Tag Archive: public relations


“If a man says something in a forest, and there is not a woman to hear him, is he still stupid?” – No Attribution Necessary

“What’s the difference between men and government bonds? Government bonds mature.”

“How can you get a man to do sit-ups? Put the remote control in-between his knees.”

Last December, Time named German Kanzlerin Angela Merkel as its “Person of the Year.” And if Merkel does not stand for re-election next year, her most likely successor for the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is … Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.merkelursula

Just this week, Home Secretary Theresa May became the second woman to serve as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Her main competition came from Energy Minister Andrea Leadson.

And in November …

The United States of America may indeed elect Hillary Rodham Clinton as its first woman president, vanquishing über-male, Donald Trump. And her running mate very well could be Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Two women could be at the vortex of American government for their very first time.

If you are scoring at home, Clinton’s election would result for the very first time in global history, three-of-the-top five economies in the world (U.S., #1; Germany, #4 and UK #5) with women heads of state. theresamay

Despite these breakthroughs for women, there is no denying there are some very important metrics in which men still exhibit hegemony.

According to the stately Economist, men constitute 97.6 percent of Forbes self-made billionaires; 95.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs; 92.8 percent of all the heads of governments (note before May and Clinton) and 91.4 percent of central bank governors (takes into account Janet Yellen serving as the head of the Federal Reserve).

The Economist also offers a flip-side to this equation. Men comprise 93 percent of the prisoners in the United States. They are 79 percent of the global murder victims. And they are exactly two-thirds of all the suicides worldwide.

Oh How the Pendulum Swings

“You see, man made the cars to take us over the road; Man made the trains to carry heavy loads; Man made electric light to take us out of the dark; Man made the boat for the water, like Noah made the ark.” – James Brown, It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World

There were days when agrarian economies held sway. Next up, there were industrial days of manufacturing and big iron: Advantage Men.

Welcome to today’s global, technology-driven service economy: Advantage Women.

Graduates react after being recognized for their degree during the University of Wisconsin-Madison spring commencement ceremony ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., Saturday, May 16, 2015. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

Graduates react after being recognized for their degree during the University of Wisconsin-Madison spring commencement ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., Saturday, May 16, 2015. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

Brute strength, brawn and testosterone-drive ignorance need not apply. Instead, life-long learning, attention to detail, and critical thinking are the necessary components to succeed for at least the remainder of the 21st Century.

And who is better prepared to meet these present-day challenges and realities? The jury is getting ready to render a verdict. Your author will take “the over,” women.

As a relatively new college professor, the preponderance of women students comes as no surprise.

Consider that women outnumber men on college campuses around the world, bar South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In OECD nations (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), men earn only 42 percent of university degrees. And boys are 50 percent more likely than girls to flunk math, reading and science, ominous indicators for men in our rapidly changing global economic landscape.

One could attempt to undermine Almost DailyBrett’s argument by correctly pointing to the fact that your author teaches public relations, integrated marketing, corporate communications and investor relations – all fields that are increasingly dominated by women. It has been reported that women now make up at least 70 percent, and maybe as high as 85 percent, of public relations practitioners.

Yes, there is still latent sexism and the gender pay gap has not yet been closed in public relations, but strategies abound to do just that (see Almost DailyBrett for one view). All is not perfect for women as at least one publication describes public relations shops as a Pink Ghetto.

Let’s state here and now, and not trivialize the reality: Women’s grievances about the past are warranted.

Having said that, the future direction is the friend of women. Can’t say the same for men.gender10

If brawn is less in demand …

If manufacturing is not coming back to our shores anytime soon (sorry Donald, you are wrong on this one) …

If global competition is here to stay …

If technology gadgets continue to replace humans …

If digital reigns supreme …

If the provision of essential services with a smile, rather than a grunt, is required …

Increasingly educated-and-talented women are winning and are going to continue to win.

This realization has resulted in the angst, anxiety and anger by literally millions of men (particularly older men), faced with limited futures and scant attention from women, who (not surprised) do not want to attach their respective futures to going-nowhere-fast men … just another mouth to feed.

Besides public relations, integrated marketing, corporate communications and investor relations, women now dominate accounting, real estate, local government, retail, nursing, food preparation, education … and the list goes on.

Almost DailyBrett must state the obvious: In the present Battle of the Genders, women are winning; men are losing.

Are there still issues and inequalities for women? Yes.

However, the wind is billowing in their sails. Men for the most part are dead in the water.

When Fall rolls around, I will greet three new classes and the majority of the students … will be women. Shocking.

For older men, who are pretty beyond the age of retraining let’s face it, your life is bleak.

