Archive for June, 2014

Do Your Facebook Posts Generate Interest or Resentment?

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

UnknownSocial media is often defined as, “People having 2-way conversations online.” Yet, more and more it would appear, platforms such as Facebook are being utilized for autonomous communiqués – to the disappointment, even resentment, of other users, friends and followers.  A longtime friend of mine recently posted of being tired of incessantly positive posts portraying perpetually ‘sunny skies’ and eternally wonderful lives.  A recent academic report shows she is not alone.

Earlier this year, Reuters reported on a study by two German universities that found that, “Witnessing friend’s vacations, love lives and work successes on Facebook can cause envy and trigger feelings of misery and loneliness.” The findings noted rampant envy on Facebook, which at over one billion users is the world’s largest social medium and produces an unprecedented platform for social comparison.

The researchers, from Humboldt University and Darmstadt’s Technical University, found one in three individuals felt worse and more dissatisfied with their lives after visiting the Facebook with vacation photos the biggest trigger of resentment.  Social interaction was the second most common cause of envy including how many birthday greetings they received or how many ‘likes’ were garnered for posts of all types – a dynamic no doubt exacerbated by the fact that, post IPO, Facebook no longer sends out all posts to all friends.

So why do we post what we post? Well, social media obviously means different things for different people. For some, it is an online life scrapbook.  For others, it is a means by which to communicate business and personal trials and triumphs to friends and family on a widespread basis. What should we be posting?  That is perhaps the toughest question of all as it depends on the desired end result.  If you are posting for yourself, post whatever you want.  However, if you want your thoughts and news to be noticed and appreciated by others, what you post should provide some type of value.  “TGIF” and “Oh no, it’s another Monday” are the antithesis of this. Best rule of thumb: Be positive but, more importantly, be genuine and yourself.

 

 

What Changed At ABC News? Nothing.

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

imagesIt used to be a change of anchors for a network news broadcast would have adults buzzing nationwide. This anchor change, though, probably wasn’t even the biggest TV story of the day. The U.S. Supreme Court’s Aereo decision trumped the announcement that David Muir would succeed Diane Sawyer as the anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight.

This move is being viewed as a “change” but that is the case only on the surface. Unless ABC executives are saving part of their announcement, it’s just more of the “same old, same old” for network news.

The way consumers get information has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. But take a look at the network evening newscast. It’s pretty much the same. Starting in the Fall, three white men will sit behind anchor desks in New York and present a newscast that looks very much like 1994 television. They are all managing editors of the newscasts, following a tradition when anchors were selected by journalistic chops as much or more than presentation ability, meaning they are given editorial control. And perhaps most significantly, the newscasts will air, in most markets, at 6:30 p.m., the same time selected for Cronkite, Reasoner and Huntley/Brinkley, generations ago.

Seven years ago, I wrote this about the opportunity CBS had in front of it when it made changes to its Evening News. CBS squandered that opportunity. ABC apparently will too. Here are some thoughts on what ABC could be doing to truly change its evening news:

-Keep it apolitical – The network evening news could be a bastion of impartiality and credibility sorely lacking on national TV. With George Stephanopolous, a former political strategist, spokesperson and analyst, getting an increased role, ABC has put their potentially best point of difference at risk.

-Use the medium – With HDTV, television has great storytelling capacity. As a counter to the talking heads of cable, network news is a place to “show and tell” the biggest stories with video, sound and reality. Too often, though, viewers see the anchor and the set. Instead, show the stories that TV does best, taking the audience where it couldn’t go otherwise plus stories that haven’t yet appeared on other platforms.

-Use new media – All elements of the network broadcast should be easily found online immediately after the broadcast. Fans of “straight news” could get the show rundown texted to them to insure they don’t miss stories of interest. Where is evidence of any of that thinking?

-Change the time – At least one network needs to be bold and get closer to or in Prime Time with news. Take a look at the roads near where you live at 6:30 p.m. Packed? Those are missed opportunities for network news.

