Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fake News is Bad News

Is there ANYONE who thinks that FEMA's fake "press conference" last week was a good idea?

The staged press conference (story here) was called in haste (they knew that the media would need more than the 15 minutes' notice that was provided in order to attend), and actually carried live by MSNBC and Fox News who picked up FEMA's provided video feed (proving that both the left and the right are just as easily duped).

This odorous "event" has been blasted by everyone from the White House on down, including the Secretary of The Department of Homeland Security. Keith Olbermann summed up what most of us think about it on his "Countdown" program.

FEMA is in place to help coordinate a national response to natural disasters wherever they should occur in the US. Too bad they also seem to be manufacturing their own "man made" disasters as well.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Big Time Ad Man Sings PR's Praises

Need more proof that PR is the communication vehicle that will drive brands and move consumers in the 21st century? Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Group, one of the largest ad agency groups in the world, had to go before analysts last week and report on his firm's sluggish earnings. The bright spot? WPP's Public Relations and Public Affairs groups, which bucked the trend and reported strong growth. Seems even Sir Martin himself can read the authoritative, credible PR writing on the wall (and on the blog, and on Facebook, and yes, even in traditional media).

These days, just about everyone who speaks authoritatively about marketing communications sings the praises of PR over advertising.

Thanks to my friends at O'Dwyer's for bringing this story to light, and for reporting it so well in their blog.

And welcome aboard the PR bandwagon Sir Marty!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Joe Torre - Class Act

Anyone who saw any of Joe Torre's "farewell" press conference yesterday has to be impressed by the class, dignity and honesty of this great manager. He handled himself wonderfully in a very difficult press situation -- answering honestly, and deftly demurring when asked questions that he was not yet ready to answer.

The point? Anyone who has to engage with the media would do well to watch a tape (or segments) of this press conference, to get an object lesson in how to handle a very difficult situation.

No doubt Torre will manage again -- he's earned that. And no doubt he will be fired again in the future (remember, he had three previous managerial jobs before the Yankees; Torre knows that managers are hired to be fired). But there is absolutely no doubt that when that day comes, he will go out on a high note, and, once again, handle himself as the class act that he is.

This is one Mets fan that has the greatest admiration for Joe Torre.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tooting Our Own Horn

R&J Public Relations received five first place awards and one second place award for excellence in communications during the 33rd annual JASPER Awards presented by the Jersey Shore Public Relations & Advertising Association. The awards ceremony, held at the PNC Bank Arts Center, recognized programs and individual works of creativity and excellence by companies throughout the state of New Jersey in the communication and advertising industry.

We’ve had many opportunities to develop and execute inventive, comprehensive and effective communication campaigns on behalf of our clients throughout the past year. It is an honor to be recognized by our peers in public relations and advertising, and I am very proud to see our employees’ hard work rewarded.

These awards mark a very successful completion of the 2007 "Awards Season," which saw R&J PR take home a PRSA Bronze Anvil (if you're not in PR, trust me, this is a big deal), a national Healthcare Marketing Gold Award, the "Best of Show" award from the New Jersey PRSA Chapter, along with seven Jersey Awards from the NJ Ad Club, and five Pyramid Awards from NJPRSA.

View our Bronze Anvil award-winning Video News Release here.

See our First Place JASPER award-winning Public Service Announcement on inhalant abuse education here (60 second version) or here (30 second version) or here (15 second version).

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Slings and Arrows

Usually I can absorb the slings and arrows of outrageous ignorance when it comes to the views of so many in the general public about the public relations profession. But sometimes I can't. Today is one of those days.

A columnist in the local Gannett newspaper chain here in New Jersey, Michael Riley, was offered a job in PR. He wrote about his horror at the thought of coming over to what he certainly perceives as "The dark side of the force" in today's column.

