Archive for January, 2010

Will Apple Tablet Boost Publishing Industry?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 26, 2010 by innovativemediapr

There’s a very informative story in the New York Times today about the impact the Apple tablet computer, which will be introduced on Wednesday in San Francisco, will have on creating revenue for potential media content providers. The potential though, may come with a price not only for consumers that subscribe, but for media outlets that provide their content. As the piece states:

People who have seen the tablet say Apple will market it not just as a way to read news, books and other material, but also a way for companies to charge for all that content. By marrying its famously slick software and slender designs with the iTunes payment system, Apple could help create a way for media companies to alter the economics and consumer attitudes of the digital era.

This opportunity, however, comes with a sizable catch: Steven P. Jobs.

Mr. Jobs, the chief executive, made Apple the most important distributor of music by imposing its own will on the music labels, bullying them into accepting Apple’s pricing and other terms. Apple sold lots of music, but the music labels claimed that iTunes had destroyed the concept of the album and damaged their already deteriorating bottom lines.

With the new tablet, media companies could be submitting themselves to similar pricing restrictions and sacrificing their direct relationship with customers to Apple.

“The iPhone was a harbinger,” said Trip Hawkins, a founder of Electronic Arts and now chief executive of Digital Chocolate, which makes games for cellphones. “When you have a device that is this convenient and fun for consumers to use, you can get a lot more people interested in paying for and engaging with the content. Big media companies should be all over this like a cheap suit.”

Media companies, including the New York Times, have been creating models for not only developing content in tablet formats, but  pricing models as well for the digital marketplace.

A dearth of ad sales has closed numerous publications over the past couple of years. With subscriptions down, advertisers were losing eyeballs for their products and thus placed their outreach elsewhere, notably in social media. Now, a paid subscription service delivered in a digital format that is amenable to users may be the key to luring some of these advertisers back to the tablet version of news and lifestyle publications.

Whether the media content providers can make money from the cost structure imposed, will be a key factor. As the piece points out:

Media companies may have to swallow hard before tethering their futures to any high-tech company, let alone Apple. Many publishers believe their economic health depends on finding a direct line to their customers, and it is not clear whether Apple — and other aggregators of Internet content — will allow that.

There’s no question the iPhone has had a revolutionary affect on communications. Will Apple’s new tablet create a revolution for publishers as well? That may be a question that makes or breaks an entire industry.

Tom Cosentino


Should Newspapers Still Be A PR Target?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 18, 2010 by innovativemediapr

Last week a new survey conducted by Adweek Media and the Harris Poll found that only two in five Americans read a newspaper each day, and not surprisingly, the demographic of readership skews towards an older population. With newspapers folding up across the country and mainstays like the New York Times preparing to launch a paid online subscription model, the question for public relations executives is how much effort should be devoted to securing newspaper placements for clients?

Here at iMedia Public Relations, we see this study for what it is, more proof of the diminishing impact that newspapers have. However, we also see it as reinforcement for the need to be strategic in looking for placement opportunities for clients.

According to the press release announcing the survey’s findings:

Just two in five U.S. adults (43%) say they read a daily newspaper, either online or in print almost every day. Just over seven in ten Americans (72%) say they read one at least once a week while 81% read a daily newspaper at least once a month. One in ten adults (10%) says they never read a daily newspaper.

These are some of the findings of a new Adweek Media/ Harris Poll, survey of 2,136 U.S. adults surveyed online between December 14 and 16, 2009 by Harris Interactive.

The Graying Newspaper Reader
One reason for the dying of the daily newspaper is the graying of the daily readership. Almost two-thirds of those aged 55 and older (64%) say they still read a daily newspaper almost every day. The younger one is, however, the less often they read newspapers. Just over two in five of those aged 45-54 (44%) read a paper almost every day as do 36% of those aged 35-44. But less than one quarter of those aged 18-34 (23%) say they read a newspaper almost every day while 17% in this age group say they never read a daily newspaper.

Another aspect of the survey focused on whether individuals would pay to read a newspaper’s online content. Of the more than 2,000 adults surveyed, 77% said they would not and of the 23% that would, they would be prepared to subscribe anywhere between $1-10 per month.

Armed with these statistics, where should a publicist turn in regards to seeking opportunities with newspaper outlets?

The first answer is to know your client’s target audience.  If you retain a client that has an event, product, book, etc. targeted to a youth or younger demographic audience, then social media is where you should be spending your billable time, not newsprint.

However, if you are working with a subject that appeals to a broader, older demographic, then the specific section applicable to that subject matter would remain a viable media option to pursue.

One print outlet, which we feel remains viable across a broad community spectrum, is the weekly suburban newspaper.  Since these are loaded with local advertising and, thus are usually delivered free to residences, they have wider appeal to a cross-section of readers.  We’d love to see a study done on the readership for these type publications.

Part of the overall appeal of the weekly suburban paper is not only that it is free, but it provides newsworthy coverage of local government, such as city council meetings and other issues affecting the municipality as well a ample coverage of local schools, sporting events, etc. 

So, in considering whether the daily newspaper should or should not be a source for your next publicity campaign, make sure keep the suburban weekly in mind as well.

You may find that it is the one print vehicle that delivers the biggest impact for your campaign.

Tom Cosentino

The Day Bart Simpson Got Me in Trouble

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 12, 2010 by innovativemediapr

It was gratifying to see the 450th episode of the Simpsons air this past Sunday night, knowing that there may be hundreds more shows down the pike for America’s favorite primetime family. While always a fan of the show, I must confess years ago, Bart Simpson got me in a heap of potential trouble with a client.

