Archive for February, 2009

Rocky Mountain News Ceases Publication

Posted in Uncategorized on February 27, 2009 by innovativemediapr

Just one day after writing about  how soon  newspapers would become extinct comes word this morning that one of the nation’s oldest and most respected dailies, the Rocky Mountain News, has published it’s final edition.

The E.W. Scripps Co., which owns the News, said Thursday the newspaper lost $16 million last year and the company was unable to find a viable buyer since announcing a sale Dec. 4.
“Today the Rocky Mountain News, long the leading voice in Denver, becomes a victim of changing times in our industry and huge economic challenges,” Scripps CEO Rich Boehne said Thursday.
Tom Cosentino
Advertisements

How Soon Will Newspapers Become Extinct?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2009 by innovativemediapr

This week we read about bankruptcy filings by the separate ownership groups that operate the Philadelphia Inquirer and New Haven Register, due to massive debt accumulated when these publishing concerns were taken over. The latest to talk about bankruptcy is the Hearst Corporation, which says it may fold the San Francisco Chronicle, the 12th largest newspaper in the country.

A story in the Asbury Park Press last Sunday on the growth of reading in the digital age cited a student who remarked that he never picked up a newspaper in his life and read all his news online.

Bankruptcies, lack of advertising, deep staff cuts and a whole generation that depend on online media for their news, is making the extinction of the printed newspaper a distinct reality. Newspapers were once the backbone of any media relations campaign. If the trend continues, we, as public relations professionals will no longer have a major distribution source for our information.

What will the future hold? Will newspaper publishers go to a digital pay model, like the Wall Street Journal, offering added content for paid subscribers? It seems that this may be the most logical move for publishers. It is certainly a subject that is receiving a lot of debate. They are certainly not making any money by giving it away free; just ask the ownership group of the New York Times.

As professionals who build their reputations by establishing strong ties to media, there has to be a sense of unease. Sure, everyone is adapting and using social media to engage audiences for their clients. However, will the days of being able to foster a relationship with a columnist and tailor a story directly to their tastes disappear with the extinction of the printed newspaper?

The competition in major markets between rival newspapers used to be intense, with papers trying their best to break news over their competitors. Now, major newspapers are joining together and creating alliances to gather news. Last week, it was announced that the two biggest newspapers in New Jersey, the Newark Star Ledger and Bergen Record would team to provide one combined news bureau from the statehouse in Trenton.

A combined news bureau of the two biggest newspapers in a state certainly doesn’t speak to editorial competition. The news media, especially columnists covering the state government, serve as the protector for the public in providing editorial oversight into government.

Moves like this, in my view, are strictly survival measures.

What we once knew and loved is rapidly changing. How many more survival tactics will be employed by publishers before the media vehicle we all used and loved becomes extinct?

Tom Cosentino

Saturn a Victim of Neglect

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 23, 2009 by innovativemediapr

 

I own a 2008 Saturn Vue.  I bought it at the end of September when I traded in my Saturn Sky. At the time, I was having my two-seat sky convertible serviced at the Eatontown NJ Saturn dealership.  It turned out it was the last day of a cash-back promotion that GM was offering.  While I loved my little roadster, it was proving to be impractical and I decided the bigger Vue would be a better value. That, plus the deal that was offered to me and the trade in price made it a no brainer.

I had been a big fan of Saturn over the years because it indeed was a different kind of car company as its past slogans had advertised.  At one point in the early 1990’s, we had three Saturn’s parked in our driveway.  I joked with a local dealer that they should feature my family in a future cable ad.

What had attracted me to Saturn was the no haggling price. When you walked into a dealership you were left to browse, knowing full well what each vehicle was going to cost.  When it was time to sit down with a sales rep they couldn’t be more helpful.  Saturn had definitely taken on a persona as a different car company.  I remember reading about treks customers made down to Tennessee to visit the plant and headquarters.

 By the end of the decade though, we were Saturn-less.  Two of the cars were in accidents and one, we decided to sell.  We moved on to Toyota and Honda but that Green Saturn S series car kept popping up in my mind as the favorite car I had owned.

Then, while in Ohio for a drag racing event, I saw the new roadster convertible model that GM was releasing under the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky brands.  I fell in love with the car and convinced my wife that we deserved this special treat that we could call our own.  We quickly bought the Sky. I was back in a Saturn and felt special again. When my son, a new driver, was looking for a car, we settled on a Saturn Ion as well.

As I drove my Sky around, many people would come up to me amazed that the vehicle was actually a Saturn.  Always know as an affordable brand, Saturn was launching even newer models that were even more upscale.  They were also eliminating some of the affordable models like my son’s Ion.

Suddenly there seemed to be confusion in their marketing message, a point that was well-made in David Welch’s piece in this week’s Businessweek.

