Posts Tagged ‘reporters’


Pretty soon you won’t be able to tell the difference between Fox and Hulu, HBO and Netflix, or CNN and YouTube.

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

sneetchesThe recent jockeying for position and struggle to find an identity within the crowded and competitive world of network, cable, streaming video, and online television reminds me of one of my favorite Dr. Seuss stories, The Sneetches. The Sneetches were a group of yellow creatures, some with green stars on their bellies (a sign of distinction) and some without, until a character named Sylvester McMonkey McBean offers those without stars a chance to add them by going through his Star-On machine. In order to stay special the Sneetches formerly with stars happily pay the money to have them removed in his Star-Off machine. Ultimately this escalates, with the Sneetches running from one machine to the next, and to quote the good Doctor,

“until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew whether this one was that one… or that one was this one or which one was what one… or what one was who.”

The last few month, the news out of the “television” world has been very Seuss-like to say the least:

At this year’s winter TV press tour Kevin Reilly, entertainment president, Fox Broadcasting Company, revealed that his network plans to use web content as a development tool for the airwaves. “Something that starts in digital could be the next big primetime hit… We have an expertise, and a history, and proficiency, and a primetime audience base,” he confirms in this Atlantic.com article about 5 Ways the Networks Want to Change How You Watch TV. Reilly goes on to use Web Therapy starring Lisa Kudrow (of Friends fame) as one example of a web-only series that has successfully made the switch and is now aired on Showtime.

In an effort to kick start their declining subscription base, Netflix is beginning to act more like a network rather than your average streaming video provider. By jumping into the original programming waters, Netflix plans to release three new series in 2012 – starting with Lilyhammer, a crime comedy set in Norway’s former Winter Olympics headquarters, starring The Soprano‘s Steven Van Zandt. Not to be outdone and fresh off a year where they realized 60 percent revenue growth in 2011, the web streaming service Hulu is launching its first ever original scripted series. Battleground, a mockumentary series described as “The Office meets The West Wing, premieres February 14, explains, this opinion brief on TheWeek.com.

And remember when YouTube was just a site where you could watch short clips of people doing funny and unusual things? Well, last week Reuters joined CNN and the BBC by unveiling its own channel to be shown on the popular video sharing site. The channels will show original content from Reuters on YouTube, which will allow them to leverage an army of over 3,000 reporters worldwide.

I doubt all the players involved with getting content to the masses will end up in blissful harmony like our friends the Sneetches, but it should be fun watching them run from one machine to the next having their green stars removed and re-added over again.

What are your thoughts? Please share them with me here on BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

When It Comes to Brands and Content, Simplicity Matters

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Valerie Simon

iStock_Communication_SmallThis weekend, in a Wall Street Journal article, former chairman of the FEC, Arthur Levitt, suggested: “When an editor wants a reporter to explain something more clearly in a news article, she might say: ‘Tell it to Aunt Edna.’ Aunt Edna is the stand-in for a regular person, someone who has never thought about a cloture motion in the Senate, a municipal bond offering, or some other obscure issue of our public life.” Good advice to all those in the field of communications who are responsible for sharing important information with the public.

The practice of using simple language, however, isn’t always so simple, particularly for those experts in specialty fields, like healthcare or finance, who are tasked with communicating precise and complex information to the general public. Add the pressure and influence of company stakeholders, legal concerns, and a desire to be creative, and it is easy to see why “simple” is not always easy to achieve.

Put yourself in the role of the consumer…

  • Will “Aunt Edna” be confused by your message?
  • Will she grow frustrated trying to understand the industry jargon you are using, or overwhelmed trying to make sense of the information presented to her?
  • Will Aunt Edna grow uneasy or even lose trust in your company?

Now if, Aunt Edna has little patience for jargon and pretentious language, what about “Uncle Walt” (my stand in for the ubiquitous journalist)? Trade publications and academic journals notwithstanding, today’s reporters, producers and editors need to appeal to a broad audience. They are under increasing pressure to produce more, under tighter deadlines.

  • Will Uncle Walt need to read your press release multiple times in order to make sense of it? Will he even read your release for that matter?
  • How difficult is it for him to find the information he needs on your website?
  • Does all of the material and jargon lend itself to mis-quotes and factual misinterpretations?
  • Are the key messages you hope Uncle Walt will take away easy to identify?

Understand that looking out for Aunt Edna is not a charitable exercise. Customers like Aunt Edna are more loyal, and even willing to pay more, for brands that offer communications, interactions and experiences that are easy to understand and use. In fact, U.S. Brands Could Gain $27 Billion in 2011 by Bringing Consumers Simpler Experiences and Interactions, according to the findings of the Siegel+Gale  2010 Global Brand Simplicity Index.

