Tag Archive: Johannes Gutenberg


The words-and-related-photo on the iconic cover of Playboy’s first issue in December 1953 are impossible to miss: “Marilyn Monroe Nude.”marilynpb

The text-and-related-photo on the second sell-out, collector’s issue of Playboy in December 1998 is also simple-and-direct: “Katarina Witt Nude.”

Playboy pioneered the reality of that very special woman, providing the world with the gift of her beautiful unadorned body, for millions of admirers.

Since the beginning of time nude women have been portrayed in statues, paintings, photos, and in recent decades in digital still-and-video formats for consumers. Playboy took this trend and became a legendary first-mover, trend-setter.

The magazine provided intimate looks at iconic women: Monroe, Witt, Cindy Crawford, Ellie MacPherson, Pamela Anderson, Jenny McCarthy, Madonna, Farrah Fawcett, Barbi Benton, Stella Stevens, Bo Derek, Lindsay Lohan, Drew Barrymore, Kim Basinger, Joan Collins, Margaux Hemingway, Margot Kidder, Amanda Beard and many, many others.

Men (and maybe a few women) wanted to see these celebrities, nude. They were grateful. Playboy -provided the up-to-that-moment-forbidden-peek-at-that-very-special woman. And similar to National Geographic; Playboy took you to places you would never get to in your lifetime.

And with these provocative peeks came widespread criticism and controversy, correctly charging Playboy with objectifying women … as if that had never happened before. “You read it for the articles, right?” Don’t forget the recipes.

And now that tradition is coming to an end.

Does the 62-year era of the Girl Next Door need to end this way?

Is The Cure Worse Than the Disease?

Just as Johannes Gutenberg’s 1439 printing press served as the destructive 15th Century communications technology, the same is true with the Internet is the 1990s. The 600-year era of the expensive-and-cumbersome printing press has come to an end.gutenberg

The directly related list of casualties is growing: Newsweek, Rocky Mountain News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and others.

Time Magazine is anorexic. Its days are most likely numbered, but should the news magazine give up its decades-long coverage of the White House in response to the digital threat? From this day forward, Time will no longer present stories about the executive branch because in three-or-less clicks readers can easily find stories and photos of Barack Obama.

This kind of bite-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face response to a new threat is one of those cases in which the cure is worse than the disease. What’s next? Will Baskin-Robbins no longer serve ice cream? Will Ghirardell no longer make chocolate? Will Nike no longer manufacture and market athletic shoes?

The decision by Playboy to abandon nude photography of some of the most beautiful women of the world is the wrong response to the destructive forces of digital publishing. Instead, Playboy will feature scantily clad women, which can be (not-so-safely) viewed at work.

The world already has a Maxim; it doesn’t need another one.

When In Doubt Declare Victory

That battle [for mass access and consumption to porn] has been fought and won. You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so [nudity is] just passé at this juncture.” – Playboy CEO Scott Flanders

One of the most prominent axioms of public relations and marketing is when in doubt, declare victory. Playboy is trying to make lemonade out of its dropping nudity lemon of a decision.shamwowguy

Flanders’ proclamation is nothing more and nothing less than pure spin. Some will fall for it, and most will not.

Does this mean that Playboy will never republish some of these iconic women au naturel even though they have the exclusive rights to do so? Isn’t no nudity just that, no nudity?

And how does dropping nudity solve the digital-inspired issues associated with circulation dropping from 5.6 million in 1975 to 800,000 now? Why should Playboy give-up its hard-fought, first-mover advantage?

Reportedly, Playboy editor Cory Jones convinced 89-year young founder Hugh Hefner that dropping its signature girl next door will solve all that ills for the magazine in the 21st Century.playboybag

Doesn’t the answer come from optimizing the full power of its “rabbit head” brand and making binary code change its friend?

One must wonder whether Playboy will soon join Newsweek and many others in the ash-heap of digital history. Did Hefner just sign his company’s death warrant?

Farewell to the Girl Next Door.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/13/business/media/nudes-are-old-news-at-playboy.html?_r=0

http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/13/opinions/robbins-playboy-no-more-nudity/

http://www.businessinsider.com/playboy-magazine-will-no-longer-feature-nude-women-in-its-print-edition-2015-10

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/playboys-move-away-nudity-actually-bad-sign

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/the-decision-to-pose-for-playboy/

http://www.maxim.com/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/susannahbreslin/2016/04/04/playboy-no-nudes/#5952556552cd

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/playboy-magazines-rite-of-passage/article26832781/

 

 

 

 

 

Snap. Crackle. Pop.

Silicon Valley and other mass communicators are enamored when it comes to threes.

CNBC’s investment guru Jim Cramer talks about the three moving forces in technology: Social, Mobile and Cloud.

socialmobilecloud

Threes are easy to remember, fours or fives, not so much.

At LSI Logic, we were fond of talking about our three C’s: Communications, Computer and Consumer.

These were our three strategic markets. The three C’s were easy for customers, employees and owners (e.g., investors) or the acronym, C.E.O., (another three) to remember.

In this spirit, let’s talk about the Almost DailyBrett Communication Big Three.

These are an absolutely essential trio of communications skills, most in demand in the marketplace, and which need to be taught by our colleges and universities.

Drum roll: Persuasive Writing; Financial Communications; and Social Media.

Think of it this way: The first two are analog in nature and the latter is digital.

Compelling Writing Skills

Writing goes back to the first publicity campaign on behalf of the all-powerful Pharaoh, the Rosetta Stone. He was awesome, and if you need proof just check out the hieroglyphics on the smoothed surface.rosetta

Johannes Gutenberg speeded up the process with his Mainz, Germany printing press in the 14th Century, and now the acceleration is at warp speed with wireless communication devices.

