Archive for March, 2009

24 TV SHOW IS A PERFECT CONNECTION FOR CISCO

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 31, 2009 by innovativemediapr

I have been a 24 fanatic since it debuted seven years ago.  I believe I may have only missed watching three live episodes over the years because of travel.  Over the years there have been product integrations into the show’s format but perhaps none more effective that what Cisco has accomplished.

What better platform for a technological solutions company that one of the most high-tech programs on television.  The showcase of the technology is a natural as the top echelons of our nation’s national security team use it on an hourly basis to solve the latest security crisis.

In an era when brands are looking for strategic ways for connecting with their customers, this product placement play by Cisco is a testament to how to do it right.  More and more we are seeing brand integration into movie and television product placement.  When it’s forced, it does a disservice to the brand.  As more opportunities mount for online and  theatrical and television marketing tie-ins, brand managers will have to be wise in how they choose to leverage their brand’s exposure. 

Cisco has not been quiet about this relationship.  Last night’s integration of Cisco technology in the episode was promoted with a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal on Monday and a highlight box on the Cisco home page linking to video from the episode of  Cisco’s WebEx Virtual Collaboration

Millions of viewers watching the President on 24 use the WebEx tool in a high-pressure situation received a real-time product display.

I would think there is an ample amount of marketers that are fans of 24.  Thus, more integrated efforts like this are bound to be on the horizon.

Tom Cosentino

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Obama’s Press Conference Shows Decline in Influence of Big Ticket Journalism

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2009 by innovativemediapr

I don’t know if others watching the Obama press conference last night noticed it or not but the president failed to call on any reporters from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsweek or Time Magazine.  Instead, outlets like Ebony, Politico and Stars & Stripes got the chance to ask questions.  I’m not sure if it was Dick Morris or Karl Rove that pointed it out on the O’Reilly Factor after the press conference but when I heard it, I was surprised, but not shocked. To me, it reflected the waning influence of these media powers.

My memory of presidential press conferences dates back to the Nixon administration. No matter who was in office, I can recall hands begin raised and the president calling on members of the press.  Sometimes, they would pass over individual reporters, most likely because they did not want to face a tough question in public from that journalist.  However, there never seemed to be a designated list of who would get called on.   At least that’s not the impression that was conveyed, although you knew there was probably a method to the order of who got called on. I’ll always have them memory of Sam Donaldson shouting a question in mind when I watch a White House press conference.

Obama’s orchestrated push to sell his budget is really a public relations campaign.  By going on Jay Leno and then 60 Minutes, he reached a broad swath of the general public.  Then, by initiating the social media network he cultivated over the course of the campaign he activated his grassroots base to get the message out.  His press conference last night allowed him to show he was in control. On Thursday he hosts a town hall meeting on the White House web site.  See where this is going? 

Unlike past presidents, Obama doesn’t need to rely on the influence of the media elite to sell his program.  The audience for those publications is the beltway itself.  He pretty much knows where Congress stands.  They will be swayed by their constituents, not the Washington Post.

Thus, the bully pulpit of the presidency is now directly connected to the public itself.  The audience watching at home, those blogging across the internet and the masses watching clips of the press conference online this morning, will be the ones that will either embrace his policies or eventually call him to task.

So while the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post still remain “big gets” for many public relations campaigns, other outlets and resources that in certain ways provide greater impact for clients are now tapped on a regular basis.  As newspapers fold and mainstream options for press dwindle, the ability to target the consumer directly becomes the campaign of choice.

Times have certainly changed. Major media outlets like the Washington Post were tha main cogs in exposing the transgressions of the Nixon administration and led to his resignation. Could their influence sway opinion today?

If Obama wins a second term, who knows what his press conferences might look like by the end of his administration. 

Whatever emerges, public relations will remain a core ingredient for any future presidential administration.  For our industry continues to evolve and change. 

Those that adapt will continue to win business and those that do not will fade away.

 

Tom Cosentino

It’s Going to be Tough Regulating Twitter

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

Can those in authority in professional sports really control and regulate Twitter?  Recently, Charlie Villanueva of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks got into a heap of trouble with his coach Scott Skiles for tweeting from the locker room at half-time of a game. While Skiles won’t allow it, a new professional league, the Women’s Professional Soccer League announced plans to allow players to tweet reactions during the debut game for the league next Sunday between the Washington Freedom and Los Angeles Sol.