So what global brands offer the simplest communications and what is the real pay off? For more tangible details on the value of simplicity, be sure to join BurrellesLuce and Brian Rafferty, Siegel+Gale Global Director, Customer Insights, for a free on-demand webinar on Using the Power of Simplicity to Optimize Brand Communications and learn about the findings of the 2010 Global Brand Simplicity Index. 

In the meantime, I offer you this challenge: Take a look at your online press room through the eyes of Aunt Edna and Uncle Walt. How much time does it take you to identify the key points? Is there anything subject to interpretation? Does your communication hold up to the “Aunt Edna test”? Does your competitor? Then, on the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog, tell us what you find out.

Public Relations & Marketing with QR Codes

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
Flickr Image: Fluid Forms

Flickr Image: Fluid Forms

In my last post, I talked about 2D barcodes being used in the print media to connect the readers’ to additional content and offer a more interactive experience. I also mentioned that there’s a myriad of uses in the communications field – not just advertising but marketing and public relations as well.

Remember, however, even though QR codes are catching on here in the US, that doesn’t mean everyone knows what they are or how to use them. If you plan to launch an initiative using QR codes, be sure that you educate your audience with detailed instructions on what to do.  Also, wherever the QR code leads must offer value – exclusive information, how-to videos, giveaways, discounts, entertainment –something to grab their attention and encourage interaction. It is often easier to have the QR code point to a website that can be updated and refreshed with new content, rather than a static page, as once a QR code is created most cannot be modified.

Here are some ways to utilize QR codes in marketing, event planning and PR:

  • Print on your business cards leading to client testimonial page or background bio.
  • Include on conference attendee badges to make exchanging contact information a snap.
  • Non-profits could link to volunteer and donation pages.
  • Use it to link consumers (or reporters) to how-to videos or detailed instructions.
  • Have a QR code screen-printed onto t-shirts, linking to details, to raise awareness about a charity cause or some other event.
  • Use at a tradeshow to allow attendees to quickly scan your contact info.
  • Grassroots campaigns could link to a podcast of their guiding principles with a call to action.
  • Put next to retail displays linking to product reviews.
  • PR efforts for a large event could utilize a QR Code with a link to a map of the event’s venues.
  • Sponsoring an event? Use a QR code on signage and other pieces linking to a special thank-you page and a sign-up form for such things as newsletters.
  • In public awareness materials, it might link to an assessment survey or support resources.

In media relations, you could even embed in your press release directing the journalist to your online press kit or photo gallery and fact sheets. That should be just enough to get your creativity flowing. What can you add? How are you incorporating QR codes into the marketing mix? How has it benefited your communication efforts? What have been some of the challenges?

K.I.S.S. Unplugged

Friday, November 12th, 2010

by Rich Gallitelli*

Although it would be interesting to hear songs from the album “Destroyer” acoustically, I am talking about the acronym, not the band:  K.I.S.S., “Keep It Simple Stupid” or “Keep It Short and Simple.” My BurrellesLuce colleague, Cathy Del Colle recommends this principal to our team and clients each day. However, K.I.S.S. hasn’t quite effectively crept into all parts of our everyday lives…

Flickr Image Source: ryantron

Flickr Image Source: ryantron

I attended a luncheon, this past September, hosted by the Publicity Club of New York. The panel consisted of five senior TV producers/reporters who cover business news, all providing insight for PR professionals on effectively pitching their ideas.  All five panelists essentially preached the same mantra “You have to get your pitch across within the first three sentences of your email; otherwise, the email is deleted.”  Yes, three sentences. For a novice like me, that was an eye opener.

Afterwards, I began to realize that the essence of that statement has pretty much defined how we now interact as a society. Real time news – or more precisely, “today’s news yesterday” – TV shows with 45 second scenes, initialisms and acronyms, and our inner most thoughts in 140 characters or less are just a few of many examples. We also have a host of devices and websites such as Twitter, Facebook, video games, Droids, iPods, and iPad all designed to help keep connecting simple. When was the last time you went to a conference or even a coffee shop without seeing people typing away on their BlackBerries? Even the world of sports, once the cradle for colorful nicknames, has also fallen victim to our need for “simplicity.” The Yankee Clipper, Earl the Pearl, Larry Legend, and Magic, have given way to the mundane A-Rod¸ D-Wade, and T.O.  And we won’t even begin to discuss what our teachers have to deal with, while grading papers in the advent of the texting era.

Has our appetite for instant access and gratification been borne out of a lack of creativity or are we so plugged into technology that we simply do not have the time to use our creativity? In other words, has our need to “Keep it Simple” gone to the extreme and become counter-intuitive? (If you need any more evidence, I have two words: Speed Dating!) So where is the balance?

A group of researchers from the University of Stanford performed a study that found “People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.”

After putting about 100 students through a series of three tests, the researchers realized the heavy multitaskers are paying a big mental price.

“’They’re suckers for irrelevancy, said communication Professor Clifford Nass, one of the researchers whose findings are published in the Aug. 24 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ‘Everything distracts them.’” 