The networks have invested in change for their morning broadcasts. Unfortunately for fans of news, those changes have meant more celebrities, more crime stories and more anchors learning to cook. But the evening is ripe for change and a new 40 year-old anchorman isn’t enough to make a dent.

Are We Too Politically Correct?

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

PrintThe answer to the question posed in the title to this blog is: ‘yes’ with the caveat: “…and sometimes that is a good thing.”  In recent days, two separate but similar sports stories made front-page news.  Detroit Tigers newbie manager Brad Ausmus made a rookie mistake when he joked about spousal abuse, while longtime Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder remained defiant on changing the name of his football team. Let’s take a closer look at both.

Baseball skipper Brad Ausmus this week learned an invaluable lesson. In today’s hyper-sensitive world, where every word and expression are scrutinized by millions (including the ability of almost anyone to publish their rants via social media), you can’t joke about something like domestic violence. When asked during a post-game press conference how he handled the Tigers losing, he had quipped that he beat his wife.  Sensing his faux pas, he immediately apologized.  Still, a public uproar ensued, providing fodder for talk shows and Twitter, followed by yet another apology.

In the nation’s capital, meanwhile, Daniel Snyder remained entirely unapologetic in the wake of the United States Patent and Trademark Office cancelling the trademark registration of the Washington Redskins football team because “they were disparaging to Native Americans…” Through several years of controversy and calls for a name change, Snyder has continued along unwaveringly, unwilling to entertain either a dialogue or discussion.  Now, faced with the potential loss of millions of merchandise licensing dollars he is suddenly paying attention – in the form of a pending appeal.

Brad Ausmus was insensitive and flippant but he apologized and obviously meant no harm. As Detroit News sports writer Drew Sharp noted this week on Fox-2′s “Let It Rip,” in fact, it was not a story and he urged his editor to ignore it (he didn’t).  The outcry over Snyder and his serial insensitivity to racial stereotypes, on the other hand, is highly warranted and important and should be continued, even intensified.

Whether it is the “moral majority” or little ‘ol you or I, we should all strive as a society to scrutinize what’s right and wrong in the right way – picking our battles appropriately, ignoring ‘haters’ with private agendas and sweating the big stuff not the small.  In this way, maybe we can all focus on serving the public good in a world where P.C. is actually O.K.

 

 

The Most Overused Word In PR

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

excited-fifties-womanSometimes, I feel sorry for journalists who have to wade through the PR garbage that infests their inboxes. In PR, we could really make it easy for them by cutting the cliches. Here’s a place to start.

Based on what I see, the most overused word in PR is, in its various forms, “exciting.” Companies are excited to announce something. The announcement is exciting. How exciting? The lead quote from the CEO talks about how excited the company is to be making the announcement.

Please, fellow PR types, let’s contain our excitement for exciting. Do we really expect journalists to fall for this? How about just letting them know what the news is? If you’re announcing something new, explain what it is, how it’s new and why the company thinks it’s important. Use the press release or the pitch as an opportunity to explain what’s in it for the journalist and the audience, not as a way to make your client feel good about its purported story.

I can tell you first hand, that I have edited “excited” and “exciting” out of many press releases and never has that hurt the chances of an announcement becoming news. In fact, it helps if you take out those words and replace them with language that actually explains newsworthiness, surrounded by facts. We really can all do better.

As for executive quotes, if you make them quotable (like quotes you actually see in news stories), they might actually get used in stories by journalists who are busier than ever. But if you just write “We’re excited to announce…” or “This is an exciting day for us because…” the quote will never make it into a bona fide news outlet.

The next time you think about using those words, think about true excitement. As a sports fan, a play like the end of the 2013 Auburn-Alabama football game comes to mind. That was exciting and, emotionally, it couldn’t be further away from the announcement of a new 500 square feet of office space.

How Do You Respond To A Crazy Email?

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

yellow_guy_crazy_hg_whtA couple of weeks ago on this blog, I detailed how an egomaniac ad agency owner committed the ultimate act of cowardice against a client, who happened to be my wife. After nearly a year of broken promises, long lulls in communication and growing frustration, she told him she was no longer interested in his company’s completion of a new website for her online business, promised due seven months earlier. So, he sued her for breach of contract. It’s all detailed here.

