Rashard Mendenhall: Shut Yo Mouth!

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Two years ago I was talking to an executive of an NFL franchise. Twitter was just blowing up and I counseled him that the team should be harnessing their players’ burgeoning interests in getting on the social media tool as a means of connecting with fans.

Set the tone with your employees, teach them how to use it, and you’ll potentially have a quality brand ambassador.

His response to me was, “There’s no way in hell we’re letting our players on Twitter.”

And I thought, “Man, he doesn’t get it. He has no choice. His players will be on, and he’ll have lost the battle before it even begins.”

All of this brings us to the case of Rashard Mendenhall, the talented yet troubled Pittsburgh Steelers running back. Continue reading

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No Children Allowed: A Recipe for Publicity

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A few weeks ago, the owner of a little restaurant attached to a golf driving range in Pennsylvania, decided to introduce a new policy that it will no longer serve any person under the age of six.

As principal of a PR firm with restaurant clients, I followed this story right from the beginning. From what I observed, the story was initially reported by a local TV news outlet in Pittsburgh on July 8th. The Associated Press picked it up and reported it the following day. From there, the media frenzy took off.

If this were a legal blog, I’d pontificate about the obvious discrimination against children under six years old. From my understanding, children are not a protected class unlike senior citizens.  Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on your point of view), I do not hold a law degree so I can’t say whether there are legal implications to this restaurant’s policy.

Since this is the PR Breakfast Club, which serves everyone in PR (including the ones who at times act like children—you know who you are!), just let me say that from a PR standpoint, this new restaurant policy was a win. Here are my three reasons why: Continue reading

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Latest ‘Got Milk?’ Campaign Shows Worst of Marketing

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“We accomplished what we set out to accomplish.”

Keep that quote in the back of your mind as you read skim pick apart the main points of this post. I’ll tell you who uttered this seemingly innocuous statement in a minute, but first, some background information:

It seems that the California Milk Processor Board — you probably know it as the folks who brought us the ubiquitous “Got Milk?” campaign and its many impostors — has gotten itself into some social media hot water over its most recent campaign.

What could be so unseemly about a milk ad, you ask? Well, when you try to use something that is wholly unfunny (like milk) as a way to poke fun of something that is also not humorous (e.g., women struggling with PMS) into an ad to sell more of your product, people tend to take offense at that. Or just get really annoyed. Continue reading

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Google+: Let’s not put the cart before the horse

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By now, our world has experienced and started actively using the latest in social platforms. Google+ launched to excitement and rightfully so. Google has been looking to enter the social space for some time. But, I think we need to temper this giddiness a bit. Much like Facebook and Twitter before it, time is needed before we can really understand how Google+ will fit into our plans. Should we do our due diligence on it? Absolutely. Any good social media manager or PR professional should be researching and planning to uncover any which way it can be used effectively.

In the last few weeks, though, I’ve seen that it will be a “Facebook killer.” I’ve also read numerous stories telling me that LinkedIn needs to watch out because Google is coming with “Google+ for Business.” The old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” fits here. How can anyone truly know what it will do to Facebook? We had no idea that Facebook would eventually make MySpace irrelevant. Who saw Twitter becoming a success? Continue reading

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Death of News Outlets Isn’t Good News for PR Business

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Another day, and another article bashing the growing ranks of PR flacks. The Economist, a British publication, recently ran an article saying the media business was in danger of being overrun by PR professionals. Republican, a publicly-financed American news outlet, also wrote a similar article recently.

As someone who has worked on both sides of the media business, I am concerned about this phenomenon, but I think these articles overlook a more important point.  Media critics should also be writing about the dearth of media outlets.  The reason why PR pros numbers are growing is because the number of journalists is decreasing. Continue reading

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Fatigue a Professional Hazard

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Outsiders believe public relations practitioners lead glamorous lives. That beautifully painted image with events and sneak peeks should be replaced by 4:00AM morning show interviews and a “to do” list that three people should be working on. A PR practitioner must constantly be “on” 24/7/365 and because of this CareerCast recently named public relations, a well-deserved, second most stressful job. That stress can lead to industry fatigue.

In order to identify the source of the fatigue, a survey of PR professionals identified being “on” is exhausting for two key reasons. Continue reading

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Journalists’ Tips for Working with Flacks

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Sometimes, probably on our worst days, being a publicist can feel like being a glorified telemarketer.  And, on those days, it seems that journalists feel the same way about us.  In fact, many of them have posted diatribes on their personal sites about us and how to properly pitch them.  In fact, I have seen whole sites devoted to just that topic.

However, there are many of us publicists out there that do the job right.  (Hopefully more of us than the bad ones, but I guess I’ll never know.)  The good ones make sure to create targeted lists of journalists and outlets that will care about our story, read/view/listen to  journalists’ work before pitching and create short, well-written pitches to hit the mark.  We are actually an asset to journalists, if only they would see beyond the words “public relations.”  To get the most of out of us, journalists could actually use a few tips of their own for dealing with PR people.  Continue reading

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Five Blogger Reactions to Review & Endorsement Compensation

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Last week, Nathan Burgess wrote about a very top-of-mind issue for PR professionals – blogger compensation. If you haven’t read that post yet, head over there first before diving into this one.

As Nathan notes in his article, it’s not uncommon now for bloggers to receive monetary compensation to review a product or service…in addition to getting to test out that product or service for an extended period of time.

But won’t compensation in the form of cold hard cash sway the blogger’s opinion of said product or service? And won’t that immediately move this review into the paid media versus earned media category? Can bloggers actually be unbiased when a company pays them to write about their product or service?

I reached out to a few bloggers I’ve connected with over the years to get their thoughts on the compensation topic, as well as working with PR pros to coordinate reviews. Here’s what they had to say: Continue reading

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Is Traditional PR Even Worth It?

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Any PR pro knows that PR is entirely different than marketing and advertising. So how much should be done online and how much should be done through more traditional styles? That depends; how much what? The answer to this question differs depending on if you are discussing marketing, advertising, or public relations.

Every company should capitalize as much as possible on new, online forms of PR. This is the latest rage in the world of PR, and for good reason. Online PR is often cheaper, allows for better targeting, reaches a wide variety of people, and is flexible. However, this does not mean that you should forget about your old, traditional PR ways. Continue reading

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Tuck(er) and Roll With the Punches

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I took a big step in recent weeks. On Saturday, July 2, I adopted a cat from PAWS. His name is Tucker, and he is ten-month old ball of energy who has already stolen my heart.

Because I am a first-time cat owner and a major nerd, I thought of a few ways I’d keep track of how well I’m doing. My family had cats growing up, but I don’t really know all the ins and outs of owning one myself. I wanted to make sure I had a way of tracking my success and his health and wellness in his new home.

I should tell you my goal was just to have a happy and healthy cat who seemed to tolerate me well enough. Continue reading

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