Posts Tagged ‘NBC’

Issuing Citations: How to Quote Wisely and Accurately

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
flickr user Gage Skidmore

flickr user Gage Skidmore

A political and media kerfuffle ensued late last week after Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and former Republican presidential candidate, spoke at a Republican conference. Below is his full quote:

If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it, let’s take that discussion all across America because women are far more than Democrats have made them to be.

Soon after, CNN journalist Dana Bash tweeted this:CNN Dana Bash Tweet BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas

Then NBC reporter Kasie Hunt tweeted something similar:NBC Kasie Hunt BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas

These tweets, which did not accurately represent the context or content of Huckabee’s remarks, spurred a number of clarifications and a whole lot of discussion. Even in a political and media issue such as this, there are plenty of takeaways for PR pros:

Be sure of the proper context

Bash’s tweet made it sound like Huckabee said he thinks women are “helpless without Uncle Sugar.” The reality is he accused Democrats of thinking women are “helpless without Uncle Sugar.”

Quoting someone? Triple check you’ve got the context right. Sometimes there’s a disconnect between what we know and what we write, so if you’re quoting anyone, make sure the quote and the surrounding content very clearly state the context of who said what. This is just as important, if not more so, when you’re summarizing in 140 characters or less. If it’s not crystal clear, don’t tweet it.

Tweet Wisely

Especially if you’re live tweeting. As Bash and Hunt both exemplified, tweeting with no or incorrect context leads to backlash and completely derails a conversation, especially if it’s political. Suddenly, the story focused not on what Huckabee said, but on the media getting it wrong (even though it was only two reporters out of hundreds).

PR pros are in a similarly visible field, and this is an era in which out-of-context or ill-thought-out tweets can land you in hot personal and professional waters (as Justine Sacco proved late last year), whether it’s warranted or not. Particularly if it’s your message at stake, or that of your industry, you don’t want the focus to shift from your message or meaning onto a silly mistake.

Edit without losing context

There’s an easy fix to Bash’s tweet. Had it been worded: “At RNC meeting @MikeHuckabee says ‘Dems believe women can’t control their libido w/o birth control,” the problem never would have arisen.

The first way to edit within context: listen fully. This means paying attention and not letting your personal opinion get in the way. Then, distill selectively. Determine what the two or three main points of the quote are and summarize from there. Remember: quotes are not malleable; either it was said, or it wasn’t. Be accurate from the get-go, because issuing clarifications or retractions detracts from credibility.

Quality over speed

The nature of Twitter means that live-tweeting has become not only de rigueur, but practically mandatory not only for journalists, but for people attending anything of note, like awards ceremonies or industry events. It takes a lot of concentration to listen to someone speak while quoting what they said two or three sentences back. Unless it’s expressly necessary and you can be sure you’re representing the quote accurately, be very careful when tweeting of-the-moment.

The demand for immediate tweets is a classic GIGO scenario: it takes our focus off of the importance of what’s being said, places it on being first to tweet it, and disregards sharing quality tweets.  When we put out words that haven’t been verified, checked, or thought-out, it shows.

Twitter 301: Amp Up Engagement With Hashtags

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Twitter 301: Amp Up Engagement With Hashtags BurrellesLuce Fresh IdeasNovember has been really good to Twitter, with the micro-blogging site making history twice this month, first with the hotly-performing IPO and then with first-of-its-kind live network TV debut on NBC. For PR and marketing professionals who mastered Twitter 201, The Voice just showed everyone how Twitter 301 is done.

In a live TV first, Twitter hit the stage front and center during the Tuesday’s Live Top 12 Elimination episode of The Voice. The 2 million-plus Twitter followers were given a judging chair of their own when the show introduced the Instant Save, the chance to save a performer from being eliminated through tweeting. Now in its fifth season, The Voice has emerged as the example of how live TV is pioneering its interactivity with Twitter. The micro-blogging site evolved from a gathering and opinion-exchange place for the fans to the sole voting power in the live elimination show.

During Tuesday’s live elimination shows, fans tweeted their votes using #VoiceSave to save one of the bottom three finalists.

Fans Asked, NBC Listened

NBC responded to popular demand with the introduction of voting for the three-lowest ranking finalists.  “That kind of last chance to save a favorite is something the audience has been telling us they want, so we’re giving it to them,” said NBC Reality Chief Paul Telegdy.

But the pioneering decision to give that voice to the fans via Twitter catapults the show to the leading position amongst singing and other competition shows that have been expanding their social media interactivity.  “The Voice‘s Instant Save will be the first time Twitter will be used for an actual voting decision during a show,” says Twitter Head of TV Fred Graver. “It is a huge innovation.”

It is the sort of innovation that is very much in line with the advice of Hugh McLeod, a popular advertising executive and widely-read blogger. McLeod famously said that the future of advertising is “kinetic quality.”  And that “The future of brands is interaction, not commodity.”

PR and marketing professionals who are doing social listening and feel their Twitter communities are ready for the next level of interaction should look to The Voice for inspiration to create their own version of Instant Save.

