Posts Tagged ‘Oprah’

Which Celebrity is Your PR Spirit Animal?

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Where do you fit in in the public relations animal kingdom? Which animal, and its celebrity equivalent, should be the spirit guide of your practice? We break down some of the PR’s most prominent spirit animals, then pair them with a celebrity for extra fun and clarification.

Georges Biard [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Georges Biard via Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Honey Badger – Brad Pitt

Whatever the PR equivalent is of eating a live cobra, honey badger does it, and he don’t care. Honey badger goes in and gets what he wants, even if he has to get stung by a thousand bees to do it. Honey badger PR pro is an ace at his job, and he don’t care about rumors or personal grooming norms. Why? Because honey badger is one of the biggest stars of the industry, so not only does honey badger not care – honey badger don’t have to care.

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser, photo via Starz

Sam Heughan, photo via Starz

The Groundhog – Sam Heughan

You probably know or know of a PR groundhog: not on the greater radar, but is about to get his day in the sun, shadow or not. Groundhogs do quality work for projects large and small, always putting in the hours necessary for a project to succeed. PR groundhogs have recognition in their niche, which bolsters their good reputation. But their time for spring is right around the corner; a lot of people are about to pay attention to the groundhog once it signs on to a visible new project. It doesn’t hurt if that project is the TV adaptation of a bestselling book series featuring men in kilts.

Tilda Swinton by flickr user aphrodite-in-nyc under CC BY

Tilda Swinton by flickr user aphrodite-in-nyc under CC BY

The Chameleon – Tilda Swinton

There may not be a public relations equivalent for being a woman who plays a man who turns into a woman, but chameleons don’t need one. Calls for tough and quirky projects go straight to them, and that’s the way they like it; chameleons like expanding their horizons, filling different roles, and thinking outside the box. Not everyone “gets” chameleons, but almost everyone can agree they do profound – and sometimes confounding – work.

Oprah Winfrey, via flickr user RubyGoes, cropped from original, under CCBy license

Oprah Winfrey, via flickr user RubyGoes, cropped from original, under CCBy license

The Praying Mantis – Oprah Winfrey

The ultimate content marketer, a praying mantis can turn its head 180 degrees, so it’s serious about garnering full coverage in every type of media. A praying mantis is serious about getting out their message they’d print their own magazine and put themselves on the cover every month.  A formidable hunter always armed and ready with a plan, a few million Twitter followers, and the biggest journalist Rolodex in the class, a praying mantis can reach an audience wherever they are.

Tom Cruise, MTV Live Via Wikimedia Commons CCBYSA 2.0

Tom Cruise, MTV Live Via Wikimedia Commons CCBYSA 2.0

The Dolphin – Tom Cruise

Dolphins are the power networkers because they’re extroverted, passionate, and work a crowd. You’ll find dolphins delivering navel/blowhole-gazing keynotes on abstract concepts and the future. They may or may not use a couch to emphasize their point.

Peter Dinklange, by flickr user Gage Skidmore under CCBY license

Peter Dinklange, by flickr user Gage Skidmore under CCBY license

The Panda – Peter Dinklage

Everyone loves a panda. The critical darlings of the PR and animal kingdoms can do no wrong no matter how bad their British accent is. Whenever you run into them, they’re always working on a bigger, better, or worthier cause. Every campaign, every canned response, every tweet seems to hit just the right note.

Mindy Kaling by NoHo Damon via Wikimedia Commons CCBYSA2.o0

Mindy Kaling by NoHo Damon via Wikimedia Commons CCBYSA2.o0

The Ant – Mindy Kaling

Ants are tough PR pros. Whip-smart and hard-working, ants may not fit the stereotypical image of their industry, and they use that to their advantage by fighting those stereotypes with determination, skill, and crazy strength. But ants are good – really good, and if people want to judge them, whatever, because while they’re out being all judgey, oops! There goes another rubber tree plant.

