Archive for September, 2008

A “We” Not “Me” Mentality

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

If you look at our company’s values, you will note one in particular that mirrors this blog’s headline. We live it everyday.

In recent days, our colleague Matt Friedman has been honored not once but twice by his peers in the area business community: First as “Volunteer of the Year” by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and again, this week as one of “40 under 40″ for 2008 by Crain’s Detroit Business.

Take a moment to watch the brief video prepared by the Chamber in celebration of the former and read the article on the latter. You will see for yourself that these accolades represent more than just recognition for one of the founders of this agency, they recognize the efforts and successes of our entire organization and those we work with and for.

A dedication to teamwork—that’s what it’s all about. It is quite rewarding that others are taking note and appreciating what we do and how we do it.

Outsourced News Update

Monday, September 29th, 2008

When WMYD-TV began its outsourced news program at 10 p.m. in Detroit, I promised an update.

So, about 10 weeks in, here’s where things stand:

The newscast is attracting an average audience of 15,720 households, according to our sources.  Even in the age of shrinking audiences, that is still a small number for local TV news in the nation’s 11 largest market.  By comparison, Fox-owned WJBK-TV is attracting an average audience of 23, 270 for its new newscast at 4:30 a.m.

At 10 p.m., there is no ratings war.  WJBK-TV has a 10 to 1 advantage, now attracting an average audience of 159,667.

WMYD-TV is finally promoting its product. I have heard radio commercials and they bought a promotional sticker on the front page of Sunday’s Detroit Free Press.  They are positioning the newscast as “News Without The Noise” – an apparent counter to Fox’s format-driven presentation.  

The newscast is starting as just a niche product is a crowded marketplace. But, to their credit, they are covering community-oriented stories, even with just two reporters actually inside the market (everyone else works in a centralized studio in Iowa).


Communications Key To Building Brand

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

We often say that the communicates that communicate the best are also the most successful businesses.

Now, a new study in Business Week is backing that up.  The Interbrand report ranks the value of the Best Global Brands.  They take into account how recognizable the brand is globally and outside of its base of customers and its marketing.  The report measures brand value the way any other corporate assets are valued – on how much it is likely to earn for the company in the future.  Here are the top 10, listed from 10 to 1:

Google, Disney, McDonald’s, Intel, Toyota, Nokia, GE, Microsoft, IBM and, at #1, Coca-Cola.

Think of a brand much like someone’s personality.  These are the companies that have the personalities that will make them successful worldwide. How is that achieved?  Through communications.

Want your business to perform better?  If so, there is no better investment than a communications program.

Engaging vs. Disengaged

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

I recently learned of an incredible, on-going program put forth by accounting/consulting giant KPMG designed specifically to communicate to former employees.

I have never heard anything like this outside of a university alumni program; yet, KPMG, recognizing that upwards of 30% of new business is referred by one-time firm professionals, regularly and continuously reaches out to these individuals—keeping them informed and engaged. Incredible!

By stark contrast I also just heard of another professional services firm that, in a recent week, attempted to limit direct contact with clients only to upper management. This misguided experiment in ego and control failed miserably; resulting in confused and upset clients and firm personnel and a bottleneck in workflow.

This not so visionary organization, of course, could never hope to embark on an initiative as innovative as KPMG’s. Afterall, how can this company engage former employees when said personnel is already disengaged while still in their employ?

Soon, the World Arrives in Detroit

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Next month, more than 2,500 PR professionals (and 1,000 college students) from across the globe will travel to Detroit for the 2008 PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) International Conference (October 25-28)—an honor indeed for our region.

Tanner Friedman is proud of our role on this year’s Programming Committee; joining forces with other corporate and agency PR professionals, under the leadership of Detroit Chapter president Scott Simons of DTE, to plan this event, themed: “The Point of Connection.”

We invite you to link from this blog to my blog on the PRSA national site that puts this happening into further perspective. Also, click this additional link for more information on this year’s event (including to register), to be held at the Renaissance Center.

We look forward to seeing you there.

PBS Passes the New Media Test

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

When you think of progressive media outlets, do you think of PBS?

If not, you should. They are on the right end of handling the changes confronting all traditional media.

I was part of the crowd today that heard PBS President & CEO Paula Kerger address the Detroit Economic Club. Here’s what I took away from the speech:

-PBS has partnered with iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, Vuze and BitTorrent to make its programming accessible, beyond TV. It also puts the vast majority of its content online, via its Web site and those of its local stations and has a signifcant presence on Facebook and Myspace.
-A recent episode of Frontline has been viewed more than 5 million times via Web stream.
-PBS’ NewsHour is more highly rated, on average than CNN, on average. Why? Here are a couple of reasons Kerger explained: Even in a world with “500 Channels” – studies over 5 years show that PBS is the most trusted institution in America. And with a focus on content, not on profits, PBS can stay out of the partisan fray and cover the current election with depth, straight down the middle.

