Specializing in social marketing and business communications training

Fox Sports Throws a Curve Ball in #WorldSeries Opener

When the satellite truck lost power and the broadcast went dark, folks on Twitter started lobbing  hardballs about the tech trouble.

The fourth inning in Kansas City turned ugly—and quiet—for Fox Sports.

My Tweetdeck #WorldSeries column went berserk in Game 1 of the World Series when the Fox Sports broadcast went bust. Like so many others, I was tweeting and watching the New York Mets in Kansas City. I was horrified to see a blue screen on my TV.












Naturally, my first thought was: Which brand—if any—is going to jump all over this marketing moment, like Oreo did when the power went out during Super Bowl 48 in New Orleans?

Fox Sports’ broadcasters tried to get a handle on what was unfolding on live television, and tweeted:







When the first of the two outages hit, Peter Shankman, a New Yorker, and the founder of HARO, hit the (Twitter) roof.








When the telecast returned a few minutes later, viewers saw that play had actually been halted at Kauffman Stadium. We watched as Major League Baseball Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre consulted with the umpiring crew and managers. The game resumed a few minutes later when officials agreed to continue without the use of replay, reported USAToday.








During the downtime, Twitter freaked out on #Fox with numerous hashtags and criticism of announcer Joe Buck.











Regardless of who wins the series, Fox Sports is the biggest loser. Can’t wait for Game 2.

As former Mets pitcher Tug McGraw said in the 1973 World Series, “Ya Gotta Believe.”

Me and Tug McGraw 2001








Back to the Future: 10 New Age PR and Marketing Insights

Visitorparking_sky_editedIn our new world of social media, fascinating things happen when Marty McFly meets brand ambassadors, bloggers and connected consumers.

Old school communication has taken the time machine south. You’ve noticed, haven’t you?

Pop culture and movie enthusiasts are marking the release of the 1985 epic movie, “Back to the Future.” The sci-fi trilogy featured a time machine that scientist Doc Brown concocted from a sleek DeLorean. The movies were packed with other gadgets and “stuff” for everyday life that seemed awfully bizarre.

Is social media our bizarre and concocted time machine?

Few of us could have imagined how the tenets and tools of communication have changed these past 25 years. Or, even 10 years.

Thanks to imaginative, edgy communicators with vision, we now have:

  • Smart companies with their own news departments that create credible brand journalism stories daily.
  • Empowered consumers who insist their voices be heard on multiple platforms.
  • Resourceful entrepreneurs who have quickly—and nimbly—built their own media empires.

These 10 quotes help us frame our modern day PR and marketing picture, and make the depiction quite appealing:

  1. “In the old world, you devoted 30 percent of your time to building a great service and 70 percent of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts.” ― Jeff Bezos, founder, Amazon.com
  2. Content is an opportunity to do something different. Tone of voice is your most powerful, gutsiest, bravest asset. A braver voice attracts like-minded, and repels the timid.—Ann Handley, author and speaker
  3. “The goal of social media is to turn customers into a volunteer marketing army.” – Jay Baer, founder, Convince and Convert
  4. “What makes Instagram such a special marketing tool is that it allows marketers to bring their companies’ aesthetics to life, visually. All of the work done during branding processes—finding the right color pallet, picking the perfect adjectives to describe a business, selecting images that embody the company’s personality—can be communicated with great detail through regular photo uploads to Instagram.”—Ted Karczewski, managing editor, the Content Standard
  5. “Social media puts the ‘public’ into PR and the ‘market’ into marketing.”—Chris Brogan, blogger
  6. “Remarkable social media content and great sales copy are pretty much the same; plain spoken words designed to focus the needs of reader, listener or viewer.”—Brian Clark, founder, Copyblogger
  7. “The bottom line is that for most companies, customer experience is not truly a priority. They manage it instead of lead it. They scale and optimize their current practices, generally focusing on some technology fixes and doing good marketing. No amount of advertising or marketing can override the effects of a poor experience with your people or products. People will talk and people will listen.” — Brian Solis, analyst, Altimeter Group
  8.  “Today’s marketing success comes from self-publishing web content that people want to share. It’s not about gimmicks. It’s not about paying an agency to interrupt others.”—David Meerman Scott, author
  9. “The New York Times says it prints ‘All the News That’s Fit to Print’ but it actually prints what fits, and what fits is what advertisers will support and readers have time to consume. Stories have to fight to get a spot.”—Seth Godin, author and speaker
  10. “A curator is an information chemist. He or she mixes atoms together in a way to build an info-molecule. Then adds value to that molecule.” —Robert Scoble, social media entrepreneur and blogger

Entertainment website IMDB.com describes the first shot of “Back to the Future”:  “The scene opens in Dr. Emmett Brown’s (Christopher Lloyd) garage/home laboratory as the camera pans over a large collection of clocks.”