Despite the unprecedented ability to communicate in nanoseconds to virtually any spot on the globe at any time, the old-fashioned skills of developing compelling, credible and accurate copy under deadline pressure has never been greater. For some, writing is a natural gift that comes easy. For others, it is a laborious process that can be perfected with practice.

Starting this fall, your Almost DailyBrett author is teaching Introduction to Public Relations Writing at Central Washington University. My 20 students are going to be asked to produce the following:

  • Curriculum Vitae or resume, emphasizing the student’s professional and academic accomplishments with quantifiable measurements
  • Twitter-style cover letter applying for an entry-level public relations position and emphasizing the student’s personal ROI or Return on Investment
  • Complete LinkedIn profile including the same elements of the resume, plus a professional mug shot, three references and at least 30 connections
  • News advisory targeting legacy and/or digital native media informing and/or inviting them to attend and cover an upcoming event
  • News release providing information about a breaking news story, employing the inverted pyramid and using the five W’s – What, When, Where, Who, Why – and the one H – How
  • Pitch to a selected reporter, editor, correspondent, blogger or news aggregator about a newsworthy story and offering assistance
  • Copy for a 30-second radio or television PSA or Public Service Announcement on behalf of a non-profit agency
  • Chief executive officer strategy letter to investors, analysts and employees outlining your selected company’s business strategy and future prospects
  • CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility letter to company employees about efforts your chosen corporation is making to safeguard employees, protect the environment and serve the communities in which the company does business
  • Crisis communications news release – written under deadline pressure – announcing steps a company has taken to address the crisis and pointing to the future
  • Four personal blog posts, emphasizing public relations skills and commenting on breaking news events
  • Two-page executive memo with bullets and subheads introducing a subject, examining the factors, and recommending a course of action

The philosophy behind these assignments is the only way to really become effective at persuasive writing is to Just Do It!

Financial Communications

Many right-brain types, the very people who opt for Journalism school, avoid figures at all costs. And yet, the numbers will find them.

We now live in a world of “big data,” particularly those companies that are publicly traded. Chairman Mao is probably rolling over in his grave as PRC-based Alibaba takes its predominate Mainland China digital retail play public this Friday with shares expected to be initially priced between $66 and $68.

alibaba

Right-brain students need to figure out how to make peace with numbers. UNC Professor Chris Roush (Show Me The Money) states ex-cathedra: “Behind every number is a story.”

Hmmm … that means there are stories to be told about these numbers. In addition, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) requires these stories to be told to all investors, if they are “material.” Translated: If a company has “material” information that would prompt an investor to buy, sell or hold company stock, then the company is mandated to disclose under Regulation FD (Fair Disclosure).

What this means is that each and every of the more than 5,000 publicly traded companies (NYSE or NASDAQ) in this country must issue news releases. The writers are not expected to produce the figures (there are oodles of accountants, auditors, controllers …), but they instead must tell the story behind these numbers.

That means that college and university communications graduates should know the difference between the income statement top line (revenues), the bottom line (net income or net loss) and everything in between (e.g., COGS, Gross Margin, SG&A, R&D, Operating Income, Taxes, Amortized Expenses …).

Sure wish someone had been kind enough to teach me these skills, including how to read a balance sheet, back in college.

Social Media

The world has already shifted from Web 1.0 (accessing websites) to Web 2.0 (wired and wireless devices talking to each other) and soon Web 3.0 (semantic web).

The Economist reported this week that nearly one-quarter ($120 billion) of the world’s $500 billion advertising business is coming from digital ads, increasingly being delivered to mobile devices. Yes there is no doubt that digital media is being monetized through search engine optimization (SEO) and other techniques, and that Genie is not going back in the bottle.

Facebook (friends), Twitter (140-character tweets), LinkedIn (connections), YouTube (videos), Flickr (photos), Pinterest (online scrapbooks), WordPress (Almost DailyBrett) all enjoy first-mover advantages in their respective social media spaces. There are challengers now and more competitors to come. The bottom line is that digital publishing through binary code is here to stay.

Companies and international public relations agencies are expecting that digital natives instinctively understand social media. This all circles back to the ability to write clear, concise, credible and compelling copy for an audience that is increasingly overwhelmed by information.

digitalnatives

And much of this data comes in the way of numbers, the ones with a story behind them. And increasingly, these stories no longer involve a gate-keeper but are transmitted though “owned” media (e.g., websites, blogs, social media sites).

Stating that compelling writing, financial communications and social media are the Big Three of Communications may entice the crisis communications, marketing, branding, reputation management, employee communications, public affairs and other dedicated professionals to take umbrage.

Fret not. Almost DailyBrett loves you too, and says to each of you that you need (or soon will need) graduates who can tell the story, and tell it well, through effective writing, numerical literacy and of course, proficiency with digital tools.

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-writing-skills-business-845.html

http://www.unc.edu/~croush/CV.htm

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/owned-media-an-answer-to-digital-change/

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21615869-technology-radically-changing-advertising-business-profound-consequences

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If well written, a handwritten letter can deliver extraordinary impact.” – Max Kalehoff, SocialCode senior vice president.

Or maybe a handwritten letter sends some unintended signals to the hiring manager, including a less-than-up-to-date mindset?

One of the first things that mumsy taught you was to always say “please” and “thank you.”

The advice from moms across the fruited plain is timeless and always correct.

