Is Media Trust at an All-Time Low?

October 15, 2014

by Heather Keroes

A Gallup poll reports that Americans’ confidence in the media’s ability to report “the news fully, accurately and fairly” has returned to an all-time low last seen in 2004.  Gallup states that it’s typical for trust in media to drop during an election year, but the level of trust has been on a steady decline over the last few years.


Without delving too much into politics and its impact on sentiment, I’m more curious about news mediums and how Gallup and its polled parties categorize mass media.  Defined as “newspapers, TV and radio” for the poll, I wonder how the results may have been different if online and social sources were included in the mix.  Would they have been better, seeing that younger generations turn to the Internet for news?  Would they have been worse, given the reporting mishaps that are oh so common when media try to scoop one another in the beat of one tweet (also taking into account the questionable qualifications of some online sources)?

The poll has been conducted annually since 1997 and shows that the highest trust rating was 55 percent in 1999.  The level of confidence is now at 40 percent.  Compared to other Gallup polls, especially those of the political variety, a 40 percent confidence level isn’t too shabby.  The continued decline, however, may be a real issue, but I have a hard time saying that trust in media is deteriorating when the perceived definition of media has changed.  My question for Gallup is this:  What are you really measuring?

In its “Bottom Line” on the poll, Gallup infers that as “the media expand into new domains of news reporting via social media networks and new mobile technology, Americans may be growing disenchanted with what they consider mainstream news as they seek out their own personal veins of getting information.”  While on the right track, Gallup misses the mark in that “mainstream news” also makes use of social media and mobile technology.  When does “new” media simply become media?

Are You a Celebrity? There’s an App for that.

July 21, 2014

by Heather Keroes

With hundreds of friends connected with us on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, we may feel like quasi-celebrities at times.  But while our status updates may spark conversations and my mother may continue to “like” every picture I post, the reality is we are still small fish swimming around in our social spheres.

For those of you who actually are celebrities, Facebook has news for you.  Facebook has released Mentions, an app for actors, athletes, musicians and other influencers, so they (or, more likely, their social media teams) can more easily track and join relevant fan conversations, beyond their official Facebook pages.  For example, I might attend a concert and post a photo of it on my personal Facebook page.  If I mention the music artist in my post, there’s now a greater chance they may see it and use it as an opportunity to connect with me.  Can you imagine the sort of impact that might have, having one of my favorite musicians single me out in that way?

According to Facebook, nearly 800 million people are connected to public figures on Facebook.  When you consider that fact, Mentions has some great potential for fostering additional connections.  I’m curious how this will work given privacy settings.  All of my posts on Facebook are set to “private” and can only be read by friends.  That said, I genuinely wouldn’t mind if Adam Levine decided to share his adoration and appreciation of me, on my Facebook page (are you listening, Adam?).

I’m Over It

March 24, 2014

by Heather Keroes

I have an AP Stylebook on my desk for a reason.  From time to time, I need to use it.  I don’t profess to be the biggest grammar nerd on the planet, but some rules are sacred.

When I first started working in public relations I quickly learned that “more than” was the only acceptable way to indicate greater numerical value.  “Over” was for indicating direction, as in “He stood over there,” or “The cow jumped over the moon.”  Whenever an “over” sneaked its way incorrectly into my writing, the red pen marks from my manager were enough to convince me otherwise.  Game over.  I stopped using the word to indicate value and changed my way of thinking.  But that didn’t stop the rest of the world from using “over” however it pleased.

Last week, the Associated Press announced that “over” is now acceptable for numerical value.  When a few of my fellow practitioners first shared this news on Facebook, I thought it was an early April Fools’ joke.  AP Style devotees rallied against it.  I was shocked and upset, more so than I ever thought I would be, ahem, “over” a word.

During the weekend I had more time to think about the updated rule, and the more I thought about it, the more I understood it.  You can poke all the holes you want into “common usage” (the reason behind most AP Style changes), but let’s think about language for a minute.  Language is fickle and ever-changing.  The English we speak today is not the same it was 100 years ago, nor will it be the same 100 years from now.  You can lament anytime there is change, but the world will move on.

Due to habit, I probably won’t start using “over” in place of “more than” anytime soon.  But if “over” starts to sneak its way into my copy once more, red pen won’t follow.

Schedule PR Programs Around Google Trends

March 6, 2014

by Heather Keroes

I’ve been using Google Trends and AdWords recently for keyword planning and when I saw this article posted on Ragan’s PR Daily, I thought it was pure brilliance.  The author talked about using Google Trends to determine the best timeframes for holiday-centric marketing.

