Friday, July 31, 2009

Texting as Dangerous as Drinking?

Okay, so this post is not PR-related, but I feel it is my duty to make sure the readers know the danger of texting while driving! Are you guilty of this? I know it’s hard to imagine not responding, but don’t! Wait until you get off the road. The Transport Research Laboratory in the U.K. found that texting while driving is even more dangerous than drinking while driving!

According to the article, “…when subjects were text messaging and driving at the same time, reaction speed was reduced by 35 percent… Those that were driving and drinking within the legal limit only suffered a 12 percent loss of reaction speed, and those that were driving under the influence of marijuana had their reaction speed reduced by 21 percent, 14 percent lower than while driving and texting. Another startling statistic: According to the study, those that were texting and driving reduced their steering ability by 91 percent.”

Not to mention, members of the Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously to ban using handheld cell phones while driving, and yes- that includes texting. Mayor Michael Nutter also signed the bill, making texting (and talking) while driving illegal effective starting November 1, 2009.

So don't forget, put your phone down!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Seeking Facebook Addicts

What a great article! I found this piece on (in partnership with which highlights "Five jobs for Facebook addicts."

We all have recognized by now that skills in social media are necessary for potential employment. But now with so many people embracing a lifestyle revolving around social media there is no wonder, the perfect jobs really do exist. Where many people preach against joining social networks, there are companies which recruit and search for users online, promoting association to these social institutions. So for those Facebook frequenters out there, you might want to consider the following job titles for your future employment.

5 Jobs for Facebook addicts:

1. Recruiter
2. Strategist
3. Enterprise architect
4. User operations analyst
5. Director of social media

For more insight on each occupation check out the article!

The article also offers some advice in searching for a social media job, stating, "finding social media jobs is difficult but many of these positions," can be found, "under a variety of job titles that don't include "social media."" Also, "try searching job boards and the Internet for "social media," "interactive marketing," "new media" or "branding manager.""

Good luck and happy Facebook-ing!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I thought this advice for graduating PR students was really insightful, especially because of the difficult times facing this year's graduates!

Here are seven tips offered by Nicole Jordan on the blog, "Kicking Sand."

  1. Read Brian Solis' book: "he is one of the foremost thinkers in our field."
  2. Follow through: "Understand that the second you start interviewing and, once you land your first full-time job is the second your professional reputation begins."
  3. Your digital profile: "You should watch attention to what you say and what's posted." Online profiles "give me a good sense of what kind of contribution, or distraction, you might bring to my office."
  4. Read. A lot.: "I read anything and everything that's going to feed my role as the communicator for my company and the bridge to the outside."
  5. Don't get impatient: "PR is an art and there are nuances to the craft that will take you years and years to learn. So focus on learning..."
  6. Try out other departments: "The practice of public relations/ communications touches all aspects of the company...[g]o spend some time in the customer service department...hang out with the sales team..." This knowledge will help you learn to communicate value through many different outlets.
  7. The PR world is tiny: "Your reputation is crucial and it will follow you everywhere because the PR world is a tiny, tiny incestuous thing. Always strive to do your job with integrity."

Monday, July 27, 2009

The List of Opportunities Open to People in PR Continues...

I'm always amazed at the number and diversity of applications of a degree in PR!

I just returned from a week's vacation with my family in Bonita Springs, Florida. We stayed in a housing community that offered daily housekeeping and concierge services. It was basically like staying in a hotel, except it was a house we had all to ourselves!

Our concierge was named Kelly, and she was great! She was extremely personable and would stop in everyday to help us with anything we needed, give us advice on places to go and things to see, help us choose restaurants for dinner, let us know where to go for the best shopping, etc.

I got to talking to her, and was not surprised to find that she had studied communications and PR in college. She explained that she is responsible for seven residences and their respective guests. She is in charge of the upkeep of all of the residences, and is also responsible for making sure all of the guests have what they need and are well taken-care-of during their stays. The company that owns the houses is based in Denver, Colorado and also owns houses all over the nation. Because she is solely in charge of managing the homes in Bonita Springs, Kelly is basically the face of the company to all of the guests staying in the Bonita Springs homes. Her actions and the actions of those she oversees are critical to the company for continued - and growing - success.