Even while trading in my Sky for a Vue this fall I knew from reading the financial stories on GM’s woes that Saturn was in danger of being folded up. It still did not deter me from making the purchase, but what did strike me was how this situation had affected the way Saturn operated all the way down to the local dealership level.

While the sales person could not have been more helpful in structuring my deal, what struck me that night was that for the first time I pulled out of a Saturn dealership after purchasing a new car and did not feel special.  There were no balloons with the car and no salesmen outside applauding my purchase.   It was all by rote.

About a month later I needed servicing and when I picked up the car, noticed it had not been washed, something that was always done as a courtesy.  The dealership had already been told that it was going to close. Obviously, there was no desire for providing added services. Then, in trying to receive a refund payment for the extended warranty I had with my Sky, I experienced a two-month delay due to first, inaction by the dealership’s finance department and then a mistake that was showing my car with a lien.  After several calls to the corporate office and faxing a sales slip, I finally received payment.

What all of this told me was how a brand that once truly connected with customers could quickly falter and slip into oblivion from neglect.  It is truly a shame. While one never purchased a Saturn for its resale value, the thought of buying an affordable, safe, American-made vehicle and receiving great customer service was appealing enough.

Now, I have two Saturn’s and two car payments.  I’ll continue to make them and hope that another manufacturer may buy the brand and restore the feeling that all Saturn owners once received.

Tom Cosentino

InnovativeMediaPR Radio Show Launches Friday

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2009 by innovativemediapr

The InnovativeMediaPR weekly radio show debuts tomorrow at 11 am on Blog Talk Radio.  Hosted each Friday morning by Tom Cosentino, President of iMedia Public Relations, the show will examine leading issues and trends affecting the public relations industry.

Our guest on the first show is Cortland Coleman, Vice President of Public Relations at Capital Public Affairs, who will discuss using grassroots public relations to move issues.  Coleman is helping Capital Public Affairs spearhead an effort called UncorkNJ to get legislation changed in New Jersey to allow for direct shipping of wine over the internet to New Jersey residents.

Upcoming guest include Howard Freeman, Executive Director of the NJ Festival of Ballooning (Feb. 27) and careers expert Penelope Trunk, the Brazen Careerist (Mar.6).

 

Tom Cosentino

What A-Rod Should Have Said

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2009 by innovativemediapr

I have now watched the replay of the press conference Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees staged yesterday in Tampa to address the revelation of his past steroids use and I’m still shaking my head in disbelief.  For all of the handlers surrounding A-Rod, you would have expected him to put on a stirring show of remorse and hopefully put the issue behind him. Instead, he created even more doubt in the minds of the 250+ media assembled and the American public watching live on television or viewing the replay like I did last night.

This is a crisis communications situation.  I don’t know for sure how A-Rod was prepped, but it certainly did not appear like it was done with any sense of the gravity of the situation.  Sure, his opening statements in which he revealed that an unamed cousin of his injected him with a substance he purchased over the counter in the Dominican Republic and referred to as Bole, was more than he revealed to ESPN’s Peter Gammons.  But to state on more than one occasion this occurred because he was young and stupid did nothing more than create doubt about what he put into his body and for how long.  The statement about his fearing for his career due to a neck injury was hard to believe as well.

A-Rod’s problem is that his insecurity has often led him to be misunderstood.  Now, it has set him on a path of being mistrusted.

If I had been advising A-Rod and preparing him for the press conference yesterday, here’s what I would have insisted his message points be:

§  I did have a performance enhanced drug injected into my body during the course of the 2001-2003 seasons while playing for the Texas Rangers

§  Despite what many in this room and throughout the country suspect, this was the only time I used performance enhanced drugs. I will gladly take a lie detector test to prove my case

§  I do not feel it necessary to reveal the source for how I received the drugs. I take full responsibility for purchasing and using them.  All I can say is that it was the same drug used all the time, purchased from a source in the Dominican Republic

§  After signing the richest contract in history following the 2000 season, I placed a lot of pressure on myself to perform up to the standards set by the contract.  I experimented with the performance enhanced drugs as a means to help my body recover and stay stronger as the season progressed

§  While I cannot say for sure how much of an assist this drug  gave me, if at all, I still felt the need to use them

§  I was informed by the Players Union’s Gene Orza about my potential failing of the drug test.  He said there may have been some false positives. I know I said I was in denial and really wasn’t sure I had actually failed it but let’s face it, I was lying to myself, the media and the fans

§   I stopped using the drugs at that point

§  With the testing in Major League Baseball in place and the promise that the results of the 2003 survey would remain anonymous, I did not think my use of performance enhanced drugs would ever be revealed 