Celebrity Branding: Accountability and Influence

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Ruth Mesfun*

Virtual%20SeatI won the lottery! Okay, so, not the Mega Millions (apparently my luck did not transcend to that one). However, I did win tickets to Oprah’s Lifeclass the Tour for last night, April 2, at Radio City Music Hall. I picked up the tickets over the weekend and even though they were reserved, there was still a line circling the block. While waiting, I noticed no one complained about having to stand in line, in the rain, as if it was expected since we were Oprah’s “students.” After picking up my tickets, I hurriedly skimmed through the seating chart to see where my father and I were to be seated.

Orchestra seats I thought and I walked out with the biggest smile on my face.

While clutching the tickets I thought about the possibilities. How Oprah and Tony Robbins would share their secrets to an enlighten self and make all my problems disappear. My mind started to wander as if having tickets to their show was the Willy Wonka golden ticket to true happiness.

Then, I abruptly stopped and thought, Oprah is just a person she cannot solve my problems— that is my job.  

I also realized, in that moment, the true power of branding.

When I first studied branding in college my initial assumption was that branding was only for products or companies like Pepsi or Starbucks. Then it permeated to celebrity brands, such as Oprah and Tony Robbins. Now, with the advent of social and digital media, personal branding can be added to the mix. Branding people, particularly celebrity spokes people and their brands, opens a Pandora box which often hinders our ability to think objectively.

Instead of stepping back and having an objective perspective, if someone has a recognizable brand, we immediately join their cause without any initial thought of the situation, or at least not until afterwards. We are continuously in “sleep-mode” allowing branding to shift our thoughts and, as a result, our actions.

Celebrity branding also extends to the media and its ability to influence our response to the day’s news. (The recent Spike Lee social media gaffe comes to mind.) Often we trust and believe what is posted and reshare without double checking the facts.

So, while branding certainly has its place, as individuals – whether personally or professionally – we need to take responsibility for how our actions are influenced by branding and how we influence the actions of others via our own branding.

It is great to have an “AHA” moment just getting the tickets. Whatever else I learned during the Lifeclass, I promise to share in the coming days and weeks. 


 Bio: Before joining the BurrellesLuce team in 2011, as social media specialist, Ruth worked as a marketing assistant in a kitchen design firm and, later interned with Turner Public Relations. She holds a BA in Economics with a minor degree in International Relations from Rowan University. In addition to economics, education, and finance – Ruth is passionate about understanding the business implications of social media, including how it can be used to increase ROI, find and maintain a career, and create a business. Connect with her on Twitter: @RuthMesfun LinkedIn: Ruth Mesfun Facebook: BurrellesLuce

Don’t Let a Bad Interviewer Spoil the Interview

Friday, January 28th, 2011
Image Source:

Image Source:

First, I want to say I LOVE Piers Morgan on America’s Got Talent and Twitter. His whole “persona” comes across perfectly as a judge and in 140-characters. When I heard he was Larry King’s replacement I harkened back to his appearance on Celebrity Apprentice and thought he would do a great job “handling” the celebrities and wouldn’t be too intimidated to ask the tough questions. I was wrong. Piers doesn’t lack chutzpah, he appears to simply be too narcissistic and has more interest in what he has to say rather than his interviewee.

Piers is a trained reporter and editor. He has the pedigree to replace Larry King; unfortunately he’s just not a good interviewer. Instead of focusing on the interviewee, you can see him anticipating a hole in the conversation so he can make his next comment. Seeing him in action reminded me that the interview can only be as good as the preparation of your interviewee.

Basic Media Interview Tips:

Practice: Successful message development and delivery depends on preparation. Think through how you will respond to tough or hostile questions by developing and practicing clear, honest and appropriate answers.

Conclusions: Prepare and present your conclusion throughout the interview. Just as you wouldn’t bury the lead you can’t “hope” the interviewer will ask you the perfect question.