Kelly explained to me that relationships play an extremely important role in her job. Her relationships with the various cleaning companies, pool service companies, landscapers, etc. all affect her success in providing great service to her guests and representing the company well. Relationships are also critical to the external services she offers her guests; while staying in the home, we were granted access to an LA Fitness facility and also membership to a private beach club. Most health clubs and beach clubs require year-long memberships, but Kelly was able to develop relationships with the general managers of both and was able to work out temporary memberships for the guests that stay in the homes she manages.

Before this trip, I never even knew a job like Kelly's existed. Now that I know it is out there, I'd love to look into positions like hers. Using skills like organization, planning ahead, time management, relationship-building and working closely with people, I feel that Kelly's job is another of the hundreds of careers that would be perfect for someone with a background in PR. While I'd be very interested in pursuing a job like Kelly's in my future, my experience at this resort also reminded me of the limitless opportunities open to people with backgrounds in the PR industry.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Essential PR Skills and Proficiencies

After reviewing some recent articles and blog posts outlining skills needed by the PR professional of the future, Al Krueger of Comet Branding Blog asserted that "the skills outlined in many of the 'skills of tomorrow's PR pros' posts are needed TODAY."

Here are some traits he outlined that will always be needed - today and in the future.

  1. Strong journalistic writing and storytelling
  2. Relationship development
  3. Business acumen
  4. Curiosity and restlessness
  5. Programming and design
  6. Working knowledge of social media distribution platforms
  7. Video creative direction and production
  8. Community gardening
  9. Walking the talk
  10. Proving return on investment

The list is pretty self-explanatory, but see Krueger's blog post for further explanation of each skill and its importance to the field of PR.

I found both Krueger's point and his list very insightful and helpful. What traits on the list do you possess and which do you still need to finesse or develop? Personally, I need to work on developing skill in video creative direction and production, as well as programming and design. I also need to gain more experience and knowledge in the business-related aspects of PR, such as proving return on investment and developing business acumen (building experience, practical knowledge and credibility in a certain industry). I also feel that community gardening is something that I need to learn more about; it seems that this will come with time and experience in the field.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Teens Avoiding Twitter Because of Text Message Quotas?

An intern for Morgan Stanley in London recently wrote a research paper about the media usage patterns of his (our) age group. One executive in the company referred to his report as "one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen."

The New York Times reported that the intern's report "said that teenagers were eager to try new media technologies and deftly switch among them, but they were deeply opposed to opening their wallets to pay for the services. He also suggested that Twitter...wasn't necessarily holding his peers' attention."

"'Teenagers do not use Twitter,'" the intern said, explaining that many have opened accounts on the site but eventually stray away mostly because "'they are not going to update it...texting Twitter uses up credit, and they would rather text friends with that credit.'"

Do you believe that teenagers make more use of Twitter than the intern suggested, or do you agree with him that it is not consistently utilized by that age group?

If you agree with him that it is not widely used by teenagers, do you agree that the reason is quotas set by texting plans? I personally am not aware of many teens on Twitter but I found this to be really interesting logic and am not sure I buy it. After all, teenagers spend hours in front of the computer watching videos on YouTube, chatting on Instant Messenger, and keeping tabs on friends via Facebook; why wouldn't they use the online version of Twitter if they do not wish to use their text message quotas?

Friday, July 24, 2009

I'm a Workaholic...?

Somewhere after "So, tell me about yourself" comes "What is your biggest weakness" in an interview. This has always been one of the most tricky questions for me, and is practically guaranteed to be among the list. According to an article written by Liz Seasholtz, here is the breakdown of the "million-dollar" answer:

"...the best response breaks down into three parts. First, demonstrate you’re self-aware by stating a weakness. Second, share how you’re taking initiative to improve upon it. And third, discuss your success thus far...For example, if you’re bad at giving presentations, you might identify your weakness as public speaking. Tell how you overcame this weakness by constantly volunteering to present on behalf of your department in your old job, or attending Toastmasters meetings. Then reflect on your comfort level with presenting now."

This is definitely the best advice I've ever heard for answering this daunting question. Have you heard any other tips for answering this or other tricky interview questions?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Mad Men" + Banana Republic A Successful Partnership?

