Every once in a while, if we’re lucky, we meet truly inspiring people that leave us in awe. Mary Hoagland, is one of those people.
As a group of us recently had dinner with her earlier this week, she had a lot of wisdom to share about her 92 years in this world. As we’re inundated with sensational stories in the media and on social media, it’s refreshing to hear from someone who is so accomplished, yet humble, and happy to live in the moment.
After graduating from Smith College in 1946, then marrying and raising four children, at the age of 48, she decided she wanted to go to law school. Her husband was a successful attorney in Denver, so why couldn’t she become one? After being turned down twice from the University of Denver School of Law because of her age, on her third attempt she showed up with her tuition check in hand and told them: “You’re a business, and you need my money.” They finally relented and admitted her in 1972. She graduated and went on to run her own family law practice for 16 years, which included representing women in serious, often dangerous, family situations.
No matter what side of the aisle your political beliefs fall, it’s hard not to watch the very public antagonistic relationship President Trump and his administration are having with the media.
While President Obama had his fair share of scuffles with the media, they didn’t get the kind of attention President Trump’s school-yard battles are getting now. After several decades during which the media has lost trust, credibility and interest among Americans, will the new President bring back the Fourth Estate to its former glory?
I recently came across a Politico article titled: Trump Is Making Journalism Great Again. According to the article, there’s always been a quid pro quo in Washington, where journalists groom sources, but sources also groom journalists. “There’s nothing inherently unethical about the back-scratching. When a reporter calls an administration source to confirm an embarrassing item, the source may agree to confirm as long as the reporter at the very least agrees to listen sympathetically to the administration’s context.”
There was a lot of news coverage of “fake news” leading up to and following the recent presidential election, but after doing some digging, it became clear that fake news and fake news sites are nothing new.
And it’s not just fake news that’s getting attention. I came across a story about how a police department in Central California issued a fake news release to the media to protect a person who was sure to be killed by rival gang members. Many in the local media were highly critical of the police’s actions, but the Santa Maria police made no apologies.
In an ever-shrinking media landscape with fewer and fewer “real” media and reporters, how do you tell real from fake news? The New York Times covered this topic in an appropriately titled headline: Inside a Fake News Sausage Factory: ‘This Is All About Income’. The article covered how a computer science major from Georgia (the country), started creating fake stories about Hillary Clinton on a website he set up, and watched his Google ad sales soar as more and more people found the site. He really started making money when he began creating content about Donald Trump.
My colleague, Karla, and I recently had the opportunity to speak to a class of college students as part of a PR 101 class. The students, most of whom were studying communications with an emphasis in PR, were interested in how to get hired once they graduated from school. As we described what a “typical” day looks like for us, we also shared some of the critical skills that are needed to work in marketing communications today.
It may come as no surprise that many of today’s top advertising influencers are young, hip and taking Madison Avenue by storm – and making lots of money in the process.
60 Minutes recently covered the story, which may have left its generally older, conservative demographic shaking their heads. In case you missed the segment, it featured several 20 somethings who are commanding big dollars to represent brands, and advertisers are lining up to tap into their huge followings on social networks and the back-end data that proves their reach.
@LoganPaul is one of the biggest stars and he’s just 21 years old. This millionaire’s videos have attracted more than 30 million followers on his social media platforms. He was even featured on the cover of Ad Week. His Dunkin Donuts ad had an online reach of 7 million, similar to what a prime time TV spot would reach, and they paid him just $200K for one-day’s work.
Not surprisingly, Americans disagree about how the media cover the news, and what they believe are the media’s best and worst traits. According to a Pew Research Center study that was conducted in early 2016, Americans were asked to share what they thought were the most positive and negative things the news media do.
The most positive thing the media do, according to 30 percent of respondents, is to report the news. Next, 25 percent say the media provide a public service, like providing information or serving as a watch dog. Last, people say the media share uplifting stories (8 percent).
In today’s 140-character world, does AP Style still matter and why should I care? It depends who you ask. The truth is, AP Style does matter and is the standard in the U.S. if you’re a journalist, writer or work in public relations and marketing communications. If you’re not familiar with the AP Stylebook, it’s a “reference for writers, editors, students and professionals. It provides fundamental guidelines for spelling, language, punctuation, usage and journalistic style.”
While the AP Stylebook has been around since 1953, each June it releases a new printed edition and is available online for an annual subscription. For longtime AP Style followers, sometimes the updates make you crazy, like now that it’s acceptable to use “over” as a synonym for “more than” i.e. “She earns over $30 million a year” versus the old way “She earns more than $30 million a year.” It’s just as important for longtime users to stay up on the changes as it is for new writers to become intimately familiar with the guidelines.
As we’re in the throes of the presidential election, and when you aren’t trying to tune out the noise and are actually listening to the two candidates and their political machines, it can be difficult to figure out who is really telling the truth.
Fortunately, there are several nonpartisan fact checking sites for you to compare the candidates, and several other sites, while they may not be nonpartisan, they are informative and worth a look.
According to the website, it’s a “nonpartisan, nonprofit ‘consumer advocate’ for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” On the website, you can search by topic, submit questions, check out their featured articles and more. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
I recently had the experience of a lifetime rafting with friends through the first half of the Grand Canyon from Lee’s Ferry to Phantom Ranch, for a total of 89 miles.
It was six hot, wet, cold (water is 47 degrees), exhilarating days paddling the Colorado River. One of the benefits of such a trip is that you’re completely cut off from the world. Cellphones don’t work, and of course, no internet. I can’t think of how many times a discussion or question would come among the group and someone would say, “Google it.”
More and more, as public relations practitioners, especially if you work with clients on crisis communication, you will work with attorneys – either the client’s in-house attorneys or outside counsel. Bill Ojile, an attorney and partner at Armstrong Teasdale and former GFM client, recently met with the GFM team to share his insights on how to effectively work with legal counsel.
According to Bill, lawyers’ jobs are to make people uncomfortable, to ask a lot of questions and to be skeptical. He also noted that lawyers don’t write for everyday people, and they don’t write for the media; they write for every contingency. With that said, how do PR people and lawyers co-exist and together create the very best communications and outcomes for their mutual clients? Bill provided the following tips for how to navigate the legal waters: