Flak Attack

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

Posts Tagged ‘media

It’s official: PR makes advertising its Bee-yatch

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Advertising Age recently published its findings and waxed melancholy about the state of advertising in the second half of 2009.

To summarize, take this as a warning-slash-really-bad-pep-rally for the industry:

It’s not getting a lot better, but at least it’s not getting any worse. And it probably won’t ever get back to where it once was.

Communications

I think it makes sense now. Don't you?

What’s this say to clients and other company’s creative types who us flacks want to love so, so much (call me)?

Find different ways to get in front of your target audiences. You know, do something you’re not currently doing to change the profits from going lower than the president’s approval ratings. (Hey, just sayin’.)

Does Ad Age have any recommendations? Glad you asked:

We found that there are pockets of strength: online and PR, for example.

So, why the change? Typically, it was make a logo and sand blast that on any embankment, billboard and mode of public transportation within a 5000-mile radius of your corporate office.

Well, that swooshing sound of all your cash going down the toilet has something to do with it. Couple that with the lack of interest in print products for anything outside of lining bird cages and creating cozy comforters for the homeless and you have an answer.

People have to look for not necessarily inventive ways to reach their target base, but definitely optional ways to sustain that catchy new mark.

Without a skilled PR campaign attached to a brand that directs folk to a billboard, or the very reason behind said advertisement, what good does it do the company? How long will it last? And where can find an ROI with a two-week blitz for a poster seen in your local parking garage?

Sure, some sleuth reporter will bump into the ad and write a story, but without a high-performance Web site or a strategic PR campaign, that story will have the longevity of “Jon & Kate: the Divorced Years” or new Coke (woof!)

“We are seeing a paradigm shift in our industry taking place as agencies grapple with how to deal with the new realities and manage costs to revenues. The industry is in for a fundamental, enduring reset over the next 10 years,” said Jim Heekin, chairman-CEO, Grey Group.

I like that – “new realities”. You know, billboards and print are still tangible but there’s this Internet thingy that’s really catching on.

I once heard in “Advertising 101” (not sure if that’s the real name):

Advertising is what you pay for, while public relations is what you pray for.

Anyone in the corporate arena wanna come with me to church this Sunday? I’ll drive.

POTUS Beer Run?

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Recently, the leader of the free world overstepped his boundaries just a skosh when he decided to comment on the Dr. Henry Louis Gates’ plight of being arrested at his own house for breaking and entering.

This arrest sparked yet another tired debate on police ethics, racism and what is and is not the business of the federal government.

You know, your typical week in America. (Sigh.)

Evidently, the good doctor flared a little attitude when asked for I.D. (understandably so) at his own crib and the cop was fueled by a 911 call. MEMO to the police, the caller said “suitcase”, not “race.” Just sayin’.

Anywhoo.

President Obama spent 55.5 minutes discussing health care policy for an entire nation. Good stuff for a headline, but he was thrown a ticking time bomb that blew up in his face for the last 4.5 minutes of that news conference.

“Mr. President, care to comment on Dr. Gates’ arrest?”

Come on 2012! Woohoo!

Come on 2012! Woohoo!

It doesn’t matter what was asked. That statement was in slow motion, SPOTUS Gibbs was in the back slicing his wrists as the result has now been dubbed… “HenryLouis-Gate” (cute, right).

What everyone does know is the police officer apparently acted “stupidly.” Doh!

Much ado about nothing ensued causing a national upheaval and one large presidential wedgie of his now-heralded Mom pants.

Being the casual, laissez-faire kind of cat, Obama decides to do what all presidents would do in this situation – make it worse by offering diplomacy on tap.

That’s right. This week, both Dr. Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley will walk up to the bar at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for Happy Hour and a nice cold one. Just us guys.

Sweet. Stupidly. And evidently at Crowley’s behest?

Mr. Obama phoned Crowley, who suggested the three men sit down for a beer at the White House. The president said he liked the idea, and Gates reportedly concurred when Mr. Obama phoned him next.

Man, if it is that easy to influence an executive order, I need to make a phone call or blog my man about these pesky tax returns. Maybe, we solve our grievances over a dollar store visit or something.

Hey, uh, your royal exuberance? Call me.