After a successful run of window displays with Bloomingdale's for the show's second season, AMC's hit series "Mad Men" has moved on to partner with clothing store Banana Republic. The stores will feature a month of in-store promotion for the TV series leading up to the premier of the show's third season, according to an article from Part of the deal is also a contest to win a walk-on role in a "Mad Men" episode as well as a $1,000 gift card for Banana Republic.

After reading this article, I stopped to wonder who this would benefit more. From a PR standpoint, "Mad Men" will be featured in over 400 stores while the clothing company is not guaranteed to have their clothes featured or worn on the show. Yet on the comment section of the article, people were saying how they were looking forward to buying things from the clothing line - now that it is being compared to the smart style of 1960's New York. Personally, I look forward to investigating the partnership as it progresses. It will be interesting to see if Banana Republic sees an increase of sales during the promotion, and if season three of "Mad Men" gets higher ratings.

Who do you think will benefit more from the deal?

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member, Tristan Fabro.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Back to the Basics?

As we have said again and again, we love social media at PRowl Public Relations. We use it in our personal and professional lives and have become quite accustomed to it. In fact, many of our clients come to us for help with social media. We have even been told by some PR pros that traditional media relations are dying out. That's why I was surprised to find these survey results in an article titled, "Although Social Media is All the Rage, New Survey Shows PR Pros Still Prefer Traditional Communications for Reaching Media."

Bridge Global Strategies, a PR firm in New York, surveyed 100 PR pros through e-mail about their communication with the media. Here are some of the results:

  • 53% said they still use the phone the most when contacting the media.
  • 89% said that e-mail will be the preferred way to contact the media in 5 years
  • 2.3% said that they found Twitter to be the most useful tool when contacting a journalist for the first time

To see the rest of the statistics, check out the article!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Promoting a Movie

I am a manager at a movie theatre, which means that I am responsible for helping to run the theatre and doing various other tasks. About three to four times a year, the company that owns our theater chooses certain films to actively promote; when this happens, management is expected to create various promotional activities and coordinate outreach with the theatre's local community.

This summer, I have started working as co-promotional manager for our current project picture, Disney's "G-Force." The goal is to promote the movie to the theater's local community. There are also several challenges, including an almost non-existent budget, the ability to do limited trades (we are only given a limited amount of complimentary tickets that we can trade with local businesses for helping us with the promotion) and to also stay on top of my other managerial responsibilities. With big blockbuster movies coming out every few weeks, time management has also been a significant challenge.

While working on this promotion, I have gotten a lot of hands-on experience working with various local groups, Regal marketing managers and some of Disney's promotional personnel. This project has also taught me a lot about what makes promotion work for theatres, and a lot of it comes down to having connections in the area. Since I do not live in the same area I work, I had no connections to use as a starting point. Instead, I had to start fresh and start building relationships with various local groups.

The first few phone calls I made for this promotion, I was worried about making sure I was doing everything right and sounding professional and well-informed. Luckily, the more phone calls I made the more confident I became. I realized that the worst that could happen is that someone would say no or not return my call. And for every no I got, I knew there would be several more yeses. Once I got over that hurdle, working on this promotion seemed a lot less daunting.

I have become much more aware of how to plan things with almost no budget, and have also learned that asking the right people can get you a lot farther. The big event is Saturday, so I will continue to spend most of my time decorating the theatre and will continue to call and make contacts with other locations. This way, when the next project picture comes up, I will be able to get things started much quicker.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member, Mary Bienkowski. Follow her on Twitter @MaryBienkowski.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

How (Not) to Lose Your Followers

While social media is definitely a valuable tool in both public relations and personal networking, it is fun to poke fun at ourselves and the ridiculous things that can happen when social media gets into the wrong hands. I found this blog post humorous and thought I would pass it along.

Twitter: "How to Lose 10,000 Followers in 1 Day":

  1. Ridicule your followers openly.
  2. Send creepy & stalkerish messages to celebrities.
  3. Send death messages to any politician, celebrity, CEO (and basically anyone else on Twitter).
  4. Make all of your Tweets into spam messages.
  5. Pick your favorite power tweeters and send them endless messages about how much they suck.
  6. Show absolutely no compassion for any celebrity death and instead mock their legacy.
  7. Send a bomb threat to any government institution.
  8. Continuously tweet offensive slurs.
  9. Tweet links to obscene content.
  10. Tweet "suspend my account" to @Twitter hourly.

