Freed to Abandon All Standards of Objectivity

January 31, 2011

by Dan Ward

Interesting memo sent today from Philadelphia Daily News Editor Larry Platt to his staff.

In announcing a new approach for the paper, Platt frees his staff “from the tyranny of the Inverted Pyramid,” going further to tell his journalists that they “should also not be afraid to have a point of view about what you report.  Our pages should never be home to ‘he said/she said’ neutrality.  Instead, you will be explicit adjudicators of factual disputes, and you’ll be free to draw conclusions from your reporting.”

Wow.  There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about whether newspapers are losing sight of their mission to factually report the news, rather than to compete with the TMZ’s and bloggers of the world.  Readers of the Daily News need wonder no more.

As Platt says, the Daily News is “no longer in the newspaper business.”

Talk about Tasteless

January 28, 2011

by Roger Pynn

From the “What Were They Thinking?” department comes this unbelievable promotion from Ad 2, a local chapter of the American Advertising Federation, sent today the anniversary of the Challenger Disaster. Promoting a mentoring workshop, they used an empty astronaut’s suit to illustrate an invitation to “meet someone who once felt lost in space.”

I give them credit for recognizing they’d made a mistake and issue an apology:

Good Afternoon Members,

We realize that the artwork on this morning’s e-blast for the 2011 Mentorship Program was confusing or insensitive to some, given that today is the 25th Anniversary of the Challenger disaster.

Please know that the design and distribution timing of this eblast was purely coincidental, and in no way intended to reflect the events of that day.

We sincerely apologize if anyone has found it offensive, it was certainly not our intention.

Best Regards, Ad 2 Orlando

But, this just illustrates why organizations rely on public relations people to review their messaging. Someone has to be the conscience of the organization and in this case, it seems the conscience wasn’t consulted.

The Challenger Challenge

January 28, 2011

by Roger Pynn


Anyone who lived in Central Florida remembers the exact spot where they were standing 25 years ago today when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded and left a looping day-long contrail in icy blue skies and an indelible mark on our memories.

Despite the grief, a small group of business leaders worked to create not just a memorial that came to be known as The Space Mirror, but also a lasting educational tribute in the form of the Astronaut’s Memorial Foundation.  Renowned Central Florida architect Alan Helman, then AT&T executive Randy Berridge, now of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, former University of Central Florida VP Bob McGuiness and the late SunTrust executive David Walsh among others developed an ingenious funding mechanism we now take for granted … affinity license plates … and raised millions to see their dream come true.

Our firm was fortunate to have the opportunity to help them with the dedication and grand opening of this national monument to the Challenger Seven … and even won the highest honor in public relations for that work.  Looking back, I have to say the challenge was easy because we were given an incredibly positive story to tell that stands to this day as proof that actions speak louder than words.

Where’s the Beef?

January 28, 2011

by Roger Pynn

Taco Bell President Greg Creed’s appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America today quickly had media talking heads, as well as public relations wags chatting up the advisability of everything from the company’s full-page ad campaign (“Thank you for suing us”) … to the company’s aggressive use of online tools from its website to Facebook and an aggressive media relations effort.

The lawsuit filed against Taco Bell claimed you’re actually eating “a Taco Beef Mixture.” What does that mean?  “In reality,” the plaintiffs say, “a substantial majority of the filling is comprised of substances other than beef” including “isolated oat product.”

Admitting he is not a food scientist, Creed said he couldn’t explain what an “isolated oat product” is but refuted claims Taco Bell uses extenders and fillers.  You have to pity oat product sentenced to solitary confinement.

After Creed noted there’s a big difference between 33 percent (which the suit alleges) and 88 percent (which the company claims is the percentage of ground beef in its tacos), conversation erupted among members of the Florida Public Relations Association’s Counselors Network, made up of the state’s senior practitioners.  Said one, “What concerned me more was that a company only has to have 40 percent to say that it’s beef.”

As another practitioner said, “I, for one, think the Taco Bell strategy is strong … they’re basically saying, ‘here’s our recipe.  Yes, it’s not all beef, because if it was you wouldn’t like it.’  They’re certainly getting people talking.”

Talk about a messaging mess.  Wendy’s most famous pitch lady Clara Peller must be laughing from the grave?

Where is “Yo Quiero” when you need help?

If The Shoe Fits

January 27, 2011

by Dan Ward

Is ethical reporting as important in sports journalism as it is in mainstream news?  If so, then ESPN reporter Erin Andrews’ recent take on a new Nike shoe should draw more scrutiny.

While covering the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, Andrews took a swipe at Nike, saying that TCU’s players were slipping on the turf because of new Nike cleats they were wearing.

Two weeks later, a Nike competitor, Reebok, announced that Andrews has signed on as an endorser of its ZigTech sneaker.

Perhaps Andrews had no idea Reebok was interested when she made her report on Nike’s cleats.  But if she or her representatives were negotiating with Reebok at the time, what does that say for the credibility of her report?  And now that this sports “journalist” is a paid endorser for a sports product, how can she credibly report on any issues regarding athletic footwear or apparel in the future?

What’s in a Name?

January 26, 2011

by Kim Taylor

Last week I received an unusual phone call. The woman on the other end of the phone had a request for me: she’d like my name … my Twitter username to be exact.

She proceeded to explain that she was calling on behalf of a fashion designer in NYC who shares my name, Kimberly Taylor. And as the publicist for said designer, she was experiencing difficulty with the “branding” because there was often confusion between her Twitter account and mine.

Admittedly, I had received a few misdirected tweets, but nothing to indicate that the Twittersphere  was up in arms about the name confusion.

