March 2, 2016

by Roger Pynn

The media love a train wreck (see the 2016 Presidential race).  The only thing they seem to love even more is a troubled cruise line (see the tribulations of Carnival and Costa).

And now they have another.

But they also love to give names to sensational stories.  My first recollection of that was Watergate, the break-in by Nixon political operatives to a Washington, D. C., office complex by that name that has since spawned countless “gates,” so named by media before the birth of the hashtag.

One has to wonder when someone will sue a headline writer for defamation.

Down Comes “the Wall”

March 2, 2016

by Roger Pynn

There has always been an invisible wall between newsrooms and the business office of newspapers – until today.  Tribune Publishing has done away with “the wall,” promoting editors of its newspaper properties (that include the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Orlando Sentinel, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and seven others) and making them responsible for the business side as editors and publishers.

This will put some fine journalists to the test as the work to balance the commercial interests of publishing with the sanctity of the journalistic process.  In the past, journalists were generally free from worry about having the heavy hammer of the publisher coming down on them as they worked for – as Clark Kent would say “truth, justice and the American way.”

Increasingly today the world of journalism is blurred as media companies struggle to stay alive in the always-on, user-driven world of communication that has left countless business models on a junk heap of failed digital experiments.

I’ve written often about the demise of the business where I started and lamented the prospect of a world without daily local newspapers.  Perhaps having put journalists in charge isn’t such a bad idea … if these newly crowned publishers can just remember that the product is news … true, balanced, unfettered journalism.


February 26, 2016

by Roger Pynn

Isn’t it interesting how we can give words new meaning?

“Influencer marketing,” “progressive,” “content” … they’re just a few that intrigue me.

Lyle Stevens’ article “Three Reasons Brands Should Be Using Influencer Marketing” is interesting, but it makes a time-honored public relations practice sound like a revolutionary tube of toothpaste being introduced to a cavity-filled generation anxious to avoid dentures.  He’s talking about targeting your most important audiences by communicating with thought leaders in a digital era.

The tussle between the Sanders and Clinton wings of the Democratic Party is framed by a single word.  When “liberal” became a negative, liberals chose to call themselves something else and co-opted the word “progressive,” forever denying it to conservatives who may believe their policies promote progress.  Interesting in that when you Google “progressive movement” the first thing you’ll find is a fascinating George Washington University entry from the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project that defines “The Progressive Era” as that time from 1890-1920.

Of course, it depends upon whether the word “content” is being used to describe a sense of satisfaction … or refers to words, pictures, etc., and is just another way of defining what professional communicators have been developing for years:  communications tools.

But I’m glad to know 40+ years after I entered this business that there was a name for it all along.

Social Confusion

January 27, 2016

by Roger Pynn

As social media companies struggle to figure out a sustainable business model, this word from Fast Company that Twitter may be treating its “most valuable” users to an ad-free environment adds to the perception that media companies are wandering in search of a “promised land” rather than sticking to their knitting.

How do you explain to me, as an advertiser, that the people you say are really important are off limits to my paid messaging?  Has it struck Jack Dorsey that exposure to those eyeballs is perhaps the most important asset he can sell?

Are online giants like Twitter going the way of newspapers … chasing their tails to attract new members to their tribe and abandoning the most loyal warriors?  Newspapers long ago tossed their print subscribers to the side of the road.  Will Twitter be next?

Who Writes the Headline?

January 20, 2016

by Roger Pynn

As part of our Message Matrix® training program, we often tell clients who are preparing for media interviews to try to “write the headline.”

In other words, imagine what you would like – in your fondest dreams – to be the headline of a story about you or your organization or product, and then speak in terms of that dream.

I’ll give Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller a bit of the benefit of the language barrier, but I’m sure the last headline he wanted to see was “We are not a criminal brand” as appeared in USA Today after he appeared at an event in Detroit in conjunction with the Detroit Auto Show.

Here’s a tip:  assume that the meatiest thing you say will make the best headline and make sure it is well done.  If it is blood-dripping rare, you’ll hate the headline.


January 12, 2016

by Roger Pynn

Throughout 2015 our team at Curley & Pynn took pride in celebrating our 30th anniversary.

That’s a long time considering that so many small businesses fail in their first year.  But we were blessed and we won.  Why?  Largely because our people are so committed to the concept that our job is to help our clients win.

And so at the end of our year of celebration, VP and Partner Kim Stangle set out on a mission to create a digital magazine in tribute to what we’ve learned over the past three decades.  And in a brainstorming session she asked, of course, “What should we call it?”

You can imagine that we played with all kinds of names relative to our 30-year history … “30,” “Thirty,” “Decades,” etc.  But when Associate Strategist Vianka McConville said “FTW,” everyone got it … the popular term that stands for “For The Win.”

So, here’s our magazine and a collection of thoughts from our entire team on what it takes to maintain a winning attitude.


December 28, 2015

by Roger Pynn

By the nature of our business we are often involved in helping clients create meaningful strategies for charitable giving, community involvement, sponsorships and the like, so it was no surprise to see the 2015 Community Involvement Study from the Corporate Citizenship Center at Boston College report that more companies are focused on enlightened self-interest.

The thirst for corporate support – whether in the form of philanthropy or sponsorship – has never been greater.  And regardless of a company’s status (public or privately held), sales volume or size of employment base, there has never been a time when its community involvement will contribute more to its bottom line.

Nowhere else on earth is philanthropy (personal and corporate) so important.  In other countries, social support is far more likely to come from government than from the generosity of individuals, families and companies.

Having a clear and well-communicated strategy for your giving as a company is critical for a number of reasons, but two stand out:

  1. Because it will attract opportunities to give, rather than a constant flow of requests unaligned with your business objectives; and,
  2. Because even those you cannot help will become aware of your good work and more likely to share your story.

The Boston College study notes that “community involvement contributes to key business goals including improved reputation and the attraction and retention of employees.”  I can’t think of two more important reasons than to make a commitment to a clear strategy for corporate involvement a major New Year’s resolution.

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