This post originally appeared on PR Breakfast Club on June 21st, 2012.
I’ll warn you now. This is a rant. There’s been a whole batch of stupidity that’s been…upsetting…me lately. I won’t bore you with the entire list, but I finally found an outlet I could unleash this…upsetness (is that a word? I don’t care.) on. Enter CBS Television. Don’t worry. If they somehow came to their senses and took that down, I downloaded it and saved it here.
I know there’s a VERY good chance this is some kind of hoax, but I don’t think that’s the case. I really think CBS is being petty enough to release something that sounds like it was written by a classroom of angry Justin Beiber fans. First of all, the chutzpah they have for being pissed about ABC ripping off a show THEY THEMSELVES RIPPED OFF is amazing. Secondly, it’s reality TV. This is like claiming that someone has stolen your unique blue ink pen. Beyond that, does CBS really think this will win them ANY kind of public sympathy? Apparently. With apologies to Ken Tremendous, let’s break this whole pièce de résistance down Fire Joe Morgan style. My thoughts are in italics.
CBS ANNOUNCES DEVELOPMENT OF “DANCING ON THE STARS,” AN EXCITING AND COMPLETELY ORIGINAL REALITY PROGRAM THAT OWES ITS CONCEPT AND EXECUTION TO NOBODY AT ALL
In CBS’ world “nobody at all” refers to everyone with good taste in television entertainment.
Los Angeles, June 20, 2012 – Subsequent to recent developments in the creative and legal community, CBS Television today felt it was appropriate to reveal the upcoming launch of an exciting, groundbreaking and completely original new reality program for the CBS Television Network.
For the record, “original” “new” and “reality” should never be mixed together in the same sentence when discussing reality television. It’s kind of like mixing fire and gasoline. Only bad things could happen.
The dazzling new show, DANCING ON THE STARS, will be broadcast live from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and will feature moderately famous and sort of well-known people you almost recognize competing for big prizes by dancing on the graves of some of Hollywood’s most iconic and well-beloved stars of stage and screen.
So, insulting the memories of some of the must beloved names in entertainment in your petty news release is your way of striking back at ABC? Tell me more of how you spent hours doing Franklin & Bash-esque celebrations after coming up with this idea.
The cemetery, the first in Hollywood, was founded in 1899 and now houses the remains of Andrew “Fatty” Arbuckle, producer Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Paul Muni, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, George Harrison of the Beatles and Dee Dee Ramone of the Ramones, among many other great stars of stage, screen and the music business. The company noted that permission to broadcast from the location is pending, and that if efforts in that regard are unsuccessful, approaches will be made to Westwood Village Memorial Park, where equally scintillating luminaries are interred.
I assume you’ve contacted all the estates of these famous people to ensure you aren’t encroaching on any of their protected names for your new show that only donkeys with an IQ level of negative three billion would consider viewing? Because that would be RIPPING SOMEBODY OFF. Something CBS has NEVER done. Ever. In the history of ever.
“This very creative enterprise will bring a new sense of energy and fun that’s totally unlike anything anywhere else, honest,” said a CBS spokesperson, who also revealed that the Company has been working with a secret team for several months on the creation of the series, which was completely developed by the people at CBS independent of any other programming on the air.
I see we graduated from the University of Run On Sentences. Well played CBS. Well played.
“Given the current creative and legal environment in the reality programming business, we’re sure nobody will have any problem with this title or our upcoming half-hour comedy for primetime, POSTMODERN FAMILY.”
What you did there. I see it. And it is dumb. You’re sounding more and more like the Twitter rabbit hole that is a “Justin Bieber” search.
“After all,” the spokesperson added, “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
Much in the same manner that people associated with the Columbia Broadcasting System shouldn’t make TV shows or issue fake news releases.
To conclude, I understand this is CBS trying to be funny or clever in response to a legal defeat. The problem is that they put out crappy television and have ripped off about every cop show in the history of the world to build their offerings. It’s the sense of self-righteousness and entitlement that led to this rant. Seriously. When Entertainment Weekly makes fun of your dumb release, you should rethink your decision.
This post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical on April 13, 2012.
Twitter rabbit holes can easily claim 20 minutes of my day. I click on one interesting link someone tweets out, and the next thing I know I’m on the HR blog at Ragan.com ranting in my office.
