.... 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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That's the idea behind a new ad campaign being launched by The New York Times. The "newspaper of record" has been the brunt of attacks by the president and by his followers who believe his fake news accusations, which are designed to distract attention from the fake news being disseminated by the White House.
A full-page ad in Friday's Times introduced the campaign, with the tagline "Truth is more important now than ever."
The Times is also running a 30-second ad during the Oscars telecast, at a cost of $1.2 million.
It's part of a two-pronged effort to fight back against the fake news allegations while boosting circulation. Since the election, people searching for truth have boosted the paper's online subscriptions by more than 270,000.
Other papers are also responding to fake news charges. The Washington Post this week introduced a new slogan, Democracy Dies in Darkness. They are running it immediately beneath the paper's masthead in Page One.
I've seen other papers including the Chicago Tribune use the theme of real news or reliable news in promotional campaigns online to draw new readers.
As we continue to hear rants and charges of fake news from the president and his minions, more people are turning to media they feel they can trust to ferret out the real news from the contradictions and outright lies being fed to us by the administration.
We are seeing more news coverage that corrects wrong information. Many papers and networks are including fact-checks that correct inaccurate statements or put them in context.
This is what we need and what people should use if they hope to have a real and honest picture of what our new administration and our elected officials are doing. We can't and shouldn't rely on questionable reports on websites posing as news but really run by political groups, whether leaning left or right.
Truth is what we need now and what we get from legitimate and credible news organizations like those in the president's cross-hairs.
When I began this blog just over ten years ago, my goal was to focus on professional issues and events in public relations, marketing and media. I generally stayed away from politics. But that’s changed over the past two years, since the presidential primaries began.
For readers who only want my 2 cents on professional issues, I apologize. But I think current events in politics are impacting media and public relations and, bigger than that, the moral fiber of our great nation. I cannot stay silent in this space. If this bothers you, please close this post now. If not, read on and comment as you see fit.
The circus of a presidential news conference the other day was shocking and troublesome on many fronts. Aside from his rudeness to reporters, his anti-Semitic and racist posturing and his doubling down on his belief in alternative facts about the election results, his approval ratings and his inheriting “a mess,” the ongoing and misplaced attacks on the news media pose a real threat to our democracy.
His claims of fake news are grossly off-base. He even predicted that headlines the day after his news conference would focus on his “ranting and raving.” He was right on that, but if he didn’t want those kind of headlines, then why did he rant and rave? I heard the news conference and “rant and rave” would be an accurate description.
He sounded like a whiny baby, saying the press has treated him “unfairly.” This, coming from a man who behaved like a spoiled child when he mocked his primary opponents, called them silly names and used theatrics to take the focus off the important issues the public wanted to hear the candidates discuss.
Worse yet, his constant portrayal of the news media as “fake news” and now “enemies of the American people” is more than off-base. It’s almost self-servingly treasonous in its attempt to take down a key element in our democratic system of checks and balances.
The White House would like to control the media so only positive information – and often exaggerations and outright lies -- flows out to the American public. This would make it easier for the new administration to fulfill its misguided pledges to dismantle social programs that help so many Americans and, ironically, many who voted for him.
Blocking the flow of accurate news would help the administration put in place rules or programs that will increase the tax burden on the middle and lower class while granting generous tax cuts to the super-wealthy. It will make it easier for the White House to take away agencies and rules that protect consumers from predatory practices by some financial institutions, from shortcuts that can harm us through food we eat and products we use every day, from regulations designed to protect us from ourselves in terms of environmental issues.
Here’s the bottom line as I see it. The news media are not perfect. They make mistakes and they sometimes have a bias. But the vast majority of the hard-news reporting is accurate and truthful. It may not paint a pretty picture of the administration and the president’s actions, but the truth is not always pretty, especially these days in Washington. But we need an honest press to keep a balance on what seems to be an unbalanced White House. If we are accurately informed on what is happening in D.C., we can respond in an informed manner, working to halt actions we fear may be damaging to us and to our great nation’s standing in the eyes of the world.
It’s telling and a bit heartening that even as the president denigrates the media and calls them “failing,” subscriptions and viewing is up significantly for The New York Times, The Washington Post and other major market dailies, as well as for one of the president’s favorite targets, CNN. What we can do as individuals to help the media weather this storm is to buy newspapers and watch the network and cable newscasts.
TV advertisers have long sought what they consider the key demographics -- adults ages 18 - 49. To meet that demand, the networks have long aimed their programming at that most-desired age group in order to lure the dollars from big mass-market advertisers.
