musings on marketing, media, public relations....and life, by David Reich
Reich Communications, Inc.
Reich Communications, Inc. is a boutique public relations agency in New York City offering full service in a variety of areas, with specializations in business-to-business; advertising, marketing and media firms; transportation safety; non-profits, and select consumer products and services.
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I've wondered for a while about the accuracy of the annual list of best and worst jobs compiled by Careercast. This year, in particular, I think they got it wrong.
At the very bottom of the list of 200 careers this year is "newspaper reporter." Yes, the pay isn't great -- a median salary of $37,200. Prospects for job security and growth certainly are not terrific, with the newspaper industry facing ongoing financial problems and layoffs.
But the survey doesn't take into consideration hard-to-quantify factors like job satisfaction and potential impact on others. I would rather be in a newsroom than working at the #1 job on this year's list -- an actuary.
I guess if you like numbers, that job could be OK. But how much human interaction do actuaries have on the job? Do they get to meet interesting people or see interesting things? Probably as much as mathematicians -- rated 3rd best job -- or statisticians, rated #4.
I wonder where PR exec stands on this year's list.
Just above newspaper reporter on the list this year is "pest control worker." For real?
So here we go again, with yet another botched personnel move by TV network executives.
This time, it's the brains at Disney-ABC who made a major change in their popular syndicated "Live With Kelly and Michael" by informing the show's co-star Kelly Ripa of the change moments before making a public announcement.
Shades of NBC's botched firing of Ann Curry from the "Today Show," and that same net's handling of Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno.
They just don't learn.
ABC has blown it, again, by not letting key players in on important news in advance. When Ripa's former co-host and icon Regis Philbin announced his departure, she was told moments before the announcement was to be made to the media.
Trade media are now speculating that moving Michael Strahan to "Good Morning America" is a move to bolster that show and also a possible prelim to expanding "GMA" to a third hour, as NBC has done with "Today" in the 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. hours. "Live" is a good money-maker for ABC, but "GMA" is more profitable and adding another hour would require minimal extra outlay. So Ripa might understandably fear taking away her popular co-host is a move in that direction, putting her own show in jeopardy.
I'm not feeling bad for Ripa financially -- she's paid quite well for her job on "Live." But still, it's not the way to treat employees, especially those so prominent in the public eye. And ABC's explanations and denials are ringing hollow.
With the ongoing talk about how newspapers are dying, here's an interesting newspaper success story.
The Herald-Tribune would seem to have the odds against it, serving an aging population in Sarasota, Fla. But the paper, which last week won its second Pulitzer Prize in five years with a solid story about the area's mental healthcare system, is bucking the trend, with readership growth both online and in print.
Media Life wrote about it and says...
"The paper’s growth in readers is a remarkable achievement by any standards, but especially so for a Florida market in which 34 percent of the population is over age 65. That’s almost three times the number in most American cities.
By returning to the basics of what readers expect from a newspaper–real journalism–the Sarasota Herald Tribune has revealed a lead others might follow."
It's always nice to see the price come down on a product, at least from the consumers' point of view. How often does that happen, after all?
So I was happy to hear that the U.S. Postal Service has trimmed the price of a first class stamp by 2 cents.
But remember when that same postal service introduced the forever stamp? That was back in 2007, when a stamp cost 39 cents. They promoted it as a way to hedge against future price increases. People bought more stamps than they needed, to avoid higher prices when postage rates would inevitably go up. And the postal service got the money, to put into its bank accounts, even if not yet providing the service. Sounded like a win-win situation.
For years, that was the case But now, those who've bought extra forever stamps at 49 cents are finding them worth only 47 cents. The stamp still gets you first class postage, but does it put the postal service's credibility in question?
Have they damaged the marketing value of the "forever" stamp?
I've been in southern California since last Saturday, with another week to go before heading home to NY.
I came out here for business, representing a client at the annual Lifesavers traffic safety conference in Long Beach.
