Research is Useless if You Ask the Wrong Questions

August 22, 2016

by Dan Ward

Thanks to James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal for highlighting this tweet from Bloomberg national political reporter, Sahil Kapur: “Monmouth poll finds that if @JohnKasich were the Republican nominee he’d be leading @HillaryClinton 57% to 33% in Ohio.”

Seems to be a clear indication that Kasich may have been a much stronger candidate than Donald Trump, right?  Maybe not.  As Taranto correctly points out, “Well, if [Kasich] were the Republican nominee AND all the Dems’ efforts were concentrated on disqualifying Trump.”

Monmouth mistakenly assumes the answer to a nonsense question holds value.  Kasich ISN’T the candidate, he has not faced media scrutiny as the candidate, and has not faced opposition advertising as the candidate. Asking whether he’d win the election now is like asking for the price of a car that isn’t for sale.

We do a lot of research in our business.  It’s the very first step in developing a successful communication plan.  If you don’t understand your target, you won’t know where to aim.

If you’re investing in research, make sure you ask questions that provide actionable information.  “What if” questions are fine if you’re asking about actions you might actually take.  Just don’t follow Monmouth’s lead and ask questions for which there are no real answers.


Zika, the Oil Spill and Help for Communicators

August 19, 2016

by Kim Stangle

One of the most important client success stories we’ve told in the last decade has been about our work for South Walton (the Tourist Development Council) on the heels of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.  With tourism as its main economic driver, the destination faced a crisis of epic proportions when news of the spill hit and visitors feared the pristine white-sand beaches they loved would be covered in tar balls.

Deepwater_Horizon_offshore_drilling_unit_on_fire_2010

Our team worked alongside the TDC’s communication staff to develop a crisis communication plan that would ensure visitors would continue booking trips as they’d done for so many years before.  The plan included scenario-based messaging; a blog that was updated daily to show real-time images of beach conditions; and, a variety of other communication tools.

Ultimately, the drop in bookings was a fraction of what initial research indicated was possible and they rebounded dramatically in the years to follow.

It’s hard not to immediately draw comparisons to the latest news coming out of South Florida—Miami Beach, specifically—where the latest Zika outbreaks are crippling an otherwise bustling tourism spot.

While an oil spill is hardly the same as a mosquito-transmitted virus, the communication challenges are similar.  Perception is a powerful motivator of fear and communicators must work to provide a constant flow of accurate information if they seek to separate fact from fiction.

For help with crisis communications and other public relations issues, check out our case studies and white papers.


Media Training 101: Do Your Homework

August 17, 2016

by Kim Stangle

When conducting our Message Matrix® training program with clients, we share a variety of practical tips to help navigate the sometimes-difficult landscape of media interviews.

One key tip is: always do your homework … anticipate all questions, especially the tough ones.

This advice would’ve been incredibly helpful to Seminole County Tax Collector Ray Valdes during an interview he granted recently with News 13’s Amanda McKenzie.  The elected official has been under fire for failing to disclose business dealings that many see as a conflict of interest.  And according to McKenzie’s news report, when probed about a tough question regarding those dealings Valdes stopped the interview, returned to his office and closed the door.

Valdes may get points for controlling the conversation, but abruptly ending an interview he granted does little to bolster his side of the story.

Moral of the story:  if you’re not prepared to answer even the toughest questions, don’t grant the interview.


Can’t Take a Joke?

August 15, 2016

by Roger Pynn

I got a big kick out of the dustup last week about John Oliver’s view of the state of the newspaper industry.  Remember, Oliver is a comedian, but people like Newspaper Association of America really let his humor get under their skin.  Said NAA President and CEO David Chavern, “newspapers need solutions, not petty insults and stating the obvious.”

I’m a recovering journalist.  I say that because far too many people claim to be practicing journalism when in fact they are practicing commentary.  I’ve had a hard time finding degrees offered in commentary, but I can tell you that when I studied journalism we were schooled to never, ever offer our own opinion.  That was for those folks who produce editorial pages where the newspaper was to express its “corporate opinion.”

“I would just ask Mr. Oliver to spend more time talking about what the future of news could be, and less time poking fun at publishers who are trying to get there,”  begged Chavern.

I would just ask Mr. Chavern to spend more time standing up for the practice of real journalism … and, less time letting a joke get the better of you.  Learn to laugh.


Never Stop Learning

August 15, 2016

by Roger Pynn

I’m just back from the 78th Annual Conference of the Florida Public Relations Association, which I’ve had the honor to lead as its president for the last year, and I’m reminded of the critical importance of continuing education for professionals.

From the tremendous insight into leadership communication by senior Ketchum executives Jamey Peters and Chris Thorton to  an incredibly candid opening keynote presentation by SeaWorld Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Jill Kermes to an inspiring closing session of pick-up basketball with Gainesville Police Department Public Information Officer Ben Tobias on the power of viral video, PR practitioners had dozens of opportunities to gain valuable takeaways to improve their professional value from these general sessions to breakout talks and workshops.

And we didn’t just listen to fellow public relations people.  Florida Trend Publisher Andy Corty recruited Duke Energy Florida President Alex Glenn for a discussion called “Listen to the C-Suite,” with this powerful Florida business team exploring what our employers and clients expect of us.  Glenn’s belief in the power of public relations was refreshing.

To me, it is about public relations.  To others it may be about accounting, law or engineering … but my takeaway from these past few days was that we must never stop learning.  If you consider yourself a professional, align with an organization that can fulfill the need we all have for knowledge.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the Florida Public Relations Association in my life since 1974.  It has shaped my career in more ways than I can count.  If you consider yourself a professional, align with an organization that can fulfill the need we all have for knowledge.  You’ll get a lot more than you pay for and if you take the time to become involved, you’ll get a lot more than you give.


Storytelling

August 5, 2016

by Vianka McConville

Inspired by the book, I, Robot, Brian Nave grew up to work and play with robots every day.  He owns Ormond Beach’s LOGICOM Logic Systems and has competed on “Battle Bots” several times.  His team controls Captain Shrederator.

Nave’s story is just one of many in the 23-county region known as the Florida High Tech Corridor.  For more than 15 years, Curley & Pynn has been digging up stories like Nave’s to showcase the people, research, innovation and pioneering work in the central part of the state that has helped support a growing tech hub.  Those stories are curated to produce award-winning content and shared through The Corridor’s annual magazine, which was recently updated with a new digital version online.

The magazine serves as a tool for partners in economic development to further demonstrate what high tech industry looks like in Florida.  Read the cover story to learn more about Nave’s fascination with robots and other stories on interesting things you may not know are happening right under your nose.

How do you share client stories?


The Tech Generation

July 27, 2016

by Vianka McConville

Categorizing a whole generation can be tough, but marketers and communicators – and a range of other professionals – do it often to millennials.  One box must fit all.  It doesn’t.

Fast facts debunking common millennial misconceptions:

These values look familiar.

The only difference between the millennial generation and others before it is technology.  Millennials grew up with it and use it to their advantage.

As communicators, we have the power to change perception or feed into the negative.  We need to take the time to understand the makings of each generation or group we wish to target or represent and do so accurately.

The real game changer is technology not altered values.


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