Fans will be able to follow two “tweeting” players at twitter.com/womensprosoccer throughout the game.

The new edition of Sports Business Journal quoted the league’s commissioner as saying: “For now, this is a one-time integration of new communication technology for the inaugural match,” WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci said.

“We’ll evaluate other ways the technology could be introduced in an additive but nondisruptive manner respecting the integrity of match day.”

For years, coaches and managers of professional sports teams have initially resisted many of the innovative broadcasting techniques employed by networks such as placing microphones on players and coaches.  However, recent years have seen great progress with baseball managers on the Fox and ESPN Games of the Week regularly chatting with the announcers during a game while players wear mikes. The National Hockey League has done the same with NBC and Versus positioning a broadcaster at ice level adjacent to the bench as a regular feature.

What these leagues have done is give fans greater access to their product and players.  For the most part, much of this content can still be regulated and controlled. However, the free-flowing nature of Twitter may present some serious problems in regards to how leagues can control the flow of information.

Some of the questions posed by allowing Twitter to be used during games include:

Do the leagues want information from the bench shared with world and the opposing team during the course of a game?

What’s to stop injury information or strategy from being revealed?

How about players questioning coaching strategy?

What are the gambling ramifications of too much information getting out? Injuries right before kickoff, bullpen pitchers unavailable to pitch, etc.

How about sideline guest tweeting information about plays or injury status from an NFL game?

Or a pit crew guest sending out data on fuel status?

The questions posed by the use of Twitter can be endless.  As leagues begin exploring ways to use this social media service they will naturally have to adapt it to ensure it does not infringe on the game itself or the players.

Businesses are experimenting with Twitter and now professional sports are doing so as well.  There will certainly be pitfalls to its use.  However, like microphones on players and managers during live telecasts, barriers will quickly fall.  How quickly Twitter becomes part of the game is only a matter of question now.

Tom Cosentino

Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/imediapr

 

 

Hope for the Future

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

Last night I had the privilege of being a speaker at the annual Communications Connection on the Staten Island Campus of my alma mater St. John’s University.  This was a great program put on by the Office of Institutional Advancement that brought alumni in the communications field together to network and advise current students looking to pursue careers in communications and public relations.

As the old man in the room, I discussed the importance of taking advantage of internship opportunities, networking and building strong relationships.  It was an opportunity to also discuss how much things have changed. What I tried most of all to do  was to encourage the students that despite the economy, they were entering the field in a strong position because of their built-in knowledge of social media.  I told them of how many old school public relations professionals are fading fast because of their inability to grasp how to use social media.  I said I was adopting the techniques and learning on the go just to stay competitive, but the opportunities were boundless for those like themselves who have assimilated into the culture.

What I came away with after spending about 90 minutes following my talk discussing career opportunities with these students was a sense of satisfaction and relief. This group of students was extremely enthusiastic, asked smart questions and was full of confidence.  It made me feel that there is indeed hope for the future of the communications industry.

This is a credit to Dr. Deborah Greh, Director of the Mass Communications Program on the Staten Island Campus and most importantly, the students themselves.

I felt a great sense of pride as an alumnus of the University last night and want to especially thank Dr. Greh, Andriana Lewinsky, Assistant Director, Institutional Advancement and Nicholas Legakis, Director of Institutional Advancement for giving me the opportunity to speak.

Knowing there is good talent on the bench is encouraging. Things may be changing, but effective communications is a skill that is always in need.

Tom Cosentino

Newspaper Migration to the Web Begins

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

Recently we blogged about the fast-approaching extinction of newspapers.  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, established in 1863, published for the final time today and will now exist only as an online outlet.  The news staff dropped from 165 to 20.  Other newspapers like the Sacramento Bee and San Francisco Chronicle have seen major benefit and job cuts  in order to stay afloat.

Two weeks ago, another 100+ year-old newspaper folded when the Rocky Mountain News ceased publication. According to an Associated Press report on FoxNews.com, staffers from the defunct paper have teamed with three local entrepreneurs in an attempt to launch a digital version of the paper.

With backing from three entrepreneurs, staffers of the recently shuttered Rocky Mountain News plan to start an online news publication if they can get 50,000 paying subscribers by April 23 _ what would have been the News’ 150th anniversary.

The local venture, InDenverTimes.com, would go live on May 4 if backers meet their subscription goal.