In the early 1990’s when the Simpsons cartoon series was just hitting it big nationally, Ice Capades struck a licensing deal with Matt Groening and Fox Television to include the costumed Simpsons characters in its touring ice show.  They had previously done the same with the California Raisins.  At the time, I was working for the firm lapin East/West, which handled the national publicity for Ice Capades. I was responsible for the account for the show’s run in the New York metropolitan region. A the time, the show would play a 2-3 week stint in the area, with runs at Madison Square Garden, the Nassau Coliseum and Meadowlands Arena.  The object of our public relations efforts was to keep it newsworthy throughout the run and gain media exposure in outlets that would benefit all three buildings.

Well, we were able to secure a live remote from Good Day New York.  Gordon Elliott used to do live remote segments for the morning show, visiting communities.  We pitched the show’s producers to have Elliott visit a community with Ice Capades skaters and the Bart Simpson costumed character and invite residents to come out and skate on a portable ice rink that we rented for the occasion.  A community in Queens, NY (memory tells me Bayside) was chosen and that morning, the portable ice rink was put in place and Elliott began knocking on doors with Bart Simpson, inviting home owners to come on out and skate with Ice Capades.  Of course, here’s where I got in trouble.

Under the licensing agreement, the Bart Simpson character was not allowed to speak.  Our intern, Dennis Williams was in the costume.  We had told Elliott that Bart could not speak and he agreed not to engage the character.  Then, during a commercial break, Elliott spoke to Dennis as they were outside a residence.   Without Dennis knowing, Elliott went live on the air and said something to Bart.  When Dennis spoke, thinking they were still off air, Elliott did a gotcha and said, “Hey Bart, you’re not supposed to talk, you’re going to get sued!”

Well, when discussing this with our Los Angeles office’s GM, Lisa Carey, a former Ice Capades skater, an eruption ensued.  While I cannot remember the dialog word for word since it was over 15 years ago, it went something like this: “How did this happen?”  “We can’t show this video to the client, they will go crazy?

My retort was to be honest with the client. Show them the great exposure they received on a Fox affiliate, plugging Ice Capades at all three buildings in the metropolitan area. Apologize for the foul-up but also let the client know that the on-air talent purposely deceived the kid in the costume strictly for on-air laughs.

I don’t know if the video clip was ever shown to the client or not.  All I know is for one morning Bart Simpson caused me a lot of grief…D’oh!

Tom Cosentino

Know What You’re Pitching

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2010 by innovativemediapr

We have often written about the importance of establishing relationships with the media.  As a public relations agency it is our responsibility to know how and where to position our clients in the press.  One of the biggest drawbacks to hiring a big agency is the fact that senior executives at the public relations firm come in to make the pitch but once the account is awarded, junior staffers are the ones charged with getting coverage for the new retainer client.  For many of these publicists, the only concern is how many placements they can get for the client.  Thus, they take a scattershot approach to pitching the client’s product, event or service and lose track of what will benefit the client  most.

The biggest criticism of public relations professionals by media is the fact that publicists do not take the time to read what an individual writes and reports on.  This includes broadcast news producers, magazine editors and now, bloggers and other social media groups as well.

If one is not taking the time to know how their client’s message fits the respective media outlet they are targeting, then why should the media member care about taking a look? 

I have had producers that we’ve worked with tell me that they get tons of email pitches a day and automatically delete those that have nothing to do with what the show or news organization would cover or for that matter, are poorly written and thus, not deserving of being opened.

Recently, iMedia Public Relations was able to work with Judy Chapman, editor of Garden State Woman on creating a video piece with New Jersey chiropractor, Dr. Tami Hartman. Our client is the Association of NJ Chiropractors.  Our intent was to have a female chiropractor discuss how families can benefit from chiropractic care.  The Garden State Woman website has a specific area for health features. We pitched Chapman and she developed an interview piece with Dr. Hartman.

When the piece was finally posted, we noticed a separate column that Chapman posted on Getting Coverage. In it, she lamented some of the poor pitches she receives from executives and public relations professionals.  Here are some excerpts:

We get PR firms and/or heads of emerging companies calling us all the time to “pitch” a story idea to us. Most often we never get to the next step because the approach to us is so bad.

In many cases the people calling us with editorial ideas know nothing about our organization, our objectives or our audience, have not taken the time to visit our web site, have never tried to meet with us and have not really thought through why the idea they are “pitching” would be important to us or to our audience.

If you want to get media coverage and attention for your client or your business, take the time to learn about the media organization being targeted. Visit their web site. Send for their media kit and, if you really want to set yourself apart, call and arrange to go visit them. See their operations first-hand. Get to know the editorial decision makers and be looking for ways that you can be helpful to them. It’s best to have this type of meeting in advance of a specific idea, person, product or service you are trying to get covered.

The media will respond very well to you investing your time in trying to develop a long-term, win-win relationship. People in the media world are no different than anyone else. They want to do business with those they know, respect and trust.

As the communications industry has changed, the endgame for public relations professionals has not.  The mission is to position your client in the best possible manner with the appropriate media so that their message is conveyed in a proper and effective manner.  It’s called strategic media relations and those companies that do not practice this, will effectively end up having their pitches turn up in the deleted items folder.

Tom Cosentino