Archive for March, 2008

CBS Scores Points Online

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Followers of the Tanner Friedman Blog know that I have beaten CBS up for their safe play with their Evening TV news broadcast. Now, though, I must give credit where credit is due.

The network has proven that they “get it” when it comes to putting sports online. CBS and the NCAA have made every game of the college basketball championship tournament on the Web – to 200 sites, up from 56 last year – to complement the TV package. The move is paying off – literally. Business Week reports online ads will bring CBS $23 million this year, up from $10 million last year. That’s a small percentage of the $545 million in revenue CBS will receive during the tournament’s run. But, it’s growing and, importantly, CBS has embraced online broadcasting to give fans the games they want to see, when they want to see them. Yes – that’s customer service. It’s something new for the old networks.

We can’t say it often enough… it’s a multiplatform world. So, we’ll continue to recognize those are are delivering content the way consumers want it.

Ironically, CBS News and Sports are both overseen by the same executive. Hopefully, this success in sports will lead to new innovation in news content delivery.

The View from 30,000 Feet

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

A couple of quick thoughts from row 11D somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean on a return flight from Puerto Rico. For the past six days I have done very little news consuming; choosing instead to consume a few Pina Coladas pool and ocean-side while taking a much-needed and long overdue vacation.

I must say it was refreshing to open up a newspaper, in this case the San Juan Star, and read nothing whatsoever about our mayor and his latest legal tribulations—until Page 9 and the “National & World News” section. It became less special, however, after seeing, the phrases “trove of raunchy text messages” and “Hip-Hop Mayor” back-to-back in the four paragraph piece.

I was also struck, on taxi rides to and from the airport and Old San Juan, by how Hispanic culture, art and architecture all come together throughout the area to communicate tradition and individualism and, where commerce is concerned, to set products and services apart from competitors.

With regard to the latter, there exists a unique form of “outdoor advertising” albeit without the billboard. Indeed, establishments (both residential and commercial) are hard to ignore when painted in their incredible palettes of color—eye-catching shades of pink, green, orange, yellow and blue.  They are one part art and one part marketing tool.  For me, they were an inspiration and a sight for sore (now refreshed) eyes on an island unencumbered by zoning restrictions and geographic sameness.

An Inspiration’s Next Challenge

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

March 2, 2002 was an influential day in the history of Tanner Friedman.

Nearly 5 years before our founding, I had an opportunity to meet one of the legends in the communications business. Lee Abrams, who led the evolution of rock ‘n roll radio, helped MTV get started and then made satellite radio a reality, was the keynote speaker at my radio alumni dinner at WJPZ-FM in Syracuse. Sitting next to him at dinner, talking shop and hearing his speech that night, just a few years into Abrams’ tenure as Chief Programming Officer for XM, helped motivate me to redirect my career toward innovation in public relations and communications. Six years later, his speech still resonates. Click here for a link to the transcript. It should be of interest to anyone who has anything to do with communications or broadcasting.

I shared the speech, upon my return, with Don. He included excerpts from it in his book. When forming the values of Tanner Friedman, we borrowed Abrams’ mantra – “Actually F***ing Doing It” – as a phrase we wanted our team to understand as a committment to accountability and new ideas.

Now, a 160 year-old company, Tribune, has hired Abrams to reinvent its business, better late than never. Read the press relase on Abrams’ blog. Finally, an “old media” company understands it has to change. The decision to bring in Lee Abrams can only be positive for Tribune in its move to the future. We will always remember his influence on Tanner Friedman. Hopefully, the entire industry will remember how, once again, he changed it for the better, for good.

Spitzer Scandal Exposes Multi-Media’s Darkside

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Following the downfall and aftermath of the Eliot Spitzer saga this week was enough to make your head spin (if not recommend that all politicians be required to pour catnip on their cereal each morning).

In a matter of mere hours, the former New York attorney general was exposed and resigned. Soon after, the media had released the alias and then the real name of Spitzer’s favorite lady of the evening. Then, within another few milliseconds it seemed, the young woman’s MySpace address was being announced and broadcast (resulting in over a million hits), and, her music demo from the website was being played and “reviewed” by radio station morning shows.

Privacy, class, decorum and journalistic responsibility. All are terms, I am now convinced, that should be removed (at least for now) from Webster’s. Surely, the media’s current preoccupation with scandal and titillation is not what Marconi and Paley and other founding “forefathers” envisioned when they set original media tones and standards. When is enough enough?

Now, PR Is The Story

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Rarely, is a public relations program, or lack thereof, considered news on its own. But that is exactly the case now in Detroit.

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, after six years in office and at least six spokespeople/PR advisors, has so many media relations issues, that the regional news outlets now reporting about how he and his adminstration handle the media.

In short, the Mayor’s office has few, if any, sound media relationships. His only “friendly” interview during the scandal, so far, is with a radio host reported to be a personal friend of his wife. With each passing day, the stories get worse and the Mayor digs himself into a deeper media relations hole.

Tanner Friedman was asked to analyze the situation for NBC affiliate WDIV-TV. The story led a recent 6pm newscast on the station. To watch, click this link.

Radio Localism—NAB Should Follow FCC’s Lead, Concern

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

If the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) truly cared about the future of terrestrial radio, they would support the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) inquiries into whether today’s stations truly operate in the interest of their local constituents.

What took the FCC so long? Consultants for radio chains and their national, miniscule playlists have been gradually destroying the industry for many years. All-important locality—from news to music artists to air personalities—is disappearing from the free airwaves. 70% of all Clear Channel programming is now voice-tracked; meaning content is pre-recorded, oftentimes outside the marketplace.

One long-time friend who works in major market radio is required by her station to pre-record her 4-hour show. Then, she is only paid for the 2-hours it takes to voice-track her program. That’s progress? That’s going to bring back millions of listeners who now go elsewhere for personality and diverse content, or, a generation of youth who have skipped radio altogether?

Once again, radio has its priorities all wrong. Please, FCC, please—save this industry from itself! As for the NAB, it is time they become engaged on the right side of this issue, before they no longer have members to collect dues from.

Mayor’s Scandal Dominates Airwaves

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

TV and radio here in the Detroit market, along with the newspapers, continue to be dominated by all things related to Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s “Text Message” scandal, which has now become much more.
The public continues to crave this news and the Mayor’s office continues to generate it.

One beneficiary of all of the coverage is Tanner Friedman. We have been asked by TV, radio and print outlets to analyze the PR aspects of this situation.

Here’s a link to the latest analysis on 50,000 watt WJR-AM radio.

Bottom line – the tactics used here may work in a political context, but for the rest of us, it doesn’t seem to resonate.