For younger men, you have time to get with it, namely get into the classroom, throw off your macho chains and learn, learn and learn some more.

The life-long learning global economy should ultimately benefit all of us, but first everyone must prepare themselves for our always-on, technology-driven, service-delivery world.

http://www.economist.com/news/essays/21649050-badly-educated-men-rich-countries-have-not-adapted-well-trade-technology-or-feminism

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/brexit-referendum/theresa-may-bloody-difficult-woman-be-u-k-prime-minister-n608001

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-36737426

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/addressing-the-gender-pay-gap-in-public-relations/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/karma-alone-wont-cut-it-for-women-in-the-workplace/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/pr%e2%80%99s-endangered-species/

http://www.oecd.org/about/

http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/07/why-do-we-treat-pr-like-a-pink-ghetto.html#

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juTeHsKPWhY

 

 

 

 

“After taking your PR classes for the past three years, I feel confident to go out into the world of PR communications professionals. I will miss your enthusiasm in the classroom every day, and writing your two-page executive memos! I can’t thank you enough.” – Graduating Central Washington University Public Relations Student

“I have learned more from your classes than all the other classes I’ve taken combined, and that’s not just including lessons having to do with school. You taught me to take pride in my work, and to put in the effort to do my best. I honestly do not know if I would be where I am today, or have the future that I see myself having if it weren’t for you.” – Another Graduating Central Washington University Public Relations Student

DSC01200

Trust me when I say not all student reviews are so positive.

When they are, you treasure each and every one.

Most of all you don’t take them for granted because there is always another opinion.

What we call the “Rule of One.” There is always at least one student, who quite frankly hates your guts and even loathes the very ground you walk on. Sigh.

And then there is the student, who can quote back what you said.

In this world of texting, Snapchatting, mobile devices and old-fashioned laptops, breaking through and instilling even ein bisschen wisdom seems almost miraculous.

A professor can prepare. She or he can spend hours researching. And devote even more time to tinkering with PowerPoints and video. Finally, the time comes to deliver the lecture, coax questions and then ask two key rhetorical questions:

  1. Was anyone listening?
  2. Does anyone care what you have to say?

One of my students provided me with a thank you card with valuable “Kevin Quotes” including a smiley face.graduation2016

Here they are with an Almost DailyBrett commentary under each one. They are offered in the exact order chosen by the student writer:

  • “Buy on rumor; sell on news” Almost DailyBrett: This ubiquitous expression in the late 1990s directly led to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) promulgating Reg. FD (Fair Disclosure). Corporate chieftains could no longer “whisper” meaningful tidbits to favored financial analysts (e.g., Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Fidelity, Morgan Stanley) allowing their clients to buy on the whispered rumor and then sell on the actual news.
  • “Your Brand Is In Play 24/7/365” Almost DailyBrett: Donald Trump in particular should pay close attention to this axiom. With instantaneous global communication through a few key strokes, digital communication can advance a personal or corporate with lightning speed, and destroy it just as quick.
  • “Digital Is Eternal” Almost DailyBrett: The complement to your brand being in play 24/7/365 is that all digital communications are permanent, enduring and can be resurrected by hiring managers, plaintiff attorneys and others who can hurt your reputation and/or career.justinesacco
  • “The Long and Short Program” Almost DailyBrett: The Olympics figure skating competition metaphor pertains to 10-K annual report letters and 10-Q quarterly earnings reports respectively. The former has more flexibility, while the latter must give precedence to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and include revenues, gross margin percentage, net income, EPS, cash-on-hand and dividends (if applicable).
  • “Don’t Be a Google Glasshole” Almost DailyBrett: Guess, I really did say that …
  • “Buy Low; Sell High” Almost DailyBrett. Every one of our corporate communications/investor relations classes began with this chant. One must understand profit margins.
  • “Do Not Buy Stock in Enron” Almost DailyBrett: Don’t buy a stock just because it is going up. You need to understand a company’s raison d’ etat before you commit funds. There is a real difference between investing and gambling. Those who gambled on Enron lost everything.
  • “How Does a Company Make Money?” Almost DailyBrett: Bethany McLean of Fortune asked this basic question to Jeffrey Skilling, now imprisoned former Enron president. The Harvard-trained chief executive needed an accountant to answer this most basic of questions. McLean smelled a rat.
  • “Stocks Are Forward-Looking Indicators” Almost DailyBrett: As Wall Street wild man Jim Cramer of CNBC Mad Money fame always states” “I don’t care about a stock’s past, only its future.”edwards1
  • “Tell the Truth, Tell It All, Tell It Fast. Move On” Almost DailyBrett: These 11 words are the crux of effective crisis communications. Disclosure is inevitable. You can manage or be managed. Former presidential candidate John Edwards is the poster child for failing to follow this advice.
  • “Corporate America Needs Better PR” Almost DailyBrett: Amen

Appreciate the nice words. Even more: Thanks for listening and learning.

https://www.snapchat.com/

https://www.sec.gov/answers/regfd.htm

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/the-internet-where-fools-go-to-feel-important/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/the-mother-of-all-weak-arguments/

 

 

woodwardbernstein

All reporters and editors should be treated equally. Right?

