apple, media, Technology

Apple, Heal Thyself

Well it has been quite the week for corporations in my little part of the online sphere.  Earlier this week my good friend Will has his car towed by an Albuquerque towing company of meth addicts because he accidentally parked on the wrong side of a McDonalds and “McDonalds Parking Enforcement” officers had his car towed away.  Parking enforcement officers… yeah really.

(BTW, this is the same lot I’ve parked in many times to eat at a different restaurant – come tow me, bitches.)

But more importantly, this has been one of the weeks where Apple has crossed over the line of corporate paranoia and let their cyberpunkish “Corporate Overlord” mentality show through.  And from a PR standpoint Apple’s not looking too great.

Jesus Buddha Christ, Apple. Really? Let’s break this down:

  • A tech blog gets a hold of your super secret next generation iPhone that was lost at a bar,
  • And then returns it to you after reviewing it
  • (Which happened after you denied the prototype’s existence),
  • Then you send your super secret “Apple Force” to the journalist’s house demanding to look around
  • (Which he says “hell no” to.  Makes sense.)
  • And then you have the reporter’s house busted into by the cops and multiple computers, et al “taken for examination.”

Let’s see, did I miss anything?  Nope, didn’t think so. I’m just surprised that Apple didn’t hire a private group of mercenaries to bust this poor guy’s door down.

Wow Apple, you have really opened yourself up to ridicule at the least, and a potential lawsuit on the more serious end.  (and if the EFF and other technology or media non-profits don’t sign on to object to this kind of treatment of a journalist, then y’all just need to pass your 501c3 cards forward because y’all are dismissed.)

But in true Apple form, Steve Jobs has penned a letter about… Apple’s problem with Adobe’s Flash??  It’s like Steve-O really thinks that by ignoring the problem, or dictating the terms of engagement, he can control all of the coverage he gets.  And right on cue, noted tech journalist (and Steve Jobs apologist) Walt Mossberg will pen a column decrying Flash (and asking why the hell Team “Apple Force” didn’t tase the entire Gizmodo staff over and over).

So this is a PR and tech blog.  What advice would I give Apple if they asked?

Well, this being Apple, they never would because in their minds “The Jobs” can’t do anything wrong.  That said, I’d tell them to cut this crap out.

  • Drop any charges,
  • Get the police to turn over all equipment taken from Jason Chen’s house,
  • Replace any broken or damaged equipment on Apple’s dime,
  • Pray that Apple doesn’t get sued,
  • And one more thing, stop acting like jerks.

I guess Steve-O really hasn’t learned anything about tact (or new media) from the Think Secret lawsuit. Jon Stewart is right, chill the hell out Apple.

(And before Apple Evangelists start typing a response about how I’m some Apple hater, this post, much like this video in years past, was completely created on a Mac.)

Snoochie Boochies.

media

Newspapers – Heal Thyself?

Is the world of newspapers really as bad off as recently reported? I’ve given this a lot of thought after reading today that Editor and Publisher was going under. In the last few years a lot of newspapers have shrunk, fired staff, closed down, or merged with other news outlets (TV, etc) in response to a diminishing readership and the recent economic crunch.  People have asked if this means that newspapers are on their last leg.

No, it doesn’t. In fact, I’m willing to bet that when the newspaper shakedown is over you are going to see the resurgence of the hometown newspaper. In smaller towns there are very few media outlets, and the newspaper still plays a major role in informing the public.

It’s this focusing of effort that will help save newspapers. They will still have to reduce staff, because some of the staff used in the paper’s expansion will become redundant (as they say in the Isles)

In larger towns and cities, regional papers will probably have to revert back to that hometown model – for instance, the Albuquerque Journal (my local paper) needs to refocus from trying to be “New Mexico’s Biggest Newspaper” to Albuquerque’s newspaper. They have a bureau in Santa Fe for the “Journal North/Santa Fe” section that needs to be shut down. Santa Fe has its own paper, the Santa Fe New Mexican, which is successful in Santa Fe while not competing with the Journal in Albuquerque. The Journal will never be able to successfully overthrow the New Mexican, so why not pack it in, bring some of the staff to fill vacancies that have gone unfilled for over a year, and refocus their efforts on their core market?