Though this was meant to be funny, on a more serious note, it serves as a good reminder to always keep in mind one's audience and one's goals when engaging in social networking. It is certainly a challenge to keep the followers we have while also working to build our followership and credibility.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Facebook Feedback Forum

As part of my internship, I am responsible for maintaining the Facebook page for one of our clients that hosts a free summer concert series.

I was slightly dismayed when I noticed that some users had posted what I considered to be negative comments on some of our past concerts. For example, one person had complained that the band who played during the Independence Day concert talked too much during the fireworks. Another person had commented that one of the groups we'd recently hosted - who we had referred to as a "blockbuster" in our promotional material - was more of a fizzle than a sizzle.

While these comments were legitimate and relatively tactful, I worried that these negative comments might detract from the overall image we are trying to portray. I asked my boss for her opinion as to how we should deal with these comments.

To my surprise, instead of asking me to remove the comments she sent an e-mail to our client drawing their attention to the criticism. "This Facebook page is serving a great purpose for us here," she said. She explained that up until now (this year being the first year the client is on Facebook), the client's board of directors was very removed from its patrons. She encouraged me to leave the comments on the page, explaining how the site is serving as a great forum for the board to engage with and get feedback from its followers.

I got to thinking, and she is completely right. This is the co-creational perspective at it's finest, allowing the patrons to shape the client in addition to the client trying to shape the opinions of the patrons. The Facebook page has given the board a more human persona while enabling it to engage with its patrons on a more personal and interactive level. Plus, the feedback we receive can help us make the concert series better in the future, thus pleasing our patrons and ensuring future success.

Therein lies the value of social media.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Seemingly Hiding in YouTube

I know this isn’t “new news” for anyone, but last night I was reminded of the empowering nature of social media for the consumer and the somewhat vulnerability of the supplier. The “product” is put on the market and the supplier loses control. In this case, the product is a music video.

Last night, my roommate and I realized it’s been months since we’ve seen a music video! We sing along to all the songs on the radio but realized we haven’t had the pleasure lately of relaxing and watching those words come to fruition on screen. So, we took it into our own hands with… YouTube! If you don’t know already, trust me, you can find almost any music video (plus some) on the Internet. We spent too many hours than I’d like to admit on YouTube catching up on the latest music videos.

This got me thinking though – had I not taken it into my own hands to search for those videos I would not have ever seen them. Think about five years back, you couldn’t turn on MTV without getting music videos shoved down your throat. I may have a differing opinion, but I enjoyed that. If I wanted to watch a drama series I could switch the channel! My MTV was for MUSIC! You could sit down and see musicians you may not have heard about or liked and be persuaded by the quality of their video (or maybe just the catchiness of repetition) to give the artist(s) a chance.

Not anymore though. In this aspect, with social media the power is in the consumers’ hands. We control what we want to watch – but, while this is empowering and all to make our own decisions, are we missing out? Or, should I say, are the artists/producers/record labels missing out? I think so. This is not social media’s fault though. It is just another channel of communication- the problem really lies in the hands of TV producers who would prefer to torture (although it is at times a guilty pleasure) viewers with nonstop (fake) “reality” shows.

What do you think? Do you miss the ability to have music videos streamed to you through the TV set on a regular basis or do you like the control of seeking out the videos you’d like to see?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Founding Facebook

If you're interested in the history and founding of Facebook, you might want to check out this article with interviewing Ben Mezrich, author of Bringing Down the House and Accidental Billionaires — The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal. He talks about how Facebook really came to be, as well as, how Facebook is evolving and changing business.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Interning at a marketing and communications firm this summer, I have gained some insight into the business side of PR. One thing that surprised me was the amount of paper and ink we go through everyday. And we are a small house; I can only imagine the amount of supplies that larger firms must consume.

This can be both expensive and costly to the environment. I was really intrigued when, while reading National Geographic, I came across a story about a new font type that can save ink. The new Ecofont, called Bitstream Vera, was designed by a Dutch marketing firm called Spranq.

