Archive for April, 2008

Art Vuolo Goes All-Virtual, All The Time

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

It is another unfortunate sign of the times. The weekly radio column shared by Art Vuolo and Mike Austerman in the Oakland Press saw its last newsprint page in today’s edition. The two have alternated every other week to bring us the latest news and insights on radio for nearly 7 years. It was something I and other radio junkies, looked forward to over Sunday morning Wheaties.

The newspaper column’s exit bespeaks a sad truth about two traditional mediums; both of which continue to lose their respective audience. As a result, their content and content providers remain in a state of flux—columns and programs are changed; reporters and programmers are axed. In this case, however, the changes are especially perplexing. After all, don’t long-time traditional radio listeners also make up the generation that prefers a physical newspaper? If so, why would you cut a column that, arguably, would hold appeal to your core readership? In the end, it is always about dollars and cents (not sense).

Thankfully, we will still have the good fortune to read Art and Mike’s words via and

Avoiding The Ambush

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

It’s almost May. That means, all over the country, we’ll see local TV news stories where businesspeople, politicians and others are the targets of “gotcha” interviews on the late news.

One attracted a lot of buzz the other night in Detroit. The incomparable Steve Wilson of WXYZ-TV had to approach a businessman near a private airport hangar just to try to get some questions answered. You can watch it online.

And, yes, he HAD to. Odds are excellent that the subject of the story ignored requests for interviews and information. If there’s one thing I’ve tried to teach clients in media training, it’s that you can avoid these confrontations if you:

*Answer your phone and return reporter calls
*Answer questions when they are asked
*Build relationships with the media

Another piece of free advice I’ll pass along – if you don’t want a reporter in your face asking you about why you paid for the mayor and his family’s trip to a Ritz-Carlton resort, then it can be easily avoided. Just don’t do it in the first place.

WRIF’s Drew Lane Exits “His Way”

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Recent years have not been kind to personalities in commercial music radio. In our market alone, long-time radio legends such as Tom Ryan, Gene Maxwell, Tom Force and others have been shown the door in the name of the corporate bottom line.

Though many will be disappointed, it appears that after more than 7 months of uncertainty, WRIF’s Drew Lane will not be returning to co-helm the “Drew & Mike” morning show—a consistent, big-time ratings leader for the past 8 years.

Lane exits RIF after more than 16 years on its airwaves. His decision. His terms. It is a departure that mirrors Lane’s talent and approach to the medium—unique; quirky, perhaps; but accomplished “his way.”

Transparency Vital to Effective Client Relationships

Monday, April 21st, 2008

An old friend stopped by the office today with her baby of 12 months and we got to talking about work. She recalled how when she first announced to her one-time employer she would be taking maternity leave, the company asked that she not inform her clients of her plans.

Another friend once shared with me a similar approach to poor client communications. Soon after he was hired, a longtime employee gave notice. My friend, in turn was tasked with learning and then taking over several of the exiting employee’s accounts. None of the clients were informed of the change until after the employee was gone.

Honesty. Integrity. Transparency. We’ve talked about these things as important to internal communications with colleagues and employees. They are just as important in client and customer relations. Building relationships based on trust and mutual respect are otherwise impossible.

My friend says he can still recall how awkward those initial client meetings were as they were informed of the personnel change for the first time. With dismay written all over their faces, he said to me, what else could they be thinking other than:  ‘If these people haven’t been upfront and open about something as important as this, what else are they not being forthright about?’ 

Health Care Panel Reveals Communications Need

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

I was honored to represent Tanner Friedman on a Health Care communications panel today, hosted by the Detroit Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

This is a pivotal time for the Health Care industry in our country and it’s clear, after today’s panel, that communications will make the difference for any entity in that industry trying to compete. Tanner Friedman represents several leading Health Care clients and, today, I had the opportunity to talk about the “3 Cs” that combine to create a need for enhanced communications in Health Care:

-Clutter – there are many competitors flooding media with their overlapping messages
-Confusion – all of a sudden, consumers must pay for Health Care and are confused about how it all works, how they fit in and what the future holds, even while they have access to unprecedented information
-Choices – consumers are driving Health Care, empowered more than ever before

It was refreshing to hear fellow panelists concur with our multiplatform approach to communications. With Health Care, the imperative now is to communicate every day, to every audience, in every way.