§  That is why I categorically denied such use when asked by Katie Couric during the 60 Minutes interview she did with me.  It was wrong to lie. I purposely deceived her in order to maintain my reputation in the game. I have spoken to her and apologized

§  I have also apologized to Selena Roberts for the way I mischaracterized how she did her job in unveiling this story. She did everything right as a journalist and I behaved like a jerk

§  Now that my use of performance enhanced drugs is out, I know my reputation is forever tarnished

§  I cannot take back the past, as much as I would like to try to

§  All I can do now is continue playing the game using my God-given talent and skills

§  I have many more great years ahead of me.  When my career is over, I fully know that many will look at my career record and still feel doubtful because I cheated

§  The three years that I cheated the game and myself will be with me for life. I caused this and I will have to live with it

§  I apologize to Tom Hicks the owner of the Texas Rangers who committed to paying me the richest contract in baseball; I apologize to all of my teammates past and present; and most of all, I apologize to baseball fans around the country

§  I owe you my best on and off the field.  What I did was dangerous to my health and wrong. I hope to use the revelation of my use of performance enhanced drugs as a means to educate the youth of this country to the dangers of these drugs

§  Therefore, I have asked the New York Yankees to defer 10% of my yearly salary through the remainder of my contract to be placed in a special fund to be used to create an educational campaign against performance enhanced drugs. I will look to schedule speaking  appearances before youth groups  in every Major League city I travel to in order to spread this message and will work with the Commissioner and the Players Union to coordinate this effort

§  I will also fund the creation of a PSA and establish a separate health fund to assist those suffering from problems associated with the use of performance enhanced drugs

§  Sure, there were 103 other names on the list that haven’t come out.  It might be easy to sit here and say why me?  But to me, those names should stay anonymous.  What has happened to me is my own doing. Now it’s time for me to deal with the consequences

§  And now, I’m ready to take your questions     

Tom Cosentino

Are Links Endangered?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 17, 2009 by innovativemediapr

I read with great interest the piece on Slate.com by Wendy Davis on a recent legal case that potentially can alter and threaten the way company’s link to one another on the web.  It turns out BlockShopper, a real estate web site got the ire of the global law firm Jones Day  by linking directly to a pair of attorney’s bios on the firm’s web site announcing their recent real estate purchases. Jones Day sued BlockShopper for trademark infringement.  A judge reviewing the case apparently sided with Jones Day and a settlement was reached, with BlockShopper agreeing to change its linking procedure.

 

Could this ultimately change the way we link? I find it very hard to believe.  When one thinks of the myriad of blogs, online media, social media sites and Twitter, it seems unfathomable to think that linking the way we know it will change.  This case between BlockShopper and Jones Day revolved around privacy issues.  While such a privacy issue seems hard to regulate in the online world, in this case, it appears that the real estate web site elected not to have to battle a global legal concern.  It will be interesting to see if other cases like this develop and what action is taken.  In the interim, company’s like iMedia Public Relations will continue to link to sources and other companies when we feel it applicable.

 

Tom Cosentino

New Show Jockeys is a Winner

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2009 by innovativemediapr

Reality shows are usually not my cup of tea, but as someone who has been around horse racing for most of my professional career, I was interested to see how the new Animal Planet reality show “Jockeys”  would measure up. This past Friday night I got my first look at the show and came away quite impressed.  The show accomplishes something that I feel the thoroughbred industry was hoping to convey, a showcase for the magnificent skills of jockeys.

For many Americans, their only real exposure to horse racing comes from watching the Kentucky Derby. When a horse captures mainstream media attention like Big Brown, Smarty Jones , Funny Cide and Barbaro did in ther quests for the Triple Crown, interest in the sport peaks.  But for those of us raised on the game, who love to venture out in the middle of the week during the summer to catch a few races at beautiful Monmouth Park and other racing establishments across the country, the new show ‘Jockeys” is a glimpse at reality.

It is a reality that takes a newcomer like Kayla Stra through the chores of walking the backstretch each morning looking for mounts from trainers and hoping her one ride on a race card can gain her the respect that will allow trainers to give her shots  in bigger races. It is also a showcase for a Hall of Famer like Mike Smith as he battles the younger breed of jockey trying to knock him off his perch. 

Perhaps the greatest reality is how the show depicts the danger facing each one of these jockeys as they ride thousand pound racehorses at 40 mph with no room for error.

As Alex Strachan wrote in the Calgary Sun, “After watching Jockeys, you may never watch the Queen’s Plate or Kentucky Derby the same way again.”

As a public relations vehicle, Jockeys showcases all the drama of thoroughbred racing. You could not write a better script. Whether it cashes in by luring new fans to the track and betting windows is the real challenge.

Tom Cosentino