The company found that "if it used rounded holes [in the letters]...a fifth of a 10-point, Verdana-like letter could be removed without ruining readability." The savings with using this font would be optimized at smaller-sized fonts, as the holes in the font are more noticeable at larger sizes.

Though some in the business are skeptical, co-owner Alexander Kraaij has said that the new font could save a company of 5,000 employees up to $125,000 a year from printing costs.

Pretty cool! Click here to learn more and to download the new font for free!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Big News on a Friday Afternoon?

Sarah Palin announced on the afternoon of Friday July 3, 2009 that she would be stepping down from her position as Governor of Alaska later on this month.

There are various reasons floating around as to the basis for Palin's decision. Members of the Palin camp claim that she has decided to step down so that she can 'take the fight for her issues elsewhere' or so that she can focus on her bid for the presidency in 2012. On another level, there are also rumors circulating that there are ethical concerns relating to Palin's involvement with the Wasilla Sports Complex, including the idea that she may have personally benefitted from this deal.

But back up a minute. Sarah Palin made a big announcement on a Friday afternoon? One of the first lessons we learned in my News Writing and Media Relations class was that it is highly strategic to hold a press conference on a Friday; many newsrooms are reduced in numbers at this point in the week, and it is often difficult for them to arrange coverage in time for deadline. Holding a conference on a Friday afternoon allows one to appear transparent and available without having to fully engage with the press. Palin would know this too, as her background is in journalism.

Politics aside, from a PR standpoint, Palin's decision seems pretty fishy...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Edelman's PR Myths

Richard Edelman recently took issue with an article run in the New York Times, titled "Spinning the Web: PR in Silicon Valley." This article, he said, "reinforces every stereotype about our industry and undermines our ability to make the case for our role as a serious advisor on both policy and communications."

Here are five myths about the industry Edelman outlined:

  1. The best PR campaigns are done without media of all sorts (in favor of discussions with a few influential people on social networking sites). Contrarily, "the fact is smart PR people work at the intersection of social and mainstream media to create a continuing engagement with stakeholders," he said.
  2. The job is all about relationships, with reporters, investors and celebrities. In reality, "we forge connections through substance, not show, as a reliable partner to media and to opinion formers, as well as the public at large."
  3. We are now beyond PR and media relations. 'we're connecting people at the highest level, getting deals done.' In actuality, "We are consultants, not decision makers," Edelman points out.
  4. It is a distinct advantage to be an attractive female in PR.
  5. We do what the client asks, based on 'gut' feeling at the moment. "In fact," he points out, "the best PR programs are based on listening to the community, whether it's public opinion research or on-line audits. We do not discriminate against reporters or bloggers because they are too tough."
What other myths and stereotypes exist about our industry? What can we do to break these down?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Back to the Basics

I came across this Public Relations Best Practices Tip Sheet online and found it very helpful. After all, even the pros can sometimes use a little brushing up on the basics. Check out these ten tips:

  1. Know what "news" is.
  2. Let the media know about your news in a timely and concise fashion.
  3. The editor's job is to report on what readers want to read, so let them do what they do best. "Present your strengths, your best story, then let it go...don't be a needler."
  4. For product stuff it's sometimes easier best to send the gear out first and ask questions later. "a box full of fresh gear is always more appealing than a fuzzy jpeg."
  5. Build relationships. Be "a resource that is quick to respond, easy to deal with, and delivers on time."
  6. Plan, plan, plan.
  7. Editors are always busy and sometimes lazy. If you can make their job easier, you'll get farther.
  8. E-mail is the best way to communicate.
  9. Consider your storyline.
  10. Even big newspapers these days are desperate to build page views online. Consider sending e-mails directly to online writers ,"many of whom are eager to meet story quotas."

What tips would you add to this list? Do you disagree with any?

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Web Site Story"

Since it's Friday and we've all had a long week, I thought I'd share this short and funny video from The video is a parody of the Broadway musical West Side Story, where the characters Maria and Tony meet online and mention popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, eHarmony and more.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thank You, Magic Johnson!

Since it hasn’t been mentioned yet this week on the blog, I wanted to take a minute to note how unbelievably ecstatic Kentucky Fried Chicken’s PR team must be right now.

