Archive for May, 2010

24 Was More Than a Show

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 24, 2010 by innovativemediapr

The Fox Television series 24 ends an eight-year run tonight and like I have for the past eight years on Monday nights, I will be watching on the edge of my seat, anxious to see how my favorite television show concludes its historic run. Will Jack Bauer expose the Russian cover up in time? Will the peace treaty between the IRK and the western world be signed? And, will Jack live to fight on in a potential film version?

All of those questions are sure to be answered in the final two hours of day eight of this series that has spanned the course of only eight days in time since its debut in the fall of 2001. The novel 24-hour one day episodic show was a television first and will probably never be duplicated.

As we say goodbye to this series it is noteworthy to reflect on how this show took chances throughout its run. From exploding nukes on U.S. soil, the election of an African-American President, David Palmer played by Dennis Haysbert, a woman President Allison Taylor played by Cherry Jones in the current season, to the debate over torture for the sake of fighting terrorism, 24 has been at the forefront of the most dangerous threats facing this nation since 9/11, and it’s all been fictional.

Yet, from a real-life scenario, not only has 24 reflected the dangerous era in which we live but has served as example of how communications has evolved over the past eight years.

Cell phones, satellite feeds, video conferencing, etc, have all been used by the CTU agents and their enemies. In the end, it’s usually been old fashioned brute force and the bullets from an automatic weapon fired by Jack Bauer that saves the day.

In one of the greatest integrations of a brand into a television show, CISCO has showcased its state-of-the- art communications technologies throughout the run of the series. Whether it’s a teleconference between the president and advisors or the monitoring of live feeds coming in from security cameras, the CISCO brand has been front and center at the CTU command post and White House.

So as 24 the series comes to an end, what, if any lessons can a communicator draw from this historic show? As one who has never missed an episode, I thought I would take a stab at jotting down a few.

Follow Your Gut – Despite the use of the latest gadgetry, satellites and video surveillance, Jack Bauer has succeeded by relying on instinct. Mass pitches don’t work. By strategically seeking out the right media outlet for a targeted pitch, we open ourselves up for the greatest chance of success. Even then, we have to play a hunch sometimes and go on what our gut says, not what some Cision media list tells us to do.

 It’s Okay to Break the Rules – I’m not advocating doing anything against orders like Jack has or going against what the client has outlined as their goals and objectives, but there are times when the initial plan has to be thrown out the window. Communicators that can adapt to adverse situations realize when strategy has to be altered and tactics improvised on the fly, are ones that can save the day for a communications program.

Loyalty matters – Jack Bauer has relied on his relationships with such characters as Chloe O’Brien, Bill Buchanan, President Palmer and Renee Walker to have his back. Which team members are our most trusted confidants and who do we want to go to war with?

Don’t be Afraid to Take Chances – It’s easy to go after the low-hanging fruit on your media target list. However, why rule out the big hit with a 60 Minutes, Wall Street Journal or other major media outlet. Maybe you don’t have the contact or relationship, but if you believe in your subject and feel it can play to that audience, then you owe it to yourself and client, team, etc. to give it a shot. Lives are not at stake. It’s just another pitch.
Television is Not Real Life – Sure, it’s been exciting watching Jack Bauer stop terrorists, overcoming moles in security, bringing down Presidents and killing countless opponents along the way. However, Jack Bauer is a fictional, comic-book like character. As communicators, we are real life individuals, blessed with the skills at our disposal. It’s how we use our talents that really matter for those entrusting their programs to us. We cannot rely on a scriptwriter to save the day. Like Jack Bauer, we are often alone and have to fend for ourselves. How we use all of our skills can dictate how long of a run we have with our clients and in our positions.

Tom Cosentino

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How Can We Be Like Betty White?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 14, 2010 by innovativemediapr

From a Super Bowl Snickers commercial in January, a new TV Land series and hosting Saturday Night Live last week, 88-year-old actress Betty White is the hottest property in show business, proving that old-timers can still resonate with a mass audience, especially when they are as likeable as White.

The likeability factor is one that all of us in the communications field can identify with. We all want to be liked by our peers, clients, staff and media.  However, being liked is one thing.  Establishing credibility is more important.  A lesson we can learn from Betty White as communicators is to stay within ourselves.

It sounds like a well-worn sports cliché but it’s true.  Public relations professionals that try to do things outside of their scope of expertise will ultimately get burned. It’s one thing to attempt a new challenge by taking on an account or project outside of your comfort zone. It’s another thing to over promise on capabilities when you know that there’s no way you can deliver at your normal quality.

Betty White had her own show in the 1950’s and then guest starred on numerous television series, including a myriad of guest appearances on Password, the game show hosted by her late husband, Alan Ludden.  White was comfortable being part of a team with Ludden and then becoming a memorable part of one of the greatest ensemble casts in television history, playing the sassy Sue Ann Nivens, the happy home marker on the Mary Tyler Moore show.

White was the ultimate team player. She later joined another famous ensemble on The Golden Girls  playing Rose Nylund.

What can communicators learn from Betty White?

–          Be yourself.  Everyone cannot be the Mary Tyler Moore character Mary Richards. Use your personality traits to create your own persona and bring out the Sue Ann Nivens in you.

–          Don’t oversell.  You get in trouble when you promise more than you can deliver.  Take on the tasks that you have strength in and don’t overextend yourself just to prove yourself.  Everyone doesn’t have to be the star or leader. You might pull off an Emmy-Award winning performance too in a supporting role.

–          Stay connected. Betty White has never stopped working, seemingly reinventing herself numerous times along the way. However, she never stopped being Betty White.  No matter how many positions or jobs you hold, make sure to stay connected with your contacts and keep adapting and reinventing the real you.  Just don’t disappear.

–          Respect your elders.  You can never stop learning.  Feed off the knowledge of the Betty White’s in your circle of contacts. You might learn a thing or two and even get a few chuckles from that old codger in the office.

–          Don’t be afraid.  When faced with that next presentation, don’t sweat it. Just think, if an 88-year-old can host Saturday Night Live, what’s so hard about what you do?