Since the conference ended on Tuesday, I've been on vacation, sleeping till almost 9 every morning, which is late for me. But what makes it seem strange is when I get up and look at my email and I realize that back home half a work day is already done. I see emails time-stamped 5 and 6 a.m.
Even though on vacation with an associate covering things back in the office, as the owner of a small service business, I feel compelled to do what I can to respond to clients and media quickly, even while away.
But the 3-hour time difference feels a little strange. Maybe if I stay out here another several weeks, I'll get used to it.
We've had lots of distractions lately, especially on the political scene. Those distractions have too often been hijacking the news cycle, putting the focus on nastiness, name-calling and misogyny by some would-be national leaders.
There's another type of distraction that's also pretty bad, and many of us are guilty of it.
It kills more than 3,000 people every year, and the number is going up as more of us have and use cellphones constantly and as automakers put more gadgets and technology onto our dashboards.
Teens are especially at risk, since they're less experienced drivers and they've also grown up with cells and texting, so it's part of their DNA. That's why my client The National Road Safety Foundation had me organize an event for them at The New York Auto Show. We're calling it Teen Driver Safety Day, and we expect a few hundred teens (and parents) when it happens tomorrow, April 1st. It also marks the start of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
I just taped an interview with WCBS Newsradio, the top all-news station here in New York. The station will be airing it throughout the morning tomorrow, having me talk about distraction and our Teen Driver Safety Day.
It's an important topic, and it's one we easily overlook as we get distracted with everything else in life. So... when you're behind the wheel, stay off the phone. Even hands-free can be a serious distraction.
I had the privilege of being invited to a summit of traffic safety leaders and experts, convened in Washington by Dr. Mark Rosekind, who heads the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Speaking to about 80 people at the start of the summit Thursday, Dr. Rosekind cited a number I’ve heard him mention at other traffic safety conferences -- 32,627. That’s the number of people who died in traffic crashes nationwide in 2014. He makes a point of using the exact number, rather than saying more than 32,000 or nearly 33,000, since every single part of the total represents a life gone – a loved one, a co-worker or fellow member of the community lost. He feels it’s important to always try to personalize those numbers so they’re more than mere statistics.
Dr. Rosekind convened the meeting, which he titled “Driving Behavioral Change in Traffic Safety,” as a first step in laying out a plan to reach a goal many might think impossible – zero traffic deaths. He says we’ve become too accepting of the idea of losing tens of thousands of people to crashes. And while we’ve brought that number down from more than 44,000 a decade ago, he says the lower total should still be unacceptable to us, he said. For a variety of reasons – lower gas prices, more miles driven, distraction by cellphones and mobile devices – early numbers coming in for 2015 show the number of deaths may actually rise by as much as ten percent.
Dr. Rosekind’s vision is to bring the number of traffic fatalities down to zero. He knows it could take a few decades, but he points to a convergence of things that show now is a good time to begin the effort.
The public is tiring of losses due to selfish behavior like drinking or texting while driving. Laws have been passed and more continue to be established making such bad behavior illegal. Technology is helping make us safer drivers, by warning us when we go out of our lane or get to close to another car, and it even can take control and apply the brakes to avoid a crash.
We’ve been hearing a lot about driverless cars. Early predictions when Google introduced the concept a few years ago said we’d be in driverless cars by 2020. That turned out to be overly optimistic, but experts told us today that we could see 40 or 50 percent of the nation’s auto fleet being driverless by 2035.
Another change that’s on the horizon is what’s being called mobility service. We’re seeing the tip of that iceberg now with Uber, Lyft and other on-demand car services that will eventually make car ownership a less attractive option for many. Why own a car that spends most of its time sitting in the garage when you can get one, along with a driver, when and where you need it?
For the traffic safety community that I’m proud to be a part of, through my many years of work for clients including NHTSA and The National Road Safety Foundation, there will be some big challenges ahead, as well as some great opportunities to try new things and expand others that have been proven to work.