I came across this post the other day. The basic premise of the article is that it is a bad idea for managers to attend a non-work-related happy hour with their subordinates.
While I see the point, I wholeheartedly disagree.
This is not a one-size-fits-all situation. As a manager, you have to know if your authority will be compromised by attending these functions, and if so, you shouldn’t attend. However, I’ve had several managers in the past that I gained MORE respect for by having a drink or three with them at an impromptu happy hour after work.
You see, we often wear “masks” at the office, or in our professional lives in general. We have a certain role to be filled, and (depending on the office) our personalities take a back seat.
How much do you really learn about someone in that setting? Not a whole lot.
On the other hand, attending some kind of social function (it doesn’t have to be happy hour) with your co-workers, including managers, that isn’t work-related in any way allows people to relax and just be themselves.
If you know a person outside of the confines of the office, you’re much more likely to understand why a manager is making that decision, or why an employee is challenging you on a specific issue.
It has potential to defuse situations inside the office because you’ve taken the time to get to know each other outside the office.
What do you think? Is it a good idea for managers and subordinates to hangout together outside of the office?
This post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical on January 17th, 2012.
This isn’t going to be another deconstruction of the awful PR and social media job done by Boners BBQ in Atlanta recently. There are hundreds of those out there (though Unmarketing’s take is among the best).
The first step? Have a terrible looking website that advertises a secondary slogan so juvenile and childish that it is difficult to find it offensive.
There are plenty of examples of entities with edgier themes out there. Hooters, every single professional sports team that employees cheerleaders, you name it. Sex sells in our culture.
“A little South in your Mouth” with a girl riding a rocketship? Not big on subtlety, are we? And that’s fine, even if more than a little tacky.
It’s the BACK of the shirt that baffles me (the image on the right). Not I, nor anyone I know, would wear a shirt like that for any amount of time in public.
And that’s the whole reason why you MAKE shirts for your business in the first place, right? Cheap and easy word of mouth marketing?
The problem here is not someone unsavvy in PR or social media. The problem here is a business that has been started that never had the intention of succeeding. Boners BBQ was built to fail.
When your entire “atmosphere” is based on hating people, you’ll never win over enough customers to keep yourself profitable. There’s something to be said for being yourself, and you absolutely should.
However. If “yourself” is someone that publicly ridicules people for valid opinions you happen to disagree with, and using slogans about prostitution on your t-shirts, it may be time to re-evaluate “yourself.”
You succeed in business by getting people to spend money with you. If no one is coming to eat at your restaurant, or seeking out your services, you are going to fail.
You can indeed target a niche audience, and smart start-ups DO, but when that niche is one of hate, insults, stupidity and laziness, I have a hard time forecasting success.
This post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical on October 11th, 2011.
Netflix announced yesterday that it would end Qwikster, the company it spawned last month to handle its mail-order DVD service from its streaming service (splitting those apart happened over the summer).
As you might imagine, there was a hearty round of,“I told you so!”, “Finally! Netflix does something right!”, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. As you may have already guessed, I disagree with this decision.
Netflix proved this summer that it was a company that would choose to grow and adapt before the future arrived when it separated its streaming and direct mail services.
I could write an entire book on that decision (which I applaud), but I’ll stick to the topic at hand.
Ending Qwikster and bringing the direct mail segment back under the same roof simply confuses people as to which direction the company is heading.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings (I’m paraphrasing here) said the company moved too quickly in spinning the direct mail side of the business into a different company.
What’s really amazing here is that practically everyone agrees that streaming media is the way of the future, and that DVDs are destined to become Gen Y’s version of the VCR.
If that’s true, then why is Netflix constantly beaten down for trying to push all of its customers towards online streaming?
There are different fees paid for streaming media and DVD, right? So, why wouldn’t you separate those two entities? It allows you to focus on these as two different companies, making negotiating easier and to take each business in the direction it needs to go.
Are DVDs going anywhere anytime soon? Probably not. And as long as there’s a demand there, you should be filling it.
When decisions regarding the future of your company are made based on shareholders, who are less concerned with the health of your company and more concerned with the stock price, that can end up crippling the company.
To be clear, I’m not saying this cripples Netflix.