In each test, the light multitaskers out performed the heavy multitaskers. “’When they’re in situations where there are multiple sources of information coming from the external world or emerging out of memory, they’re not able to filter out what’s not relevant to their current goal,’ said Anthony Wagner, an associate professor of psychology. ‘That failure to filter means they’re slowed down by that irrelevant information.’”

In short, the human brain is not designed to multitask and hold all that information. When interviewed for this BurrellesLuce newsletter, Carol Schiro Greenwald of Greenwald Consulting, who was not involved in the study, explained: “We can’t multitask because the brain isn’t set up that way. It is set up to think in logical order, from general to specific. If you stop doing something in the middle — Think about when you start doing it again. You have to go back to the beginning.”

So while I am not advocating we become inefficient while on the job, I am advocating a re-evaluation of “Simple.” Perhaps it is a matter of unplugging from the world and our “need for now” while at home. In essence, apply the K.I.S.S. method at times when we are not on vacation, even if it is only for just an evening or a weekend. This Saturday, do not tweet that you are brushing your teeth, even if your dentist is following you on Twitter. Take a drive or a walk. Visit your parents, or a relative you haven’t seen in awhile. They will thank you for it and so will your eyes and brain. (Just don’t use the word decompress, it sounds so decompressing.) After all, life goes by in a blink and it’s much sadder if you haven’t noticed a tree until you are 65.

We may need information now and have the technology to get it; but, let’s face it, sometimes what we think will simplify things only makes it more complicated. But don’t worry. Monday morning, it’ll all come flooding back to you – the LOLing, the the multitasking, real-time news, etc – the moment you walk out the front door, or more precisely when you begin your morning commute. 

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*Bio: Richard Gallitelli brought a wealth of sales and customer-service experience when he came to BurrellesLuce in 2007. His outstanding performance as a sales associate and personalized shopper for Neiman Marcus (he also has worked for Nordstrom) earned him a nomination by Boston magazine as “Best of Boston” sales associate for high-end retail fashion stores. Rich’s talents also won him praise and a profile in the book, “What Customers Like About You: Adding Emotional Value for Service Excellence and Competitive Advantage,” written by best-selling business author Dr. David Freemantle. Rich majored in English Literature at William Paterson University, and is a published poet and short-story writer. Facebook: BurrellesLuce Twitter: BurrellesLuce LinkedIn: BurrellesLuce

A Letter From a Press Release

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Dear PR Professional,

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. “I am not dead and I have an app to prove it.” Ok, maybe I don’t. But granted, I am more than 100 years old and am still holding up fairly well, if I must say so myself.

Our relationship has seen its ups and downs. You’ve shared me in many ways, including, but not limited to mail (long before it was called “snail mail”) and fax – I really burnt up some data lines in my time. Let us not forget email; you’ve emailed me so often and to so many erroneous contacts I sometimes get called “SPAM” or “junk” now – no respect for your elders. And this newfangled “tweeted.” (That’s right, I’m “hip” to it all.)

Now I spend most of my time in online press rooms as a reference link for reporters to “come and get me if they want me.”

A few tips I’ve heard over the years:

ARCHIVE: Even if you focus on social media ALWAYS have a place for traditional releases in your newsroom. This will allow journalists a resource for quotes if someone is not readily available. Your website should have an archive of news stories and I still prove to be a concise summary of events and/or activities important to your business.

IDENTIFY CORRECT RECIPIENTS: Never blindly email me. If you must do this, and I can’t think of a good reason why, at least make sure I’m relevant to the recipient. (I have a positive reputation to maintain after all.)

BE SENSITIVE TO MY SIZE: At least embed me in the email. People hate it when I’m “attached” and frankly just hanging out there is a little scary.

WRITE A GOOD SUBJECT LINE: If you MUST email me, even if the recipient is expecting me, please write a good subject line. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone unopened because nobody really knew what I was so they ignored me.

GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT: If someone says they don’t want a press release, but just the who, what, when, where and why, please give it to them. Also prepare that same information in my form or at a minimum a fact sheet for your archive. Remember once I’m on your website you can still maximize me for SEO purposes.

I still have some gas in the tank so don’t count me out just yet. I know some say our relationship is a bit dysfunctional at best. Sure, I’m traditional, you know – AP Style – but I still have a place in your plan and tactics if you use me wisely. And I really think we can make this work.

Lovingly,
Press Release*

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*Bio: Press Release is a 100+ year veteran of the PR and media relations industry, where it helps professionals connect and engage with relevant journalists and bloggers. In its spare time, Press Release enjoys finding innovative ways to stay curtain in the ever-changing media landscape and maximize its results. Web: BurrellesLuce Media Outreach; Facebook: BurrellesLuce; LinkedIn: BurrellesLuce; Twitter: BurrellesLuce