Kudos to the Associated Press

July 8, 2011

by Roger Pynn

Having opined here on Taking Aim frequently about the slippery slope of social media, it was gratifying to see the Associated Press send a strong message to its journalists about refraining from expressing personal opinions.

Poynter’s Jim Romenesko writes that AP’s Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production Tom Kent sent out a memo July 6 regarding tweets about Casey Anthony and New York’s gay marriage law saying “AP staffers should not make postings there (on Twitter) that amount to personal opinions on contentious public issues.”

Kent’s memo says that AP’s reputation as an unbiased source of news is at stake.  Amen.  And, let’s hope media outlets everywhere agree.


The Dream Verdict

July 6, 2011

by Dan Ward

Though many supposedly objective journalists are joining the throngs of Cable Network pundits in denouncing the Casey Anthony verdict, my guess is that there is much rejoicing in media business offices.

If Anthony had been found guilty of murder and sentenced to prison, there would have been follow-up news coverage to be sure, but at some point the world would move on and media would have to fight over the next major non-news story that drives web click revenue.

But now, media will be able to continue their non-stop coverage … Casey comes home, Casey meets with her family, Casey applies for work, Casey goes to a restaurant, Casey signs a book deal.  Every move that Casey makes for the foreseeable future will be cause for “Breaking News” coverage, keeping her name and image front and center on online news sites.

Many of us had hoped that the verdict would be the beginning of the end for wall-to-wall Casey coverage, but to paraphrase Winston Churchill, I’m afraid we’ve only reached the end of the beginning.


Another New Low

July 6, 2011

by Roger Pynn

I’m one of those who can’t wait for the Anthony Circus to pack up and leave town, but can’t let the train pull out without noting that Sunday’s coverage of the Casey Anthony trial added another step below the waterline in American media history when television stations broadcast live the defendant’s taped telephone conversations from jail laced with more “f” words than ever before heard on the air.

Somehow the protection normally provided the public by the regulations of the Federal Communications Commission went out the window with this trial and THAT WORD streamed into living rooms across Central Florida no doubt filled with young children, elderly folks and others for whom language like this is inappropriate and offensive.

I admit to having a colorful vocabulary, but try to use restraint and common sense about when and where and before whom I use an expletive.  WESH was on in our living room when Casey’s “f”-laced rant began, but my mother probably heard that word more times than she has in her 96 years on earth.  I don’t know if other stations carried it or bleeped it – although I was told that FOX News apologized after the third iteration.

Regardless, the point is simple:  decorum has gone out the window.

CBS was assessed a huge fine when we had to see Janet Jackson’s naked nipple during the infamous “costume malfunction” during her halftime act with Justin Timberlake at Super Bowl XXXVIII.  Although overturned by an appellate court, the incident sparked a furious debate.  Yet, we’ve heard no such uproar over this.

Will the FCC react to this?  Will language inappropriate for broadcasting now be deemed acceptable anytime a trial is covered live or on tape?  Should producers and editors have known this was coming and prepared to use a delay?  Is this freedom of the press?  Or have we reached the bottom?


What’s the AVE of Negative PR?

July 5, 2011

by Julie Primrose

In a recent column and blog post, Carl Bialik of The Wall Street Journal raised a point that comes up many times in the public relations industry.  Bialik discusses the dangers of relying on advertising value equivalencies, or AVEs, to measure the outcome of publicity efforts.

Bialik’s article leads to several questions for those who continue to use AVEs as a form of measurement, including “How do you measure negative publicity using AVEs?”  If an article is worth three times an advertisement of the same size, how do you calculate the value of a negative story?  Do you subtract its value from the total of all positive coverage?  And what happens if the sum of all coverage dips to a negative number?

As many have previously written, a story receives its value simply because it cannot be purchased.  It may be difficult to quantify, but the fact that coverage in the news can’t be bought speaks to its value much more than an arbitrary figure based on the cost of an advertisement.

In his article, Bialik pokes another hole in the sinking argument for AVEs.  The public relations industry may not have given up on AVEs entirely, but there is a growing consensus that these figures don’t communicate the true impact of publicity, whether a story is negative or positive.


The Mid-Year Crisis

July 1, 2011

by Kerry Martin

Whenever the first of July rolls around, I always have this sudden realization that the year is halfway over and I’m nowhere near accomplishing my resolutions (it actually came earlier this year when someone wished me a “Merry Half-Christmas” on the 25th).  While I could bemoan those skipped gym trips and the fact that I’m not yet speaking conversational Spanish, I’d rather put that energy into addressing professional goals I had set for myself (::cough:: blogging more) and for my clients and their communications plan.

As every good PR professional knows, taking a step back to assess your performance against a strategic plan isn’t just that end step at annual review time … it’s important to periodically review metrics and evaluate what is or isn’t working – and mid-year is just the time to do it.  Perhaps the tactics outlined at the start of your communications program need a little tweaking to help you achieve your main objectives.  If social media isn’t converting followers into leads for your client, try another approach like direct email messaging.  Or if your media outreach isn’t generating interest, switch up your contacts with other journalists from different outlets to see whether a new angle might do the trick.

But in the case of those procrastinators out there, maybe this turn of the calendar page will simply serve as a wake-up call to get moving and put your carefully laid plans in motion.


A New Low

July 1, 2011

by Roger Pynn

I’m not known as a fan of President Obama … although intellectually I find him intriguing and I would still address him as Mr. President.

I wouldn’t know Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin if he walked into the room right now, but he’s been suspended by MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” where he’s a regular, for good reason … a new low in how people who claim to be journalists inject their own opinions, a new low in our respect for the officer and the office holder at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and a new low in sensitivity by media personalities.

After what he said, I wouldn’t address him as Mr. Halperin … nor would I call him what he called The President.

Halperin’s language may well be common, but I hope his mother didn’t have to listen to it.  I’ve got a pretty colorful vocabulary myself, but to refute Greg Sargent’s Plum Line commentary at The Washington Post, I’d simply say we need to clean up our act.


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