If you’re not familiar with Google Trends, it’s a free tool by Google that lets you search for what people are saying online (common topics).  You can search as far back as 2004.  It’s a great way to forecast when topics may be of high public interest.

Google Trends isn’t simply for seeing what people are talking about, but when they’re talking about it.  But why stop with just holidays?  If you represent a great destination for families, search for summer or family vacation.

Here’s a search I did for “summer vacation” with my region set to the United States.  Orange represents 2012, red represents 2013 and blue represents 2014.  As you can see, June is a popular time for searches about summer travel, then there’s a sharp dip once we get into the fall, which starts going up again in January.  It also tells me where most of the searches originated from – the Northeast, Florida, Texas, California and Illinois.


So how can you use this information?  As suggested in the PR Daily story, it’s a great way to see when news editors and programs may be running their stories on these topics, so you can plan ahead, especially when combined with a quick Google News search.  It may also tell you the best time to start running a particular promotion.

As public relations professionals we strive to anticipate and plan ahead for our clients.  While we may not have a crystal ball, this gets pretty close.

Dating Websites Are Social, Too

February 11, 2014

hkeroesby Heather Keroes

While I do possess a certain affinity for particular brands (Macys!) over others, I have never asked one to marry me.  But, when some of its Twitter fans popped the question to Pizza Hut, the chain saw an opportunity.  Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Pizza Hut has signed up for a profile on dating website OkCupid.

Pizza Hut is searching for “The One” and through a smart social campaign asking fans to submit their most creative proposal ideas; it will pick the fans of its dreams to receive free pizza for life.

The campaign is really clever and the profile is cute (come on, Pizza Hut lists its height as “Tall Enough” and it has a “Ph.D in Delicious”).  I guess you can say they’re looking “outside the pizza box” when it comes to social media.  Get it?  I’m hilarious.

OkCupid - PizzaHut

In all seriousness though, why box yourself into “traditional” social media?  It’s easy to determine if you need a Facebook-type presence for your brand.  It’s more challenging and notable to explore alternative ways to reach your audience.

Stop, Pop and Shop It

February 7, 2014

hkeroes by Heather Keroes











With our wedding only a few months away, I was growing a little nervous about the fact that my husband-to-be had yet to rent or buy a tuxedo.  But then he told me about Indochino, an online seller of custom suits, shirts, and yes, tuxedos.

We make online purchases all the time, but it’s easier to conceive returning a pair of ill-fitting shoes versus a pricey custom-made tux for your wedding.  I was a bit wary about the process, which partly depended on my ability to take accurate measurements of my fiancé.

I was relieved of this likely to be ill-fated duty when I learned about Indochino’s Traveling Tailor.  Indochino was visiting several major cities in the U.S. with pop-up shops – temporary brick and mortar locations – and Orlando was first on its 2014 tour.  My fiancé immediately registered and Indochino made the sale.

Would we have moved forward with the purchase without the expertise of the “Traveling Tailor”?  Maybe, maybe not … but the idea of pop-up shops has really stuck with me.  Not only did the shop make a difficult decision a lot easier, it also drummed up local news coverage and social media mentions.  My fiancé excitedly documented his entire experience on Facebook.

Pop-up shops are not a new idea, but often lead to a flurry of shopping and in some cases, permanent store locations.  For the right client, a pop-up shop may be the best way to test a new concept.

As an aside:  I ended up taking the tape measure in hand anyway, since our expert Traveling Tailor noted the measurements incorrectly.  Fingers crossed!

Don’t Throw Mama from the Train, or the Balcony

January 30, 2014

hkeroes by Heather Keroes

Media interviews don’t always go as we expect.  When preparing and advising clients for interviews, we take the approach outlined in our Message Matrix, a program we’ve developed to help clients identify issues, so they’re always ready to communicate the messages most critical to their business or cause.

When a reporter tosses you an out-of-place question, there are ways to get back on track – and being aggressive and rude are not among those steps.  Congressman Michael Grimm of New York learned this lesson the hard way earlier this week, after he threatened to throw one reporter off a balcony and break him in half “like a boy.”  Yikes.

There are many media training programs, but we believe it’s more important to be trained on the message, which will come in handy whether you’re addressing a boardroom of investors or a sharp-shooting reporter standing precariously close to long fall.  And of course, keep your cool, please.

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