In fact, Hastings basically said this is a mea culpa in a few months of what were, while correct business moves, terrible PR moves. All that said, I still believe that Netflix was on the right path.
I supported the decision to split DVDs and streaming and to launch Qwikster. It’s a shame that the right business moves were nullified because those moves were handled with the grace of a drunk elephant in a china shop.
What do you think? Am I off my rocker? (On second thought … don’t answer that one.) Let’s have it out in the comments.
This post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical on July 22nd, 2011.
Heard of the Kim Kardashian-Old Navy controversy?
Ms. Kardashian is suing Old Navy because it aired an ad in February starring a model who, she claims, looks like her. You can see the ad here.
According to AdWeek, Kardashian is suing because, “Her intellectual property attorney Gary Hecker (says): ‘Kim Kardashian is immediately recognizable, and is known for her look and style. Her identity and persona are valuable. When her intellectual property rights are violated, she intends to enforce them.’”
While this is all ripe for comedy fodder, and there are a million jokes out there (my personal favorite was found in the comments of the ad on YouTube: “The next step is suing all women for having boobs.”), I’m going to attempt to discuss this in a serious manner.
Celebrities like Kim Kardashian have a tenuous hold on fame.
She rose to be a recognizable name in large part due to a sex tape. She has a reality show about her family, none of whom (other than her father, a famous attorney), as far as I can tell, have any discernible talent. She’s been a model and I think a movie or two.
The large majority of the demographics that shop at Old Navy and watch “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” coincide. Attacking a store that millions of Americans depend on for (relatively) cheap clothing for their families is not the best PR or marketing strategy.
This legal move makes her appear self-entitled, greedy, and self-important. In other words, if she wins the lawsuit, she may get $15-20 million, but she’ll do some serious damage to the image she’s trying to protect.
In fact, in my opinion, she’s already damaged it in even filing the lawsuit.
Image: Powerhouse Museum Collection via Flickr, Creative Commons
Sometimes, you have to pick your battles.
I find it difficult to see the motivation behind filing the lawsuit. If it was a big deal to her, she should have filed suit immediately after the ad began airing; and, in my admittedly non-legal opinion, her lawyers should have sent Old Navy a “cease & desist” letter. To do this now comes off, it seems to me, as petty, cowardly, and more than a little self-important.
Of course, I imagine the fact that the “look-alike” is dating her ex-boyfriend Reggie Bush has nothing to do with it either.
So, what do you think? Am I way off base here? Can Kim survive the wave of negative sentiment heading her way?
This post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical on March 24, 2011
I hear a lot of people talking about networking.
There’s a dirty little secret in the communications world though:
Networking is a joke.
I’ve come to this conclusion after really thinking about what “networking” means.
The general concept I get is walking around a room, drink in one hand, stack of business cards in the other, trying to meet as many people as possible.
It’s funny that in most areas of communication, we offer the advice of “quality, not quantity.”
Why shouldn’t it be the same when it comes to making connections?
I have a relatively small Twitter network.
As of this writing, I’m following just more than 700 people and I have in the ballpark of 1,200 followers.
I could go on, but you get the picture.
I curate that list of who I follow, and who is following me, on near-daily basis.
It’s much more important to me to have a high quality network than a high quantitynetwork.
Going to a conference with the express purpose of handing out the 500 business cards you take with you is a horrible idea.
I’d rather take 50 with me and make solid connections that I think will bear fruit; and if I give only 10 of those out, I’m fine with that because I know those 10 people will remember me.
If you’re at a conference like South by Southwest Interactive, just think about how many people are there.
All the stuff they’re carrying around, and just where are they going to put that precious business card of yours?
In the trash can most likely.
However, if you shrink your focus and set a goal of making five contacts that will increase your business or network in a substantial way, you’ll be far more successful.
Why? Because those people will remember speaking with you.
Of course, all of the rules of don’t drink too much, don’t be a creeper, do be friendly and open, do go out of your way to talk to people you don’t know all apply.
To be clear, I’m not saying you should make a list of five people you’re going to make a real impression on before you head out for conference du jour.
Go to the social hours.
Go to the sessions.
Meet and talk with a wide variety of people.
What I am saying that you don’t need to hand out your card to everyone you meet.
You are valuable, which means so is your business card.
Don’t treat it like it’s a party favor.