Avoid Jargon: Instead of using industry jargon speak in simple lay terms.

Key messages: Prepare, understand and practice key messages. Return to key messages as often as possible – Think Bill Clinton not Gary Condit.

Deal with difficult questions: Some questions can’t be given a straight answer, but to avoid the question looks bad too. Bridging and Blocking are very effective assets.

Bridging: Maintain control of the interview with the use of these common bridging phrases –
“Before we leave the subject, let me add that…”
“And the one thing that is important to remember is…”
“While…is important, it is also important to remember…”
“It’s true that…but it is also true that…”

Blocking: Never say “no comment” – it’s an obvious don’t. Instead, simple blocking allows you to focus the conversation. Common blocking phrases:
“I think what you’re really asking is…”
“That’s an interesting question, and to put it in perspective…”
“I don’t have precise details, but what I do know is…”

Never Repeat Negative Questions: Always frame your answer in the positive. Think about sound bites.

Stick to your message: Simple is better. Avoid the expert trap of over-answering. Work on test questions and learn when to stop talking.

Remove distractions: Technology is wonderful, but even the most seasoned interviewee can’t fight the Pavlovian response of the flashing red light or the subtle vibration that a message has arrived to their mobile device.

Relax: Be calm, confident and conversational.

In fairness to Piers, his first guests, Oprah Winfrey and Howard Stern, are arguably two of the best interviewers in the industry. They ask questions, some tough and some embarrassing, and get out of the way so people can answer. They have an inherent ability to relate and create a bond with the interviewee. Really great interviewers are few and far between which makes interview preparation an imperative skill for PR pros.

These tips are the basics. The best “tool” in your public relations toolkit is a video camera. Video magnifies the strengths and weaknesses of your interview skills and allows you to fast-track growth and improvement. Do you have any tips and tricks you use for media training?

Part 2: Licensing – Monetizing Content in a 30-Second World

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

In my previous post published earlier this week, I suggested that content providers just come up with a way to charge for the use of the article when somebody reads the whole article instead of the hextract (header/extract)… do this regardless of whether that somebody is the first reader of the article or the recipient of it being passed along in an email. Make the charge a passive transaction and at a price the consumer considers fair. So the question on the table is why this hasn’t been done?

Pondering this question, two phrases immediately come to mind: “The Inventor’s Dilemma” (aPart 2: Licensing and Monetizing Content in a 30-second World great book by Clayton Christensen, 1997), and “like turning an aircraft carrier around.” The legacy environment is blinding. At the heart, though, I believe, is the much bantered-about idea of “engaging the consumer.” This is the “buzz” used by the folks attempting to do the engaging. The consumer is evidently not getting the message that they are being engaged; at least not by The Media companies’ definition, which is about adopting and paying according to its rules of engagement.

I was at a conference last fall with a significant number of aspiring media titans in attendance. The panels focused on devices, technology, and the creation of apps to support their existing revenue models. My takeaway was the tremendous amount of energy going into convincing the consumer of what their, the consumers’, needs are instead of discovering and meeting those needs that already exist.

This contrast became more apparent with the remarks of each and every one of the CEO keynotes: Jason Kilar, Hulu; William Lynch, Barnes and Noble; and Oprah Winfrey, OWN. They all shouted about the key to success being the result of a dialog with the customer, listening to them, and giving them what they wanted. The panelist’s focus was certainly not the result of these folks being from a culture that celebrates entrepreneurial thinking. The legacy rules discourage divisional collaboration and non-linear approaches. You don’t get your own castle without being able to protect the moat. Problem is that the market in which these rules worked moved and it didn’t happen in the dead of night.

The old marketplace based on scarcity of information has left the building and with it the providers’ absolute control of access.

So what to do . . . ?

