Freedom of the Press

Arguably the second most difficult position in the federal government is the position of  White House Press Secretary, or spokesperson, for the President of the United States. Currently Jay Carney holds this position and as a former journalist, he is particularly knowledgeable about freedom of the press. That’s why the recent revelation of the phone record seizures of the Associated Press news outlet in Washington D.C. should cause him  pause. Naturally, as an administration spokesperson, he has expressed a very cautious response to the controversy such as saying he “cannot comment on the ongoing investigation.” In light of the recent revelation that the IRS inappropriately singled out conservative groups for investigation, not to mention the congressional review of the tragedy of the  deaths of American diplomats in Benghazi, the White House, President Obama and many leaders in the current administration are under extra scrutiny from the American public. It’s a perfect storm that has leaders scrambling for cover and trying to find an effective response that is prompt, truthful and devoid of politics. Is it possible that our government leaders will be able to admit wrongdoing, take responsibility and then announce changes to prevent a reoccurrence? You be the judge.

Jay Carney

Social Media and Pink Slime

Just finished reading an interesting article about the controversy surrounding pink slime. Click here.

Once the term was used, perhaps quite innocently, the word entered the mainstream and went viral on social media. Today, there is a lawsuit from Beef Products Inc. against ABC News when Diana Sawyer, the news correspondent, first coined the term in a news story. The outcome could have a broad effect on social media tactics in use today. What do you think is a company’s best response to this type of social media attack?

Image

Measuring Success in PR

Actions that get results is one way to measure a successful PR campaign. Since media outreach is a foundational principle of any campaign, consider the actions and results of a recent news announcement. The American Humane Association takes advantage of the collective public interest in the annual Academy Awards by issuing its own news release of pet Oscar(r) winners who win “Pawscars.” The creative news release, complete with video links appeared yesterday, distributed via PRNewswire.

The result? A news article and link in today’s issue of USAToday.

Pawscars

And that is just the beginning of the media coverage. It will likely be featured on numerous TV outlets and news media websites across the globe.

The power of PR to influence the media is real!

Rats in Manhattan: “Peoples nightmares are a good day for us.”

Hurricane Sandy brought out the rats. According to this CNN story, the floodwaters in New York subways drove these underground residents out of their homes and into the city: http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_t2#/video/us/2013/02/20/tsr-rats-invade-ny-post-sandy.cnn

The county health department, city officials, residents, local business owners and pest departments all have something different to say. For pest control companies, one owner put it this way: “Peoples nightmares are a good day for us.”

This was a PR opportunity for entrepreneurial companies who want to get featured in the news. Business is booming and one way to take advantage of the news cycle is to promote your services when the opportunity presents itself.

Rodents in Manhattan
Rodents in Manhattan

Another example is when the maker of Oreo cookies tweeted a response to the temporary power blackout at the recent Superbowl, “you can still dunk in the dark,” and almost immediately tens of thousands of followers retweeted the message earning instant media attention.

Oreo

Can you think of any other recent examples of businesses taking advantage of current events?

Reading for the News vs. Reading for Pleasure

I love to read. A time-honored tradition in my home growing up was reading the San Jose Mercury News daily newspaper. I watched my parents do it and enjoyed reading it to stay abreast of current news. This habit branched into a love for reading short stories from the Reader’s Digest Magazine and Condensed Books. I still enjoy pleasure reading and staying current about the news. As I examined my daily media habits today, none of my choices involve the printed newspaper. Nowadays I used various aggregator tools such as Google Reader, FlipBoard and online newspapers such as the Columbian, USA Today and various customized news sources to stay up to date. On my drives around town I listen to music and National Public Radio. I also enjoy reading various excerpts from the New York Times, Wall St. Journal, news magazines  and online regional business journals. As a bit of a news junkie, I will read catch up on news excerpts or breaking news on my iPad or iPhone from  sources such as the NY Times, Yahoo! and more. When I watched this video about a baby mistaking a magazine for an iPad, I laughed out loud.

Then I wondered, what are young people reading, if anything, today? This recent survey gave me some hope that Millenials, in particular are still engaged. See here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/gofigure/2012/05/02/151547286/millennials-and-print-newspapers-a-surprising-story

This made me think about what my own children are learning from my example. They don’t see me read a printed newspaper or magazine. Do they wonder if I’m playing games on my electronic devices? If the perception (or reality) is that “you are what you eat,” can it be true that “you are what you read?” In an election year (and soon-t0-be-aired Summer Olympics), it seems to me that people are more engaged. It makes me realize the power of PR to influence the media and what we hear, watch and read. Where do you get your news?

Citizen Rights to Record the Police

Given the recent discussion of the legality of recording your local police officers in action, I couldn’t help but think of some high profile cases and a few lesser known stories. Charges were dropped against Emily Good, the Rochester, N.Y. resident who was arrested and charged with obstruction of governmental administration while filming police officers conducting an arrest from her front yard last year. That doesn’t change the fact that she now has a police record. Read the article and then watch the video and tell me what you think about whether you are willing to risk an arrest and jail time even when you know you are in the right.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-02-07/police-video-tape-crime/53001432/1

Inflammatory News Stories or Journalism

Why do dead birds fall from the sky? Should you care? Seems like the news media likes to find connections in odd occurrences that continue to plague our country. The media it seems, loves a crisis or at least stories of animals dying en masse. Why is this news? It is certainly odd, one of the criteria for newsworthiness and it seems like there are an abundance of these events happening. This commentary on the recent avian news http://wp.me/pmsUw-1G suggests that this might be a case of human lemmings pushing each other over a cliff. View this video and then add your comments: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7211633n