Flak Attack

If it’s in the news, the Flak attacks!

The Spin View: Where’s Michael?

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For weeks, the world has reeled with the death of Michael Jackson.

And while people have been buying his albums “off the Wall,” (Sorry, it was just there) the one thing people can’t seem to grasp is when will the friggin’ stories stop!

He’s dead. He revolutionized the business. He will always be remembered… namely if the media won’t shut up about the fact that… oh yeah… he’s dead!

I’ve often wondered if I had the power of a digital editing suite at my desk, how I would be able to masterfully maneuver around all the gesticulating banter on the Michael Jackson story… and inevitably, stick a log in the spoked wheel spinning out of control.

Now thanks to the genius writers at “The Daily Show,” I no longer have to dream. Enjoy!

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more about “The Spin View: Where’s Michael?“, posted with vodpod

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Jean Carpenter: Texas State Fair loses a legendary face

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Jean CarpenterLate last month, Dallas/Fort Worth learned that Big Tex wasn’t the only legendary face on the state fairgrounds.

Her name was Jean Carpenter, and although she had her own practice in North Texas, she was known for representing the Texas State Fair annually for the past 30 years.

Thanks to this obituary/story from the Dallas Morning News, we learned she died of a brain tumor at the age of 80.

“Jean was just running every direction that morning making sure things came together the way they were supposed to,” Ms. [Nancy, of retired State Fair fame] Wiley said. “Pretty much everything did, except for the trained pig. We discovered pigs don’t like to get up before dark and perform. Jean was right out in the middle of it, herding the pigs in the direction they were supposed to go. She was tremendously versatile.”

The last memoir there describes what true flacks do. This is not a 9-to-5 gig. It’s round the clock, ofttimes thankless but erstwhile rewarding. And that’s what Carpenter made it.

I had the privilege of working with her once on behalf of another client. Although Big Tex towers over the fairgrounds, that woman clearly wore the huge pants around that place. She ran the joint and no one got through that gate without her consent.

Including yours truly… and I had approval, only the news didn’t make it to security that one fateful morning. Sigh.

Chutzpah and credibility, all in one bound Dallas package. She will certainly be missed.

To really appreciate a more personal approach, Rawlins Gilliand wrote an amazing celebratory piece that Big Bob Wilonsky posted in Unfair Park. Please visit, it’s worth the read.

Ms. Carpenter is survived by her companion, John Patrick Byrne of Dallas, and a sister, Jerry Stevenson of Lufkin, Texas. Memorials may be made to the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children or the State Fair of Texas Scholarship Fund.

Written by theflak

July 27, 2009 at 10:00 am

New publishing efforts are all Greek to me

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Magazines are vanishing from the public almost as fast as Jon & Kate’s relevance. And to keep the printing presses as hot as the aforementioned couple’s divorce proceedings, publishers are looking under their pillows for that one wadded-up idea hiding in the pillows.

The Meredith Corporation, home of many magazines routinely seen in my mailbox (Hi baby), has found one such idea that dates back to antiquity. No, really. Like Ancient Greece.

New cheesy pick-up line: "Whew. Look at those Gammas."

New cheesy pick-up line: "Whew. Look at those Gammas."

Recently, the world was introduced to a new kind of radioactive woman – the Gamma Women, who are influential and well-connected women who love to network.

More than 55 million of them evidently read their gaggle of magazines, so why not create a report about the third letter in the Greek alphabet?

Thanks to this story from PR Newser, we have a quote from Nancy Weber, Meredith’s CMO:

Since we released the Gamma report last year, we’ve received an overwhelming response from marketers and advertisers. The current economic environment has caused brands to reevaluate where they spend their marketing and advertising dollars and seek opportunities that reach highly engaged consumers at great scale.”

So, Gamma women buy wisely, as opposed to Alpha males who just walk into a local Border’s and duke it out or pee all over the magazine rack to mark their territory. You learn something new every day.

Only one thought from the married section of the cheap seats: whatever you do Meredith Corp., please – for the love of God – don’t use the Gamma in its lowercase form.

Originally, this formation of the symbol was used in engineering mechanics and refers to specific weight.

I don’t know about most women, but the ladies in my life wouldn’t be that crazy about having their weight published across the country in the interest of a quick buck. Just sayin’.

Written by theflak

July 26, 2009 at 8:00 am

Is Chik-Fill-Ay Killeng Mahdern Grammer?

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Since the inception of text messaging, people have been looking for easier ways to communicate. Whether they can’t spell or just believe acronyms are the new black in language, text lingo became all the rage.

But thanks to the hoofy-work of some milk cows (beef cows don’t have utters, just saying), we have a completely new debacle – vernacular has not only become initialized, but also minimized.

“Eat More Chikin” has done more than become an anthem for healthy eating (and a lovely “Ka-ching” for the franchise), but has created a trend we can see everywhere including on TV.

Sure, cows can’t spell. I get that. Cute. However, TV execs are becoming more and more bovine everyday with moronic advertising.

Kinda like one of those dieting commercials, ain't it?

Kinda like one of those dieting commercials, ain't it?

Any science fiction fans caught the latest moniker for the signature network of Trekkies? This week, it changed its name from Sci Fi to SyFy.

What a stretch of marketing dollars that was. As if that wasn’t enough fodder for the phonetically challenged, we have their half-baked tagline, “Imagine Greater.”