My best friend from high school posted this on Facebook this morning:
If you find a four-leaf clover, you have entirely too much time on your hands.
I, like I’m sure you do, found that highly amusing, chuckled and moved on with my day. Something happened though. I couldn’t get that quote out of my head. I started thinking about people who just sit and wait for good luck to drop into their laps, convinced that simply because people like them, the opportunity they’ve always dreamed of will appear out of the blue. Believe me, I wish that’s how the world worked.
I’m fortunate enough to count many people as friends and family, and to have a great professional network. That said, I’ve worked very hard to attain the reputation that I have, which I believe to be a good one. That reputation has landed me more than one connection, and to date has landed me three jobs. While one of those (kind of) landed in my lap, the other two involved the typical hiring process. The big factor in all three though was my reputation. What others said about me, or what the company already new about me, is what got me the job. That’s not sitting around and waiting for good things to happen. That’s working hard on your personal brand and excelling at what you are doing right now.
If you’re actively looking for that four-leaf clover, that magic person or moment that is sure to launch you to the top of trending topics on Twitter for the next week, you’re wasting your time. There’s only one time-tested solution to success and that’s hard work. I know. I hate it too. It’d be so much easier if that magic solution dropped out of the sky, but any “magic bullet” that appears is usually the product of an incredibly long and difficult journey. Twitter. Facebook. McDonald’s. Hell, Home Depot. These successful enterprises didn’t happen because someone all of a sudden said, “Oh my! That’s the best way to sell tile and hammers I’ve ever seen in my entire life! Here’s a billion dollars and the Atlanta Falcons!”. Decades (or in Facebook and Twitter’s cases, years), are why these are household names.
Don’t waste your life looking for a four-leaf clover when you can MAKE your own four-leaf clover. Now, because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, a video from my favorite Irish-tinged band. The Dropkick Murphy’s:
CNN allegedly reported via Twitter Thursday afternoon that beloved actor Morgan Freeman had died. This came as a surprise to Mr. Freeman, who was (and is) still very much alive. Apparently, a user, whom I’ll not link to nor name in this space, thought it would be funny to attribute a retweet to CNN saying Freeman had died. Popeater did a great job at explaining what happened here. Rumors quickly spread that CNN had deleted the offending tweet, which CNN had never actually sent out. That has been confirmed by numerous outlets.
The only thing CNN did wrong in this situation was not updating their investigation into the hoax. Updates letting users know what was being uncovered about the hoax, in real time, would have done much to quell the rumors. And frankly, if those rumors were true, I would have stuck with what I tweeted about the situation last night:
So how can you prevent someone from hijacking your brand on Twitter and putting, in this case, false words in your mouth?
What you can do is constantly monitor what people are saying about you. Use a service like TweetDeck to get real time updates about your brand. Use Google Alerts to keep an eye on the conversation happening around the Internet about you and your brand. That might be the biggest mistake many brands make; thinking a conversation isn’t take place already. You or I could be the target of a hoax at any moment. The only thing to do is to continue building your reputation, so you have some capital to spend when that crisis occurs. I’ll give you the same advice “Mad Eye” Moody would give. Constant Vigilance. Once you’ve detected the problem, be proactive about proving it was a hoax.
Over the weekend, Alexia Tsotsis penned an article for TechCrunch saying the phone call is dead, outpaced in irrelevance and annoyance only by the hand-written letter. She brings up some very valid points such as Neilsen data indicating that those under the age of 54 are using their phones for actual voice calls less and less. Another point is the increased use of Skype:
Sorry telecom industry, we are increasingly provided with reasons to not use your voice services. While still not exactly mainstream, we now have access to a plethora of free, internet-based calling options like Google Voice.When I’m interviewing startups and ask to “get on a call” they usually direct me to their Skype usernames.
I’d point out, first, in that quote the phrase “not exactly mainstream yet”, but I digress. Skype is a fantastic tool, one which I would use more if my dumb computer’s built-in microphone hadn’t gone on the fritz. Can it replace the phone call? Maybe, though citing Skype as a reason the phone call is dead is premature at best. A quick Google search tells me Skype has in the neighborhood of 340 million users, which is sure to continue growing. Compare that though, with the estimated number of people with a phone number. I don’t know what that number is, but I’m willing to bet it’s close to the total number of Americans counted in the 2010 census. In other words, many more people have a phone number they can be reached at as opposed to owning a Skype username.