In theory, this egalitarian approach is the correct way to go.

As PR flacks increase their 3.6-1 ratio lead over the ever-dwindling number of media types, it makes sense to treat every remaining reporter/editor fairly and justly.

After all, every reporter and editor is always fair and just to your organization, your chief executive and your cause. Right?

And most of all, every media outlet is created equal. Right?

You know the answer to that particular question.

There are two undeniable truths as it applies to the flack/media divide; one is time-tested and the other is relatively new:

1.) The media always needs fresh news and information to thrive and in the majority of cases that manna from Heaven comes from the public relations industry. This uncomfortable media fact is compounded by the competitive need to be first and conversely by the aversion to being “scooped” or worse, “burned” on a story.

2.) The media “gate keepers” no longer make the rules for access to target audiences and therefore can’t exclusively set the agenda. The ones and zeroes of the binary code ended this dominance and put self-publishing tools in the hands of the PR story tellers, and the good ones are using them.

Even though the media is rapidly changing in a mostly kicking-and-screaming fashion, there is still this mostly true axiom: Both flacks and reporters/editors are antagonists. They need each other as the former is a source of news and information and the latter conveys this same news and information to target audiences.

It’s called earned media (public relations) as opposed to advertising (paid media).

This relationship for decades has been unbalanced with the media serving as the “gatekeepers,” vetting news and information, and essentially deciding what is transmitted to the public. And with this hegemony (and inevitably arrogance) comes the notion that the media sets the agenda for the conversation, resulting in the flack “story tellers” gnashing their collective teeth.

If a tree falls in the forest, and the New York Times chooses not to cover it, did it make any sound? Nope.

And what happens when the media agenda and the flack story telling collide? There is friction, anxiety and related unpleasantness.

The flack may be tempted to go “over the head” of the reporter and to complain to her or his editor. Can you think of a better way to do a huge favor for the reporter? Talk about a red badge of courage.

Or the flack may do something more sinister: Leak a juicy story to a reporter/editor competitor, causing a burning sensation. Of course, a PR person would never admit to such a dastardly deed, but I understand this happens from time-to-time.

Sometimes the selective disclosure of material information to one media organization as opposed to another is done on purpose, and the SEC will not impose fines. Heard frequently in the Silicon Valley is, “Let’s give this story to the Journal…” The flacks in question are referring to the Wall Street Journal.

Some may think that print is dead, and for the most part it is. Didn’t the rocket scientists at the New York Times that bought the Boston Globe for $1.1 billion two decades ago, just sell the same newspaper to the owner of the Boston Red Sox for $70 million? Talk about buying high and selling low.

Also consider that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos just purchased the Washington Post for $250 million and Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal for $5 billion six years ago. Both of these hombres are super smart, so you know they have no intention of eventually selling these rags for less than 10 cents on the dollar. They instead bought the mastheads, the brands and their respective print and more importantly, digital access points to the political/governmental community (Post) and the investor class (Journal).

WSJ

Therefore it makes sense for public relations professionals to “pre-brief” a supposedly dead media publication, the Journal. In fact, virtually everyone in Silicon Valley pre-briefs the Journal. What does that mean to reporters/editors of other publications? They don’t like it one little bit.

But what are they going to do about it?

About 10 years ago, I was toiling in the trenches as the head of corporate public relations for LSI Logic. We ran a $1 billion custom semiconductor fab (factory) in Gresham, Oregon, just immediately east of Portland. The big gorilla media for that market (at least at the time) was The Oregonian. We were good copy for the Oregonian.

LSI Logic entered into a nanotechnology development agreement with Massachusetts start-up Nantero. In turn, Nantero hired a New York PR firm to help put the firm on the map. The target publication was The New York Times and the heck with anyone else.

During a conference call with Nantero’s CEO on the line, I was asked by a Madison Avenue-type if we would help with the Gray Lady. Our answer was affirmative, but what about the beat reporter for The Oregonian.

“The Oregonian?…Who is the Oregonian?” the New York PR type contemptuously asked.