Thank you, merci, dankeschön, domo arigato, muchas gracias, спасибо may be the most critical expression in any language

The issue that comes to mind is not whether one should thank a hiring manager after an interview — you should each-and-every-time quickly and professionally communicate your appreciation for the opportunity — but how should these words of thanks be transmitted?

“Transmitted” is a good word to frame this debate.

Using Primitive Tools in a Digital World?

Many times I have heard academics and visiting professionals lecturing soon-to-graduate millennial students about the need to promptly (preferably the same day) send handwritten thank you notes to hiring managers.

This wisdom is reinforced in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques, Seventh Edition by Professors Dennis L Wilcox and Bryan H. Reber.

Job applicants … make a much better impression with prospective employers by sending a handwritten thank you note instead of an email or text message thanking the employer for the interview.” – Professors Dennis L. Wilcox and Bryan H. Reber.

Really?

There is the possibility that a hand-written note on nice personal stationery may impress a hiring manager, but in our fast-moving digital age the question must be asked: Will this nice gesture actually backfire in the face of the job applicant?

Keep in mind that Almost DailyBrett exhibited the temerity to question the conventional wisdom of the one-page resume. This is the very same CV that is almost universally submitted online and encoded into binary code ones-and-zeroes before being decoded into readable text on a computer screen or screened by an algorithm for key search phrases. Yes, there are cases in which resumes are actually printed out, but that is just so yesterday.

Now Almost DailyBrett is taking on those who counsel hand-written thank you notes and doing so with great relish.

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Let’s say you followed the advice of the Flat Earth Society and dipped your wick into the ink well, and used your elementary school cursive on your expensive Hallmark stationery.

You found the right words to express your sincere thanks and appreciation. You affixed a snail-mail stamp and entrusted the USPS (and a few prayers to a higher being) to send your message to its intended target in a few days or so. (Hopefully the hiring manager still remembers you).

letters

And then it arrives or not.

It sits in a pile of other snail mail or not.

A secretary may open it or not.

He or she may put it into the hiring manager’s in-box or not.

He or she may “round file” the letter without reading it or not.

The variables here are too numerous to count.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the letter makes it to the hiring manager and she or he is able to decipher your hieroglyphics.

Is this really the way that you want to transmit your thanks and appreciation in this age of instantaneous communication and digital conversations?

What signal are you sending? Are you really comfortable with this pre-Johannes Gutenberg and his 1439 printing press approach? Maybe there is another way?

Using Digital Tools in a Digital World

Can one send a carefully crafted email or text message that very same day to express thanks and appreciation to the hiring manager for her/his time and consideration?

The answers are “yes” and “no.” A professionally written, relatively concise email to the hiring manager can properly express your sentiments and reinforce your interest in the job. Sending a terse text (redundant?), even though it is the cool di rigueur method of today’s communication, runs the risk of coming across as flippant and not doing the job.

Here’s another idea:

linkedinconnect

How about sending a thank you note in the form of a LinkedIn connection request to the hiring manager?

What are the benefits of this approach?

1.)   You are using digital tools to promptly convey your thanks and appreciation, and there is a strong likelihood the hiring manager will see your message.

2.)   Without saying so, you are demonstrating through your actions that you get it when it comes to social media.

3.)   Even if the hiring manager does not select you for the job, her or his decision to respond positively to your connection request provides you with another soldier in your networking army.

4.)   This approach provides the hiring manager with another opportunity to take a gander at your LinkedIn profile.

This is the same profile that confidently communicates your professional experience, your educational background, your professional mug shot, your glowing references, your PowerPoint presentations, your impressive list of connections and contacts, your awards, your publications and more.

Think of it this way, your LinkedIn profile is one-stop shopping for those who want to hire you.

So why aren’t you sending a thank you LinkedIn connection request to the person who just took the time and effort to interview you? There is no better time than right now after your killer interview.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristian-schwartz/how-to-say-thank-you-afte_b_4722743.html

http://www.job-seekers-edge.com/post-interview-thank-you-note.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/answered-should-you-send-a-handwritten-or-email-thank-you-note-after-an-interview-2012-3

https://gettoworkblog.wordpress.com/tag/handwritten-letter/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/maxkalehoff

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/thank_you

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/preaching-heresy-to-the-one-page-resume-pharisees/

 

 

 

 

Okay it’s really “Meet the Press,” the very same NBC Sunday public-affairs program that debuted in 1947. Harry “The Buck Stops Here” Truman was in the White House.

press

In the 14th year of the 21st Century, can anyone contemplate debuting a new program, naming it, “Meet the Press?” Or how about inaugurating a women’s general interest periodical and calling it, “Good Housekeeping”? Of course not, and yet the 1885 brand lives on as “GH.”

 

“Meet the Press” can be found on NBC, hosted by David Gregory, every Sunday morning reportedly running three-out-of-three in the ratings of the major network Sunday talking-head shows. Is the Rockefeller Center network so attached to this tired brand, which is an anachronism to the game-changing technological shifts west of the Hudson River that it refuses to acknowledge the obvious?

Maybe the rocket scientists at NBC should call the program MTP similar to making-love-in-a-canoe Pabst Blue Ribbon trying to be cool with the PBR acronym. Sorry, we won’t be fooled again.

Is this the time to strike the analog word, “Press” from our collective vocabulary, especially for people who should know better: public relations practitioners, communications choreographers, digital media pros etc.? Almost DailyBrett argues in the affirmative.

