Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Congressman Weiner: Call your media trainer.

The essence of Congressman Weiner's response to the Twitter brouhaha:

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Media Relations 101: Never assault a news photographer

This is particularly meaningful to me, as one of my early experiences with the Red Cross was an assignment to Louisiana after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. A local TV station was interviewing an unhappy disaster victim--in the middle of a public street--when the local Red Cross PR person walked up to the photographer and shoved the camera into the photographer's face. Here, a New Mexico TV station covers a minor news story, and the photographer is attacked by an as-yet unidentified NM state employee.

Never. Ever. Assault. A. News. Photographer.

Citizen journalism is here to stay. Get used to it.

Citizen journalist attends event open to the public. Citizen journalist brings video camera, which appears to be one of many at this event. Citizen journalist attempts to ask questions of the visiting speaker. College "public affairs" staffer intervenes, has citizen journalist ejected--temporarily. Public affairs staffer turns a non-story--or at most a story about the citizen journalist and his intended interview subject--into a story about the public affairs staffer's behavior. Public affairs staffer has succeeded in making her employer--a university ostensibly dedicated to free speech, inquiry, and learning--look quite bad. Attention, all media relations people: new media and citizen journalism are here to stay--get used to it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

"United Breaks Guitars" Prompts Fast, Customer-Friendly Response From Taylor

Taylor Guitars has done in 4 days what United Airlines could not accomplish in 15 months.

Dave Carroll is a Canadian musician. In March 2008, while on a trip to Nebraska for a series of concert dates, United Airlines baggage handlers severely damaged his Taylor guitar. For 9 months, he attempted to get United to acknowledge their negligence and repair Carroll's guitar. In frustration, Carroll sent a final e-mail to United and promised that he
would be writing three songs about United Airlines and my experience in the whole matter. I would then make videos for these songs and offer them for free download online, inviting viewers to vote on their favourite United song. My goal: to get one million hits in one year.
On July 6, Carroll posted the first video on YouTube. As of this post, the video has been viewed an astonishing 2 million times and Carroll has appeared on several national television programs. United reacted by making Carroll an offer he could refuse.

The internet is chock full of stories about United's many failures--both in substance and in their communications. But what truly impressed me was the response from Taylor Guitars, who saw in the Carroll case a great opportunity to educate their customers, demonstrate good will, and enhance their reputation (as another major corporation was damaging their own). Within 4 days of Carroll's video being posted on YouTube, Taylor Guitars' Bob Taylor explained how to protect you guitar--while promoting the durability of their guitar cases:

Producing this video likely cost Taylor very little, but the ROI--in good will and future business--should be high.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

THIS is how you respond to a YouTube crisis...

Following the YouTube hoax perpetrated by two Domino's Pizza employees, Domino's USA President Patrick Doyle released this YouTube video response. It was quick, to the point, covered the key messages (what happened, what they're doing for an immediate response, and what they're doing in the longer term), and was sincere. My only minor quibble is that Mr. Doyle did not spend a few extra bucks on a Teleprompter--he was clearly looking at a script adjacent to the camera lens, and it robbed him of eye contact with his customers. Overall, though, well done.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Media Relations and Reporting 101: find the right spokesperson

FOX News reports that "transportation officials in Texas are scrambling to prevent hackers from changing messages on digital road signs after one sign in Austin was altered...."

The article continues with two subsequent paragraphs that contain quotes from a Texas DOT spokesman confirming the hacking. But by the fourth paragraph, this very same state agency spokesman says that the sign in question is owned and operated by the city of Austin.

Not until paragraph seven of the article do we hear from someone representing the city of Austin

Why was the state DOT guy in this story?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fire Everyone in FEMA Press Office

Total, complete PR amateurs. Embarrassing, regardless of which side of the political aisle you're on.

Just what WAS the purpose of the news conference? (I still don't know.) What vital info did FEMA have that had to be disseminated on 15-minutes notice?

Answers: You don't call a news conference on 15-minutes notice, unless you have some real news to announce. You don't plant press staff in the audience to ask questions. You don't call a news conference and then allow phone-connected reporters only to listen in without asking questions. A news release (at most) would have sufficed.

Forget the "reprimands," "new procedures," and the like. Effective and ethical media relations is achieved through facts and transparency, not spin and manipulation.

This stunt is a firing offense, for every FEMA staffer who participated in this charade.

UPDATE: A big "thank you!" to Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters for the link.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

LA Lakers, CA Fires: Good Decision, Mixed Message

The NBA's Los Angeles Lakers today decided to cancel a pre-season game scheduled to be played in San Diego this week. A smart, responsible decision by the team that reflects the seriousness of the situation unfolding in Southern California. Unfortunately, the team's senior vice president for business operations made a statement that might suggest some disagreement within the team's management about what to do--and it unnecessarily casts doubt upon the team's motives behind the decision:
After many internal discussions about many different factors, we've concluded that this is simply the right thing to do. The people of San Diego have been very supportive of us over the
years and in turn we want to be supportive of them in this time of crisis. [emphasis mine]
Question: If cancelling the game was so "simple," then why were "many internal discussions about many different factors" required? A better response: "No discussion was required. It is the right thing to do. Period."