Another question involves changing the media consolidation rules, while allowing for much smaller, more targeted media outlets to grown. Is this a threat to the current laws limiting consolidation of media outlets in a certain area? If newspapers can’t merge with TV stations and/or radio stations and end up going out of business – is this really better for the community?

media, public relations, Technology

It’s called “You”Tube for a reason

I was thinking about this post while giving a presentation in class this evening. We had an open ended assignment where each person presented on a topic related to the mass media. Being interested in online communications, I focused on Web communications by mass media outlets. That got me thinking about bloggers (which I wrapped up the presentation with) and how people in my profession should look at content creation vs. pitching to bloggers.

A lot of PR peeps are looking at how to pitch bloggers and other A-list social media mavens instead of working towards creating their own content.This is fine, but it’s as if the mindset of PR people around the globe continues to be:

“I’m in PR. I’m used to pitching people, sending stuff out. I must pitch the “media.” I’m not going to create my own content. I don’t shoot video, and sound like I gargled with rusty razor blades.”

Trust me I know where you’re coming from. I don’t have that creamy radio voice either and am more “Body by Buddha” than “Body by Jake.” Ya know what, that doesn’t matter. It’s all about authenticity. It’s about your company becoming the media outlet, instead of waiting for reporting from the media which may never come. It’s about PR person as civic journalist (or corporate journalist) than traditional “pitch man.”

(This also matters to you and your personal brand. You are your own Hollywood director. But wunder-dude Chris Brogan has a lot of great articles on this. I may give my own humble take later (but read Chris first))

Your company should become part of the conversation, not just treat bloggers/podcasters/et al as one more media outlet to just pitch to. Remember, it’s called “YOU”Tube for a reason. Use it to create your online brand, then your company will piggyback on the “you” brand (if you identify yourself as working for that company).  Then other bloggers might get interested in your product/organization.

And your first efforts don’t have to be Hollywood-esque. Just get some practice time in with your camera and some software. Here’s a little footage of me practicing around with my Flip Video Camera and the Sony Imagination Studio software. There’s also more relevant footage (PR wise) that I shot for work located here.

media

Wow… RIP Tim Russert

Oh man, I came back from a meeting to find out that Tim Russert, one of NBC’s iconic journalists, died in the NBC offices today.  I’m still processing it now, I grew into my political maturity watching Russert, a fellow Buffalo Bills fan (one reason I liked him I think), on Sunday mornings, and later, with the advent of technology and my inability to get up on Sunday mornings after a 5 a.m. crash time the night before, downloading “Meet the Press” to my iPod, spending part of the day walking Pickles (my dog) and listening to the show. Sometimes arguing with him or his guests, like any political junkie does I guess. (my neighbors must think Pickles and I had the strangest arguments)

I never understood a lot of the vitriol thrown at Russert from partisans on the right and the left.  To me, he always tried to call it straight down the middle, being fair, yet tough, to the people he had on the other side of the table. To me that was the epitome of fairness – when both sides were attacking you for your “bias,” that usually meant you were doing something right. Watching Russert, I tried to learn how he was able to dissect a complex issue and present it to his viewers, and his guest, in a way that was to the point. I can fault him slightly for not having the biggest BS-O’meter in the world, but on a personal, and a professional level, I respected his candor and tenacity.

Being a political junkie himself, Russert will at least be able to enjoy this election from on high, sharing a drink, and debating the presidential election with people like Edward Murrow.  (Not to mention trying to get that post-death interview with Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.)

The interview table got a little smaller today.  Via con dios, Tim.

media, public relations

Heads Up Corps, Be Careful How You Blog…

Because starting May 26th, you could be arrested and thrown in the dock in the United Kingdom for misrepresenting your company as a consumer (Walmarting Across America comes to mind here).

The legislation is already in practice in Europe, the UK is just getting into the act a little (fashionably ?) late.  On one hand this can be good because it’s going to cut down on the amount of BS astroturfing that companies and their PR firms do.  It’s a kind-of enforced authenticity.

Is this a good thing?  Isn’t it better if people know that a company isn’t communicating authentically of their own accords?  The press, and other bloggers, are more than happy to shine a light on the astroturfing efforts of those corporations and PR firms.  Isn’t that the way it should be?  Online news organizations, like the newly created New Mexico Independent or well-established PR Watch, are sprouting up to watchdog various organizations and report the news without fear or favor (if not partisanship).