Kerger told the audience that “commercial news is failing us.” She talked about how cable news has been reduced to presenting “the tiny, the trivial and opinions.” She opined that the national commericial TV networks, broadcast and cable, as well as the blogosphere, feeds the “political gridlock” in Washington. Those comments prompted a lot of nodding heads in the crowd.

Here’s another statstic to ponder that Kerger threw at us today – even with Americans heading online in droves, the average American set a record last year by watching 4 hours and 35 minutes of TV… a day.

By embracing new platforms and staying true to its mission, and with its local stations doing the things that commercials broadcasters can’t or won’t do, Public TV can have a future in the new media environment.

Does Science Dictate What’s News?

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Our clients ask us all the time why certain news items make consistent headlines while some story ideas can’t even get a return phone call from a reporter.

Often, management in media companies say “we give people what they want.” Others explain that “sensational” news is easier and cheaper to cover – so that’s why it dominates.

Now, scientists are actually taking a look at this. Here’s a link to a new blog entry that begins to explore whether we, as humans, are actually “wired” to like “sensational” news, no matter what.

Forget the Silicon Chip—Think Vinyl Record

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

As traditional media content delivery systems (see our recent blogs on newspapers) continue to evolve into new mediums, one long thought to be extinct is actually making a bit of a comeback: vinyl records. Why the renewed appeal?

• Anti-establishment: In a world where iPods and MP3s rule, there are many that are eschewing Apple (and the “corporate” world that they now represent) for a format that is considered more “pure” and “alternative.”

• Sound: As anyone in the know, from sound engineers, producers, recording artists and audiophiles will tell you, vinyl records sound better than MP3s as they allow more dynamic range.

• “Street Cred”: Vinyl is cool again not only because it is different but because it is still utilized prominently by such hip/trend setters as Club DJs, rappers/samplers and the like.

Throw in a bit of nostalgia and the desire by some to possess 60s-90s music in their original format and you turn a one-time relic into RPMs for the mainstream. It’s good to have you back and appreciated once again, old friend.

The Paperless Newspaper

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Two factors are very quickly taking the paper out of newspaper.

One should be familiar to you – more readers want their news online, when they want it, not just when the publication arrives at their door.

Another isn’t getting as much attention – newsprint prices are skyrocketing, even though less is being used in the U.S. as your local newspaper is certainly thinner than ever (the experts say U.S. demand peaked 20 years ago). But, European demand is at an all-time high. Newspapers are hot over there, particularly in Eastern Europe, where a free press is starting to become something of a regularity. It is making a challenging situation worse for print publications here.

We have a new example in the county where Tanner Friedman is based. The Oakland Business Review is about to go online only. Except this to be the beginning of a wave.

We hope it will let more stories be told, with the online platform’s capacity to hold more news. We also hope the strong outlets, committed to telling important stories, will be able to make money online and not slide toward extinction.

New Media Changes On The Way

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

We have been talking to our contacts inside broadcasting companies about the newest media changes that are on their way. Now, it’s time to share them with you.

In less that two weeks, Detroit joins the growing list of markets where radio listening will be measured differently. Instead of asking ratings participants to record what they listen to in a diary, they will now wear an Arbitron Portable People Meter (PPM), about the size of a pager, that keeps track of what they are hearing through new technology.

There’s no question that written diaries are an outdated and inaccurate measurement of media habits. And all “traditional media” are competiting with the precise audience data the Internet can offer. So, along the lines of the information that comes from TV households with Nielsen’s Local People Meters (LPMs), radio ratings in the PPM environment will be different from what we have seen for many years with diaries. In short – content will be king. Like we have seen in TV, branding and history won’t be able to sustain a station’s ratings.

What does this mean to the listener? Some of your favorite stations will be sounding different in the coming months. Without question – format changes are imminent, our inside contacts tell us. Based on other PPM markets, certain formats perform better than others in the PPM enviornment. So, broadcasters will adapt accordingly. Also, programmers will be rearranging commercial positions, tweaking playlists and strategizing about when personalities will be talking, all to maximize ratings that reflect more about hearing than habits.

In short, it means more changes and a new playbook for all of us who work with radio stations. Ratings reports will also be issued monthly, instead of quarterly, so more changes could happen more often.

We’ll keep you posted on what’s happening and provide some perspective along the way.