.... 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 david@reichcommunications or text to 914-325-9997.
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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.
An article on the Opinion pages of Monday's Wall Street Journal is headlined "We Need Better Presidential Debates."
I couldn't agree more.
The writers, head of debate organization Intelligence Squared U.S. and an ABC News correspondent, make the case for us to use the standards of the classic Oxford-style debate, where the debaters have more time. They say this format would expose candidates who only use carefully canned responses, and it would force them to be more knowledgeable on issues.
I think I know why the current short-response format is used. Very simply... it makes for better TV.
Longer responses, which should bring more depth to what is being said, can test viewers' attention spans. So the current format, with its loose and unenforced rules, becomes a great reality TV show rather than a forum to inform and persuade voters. The Republican debates drew big audiences not so much for what was being said as for the potential spectacle of seeing candidates, particularly Trump, name-call, mug and make outrageous statements designed to be perfect attention-stealing sound bites. What have we learned, other than this one's a loser and that one's low-energy?
The WSJ article suggests the debates begin with each candidate having a 7-minute opening statement. With the initial field of seven or eight candidates, the Republican debates would have spent nearly an hour just on opening statements -- a surefire recipe for tune-outs. The networks carrying the debates sell commercial time, so they need the huge audiences in order to get good ad rates.
So 7-minute opening statements will never fly on commercial TV.
But here's a solution -- air all the debates on C-SPAN and public TV, where audiences and ad rates don't matter.
The other way to improve the debates in the future is to set ground-rules and stick by them. Candidates should be told in advance that they will have a 15-second overtime limit. When the bell signals time is up, they must know that their microphone will be turned off exactly 15 seconds later -- mid-sentence or not. And the mic should not be turned on again until it is their turn to respond. This will prevent interruptions by whoever is the loudest or rudest.
Ground-rules for behavior should also be set and enforced. No personal name-calling -- it belittles the candidates and the process. Each candidate can get one "pass" for bad behavior, but after a warning by the moderator, if a candidate violates the rules of decency and decorum, he or she should have their mic shut off and be asked to leave the stage.
Maybe then the candidates will be able to stick to a real discussion of the issues at hand, rather than forcing us to endure stupidity like a candidate calling another a loser, ugly or fat, or a mamma's boy.
Candidates can do and say whatever they like in their stump speeches and various campaign appearances. But the debates are supposed to be a chance for we, the voters, to size up the candidates, see where they stand on issues, and get an idea of their depth of knowledge and how they handle the verbal and mental challenges of a proper debate discussion.
I try to steer clear of politics here, but I can’t remain quiet after months of what has been the most degrading and disgusting early campaign season I can remember.
I’ll start by saying I am a Democrat, although I try to base my voting decisions on issues rather than party.
But what’s been happening on the Republican campaign trail has been a travesty… and I think the media has played a major role in what has been a circus sideshow that has to be making us look like fools in the eyes of the world.
I usually am a staunch defender of the media. A free and unfettered media is one of the things that allows a democracy like ours to flourish, by helping keep the public informed. But they’ve been doing a disservice in their coverage of the GOP presidential race.
Part of the problem lies with one of the candidates, who I’ve already gone on record as not liking because I consider him a pompous ass, a petulant bully who calls people names if they disagree with him and who has proven himself to be a blatant racist and misogynist. (By now, you have to know who I’m talking about. I just can’t bring myself to put his name on my 2 cents.)
Beyond his name-calling, public use of foul language not befitting a candidate and his constant reference to his TV ratings, he has said very little about how he would “make America great again.” He’s talked about walling off our southern border and having Mexico pay for it. He talks about carpet-bombing ISIS and preventing Muslims from entering this land of the free.
On just about everything else, when asked what he would do and how, he simply says “trust me.”
Why should we trust this blowhard who started out with a silver spoon and has many times used bankruptcy laws and other loopholes (legal, but not ethical) to default on loans and hurt thousands of businesses and individuals along the way.
And here’s where I fault the media. Their coverage of his antics rather than putting the focus on real news has helped elevate him and give him the credibility that comes with coverage.
