.... my 2 cents ....
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. . . .
For more info, call us at (212) 573-6000, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or text to 914-325-9997. .
We are located at 228 East 45th Street, Suite 11-South, in New York City 10017. .
For some examples of our work, scroll down to "Categories" below and click on "What We Do..."
USA Today has been both praised and criticized for running the fact-deprived op ed by the president last week, where he talked about Medicare.
Some criticized the paper running it, since, as The Washington Post's fact-checkers said, virtually every sentence contained inaccuracies, exaggerations or straight-out fallacies. Others criticized the paper for including links to fact-checking sites.
I understand that reputable papers usually fact-check op ed submissions when statements are presented as facts rather than opinion and if they are off base, the piece would be rejected or returned to the writer for corrections.
The editors at USA Today faced a tricky choice. They had in their hands a piece by the president of the United States. But they knew it was full of lies or errors.
Do they refuse to run it? Do they give it back and insist the White House correct it? Or run it, with lies exposed and corrected?
I think the paper did the right thing by running it, with links to other reports that showed the real facts. It let readers see the president's words while exposing them for the lies that they are. False statements side-by-side with clear facts. Let readers make their own judgement as to what's fake news.
Leslie Stahl also came under criticism from the right for her interview with the president, which aired on "60 Minutes" last night.
From what I saw, she was doing her job as an objective journalist, trying to get at the truth. She asked the president some tough and direct questions and didn't let him squirm out of them by changing the subject or throwing more falsehoods into the mix. But now there's meme going around on Facebook saying how slanted the interview was. "FOX & Friends" whined that the president was "peppered endlessly with questions" during the interview, as if Stahl was doing something bad by asking questions and repeating or following up on them when they weren't directly answered.
When the fake news comes from the president, whether as an op ed or in answer to interview questions on TV, it should be called out for what it is -- lies.
Finally, the media is doing that. Good for them and good for us.
When I read yesterday that Sesame Street puppeteer Caroll Spinney, who created and played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, is retiring after nearly 50 years on the groundbreaking show, it reminded me of the time I met him (and Oscar the Grouch) ten years ago.
I've been doing publicity for he Christopher Awards for 20 years, and I was at the annual media awards program when Caroll was the presenter for the Childrens Books Awards. He had previously won a Christopher Award, in 2004.
Before he presented the awards, he told a story that touched me -- and it obviously touched him because he became choked up as he told it from the podium.
He told of a letter that came to the producers of Sesame Street from the parents of a young boy of about 5 who was dying of cancer. He had lost the will to fight and was depressed -- never smiling. The parents asked if it might be possible for the boy to get a phone call from Big Bird.
When the letter was passed along to Spinney, who seems to be a gentle and compassionate soul, he immediately agreed. He said he called the boy and, in his Big Bird voice, spoke with him for several minutes.
A week later he received another letter from the parents, telling him how thrilled their son had been to get the call. He showed excitement and smiled for the first time in weeks as he told his parents, who were at his bedside in the hospital, that Big Bird had called him and he was happy that Big Bird was his friend. A few minutes later, he peacefully slipped away.
Spinney's voice choked with emotion as he told the story.
I had a chance to chat with him for a while after the ceremony, and he said to this day he is glad that he showed compassion and called that boy. As we talked about it, his eyes teared and he explained it still moves him, even after many years.
Spinney told me that Big Bird's role originally was simply to teach about letters and numbers. But he realized the importance of teaching about compassion after he walked past a man on the street who he assumed was a derelict muttering to himself. Something made him stop, turn around and ask the man if he needed help. It turned out, the the man couldn't walk well and had been asking strangers to help him across the street. Spinney walked the man not only across the street, but the three blocks to his apartment building.
The next day, he told the producers of Sesame Street that he wanted Big Bird to teach kids about feelings and compassion. And after a while, Big Bird became the character who expressed concern about others' feelings.
After we talked for a while, I thanked him for taking the time. And he said to me, "No. Thank you for coming over to talk with me."
And then Oscar gave me a hug. How cool!
A note about Oscar... At the after-party, Caroll stood quietly in a corner holding Oscar. People -- grown-ups -- were lined up for a chance to take a photo with Oscar and as Oscar talked to them, every person spoke directly to Oscar the puppet, even as Caroll was speaking, with his lips clearly moving. That's the power of master puppetry and of an impactful TV show.
My wife is participating in a focus group and as a prep question she was asked to list some ads she likes and some she doesn't like.
We talked about it and we both agreed we love the "Dog Tested" campaign Subaru is running, showing dogs in various situations. I could watch those ads over and over and, in fact, I've stopped the fast-forward on our DVR so I could watch one of those ads for perhaps the 20th time.
The other question was: what ads do we hate?
Two insurance ads topped out list. Aflac, for the annoying Aflac duck. At least they don't use Gilbert Gotfried's grating voice any more, but the voice is still annoying.
The other ads are the seemingly non-stop pitches from Geico. Some are funny the first time and maybe even the second time. But Geico, which is by far TV's biggest advertiser, has them running all the time and everywhere, it seems. So we hate them because of overexposure.
Now to the key question... Would I buy a Subaru because of the ads, and would I not buy coverage from Geico or Aflac for the same reason? Hard to say, since many other factors would be in play. For a car, it would be things like price range, style and comfort, reputation. For insurance, it would be price and reputation -- reputation not based on the ads but on word-of-mouth regarding how they respond when you have a claim. But, all other things being equal, I would avoid a company whose ads I hate. I've done it before with banks.
With so much big news grabbing headlines -- the Kavanaugh confirmation, tariffs and trade wars, the Mueller probe, kids held captive at the border... and the latest tweet-of-the-day -- it's easy to get distracted from other happenings in our government that could impact is in way large and small.