Text based communication is certainly a huge part of communication with the rise of social media, smart phones, the Internet, etc. However, to declare direct, person to person communication via voice “dead” is, frankly, a bait for page views and rebuttal articles such as this one. Yep. I fell for the trap.
Tsotsis claims she’d rather have family members speak to her via Twitter, calling their phone calls “annoying”. I can only speak from my experience, but in my early 20′s, I too found the weekly phone calls from my parents somewhat annoying. I didn’t have anything new that had developed in the last week…why the need to call? Let’s just email if we need to exchange info! I realize I’m about to sound like I’m 90, but phone calls are personal. A phone call requires much more finesse and interpersonal skills than shooting off an email; or a text message; or a tweet; or a blog post.
I genuinely fear if Ms. Tsotsis’ prediction comes true, we as humans will become nothing more than drones, each staring at our own glowing box, incapable of actually SPEAKING to one another. She claims that because most 22-year olds communicate without the need for phone calls, this is what the world will do moving forward. Somehow, I find that very difficult to believe. Especially if those 22-year olds get married and have 22-year olds of their own someday. Those phone calls might start to seem less annoying and more a symbol of love and caring by those you can always count on.
Granted, I am quite biased as I spoke to my mother for 30 minutes on the phone yesterday afternoon. Arguably 30 of the best minutes of my weekend. The thing to take away from my little rant here is this: just because you view something as obsolete, doesn’t mean it IS obsolete. Step outside your own views and look at the world a whole.
The World Series of Poker is currently airing on ESPN when it’s not talking football or airing SportsCenter. As I was flipping through channels the other day, I noticed that and what song instantly pops into my head?
I know. Welcome to my brain. I got to thinking about how this relates to PR. Why? Well, why not? So, for a click of your mouse, I’ll offer some advice. There are great lessons to be learned from the entire song, but I’m going to focus solely on the refrain.
- Know when to hold ‘em…and when to fold ‘em. In a PR crisis, you have some options. One of those options includes holding off on offering a comment 10 minutes after something happens. Offering a comment before analyzing the situation can do far more harm than good. While “no comment” is NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER an option, telling a reporter that a comment is forthcoming and you’ll have an answer soon is perfectly acceptable. That brings us to folding. Do. Not. Lie. There’s other ways of saying that. Don’t mislead. Don’t knowingly offer inaccurate information. If the situation is out of hand, ‘fess up. Basically, just look at Toyota or BP and do the exact opposite. Toyota, in fact, did learn it’s lesson! Just last week, Toyota issued another recall to repair brake fluid leaks. No announcement saying it’s not a big deal, or nothing to worry about. Just a release that told car owners to get their cars fixed. Well done.
- Know when to walk away…know when to run. Do you read Clients From Hell? If not, you should. There will always be problem clients in our industry; or any industry for that matter. Why? Because some people are just giant pains in the butt. If a client is consistently costing you time and money by demanding revision after revision, it’s time to walk away. If you can’t reconcile the cost of doing work for the client with what the client is paying you, walk away. If you get a client like this, run like hell:
Client: We’re moving to another host, you need to help us!
Me: I’d love to, but my wife is in labor right now.
Client: Do you understand our website is down?
- Don’t count your money while sitting at the table. No one likes a braggart. It’s perfectly acceptable to talk about your accomplishments, or the accomplishments of your business, but there’s a line. No need to loudly proclaim you just landed the million dollar account, because no one cares. People care about the great work done by you and/or your business. Bragging about how much you get paid, what kind of house you live in or how big your boat is will not only limit further opportunities for you, but presents an image very few clients will want to do business with. There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with getting paid a lot, living in a big house, and owning a yacht that makes it onto Travel Channel. Just make sure that’s not all you’re about.
- Time enough for counting, when the dealing’s done. When your agency DOES land that “lifeblood of the agency” account, celebrate. However, your celebration needn’t include having a banner hung over your table at the bar. Be successful. Appear successful. Be humble. Once you retire, count your money, and if you have enough…buy a Caribbean island. I think I’m beginning to realize why that career as a financial advisor didn’t work out…