I’m not saying he should be ignored. He’s been a front-runner, so media have to cover him. But if he’s not saying anything of substance, then he shouldn’t get ink or airtime. Yes, say he had three rallies in Iowa or New Hampshire. But don’t take another 30 or 60 seconds of a 30-minute newscast to run a clip of him mugging or calling Jeb Bush a loser or Carly Fiorina ugly. That is not news. His answer to unemployment -- "I'll be the best jobs president that God ever created." That's news? Strange, boastful and perhaps a bit sacriligious, but news?
If he says something about policy, then it’s news. And that’s what we need to hear or read so we can be an educated and informed electorate.
I’m amazed and distressed by how much one person with a big mouth can derail the campaign process. Other candidates should have ignored his bluster and outrageous taunts. And the media should have been taking him to task, asking him tough questions and not letting him off the hook with his non-responsive and insulting answers.
Yes, I understand there are many people who have become frustrated and disenfranchised with gridlock in D.C. – much of it created by leaders of the party that’s calling for change, ironically. But some of it is rooted in racism against our first black President. And some is based on fear of foreigners, be it terrorism or jobs that’s the real issue. But the way to fix it is not with name-calling and vapid trust-me promises.
Maybe the media and the thinking public will belatedly step up as the campaign cycle moves around the U.S. I hope so.
Bob Elliott, half of the legendary radio comedy duo Bob and Ray, died this week at 92. With his partner Ray Goulding, who died in 1990, Bob Elliott was known for his low-key groundbreaking humor, mostly on radio.
The two began their 40-year career together when they were co-workers at a Boston radio station. Elliott was the station's sportscaster and during rain delays during Red Sox games, he would fill time by riffing and improvising with Goulding, who was a DJ there. Part of their riffs included inventing wacky characters they would impersonate.
Those characters -- Biff Burns, a clueless sportscaster, nasal on-the-scene reporter Wally Ballou, and Mary Backstage, noble wife, and many more -- became regulars when the duo got a daily gig on the station. Their humor took them to New York, where the did a daily TV show on NBC, and later runs on the NBC radio network and NPR.
Way ahead of their time, Bob and Ray lampooned game shows, soap operas, politicians and commercials. Greats from Johnny Carson to David Letterman, Jay Leno and George Carlin said they were inspired and influenced by Bob and Ray.
I discovered them when I was in my teens. They weren't joke tellers; they were storytellers, using crazy characters to tell stories and put the listener in the middle.
Many of their routines can still be heard online. Even 25 or more years later, they are still funny and relevant.
Farewell to Bob Elliott. As one of his characters, Biff Burns, would say as he ended his sports report, "This is Biff Burns saying this is Biff Burns saying good night."
So-called native advertising is ad content designed to look like the editorial content it's surrounded by. We used to call it "advertorial" long before "native" became the current buzzword.
By its very nature, native advertising is deceptive, since it is intended to make the viewer think it's real news, coming from the media outlet's reporters or writers. As such, it tries to pick up the implied credibility that would come with a legitimately reported news or feature story.
Not so. Native ads are, after all, ads paid for and written by an advertiser. You shouldn't expect native ads to be fair, balanced or even, unfortunately, totally accurate.
For years, advertorials in newspapers and magazines usually were labeled as ads or paid content, although often in small lettering that could easily be missed.
Then, as media went digital, the lines became blurred or disappeared altogether. Online media, including widely-read blogs, went for the money, posting paid content without disclosing it was sponsored.
The Federal Trade Commission issued a ruling that all paid content had to be clearly identified. I'm not sure if anyone has been fined or prosecuted for breaking that rule, but most legitimate media seem to have become more careful.
Despite this and perhaps proving that more noticeable identification as an ad is needed, a new study by a university in Georgia shows the vast majority of us don't recognize native advertising as a paid ad. The study, reported in the Journal of Advertising, found that only eight percent of people surveyed identified native advertising as paid marketing messages. So 92 percent were fooled into thinking what they had seen in print or online was real news or information.
No wonder native advertising has become the hot thing.