Archive for May, 2009

Senator Schumer is Master of the Slow News Cycle

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

Politicians crave attention.  Sometimes, like when Vice President Biden misspeaks, the attention backfires. However, one politician who masterfuly chooses his speaking opportunities in order to generate the biggest media impact is Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.  Not only is Senator Schumer a visible member of the Senate, as a senior member of his party and influential member of several key committees, but he also knows how and when to get media attention.

For years, publicists operated under the misnomer of not scheduling press conferences or media events on a weekend because it wouldn’t generate enough media attention.  Senator Schumer has done the opposite.  There is not a Sunday that goes by without the Senator calling a press conference or issuing a press release about an issue.  Each week, his soundbites make the local newscasts and are written about in Monday’s papers.

The Senator even works on holidays.  As the nation observes Memorial Day, Senator Schumer has already made news this Monday, calling on the federal government to crack down on companies that make automated calls to consumers pitching credit card and mortgage deals that sound too good to be true.

What Senator Schumer has mastered and uses with great success is controlling the news cycle.  Crews may be at a minimum on Sundays and holidays and news organizations short-staffed, but that creates an opportunity to exploit the situation.  A United States Senator calling on the government to take action to protect consumers is a nice lay up for news assignment desks to fill one gap in the news cycle.

So if you have a good story to get out and don’t want to face the competition of  everything else happening during a weekday news cycle, then Sunday may be a good opportunity for you. However, if you’re in New York, make sure it’s not at the same time that Senator Schumer is making news.

Tom Cosentino

Our “Propaganda” Really Connects

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 21, 2009 by innovativemediapr

I had the distinct honor and privilege to serve as a panelist this past Tuesday at the Teacher Workshop on Propaganda sponsored by the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education that was held at Mercer Community College in West Windsor, NJ. The goal of the conference was to provide educators with additional knowledge on how to teach students about the uses of propaganda.

My role was to show the practical applications of propaganda that are used by businesses to promote their products through advertising, marketing and public relations.  I chose to use a case study of a leading brand which I had experience working on and detailed to the teachers how using celebrity endorsers, proper messaging and promotion helped grow the brand.  However, since I was the third and final presenter in the morning session, I had the  opportunity to hear from two other panelists on how propaganda can be used for evil and how it becomes permanently stored in our brain.

Dr. Marvin Goldstein, retired professor and Former Director Holocaust/Genocide Resource Center at Rider University was the first speaker and he vividly dissected the use of propaganda by Nazi  Germany through movies, print and other portrayals.  Dr. Goldstein showcased how the Nazi’s victimized the Jewish people through these means to sway the opinions of the German population and validate their hatred of the Jews.

Dr. Tim Brennan of Hudson County Community College gave a fascinating talk on The Impact of Propaganda on our brains and consciousness.  His talk made me realize just how effective propaganda can be as it becomes part of our long-term memory stored in the Hippocampus region of the brain. 

As I discussed how the tobacco industry used hollywood stars in the 30’s and 40’s to promote their products and supplied cigarettes to the troops in World War II and moved on to discuss how one brand effectively promoted their product through various mediums, I was struck by the impact of what we as communicators really do.

Our jobs are to provide the proper messaging for clients and develop the right pitch to sway a news producer, writer or editor to get them to cover what our clients are doing .  Sure, we want to change perceptions and move the needle on the attention meter for our client programs.  However, when reflecting on how one government used these same techniques to murder millions of people and how our brains actually process this information flow, permanently archiving the messaging that filters in, it makes you more cognizant of the powerful communications tools you are using.

What we do as public relations professionals is not always important in the scheme of things, when you consider all of the ills of society.  However, we owe it to our clients to deliver their messages in the best possible light to prospective audiences.

What we really need to do is take a step back and acknowledge that when we do deliver such messages,  our actions can permanently have an effect on the population.  Let’s make sure it’s all done in a positive manner.

Tom Cosentino

New Research Shows Online Video Audience is Soaring

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

If anyone had any doubt about the importance of developing video content for clients, new research by Nielsen Online provides convincing data to erase any skepticism.  According to a study revealed at the Ad Tech Conference in San Francisco in late April, online destinations such as You Tube and Hulu have seen audience growth of over 300% since 2003, with time spent on video sites growing 2000% during that time frame.  Sites are not only increasing their unique visitors, but the streaming content per user and the amount of time watching video has grown tremendously over the past year.

As agencies struggle with fewer media outlets to service, the advent of becoming content providers delivering video content directly to consumers over social networks, is now an essential element to any client program. 

Public relations agencies for years have used production companies to develop video news releases, corporate video and satellite media tours.  The objective was placement on broadcast media outlets.  Now, with new restrictions placed on how affiliates accept and repurpose video supplied by outside outlets like public relations firms, the online world is now has to be the major vehicle for client video.