Come to think of it, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs all started their tinkering in their garages, too. Hmm.

5 Signs You Know You’re Prepared to Work in PR

IMAG0387Whether you’re gearing up for your coveted “first job in the real world” or you’ve been working in PR for a bit, we know preparation is the key to success. Well, preparation mixed with perseverance, persistence and patience. Caffeine’s good, too.

Adjectives aside, here are five ways to know you’re not only ready to work in public relations, but you’re willing to step up and blow the doors off the hinges.

1. I will always bring (tons of) value. Adding value to client relationships is obsolete. You must consistently add IMMENSE value to clients. This requires that you study, distill, learn, and have a deep understanding of your client’s niche, industry and team. When you know their business inside and out, you can head off problems in advance of disaster. Anticipate their challenges and offer creative solutions BEFORE problems arise. Don’t have panicky clients coming to you about a problem they heard in a webcast. Today’s business climate demands that you share solid and quantifiable information long before the buzz begins. Hint: This strategy goes well beyond reading trade pubs and dropping in on a LinkedIn group every few weeks. You must commit to lifelong learning, and professional and personal development.

2. I will show up big. The most successful people in business are those who focus on what they can give to others, and not what they can get, get, get. High achievers are comfortable in deflecting attention away from themselves. They have absolute faith that by helping others, abundance will find its way into their lives. Individuals with this mindset aren’t in a hurry to get the deal. Instead, their priority is to build relationships and trust. People who show up big, regardless of the scope of the task or the stature of the other person, are also flexible. They are agile workers who can course correct in the midst of a project. As a result of these attributes, they are the “go-to person” who is irreplaceable. Marketing pro Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin, talks about how to make yourself indispensable. Hint: Mediocrity is not for you. Become a person of excellence.

3. I will focus intently. Your ability to pay attention will completely change every all of your professional and personal relationships. You must be willing to fight mental distractions and enter into the deep, “in the moment sphere” of listening. This is a rare attribute in today’s world, but it is so desperately needed. Consider the practice of “silent listening.” It requires us to mentally quiet the unrelenting soundtrack that plays in our heads 24/7. Silent listening demands that we give our undivided attention, free of distractions, judgments and response planning. It calls for us to be fully present. Hint: Be patient as focus requires awareness and discipline. Meditation and yoga can help.

4. I will have a curious mind. One of my favorite quotes is from TV journalist Diane Sawyer: “Wake up curious.” Get out of bed each morning with a newfound sense of excitement of what the day will bring. This childlike trait will serve you well. People and stories are not what they appear to be. Your willingness to ask good questions and truly listen to uncover what lies beneath will bring fresh perspectives and enthusiasm for your work and life. Hint: Become an emotional archaeologist. Take your shovel to every client meeting and interaction, and dig away.

5. I will commit to communicating in new ways. These days, PR pros are communicating like project managers. You must be prepared to track the minutiae in assignments. Constant communication with team members has to be tempered with independent thinking skills. Whether you’re a newcomer to public relations or a more experienced PR professional, you must know how to use online spreadsheets, dashboards, graphics and images to track progress, next steps and metrics. Data visualization is essential. Executives don’t have time to distill reams of reports and analytics. That’s what you’re here for. Respect your manager’s time and provide easy-to-view pie charts and graphs that highlight only the most relevant business-related outcomes. They will appreciate your efforts. Hint: Communicators must be adept at this thing called communication.

Speaking of success, I invite you to visit CareerTapped.com. The site provides free educational business content to help college students develop workplace skills and connect with employers before graduation. The result is quality mentoring, internships and jobs. CareerTapped.com offers new ways for high achievers to keep up with PR, communication, marketing and business information.