She went on to explain that “I’m just a person” and they’re working on a “brand.” I’m not sure about you, but I don’t think that’s the most convincing or endearing argument to make.

Furthermore, I wasn’t about to school another PR person about branding. Branding is more than just a name. A brand is a promise you make to your customer.

So, my questions to you are: What’s in a name? And, would you give yours up?

Awards Season is Here!

January 25, 2011

by Kerry Martin

With all the excitement of the Golden Globes and Oscar nomination announcements, it can only mean one thing:  Awards season has arrived.

Of course Hollywood can’t take all the attention.  As most communication professionals know, each spring is the time for recognizing the planning and effort that comprise major Public Relations campaigns through programs like the Florida Public Relations Association’s Golden Image Awards and the Public Relations Society of America’s Silver Anvil Awards.  Local chapters of FPRA participate in Image Award programs across the state, while the PRSA Silver Anvil takes nominations from the entire country.

In its 25 years, Curley & Pynn has received its share of awards, becoming the first Florida agency to win a Silver Anvil Award in 1992.  But each year presents a new opportunity to showcase the hard work that is involved in promoting a client’s program or brand—and to remind that client that the tools and strategies of a public relations campaign are instrumental in carrying out a sound business plan, whether communicating with internal audiences, potential customers or even public figures.

With deadlines just around the corner (PRSA Silver Anvil is February 25, Orlando’s FPRA Image Awards is March 4 and FPRA’s Golden Image Awards is May 20), we encourage all communication professionals to seek recognition for their work and show clients the power of PR.

Measuring Public Relations

January 17, 2011

by Roger Pynn

It comes up all the time, but since I’ve been asked three times in the last two weeks “what metrics can be used to measure PR,” it seems worth writing about here on “Taking Aim” where we talk about targeted communications.

Both times the questions came from prospective clients who understandably wanted to know how to measure the effectiveness of what we do … and all three of them wanted, among other things, to have their name in the news.

Many in our business continue to be tempted to calculate what has been called Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) … a calculation of what it would cost to buy the same amount of space or time generated in media through publicity efforts.

And so I said, the whole concept of seeking coverage in the news media is that you can’t buy that space or time. A cynic once said “news is what fills the space between the ads,” but in reality it started out the other way around. When newspapers were first printed, ads were what filled the space when they ran out of things to write about.

We’re not a publicity firm, per se, although we generate a lot of publicity for our clients. We go after coverage that can’t be bought. Everything else is an ad … whether it is labeled an advertorial, special advertising section or some other euphemism that indicates that someone paid the publisher to convey their message.

It can’t be bought. That’s why you covet it. Combine that with collateral distribution of the messages through direct mail, e-mail, social media and a variety of other usually far more effective strategies and the value of public relations speaks for itself.

Four Quick Tips for Creating Online Videos

January 13, 2011

by Julie Primrose



Dionne Aiken’s recent blog post comparing YouTube and Vimeo led me to start thinking about the many components involved with creating and posting videos online.  With all the different factors, it can be hard to tell what sets a good video apart from a sea of not-so-great ones.  We create videos for several of our clients and although I’m not an expert, I have compiled a few tips on how you can compose interesting and engaging videos for sharing online:

KISS – Keep it Short and Simple

It can be easy to get caught up in editing and produce a long video full of great content.  But the longer your video is, the less likely viewers are to watch it in its entirety.  Great content is wasted if no one is going to stick around long enough to see it.  The video experts at Pixability suggest that the best online videos are two minutes or less.

Ask yourself:  What does my audience want out of this video?

You’ll often end up with much more footage than you need for a two-minute video.  Take time to think about your goals for the video, as well as what your audience wants to gain from watching.  If your goal is to increase sales leads, include information on your company’s products or services, and any other information your customers will want to know in order to make a purchase.

Don’t just tell…show

Many times the subject of your video will mention something that can be represented visually.  If the video is a product demonstration, show the product in use.  Incorporating different images or videos prevents the subject of your video from becoming just a talking head.  It makes the video more interesting and encourages viewers to keep watching.

Include an engaging headline

Just like a news release, article or blog post, the title of your video is what draws your audience in and entices them to want to see more.  Take time to think of an interesting “headline” before posting your video online.  It can have a huge impact on how many views your video receives.

Whether you choose Vimeo, YouTube or another video sharing service, I encourage you to incorporate video into your communications toolbox.  There are plenty of inexpensive video production tools that you can utilize and with some thoughtful composition, video can be a very powerful communication medium.  For those of you who already create videos, I’d love to hear any additional tips you have.

Positioning the Experts

January 12, 2011

by Kim Taylor

One of the best things about the Web is the speed at which new platforms are developed.  Among the latest and greatest is Quora, a “continually improving collection of questions and answers.”  Sounds a bit like Wikipedia for subject-matter “experts,” or a finely tuned version of Google.

Either way, the concept is intriguing.  You can ask or answer questions, position yourself or your client as a subject-matter expert, or browse three categories of questions (latest, open, or unanswered, and best) for items of interest.

Quora’s quest is to create a place where eventually everything you’d ever want to know is asked and answered.

Let’s say your client is an expert in the development of thin-film batteries.  He or she can ask or answer questions on the topic, positioning himself as an expert on the topic.  But, it doesn’t end there.  Others can edit the questions, add to the answers and organize it as they see fit.  But unlike Wikipedia, changes are tracked by person so it’s easy to see who’s helping or hurting your topic … and users of Quora can vote on answers promoting them as the “best” answer.

I’m not sure I’m qualified to judge the usefulness of Quora yet, but I already see tons of opportunities; and based on this list of reporters already exploring the site, PR should pay attention.


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