Archive for May, 2008

Mackinac Conference Theme: Invest in Future—Now

Friday, May 30th, 2008

If there is one resounding theme coming from the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2008 Leadership Policy Conference on Mackinac Island this year, it is the recognition—by business leaders and legislators alike—that a return by Michigan to economic vitality tomorrow will happen only if sound decisions are made today.

And that includes engaging, inspiring and educating future generations of leaders, thinkers and professionals in new and emerging industries.

Keynote speaker Carly Fiorina spoke of the need for this country to harness the brainpower and strengths of everyone; celebrating and mentoring what each and every one of us has to offer and contribute. At the same time, we must adapt and change our way of thinking and doing business; something that is hard for many.

Especially significant this year has been the presence of Fusion—the Detroit Chamber’s young professionals organization who formally and publicly shared their desire, during the Big 4, hosted by Paul W. Smith on WJR, to be a part of the process and the solution.

No one has all of the answers. It is going to take every one of us to envision and affect positive change, realizing that despite our geographic home region or political preference, we are all in this together—for better or worse.

“New Media” Leading Mackinac Coverage

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Here on Mackinac Island, there are several regional news organizations covering the Conference.  But, unlike past years, you won’t see as much of it in print as you used to.

The Conference is being covered almost in real time.  Shortly after sessions, items are posted online that include text, photos and video.   Even  away from the sessions, the reporters are quickly getting stories online.  Yesterday, a Tanner Friedman client was interviewed by a reporter here, with a story appearing on the news organization’s web site just a short time later. 

Just like “live, on the scene” reporting helped take radio mainstream in its early days, the Internet has changed the way that even “planned” news events like this are being communicated.

Island Action In Full Swing

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

The “Super Bowl of PR” has kicked off and, so far, is living up to the hype.

There are plenty of blogs online updating the news here, so I won’t be redundant.

I will say, though, that this Conference is proving that, sometimes, less is more.  1,700 people are here to essentially do the same thing – tell their stories and deliver their messages.  Sometimes, they only have a few minutes, face-to-face, to do it. 

It’s proof that every organization needs a brief summary of who they are, what they do and how they are different.  Those who can accomplish that will do well this week on Mackinac.  Those who can’t might be forgotten.

“The Super Bowl of PR”

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

For years, I’ve called it “The Super Bowl of PR.” It’s like no other event in the country.

It’s the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference. Imagine 1,700 business, community, media and political leaders on an island, with no cars, surrounded by Lake Huron, with scheduled time for networking every day.

Tanner Friedman will be there, in the thick of it, facilitating introductions for our clients and taking full advantage of the world’s most tried and true communications platform – face-to-face. What better way to tell your stories and deliver your messages than straight to someone who is part of your key audiences?

For the first time, Tanner Friedman is on the official conference agenda. We’ll be speaking as part of the opening session, designed as a “Rookie Warm Up” for the more than 200 attendees at “Mackinac” for the first time. And we’ll be blogging about how strategic communications plays a role in this year’s event.

When Radio Is More Than Just Radio

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

There’s no other way to put it and we can’t stress it enough: Media is evolving, changing and you have to pay attention in order to keep up and utilize it to its fullest potential.

Case in point: Sylvan-Lake based Stone Soap Company—a Tanner Friedman client and creator of a new, patent-pending hybrid bio fuel that synthesizes vegetable or animal oil with natural gas to create a product that just might change the world (and not a moment too soon).

WWJ Newsradio 950′s Jeff Gilbert ran his story on-air today—but that’s not all. A more extensive story was posted on; a piece that also features video that is also viewable on YouTube, for, in essence: “radiovision!”

Multi-platform. Multi-media—and radio that is a newspaper that is TV that is online. Marconi would be proud.

New Mayoral Advisor: How About George Costanza?

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Remember the episode of the TV show Seinfeld when George Costanza tried doing the “opposite of everything” and all of a sudden, his loser life turned around?

That approach is the only hope for Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who has tried, and failed, at every other media “strategy.”

The latest, only taking two questions at a press conference packed with reporters, is chronicled in this report from Detroit’s Fox-owned WJBK-TV. Now, the Mayor won’t even answer questions about a “city business” trip to Texas, even though it’s assumed taxpayers footed the bill.