The Evolving Definition of Success

Measure_success_meaningIt’s a loaded question that we often hear from Oprah: What’s the definition of success?

Strayer University has launched a formal effort to convince publisher Merriam-Webster to update its dictionary definition of success. But it’s not quite as it appears. After reading posts on Vice and Business Insider, there may be more sizzle than steak to some of their reporting.

According to Merriam-Webster, success is a noun defined as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.” This part of the definition has leaders and students at Strayer calling for the modification. However, both Vice and Business Insider didn’t mention Merriam-Webster’s second definition of success: “The correct or desired result of an attempt.” The latter, of course, has plenty of wiggle room in the word “correct.” What may be “correct” to you may not sit well with me.

I agree with Strayer University’s take that the first definition of success doesn’t truly reflect the way in which many people today think of ultimate achievement. And, of course, times have (significantly) changed since Merriam- Webster first published its definition. To me, the second definition is closer to my own belief, but it remains far off from many others’ musings.

Take It to the People

To gauge public sentiment, Strayer University commissioned a survey of 2000 people ages 18 and older. The research was conducted last year and revealed that 90 percent of respondents believe Merriam-Webster’s definition of success should be revised. Only one in five people connected monetary wealth with being successful.

Those polled say success is more about happiness than “money, power and fame.” In addition, the survey found:

  • Nearly 70 percent of people associate success with achieving personal goals.
  • More than 65 percent defined success as having good relationships with friends and family.
  • Some 60 percent said it’s about loving what you do for a living.


Welcome to a New Age

Does the definition of success change with the coming of age of different generations? Millennials have certainly had their collective asses reamed for being too narcissistic, disengaged in politics and lacking basic business and communication skills. These traits don’t exactly paint a picture of success. Still, despite all the criticism heaped on this demographic, millennials get high marks in corporate social responsibility and diversity. These characteristics are certainly aligned with Strayer University’s definition of success: “Happiness derived from good relationships and the attainment of personal goals.”

In a press release, Strayer University president Brian Jones said that Merriam-Webster’s official definition of success doesn’t reflect the reality of how Americans think about, discuss and ultimately pursue success. “If we take it literally, it would mean people who love their jobs, have happy families or help their communities aren’t successful. This is a dangerous notion as it can lead people to believe they are unsuccessful because they haven’t amassed a certain amount of wealth or fame,” said Jones. “Our belief is that there are many definitions of and paths to success and that all journeys to success are unique and should be celebrated. We believe the official definition of success should reflect that,” he said.

As publisher of CareerTapped.com, an educational business content community for college students and employers, I love the fact that one of our most popular features are the “Success Profiles.” We highlight students and sponsors who share not only their successes, but their failures and lessons learned. These candid admissions are critical motivators in professional and personal development.

Here’s a sampling of how college students in the CareerTapped community define success:

  • Samantha Pasciuto: “Success is the sense of pride one gets after hard work is completed.”
  • Kyle Beebe: “Success is achieving a long-term goal or aspiration leading to financial freedom, and business connections that last the entirety of one’s life.”
  • Makayla Smith: “Success is being able to set a goal and then achieving that goal. You aim to do the best that you can to get to where you want to be. “
  • Myles Biedermann: “Success is when you achieve your goals and daily aspirations to the fullest potential.”
  • Matthew Nesti: “Success is reached when you are satisfied with the work or job you have done and you feel a sense of pride.”
  • Lydia Snapper: “I’m an aspiring writer, so success is having someone I don’t know reach out to me and tell me that something I have written meant something to them or has inspired them.”
  • Nicholas Suriani: “Success is not a measure of wealth. It’s a measure of accomplishments. It is ambiguous, and allows for everyone to have their own interpretation of the word.”
  • Austin Ogiba: “Success is achieving a goal or task that makes oneself feel accomplished and happy.”