For instance, it looks like Congress just quietly approved another tax cut for the super-rich. While most of us won't feel it directly, the cut means yet less tax money coming into the Treasury, pushing the deficit even higher. Who pays the interest on that? Might the government feel the need to fill the gap by borrowing against Social Security or cutting some of those benefits most of us do or will rely on?
And here's something else that's happening right under our noses. The Environmental Protection Agency continues to have its legs cut out from under it. Regulations that protect our rivers, our air and our national parks are being rolled back in order to make it easier for businesses to exploit resources or maximize profits.
Profits for business are good, but not totally when they come at a frightening cost to us, our children and future generations.
The latest thing that may be happening as our attention is diverted is a plan to abolish the EPA's Office of the Science Advisor. The department's function is to counsel the EPA and its Administrator on the scientific and health impact of actions being considered by the EPA.
The Center for Science and Democracy with the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group, says that "everything from research on chemicals and health to peer-to-peer testing to data analysis would inevitably suffer." A spokesman for the union that represents some 900 EPA employees calls the move "an attempt to silence voices...to kill career civil servants' input and scientific perspectives on rule-making."
The Administration clearly places little value on science, as evidenced by the president's frequently calling global climate change a Chinese hoax. Unfortunately, it's not a hoax and many experts say we are very close to a tipping point where the amount of carbon in our atmosphere will unalterably lead to rising temperatures that will set off a climate chain reaction that could -- if not in our lifetime, certainly in our children's lifetime -- make earth unable to sustain human life.
That's a scary picture and it's one from which we can't let our attention be diverted.
Articles, features and reviews in the media, including in social media, are a major factor in consumers' purchase decisions. And much of it results from public relations initiatives – good old publicity.
A new study by Audience Audit, reported in Adweek, says news articles, many generated through PR, are considered by 22 percent of people as a source of information about products.
The most common source of information comes from online searches, at 66 percent. The second-leading source of information, at 62 percent, is paid advertising -- 37 percent from ads in traditionally media and 25 percent from ads online.
Word of mouth from friends (real ones, not online friends) is the third biggest source of information, at 45 percent. Word of mouth from family members accounts for 46 percent, and the most common source of information comes from online searches, at 66 percent.
The second-leading source of information, at 62 percent, is paid advertising -- 37 percent from ads in traditionally media and 25 percent from ads online.
Ads, of course, can be costly, especially in print and on TV, while public relations is a relative bargain. It should usually be a part of a company's marketing mix.
Bob Woodward, talking about his new book, quotes his former boss, Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, about the decision to publish the Watergate stories 46 years ago. He said those words remain in his mind as his new book is being published.
Sunday at sundown marks the start of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.
It's not a time to party and celebrate, but rather to reflect on our actions during the past year and ask for guidance and strength to help us be better people in the coming year.
Traditionally, at this time we pray for a few things -- the wisdom to do better, health, happiness and above all, peace. One of our key prayers ends with the word "Shalom" -- Hebrew for 'Peace.' It is peace of mind, and peace on the larger scale -- peace among people and nations.
Most brands work hard to avoid controversy, which means they often come off as plain vanilla -- staying quietly in a safe space.
Nike, though, has plunged right into a red-hot polarizing issue, and I think they'll come out ahead long-term.
The iconic footwear/athleticwear company, which had maintained its endorsement relationship with controversial football star/pariah Colin Kaepernick, has gone a big step further -- featuring the embattled player in its new ad campaign that celebrates 30 years of the "Just Do It" ad slogan. The new ad with a close-up of Kaepernick, has the headline "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything."
The tweeter-in-chief could not, of course, sit quietly on the sidelines for this, and his divisive comments have brought even more attention to the new campaign. Ad experts estimate Nike has so far received $43 million worth of publicity -- nearly half of it positive, about 20 percent neutral and a quarter negative.
Among the brand's key demographic -- 18 to 34-year olds -- 56 percent felt on-field protests like what Kaepernick was fired for are appropriate.
Not surprisingly, social media is ablaze with calls to boycott Nike products. But many online and in surveys are praising the company and say they will buy more Nike products to support its bravery and its standing on principles they agree with.
In the face of the presidential bluster on Twitter, the NFL issued a statement in support of Nike and Kaepernick. "The NFL believes in dialogue, understanding and unity. We embrace the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities. The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action," the statement said.
Calling attention to the troubling and complex issue of alleged police brutality, especially in minority communities, is a good thing. It is not an act of disrespect to our flag, our national anthem or our military, as some would have us think as a way to confuse the issue. It is simply a quiet and peaceful way to call attention to a real issue that we as a society need to deal with.
This weekend America says farewell to two great heroes.
Aretha Franklin gave us all so much pleasure with her music. She's been the soundtrack for our lives. And her fight for good -- for civil rights and women's rights -- was a tremendous help. And now, as we are hearing, she did so much to help others, in a quiet and unheralded way.
We call out to her with R-E-S-P-E-C-T as she goes home, probably in a pink Cadillac.
At the same time, we say farewell to Senator John McCain. He was a hero and a patriot in many ways, from the skies over Viet Nam to the halls of Congress. He has set an example of courage, class and compassion, which we hope some of our leaders today would follow.
We salute Sen. McCain as we thank him for a lifetime of service to this great nation and to the world.
On a more personal note, this weekend marks a time I say farewell to Steve Miller, my California cousin who died Wednesday. Although we lived nearly 3,000 miles apart, we always enjoyed a special connection. When we'd see each other, even if several years had passed, we'd pick up the conversation as if we had just seen each other the week before. "73," Stevie.
Photo: Steve, Michael and me in Hollywood, Dec. 2017