A reasonable businessperson would think that my business relationship with this guy would be history after he dropped multiple nuclear bombs – 1) taking on a project his firm either didn’t have the capabilities to commit or considered “small potatoes” 2) treating a customer (with whom I live) poorly, stringing her along for a year and 3) filing the lawsuit. Now that the case has been settled in binding mediation, a reasonable person would expect that I would be done with him. Instead, last week, I received this email:

“Hi Matt, sorry things didn’t work out the way your wife wanted. We really tried to make her happy. I am sure this entire thing put you in a very odd place. Please understand that I am not angry or think that this was your fault. I recently recommended you for another assignment will continue to do so. Hope to catch up with you soon.”

Really? Really? Yes.

Emotional thoughts raced through my mind. This is crazy. Completely nuts. “Didn’t work out the way your wife wanted.” That’s the understatement of the year. “Tried to make her happy.” Bull****. This could have been my fault? My fault? “Hope to catch up with you soon.” Ya, how about half past never? There’s only one word to describe it and it’s a Yiddish one. This is chutzpah.

Didn’t this guy understand the money he cost my household in legal fees and for an expensive website that was never built? Didn’t he understand the pain he caused by forcing us to talk about this situation every night for a year instead of other more pleasant things? Didn’t he understand how he took time away from my clients to deal with this?

After fuming for a while, I decided to take a deep breath and take the advice I would give a client. Put it aside. Calm down. Detach. Give it a couple of days.

A few days later, I was ready to respond. I realized, in his world, suing people and pocketing cash is just part of the “game” of business. The way he sees it, it seems, he won this round but wants to play some more. But, just like I can’t relate to his world, he probably can’t relate to mine. So, taking the advice I would give a client in this situation, here’s how I responded:

“It is apparent that you are oblivious to my perspective on what happened, so I will keep this simple.

Please do not contact me again.

Matt”

So far, so good.

You Don’t Schmooze, You Lose

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 4.17.04 PMIt’s described by some as a “schmooze fest” but, in reality, the Detroit Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference is so much more – an annual rite of May that brings the state’s best and brightest together for discussion, contemplation and tangible action.

Between Matt and myself, we have collectively attended something in the neighborhood of thirty “Mackinacs”; this year as in the past three years, representing the Chamber in event planning and execution, in particular with regard to working with scores of media that cover the conference from across the state and the country. We worked closely with Chamber communications and marketing pros Jim Martinez and Megan Spanitz in the months and weeks leading up to the event through this past Friday’s conclusion.

2014 on the island also marked the monumental announcement, via a press conference that we helped engineer, of the White House awarding a portion of $1.2 billion in federal funding to Advance Michigan’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Program (IMCP).  This represented the hard work of leaders from the state, including the Governor and MEDC, and those of 13 collaborating counties. The event, held on the porch of the Grand Hotel, featured Bryce Kelley of Wayne County EDGE, Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano, Congressman John Dingell, Senator Debbie Stabenow and others and will be a game changer in the promotion and support of the auto and manufacturing industries in our state. Tanner Friedman client WIN (Workforce Intelligence Network) spearheaded the initiative led by Lisa Katz, WIN Executive Director.

And, what would the Mackinac Conference be without a meaningful collaboration between GalaxE.Solutions and Goodwill Industries of Detroit? In recent years, our two clients have joined forces to promote and celebrate living and working in the city through the “Outsource Detroit” and “Love, Detroit!” campaigns. This year, camouflage  t-shirts sporting the “Operation Good Jobs” project raised awareness of the need for vital funding for Goodwill programs to help military veterans and their families. Watch the video debuted at the event here.

Mackinac is about clinking wine glasses and slapping backs but that’s a small part of the proceedings.  Dig a little deeper and you’ll see the all-important building of relationships, collaboration and, quite often, consensus around solutions to key issues and challenges affecting our state.  It may take a long time to get there but things do get done.  And when that happens, you’ve really arrived.