And if you do use this word, what does that say about your mindset? Are you closer to the “laggard” classification when it comes to the “Diffusion of Innovation” curve?

diffusioncurve

 

They buried Johannes Gutenberg in 1468. And now it’s time … actually it’s way past time … to deep-six his printing “press,” literally and figuratively.

gutenberg

And with it should be the permanent prohibition by public relations/communications professionals in using the anachronistic and woefully outdated five-letter word: P-R-E-S-S.

That’s right. There should be no more “Press” or “Press Room” icons and pages on company and agency (Hello? … digital) websites. There should be no more “press conferences,” and please no more “press releases.”

There are still scars on my back and vivid memories of uttering the word, “Press” in the presence of electronic media types back in my Sacramento days. “Press” to the conventional electronic (e.g. radio and television) media refers to the “pencil” reporter/editor types. And now even fewer media are actually using printing presses.

Surveying the office bookshelf, the author of Almost DailyBrett comes upon “The Press and America: An Interpretative History of Mass Media” and “The Press: Inside America’s Most Powerful Newspaper Empires – From the Newsrooms to the Boardrooms.” These books were written and published in the simpler analog days of the 1970s and 1980s.

No more kicking and screaming: These “press” references, including the titles of these outdated books, are just so 20th Century…or one could argue, they are really 15th Century. And that is the unavoidable truth when it comes to “legacy” media. Maybe we should label them as “antique” media?

It’s time for the digital natives to reign supreme.

According to The Economist, the high-water mark for employment of full-time American newspaper journalist was about 57,000 circa 1990. Fast forward to the present day and the number is down to 38,000 and dropping, claiming the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Rocky Mountain News and many others as casualties.

These are all legacy media that are now legacies, and others will be soon joining the ranks.

Does this mean that college and university journalism schools should shut their doors, and ask the last student to “Please turn out the lights”?

To borrow a well-worn metaphor, there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is not an oncoming train.

 

The illumination comes from serious digital-native startups that some may be tempted to dismiss as blogs. Pew Research’s State of the News Media cites the literally dozens of digital news providers, some better than others, which are meeting the insatiable global demand for news and information on a 24/7/365-day basis.

digitalmedia

Do you want to label Vice and its 1,100 journalists as “Press”? The question sounds silly when you think of it. How about The Huffington Post with its 575 journalists or POLITICO with 186 or BuzzFeed,170 or Gawker, 132?

One may be tempted to dismiss these contributors as mere bloggers until you examine the departure of reporters from legacy media New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, NPR and others for jobs with digital native news services. Are the lost jobs in legacy media being replaced on a one-to-one basis by digital native outlets? Alas, the answer is ‘no,’ but the trend is clear. The demand for news and information is being filled, mainly by providers that use software, binary code, search engines and keyboards.

Michael Deaver, Larry Speakes and others in the Reagan communications team had to make more room in the crammed White House briefing room for a new network, CNN.

The Clinton White House had to do the same for Fox News and MSNBC, which ironically both debuted in 1996.

Undoubtedly, the present White House and administrations to follow will have to make the calls when it comes to digital-native media. Some deserve admission to this club, and some do not. Regardless the vast majority media now and into the future will never use printing presses. They are so yesterday. The world continues to change, but the demand for accurate news and information will never change.

It’s time to bury the word, “Press” once and for all.

http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/as-meet-the-press-struggles-in-the-ratings-plenty-of-questions-for-host-david-gregory/2014/04/20/247ed4c0-c72f-11e3-bf7a-be01a9b69cf1_story.html?wpisrc=nl%5Fhdln

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Housekeeping

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21599784-some-moderately-good-news-news-industry-digital-resurrection

http://www.vice.com/en_us

http://www.businessinsider.com/

https://firstlook.org/

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/

http://www.politico.com/

http://www.journalism.org/packages/state-of-the-news-media-2014/

 

 

 

 

The words, “Public Relations Pros” and “Journalists” would be labeled by many in the Fourth Estate as either an oxymoron or an obscene contradiction of terms.

Emerging from Journalism school back in the desultory late-1970s, the author of Almost DailyBrett would have surely agreed. Walter Cronkite never flacked for anyone. Woodward and Bernstein might be interested in selling books, but they would never stoop to representing a mere politician or corporation. Analytical Thomas Friedman would never risk his reputation for impartiality by serving as anyone’s advocate.

woodwardbernstein

Yes, the perception is that journalists are reporters, editors, correspondents, columnists, anchors, news directors and managing editors. This thinking is oh-so-analog.

Let’s pose this question: Are digital bloggers for TechCrunch, Gizmodo, The Huffington Post, Politico and many other influential weblogs, journalists? Don’t think so?

Think of it this way: They have an obligation to get their facts right. They may not always write, complying with AP Style or using the inverted pyramid – heck many of their posts are feature “thumb suckers” – but they still must have a sense of what is newsworthy and what is not. Why? Because a blog is the most discretionary of all reads. No one requires you to read her or his blog.

Bloggers need to include in their posts the essential facts or the five W’s and the one H… What, When, Who, Where, Why and How…and one more: Who the hell cares? If these questions are not answered quickly, the reader will turn elsewhere. Isn’t that what a traditional analog journalist does?

Is Jon Stewart, a journalist?

Heck no you say? He is a comedian. Right? Or Left? Yes, he is…but in many respects he is a journalist.

stewartcramer

His 21-minute public undressing of CNBC’s Jim Cramer was masterful, and it went viral (more than 83,000 page-views). Harvard-trained “Mad Money” Cramer is a virtual encyclopedia of all things, Wall Street. If you are skeptical, just check out his evening “Lightning Round” or read his latest tome, “Get Rich Carefully.”