Here are several examples of how business professionals—most of whom work in communication, social media and education—define success. Notice their definitions aren’t exactly aligned with Merriam-Webster, either:

  • Attorney and blogger Sara Hawkins: “Many people define success by money. However, when I was very young, I learned that if you define success by the money you have or earn, you may never see yourself as successful. Success in an inside measurement. Yes, money is good, but it’s not the only metric.” @sarafhawkins
  • Small business consultant and entrepreneur Brian Moran: “Success has a thousand different definitions. It doesn’t matter how I define it; it matters that you have a definition for it.” @brianmoran
  • Ophthalmologist Dr. Robert Scharfman: “Success is doing what you like, doing it well and making a living doing it.”
  • Marketing and PR CEO Ashley Cisneros Meija: “Success is truly achieving balance professionally and personally.” @chatterbuzzz
  • Adjunct communications professor Kevin Freeman: “It’s about achieving and completing a targeted goal with results that the individual feels comfortable with at the end of the activity.”
  • PR entrepreneur and adjunct instructor Deirdre Breakenridge: “Making a difference in the lives of your family, friends and industry colleagues.” @dbreakenridge


Personally, I like actor Denzel Washington’s definition of success: “For me, success is inner peace. That’s a good day for me.”

It remains to be seen if Merriam-Webster will revise the definition of success. But Strayer University’s movement to draw attention to our changing social mores and values are important, as it goes well beyond a play on words.

(Image via)

8.5 Creative Ways to Grab People’s Attention

New research finds that we have just under 9 seconds—8.5 to be precise—to get someone’s attention. Our attention spans have decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8.5 seconds this year. No surprise here, but the culprit is external communication.

Video, of course, is the hot commodity these days. And short videos are ideal. This graph reminds us about the importance of snippets:










Based on our limited ability to focus, here are 8.5 things communicators, PR pros and entrepreneurs can do to grab—and hopefully keep—someone’s attention. Whether you’re trying to reach a reporter, your target audience or a social media connection, short form content reigns supreme.

  1. Record a Twitter video. To truly connect with your followers on Twitter, put in some extra (video) effort and you’ll both be amazed. True to his style of recording quick videos on the fly, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, aka @GaryVee, takes us along on a cab ride in New York and shows how easy it is to use Twitter video. A 10 second clip can truly differentiate you from others, and if you’re pitching tech reporters, this will be impressive.
  2. Nail your headlines and email subject lines. No one will read your content unless the headline or subject line is so brief yet compelling that they simply can’t resist. Choose each word carefully with a focus on a benefit for the reader. Put yourself on the receiving end and be relevant. BuzzSumo can help.
  3. Use Periscope in the morning. Interact with your morning news anchors with Periscope. The early morning news is a fabulous time to use this technology because most people are half asleep and the news anchors are more apt to interact with the few who are engaging and interested in their programs. You’ll feel like old friends in no time.
  4. Read a journalist’s last five posts. Before you pitch a new contact or reporter, read —don’t skim—their last five posts or articles. When crafting your pitch, mention specifics from their previous work. We all appreciate when our efforts are recognized by others. Let reporters know you’re paying attention.
  5. Keep an eye on trending topics and hashtags. These hints can help dictate your content. Run with it while your competition is distracted with other external noise and nonsense.
  6. Incorporate easy tools that help with micro content. Less is more in our attention-starved world. Use memes, Inline Tweet Sharer, Canva and Facebook videos to keep things brief and interesting.
  7. Consider Snapchat. According to Social Media Examiner, Snapchat is one of the fastest growing social networks, with more than 100 million daily active users. Some 70 percent of Snapchat’s U.S. users are between the ages of 18 and 34. With Snapchat, you can create a video narrative with filters, emojis, music and text that will pique the attention of your audience. You can promote a contest or offer a glimpse behind the scenes of an event or conference.
  8. Look at new ways to encourage engagement with millennials. Are you familiar with Comment Bubble? It’s a free tool that allows people to react to videos. You can specify the type of feedback you would like to receive—text, audio, video, or by clicking instant feedback buttons. Here’s an example from SocialMediaSlant.com:










8.5. Repurpose longer content into micro content on Pinterest. If you have a tip sheet-style press release or valuable piece of advice, create a visually appealing image with one or two quick tips. Post it to Pinterest, with a link to the longer content. Many businesses generate a significant amount of revenue from Pinterest. Don’t miss this easy opportunity.

The bottom line: Be brief.









Surround Yourself with Smart People

MichaelJFox_bdayLeaders are not supposed to know everything. Plain and simple.