Beyond the Blog

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

We have certainly embraced the blog here at Tanner Friedman. And, obviously, you have too.

Now, we have discovered what could someday be next.

It’s called the “vlog” – a video blog.

Here’s an example from Al Tompkins, who is always ahead of the curve, from the Poynter Institute, which studies media and serves as a professional development mecca for journalism professionals. Check out the “vlog” via the Youtube link we provide. It’s a compelling item- about an NBC news correspondent who is leaving to cover wars hands-on, using new media.

We’ll keep looking for more “vlogs” to share, when we can find them.

Another Mayoral PR Mistake

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

We hate to seem like we are piling on to the PR woes in the City of Detroit’s Mayor’s Office. But, when there are fundamental mistakes made, seemingly every week, that are relevant to PR in general, we have to point them out.

Case in point – what Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s latest press secretary pulled late last week.

As detailed by the Detroit Free Press, she called the news director at a Fox affiliate in Southwest Florida to complain about a 20 second story. The affiliate had a field day with that call and turned into a five minute story on the evening news.
Yes, with that call, she gave the station an opportunity to hammer home the Mayor’s troubles, instead of letting the original story be just another forgettable national item in a morning newscast.

Instead of complaining about brief coverage hundreds of miles away, the Mayor’s PR team should be buildling and rebuilding relationships in their own backyard. Then again, that would be simple, fundamental media relations – something we have never seen demonstrated consistently during this administration.

Will the Detroit City Council’s Real “Shrek” Please Stand Up

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

Somewhere, whether in the Manoogian mansion or one of his ever more frequent trips out of town, Kwame Kilpatrick is smiling. Could the conduct of Detroit City Council President Pro-Tem Monica Conyers this week be any more inappropriate and pathetic?

At a time when Detroit is screaming out for professionalism, decorum and leadership, she conducts a public tirade more befitting an immature high schooler. By attacking Council President Ken Cockrel, by contrast a man known for his intelligence and level head, Conyers has effectively deflected attention from the real issues at hand while casting light once again on a council often chided for its ineffectiveness and unproductive in-fighting. This is who the public has enlisted their trust and representation?

While emotion can get the best of anyone, Conyer’s outbreaks included personal attacks based on appearance (“Shrek”) that all but rendered her repeated calls for respect moot and ridiculous. Who is the true grumpy ogre here? Once again an elected official from our region sends an outrageous message to the world. When will these officials take their role seriously? When will they consider the ramifications of their actions? Ditto the citizens that vote them into office.

What a Fool Believes—Toyota Buys Oldsmobile

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

I can’t let another day go by without acknowledging the great April Fool’s Day hoax perpetuated by Car & Driver last week: That Toyota had purchased the GM’s defunct Oldsmobile brand. Thanks to the Internet, the hoax spread fast, far and wide before being quickly revealed.

The magazine pulled a similar “fast one” last year—reporting that Ford planned to name the redesigned Focus: The Escort. Not to be outdone, BMW and Kia also announced suspicious news. Edgy auto site Jalopnik subsequently provided a synopsis of tomfoolery past and present.

Always refreshing to see a little communications creativity and fun in these days of industry volatility.

PR Opportunity Tips Off

Monday, April 7th, 2008

As we continue share the traditional media’s interest in Tanner Friedman’s points of view, please see this column that runs in the current issue of Crain’s Detroit Business.

Our hometown, Detroit, has a spectacular PR opportunity in front of it. It’s time for the community to get on its game.

Meanwhile, if you watch the Men’s College Basketball Championship tonight, remember this… The vast majority fans packing the Alamodome will leave the game with positive memories of San Antonio. The same thing can happen, here, next year, if positive community attention can be paid to the event.