As part of crisis communications training with our clients, we emphasize that unless you are in a closed-door office or in a private location, anything you say in public can be used against you. This lesson, once again, resonated loud and clear in a Sunday New York Times scoop.
Last week, Denver attorney Ty Cobb who now works for the White House to coordinate its response into investigations into Russia’s connection with President Trump, was having a strategy lunch with the president’s lead outside attorney on the Russia investigations, John Dowd.
Little did they know, a Times reporter was also having lunch, at the next table.
One Denver television station that seems poised to test that theory, however, is Fox31. The Tribune-owned station has been on a ratings tear over the past year, but it is in the process of being acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group, a conservative-leaning ownership group that is one of the largest broadcast companies in the country.
One of Sinclair’s signature components is its “must run” segments – short video segments that are centrally produced by the company that all stations are required to broadcast. Local news directors and producers do not have the ability to determine whether they should appear.
As The New York Times reported:
“Critics … cite Sinclair’s willingness to use its stations to advance a mostly right-leaning agenda. That practice has stirred wariness among some of its journalists concerned about intrusive direction from headquarters.”
The Sinclair approach threatens the credibility and trust that Fox31 has built up over the past decade. And the fallout has already begun. Fox31 news director Holly Gauntt, who drove the station to No. 2 in the ratings locally in just one year, has just left the station to take the same job at 7News.
Now the question is whether local viewers will also abandon the station if they feel they can’t trust its credibility.
Knowing the value you provide for clients is critical if you work for a public relations firm. It can be easy to fall into the trap of providing the services that you think they should value instead of taking the time to listen to them to understand how they view their needs.
I was reminded of that recently when I read the Global Communications Report 2017 from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The report examines a number of agency and in-house public relations issues, and one chart chronicled the top reasons companies choose to work with PR firms.
Among in-house public relations professionals, the highest-ranked reasons for working with a PR firm included:
Creative thinking (69%)
Strategic insights (69%)
Specific practice areas (62%)
Digital and social media (61%)
Specific geographic markets (56%)
Objective, independent perspective (53%)
Every client is different, but seven in 10 are looking for creativity and strategy. That’s a great reminder to take a step back when you feel like you have been in the tactical weeds too long. Neglecting the big picture to accomplish smaller things may allow you check action items off a list, but it may not be what the client values most.
The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism recently released its Global Communications Report 2017, and it offers a number of interesting findings that affect the public relations and marketing industries.
One trend that has profound implications for public relations specifically is PESO – paid, earned, shared and owned – content. Historically, public relations has lived in the earned content box, but more than half of PR executives believe that in five years the average consumer will NOT make any distinctions among content that is paid, earned, shared or owned. Read more after the jump…
Where do you get your social media ideas? When you hear the words “brainstorming” or “creativity,” you may not immediately associate them with science and research, but I do. When I see a calendar invitation to a brainstorming session, I make a note to make time for some research. I’m not talking about what competitors are up to, though that too is important. I’m talking about finding a LexisNexis log in and doing some digging to see what the scientific community says about the topic. You’d be surprised what exists out there to inspire your work.
Most recently, I did some work with a child abuse prevention nonprofit and stumbled across the amazing Frameworks research that studied how people in various demographics responded to different message framing related to child abuse prevention. This research is widely used amongst nonprofits working on this topic. It has great insights like “because so many frames have the effect of lifting support for child abuse and neglect policies, child welfare advocates on this issue have the opportunity to create some synergy across child development issues by using frames that also elevate other areas of child development.” To translate, there are many ways of talking about child abuse that can be effective, but a few strategic ones will also help everyone else working on the topic. In coming up with ideas for this April, which is child abuse prevention month, we kept that research in mind.
The child abuse example is just one of many. If the topic relevant to you doesn’t have extensive existing research there can be more broad ways to investigate, such as looking for research related to online giving and social pressure for nonprofits. Or even understanding theories related to how people choose what to buy. This study tested whether people offered a coupon for jelly bought more when they could choose between 26 flavors or 6 flavors. More people were attracted to the big display, but more people actually bought jelly when there were fewer choices.
If you want to propel your agenda, build a movement, and change the narrative, you’re going to need some powerful social media ideas for content. Why not start with a Google search to leverage psychology, cognitive science, and the latest social science research to help lead you to success?
It’s been just over a week since I returned from South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) where – in addition to learning about the latest in social media strategies – I had the opportunity to attend dozens of presentations in a variety of formats. I learned a few new presentation tips and enjoyed some effective presentations that inspired me to share some helpful pointers.
Stories Beat PowerPoints Every Time
The Science of Storytelling | Leo Widrich via Flickr
In a panel focused on the power of storytelling, neuroscientist Shonté Taylor noted that storytelling engages the right side (aka, the more creative side) of the brain. Specifically, she described how the body releases reward hormones such as dopamine when the right side of the brain is positively engaged, as can happen when a person is enjoying a great story. She went on to describe those reward hormones as “lighting up” the brain in a positive way, and left me with the point that if you light up the brains of your colleagues and customers, they’re going to remember you.
Reflecting on the various presentations I attended during SXSWi, the most memorable really did include great storytelling elements. Speakers from National Geographic and Outdoor Afro shared compelling stories and – often – images that took me beyond bullets on the screen. One week later and I can describe in detail the stories they told and the lessons they shared in a way that I cannot for other speakers who didn’t weave personal stories, images or testimonials into their presentations. Read more after the jump…
Whether it’s dreaming up the perfect copy for a social media post, crafting a pitch for a key reporter, or strategizing how to report metrics to executives – the daily life of a communications professional requires a lot of widely-varied creative ideas and solutions!
Some days the creativity flows like a river and other days the creative process takes a little longer to get going, which is why I read two recent articles with great interest!
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.”
Last week I returned to GFM after the second maternity leave of my tenure and have been eager to share observations and tips related to media relations that have been swirling in my PR-minded brain since we got home from the hospital.
We welcomed Anderson boy #2 on Oct. 23, 2016 and I was fortunate to be able to spend 13 wonderful weeks at home with our newest addition.
But, like many a PR pro will admit, “unplugging” is simply not in my nature.
Millennials are a prized demographic for communicators – they’ve been analyzed and overanalyzed as companies adjust to millennials having more purchasing power than before or simply joining their workforce. But, it’s time to think about the next generation as they could be even more influential in changing the face of marketing communications.