And another question I’d like to ask is, for activist groups throughout Great Britain – do these rules apply for them as well?  Will the same group of activists who misrepresent themselves as a greater number of people (think about the blogger equivalent of a phone bank calling talk radio shows to comment) be subject to the same rules and punishment?  Ad Age explains the law as applying to “Brand Owners” and Greenpeace, or the Sierra Club, or the Christian Coalition, or Wake Up Walmart are all brands and should be subject to those laws as well.  All things being fair and all that.

What this means is that companies and organizations should be authentic and true in their online communications.  A lesson to corporations, activists and PR firms around the world: if you represent themselves truthfully when dealing with online and social media communities, they can avoid a lot, if not almost all of, these kinds of problems.

It will be interesting to watch Great Britain in the upcoming months and see what happens.

Hat Tip: Ad Age

media, public relations

"Off the Record" is Not a Shield

I’ve been catching up on my Inside PR listening, given recent events, and was listening to episode #102 – dealing with the idea of going “off the record” with a reporter.  They used the recent Samantha Power incident where the former Barack Obama foreign policy advisor was quoted in The Scotsman newspaper calling Hillary Clinton “a monster” who would do anything to win.  

Ouch.  (And then she said “that’s off the record.”) 

The exact quote is:

“We fucked up in Ohio. In Ohio, they are obsessed and Hillary is going to town on it, because she knows Ohio’s the only place they can win. She is a monster, too — that is off the record — she is stooping to anything”

She quickly tried to take back her statement by saying “oopsie, that’s off the record.” Off the record is one of those things that people are bandying about far too easily.  Reportees think that they can say what they want  and if something slips out just slyly wink at the reporter and say “that’s off the record, you know” and actually expect the reporter to honor that.

One of the Inside PR hosts, I can’t remember if it was Terry or Dave, asked if the reporter, Gerri Peev, should have resigned from The Scotsman instead of Samantha Power. 

Absolutely not.  

Power said “off the record” after stating her opinion.  Trying to hide behind that “I didn’t mean it, really – honest even!”   Clinton’s campaign demanded that Obama repudiate, or disagree with or deny, whatever the new terminology is these days, Power’s statement and Obama’s camp learned a hard lesson in media relations that day. (not that it matters much, because the wing of the electorate who are Obama-stars probably loved the quote, and cheered it on)  

They sent Power out to speak on behalf of the candidate, and apparently didn’t bother telling her (and she’s a former reporter, so she should know better) to presume that everything that is said in front of the reporter is fair game.  

It’s the first thing they need to teach people in political PR, or any kind of media relations – if a reporter hasn’t agreed to “off the record” before you sit down (not three minutes before either, I mean before they even show up) then you need to carefully measure your words. Because there’s no guarantee that once you meet the reporter they won’t say “sure it’s off the record” and then run the story again. 

Especially before and after the “interview,” these are two times that a lot of people think is safe – because the reporter has put his notebook up or is packing to leave.  Here’s a tidbit for you to think about – my best friend (my fiancee calls him my “bestest friend” since that sounds so third grade 😉 But I digress) worked as a reporter for five years, and he would keep a digital recorder in his pocket with his reporters notebook.  And before he met with someone he would turn it on, and keep it hidden under his notebook, out of view.  And he’d put it back in his pocket after the “interview” was over – problem was, it was still running.

“You didn’t say ‘X’ or ‘Y’? That’s funny, because I have it right here, and I’d swear that is your voice. Did you say that before, or after, this statement…”

Samantha Power got what she deserved, she made a statement off the cuff and expected the reporter to protect her. Even in the best of times, it’s the reporter’s discretion whether or not to allow you to go off the record.  In this case, as in most cases when I have helped media train people or worked with the press, it’s best to follow your mom’s advice.

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” (or at least stand behind what you say)

And for the statement that people will know to think twice before “trusting” the reporter with “off the record” information – good!  They should, they should always be thinking that.

Sorry Terry and Dave, I have to disagree with your sentiments on this one – “off the record” is not a shield.  It’s a gun you can shoot yourself in the foot with.