The site would offer some news free, with advertising revenue footing part of the bill. Readers who buy subscriptions starting at $4.99 a month for a year’s commitment would get extra features, including columns, interactive features, feeds to mobile devices and customizable content.

“Great journalism can still be good business,” said Kevin Preblud, one of the three entrepreneurs behind the venture. He owns a local service company and is on the board of the Cherry Creek Arts Festival.

The E.W. Scripps Co. shut down the News last month, citing losses that reached $16 million last year.

With the loss of so many newspaper jobs, where will these editors, reporters and columnists all wind up?  Online is certainly a viable option, but the amount of positions, as evidenced by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer online staffing, is limited.

As public relations professionals, we have all built our reputations by the relationships and access we have earned with journalists at these newspapers.  Now, there are fewer of them to foster relationships with and many may become our competitors as journalists turn to public relations as a new career path.

Kate Ray, a journalism student at New York University wrote an interesting story today in Media Bistro on just what veteran displaced newspaper journalists are doing to find work.

This is a situation that will continue to evolve and will impact the entire communications business. We all need to closely monitor how it plays out.

Tom Cosentino

Former Steinbrenner PR Man Guests on Innovativemediapr Radio Show

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 13, 2009 by innovativemediapr

Our guest this morning at 11 am ET on our weekly Blogtalk Radio Show is Ken Nigro, who runs the Baseball Fantasy Camps for the Boston Red Sox. Nigro was my first boss in this industry as I interned with him in the Media Relations Department with the New York Yankees in 1983. Ken, a long-time baseball writer for the Baltimore Sun, dabbled in public relations for that one season, living through Billy Martin, the infamous Pine Tar Game, and what it was like to work for George Steinbrenner when George was truly the Boss. Ken will also give his take on what it was like to transition from journalist to publicist. We’ll also discuss steroids in baseball and whether those tarnished by steroid use will find their way into the Hall of Fame.

 

Join us at www.blogtalkradio.com/innovativemediapr at 11 am ET.  Call-in line is 646-929-2259.

 

Tom Cosentino

 

Without Marketing Will We Have Any Business Left?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 10, 2009 by innovativemediapr

Congressman Barney Frank has made a lot of news lately in regards to his criticism of banks that have received federal bailout money such as Northern Trust Bank, moving ahead with sponsoring professional golf events.   Originally, Frank was critical of the sponsorship happening at all, but according to a report by ESPN.com’s Ron Sirak, he has backed down a bit, acknowledging the commitment to maintaining title sponsorship agreements as well as recognizing the charitable impact of such events.  What is still bothering Frank is the hospitality dollars that Northern Trust and other banks on the PGA Tour are spending to entertain customers.

Northern Trust received $1.6 billion in TARP money.  Frank had sent a letter to Northern Trust CEO Frederick Waddell demanding that the bank reimburse the government for the dollars used in marketing the February tournament. Northern Trust indeed pledged to do just that and to closely examine future spending.

Sure perks such as limousines, private concerts and high-end giveaway items to a limited group of patrons is questionable in today’s economic times, especially when they are being doled out by a bank that just received over a billion dollars in government bailout funds.

However, such scrutiny by Congress leads me to wonder just how many other businesses will find their marketing efforts scrutinized by the government?  Will local banks and organizations donating items for charitable silent auctions be questioned?  Should the government-owned AIG, which is rebranding its auto insurance company as 21st Century Insurance, not advertise this new name change? 

These tough economic times cry out for companies to market themselves more than ever before.  In many ways, sports marketing endeavors, like professional golf tournaments, are a way to attract the desired customer base.  Companies like Citigroup looking for mass exposure chose to enter into stadium naming rights deals.  The US Army has major sponsorship platforms across a broad range of professional sports, including the National Hot Rod Association and uses these platforms as a means to recruit.  Should the Army stop advertising at such events?

The last thing this economy needs is for companies to hold off their marketing spends because of fear of being lambasted by the government.

Yes, times are tough. However, sitting on our hands won’t get us moving.  Those companies that received government bailout funding should examine closely how they use those funds from a marketing perspective and apply common sense in determining if those marketing dollars can provide an economic benefit to the company.

Congress too can go a long way to encouraging companies to get off the sidelines.  As billions of dollars are passed through in the guise of economic stimulus, Congress should not discourage companies to pursue the marketing endeavors that help them reach customers.  And, while they’re at it, Congress should cut some of their own perks as a gesture of support.

Tom Cosentino