Archive for September, 2012

Tell the Truth

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 25, 2012 by innovativemediapr

In my Rider Public Relations class the other day we began discussing the history of modern-day public relations and the role a man named Ivy Ledbetter, known as Ivy Lee, played in its foundation.

Lee was a former Wall Street reporter who began a public relations practice in 1903. He was instrumental in fostering the concept of informing the public, not by hyping up his clients in a style practiced by press agents of the time or not caring about what the public thought, such as railroad titan William Vanderbilt’s famous words, “Public be damned.”

It was Lee’s belief that the only way business could answer its critics and tell its side of the story was to present its side honestly, accurately and forcefully.

In 1914 Lee was retained by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in a time of crisis. Labor unrest at Rockefeller’s Colorado Fuel and Iron Company in Ludlow, Colorado led to the involvement of the Colorado militia and the eventual tragedy of a dozen women and children being slain.

Lee’s advice to Rockefeller was:
“Tell the truth, because sooner or later the public will find it out anyway. And if the public doesn’t like what you are doing, change your policies and bring them into line with what the people want.” *John E. Harr and Peter L. Johnson, The Rockefeller Century: Three Generations of America’s Greatest Family (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988): 129

Lee went on to encourage Rockefeller to create a joint labor-management board to mediate all worker grievances. He also began humanizing the Rockefellers so that the public could relate to them. In the end though, the lesson Lee left us was the best three words in the public relations bible: Tell the Truth.

Just think of athletes, teams, coaches, politicians, corporate executives, celebrities, etc. who become mired in a crisis because by failing to tell the truth right away, they bury themselves in the cover up, which eventually is exposed by the media.

Imagine if President Richard M. Nixon had simply took blame for the Watergate break in, fired those involved and apologized to the American public. The country could have been spared two years of political chaos and his administration could have focused on governing rather than saving a government.

For those individuals entering the work force or for those navigating to new positions, how you communicate plays an integral role in how you are perceived, respected and rewarded for your work. Those that hide from the facts, think they can fool their employees, bosses or the fans they serve will end up being exposed.

No matter what, keep Ivy Lee’s mantra. Tell the truth. If you do that, nothing else will matter.

Tom Cosentino


Don’t Drink & Drive to Your Next TV Interview

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 18, 2012 by innovativemediapr

This past Friday I received a call from news anchor Doug Shimell at NBC Philadelphia looking for me to help set up a shoot that morning with a winery in South Jersey for a piece they wanted to run that afternoon on the 2012 wine harvest.

On behalf of our client, the Garden State Wine Growers Association, we had set Wednesday as Harvest Day for media in the region, encouraging them to visit local wineries and interview wine growers about their enthusiasm for this year’s harvest, which because of the dry weather conditions earlier this summer, looked to rival 2010 as one of the best years ever for New Jersey wine.

After securing the availability of owner Ollie Tomasello of Plagido’s Winery in Hammonton, I called Doug back and told him I would meet his crew at the winery. NBC wanted to also interview me representing the NJ wine industry to give an overall perspective.

As I drove out of my parking lot onto Route 1 in Princeton I was juggling a GPS, blackberry, pad and cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee. Before I could turn on my hands-free calling device in the car, my mobile phone went off and it was Doug from NBC on the line. As I reached for the phone, I hit a bump and the coffee lid came off the cup and coffee ran down my right sleeve and side. Luckily, the coffee ran down my side and not on my chest or stomach. Forget about the traffic, my mind was on how I would position myself on camera to avoid the embarrassment of people seeing my coffee-stained shirt!

Fortunately for me, I arrived at Plagido’s Winery before NBC did. Ollie Tomasello, seeing my coffee-stained shirt took me into his house adjacent to his tasting room and searched for a shirt for me to wear. There, hanging in his closet was a brand new red Garden State Wine Growers tee shirt. It was my size and I quickly put it on.

NBC arrived, did their piece with Ollie as he walked them through the vineyard and then interviewed me. One of my sound bites made the news story. As you will notice in the clip my newly acquired red shirt served me well.

The moral of the story don’t drink and drive, especially when you know you’re going to be on television.

Tom Cosentino