.... 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. .
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For some examples of our work, scroll down to "Categories" below and click on "What We Do..."
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.
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.
The brouhaha over Rosanne Barr's racist attempt at humor has brought home an important point. For most of us, there are consequences to our actions.
Comedy can be tricky. Humor often treads that fine line between what's funny and what's hurtful or offensive. Often, jokes shouldn't and can't be taken literally.
But racial and religious jokes can cross over that fine line, even if that wasn't the joketeller's intent. It looks like Rosanne's joke -- which, to me, wasn't even funny -- provoked a lot of anger and disgust, even among castmates on her show. One of the producers and writers, Wanda Sykes, announced she would quit the show. Actor Sara Gilbert, who plays Rosanne's daughter on the show, put out a statement that she was upset by the joke and that it didn't reflect the beliefs of her, her castmates and the crew. Rosanne's agent - powerhouse ICM - said they were dropping her as a client.
Rosanne apologized, but it was too late. The nasty cat was out of the bag and ABC, tossing finances to the side, announced Rosanne's show is being cancelled. It's been a ratings leader for ABC, but the network has to consider other people that it works with and relies on -- producers, writers, actors, crew and, oh yes, the audience at home.
The whole episode shows that for most of us, there are consequences to what we say and what we do. Words do matter.
We saw this as the #MeToo movement has taken hold, where seemingly innocent or harmless jokes go awry and cause people to lose their jobs or, as in the case of Al Franken, their Senate seat. And many people who had been taking advantage of their positions of power have been rightfully taken down.
But it makes me wonder how one person, who should be a role model, has continuously gotten away with racist, mysogenist and religious slurs on Twitter and in public, with seemingly no consequence.
I'm talking about the President of the United States.
He has slurred entire races (Black, Asian, Latino), religions (Muslims), continents (Africa), nations, people with disabilities, Americans alarmed about Russian interference in our elections, important government institutions (the FBI and CIA, the Dept. of Justice, individual judges) and other institutions that help make and keep us a free nation (the free press). And instead of "draining the swamp," as he promised, he has made it deeper and murkier, illegally and immorally enriching himself, his family and his super-rich cronies.
There seems to be a whole group of Americans who think none of his actions and statements should have consequence. He can say whatever he wants, call anyone names, and tell lie after lie, take actions that enrich himself and his family, and nothing happens. No call for censure from Congress. It's just business as normal.
It is not normal, though. Many of us feel that way and continue to be upset at how this man makes our great nation look small and petty in the eyes of the world.
Hopefully there will be consequences in November, when some of those who have supported him and allowed him to run roughshod over decency and decorum get thrown out of office. There must be consequences for bad things, whether words or actions.
Today is World Press Freedom Day, following an annual tradition since the UN General Assembly voted to approve it as an official designation back in 1993.
In the 1990s, no one would have considered the United States as a nation whose press freedoms were under threat. That would have been more rightly aimed at so-called banana republics or authoritarian nations like Russia, China and some places in South America, Asia and Africa. But the U.S.? Never.
And here we are, 25 years later and the media here in "the land of free" are under attack. Under attack by, of all people, the very person whose job it is to uphold and protect our Constitution, whose wise words recognize, very specifically, the importance of a free press to keep those who govern us honest and working in the public interest.
Who among us would have ever thought we'd be hearing daily attacks on our press, coming directly from the White House and from some top leaders in our government?
It's a dangerous path we're on.
The theme of the 2018 celebration highlights the importance of an enabling legal environment for press freedom, and gives special attention to the role of an independent judiciary in ensuring legal guarantees for press freedom and the prosecution of crimes against journalists.
At the same time, it addresses the role of the media in sustainable development, especially during elections - as a watchdog fostering transparency, accountability and the rule of law. The theme also aims to explore legislative gaps with regard to freedom of expression and information online, and the risks of regulating online speech.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, "On World Press Freedom Day 2018, I call on governments to strengthen press freedom, and to protect journalists. Promoting a free press is standing up for our right to truth."
Freedom of the press is a very important issue everywhere, including here in the United States. We cannot allow ourselves -- or our leaders -- to lose sight of that.
A longtime friend from my college days, Barry Zusman, graduated Clarkson College (now University) a year ahead of me. We stayed in touch as he was continuing for his MBA in Public Relations at Pace University. While finishing my senior year at Clarkson, Barry and I talked and he told me what he was learning about PR. It sounded interesting so I followed his footsteps, went to Pace and earned my MBA in Public Relations.
Like me, Barry spent many years working at PR agencies in New York. Unlike me, though, Barry began teaching a PR course several years ago at LIM College here, where he's now beginning another semester.
He's been recognized by O'Dwyer's PR News columnist Fraser Seitel as one of several distinguished PR professors around the country.
Barry sent me a recent column by Seitel and it has some good pointers worth sharing with any young people considering or now studying public relations. I think these same pointers could be useful for many people already in the PR field, especially these days as we are hearing and seeing so-called "spin doctors" working for presidential candidates sometimes stretching the truth or outright lying to the media and the public.
The article cites one of Barry's fellow PR professors, Jeff Morosoff at Hofstra. Each year, Prof. Morosoff assigns students to seek out PR professionals to answer relevant questions on ethics. Here’s how one practitioner answered this year’s batch of PR ethics questions.
Why is it important to always tell the truth in PR?
All one has in public relations is his or her reputation -- credibility. Once you lie and you’re found out — and you will be found out — you lose that. And no one with whom you do business — reporter, client, potential employer, etc. — will look at you the same way after you’re caught in a lie. Truth, therefore, is paramount in public relations.