John Crupi has an interesting backgrounder on those golden demos in the new issue of Advertising Age.
He reminds us that the focus on the 18-49 group goes back more than 50 years when ABC was a young and struggling network, getting clobbered in the ratings by the larger and more established NBC and CBS, which had many more affiliates and, therefore, more eyeballs.
To combat the difference in viewership, ABC put on programming that appealed to a younger audience and then, in a brilliant move, began touting the 18-49 demographics as the ones with money to spend on products being advertised.
In reality, the younger end of that age group likely did not have lots of money to spend. Just out of school, they were either in college or getting started on the careers, with lower-paying jobs at the bottom of the ladder.
As people passed the 50-year-old mark, they suddenly became less desirable to advertisers, if you bought what the networks told advertisers.
But wait… think about it. As we get into our 50s, we tend to have fewer big expenses like college tuition and other child-related costs. If we bought a house, our mortgage may be almost paid off. And as we are older, we are often more advanced in our careers and getting a bigger paycheck.
And as we move past that magic 50+ mark, many of us have more disposable income that we can use on travel, recreation and hobbies. With kids out of the house, we might downsize, which often means buying new furnishings. We also may go out to eat more often, since we’re paying only for two rather than three or four or more.
So you can see, the whole idea of 18 – 49 being the key money-spending demographic seems to be off-base. But the networks’ sales machines, supported by Nielsen ratings, have done a masterful job of selling 18 – 49.
Smart marketers and smart agencies have seen through the sizzle and have been more targeted in their ad spending.
Lucky me. Business brings me to Chicago every year. I like the Windy City. It's a great walking-around city, with good music and eats and lots see.
The downside is my trip is always in February, when it's cold -- made to feel even colder by the wind. Like today was 25, but with the wind chill, it felt like 13.
I'm here in February because that's when the Chicago Auto Show takes place. For my client The National Road Safety Foundation, I run a contest for teens in conjunction with the Auto Show called Drive Safe Chicago.
We invite teens throughout Chicagoland to submit their ideas for a TV public service message (PSA) about distracted driving -- a major problem for all drivers, but especially teens.
From the entries, we picked three finalists and sent an Emmy Award-winning director to work with the kids to professionally produce their messages. The Auto Show then posts the finalists on its Facebook page so the public can see them and vote online for their favorite. The winner gets a $2,000 prize.
Later this morning I'll announce the winner at a news conference at the show and then we'll go over to the local ABC station here, WLS-TV 7, for a live interview on the noon news.
It's fun work and it helps educate young people to the dangers of distracted driving, which is a major contributor to the fact that traffic deaths nationally have been increased by eight percent the past two years, reversing a decades-long trend of decreasing deaths.
Here's the winning video, as part of a story based on our interview today on WLS-TV ABC7 Chicago.
I wrote about the importance of credibility about two weeks ago, saying... Credibility is one of the most valuable assets a business, institution or an individual can have. That's why millions and millions of dollars are invested in public relations/community relations. It's not just about getting the word out, but about building trust in that word.
The White House continues to test the limits of credibility, stretching the truth and coming up with plainly wrong information that is easy for anyone who reads or sees to dispute.
First it was ego-based claims about the size of the audience at the inauguration. Now it's about the media not covering terrorist events that we all know about, like the shooting at the club in Orlando and the attack in San Bernardino or the drive-though massacre in Nice. How do we know about those events? Because we read about them in the newspapers and saw them over and over in coverage on TV and cable news channels.
Yet the White House says the media did not cover them.
It seems the so-called president and his advisors are living in some sort of alternate reality, filled with alternate facts.
People are beginning to get tired of the daily drama, based on late-night tweets and speeches that veer off track onto a rant about fake news and illegal voters. I would think even some of his supporters are starting to wonder, although they may not admit it publicly yet.
The White House is losing credibility not just among American voters, but around the world. Foreign leaders know they must deal with the U.S. and its president, but do they feel they can trust him (and, therefore, us as a nation)? More outrageous lies and denials of reality only serve to erode whatever credibility the White House now has.
The media are finally doing their job, reporting the news and quickly pointing out incorrect assertions so we get the full picture in context, not just the "news" the way the government would have us believe.
Truth tends to win out over lies and deception, except in authoritarian or dictatorial states where the news and the media are tightly controlled. Thank goodness we have a free and independent press that, despite roadblocks and fabrications put in its way, will always seek the truth and report it to us.
Let's hope the White House can't change that or we are sunk.