And yet Stewart nailed him with his careful research, facts and figures to skillfully argue that CNBC was essentially in bed with institutional Wall Street, and was not doing enough to protect the average retail investor, who relies on the market to grow nest eggs for future dreams through IRAs and 401k’s.

Another question immediately comes to mind.

Is the above-average Jane or Jack with a cell-phone camera and an internet connection, a journalist?

Your immediate reaction would be to the negative…and in most instances you’re right…but not in all cases.

Train Station Shooting

A cell phone camera turned BART’s world (Bay Area Rapid Transit) literally upside down when the fatal 2009 early New Year’s morning shooting of Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale station went viral. A passenger taking photos through a subway car window “covered” the story, providing many of the five W’s and the one H, prompting the mainstream Bay Area media to follow and putting the BART public relations operation into damage control. The “Who Cares” question was already answered.

Just as the binary code of ones-and-zeroes has forever changed the business models of analog media types (e.g., those still using a later generation of 1439 Gutenberg’s printing press), the definition of who is and who is not a journalist is changing as well.

Rarely does Almost DailyBrett speak ex-cathedra, but it will in this case: The public relations industry grasped digital communication – blogging, microsites, digital handhelds – much faster than the majority of conventional journalists, some of which are still kicking and screaming.

Naturally, traditional journalists and the newly minted digital journalists (e.g., bloggers) are skeptical of public relations pros. Why? Flacks are advocates. They have a point of view. They present the truth and tell the story in the best interest of their respective clients.

This advocacy position puts them in a synergistic relationship with the reporter-editor-analyst crowd, and in many cases these recipients of PR industry information are antagonistic to the provider. In the final analysis and there is no denying this point: They need each other. Reporters need public relations pros because they provide information. In turn, public relations pros need access to their target audiences.

And what about this information? It has to be researched. It has to be accurate. It should always be presented professionally (e.g., AP Style). It has to be newsworthy (or a credible newsworthiness argument has to be advanced). It has to include all the salient facts, including those five W’s and one H. And it must conclusively respond to the skeptical, bordering on cynical, who cares question.

Some have suggested that public relations should be taught in business schools rather than journalism schools. The reason is that the majority of agency and all corporate public relations professionals are working on behalf of business. That’s true.

Here’s where Almost DailyBrett disagrees. Public relations is telling the story on behalf of a newsworthy client. Even though PR pros are advocating, they still must research the story and get it right. They must present this information professionally (e.g., inverted pyramid, AP Style) and it must be newsworthy for news disseminators in order to reach target audiences. That requires the journalism taught in J-Schools.

invertedpyramid

Even if public relations pros are bypassing or not exclusively using conventional and digital media outlets, and strictly utilizing self-publishing instead, they still need to practice solid journalism and ensure the story is told accurately.

And what did Joseph Pulitzer write on the walls of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch? “Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy”?

This sage advice applies to public relations practitioners as well, particularly in our fast-moving digital age.

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-march-12-2009/jim-cramer-pt–1

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-march-12-2009/jim-cramer-pt–2

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Blame-in-Oscar-Grant-BART-death-may-shift-4713100.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg

http://www.apstylebook.com/

http://www.onlineconcepts.com/pulitzer/endow.htm

ones-zeros2

Almost DailyBrett Editor’s Note: In applying to graduate school three years ago, I was asked to write a “Statement of Purpose” and with it came memories of almost daily meetings with elementary, middle school, high school and college students as the press secretary for California Governor George Deukmejian.

Little did I know at the time that these teaching sessions would eventually lead to a new direction in my life.

As I contemplate making a major directional change in my career, I was reflecting back to one of the responsibilities that did not fit into the position description of a gubernatorial press secretary: meeting, greeting and answering questions from visiting university, community college, high-school, middle-school and elementary-school students.

During my three years as the Press Secretary to California Governor George Deukmejian, I was repeatedly asked to serve as the face of the administration and to encourage students to pursue public service or at least to have a profound interest in their society. Sometimes the questions were tough, many were unfair or off-base, but the students demonstrated that they wanted to learn and they wanted to challenge authority.

As I moved from the public sector into roles with two major industry trade associations, a publicly traded high technology company and to a leadership position in an international public relations firm, I was periodically asked to lecture classes on effective communications. Some of these schools included: UC Berkeley, Oregon State, San Francisco State and just recently Santa Clara University.

At Santa Clara, I lectured both MBA and undergraduate students about how to communicate to Wall Street and investors. I realized in making my presentation and seeing the enthusiasm that I generated that these students were clearly appreciating that the world of financial communications was shifting at a breakneck pace.

This rate of change is not just limited to the financial sphere as digital technology, the ubiquitous ones and zeroes, are making instantaneous communication and lightning-fast responses a never-changing fact of life. We now have the ability to self-publish and to share with the world our deepest thoughts. The Genie is out of the bottle and the bottle is nowhere to be found.

Social media or conversational marketing via digital key strokes is something that Johannes Guttenberg could not even fathom when he invented the printing press in Mainz, Germany. But one thing has been constant since then; technology has made communication faster, more efficient and global in nature.

Many cannot stop talking about and tweeting on Twitter, amassing their connections on LinkedIn.com, watching videos on YouTube or counting friends on Facebook. They are commenting on breaking global events via their blogs or reading what others are saying via cyberspace, bypassing the “traditional media,” particularly the dying pencil “press.”

The hot social media tools of today most likely will not be the hot social media tools by the time I complete the master’s degree program from the University of Oregon in 2012. These new techniques are being written today not on parchment paper, but rather in the form of software code.