With Instant Save, The Voice changed their Twitter community from spectators to players.  Since then, their Twitter following also grew by 200,000.

What does your Twitter 301 look like? What is your version of The Voice’s Instant Save or Twitter voting?

FCC approves $30 Billion NBC – Comcast deal…with many strings attached

Friday, January 21st, 2011
Image Source:

Image Source:

The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department approved a pending $30 billion joint venture which allows Comcast to own 51 percent of NBC Universal. The approval comes 13 months after the two sides announced their plan to merge one of the nation’s largest cable and internet operators with a broadcaster whose assets include NBC and Telemundo, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and Universal Pictures. Comcast controls 24 percent of the nation’s cable subscribers and NBC owns 12 percent of what is viewed on television. A match made in heaven? Not so fast… Over the last year this deal was met with heavy opposition from consumer advocate groups who argued consumers would have less influence over the newly formed company while online distributors worried about the possibility of having to pay a premium for NBC’s content, which would be controlled by one of their largest competitors in the distribution space. (Source: LA Times Blog, Entertainment News Buzz, January 2011.)

On paper this looks like an unstoppable combination in the making, and could potentially open the door for similar deals between content providers and cable and online providers. Although some were successful and some flopped, this is not the first time we’ve seen this type of marriage before – CBS/Viacom, AOL/Time Warner, Time Warner/Turner. With Comcast controlling NBC’s network and cable shows as well as their movies, it would seem their 15 million subscription base would be the perfect captive audience to view their content with competing cable and online providers forced to pay a kings ransom for the rights to their shows and movies. The FCC, however, put conditions on the deal to prevent any funny business with the hopes of maintaining as much “net neutrality” as possible.

One of the conditions requires Comcast to make its content available to all rival cable and satellite distributors as well as online distributors, and has to offer it’s content for the same price to everyone. They are also required to sell their internet service as a standalone service – this is significant since online distributors (Netflix) gives you the ability to access content without a cable subscription but requires internet service. The FCC is also asking Comcast to relinquish its day-to-day control of their online site HULU, allowing them to maintain an ownership stake but stripping them of any voting rights or the ability to suddenly make content unavailable from the site. (Source: Reuters, January, 18, 2011.)

So before everybody bows down to this newly formed Media behemoth, let’s remember… a lot has changed over the last 13 months since their initial announcement, and the conditions put on the new merger by the FCC (if enforced) will help neutralize any abuses of power. The consumer now has more options with the rise of online providers (Netflix, Google, and Apple TV) and will ultimately choose their services based on the quality of the entertainment, not the amount of channels offered or where the channel falls on the dial.

The pressure now falls squarely on the shoulders of NBC Universal. Without quality content from NBC, Comcast will quickly begin to wonder why they paid all of that money and went through all of the trouble of diversifying their business. The competition is sure to be fierce between cable and online providers; content providers will continue to fight for better licensing agreements for their content and in the end consumers will also have to ask themselves… is it all worth it?

Battles Rage Over Content, as Netflix Changes the Game in the Web TV and Streaming Video Space Once Again

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

ba-netflix0811_f_SFCG1281474279With the help of Wikipedia, I learned the different types of battles that are fought. If you’ve been following what is going on in the latest turf wars between the cable providers (Time Warner Cable, Comcast), online providers (Netflix, Hulu) and media Companies (Fox, CBS) – you’d see very different strategies deployed by each side. All have one common goal in mind…control the distribution of entertainment to consumers, and all seems fair in this war. 

A “battle of attrition” aims to inflict losses on an enemy that are less sustainable compared to one’s own losses.

According to this New York Times, Netflix recently made a bold move by launching a new “streaming only” service, offering unlimited streaming movies and TV shows for a mere $7.99 a month. Also, in addition to Netflix paying the Post Office a whopping $500 million dollars a year in postage to mail out their signature red envelopes filled with disks, they will now pay studios another hefty sum for rights to their movies by recently completing a combined deal with Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate for one billion dollars. This does not include deals Netflix made earlier in the year with other major studios, such as Sony, Warner Brothers, Universal and 20th Century Fox.

So why are cable providers like Time Warner Cable and Comcast getting hot under the collar? Let’s take a closer look:

Netflix currently pays Starz, a pay TV channel, about 15 cents a month for each subscriber (which allows their customers to watch streaming movies from Sony and Disney), pennies compared to the $4 to $5 a month that cable and satellite owners pay for access to Starz, according to Rich Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG Research.

These types of deals, which allow consumers to access a larger catalogue of movies and bypass their local cable provider by accessing them online, couldn’t come at a worse time for companies like Time Warner Cable and Comcast. Cable providers already reported a net loss of 119,000 customers in the third quarter of 2010, the largest decline in 30 years.

A “battle of envelopment” involves an attack on one or both flanks.

