Archive for September, 2009

Be Wary of Leaking Info On Social Networks

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

A good public relations professional has always gone to great lengths to protect the public release of information about client projects and privileged information. Now, with the steady advent of social media, professionals need to take further care in protecting information about their clients and their own business practice.

This weekend, my son Johnny got engaged to his girlfriend Erin down in Alexandria, Va. The engagement on Sunday was a surprise on her birthday. John had worked it out with her family and ours to let us in on the planned date, and made us all part of the experience with a day-long family celebratory limo ride to tour three Virginia wineries after popping the question alone with Erin that morning. Since my son and his girlfriend are Facebook friends, early on I came to the conclusion that I had to be careful who I told about the planned engagement, knowing that all that was needed to erase the surprise was one exuberant relative or friend to spill the beans on my Facebook wall.

In the week leading up to the engagement, I read a story about Twitter and Facebook etiquette that included information about couples being beaten to the punch on announcing great news like an engagement or pregnancy. This made me even more conscious of the dangers of having the coming surprise engagement, ruined for my son and future daughter in-law because of what I may say to others.

This experience has also made me even more cognizant  of what information to share publicly and privately about any client partner. A few standards to follow are:

– Don’t post anything online you would not have placed into a client-approved press release

– If you are embargoing anything for the press, keep it private as well online

– Do not post any event or other client-related photos that have not been officially approved by a client

– Make sure any image of an individual, celebrity spokesperson, etc., has their approval before posting

– If producing online video for a client program make sure you have a waiver form for those being filmed to sign

– Remember who you have invited to be part of your social groups and what groups you yourself have joined

The communications world has certainly changed but one thing remains a standard. Protect your client by being ever watchful of not only what is being said about them, but what you are saying as well.

Tom Cosentino


Cable Positive’s Success is Everlasting

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 9, 2009 by innovativemediapr

On Wednesday came news that Cable Positive, the cable industry’s AIDS awareness organization was going to shut down operations after 17 years. 

For three of those years, I had the great privilege of handling public relations for the organization along with my colleague Paul Schneider.  Cable Positive was a casebook example of the proper way to run an awareness campaign that involved an entire industry.  From CEOs of networks, to local cable operators and cable network employees, Cable Positive worked tirelessly to spread awareness for AIDS Awareness. All facets of the program were integrated and the message was simple, use the communications platform of the cable television industry to promote HIV/AIDS Awareness.

In the end, Cable Positive achieved its mission.  Cable Positive chairman Ray Guiterrez addressed this in a story in Multichannel News announcing the closing.

“The response of cable industry companies has grown dramatically, and that work demonstrates that Cable Positive’s mission will continue to be perpetuated in significant ways,” Cable Positive chairman Ray Gutierrez said in a statement. “Therefore we’ve concluded that a separate organization focused exclusively on HIV/AIDS is no longer required.”

Cable Positive’s outreach included the staging of AIDS awareness seminars at workplaces, free AIDS tests, a grant program for operators and cable systems, the creation of PSAs for airing on cable networks and the tremendous programming initiative each year on World AIDS Day (December 1) to get networks to air AIDS-related programming and PSA’s.

According to figures in the Multichannel News story, more than $2 billion worth of air time was donated for public-service ads. Cable Positive also provided direct assistance to cable industry employees who had HIV/AIDS, and generated more than $2 million in direct grants from AIDS service organizations across the country.

Molly McAuliffe was Cable Positive’s Executive Director from 1994-2000 and my client. She became a dear friend.  Molly was a real go-getter who twisted the arms of some of the biggest names in cable television to get them to pony up funds, set up testing and fund grant programs to benefit the cause.

I caught up with Molly to get her reaction to the closing of Cable Positive.

What was your reaction to the closing of Cable Positive?

“I was truly saddened at the news but also proud that there is no longer a need for Cable Positive to exist.”

Cable Positive was truly a galvanizing force for good, was it not?

