All posts by Mike Schaffer

Fixing the Toxic Talk PRoblem

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I am not what you would call a “politico.”  The closest I come to being a political junkie is staying up late to watch election returns.

However, I do live and work in Washington, DC, where it is impossible to NOT get pulled into the machine from time to time.

Over the course of my career, I’ve dabbled in a few political events.  I’ve met politicians from “my” persuasion that I didn’t enjoy spending time with and had terrific encounters with officials from the “other team.”

I’ve spent the majority of my career in sports, where there is a clear winner and a loser.  (We won’t get into the head-scratching NFL overtime rules here.) Continue reading

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The Moby Effect

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Moby is a unique musician.  His music is somewhere between dancehall and coffeeshop, and that’s not a bad thing.

I’ve seen him at a stadium show, which was not the right venue to enjoy his music, since there were no dancefloors or lattes within reach.  But his performance was incredible.

So what the heck does Moby have to do with PR?

Simple: A Moby song is like a bad story pitch.

Say what?

Follow me.

Moby’s songs are catchy because they are repetitive.  Very repetitive. Continue reading

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ROI Measurement

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Woman catching snowflakes in her mouthPsst! I have a secret!

There is no one way to measure the return on investment of social media. None. Each campaign is kinda like a thumbprint…or a snowflake…totally different from start to finish.

The National Restaurant Association Marketing Executives Group asked me to give them ways to increase their ROI at a recent conference. So I came up with the following presentation, affectionately entitled “Show Me The Money.” Continue reading

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The Sore Thumb of Social Media

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HammerOne recent evening, I was listening to a talk radio station while driving home after a business trip.

(As an aside, did anyone else think they would never ever ever listen to talk radio when they were kids?)

I don’t recall the exact topic of conversation, but it was insignificant until the host’s last line: “You’ve gotta be careful.  Twitter, Facebook, social media will hurt you.” At that point, I started making odd faces at my digital dial, because there was obviously a disconnect between the host and the actual concepts he was discussing.

You see, social media platforms like The Twitter (thank you, Betty White, for making that an acceptable phrase), The Facebook (thank you, Justin Timberlake, for reminding us why they dropped the “The”) and others are tools.  Tools can’t hurt you unless you make them. Continue reading

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Judgment Day: Clients vs. Media

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Judge Striking GavelYou’ve seen Terminator 2.  And if you haven’t, stop reading this post.  We are not friends.  Watch the movie, then come back here, so we can resume our regularly-scheduled friendship.

Hint: If you haven’t seen the movie, this is where you should say “Stay here, I’ll be back.”  I’ll wait.

Now that we’re all on the same page (and friends again), you are quite familiar with Judgment Day, the day where the robots take over and life as we know it ends.

Catastrophes and crises happen, especially in the PR world.  Every publicist has a “war story.”  Or ten.  Some of the juicier ones I’ve been a part of: a mall fired their Santa, 90% of media passes were revoked by the client 24 hours before a major-name hiphop/R&B concert, and a basketball team’s two biggest stars basically sat out a full-season injured.  Oh, there are more. Continue reading

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4.5 Tips for Bulletproof PR

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Wouldn’t it be fantastic if PR pros got the communications equivalent of a bulletproof vest upon college graduation? Come on, we’ve all needed a little bit if kevlar from time to time! Since such a product doesn’t exist (although it should), here are 4 Tips to Bulletproof PR!

Tip #0.5: Have this song playing in the background while you read this. It helps.

Tip #1: Plan Start to Finish For a plan to be useful, it needs to go as far ahead as possible. Of course, it’s subject to change for any of a million different reasons, but it goes back to the old writing adage that it’s easier to edit than to create. The act of creating a long-term plan forces you to think about causes and effects of your campaign. Before you send out one release, make sure your entire team (and of course, any client contacts), know the next steps. From a client relations standpoint, having a plan reinforces your image as an expert.

Tip #2: Anticipate the Bad

Whippet looking sad

Poop Happens. Know it, accept it, plan for it and be ready to deal with it at all times. Look at it with this analogy. If you take your dog for a walk and bring a plastic bag with you, when your precious pup does his…uhhh…business…you don’t end up with poop-covered hands and a smell that won’t go away. The more you think about, discuss and prepare for the inevitable moment when the stuff hits the fan, the more bulletproof you’ll be.

Tip #3: Be Honest and Transparent What’s one sure way to NOT be bulletproof? Get caught in lies and Man's screaming facedeceptions. Just look at the recent BP oil spill as a “How Not To” guide. Seemingly every day, there as been a report of the public being misled on the entire incident, from the initial explosion to the clean-up efforts. Sometimes the truth can hurt. A lot. Like to no end. However, if you tell the truth from the start, it’s ALWAYS better than being caught in a lie down the road. Protect yourself and your client by just not lying.

Tip #4: Know When To Stop Talking Perhaps the biggest lesson a PR pro can learn is when shut the hell up. We are a gabby sort, us PR folks. We like to talk, share, learn, etc., etc., etc. But knowing when to stop talking and sharing is critical. Every PR pro I know has inadvertently said something they shouldn’t have to a reporter. It’s OK to not pick up the phone or wait a little while before returning an email. I know it sounds like a direct contradiction to Tip #3 (be honest and transparent), but saying NOTHING is much different than misleading.

What other tips for Bulletproof PR do you have?

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PRBC Sports PR Hall of Fame: One-Liners

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Welcome, welcome, welcome!  You’ve made it just in time to the

GRAND OPENING of the PRBC’s Sports PR Hall of Fame!  Grab a Danish and some orange juice, we’re about to get underway!

At the PRBC Sports PR Hall of Fame, we honor people from the sports world that have effectively mastered the art of public relations, for better or for worse.  This Hall encompasses athletes, managers, owners and even fans.  Nobody is off-limits, as long as they are linked to sports.

When deciding who should be included in the inaugural class, many factors were considered. We won’t go into detail about them here because…well…we won’t.

At it’s core, PR is about image.  And your image is defined, in large part, by your words.  So, we are proud to induct the following athletes into our “One-Liner” wing! Continue reading

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Dumb Move, Mr. Woods

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The introduction for this post can be found here

Tiger Woods apologizes for irresponsible and selfish behavior in FloridaAs my esteemed colleague outlined above, some people believe that Tiger Woods returning to competitive golf at the Masters is a good PR move.  I whole heartedly disagree.

Let me count the ways:

Walk Before You Crawl – Would you want your first game of the season to be Game 7 of the World Series or even the Super Bowl?  From a sheer golf mechanics perspective, Tiger will not be at the top of his game.  He will not have played a round of competitive golf in nearly six months when he tees off at Augusta.  Why not work your way into peak condition before the biggest tournament of the year? Continue reading

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