Archive for July, 2011

Radio On The T.V.

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Finally, someone is giving local radio its due – and on a nationally syndicated scale. This past week, the pop-culture focused TV show “Dish Nation” premiered (locally on Fox-2), featuring morning radio shows from New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and (are you ready?): Detroit.

WDVD (96.3)’s “Blaine and Allyson” are representing from Motown as the show is built around the best daily bits, happening organically, over the course of  their show as well as New York City’s WPLJ-FM (95.5)’s “The Big Show with Scott & Todd,” Atlanta’s WHTA-FM (107.9)’s “Rick Smiley Morning Show” and Los Angeles’ KPWR-FM (105.9)’s morning show hosted by DJ Felli Fel.

Through September, ‘Dish’ is being ‘test-run’ weeknights at midnight in seven different markets while a determination is made whether to pick the series up for a year.

It’s an incredible coup for terrestrial radio and recognition by show producers (the same people that created “The Daily Show”) of the outstanding creativity and talent that exists and is broadcast each and every day out of radio studios across the country.  That the show showcases and celebrates geographic uniqueness flies in the face of typical one-size fits all programming convention of New York- or LA-based satellite broadcasting.

It would seem, once again, that the death of traditional radio is greatly exaggerated. On the contrary, when the “content is king” mantra is followed in any medium, the delivery system is often unimportant. In this case, however, the masters behind the microphone are also a beauty to behold.

The NFL and Its Players Score PR Points

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

As we wrote back in April, during its protracted labor dispute, the National Football League, as America’s popular sport, had nothing to gain from a PR war with its players. This week, now that the lockout is over and pro football is getting back to business, the league and its players’ union can look back at the past several months and see PR success along the way.

Most importantly, of course, the two sides reached a long-term deal without disrupting any of the regular season. That alone automatically makes this a successful effort, from a PR perspective. But digging deeper, you see signs of almost model public communications behaviors.

With the exception of the ugly day that the lockout actually began and the union decertified, there was very little public dialogue. The negotiating was happening via mediation, not via the media. While bits and pieces leaked (and some good reporters did some good reporting) and a few statements were released, the two sides avoided public comment and avoided the nasty soundbites that often cloud public perception during a time of negotiations.

It’s easy to contrast these approaches to the tactics we often see that resemble the ugliest political campaigns. Like the heads of both sides giving separate, but bombastic, interviews trying to woo public opinion or paid advertising that exaggerates points, designed to scare the public about one side or another. We often see name calling and finger pointing, all out in public.

In this case, for the most part, class actually reigned. What needed to be public went public. What was most effective in private remained private. Wise PR heads prevailed on both sides, which likely was among the keys to labor peace.

Amy Winehouse: A Tragic Life (and Death)

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Though we may have seen it coming, none of us wanted to acknowledge it.   After all, a talented artist with “demons” is nothing new – it’s almost expected.  Despite it all, who wasn’t shocked today at news that singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London home at just 27 years of age; another singer, another person gone too soon.

In the pantheon of iconic recording artists, the age of 27, as noted by authors Eric Segalstad and Josh Hunter in their 2008 book, “The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll,” has a long history of tragedy. That includes Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain. Why?

One clue might come from a quote from Joplin herself who battled substance abuse for years: “People, whether they know it or not, like their blues singers miserable. Maybe my audience can enjoy my music more if they think I’m destroying myself.”

Considering the level of fame these particular individuals had attained, might it be more a matter of trying to cope with the pressure that that fame entails, in particular at such an early age? Or is it too much money and too much free time in the hands of those trying to figure out who they are in an industry where the interjection of drugs often leads to a tragic trifecta.

Once again, living “the lifestyle” is too often fatally flawed.

Faceboook Facing Dissatisfied Customers

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

While social media is the fastest growing communications avenue, it is not necessarily a favorite from a customer satisfaction standpoint. In fact, Facebook finished dead last among all companies measured in the 2011 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Business Report, out this week.

Social media in general did not do well in this study, which analyzes how users feel about online media, including news sites, search engines and social networks. In fact, industry-wise, social media fared better than only than airlines, newspapers and pay TV services. By contrast, Wikipedia was the top social media site among satisfied customers, with YouTube taking second place.

Why the low marks for Facebook and others? Too much unnecessary tinkering and supposed improvements. Can anyone remember the last time Facebook or Twitter added or changed a function that actually added value or generated user accolades? Change for the sake of change or to generate headlines is usually ill-advised.

Moreover, when was the last time you can recall top social media sites actually asking or surveying their customers – whether formally or informally – on likes and dislikes in order to gain a consensus on what changes or augmentations might be needed?

The old rule of thumb holds true here: If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Time To Kill The “_____ Is Dead” Talk

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

With the introduction of Google + in recent weeks, we have seen an annoying trend, again, online. As self-proclaimed “social media experts” and “online gurus” have given the new social networking tool a test drive, several have proclaimed that because of Google + “Facebook Is Dead,” “Twitter Is Dead” and even “Blogging Is Dead” (which I find particularly ridiculous as I’m blogging right now).

