoting podcasting.   The two men are the odd couple of podcasting.  John is knowledgable, practical and a bit grumpy.  (In fact the contributing editor of PC  world  has another podcast called Cranky Geeks.)  Adam is a freewheeling guy whose sexual references and occasional R-rated language belies his extensive knowledge of the field and his entrepreneurial genius. (He’s the cofounder of Podshow, now mevio.)

Their niche is finding news that mainstream media ignores.  Their opinions, projections and conclusions are more often than not accurate and sometimes frightening.  They are refreshingly neither Republican or Democrat so the Obama adminsitration comes under the same scrutiny as the Republicans.  In a Democracy, we need this.

For fun I also listen to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, the smartest, wittiest show anywhere.  Hosted by Peter Sagal and Carl Kasell the band of regulars and guests are unabashedly liberal with minds and tongues are rapier sharp.  It’s the only show that almost every week makes me laugh out loud.

I also read Ad Age online which remains the bellwether in the now volatile advertising world.

I continue to read and promote Blog High Ed, not just because I’m a member of the BHE family but because it remains a forum for a diverse group of bloggers who not only care about higher ed marketing and websites but who are also some of the sharpest of the cutting edge folks in the field. Several have gone on to start their own businesses and are fast emerging leaders in the profession.

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I’ve written in the past about words that are way overused.  I have come to absolutely cringe at  “literally.”  I think I’ve included it in my hated words list but I’m telling you, I hear this word every day by smart, educated people from FIR to Fresh Air.  What was once a good, upstanding, perfectly respectable word has become the Slumdog of the English language.  It has become mindless filler!  Or, as dictionary.com says, it now means “virtually” instead of it’s original meaning of “actually.”

I’m not going to change anything by complaining.  I’ll wait for it to run its course, like “irony” did a few years ago.

That’s all for today.

Literally!