After having given this way too much thought, I would suggest an industry strategic planning meeting be convened with a very select group of players. I would gather together Hearst’s Frank Bennack, Advance’s Donald or Stephen Newhouse, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Barnes and Noble’s William Lynch, and Clay Shirky, who consults, teaches, and writes on the social economic effects of Internet technologies. I would also include Ken Doctor, a leading news industry analyst, as the scribe. The group should be sequestered for a week and then every six months reconvene to make adjustments. With all the exclusive consortiums in play targeting “low hanging fruit,” this is one consortium that could actually move the needle, and create enough disruptive engagement to get all those “mortgages” paid for a long, long time.

My guess is that, in the end, a process of marking, tracking, and monetizing will emerge. The only absolute is that time is of the essence in the 30-second world or information.

Media Outlets Leverage Mobile Apps

Monday, November 29th, 2010

by Carol Holden*

Surpurised young woman holding a mobile and shopping bagsFor me, it’s official – the world has gone totally mobile. The other night a commercial, on a kids’ cable channel my daughter watches, featured a Grandmother giving her little grandson (he looked about six to me) a tablet-reader for Christmas. I’ve been forewarned and won’t be shocked if my eight year old asks for one.

No wonder the rush continues for traditional media to expand to mobile devices, with some innovative apps already rolled out and others on the way:

  • The Economist just launched an enhanced version of its publication for the iPad and iPhone. Readers can tweak the layout and graphs so they can receive all the robust content of the magazine, but in a format that makes sense for a small screen. “You’re trying to recreate your print magazine but redesign it to make the most of the medium,” said Oscar Grut, managing director of digital editions for The Economist.
  • Oprah’s O, The Oprah Magazine has just released its iPad app to much fanfare. As described in the Marketwire release, “’I love the written word, and I love the iPad — to me, it’s another way to experience the intimacy of this magazine and its part of the future of the business,’ said Oprah Winfrey. ‘It’s a new way to connect with our readers, who are on a path of becoming their best selves.’”
  • New Corps’ Rupert Murdoch and Apple’s Steve Jobs recently announced they would be teaming up to create a new iNewspaper. “The collaboration, which has been secretly under development in New York for several months, promises to be the world’s first ‘newspaper’ designed exclusively for new tablet-style computers such as Apple’s iPad, with a launch planned for early next year,” writes Edward Helmore in this Guardian UK article. “According to reports, there will be no ‘print edition’ or ‘web edition.’”

In fact, there are already enough publications with apps (over 700) available to audiences and readers on the iPad that strategic research company McPheters and Company was able to put together a ten best list. “McPheters ranked the print-to-iPad products based on design, functionality and use of rich content.” The list presents an interesting mix of both newspapers and magazines covering the gamut of lifestyle, culture, politics, news, sports, food, fashion, etc. The number one spot went to The New Yorker app, with apps for newspaper circulation heavy-weights USA Today and The Wall Street Journal making the list at number eight and ten respectively. Fashion entrant Net-A-Porter made the list at number five.

Mobile applications are becoming such an integral part of the media landscape that other industry organizations are taking notice. The American Society of Magazine Editors announced that among the changes to the National Magazine Awards 2011, they will include a new award for mobile editions.

In this age of PR 3.0, how are you using mobile apps to connect with your audiences? If you use a mobile device to read newspapers and magazines, what outlets would top your list of best media apps? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.


Bio: I’ve been in the media business all of my adult life, first in newspapers before going full circle and joining BurrellesLuce, where I now direct the Media Measurement department. I’ve always enjoyed meeting and especially listening to the needs of our customers and others in the public relations and communications fields; I welcome sharing ideas through the Fresh Ideas blog. One of my professional passions is providing the type of service to a client that makes them respond, “atta girl” – inspiring our entire team to keep striving to be the best. Although I have been lucky enough to travel through much of Asia and most major U.S. cities for business or pleasure, my free time is now spent with my daughter, visiting family/friends, and of course the Jersey shore. Twitter: @domeasurement LinkedIn: Carol Holden Facebook: BurrellesLuce