Will students and society as a whole be prepared for these new techniques and their implications? What are the responsibilities of self-publishing in the wake of fewer and fewer conventional media outlets? Will the bloggers become the reporters of the 21st century, thus setting new standards for journalism?

Looking back, I have been extremely fortunate in my career. I cut my teeth on the tax revolt in 1978 that shook the foundation of governments throughout the country. I was sitting at the apex of California state government in 1989 when the Loma Prieta Earthquake literally shook the ground, and I was told “The Bay Bridge is in the water.”

I ventured across the ocean to the Land of the Rising Sun to help convince Japan to stop predatory pricing and open its doors to competition. I founded a corporate PR department against the backdrop of Internet mania and a corresponding crash as Americans lost faith in Wall Street and imposed a new way of doing business.

And I was privy to and helped advance a digital technology revolution that contrary to opinion of some pundits is really just getting started.

sacramento

After all of this, I still go back to the Governor’s bill signing room in Sacramento filled with students and their mentors with a particular gleam in their eyes and engaging questions flowing off their tongues. They wanted to learn. They wanted to explore. They wanted to challenge convention. I was more than happy to help them on their quest.

How can I continue this love affair with helping students? Certainly, I do not know it all and never will. Harry Truman didn’t like experts because “… if an expert learned something, he wouldn’t be an expert anymore.”

I am learning something new every day.

So why do I want to pursue a Master’s degree at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication? The answer is that I can leverage my Master’s degree to teach students the art of strategic communications. The truth is not a fungible quality, it is essential. Having said that, we need to manage information and present it in an intelligent way in order to effectively compete in the marketplace of ideas.

Today’s students and tomorrow’s communicators are going to have to compete; there is no way around this fact. Will they succeed or not? The University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication training will greatly improve their chances. I want to coach and mentor these students so they can be tomorrow’s winners.

When is not enough, not enough? When is too much, too much? And is just right, just right?

Finally, when is it time to get off the stage?

As I contemplate the to-the-point immediate communication demands of our 2012 attention-driven society (particularly via social media), I keep on pondering the lessons of four legendary English rock n’ roll bands of the 1970s.

After standing in the rain for nearly eight hours outside some sterile Southern California department store in 1975 (amazed the call of nature didn’t intercede…ah to be young again), I finally reached the front of the line and bought two precious tickets to see Led Zeppelin.

page

In my mind’s eye, I could envision Jimmy Page laying on the first riffs of “Rock n’ Roll” with his Gibson Les Paul, Robert Plant hitting the high notes, workmanlike John Paul Jones on the bass/organ and John Henry Bonham pounding away on the drums.

A friend, who saw the show a few nights earlier, implored me to sell the tickets. I should have listened to him. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Led Zeppelin fan owning the band’s entire catalogue on both vinyl and CD. Listening to the band’s recordings is one thing; sitting through four hours of guitar, organ and drum solos comprising only 15 songs (do the math) was exhausting. When it was over, no one was demanding an encore.faces

During that same year, I saw the last tour of Rod Stewart and the Faces (Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagen and Kenney Jones). All-in-all, I have checked out four Rod Stewart shows, including the aforementioned Faces concert. Each one was over in approximately 90 minutes. And each time the audience wanted more but there was no more. The crowd felt jipped and there was a smattering of boos. We were not even close to being exhausted and we were far from satisfied.TheWho2

 

 

The Who was a different story. I saw the band for the first time at Anaheim Stadium in 1976 with the original lineup of Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle (The Ox) and Keith Moon. The second time was in Los Angeles with the Faces’ Kenney Jones replacing the deceased Moon on the drums. The band played for more than two hours and ended its regular set with “See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Alas, the encore was an anti-climatic throw-away.

Early this month, the Rolling Stones announced the availability of a bootleg recording of its July 13, 1975 concert at The Forum in Los Angeles. I was 20-years old at the time and vividly remember Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” dramatically introducing the band at that very same concert to thunderous applause. And then there was Mick Jagger and Keith Richards singing the chorus to “Honky Tonk Woman” with Charlie Watts on drums, Bill Wyman on bass and Woods just joining the Stones from the Faces.

Since the 1969 “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out” tour, the Stones have always been masters of choreography and pacing, starting their concerts at a kinetic pace (i.e., Honky Tonk, All Down the Line, You Can’t Rock Me) and then slowing down (e.g., You Can’t Always Get What You Want). The 1975 concert concluded with a series of Stones classic rockers including: Brown Sugar, Midnight Rambler, Street Fighting Man, Jumpin Jack Flash and the encore, Sympathy for the Devil.

Stonesya-yas

The show was 22 songs and ran about two hours or so with the audience coming away satisfied (Who says you can’t get no satisfaction?), but wanting more. The Stones knew when it was time to get off the stage. Led Zep played a four-hour concert; The Stones gave us a show. All together, I have seen the Stones six times live, and if they tour as rumored next year to celebrate their 50th anniversary as a band, my attendance will be a pilgrimage as it will for literally thousands and thousands of people.

The purpose of this epistle is not to simply recount how fortunate I have been to see some of the greatest rock n’ rollers of all time, but to deduce the lessons of these bands and project them to our 21st Century world of communication.

Recently, I was imploring a very bright colleague to drop her plans to market a 4.5-hour AUDIO ONLY tape. I borrowed the famous line from the late Texas Governor Ann Richards (no relation to Keith) stating: “That dog won’t hunt.”