NHTSA’s Dr. Rosekind ended the meeting today by challenging us to think of ways to move toward Zero. He plans to invite us back in a few months to begin to draw up a plan, with short and long-term goals and action items to begin meeting the challenge. I look forward to it.
I’ll be writing more in this space over the next several days about the conference and the various challenges and opportunities to get to zero traffic fatalities.
People just don't seem to get it. What you put online is NOT private.
The latest example of stupid behavior comes from people who should know better -- execs at a major ad agency.
Campbell Ewald had to fire its CEO after a staffer posted a racist email. The email was sent in October, but it didn't come to light until someone sent it to Adweek, which published it in January. Within days, the agency lost three clients, led by insurer USAA and then by Henry Ford Healthcare System and financial services firm Edward Jones.
A few years ago, one of the biggest public relations agencies, Hill & Knowlton, had to fire a senior VP after he stupidly tweeted how he hated going to Memphis, which he called a boondocks town. He was on his way to a meeting with FedEx, whose headquarters and operations hub is -- guess where - in Memphis.
You would think people at ad and PR agencies would know that what goes online might be seen by others. Duh.
I happened across a post on Facebook yesterday that asked "If you could visit a place in time, where would you go?"
An interesting idea, and the person said the 1950's. With the post was a link to a site that has an assortment of photos from various decades.
It was fun to look through the pix. Many had those beautiful cars of the time...attempting to look futuristic but now looking classic. There were pictures of people at the beach, people enjoying Coca-Cola in the classic Coke bottle, teen girls in gaudy sunglasses that were the style back then. Pictures of families having a roadside picnic. Old-fashioned buses. Gas stations where the attendant actually came out to pump your gas and wash the windshield. Shoveling out of a snowstorm. Quiet small-town streets lined with mom & pop stores and no shopping malls and Walmarts.
The 50's were a good time to be a kid. Not much to worry about.
Would I trade it for 2016?
It would be nice to go back for a visit so I could again see people in my family who are long gone. It would be so sweet to hear my grandfather, in his Russian/Yiddish accent, ask me if I'd like another bowl of his home-made split pea soup, so thick that the spoon would stand upright. It would be so nice to see my parents, as I saw them when I was young, dancing in the living room to Ella Fitzgerald or Frank Sinatra on the radio. Or playing a seemingly endless game of ringoleevio in the back yard of the apartment building with Ben and Mel and Tommy and Jimmy and Carol and my sister Shari. The family picnics on Sundays, literally surrounded by aunts, uncles and tons of cousins now either gone or moved to faraway places.
Lucky us, we had no worries.
Looking at the photos from the 1950's, though, I see a skewed version of reality. Only one out of 77 pictures showed a black person, and no Latinos or Asians at all. No Jews, either.
I enjoy the diversity of today. It makes life much more interesting on so many fronts. Today's technology enables us to be in touch constantly and instantly, pretty much anywhere in the world. We can get answers to just about anything just a few finger-touches away. And we can drive anywhere without having to stop for a map or to get directions. With jet travel a routine thing, it's no big deal to visit other coasts...of these United States or foreign shores.
Life is pretty good here in 2016.
We have our challenges, for sure. War and hatred, poverty, prejudice are still rampant. But we've come so far, accepting others for who they are and not hating or being suspicious because they don't look or love or pray like us.
One troubling thing today is the tone of our presidential campaigns. They are bringing out the worst in us, showing that there are many among us who would like to go back to the 1950's, but not for reasons I mentioned above. Instead, they'd like to take us back to a time where Jews, blacks, Asians and Latinos were marginalized, where America was lilly-white and people of color -- black or brown -- were kept "in their place," and we all pretty much had to think and act alike.
That's not a time I'd like to revisit, and I hope our leaders and future leaders don't try to take us back there.