People everywhere—whether they are employed, stay-at-home parents or retired—most often succeed when they are willing to ask for help. They are smart about what they don’t know.

Many are under the impression that asking for help or admitting you don’t know something is a sign of weakness. Isn’t it a sign of humility?

We can’t know everything, plain and simple. No one does. No one ever will.

Here’s the difference between leaders and “those who also ran the race.” Leaders appreciate and respect what they know—and don’t know. They don’t see themselves as incompetent. They use a different approach. They look for people who are experienced in what they lack.

Smart people look to others to fill the gap.

The result: New learning opportunities and creativity in business.  It’s not about someone being a threat. It’s about adding someone to the team who can complement the others.

Best-selling business author Harvey Mackay says if your house is on fire, don’t grab your family pictures or jewelry. Grab your Rolodex (or gadget with your contacts!) He’s right.

In a magazine interview, actor Michael J. Fox talks about being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. As a result of his illness, he launched the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which is working towards finding a cure for Parkinson’s. In the interview, Fox speaks with humility about starting the organization:

“Now I look back at the foundation and what we’ve been able to do. We have certainly not met all our goals yet, but steps have been taken. When I started it, I thought, I’m not smart enough to do this. I had no experience in management, no experience in administration, no experience in nonprofit; but then this phrase came into my head: I only have to be smart enough to find people who are smarter than me; I only have to be smart enough to recognize who knows more than me.”

Consider this. When you’re home and the kitchen sink is leaking, you call a plumber. If your car breaks down, you find a mechanic. If your business is growing and you need professional accounting services, you delegate to someone who has experience in business accounting.

As long as you are willing to admit that you need help, you are on the path to success.



9 Ways to Benefit from Social Media

IMG_20150502_141223074[1]Most of us who are entrenched in social media are driven by the goal of growing our credibility, visibility and revenues. Yes, we’ve met wonderful new people and friends along the way. Had a few yucks online and maybe a few drinks in person.

However, the goal is business development.

When you think back on what you’ve learned since embarking on this technological journey, it’s quite amazing. Sometimes, I have to just pinch myself. Would you agree?

Here are the 9 Cs of social media that have had a significant impact on my professional and personal development.

  1. Clarity. 140 characters. Six second videos. Infographics. Data visualization. Memes. All of these require clarity in our communication.
  2. Community and curation. Was there life before #hashtags, groups, chats and hangouts? Now, we enjoy sites, apps and platforms such as Kik, ooVoo, Flipboard, 99U, the Skimm, Vice and more. By nature, human beings long to be accepted and be part of a group. There are plenty to choose from in the world of social media.
  3. Compelling. The most successful people in social media are the individuals and brand managers who realize they have something valuable and compelling to share. Their willingness to pass along relevant and timely information that piques the interest of others is magical. It leads to a curiosity that motivates people to want to learn more about you and your business. When your messages and content resonate with others, they’ll be compelled to reach out to you.
  4. Cultivate. Have you learned the lesson of patience? Social media is a fine teacher of patience. It takes time to cultivate relationships, friendships and business. If you’re looking for instant gratification, you’re in the wrong place. We can all benefit from slowing down a bit.
  5. Competency. You’ll be able to grow your business, community and yourself when you stick with your core skills and expertise. Social media demands transparency. You can’t fake competency; long-term anyway. Social media affords all of us the opportunity to commit to a life of learning and the development of new competencies.
  6. Communication. The cornerstone of success is communication. Haven’t your communication skills significantly improved since you began this online journey? Aren’t you savvier about your Tweets, posts and messages than when you first published your profiles and set up your accounts? You’ve likely dabbled in video and are getting more acclimated to different forms of communication. Never say never.
  7. Crisp. Our world and attention move at such warp speeds that we have to use crisp words, language, metaphors and images to connect and influence people. Twitter and texting have taught me to be much more selective about every single word and sentence I use, sans abbreviations and emoji’s.
  8. Charisma. You won’t build business if you’re a social media wallflower. Our new form of networking, blogging and chatting requires personality and allure. Boring doesn’t build business. Introverts are learning how to navigate in this environment, and when they do, they are enjoying it on their own terms.
  9. Comment. Yes, people want to know your opinion! How cool is that? The prerequisite to a meaningful comment (not “great post!”) dictates that I take the time to read someone else’s prose, think about it, consider my own opinion and insights, and try and add to the dialogue. When we comment on posts, we improve our outreach, writing and critical thinking skills. Above all, we invite differing opinions and may just open ourselves to new perspectives and ideas.