It’s too easy to blame his advisors. He’s had some good ones, some bad ones and some expensive ones over the years. What do they all have in common? Their client.

Here’s a politician who has done everything wrong in PR – avoided the media, lied to the media, even blamed the media for the scandal that he created. I’m asked all the time about what I would recommend. How about “the opposite of everything?” Whatever his instinct, he should go the other way.

Communications Common Threads

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

Over the past six weeks, I have criss-crossed the country working with Tanner Friedman clients nationally. My travels have included personal views of scenery as varied as the Mississippi River, Manhattan skyscrapers, the woods of Western Indiana, the hills of West Michigan and even an armadillo race in Oklahoma (true story).

From city to city, our country can feel much the same (chain stores and restaurants) and different (regional accents and terrain) at the same time. But here are a few common communications themes I noticed in my travels:

-It’s not just where you live. If you just judged a community – any community – by the content of its late, local news, you would be afraid to leave your hotel room. From market #1 to market #151, crime news of all sorts took up most of the first segment of every newscast, every night.
-Newspapers are getting smaller. Everywhere.
-”The economy” is on the minds of everyone, everywhere I went, not just in Michigan. At the least, it’s home values. At most, it’s job loss and exodus. But, it’s not just a concern where you live.
-Cell phone coverage was remarkably consistent from town to town. The worst coverage? At the international airport in America’s largest city. Ironically, I had more dropped or shaky calls at JFK Airport than even in rural Indiana.

Blogging 101

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Just what is a blog exactly? I still hear that quite often. If you are a regular visitor to our Tanner Friedman blog, you probably have a pretty good idea. If not, then, perhaps not.

What a blog is not is one that I recently came across from another communications firm, no less.  Though it called itself a blog, it was nothing more than a listing of a couple of press releases detailing a few new client wins. Incredibly, it did not link to this firm’s website nor was it optimized for someone to locate it via search engines.

Rather, a blog (or, “web log”) is a brief online “monologue” providing the author’s perspectives and or opinions on particular topics. It can become a “dialogue” between blogger and reader when there is the ability, as with this blog, to post comments.

A blog can be an incredibly effective means, when done correctly, by which to engage an audience and build your brand; serving to demonstrate how you and your company works and thinks.  It should be updated regularly (at least a few times a week), be interesting, informational and also written to promote search engine activity.

So, now that you know, go out and make your blog a memorable one—and not a forgettable blah, blah, blah.

Look At Why “No Comment” Is a PR “Never”

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

We work in a field with a lot of gray. Relatively speaking, there aren’t many absolutes in the nuanced, situational world of PR. But here’s one “never” to remember… never use “no comment” as an answer to a reporter’s question.

A new example popped up today on ESPN – which still does its share of sound journalism in the midst of its hype and gab. The story I’m about to recommend is long – but worth watching if you’re like me and would be gripped by great investigative reporting about the underbelly of sports. The punchline, you’ll see, is a “no comment.” By thinking he didn’t say anything, the focus of the investigation actually said everything.

Check out the ESPN investigation when you have a few minutes for some good television and bad PR.

Technology Can Be a Friend Indeed

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Technology can be a double-edged sword. When it works, it can be incredible. When it doesn’t it can be incredibly frustrating.

When Matt and I first formed Tanner Friedman, we explored and ultimately invested in technology not for technology’s sake, but for more effective, efficient communications with our clients, the media and our partners and collaborators. That included, among other things, a top server and computer system that could operate securely and wirelessly; an integrated plasma TV/computer conference center; an interactive website updated continuously (in which you now reside) and a voice-over-IP phone system that married phones with email and handhelds.

This week, I was once again awed by technology, as our expanding organization necessitated a change, albeit temporarily, to a dial-by-name directory. Recognizing instantly this went against our goal of always being accessible, quickly and easily, we switched to voice-activation. This allows a caller, if they cannot reach us by cell, to access our extensions simply by stating the name of the person they want to reach. Imagine: no more dialing (or attempting to dial) the “letters of the last name of the party you are calling.”

Once again, strategic communications put into play.