“There’s no question, Cable Positive is a living testament to how an industry can work together to “do good things” by integrating cause-marketing and corporate responsibility into every aspect of its business.”

What do you say to those who helped pave the way for Cable Positive?

 “Congratulations are in order to the founders such as Jeff Bernstein and the late Joel Berger, who helped galvanize an entire industry to unite behind the HIV/AIDS.  Together, we were able to create a broad range of programs that not only educated the general public about HIV/AIDS, but also the employees of cable networks, cable operators and other cable-affiliated industries.”

The Multichannel News story quoted Bernstein:

“Cable Positive has succeeded far beyond what anyone could have imagined at its founding, establishing the cable industry as a leader in the private-sector response to the epidemic,” Jeff Bernstein, who helped form the organization in 1992, said in a statement. “I’ve had great pride in seeing an industry I love become a pioneering leader in the business community’s role in the fight against AIDS.”

In the end, Cable Positive may have been one of the most successful entities ever of its kind, unifying an industry behind a cause for the good of the public’s good and its own employees. 

 “I was honored to represent the cable industry and treasure the six years that I spent at Cable Positive, “said McAuliffe. “ I wish to extend my congratulations to all the volunteers, board members, Honorary Chairs, and former employees who made Cable Positive a leader in HIV/AIDS education.  Their efforts truly helped saved lives.”

 Tom Cosentino

Do You Have A Social Media Strategy for Your Company?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 2, 2009 by innovativemediapr

According to the story listed below from Ad Age, pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer is in a dilemma on how to use Twitter.

NEW YORK ( — Many marketers are struggling with the new world of Twitter and social media but few face the dilemma of pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer. Twitter-using consumers are highly interested in their drug products, but their marketing communications are rigidly constrained by federal regulations. While Pfizer has just launched a Twitter site, the company is not exactly sure what it’s allowed to say on it.

 What Pfizer is going through is understandable considering the regulatory environment they are used to dealing with. However, what it also calls into play is how companies determine what role, if any, Twitter can and should play in their external communications process.

In creating a social media strategy for your company, you first have to establish what kind of tool you want social media to play in your overall communications plan.

Social media is something that should not be taken for granted.  If you decide to make it part of the communications process then it needs to be maintained and updated just like any other facet of your operations.

In deciding whether to pursue a social media strategy, company marketers need to ask the following questions:

–      What am I looking to achieve through social media?

–      Do I want to enhance sales? Run promotions?

–      Am I prepared to become a full member of the community and engage my audience?

–      What value can I add to such a community?

–      How can I use social media to monitor what is being said about my brand or company?

–      How can social media add value to my business?

The key element to social media is the ability to fully engage with the community at large. However, what companies need to realize is that their discussions are open to the world to see and there are no boundaries.

Also, social media is 24-7 in real time, so a failure to address a customer service problem or inability to react to a falsehood being spread can do great harm.

If a brand or company decides to enter the Twitter universe, they should examine how other companies in their field are using the service. 

Some of the brands, with Twitter handles, that @iMediapr currently follows on Twitter include: @Carnival Cruise, @Whole Foods, @Marvel  and @Dunkin Donuts.  Each one engages users in a different manner.  We also follow a local restaurant in the Princeton area, @SCGPrinceton Salt Creek Grille.

Many restaurants are successfully implementing campaigns via Twitter even though they may be just a local steakhouse.  The Twitter community is fully engaged which means anyone signing up to be a follower of an establishment is a captive customer that can be engaged through a variety of means via Twitter including coupons, promoting dinner specials, drink offers, etc.

Whether a company chooses to use Twitter, Facebook or both social media services, they need to ensure that they devote the time and effort needed to grow these online communities and truly make them beneficial marketing assets.

Once you decide on a strategy and jump in, just saying you’re on Twitter or Facebook will not be impactful. Being fully engaged certainly will.


Tom Cosentino