I reminded her that actual life existed due west of the Hudson River, and that my employer, LSI Logic, was not going to consciously “burn” the beat reporter for The Oregonian. We either brief both reporters with the same embargo or we don’t offer the story at all. She was shocked and appalled by my left-coast thinking.

We did it our way, which I am convinced to this day, was the right way.

Is the moral of this story that PR pros, despite the shifting landscape, should never play favorites with reporters/editors, thus setting up the possibility that someone else will be burned?

The answer is the practice will be…ah…practiced…but there are perils involved, particularly with local reporters who will be part of your daily life conceivably for years to come.

Do you want the benefit of the doubt, when you need the benefit of the doubt?

Caca happens.

And remember the profound words of Tip O’Neill: “All politics is local.”

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

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21583274-new-wave-press-barons-should-not-allow-newspapers-become-niche-products-keeping

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21583284-tycoons-keen-eye-bargain-are-buying-up-print-newspapers-chasing-paper-profits

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118589043953483378.html

http://www.nantero.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tip_O%27Neill

Is “clueless” male, redundant?

How about “disrespectful” man?

And to top it off, I have been labeled an “attention seeker.”

All of the above occurred in just one week as a result of a post that I wrote a little more than one year ago: The Trouble with Widowers.

These are just some of the joys of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Presumably, legions of women upset with widowers went to the web. They found my blog. They wrote to me. I wrote to them. The Internet bots recorded it all. My Trouble with Widowers blog is listed in the first and second positions on Google.

Can we do that again?

blog1

Life is so short.

And yet there is so much that one has to read for work, for school, for personal improvement.

And then there are the relatively few-in-comparison precious items that one actually wants to read.

A blogger needs to keep these essential truths in mind when composing a post. A blog is the most discretionary of all reads. No one makes you read her or his blog. If your blog is lame, no one will read it. If your blog is boring, the reader will simply stop reading after a few paragraphs. If your blog is predictable, then why keep on reading?

After posting 201 blogs…some obviously better than others…there are lessons that come from blogging, which allows me to offer my humble commentary to an imperfect world.

Many immediately start thinking about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and how to entice the “bots” to visit their pages…and one should contemplate these strategies. It is all so binary code or digital ones-and-zeroes.

Having said that, some of the lessons that emanate from blogging are actually analog in nature. Some of these do not originate in digital high-tech environments, but instead they are taught in conventional Journalism school. These include catchy headlines, inverted pyramids, the use of familiar (e.g., celebrity) names, breaking news stories, controversial debate points and even subjects that pertain to matters below the waist line…that would be sex for those of you living in Springtucky.

Headlines Matter: Just as in conventional magazine and newspaper journalism, a catchy headline will draw the eye and entice the reader to take a gander at the first few paragraphs. Besides The Trouble with Widowers, my other heavily read blog posts include: Competing Against the Dead, Men and Their Schlanges, Magnanimous in Victory; Gracious in Defeat, Fiduciary Responsibility vs. Corporate Social Responsibility; It’s Not You; It’s Me; Taxing the Fab Four; Exiling the Stones; and A Smile on the Lips Before a Tear in the Eyes.

Leads Matter: Not every blog has to start out with the classic inverted pyramid, outlining the what, when, where, who, why and how of the story in rapid order. After all a blog is not a hard-news story, more of a feature or “thumb sucker” for those in the profession. Having said that, the reader should not be left wondering for long what the subject is about. Get to the point.

My blog about Lindsay Lohan, Hugh Hefner and $1 million to pose au naturel (Lindsay, not Hugh) did not take long for the reader to comprehend: The Decision to Pose for Playboy. I am still amazed by how many are still searching for information about skating superstar Katarina Witt’s sold-out 1998 nude spread in Playboy.

Tags Matter: What do blog readers care about? How about Katarina Witt and the word, “nude?” So far, I have posted more than 1,750 different tags to entice eyeballs and search engines. An Oregon football fan cares about Uncle Phil, Phil Knight, Nike, Autzen Stadium, Chip Kelly, Rose Bowl etc. Write your blog with tags in mind and review it to make sure you are fully taking advantage of what tags can do for your personal brand, SEO, individual visits and page views.

Stakeholders Matter: The number of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, LinkedIn groups all equate to higher SEO. Every blog should be shared on these sites. Search engines are important, but they are far from the only way to drum up attention to your blog and better Google placement.

Credibility Matters: The lawyers call it “standing.” Do you have the bona-fides to write about a given subject? Why should anyone listen to you? I teach public relations at a Top 10 journalism school. I know a thing or two about communications, but virtually nothing about math and science. I write to my strengths and avoid my obvious weaknesses.