According to Promo Interactive’s Brian Quinton , in a  major entry in his blog on this study, not only is online video proving its worth but the research also shows how social networking is becoming an integral part of mobile use, growing at a rate of 260% in 2008 with over 12 million mobile subscribers now accessing their social networks via their mobile units.

 The trend is important, the report said, because “social networking has the potential to be a bridge category that draws even more subscribers into the mobile Web experience.”

And the appeal of that experience is growing stronger than ever, a separate Nielsen study finds. In a report released yesterday, the company’s mobile division found that the U.S. mobile Internet market increased 74% from February 2007 to February 2009, growing from 28.6 million users two years ago to 49.7 million at the beginning of this year.

While iPhone users constituted only 5.1 million unique users this past February, their behavior can serve as a good indicatin of what other mobile Web users will be doing soon, Nielsen found. If that’s true, look for much of that online video consumption to shift from PCs and laptops to handheld devices: iPhone users are currently six times as likely as the average mobile subscriber to watch video over their phones.

Tom Cosentino

Assignment Desk Hell

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 11, 2009 by innovativemediapr

There has never been any secret to trying to get an event covered.  You write up a media advisory which includes the five Ws: Who, What, Where, When and Why and make sure it gets put on the AP Daybook and faxed and emailed out to the  desks at the proper editorial section of the area newspapers, photo desks and television assignment desks.  Then come the follow up calls.  As anyone who has been through this process knows, there is never just one call made, especially when it comes to television assignment desks.  You usually make calls for three-four days, including the morning of an event.  I have worn out many a carpet at event sites pacing as I make follow up calls to desks.

Over the years, it usually was a positive sign to have a television assignment editor tell you that your event was on the agenda for coverage, providing they could get the crew to you.  However, the economy has taken a major bite out of available resources, and that positive word from the desk  can no longer be taken as set in stone.

I experienced that this weekend with an event I was helping Covermax Communications out with  in the Bronx.  It was the Pi5NY math tournament for middle school students.  Over 600 city kids screaming and yelling while competing in math.  Sounds like a great weekend story, right?  Heading into the morning, at least four crews were on their way to cover the story. The Daily News was on-site and it looked like a home run event.  Then the ABC-crew got stuck at another shoot, News 12 could not free up a camera, nor could NBC.

Major affiliates are entering into news pooling agreements in markets like New York.  Due to editorial restrictions caused by abusive video news releases, many outlets, such as WABC-TV in New York, will no longer take b-roll handouts from companies. 

Hopefully, the lack of resources is not affecting the news judgements of organizations. I have always felt that an event has to have news value.  If it doesn’t, you need to be honest and tell your client.  I would hate to see newsdesks make decisions based on logistics.  

When someone in the media says,  “don’t follow up, if you sent  us a fax or an email we will respond if we plan to cover your story, ” don’t listen to them.  That may apply to a magazine or feature news pitch. But if you are working an event, you must be persistent.  My colleague was called at home on Friday night by NY-1 telling him they were assigning a crew to the event.  On Saturday, a different assignment editor said they weren’t.

So what can a public relations pro do to ensure the assignment desks actually cover their event?  If you are in a major market like New York City, recommend that the event be held as close to the midtown area of the city as possible.  Placing an event on the outskirts makes it tougher for crews to get to you, especially when they need to shoot 2-3 other events. If the event is an annual program, hire a crew to put together video package that can be sent out in advance the following year to producers so they can get a feel for what the event is about.

The system has never been perfect.  Lack of resources is making it tougher by the day.  The only solution is more information and more calls. The earlier, the better.

 

Tom Cosentino

Boston Globe Hangs On

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 4, 2009 by innovativemediapr

Heading into the weekend it appeared that the Boston Globe might be closing down. However, ongoing negotiations with its unions appear to have the paper holding on for survival, which is  great news for the communications industry. 

Management was ready to file a plant closing notice as required by law.  The paper’s management was under a midnight deadline to close agreements with its biggest unions. The New York Times Company, the Globe’s parent company, threatened to close the paper unless costs could be brought under control. 

According to a story posted on the paper’s web site today:

Boston Globe management said today that it won’t file a plant closing notice required to shutter the newspaper after reaching cost saving agreements with six of seven unions involved in negotiations for concessions.

“We expect to achieve both the workplace flexibility, and the financial savings that we sought from these unions,” said Globe spokesman Robert Powers. “We are not , therefore, making a filing today” under the federal plant closing law. The law requires companies to give 60-days notice to the state and employees before closing a business.

Hopefully, these agreements will keep one of the nation’s finest newspapers afloat.  With the Baltimore Sun cutting its newsroom staff by a third last week, and the earlier closings of  such stalwart newspaper dailies as the Rocky Mountain News and Seattle Post-Intelligencer (still publishing online) , losing the Boston Globe would have really accelerated the demise of the printed daily newspaper.

Tom Cosentino