On Monday, over 31 million viewers tuned in to watch the final goodbyes to Michael Jackson. It was a ceremony filled with joy, celebrating the King of Pop’s life and accomplishments, and of sadness.

One memorable speech came from NBA-great, Magic Johnson. Although his speech was full of sentiment, there was one specific part that made viewers laugh and KFC rich- or so they hope. Magic Johnson informed the world that Michael Jackson loved his Kentucky Fried Chicken (cue the lines and cash register sounds). Talk about great product placement! Some skeptics say the chain paid for this mention, but I don’t agree. I think it was just a friend looking back on great times and the many surprises Michael Jackson had to offer. In case you haven’t seen it, watch the speech here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Read More!

I personally have always had a love for reading and writing, skills and passions that were major factors in my decision to study and pursue a career in public relations. In fact, it's hard to say which came first: my love for reading or my love for writing. To be honest, I think they each nurtured each other.

Everyone involved in the world of public relations knows how critical it is to be a good writer in order to survive in this field; everyone is always trying to improve their writing. It is my personal belief that the more one reads, the better one's writing will become. For this reason, I do as much reading as possible in my spare time. I've read six novels since coming home for summer, and have also been reading everything else I get my hands on -- from magazines to newspapers to blogs to others' writings samples.

I feel that reading can familiarize one with new facts and insights, new sentence structures and writing styles and new examples to follow (or examples of tendencies to avoid, for that matter). It gives excellent experience in dissecting and understanding arguments, relating to others, building and using vocabulary and communicating more effectively overall.

While I personally enjoy reading novels (when time allows ), reading is something that can be squeezed in anywhere in one's schedule and can accommodate even the most diverse moods and tastes. I think that more people should find ways to incorporate reading into their busy daily schedules. If we all did that, the payoff could be huge!

What do you think, does reading play an important part in your writing? Do you agree that reading is a crucial part of the study of communications?

For that matter, have you read any books lately you'd like to recommend?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Oprah Effect

A few weeks ago I blogged about Oprah and the "Oprah Effect," coincidentally enough, just this past week I was browsing the TV guide only to find a special on the subject on CNBC.

The actual segment was about an hour long, though I couldn't find the segment online. Instead, visit this site for more information about the companies and their experiences from being on the Oprah Winfrey Show. The show featured three companies in particular, which included Carol's Daughter, a natural beauty product company; We Take the Cake, a bakery near bankruptcy if it wasn't for being featured as Oprah's favorite things; and LAFCO, a company importing European bath and body products that tried for seven years before being featured on Oprah.

I find the effects of companies and products being featured on Oprah interesting, it's always nice to hear about the success companies achieve as a result. Has anyone read or heard of negative results from the "Oprah Effect?"

*Picture taken from

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Game Keeps Changing. Can You Keep Up?

Alert! Author bylines are now searchable on Google News, as reported by PRNewser and their sister blog Baynewser. This is a key development for the field of PR; it is a "PR Game Changer," as put it.

In the past, time constraints have often led PR practitioners to "blast" out pitches without taking the time to do their research beforehand. This new - free - service can simplify the process of researching journalists, helping to better target journalists for increased effectiveness while reducing PR spam.

"Byline history was available on Google News all along," explains PRNewser blogger, Jason, "though not hyperlinked, and not available in search window functionality." The improvements made to byline searchability on Google News can make tracking journalists easier - even when they switch jobs.

Besides making life easier for PR practitioners, these changes are also changing the "game" of PR; companies like Google are coming out with free products that may lead to the decline and/or termination of previously relied-upon, subscription-based programs.

Check out the PRNewser blog for information about how to use the new Google Byline so that you, too, can stay ahead of the game.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Out With the Old and In With the New? Not So Fast.

"The so-called 'new media' - Internet utterings, cell phone photos and footage, Twitter tweets and the like - are demonstrating both their potential for journalism and their hopelessness as journalism in the post-election Iranian uprising," wrote the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Tom Teepen in a recent article called "Why 'Old Media' is Still Needed" in the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal.

As Teepen points out, new media has been extremely instrumental in getting around government-imposed information barriers during the Iranian uprising. He compares these new media tidbits to "messages in a bottle." These "snippets of text and flashes of image arrive outside Iran, satellite ricochets carrying provocative indications of conditions and activities in the politically lurching Islamic Republic," he said.