What would you add to this list of social media benefits? What have you learned?


Why We Need Chief Digital Officers

2 reframe picturesWhat do Gannett, New York City and Columbia University have in common?

Each were early adopters when they created the role of Chief Digital Officer. The CDOs bring together strategic business practices, technology, skilled leadership and internal and external communications. Most Chief Digital Officers can be found inside of media companies, sitting just a seat or two away from the CEO.

A recent post on emarketer.com says CDOs are most common in these five sectors:

  • Advertising
  • Media
  • Publishing
  • Nonprofit
  • Retail

In 2010, there were lively conversations that CDOs were those who didn’t get the coveted title of President. Others maintained organizations that supported the CDO position were advocating for silos, the curse in marketing and communications.

Today, demand for CDOs is outpacing supply.

A report from The CDO Club released last month finds the estimated number of CDOs worldwide would double between 2014 and 2015, to 2,000. That’s an 800 percent growth from 2012, when there were some 200 CDOs.

The CDO Club, a community of executive digital leaders comprised of 1,000 members, has just named Starbucks CDO Adam Brotman as its 2015 U.S. Chief Digital Officer of the Year.

A complex blend of talent and leadership

Chief Digital Officers are not self-described social media gurus or community managers. CDOs have competencies in the convergence of technology, business, boards and organizational development.

“Business strategies now must be seamlessly interwoven with ever-expanding digital strategies that address not only the web but also mobile, social, local and whatever innovation there may be around the corner,” write Rhys Grossman and Jana Rich of Russell Reynolds Associates, a global executive search firm. In their article titled, The Rise of the Chief Digital Officer, Grossman and Rich state: “To help meet these challenges, companies are increasingly looking for a Chief Digital Officer who can oversee the full range of digital strategies and drive change across the organization.”

To lead a business through a technological transformation is no easy task. CDOs are innovators despite internal skeptics who whisper and rant about the pitfalls of social media.

According to emarketer.com, a 2015 study from Accenture asked executives worldwide about their progress in leveraging digital governance and decision-making. The results: Eighty percent of those surveyed say they had a CDO or comparable role to oversee the use of digital technologies.

CDOs must have the following five competencies: 

  1. They must be comfortable as a possible successor to the CEO. CDOs have to lead a global culture and drive an online presence. He or she must have experience in business operations, management and recruiting and retaining top talent. A CDO is a visionary, especially in our technology-based world.
  2. They must act as agents of changeand grasp the underlying psychology of consensus-building and conflict resolution.
  3. They must have Board experience and solid communication skills. This is imperative, as the CDO is the conduit between stakeholders and senior executive leadership.
  4. They must know how to set—and implement—sound business strategies. An assembled team of seasoned project managers to implement strategies must be a priority.
  5. They must possess deep knowledge of technology, e-commerce, consumer behavior, and social media. This is especially important for media organizations, as the industry’s entire business model continues to transform.

Where is this person?

You may be wondering: Does such a person exist? Where do organizations find one individual who encompasses this blend of intellect and talent?

And if you work in PR, marketing or communications, you may be curious if you have what it takes to be a Chief Digital Officer.

Grossman and Rich maintain that people considering CDO positions “may be reluctant to join established organizations, viewing them as old fashioned.” The co-authors note that many CDO candidates come from cutting-edge, entrepreneurial organizations.

Here’s another noteworthy point from Grossman and Rich. “Companies… have to move very quickly when they find and meet talent that has potential. The current state of supply and demand almost guarantees that other opportunities will be available to talented candidates.”

The bottom line about the evolving role of CDOs brings us to the real bottom line in business. Chief Digital Officers are leading new revenue streams through digital channels that can leave many people and employees feeling uneasy.

If the CDO is unable to succeed in brand management, e-commerce, transactions and customer engagement efforts, his or her organization can soon face financial disaster.