I just had to respond. Here's the email I just dashed off to Mr. Riley:

Mr. Riley,

I’m (usually) a big fan. In fact, just this morning, I roused my 16-year-old son from “my chair” at the kitchen table, specifically so I could “read Riley.”

That said, where do you get off denigrating the public relations profession? Your ignorance about what PR is, what it does for so many people, and the contributions the profession makes to society and the economy is, frankly, astounding.

In the spirit of full disclosure: I’ve been in PR for over 20 years, and I own a mid-sized PR agency in Bridgewater. Let me tell you just a few of the things that my agency has done over those years, and I’ll try to avoid unnecessary adjectives and adverbs like the “horribly terrible bubonic plague of olden times.” (No, I didn’t miss the slight). Here are a few:

- We mobilized a grass roots campaign that moved the New Jersey state legislature to change an antiquated law that was resulting in the unnecessary deaths of babies in need of heart transplants.
- We conceived and orchestrated a national educational effort on the dangers of teen and pre-teen abuse of inhalants, or “huffing” as they call it.
- We helped to bring about regulations that are now protecting at-risk populations (the elderly, the profoundly handicapped, etc.) through the mandated installation of fire sprinklers in residential settings.
- We have given voice to the needs of those recovering from the ravages of substance abuse, resulting in programs and regulations that are keeping more and more off drugs and in good, taxpaying jobs.
- We helped to overcome decades-old political opposition so that people in three suburban New York counties can now receive life-saving cardiac care without having to leave the state or travel to Manhattan.
- And yes, we have helped companies sell things from cameras to air horns, helping to keep a lot of people well employed, and able to feed their families.

I could go on, but I’m hoping you get the point.

Sure, there are some amateurs in public relations. But, by and large, most of the people I know in PR are real pros who know communication, and who take great pride in their work. You could do a hell of a lot worse than to “take such a job.” In fact, many journalists do successfully transition into PR, and go on to live happy, fulfilled lives. I know because some of them work for me. And not a week goes by that I don’t get a resume from a journalist seeking to go down “that particular rabbit hole.”

So, Riley, lighten up, and c’mon down off your high horse. But if you still want to go “toe-to-toe” on how journalism is somehow more noble than public relations, I have two words for you and your profession: Britney Spears.


John Lonsdorf
R&J Public Relations, LLC
Bridgewater, NJ

Friday, October 5, 2007

The "most effective advertising medium"

Thumbing through the morning paper, I came across a full page ad with the headline, "What is the most effective advertising medium in New Jersey?"

Much like Claude Rains in Cassablanca who was "Shocked -- SHOCKED -- to find that gambling is going on in here," imagine my utter surprise to learn that the New Jersey Newspaper Network thinks that newspapers are the "most effective" way for companies to advertise in New Jersey.

Don't get me wrong -- I LOVE newspapers (remember how this post started? With me reading the morning paper). But I also love the radio in my car. And TV. Magazines, too. And the Internet.

So, I would ask, why not have them all? (Spoiler alert: here comes the "commercial" for Public Relations.)

PR firms routinely target all of those, with the most audience-appropriate messages, and in the media that will best reach decision makers. Our clients regularly find themselves in newspapers, trade and general interest magazines, on television news, on the radio, and liberally distributed all over the Internet. Moreover, their message is delivered far more credibly and believably than ads, which people tend to look at with a jaundiced eye.

Almost EVERY successful major new product introduction in the past decade has been launched via a public relations campaign. There is a reason for this. PR works. It's credible. And it can deliver your message in the widest variety of media.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Powerful messages in the least expected place

Those of us who have been following the ordeal of Lisa and Les in the comic strip Funky Winkerbean have been given an object lesson in just how effective and poignant communication can be in even this most simple and unexpected place. We all know the fate that inevitably awaits Lisa, who is in the final stages of a losing battle against cancer, but we still pull for her, and are moved on a daily basis by the little things that point to a life well lived. With few words and simple pictures, we are drawn to these people, and feel their pain. And it touches us deeply.