A NFL game takes an average of 3.5 hours obviously accompanied by video and audio. The Led Zep show ran four hours with amplified sound, lasers and lighting. My entrepreneur acquaintance wants to market a 4.5-hour audio tape, broken into nine chapters, but still 4.5 hours. I urged a series of two-to-three minute YouTube videos as an alternative. No go…so I had to go.

My failure to convince someone (not the first) about the merits of quick messaging social media reminds me of The Diffusion of Innovations Theory by professor Everett Rogers. The theory is represented by a curve with innovators on the extreme left and laggards on the extreme right of the page (not implying any political connection). I am afraid that 4.5 hour audio tapes are heading in the laggard direction akin to the buggy whip. We live in a world of 140-character Tweets/20-second sound bites/quick Facebook posts.

We can either embrace this new world or coming into it kicking and screaming. We are not going back to Johannes Gutenberg and his 15th Century printing press or the modern-day equivalent in the form 4.5-hour audio tapes. The Stones and The Who proved four decades ago that less is more in rock ‘n roll. This same wisdom applies to 2012 communications choreography as well.

http://www.rollingstones.com/news/rolling-stones-release-la-friday-live-1975

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Copland

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faces_(band)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations

http://www.biography.com/people/ann-richards-9457298

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg

Johannes Gutenberg got into a fight with Gordon Moore … and lost.

Considering that the lifetimes of these two innovators, visionaries, inventors are separated by more than five centuries, Gutenberg’s loss is obviously figurative — but a defeat nonetheless.

gutenberg

As anyone even remotely familiar with the history of Journalism knows, Gutenberg is regarded as the first European to use moveable type in 1439 and is credited with the invention of the printing press. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg

Conversely, Moore, one of the founders of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC), is universally hailed in the technology world for “Moore’s Law.” In its simplest form, Moore’s Law states that the number of transistors that can be placed a piece of silicon real estate doubles every 18 months. This “law” has been 100 percent accurate since its inception in 1965 and in some respects has been even conservative. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Moore

Why are these two luminaries from completely different backgrounds and eras joined at the hip when it comes to a discussion of Journalism? The answer is that Gutenberg represents Journalism’s past and Moore, the industry’s future.

Gutenberg’s printing press led to dawn of modern Journalism and even the anachronistic labeling of the profession, known simply (and most likely, always) as “The Press.” Over time, printing presses enveloped the world, morning and evening papers were produced, delivered to doorsteps by an army of news carriers in dilapidated cars, Sting Ray bicycles or sold at downtown newsstands.

This high-cost (in many cases monopolistic) business model worked for decades and led to the development of some of the most famous mastheads on the planet. Even the Gray Lady each day offers, “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

What happens when the day inevitably arrives that all the news (or at least the lion’s share) is no longer printed? That’s where Moore’s Law enters the equation.

moore

Moore’s Law essentially says that complexity and functionality increases every year-and-one-half. The tyranny and the serendipity of his theory is that each succeeding generation of devices — let alone breakthrough applications — are better, faster, smaller and consume less power.

As a result, the mainframe computer spelled the end to the IBM Selectric with its novel correcting tape. Mini-computers retired the mainframe. PCs and servers vanquished mini-computers. And the PCs started talking to each via millions of miles of fibre-optic networks or even wirelessly. And now Internet content (e.g. news, information, voice, data, video) is being delivered to tablets, cell phones and digital readers. What is the next Killer App? It’s out there.

Clay Shirky, 46, who teaches New Media at NYU, in his Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable takes issue with the kickers and screamers, trying desperately to cling onto a traditional newspaper business model that no-longer works. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_Shirky

“Round and round this goes, with the people committed to saving newspapers demanding to know, ‘If the old model is broken, what will work its place?’ To which the answer is: Nothing. Nothing will work. There is no general model for newspapers to replace the one the Internet just broke.”

Essentially Shirky is saying that those who are refusing to confront the digital facts of life are, “demanding to be lied to. There are fewer and fewer people who can convincingly tell such a lie.”

If you apply Shirky’s commentary to those still clinging to the tried-and-true print journalism business model, you would say they are have already passed denial and are situated somewhere between anger and bargaining with depression and acceptance still to come. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisabeth_K%C3%BCbler-Ross

Some of the bargainers will even point to Rupert Murdoch’s $5 billion purchase of the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones news service in 2007 as an example that validates that the old business model lives on. Looking more closely, even this acquisition confirms that digital ones and zeroes are changing Journalism forever. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Murdoch

murdoch

Murdoch bought the globe’s largest newspaper, the industry’s most valued brand and with it, a record 1-million-plus paid Internet subscribers. He also acquired the publication most closely connected with the 95 million Americans constituting the “Investor Class” (and millions more international investors). The impressive growth in day traders and retail investors largely resulted from the invention of the Internet, the availability of online digital investing tools and the dot.com euphoria. Murdoch bought a brand. He bought an Internet savvy audience. And he tapped into the Investor class. He did not buy a printing press and an antiquated business model.

“Society doesn’t need newspapers,” Shirky concluded. “What we need is Journalism…When we shift our attention from ‘save newspapers’ to ‘save society,’ the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.” And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.”

So what works today? If you look at Journalism through a supply-and-demand prism, you can safely conclude that the demand for fair, complete and objective information is there and quite possibly has never been greater. The question comes down on one of supply; exactly how will this supply be provided to the public?

One answer comes in the form of 24-7-365 news networks, such as CNN, Fox News, BBC and others that can instantaneously cover any flash point in the world.  There is no such thing as the first edition “going to bed at 11 pm.” Another related response comes in the form of specialized around-the-clock broadcast networks, such as CNBC for global financial news, ESPN for sports, E for the Entertainment business, VH1 for music and the list is almost endless.