Comcast is fighting back on two fronts by slapping Level 3 Communications, a provider of internet backbone services, which handles Netflix content, with “additional traffic fees.” Incidentally, Comcast, who’s acquisition of NBC is imminent, already competes directly with Netflix through their new acquisition of Hulu (Comcast owns 32 percent stake in Hulu). The rate hike could easily be seen as a way for Comcast to milk their competition, however, they can make the argument that Netflix’s massive volume is overtaxing their system and therefore should pay more. A recent study by Sandvine, a broadband equipment maker, showed that Netflix’s 16 million customers accounted for more than 20 percent of all Internet download traffic in North America during peak evening hours)

A “battle of encounter” is a meeting engagement where the opposing sides collide in the field without either having prepared their attack or defense.

If all of this wasn’t enough to make cable executives nervous, Netflix followed up their unlimited streaming offer by announcing a deal with newly formed film studio, FilmDistrict. As highlighted in this New York Observer article, the part of this deal that could prove to be a game changer is that it doesn’t include the standard “pay TV window” wherein new releases go to the cable industry first, then premier on Netlifx a few months later. 

According to The New York Post, Netflix is also in talks with studios about gaining access to “current episodes” of primetime TV shows and is willing to pay between $70,000 and $100,000 per episode. This is a first since Netflix has always offered only TV shows from past seasons.

Through all of this, media companies have been in constant negotiations with all of the “content distributors” – cable providers (Time Warner Cable and Comcast) and online providers (Netflix) – with behemoths like Google, Sony and Apple waiting in the wings as all three plan to compete in the game of online streaming distribution. Google, however, has already met heavy resistance from the networks. ABC, CBS, and NBC who all said they would not allow Google TV to stream full episodes of their shows. This should make for some interesting future negotiations between the two sides. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the networks suddenly changed their mind if Google TV’s relatively new service begins to take off.

A “battle of annihilation” is one in which the defeated party is destroyed in the field.

So what about the consumer, the eyeballs everyone’s vying for in all of this? I for one couldn’t be happier with all of the choices I suddenly have to watch movies or TV shows. The Internet is once again threatening the “middleman,” or, as I like to think of it, just another case of the Internet once again replacing one of the “brokers” of the world. We’ve seen it happen to some extent with real estate, stock trading … and now entertainment.  For 30 years cable providers have been the “brokers” for entertainment, bringing media and consumers together. It appears, for the moment at least, another “broker” is in jeopardy of once again being replaced by the Internet.

So what are your thoughts? Who do you think will win the on-going battle? Are you happy with the choices you have to access entertainment content? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

Landmark Entertainment Deals Ring in the New Year

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Champagne bottle ready for celebrationThe drama that unfolded in the media and entertainment world the last week of 2009 and the first week of 2010 marks just the beginning of what should be a very interesting year. Entertainment content providers, mainly the networks and movie studios and subscription based services that distribute their content (e.g., pay-cable providers and DVD retailers) begin a year that may well be filled with much wheeling and dealing:

News Corp, Fox Networks parent company, and Time Warner struck a deal at the eleventh hour on Dec 31, settling a retransmission fee dispute that has been raging for months. Fox threatened to force cable TV providers Time Warner Cable and Brighthouse Network to drop their broadcast signal which would have prevented over 6 million cable subscribers from watching their programming including: NFL games, college football’s Sugar Bowl, and America’s most watched TV series, American Idol. The thought of having live sports blacked out on New Year’s Day, especially college football, was unimaginable to me in the not so distant past.

Early last week Warner Brothers struck a deal ending a spirited dispute with Netflix that began in August 2009. Warner Brothers requested that Netflix wait 28 days before releasing movies on their rental service so Warner Brothers could realize higher DVD sales. (On average 75 percent of total  DVD sales occur in the first month of the release.) In exchange, Warner Brothers has agreed to make more of their titles available on Netflix streaming service.

The News Corp. Time Warner deal is sure to precede several others coming from rival network providers CBS, ABC-Disney, and NBC looking to increase their fees.  And the Warner Brothers Netflix deal should set a precedent for other studios to restructure current and future deals with DVD retailers.

Not all of these disputes ended happily, however. Scripps Network actually pulled the plug on the Food Network and HGTV affecting 3.1 million Cablevision subscribers after the two sides failed to reach an agreement over fees.

With executives unsure about how to monetize their web content or how they will adapt to multiple devices and platforms – the one thing they seem pretty certain of these days is that they are the ones producing the fuel that keeps this machine moving. Or Maybe we just took our entertainment for granted over the years and expected it to be within our constitutional rights to turn on channel 2 (CBS-New York) to watch the World Series or channel 5 (Fox-New York) to watch the Family Guy at no additional charge. We never thought twice about paying for a movie, whether at the box office, rental fees, or DVD purchases. And since its inception, we’ve always paid a premium for cable programming.

So maybe it’s time we view all content as equals regardless of whether we’re being entertained by Peter Griffin (Family Guy), George Clooney, or Derek Jeter. I would just like to watch what I want when I want – and for that I’m willing to pay a little more.

How are these recent negotiations affecting your PR and marketing efforts? On a personal level, are you willing to pay more for content if it means you get to access your favorite shows? Share your thoughts with the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.