This is something we see every time new technology is introduced. Whether it’s just misinformed analysis or hyperbole designed to attract Web clicks, it has become cliched and is often flat-out wrong.

It reminds me from a speech I saw a so-called “Internet Expert” give about ten years ago. He said, because the Wall Street Journal offered an online edition “the print edition of the Wall Street Journal is now completely irrelevant.” Even in 2011, is that statement true? Of course not.

Of course, this is nothing new. In the 1950s, many predicted that television would mean the “death” of radio. We heard that again in the ’80s when The Buggles hit it big telling us that “Video Killed The Radio Star.” And a decade later, cable TV was supposed to “kill” broadcast TV.

So, here we are, amid many reports of media death that are like Mark Twain’s at one time, “greatly exaggerated.” Newspapers, radio and TV are still around – but significantly changed. Facebook, Twitter, blogging and even – gasp! – Google + are evolving as users integrate them into their lives in new ways.

How do we make this stop? Don’t click the links, as tempting as they may be, just to find out that some media platform hasn’t really died. They’re all constantly changing and that’s the bottom line to remember.

Will Radio Listeners “Heart” iHeartRadio?

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Clear Channel radio continues to surprise the radio faithful with new announcements in recent days of their plans to merge the radio and digital music experiences like never before. Their tool? An application they are calling: iHeartRadio.

The cleverly named app is designed, as Clear Channel describes it, to give listeners everywhere everything they want in one place. That includes access to 750 Clear Channel radio stations across the country (commercial free through the year), plus the ability to create playlists, ala Pandora, with, evidently, a greater selection and more control (most likely the ability to fast forward and skip more songs than Pandora currently allows).

While radio purists will no doubt take a wait and see attitude leading up to the September launch, the media giant’s desire to make sure traditional radio is readily available to digital consumers on an even wider scale is a true positive – lest the AM/FM medium loses another generation of music consumers.

And you certainly cannot fault Clear Channel for putting its money where its mouth is. More recently announced is their 2-day iHeartRadio Music Festival, set for September 23-24 in Las Vegas, which will be a ‘who’s who’ of live recording artists, hosted by Ryan Seacrest, arguably the king of that vital next generation.

What Will Be Facebook’s Next Big Thing?

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Subsequent to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement last week that his company would be “launching something awesome” tomorrow (Wednesday July 6th), there has been much speculation as to what that ‘something’ might be.  Ed Oswald of PC World offers some possible options:

  • A development platform dubbed “Project Spartan”that is based in HTML5 and supported across several platforms
  • A native app that would would finally commit Facebook to the iPad platform
  • A new photo-sharing application designed to go above and beyond upstarts Instagram, Path and Color
  • A partnership with Skype on Video Chat

The latter is particularly intriguing given that Microsoft purchased Skype very recently and Microsoft and Facebook are chummy. Such a partnership would allow Skype instant access to Facebook’s 750 million users while making Microsoft’s $8 billion investment in the company all the more meaningful.

Or maybe we are all off the mark, novices and experts alike, and Facebook will once again “wow” us with the “next big thing” that none of us anticipated but are always expecting.

Consider PR Before Jumping On Groupon Bandwagon

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

We live in a Coupon Culture.

There’s a large segment of American consumers that thinks if they’re not getting a discount, they’re getting ripped off. For them, paying “full price” for anything is like flushing money down the toilet. For some, it’s a byproduct of the Great Recession. For others, it has been a way of life that has fueled the growth of Wal-Mart, Target, Costco and the Dollar Menu at McDonald’s.

For the tech savvy, Groupon has taken the Coupon Culture to places it literally has never been before. Restaurants, retailers, yoga studios, even health care professionals, are experimenting with Groupon and hoping that samplers who walk in the door with an online coupon will come back again someday without one.

From a business standpoint, special discounting has always been a risky proposition. What are the chances that someone who doesn’t pay full price for your product today is going to enjoy it so much, they’ll pay full price for it tomorrow?

And there’s another risk that businesses should consider before they take the plunge on Groupon or one of its imitators (which are growing by the month) – PR. I’m hearing from many businesspeople that online group coupon offerings can carry a stigma, especially for established brands that historically have not mass promoted discounts. It can lead to questions such as “Is their business down? Are they that desperate for traffic? What’s wrong?”

In a rush to experiment with a new marketing tool (one that has a mixed track record that varies greatly from business to business), you could be sending a signal to your full-price paying customers that you’re in such dire need of new customers, you’re willing to offer unprecedented discounts to get them. And that could create a PR issue, particularly if your loyal customer base wants in on the discounts too. Then, what do you do? And how do you communicate?

We’re certainly not advocating staying off Groupon or any of its competitors. Like any marketing or communications tool, it should be carefully evaluated on a case by case business. We’re simply offering a warning, particularly to established brands – consider PR before taking this risk.