Some contended that the golden age of radio ended with the proliferation of television in the 1950s and 1960s. Whatever happened to these social critics? Radio is enjoying a renaissance, particularly when you consider that sociological impact of longer commute patterns and the almost kinship between motorists/public transportation riders and their “drive-time” companions.

The Internet has served as the backdrop for a growing array of bloggers, some of them written by very serious journalists weighing-in conclusively on politics, government, business, sports, entertainment and the environment. Their names are famous within their appointed disciplines such as the Drudge Report, Huffington Post, Daily Kos, RedState, The TMZ, Gizmodo, RealClearPolitics, TechCrunch and the Silicon Valley Watcher.

Social media is still in its infancy as LinkedIn debuted in 2003, Facebook, 2004 and Twitter, 2006. Imitators or pioneers with brand new approaches and business plans will inevitably follow. The net result is that the average citizen has an unprecedented ability to self publish. If you don’t believe this contention, then just ask Dan Rather who “retired” as a result of bloggers and the 2004 Rathergate controversy.

The future of Journalism does not just rely on machines that are either plugged into a wall or are battery-powered handheld devices, albeit the trend toward receiving our content electronically – radio, television, PC, hand-held – grows with every passing day.

Satisfying the insatiable and growing public demand for news and information lies with professionals who in the words of another NYU Professor, Jay Rosen, have the authority to say, “I’m there, you’re not, let me tell you about it.”

The “I’m there” reporter can be stationed next to the flood-lit portico at the White House, against the backdrop of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, at centre court at Wimbledon or an average citizen holding a video camera as a BART officer is shooting Oscar Grant on New Year’s night at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California.Train Station Shooting

As a result of the effects of Moore’s Law, and not Gutenberg’s printing press, we can all be there. Potentially we can all tell the story. Knowledge is power, and we need this power to go about our daily lives and to be better informed and more productive citizens.

Regardless of the business model, the principles outlined by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in “Elements of Journalism” still apply. The public needs and expects reports that are dependable, verifiable, measurable and transparent. “Journalism is story telling with a purpose.”

Whether that purposeful story is told via an outdated printing press or via social media is really irrelevant, except to those desperately clinging to the old way of doing business. What is more important is fulfilling the public’s need for accurate information, being there and transmitting the news…most likely by means of 21st Century innovation and a new business model.

“With iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — (laughter) — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.  So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.” – Barack Obama, Hampton University Commencement, May 9, 2010. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-hampton-university-commencement

The good news for the Leader of the Free World is that he has a 12-year-old daughter (Malia) and a nine-year-old daughter (Sasha) to provide in-(White) house tech support when it comes to using iPods, Xboxes and PlayStations.

Senior public relations practitioners may not be so lucky. Which brings up an interesting question, why are so many in our profession so reluctant about and so resistant to social media, including blogging and podcasting? Deep down is there an inner Luddite that makes many of us resistant to technological change? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite

The Economist www.economist.com in its latest iteration has a fascinating commentary, “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” that says that distrust of new technology goes back to the days of Socrates (469 BC to 399 BC) and his fear of writing, which would “create forgetfulness in the learner’s souls.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates

During my decade working with engineers at LSI Logic www.lsi.com, I asked them one-by-one why they chose to become technologists (as opposed to journalists and PR hacks). The answer usually went back to the family radio or television. Future senior communicators listened to and/or watched these devices. The future geeks in turn took them apart and checked out the vacuum tubes, the dials, the knobs, the wires and then tried to put them back together again…sometimes successful, sometimes not.

Certainly there are communicators who have been quick to embrace social media and digital tools with gusto. They have more than talked-the-talk, they have become evangelists about blogging, podcasting, webcasting, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Ding, Dang and whatever is next.

And yet there are timid souls in our ranks (you know who you are) that our desperately clinging to and only relying on (gasp) 20th Century approaches to all PR issues. Consider that they…

● Insist on staging pre-briefings followed by actual on-site briefings with the dwindling number of business and trade reporters and editors, despite the downward trajectory of their readership and the ascension of digital media.

● Devote full-time employees to writing abstracts and contributed articles, drafting “white papers” and op-eds for submittal to publications in decline, thus producing a lower ROI with each cycle.

● Sift through the ed-cals or editorial calendars and then try to devise a pitch that somehow, someway comes reasonably close (at least passing the “giggle test”) to the journalist’s topic. In this case, who is setting the agenda: the journalist or the company?

● Write “press releases,” hold “press conferences” and even invite conventional and digital media to surf their “press” page on their websites. Gee, why don’t they exhume Johannes Gutenberg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg to make a presentation of his new invention, the printing press, at the next “press” conference?

● Devise a myriad of excuses for not embracing the blogosphere, and not just the self-publishing of conversational marketing pieces that bolster brand and spread the message, but even monitoring what bloggers are actually writing about a given company or its industry.

● Demonstrate a total disinterest in preparing Wikipedia.org copy about their company, association, organization etc., either leaving a blank canvass in its place or allowing others to take a shot at depositioning their employers.

I can fully appreciate that some may take issue with my prose when it comes to exposing the inner Luddite. Having said that, there is one point that can be made with impunity: More and more publicly traded and privately held companies, trade associations, universities and colleges, non-profits and others will sooner or later spend countless hours figuring out how to make money and/or spread their influence via digital tools. They will also be increasingly interested in harnessing these same technologies to build brand and to get out the good news. This will not be the time or the place for Inner Luddites.

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