Written by theflak

July 30, 2009 at 10:00 am

Walter Cronkite: And that’s the way it was

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Without a doubt, there will be memorials into perpetuity because this brilliant reporter and sage of the airwaves was finally overcome by his illnessesand there should be.

Walter CronkiteHowever, what’s lacking is Walter Cronkite’s legacy upon those talking heads giving the homage to the iconic CBS veteran.

This was “the most trusted man in America” for decades, and today, who in the world would allow a single news anchor to even babysit their kids?!

National news is pathetic regardless of where your TV remote finds you. There is no joint broadcasting, tiered openness or unleavened bias anymore. One network touts our president as “sort of God” and the other may as well accuse him of being Rosemary’s Baby.

Long gone are the days when you can turn on an evening news report and rest assured with all the facts to know that’s the way it is.

You know if the Edward R. Murrow disciples these days want to show any respect to Cronkite, consider this: the greatest tribute they can pay him is actually broadcast like him.

Whether you were old enough to see it live, or had a professor show you in school, most of us flacks have seen the regaled Cronkite announcement of JFK’s death.

You couldn’t tell if he was a gun-totin’ member of the GOP or a tree-hugging member of the Democratic Party. Why? It didn’t matter. He was there to report the news, not opine on political dissuasion.

Cronkite was the progeny of a soon-to-be extinct breed – trusted news anchors who valued integrity on facts rather getting hits on Facebook because of their misguided conjecture.

No, now you have to sift through the empty rhetoric, political bent and flat-out mudslinging to get any “facts” these days.

Godspeed, Walter. The media has become unceasingly sorrier since you left it. And now that you have left us, so will we become.

And that’s just the way it is.

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.

Imagine paying rent at a homeless shelter

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Signs of the Times?

Signs of the Times?

Ever been to New York City? If you work in public relations, the answer is probably, “Yes.”

It’s the media mecca. It’s the holy ground of journalism. And it’s the… most friggin’ expensive place on earth!

My God, man. A brother can go broke there without ordering room service.

I mean, has anyone bothered checking out the home prices in that city?

$1.5 million for a 660 square-foot tin shanty, but hey, it’s got a view… if you look waaaaaaaaaay in the corner of that rear window in your bathroom, you can see a tree past those gutters. Sweet.

Well, the economy is evidently still putting the squeeze on real estate in the city that never sleeps.

According to this alarming story from Newsday, city officials have begun charging rent to families living in… wait for it… homeless shelters. Classy.

The spin:

The policy applies only to shelter residents who have income from jobs.

Sure. Never mind those jobs are typically dishwasher, asbestos cleaner, sewage drainer and pooper scoopers, but hey, it’s a gig. Right?

The catch:

They could be expected to pay up to half their earnings.

Because when you are living in a homeless shelter (oxymoron, eh?), you can easily afford that kind of scratch on three hots and a cot… for you and your family.

Pathetic. In a world where the economy is public enemy #1 and charity is sorely floundering amidst public panic, New York City shows up in a sterling fashion.

I understand every city has to get their cut, but to get “stimulated” on the backs of the disenfranchised, impoverished and destitute? Hrm.

The Big Apple looks like it has sour grapes to me. Poetic. And nutritious too.

Written by theflak

May 14, 2009 at 4:48 am

The Spin View: Hail to the Beef

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Quite often, the media has to unplug the teleprompters and go ad-lib [cue your fave scary music here].

Hairs stand up on the back of necks, loud gulps can be heard in the production room and shivers are felt from the anchor’s desk to the receptionist’s area.

Why? Because the college graduates forget all the perfunctory items of reporting and go all “hooked on phonics” with their thinking patterns.

Now, just to add a monkey wrench to the situation, forget the white Bronco doing 120 mph down the highway.

Let’s pretend it’s something so newsworthy that all networks have to consecutively stop down and report. Oh, I don’t know… like the president of the United States ordering his lunch!?

Yeah, I know. Reporting at its best. Let’s forget the 27 million folks looking for a job, health care so unaffordable people are considering a move to Canada and oh yeah, that whole war thing. Enjoy this from “The Daily Show,” which calls B.S. on MSNBC.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “The Spin View: Hail to the Beef“, posted with vodpod

Written by theflak

May 9, 2009 at 12:41 pm