Respect Matters: One cannot be a successful blogger without being provocative. That is different from being notorious. As a former press secretary, I am not afraid of mixing it up. At the same time, I try to be respectful of others and want the same. I have thick skin to a point. Let’s dispense with name calling, slurs or foul language. The key is to be offensive without being offensive.

blog2

All of the above do not require an advanced geek degree in writing algorithms for Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google (all tags for this blog). The knowledge of effective journalistic writing and persuasive public relations all come in mighty handy in writing an effective blog.

Who said that analog skills are dead?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Descartes

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

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

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

https://www.google.com/search?q=Search%20Engine%20Marketing&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#hl=en&gs_rn=9&gs_ri=psy-ab&gs_mss=The%20Trouble%20with%20Wid&pq=search%20engine%20marketing&cp=25&gs_id=ma&xhr=t&q=The%20Trouble%20with%20Widowers&es_nrs=true&pf=p&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US%3Aofficial&sclient=psy-ab&oq=The+Trouble+with+Widowers&gs_l=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.45512109,d.cGE&fp=b3ed9e4baad5b678&biw=1680&bih=946

Competing Against the Dead?

A physical competition between someone who is living and someone who is deceased? Obviously, no contest.

But what about a psychological comparison between someone with real-world problems, genuine and imagined imperfections on one hand and someone who is a wonderful and fond memory on the other? Is that a competition that the living just can’t or won’t win in her (or his) own mind?

American Masters: Marilyn Monroe

Before I go any further into this discussion, please understand that I have never taken a psychology class in my life, and I don’t plan to start now. What I have been taking even though I never intended to or wanted to, is a real-world class in mid-life, Internet dating after losing my wife of more than two decades to stomach cancer.

One would think that a widow(er) would have an advantage over the other three categories of singles in their 40s, 50s, and 60s: Divorced (the largest group), never-married and currently separated. Guess one needs to think again.

If you were madly in love with your spouse right up until the day she died (in my case she would have been 56 this coming Monday), and you still love her now…is that a good thing or a bad thing in the eyes of a potential new spouse, partner, lover and, friend? You would think that would be a positive, but at this point I am not so certain.

Let me ask some questions here: In response to a query, you state that you were blessed with a happy, blissful marriage that stood the test of time. Is that a statement of fact or bragging? Your intent may be former, but the perception may be the latter. And as everyone in public relations knows perception can trump reality.

If someone has been part of your life for two decades or more, then it can be expected that you would talk about this person from time-to-time, but how much is too much? Should you shelve or severely curtail all discussion about your spouse of nearly 22 years? That doesn’t seem to be realistic, but it may be a good strategy. Remember that sexual relations are the ultimate in public relations.

What about your house, your condo, your apartment, your cave or your nest? Do you display pictures of your dearly departed spouse? How about a photo of your spouse and your offspring, sitting right beside your personal wash basin? If someone is seeing that photo, they obviously have started to peel away at least the first layers of your personal onion. Do you put that photo away to avoid a psychological competition between the living and deceased? Is this issue particularly magnified if your spouse died young, and was universally regarded to be beautiful on both the inside as well as the outside?

grace

And what if your spouse and her entire family were prolific artists, including water colors, sculptures, oil paintings, mosaics and even a torso body cast? Do you display all of these proudly throughout your home or should they be relegated to some storage closet? And if you do choose to make her art public, what pieces are appropriate and for what rooms?

A widow(er)’s dilemma is magnified by a successful marriage. Someone who was divorced (many more than once) is coming off regardless of who was at fault, a failed marriage(s). Some may have broken up five or more years ago, and you would be hard pressed to conclude that they didn’t break up five weeks ago…the anger and the bitterness in many cases are still fresh and still there. There is an incredible divide between your natural view that marriage is a positive and her very different view of matrimony.

This point is even more magnified with someone who is currently separated, which means the battle over the house, the children, the assets, alimony, football season tickets and child support still needs to be or is being fought to the finish.

What about someone who has never been married? You enjoyed a happy marriage, and she never had the opportunity to live the all-too-common dream of walking down the aisle with all eyes fixed upon her on what should have been the happiest day of her life. Again you have a natural conflict point even if that is not your intent.

How about talking to this would be partner, lover, friend telling her that she is different? And that you are not trying to replace someone who is gone and is never coming back again? What about your desire to rediscover the magic with someone new? After all don’t women complain that men are not as open and free with their comments as they should be?

Alas, some subjects just do not lend themselves to easy conversations, much less easy solutions. If someone feels compelled to engage in a psychological comparison, you really can’t stop them. Can you?

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