7 Everyday Tasks PR Pros Had To Do Without Technology

PRPros_Beforetechnology_edited1At the risk of sounding like I live in the Smithsonian, please allow me to reflect on how times have changed. Modern day public relations preceded the Web by decades, and many working in the profession may not realize how archaic—and different—our daily work really was. Mind you, I began working in PR 15 years ago, but the points I mention below also apply to my first 15 years out of the gate—in a broadcast newsroom as a news director and anchor. Sure, Mad Men shows us advertising execs who were smoking cigarettes and drinking hard liquor as part of their daily routines. However, in the real world of PR and news, what was happening before Google, YouTube and satellite media tours? In 1947, the Public Relations Society of America was formed. In the 1950s, PR executive Dan Edelman, founder of the global agency bearing his name, created the first media tour. Fast forward to the 1990s or so, and the work of PR pros had evolved, but was markedly different than how we roll today. Every day, we depended on:

  1. Rolodexes, not databases. Without Help A Reporter Out (HARO) and other repositories to connect reporters with sources, offices and desks were decorated with tattered overstuffed rolodexes. They were bursting with weathered business cards and scribbled tabs with coveted names, home phone numbers and private extensions of elected officials, civic leaders and community movers and shakers. Oh, to clarify, the word “community” meant neighborhood or geographic area.
  2. Press releases, not direct message pitches. These documents were often typed on Olivetti or IBM Selectric typewriters. PR budgets included white out, corrector ribbons and paper that wasn’t recycled. Envelopes and postage stamps, too.
  3. File cabinets, not online archives. These ugly metal storage boxes contained news clips, magazine articles, and other placements you secured with blood, sweat and tears.
  4. Research, not Google Alerts. This depended on previous projects, microfiche records and speeches recorded on cassettes and videotapes. Trips to the local library were frequent, and lengthy. World Book Encyclopedias were also part of the PR practitioner’s toolbox.
  5. Telephones, not smartphones. With phones hard-wired to the wall and no voice mail, if you weren’t at your desk when someone returned your call, oh well. Some really important people had electronic pagers. When their “beepers” went off, they found the nearest pay phone and dialed. Callers never had to worry if a live person would pick up. What other options were there?
  6. Press conferences, not Satellite Media Tours. These events were scheduled. And people actually came to them, especially if there was food.
  7. Press kits, not infographics. Overpriced and glossy is how I remember them. Documents contained in these folders took weeks to write and edit. The design, off-site printing and subsequent stuffing gives a new meaning to collaboration. The cost of mailing five of these packets was equivalent to a catered office lunch for 12 executives.

You may want to hold onto this post and re-read in five weeks, five months or five years. If you’re a digital native, you’ll likely be able to write your own version. Addingmachine_PR

Fundamentals Lead to Success

With plenty of talk about the astonishing end to Super Bowl XLIX—and the Seattle Seahawks coaches—it’s important to remember another big sports story that made headlines recently.

Coach K book coverDuke University’s esteemed basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (aka “Coach K”) celebrated his 1,000th career win when the Blue Devils beat St. John’s University at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The 67-year-old is the first NCAA Division I men’s coach to reach the milestone, another highlight of his 35 coaching seasons at Duke.

How has Coach K amassed such an outstanding record with the Blue Devils (927-249)?

Players from years ago still talk about the many leadership, discipline and sportsmanship lessons that they have learned from Krzyzewski.

In his best-selling book Beyond Basketball, Coach K winds his way through the alphabet and explains his key words for success.

You don’t have to be a basketball fan to appreciate the chapter on Fundamentals:

“I sometimes find myself trying to devise complicated schemes, trying to be more creative. Because I have been coaching for so many years, I sometimes forget that a team, even a veteran team, needs a solid foundation. Business mogul Steve Wynn is right, I need to remind myself that I can be the best in the business by merely doing the basics, better.”

He goes on to say:

“To help turn fundamentals into habits requires intensive, intelligent and repetitive action. If any one of these elements is missing, something will be missing from the foundation of your team. This is why, in every practice, even late in the season, I always have my team continue to work on fundamental drills. It is vital that the athletes actually drill these basics. I constantly remind myself of the most basic formula of teaching: you hear, you forget; you see, you remember; you do, you understand. And when you truly understand, that is when the basics become habitual.”

Which fundamentals have you moved away from? Which fundamentals have to be revisited?

Do you need to get back to basics? F is for fundamentals.

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