Why do some communications practitioners spin the truth instead of coming clean with the actual information?
They’re probably reluctant to reveal unpleasant or bad news about a client or the client doesn’t want them saying anything troubling. But it’s eminently preferable to say nothing than to lie. Again, once caught, no one will ever trust you or the client.
What values are the most important to do the public relations job?
A bias toward disclosing rather than withholding information.
An advocacy or belief in your employer.
A compelling desire to advise/counsel senior managers in proper action and communications.
An absolute commitment that the counsel you deliver is always ethical.
A willingness to take risks, to stick your neck out.
An always logical, but also positive, predilection.
How much of a role does PR ethics play in daily work?
Ethics, or stated another way, “doing the right thing,” must be the anchor of every decision you make in public relations.
Why are PR practitioners referred to as “spin doctors?”
They are referred to as “spin doctors” because they appear to have a mentality — or do have a mentality — of doing whatever the client tells them to do; whether right or wrong, fair or unfair, honest or dishonest. That’s a recipe not only for professional disaster but also for an unhappy practitioner.
Why does the good work of PR people often go unnoticed?
Public relations work is not as noticed because the work of PR professionals should be anonymous. If you write the CEO’s speech, and it’s a winner, it’s the CEO, correctly, who should get the credit, not you. Public relations people generally toil in anonymity. But as long as the client appreciates — and pays for — your contribution, that’s what counts.
These ethics for PR people, based around truthfulness, should really be key ethics for anyone in business, not just the PR folks. But we in PR should be the ones who try to keep the rest of the business world honest. It's a tough and often thankless task, but a good PR person will keep trying.
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.
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.
I got an email a few days ago from my friend and former business partner Alan Hirsch, pointing me to a story in The New York Times. He wrote, "It will change your mind about the U.S. having a free press."
The articles tells how Dick Metcalf, one of nation's most respected gun journalists (The NYT's assessment, not mine -- I wouldn't know.) has been fired from his post as a columnist for Guns & Ammo Magazine. His crime -- writing a column that debated gun laws, where he wrote the following line that made the powerful gun lobby go ballistic: "The fact is, all consitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be."
After the column ran, The Times reports, two gun makers who are big advertisers in Guns & Ammo demanded that Metcalf be fired or they'd pull all future advertising. So, Metcalf's name is gone from the masthead, and a cable show the magazine produces has also dismissed him as a contributor.
Clearly, as my friend Alan decries, the line between editorial and advertising was crossed in this case. But does this threaten the integrity of the free press in this country? Sorry Alan, but I'd say, hardly.
Although it's technically a consumer publication, I'd put Guns & Ammo in the category of a trade pub. It's closely allied with -- actually a part of -- the gun community, which is very protective of its right to bear arms. As we know, they'll go to almost any length to stifle discussion on gun control.
If the publication in question was The New York Times, USA Today or any major market daily paper, my reaction would be different. But most trade publications rely heavily on advertising support from the industries they cover. I've seen many trade pubs blur the line that separates editorial and advertising. Readers generally see and understand that, and I'm not sure how much credence they give to editorial copy that's favorable to the company that's running a full-page ad on the facing page.
Slanting copy to keep advertisers happy is, for some trade publications, fairly routine. It doesn't threaten the free press, in my mind. It's just business as usual.
You probably know the old warning about not believing everything you see online. I'm a firm supporter of that skepticism.
It's easy to doctor articles so they look real. Anyone can post a bogus news release. And how many emails do we all get from well-meaning friends who forward things that have been forwarded dozens of times to the point where it's hard to see where it originally came from? And how trustworthy is the original source...IF that's really the original source.
Social media has a place in the newsgathering process, since it allows media (and we news consumers) to get news as it's happening. An example is the terror attack in Mumbai a few years ago, where information was sketchy. A reporter for The New York Times was on site and his Twitter updates kept us informed. But there were many other tweets online, and it's hard to know which, if any, were authentic or accurate.
So the joke Jimmy Kimmel played recently should teach us a lesson about relying on social media for news and information, and it
should make us question a bit more closely the authenticity of what we read and see online.
In a monologue sevberal weeks ago, Kimmel talked about a video he saw on YouTube showing a young woman twerking (dancing) and accidentally setting herself on fire. He showed the clip that night and made no further references to it after that.
After the Miley Cyrus twerking debacle on the MTV music video awards show two weeks ago, the YouTube clip started getting lots of views as people did YouTube searches for "twerking."
Then, a few nights ago, Kimmel mentioned how the clip had more than 10 million views and had been picked up by major news organizations including most of the network news shows and dozens of newscasts on local TV stations. He then did a Skype interview with the woman in the clip, only to reveal midway through the interview that the woman -- a professional stuntwoman -- was actually behind the curtain on Kimmel's stage. The interview and the original clip had been staged as a really funny bit on Kimmel's late night show. And he mockingly referred to all the news coverage the original clip had received.
Some are miffed with Kimmel for pulling the wool over the public's eyes as a way to get more publicity for himself, but I have no problem with it. The fault really lies with the media who simply pulled a funny video off of YouTube and ran it without looking into its authenticity.
Maybe it's a lesson that the media and the public should be cautious about what they take as real and accurate when it's on social media.
Links to the original clip and Kimmel revealing the hoax are here, in a TV Week story.
Fifty years ago yesterday Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave that speech in Washington that galvanized our nation. We've come along way, all of us, although there's still more to be done.
I thought it might be worth reading the "Dream" section of the
speech one more time...
"... I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'
...I have a dream that one day...the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave oweners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
...I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!
...This is our hope and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
...And this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning: My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing...From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
...And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring in every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"