Thursday, April 23, 2009

My lesson from Peter Kaplan

Here's the gist - where there's smoke there's fire. Or, if a reporter is asking about something -- and it's not good news -- there's usually some truth in it.

Yesterday, Read it here,Peter Kaplan, the editor of the New York Observer for the past 15 years announced he was leaving the weekly newspaper about New York and its personalities. Clearly he had problems with the new owners. This photo tells it all (he's the one looking down).

But, he was a visionary editor. In fact, he was a reporter's editor. Because he really was a reporter at heart.

I met Peter Kaplan about 20 years ago when he was an editor at Manhattan, Inc. magazine - once a powerful business magazine that chronicled the inner workings of business in NY. I was working on the Manhattan, Inc. account while at Howard Rubenstein, trying to get PR for the magazine. Mostly I was fighting rumors about layoffs, troubles at the publication and with its owner.

As I read the story in today's NYT about Peter assembling his staff to let them know he was leaving, I was transported back in time to 20-some years ago when I witnessed another meeting that Peter was on the outside of. I was called to a meeting with the editor of Manhattan Inc. at the time, the very great Clay Felker and his staff. As we entered the offices, a staff meeting was underway. There in the middle of the entryway, the publisher of Manhattan, Inc. was announcing to his staff that he was shutting down the magazine. It was a stunning moment. We were there to talk about promoting the next issue -- but there was not to be a next issue.

Clay and Peter were shell shocked. They had no idea this was coming. And as for PR - we were sent into crisis mode.

Prior to that moment, our PR efforts had been about denying the rumors of problems at the magazine. Apparently the media covering the industry knew more about what was going on on the inside than those inside knew. Lesson learned? After many years, I've come to expect that there is always truth in those rumors. It might not be right on, but there's always a little something. If you hear it from the press, be prepared for it to happen. At least that way you can be prepared when you walk into a meeting in progress and bad news is on the agenda.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Am I A Twit?

Ok - don't answer that. The truth is that I do tweet as part of my day job. Twitter has become one of the most important tools in the PR tool kit because it lets you be part of the conversation about your brand, your company or even yourself.

As it becomes part of mainstream media there is apt to be backlash. It seems to me that the media -- those are the most fervent twitters -- need to be more careful with what they tweet about as it becomes more about them as personalities and less about the publications they represent.

Same for companies. If a company is tweeting, it needs to have the voice of the company, not someone talking about what they had for lunch (unless it is the CEO giving us a taste of his or her personality).

I know I'm not the first to make this prediction, but I wonder what impact twittering will have on blogging? If we get used to posting our thoughts and opinions in 140 characters - who will want to read or write something more in-depth. In our attention deficit world, perhaps we are all twits at heart.

I know my mother will have no idea what I'm talking about when I say "twitter" even if my twitter feed is on the right column. So please take a moment and read today's op ed by Marueen Dowd. I thought she lost it, but she is in rare form today. Read it here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mine - Needs some Work

I got my first issue of "Mine" magazine this week. I tore right into it, interested to see how a magazine with content that I asked for would read.

I quickly realized that the very nice editors at Mine didn't get "my" order. In place of "Money" I got "Golf Illustrated." While the rest of my family might find that an interesting read, it puts me to sleep. I was hoping for a "here's how to pay for college" story and instead got a photo by photo breakdown of Tiger Wood's swing.

The first story from Real Simple was about juice drinks. Not top of mind for me but an interesting fact: grapefruit juice can extend the duration of prescription drugs. Probably not a good think for those on Cialis.

Second up from Food & Wine - travelling to South Africa. Again, not in my interest area - if they talked about fishing, perhaps.

My favorite story was from InStyle, a magazine I just can't ever find the time or inclination to read. It was about the writer's experience buying custom sized/designed jeans online. If I ever had the courage to take my own measurements I'd definitely try out or

Mine is an interesting experiment. I was apparently not the only one to get the wrong issue. Time admitted to a few mess-ups. Hey, this is new, I understand. There's still time to try it out they have room for more subscribers


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

YouTube Everything

I recently put out a press release for a client that I built in a lot of social networking tools to better enrich the news that was being announced and to actually have control over some of the messages. As part of the announcement we filmed a video with the new individual joining the company talking about how changes in the industry were accelerating and his point of view on technology, etc.

Ideally I wanted it to be 3 or 4 videos that we'd post on YouTube of 2-3 minutes each. But due to time it became 1 video, 7-minutes long. Still, after the first day that the news broke, the YouTube Video scored over 1,000 views. All the major news outlets included links to the video and some even referenced the conversation.

Now comes a story in the New York Times Magazine here that talks about how Obama used YouTube as part of his communications strategy.

Every communications vehicle today HAS to be part of a communications plan. And YouTube is the second most used search engine next to parent company Google.

As a PR professional I think that what the new social media tools do is give us a greater ability to not only tell our story across multiple channels, but in someways have greater control and visibility over what gets read. All this is due to the magic powers of "search" and what happens when the consumer, reporter, analyst, whomever, goes to search for a corporate name, a product, a whatever and they find a plethora of mentions that rise to the top that have all been provided and created by the company in question. The key is to do it from a journalistic point of view - not a spin doctor. But the tools are changing the game and for me, making my job different every day.
Add to Technorati Favorites