All posts by TJ Dietderich

A Christmas Miracle: The Professional Holiday Greeting

It’s December 16 and I am sitting in front of my Mac Book, planning on what kind of holiday message I’ll be sending my LinkedIn and Facebook friends and colleagues. Some of these people I’d consider very close friends indeed; I can swear creatively in their presence and they won’t care. They will join in. They will one-up me. Others, I know only through work or school. I might have a cocktail with them, but I would avoid saying anything less than charming. I would be a perfect gentleman. I’ve read about them in books.

OK, so my holiday greeting will be very general and all-encompassing. I will save the draft and send it on December 25. “Happy holidays to you and yours,” I type. “Travel safe and stay warm!” Continue reading

A Thank You Letter to Fans

Businessman Standing on Steps Outside Talking Through a Megaphone, Large Group of Business People Listening and ApplaudingDear the fans of the world,

We wouldn’t be able to do our jobs without you. It’s a constant surprise that, no matter what the product or service we’re flacking, there you are, being a fan. You’re fans of everything, from truck tires to gardening tools. You’re the everyday experts and armchair critics. You know more about your fannish world than almost anyone.

PR and marketing people have a lot of names for you; “influencers” and “superfans” seem to be the current favorites. If I had to guess, I would say these terms came into fashion to better show how important you all can be, but this is a love letter for all the fans, from the guy who runs an entire fan website dedicated to a TV show to the lady who goes out of her way to tell all her friends about a new store. Thanks to all y’all. Continue reading

On Going Above & Beyond

USA, California, HawthorneAs I read this blog post from the wonderful Danny Brown, I was reminded of an episode of ER from back in the Clooney days.

Bear with me here for just a second.

Old school fans of Must See TV might remember the episode. The entire day, the ER is bogged down, people are having the hardest day of their lives, the attractive doctors are getting frazzled, patients are complaining, and because of a myriad of complications, not a lot can be done. Then George Clooney gets up, grabs some first aid supplies, and starts patching up the dozens of people sitting in the waiting room. The other doctors join in, and the human spirit rises to the occasion: FINALLY, stuff is getting done despite the red tape because it’s just the right thing to do.

(Critics of this episode probably include malpractice lawyers and insurance folks who cry at scenes like this. Sorry, lawyers and insurance folks!) Continue reading

Your Copy Sucks: Punctuation Ruins Lives

Man Looking at Question Mark in ClassroomThis blog post begins on a personal note. I am legally obligated to tell you that in case you are a very important person who can’t be bothered with personal notes. You have been warned!

I’m currently dating quite the sweetie and life is pretty good, I guess! We have fun times, and we’re both wordy people. Ahhhhh, the joy of conversing with someone who knows what adverbs are! It’s quite nice.

But a spanner was thrown in the works, guys. We had our first fight. And it was about punctuation. Continue reading

Why You Won’t Create the Next Social Media Frenzy

Barechested Man Using DeodorantLast week Old Spice made some funny videos. Maybe you’ve heard about it?

Of course you have.

Now it is apparently time for you to learn from it, as you undoubtedly hope to be the next Old Spice-like thing that all the kids are talking about on the internets. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say it is very unlikely that Old Spice’s success can be replicated by you, or anyone. And I’m not saying that because I think Old Spice’s campaign was some perfect storm that wasn’t meant to take off like it did; it was clearly a well-engineered piece of awesome. And I’m not saying that we’ll never see a wildly popular campaign like this ever again; we will. But it won’t be anything like the Old Spice campaign because we’ve already seen that. Continue reading

Does history forget a crisis?

Correction FluidRemember Toyota? Didn’t they do something, like, not good? It’s hard to remember what with BP doing something so incredibly not good it makes Toyota look like they deserve an Oscar for Best Company Ever.

History is full of stories like this; in our short-sighted momentary grasp of facts, we think that something is going to be vilified for all time on account of a massive screw-up, only to realize much later that something else got in the way of carving that in stone. Take Wagner, for example. When we think of Wagner we probably think of Ride of the Valkyries playing during the helicopter scene in Apocalypse Now. His music endures as a cultural touchstone and the annual performance of his works at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus is sold out for years to come. This, despite his awful anti-semetic views and definite ties to the Nazi party. Continue reading

Your Copy Sucks: The Press Release Mad-Lib

Pen poised above dotted signature lineDon’t have time to write a press release? Just fill out this mad-lib and send that sucker in.

(name of company) Announces New (product or service) For (current season)

(Major city, state) (date) — Executives at (name of company) have unveiled plans for a new (product or service) just in time for (season, holiday, or major event). Such an (adjective) achievement is yet another indicator of economic recovery and (other good thing). Experts praised the new initiative as (adjective) and ground-breaking. Continue reading

The Official PRBC Guide to Summer Fridays

CalendarSummer Fridays are a tradition unique to New York City, I believe, but maybe some of you in DC and Chicago have the same experience. Some PR firms (or publishing houses, or tech companies, or marketing and ad firms, or doctors’ offices, or almost anything) take half days on the Fridays between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Some offices close on Summer Fridays at noon, some at three in the afternoon; some offices make up the lost time during the rest of the week, some are more lax.

The point is, Summer Fridays are a chance for you to use your precious downtime to enjoy the beautiful weather and cultural delights the city has to offer in the summertime. Here is how Summer Fridays usually go down: Continue reading

A Matter of Taste

Woman tasting foodSome of us flack products that can be scientifically proven to be quite good. A certain make of car can win an award for luxury; a brand of paint can be tested to show its properties of longevity; a hotel can have scads of positive reviews from guests.

Some of us, on the other hand, are representing products that are good strictly as a matter of taste. I work for a publisher, for example, and books are notorious for being judged on a very private, personal scale of excellence. One critic may think a book was sent down from heaven itself with a whole gaggle of angels; another may think it’s the worst thing every to be put on paper. There’s just no accounting for taste. Continue reading

Your Copy Sucks: Avoiding Cliches

Object as ConceptCliches (or, if you’re French and care about accent marks, clichés) are Not Good. They are so not good that I’m devoting a large part of my incredibly limited mortal existence to tell you why they are Not Good. Eighty, ninety years on this planet if I’m lucky, and I’m choosing to spend it on this. So, yeah. You’re welcome.

Okay, cliches! Get ready for an interesting fact: the word “cliche” originally meant a chunk of typeset text of moveable type Ye Olde printer could use over and over again often. This is also where we get the word “stereotype,” literally type that’s used many times for different purposes. Now it means a phrase or an idea that is used to the point of overuse; that is, it has lost its meaning. Continue reading