What’s that? A middle finger of one-upsmanship to Steve Jobs and his “Think Different” moniker?

I suppose this imbecilic concoction makes sense if you review most TV networks these days.

  • The Learning Channel became TLC, showing learning is really about tender loving care
  • žAmerican Movie Classics is AMC, and now adulating praise to a failed cult-classic automobile
  • žEven CNN got in the mix with Headline News vacillating into HLN

What’s next? The History Channel becoming “THC”? Well, that would work if it weren’t for the hippie lettuce heads out there.

So, the next time I hear someone exclaim “OMG” in a sentence or I read “What’s Nu” in a text message, I will think back to America’s favorite chikin joint and blame those billboard-painting, high-flying cows.

Written by theflak

July 24, 2009 at 8:00 am

The Long Sabbatical

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lawrence-of-arabiaposterRoaming around the Internet – and the country – like Lawrence of Arabia, I have been ramping up the air miles like a true PR vagabond. However, I have been neglecting a certain blog.

It’s sad because I’m never dry on opinion and there have been a litany of PR stories to rant about, such as:

> Michael Jackson and the news cycle that keeps on rolling

> Obama. Need I really say more, namely with the “Brotherhood of the All-Star Pitching Mom Pants“?!

> Health care, energy and other mind-numbing things to make you pray for rapture

Whatever the situation, I have missed out, but… I’m baaaaaack.

Hold the fanfare, just send the comments.

Written by theflak

July 23, 2009 at 10:31 am

Posted in Editor's Note

Tagged with ,

Internships: The new interview?

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NEWS FLASH: The economy blows.

And besides the current 8.6 percent in this country who are feeling it the most, quite possibly no other audience has more to hurdle than the broad jumpers currently graduating college.

Think about it: they are unproven, they have no contacts, they have nothing to fall back on and… that resume? Woof.

What’s a graduate to do in this profession, and in this market?

Answer: Become an intern – anywhere!

The class of 2009 is ready, willing and able, so why work for free? How do they make it?

According to this article from San Bernandino Sun, those questions are considered in-between cramming for finals and those drunken stupors allegedly dealt with on a bi-weekend basis.

“It’s exciting to be graduating, but very frustrating,” said Christina Dudley, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Cal State San Bernardino in June. “It makes you wonder if it’s even worth it going to school all these years, paying all this money and then not being able to find a job to pay back student loans.”

No kidding.

The article continues to discuss the deft trifecta these students are facing:

  1. The job market blows as much as the economy does.
  2. Consider the usual competition for PR jobs, now multiply that by 10.
  3. The market sucked last year too, so all those graduates are still looking for a gig.

Which leads me to internships. Sure, you may have to get a part-timer sacking groceries, but interning creates four magic words on a resume your diploma can’t buy: “On the job training.”

More and more, agencies have a need at the assistant account executive or account coordinator level but are waiting for the summer months to hire. No, not at your level but that one intern who will do everything, get everything, help everyone and be happy doing it.

Agencies don’t have the cost of benefits and stil get a hungry person willing to show off a little to get a little. And possibly a lot more in the fall. Yes, that’s why!

Interns get their foot in the door, develop a new skill set not foreseen during semester mid-terms and get a lot closer to a managing director than your resume ever will.

So, if you’re out there, fresh hair cut, creased pants, diploma in-hand and still without the job, consider the intern. I’ll bet more of them get hired in the next coming months than more of you.

Written by theflak

May 28, 2009 at 11:00 am

Hey reporters, call me. Please?

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If you consider what flacks like me do for a living, it’s a viable question.

We spend hours noodling on that finely crafted pitch, attempting to personalize it with a back story and customize it with our own sense of dazzling wit. And then, as we hold our breath and squint out of one eye, we hit “send” and off it goes… will it return, who really knows?

I know odds are not good we get that return call, but what’s a flack to do? Quit? Stop trying? Anything?

Plenty, based on this brilliant read from “The Bad Pitch Blog.” It seems I’m not alone with my discombobulated woes.

Probably my former GM. His other car said "Move the Needle".

Probably my former GM. His other car said "SYNERGY".

According to the sage authors here, the reason media types don’t call us back is because most of “us” aren’t answering the effin’ phone. And why?

Too much of a good thing, in this PR practitioner’s opinion?

Think about it. We have a voice mail at work and on the cell. Some have an e-leash… sorry, a Blackberry. And now, there’s our LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

All those meetings. All those clients. And then, some adoring member of the media has the nerve to return your message.

Sure, you screen your calls. Who doesn’t? But if you aren’t holding true to a 24-hour return call policy, you need to consider a new line of work. I don’t know, like Toll Booth Operator.

You see, most spin doctors I know who don’t return calls are the type to pitch at 6:00 p.m. and file the report, “Called but no return message.”

It’s the personal interaction that scares the bejesus out of some in this vocation. To which, I say get over it. It’s in the job description.

Sure after-hour calls, e-mails, tweets and an impersonal LinkedIn message is contact, but all hail the days when all we had were phones and those antiquated answering machines.

These days, hitting “7” ad-nauseum is so much easier to clear your calendar for that new business tee time, isn’t it?

Listen, if you are one of these media habitues who live on Caller ID, consider the economy, answer the phone and who knows… you may enjoy the interaction. Just a thought.