“The Most Dangerous Ideas About Public Relations"

As a dedicated Ad Age reader (and web visitor), I stumble across a lot of intriguing news about advertising, marketing and the like. But the site’s latest 3-minute news brief did more than intrigue me–it petrified me. I cringed when I zeroed in on the title, “The Most Dangerous Ideas About Public Relations,” straight from Ad Age’s editor Jonah Bloom and the Council of Public Relations Firms. In his lilting Australian accent, Bloom covers all the bases: the drastic move from print to online, media fragmentation leading people to biased news with which they already concur (Fox or MSNBC, anyone?) and of course journalistic credibility, and the resulting “herd of poodles following fewer stories and rarely challenging the establishment.”

Granted, the man is has a point. In fact, he’s absolutely right. The newspaper industry, and objective journalism as a whole, is somewhat of an endangered species and PR could easily be considered the poacher. Of course, we don’t think of ourselves that way—we are professionals walking a fine line between rallying for our clients and providing the media with content they otherwise might have missed.

How do we reconcile this dangerous aspect of our profession? How do we sleep at night? Well, probably with the TV on scouring the news channels for an answer. Eventually, we and the media themselves will wake up and realize it’s just another American checks-and-balances system. We as PR professionals will strive to seek out new and dissenting ideas to inject into the public forum, and media in turn will regulate the amount of “flack” finding its way through. Because regardless of some of our industry’s mistake-makers, PR pros, too, strive for credibility!


Following “News Grazers” With Internet Marketing

The latest edition of Public Relations Tactics unearthed some valuable survey results, ones that affect our marketing and maybe yours, too. Columnist Margo Mateas rehashed results from a Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey of American news consumption. Aside from dwindling (and thereby disappointing) readership among young people, the survey revealed a novel method for news intake: half of America now “graze” the news periodically throughout the day, rather than devour the daily paper in the morning or evening. As the survey also concluded (to traditional media’s dismay), more than a third of the 15 percent of Americans who own smart phones (i.e. Blackberries) consume their news on these devices.

We hate to brag, but in times like these, clients of the PR school of thought can rest easy knowing no matter where media goes, quality company coverage and story placement are always a guarantee. News coverage’s unique knack for third party credibility translates across any medium. The same cannot be said for advertising, which isn’t always a seamless transition to Internet versions of print papers. For instance, those Blackberry enthusiasts tend to receive their news from e-blasts that allow them to breeze through unnecessary stories and ads. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel too, though—online advertising is a viable option for those following their consumers from print to Internet, especially for users reading the news at their home or work computer. And best of all, regardless of the medium, information (and accompanying advertising) will always be a part of our lives, and in an age where cell phones are like extra organs and Internet usage is secondary only to breathing, it’s closer to us now more than ever. To keep this growing body of changing media going, we, like the news, are adapting our online media plans in response.

What to Do With Marketing When The Economy Strikes

When the bottom fell out on Wachovia last week, we can bet a boatload of companies decided to jump ship on their current marketing plans. As Ad Age and any marketing professional will advise you, though, don’t throw out your life jacket. While budget-cutting may seem like the best option for keeping your business afloat, abandoning your marketing because of the economy is suicide. You want to let consumers see you now more than ever, or you run the risk of fading away. Ad Age prescribes quite a contrary option, charging companies to become “even more creative” with their existing marketing. Your consumers are changing, tightening and even panicking. Offer them something they haven’t heard before, especially from you in the past. Empathize with their struggles and align yourself with their greatest concerns right now. Most likely, you’re feeling the same things they are, so it will be genuine. Position yourself as a mainstay in consumers’ lives, one that weathers any economical storm and bends, instead of breaks, under pressure. Of course, it might cost you but losing your customer base will ruin you. That’s where the creative part comes in: using innovative marketing methods doesn’t always have to break the bank. The Internet has crossed age, race and class barriers in becoming a consumer resource, and with promotions like e-mail newsletters, company site upgrades and online business directories, companies can access this marketing medium at little or no cost.

It’s important to recognize that these are not the consumers of the Depression days–social anxiety advertising and fear marketing won’t will these consumers into submission. Positive, creative and down-to-earth marketing will ring true with consumers, so let your message break through all this economic cacophony rather than lose your voice altogether.

Commentary: What Makes You a Live Blogging Authority?

The State has started live blogging South Carolina games, with up-to-the-minute play by plays and candid fan reactions. Beth Kanter of Blogher live blogs at professional conventions, taking notes on each speaker on her Mac Book and promptly publishing them. And with the recent political conventions, live bloggers took center stage as history unfolded. The live blog’s life vein is real-time (and resulting raw) real-life observation. And presumably, really exciting, groundbreaking or important action and information.

Like many other social/informational activities on the internet, though, everyone has starting do it. Moms are live blogging their children’s second school play this year or their first cookie-making experience and so on. Live blogging is the new scrapbook. That’s not to say those moments aren’t extremely important to the bloggers involved, but where do we draw the line? And who gets to deem which events are live blog worthy? And most importantly, who’s going to actually read them?

Our new role as creators of Internet socialization gives us the power to choose whose games, plays and essentially lives we follow. Unlike magazine articles or newspaper editorials, though, unlimited bandwith allows everyone their place in the Internet world—blogging and beyond.