Teepen also makes an interesting observation: "without means for verification, without explanation or narrative, unconnected to one another and of uncertain provenance, these raw data of news are as frustrating to readers, listeners and watchers as they are intriguing," he explains. This has led him to characterize the bits of information that escape from the troubled country as "chaos, not coverage." What's missing, he says, is journalism, which would act as a "filter," a means of providing explanation and detail to go along with the little information that is received. This can not only spur confusion, but it can give an unbalanced view of the conflict to outsiders.

Teepen suggests that, for this reason, "old media" is still needed; new media cannot or should not stand alone. I found this idea to be really interesting, as I had not previously considered the important ramifications of having a detailed, unbiased intermediary between the impassioned civilians on either side of the conflict -- and for that matter, on either side of Iran's borders. What do you think, is new media alone a valuable means of getting information in this conflict? Or is it an important part of a larger whole? In emphasizing new media as much as we do today, are we throwing the baby out with the bath water?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Lessons Learned From Billy Mays

As I'm sure you've heard by now, the notorious TV pitchman Billy Mays passed away this past week. It seems appropriate to take a moment to reflect on the man who has "probably persuaded you, or nearly persuaded you, to buy something you don't need" (as so eloquently put it). In fact, as CNBC's Darren Rovell pointed out, "Mays did the impossible. He got us to buy something we sometimes never heard of in 30 seconds time."

We can all learn from the example Billy Mays set as a pitchman: dedication and enthusiasm are critical to a successful pitch. Combine these characteristics with knowledge of your product inside and out, up and down and backwards and forwards, and you can successfully sell just about anything - including things no one ever knew they wanted or needed.

Friday, July 3, 2009

How to Make Sure your Surveys are More than a Waste of Paper

There's a great article on Ragan that raises some important questions about survey writing. One example they give shows how to think about the end results you want out of a survey before distributing it.

"A popular question on readership surveys goes something like this: 'How much of the employee magazine do you read? All / Most / Some / None.' One problem with this question is that it would yield data of limited value. What if you learned that 60 percent of employees read “most” of the publication? Does reading “most” of the publication help them in their work? And what parts of the publication do they read? Even if you knew what parts they read, how would that help you improve the parts they don’t read?"

Instead, they recommend to ask more specific questions that yield results you can actually use to evaluate. "A better question would be: 'From the list below, select the publication features you find most relevant to your everyday work.' A list would help you pinpoint what people read, and the phrasing of the question asks them to rate the relevance of the features in the specific context of their everyday work."

For more tips on survey writing, click here to read the article "Ask the right questions to get useful survey data."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Study: Generation Gap Largest It's Been in 40 Years

"American adults from young to old disagree increasingly today on social values ranging from religion to relationships, creating the largest generation gap since divisions 40 years ago over Vietnam, civil rights and women's liberation," wrote Hope Yen, Associated Press reporter, in Monday June 29, 2009's Lancaster Intelligencer Journal/New Era.

Here is an excerpt from her article:

A survey being released today [Monday June 29, 2009] by the Pew Research Center high-lights a widening age divide after last November's election, when 18- to 29-year-olds vote for Democrat Barack Obama by a 2-to-1 ratio.

Almost eight in 10 people believe there is a major difference in the point of view of younger people and older people today, according to the independent public opinion research group. That is the highest spread since 1969, when about 74 percent reported major differences in an era of generational conflicts over the Vietnam War and civil and women's rights. In contrast, just 60 percent in 1979 saw a generation gap.

Asked to identify where older and younger people differ most, 47 percent said social values and morality. People age 18 to 29 were more likely to report disagreements over lifestyle, views on family, relationships and dating, while older people cited differences in a sense of entitlement. Those in the middle-age groups also pointed to a difference in manners.

Besides being interesting, this information is extremely relevant and important for public relations practitioners to consider. Given the vast differences in opinions and attitudes between generations today, it is important to consider your target audience and tune your pitches to better suit the age-group you are trying to reach. Today more than ever, it seems, failing to consider one's audience thoroughly can risk alienating that audience all together.