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Archive for December, 2014

Good tidings to all.

Friday, December 19th, 2014


Bright, shiny, warm, bright; glowing, bright….. warm.

Shot on an iPhone by Clare Whitaker.

The Shark Tank’s Faulty Business Recco

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Outspoken entrepreneur, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and star of the popular television show Shark Tank, Mark Cuban, shared a piece of advice to Business Insider that would cause any public relations professional to cringe. Cuban states that a start-up company should never hire a public relations firm. Cuban goes as far as suggesting that any entrepreneur hiring a PR firm would be wasting time and investments; and he says that a start-up team is more than capable of handling the duties of a PR team.

Cuban undermines the practicality and assistance many public relations firm provide, referring to their responsibilities as simply “wrangling members of the press.” He continues, “What’s more, you know your business much better than any PR person you’d hire. It’s better to develop relationships with those folks directly than try to train a PR person to learn your business and figure it all out.”

In Cuban’s eyes the money a company can save from opting out of an external public relations partnership, could secure a company’s survival. We strongly disagree; in fact wholly contradict Cuban’s recommendation. Having someone else manage your public relations, messaging, and marketing helps the start-up more efficiently manage its business. If PR is generating an increase in traffic, the business-side needs to make sure its focus is on the product. Many companies think public relations is easy – it’s all about managing social media and as Cuban said, “wrangling members of the press,” but PR is actually about creating a strategy & executing flawlessly over time to help meet business objectives, as much as it is about creating and maintaining media relationships. .

Ann Keeling says:

Based on past experience with clients, I’d say that Mr. Cuban has been burned by a PR firm. He’s a super-smart guy and this recommendation seems totally out of character for him. Maybe we need to talk to him….

Hipsters in Porkpie Hats: Is this the future of PR?

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

The lines in media have blurred and the public relations umbrella has grown to incorporate more communication platforms. Last week Forbes published “The Future of Public Relations; Three Forks In The Road,” written by Robert Wynne. Wynne categorizes public relations into three different arenas: traditional, advocacy, and social media.

As public relations becomes a “whole package deal,” companies are creating their own standards and reshaping how the industry should best work for their business. The focus of PR is increasingly relying on advocacy and social media strategies. With this change in direction, public relations professionals are seeing more demand from clients who are paying less. Certain businesses are even suggesting a la carte contracts, paying PR firms a set amount per placement, rather than a monthly retainer. This is a very real concern for the industry.

Companies are embracing “young hipsters in porkpie hats sipping vanilla spice low-fat lattes at coffees shops in Brooklyn, Austin, or West Hollywood [who] spend all day blogging on their iPhones about their thoughts on politics, the economy, and culture,” but these new-age PR gurus won’t be successful in the long-term for setting the media agenda.

Advocacy and social media strategies are best implemented alongside traditional public relations principals. As many companies opt for the “cool” firms that can sell the flashiness of new PR, they’ll find the foundational messaging strategies are missing. Traditional firms have always relied on innovation and resourcefulness, and as they grow with the changing media environment, not only do they have new ideas and tactics, but have built off of the traditional practice to provide their clients a holistic package for strong, sustainable PR that really differentiates..

Ann Keeling says:

PR is like other businesses in that new things come and they go, but the tenants of the business remains the same. Some clients feel like they have to chase the latest trend to be seen as ‘innovative’. We’re probably never going to curtail that behavior, so there’s something to be said for staying the course while mixing in new ideas to keep the outcome fresh.

Nothing grander.

Friday, December 12th, 2014


Grand Central, that is.

Shot on an iPhone by Clare Whitaker.

New York Loses Its Ad Man

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Stuart Elliott’s departure from The New York Times reignites the harsh reality of the newspaper industry. For years, newsrooms have been forced to whittle away their staff – but Elliott’s departure might be one of the most stunning. As AdWeek states, “he is widely considered the most influential advertising journalist in the U.S. and has guided the [Times’] coverage of the ad industry for decades.” Elliott accepted a generous buyout from the Times and will leave on December 19 after 23 years of employment. Elliott’s story, while prompting a stir, is the new norm for the industry.

From 2006-2012 the number of working journalists in the United States decreased by 17,000. Newsrooms are shrinking and online forums are continuing to gain steam. This year the Times hopes to shed 100 positions through buyout incentives and, if necessary, layoffs. As reported on Piehole earlier this fall, professionals are leaving journalism for the more “lucrative” field of PR. The catch: Who will be left to cover our news? Our Piehole post explained how PR professionals are now becoming more responsible for authoring the content they are pitching. After Tuesday’s post on Rolling Stones’ journalist ethical mishap, we need trustworthy and reliable journalism now, more than ever before.

While freelancers have become more common since the recession, they aren’t the answer. Many freelancers do not have the luxury of partnerships offering them financial stability, longevity, and opportunity for advancement. Additionally, they float from media outlet to media outlet, and while they may have a certain area of focus, they will never benefit from building a close and trusted readership. A veteran staffer is fast becoming a phrase of the past and newsrooms and other media creators will soon realize the burden that comes with their departure.

Ann Keeling says:

It’s a sad, sad state of affairs when you have icons like Stuart Elliott moving off the payroll. Similarly, many newspaper and magazine photographers have been cut in numbers just as big as journalists in recent years. The thinking is that the reporter can take his or her own photo on their mobile device while covering the story. There really is an art to photojournalism and really great photojournalists can change readers emotions with just a single image.