Journalism Is NOT Dying

The definition of journalism seems erroneously linked to solely to newspapers or magazines. While newspapers and magazines have been the traditional channels for accessing the fruits of journalism, they aren’t what defines journalism. Journalism is the gathering of news and dispensing that information to the people. It is the direct presentation of facts. It’s communication that appeals to the public interest. It definitely isn’t DYING.

Newspapers are transforming, but not dying. There may come a day when they aren’t printed on paper or no longer are delivered to a doorstep, but daily and weekly news gatherers are shifting to be hourly investigators. The new info updated to online sources by the minute.

The need for news and investigation is certainly not dying. We really have the opposite–an insatiable 24/7/365 appetite for information. What’s critically important is the need to train up and coming journalists in critical thinking, deft writing, ethics and neutrality. We need Public Relations pros trained as journalists, to keep the integrity of news balanced with information about businesses, governments or non-profits.

My trip to Kyrgyzstan reminded me how true that challenge remains across the globe. Nearly 50 papers are flourishing in the capital of Bishkek. The challenge is ownership and ethics. Nearly all papers are owned by businessmen or politicians using the newspapers as propaganda rags to highlight their own agendas. Yet the Kyrgyz people are able to glean the truth as they know the biases of each publication. Journalists created a Non Government Organization which seeks funding to assure the ethical and non-biased reporting and accuracy by new journalists in the flourish of news. I was struck by the similarities here-divided media showing bias on both sides of the political spectrum. But traditional non biased news gathering still exists in the dailies and the weeklies in local news. And in some of the national publications. Some bloggers are doing excellent investigative journalism and some are just hacks not checking facts. We just need to know the difference as consumers, as business owners, as public relations professionals and as journalists.


Five Planning Imperatives for great PR

In June I traveled as a Legislative Fellow to Kyrgyzstan through a cultural exchange program. It was an extraordinary trip.

Pondering this trip as a public relations program, thought I’d share some insights.

A group I volunteer with nominated me in January to be part of the program. Come February I had not officially heard. I won’t bore you with the back and forth emails. Let’s just say it took several emails, nothing ever “official”.

Rule one: if you are hosting a program formalize a communication program to assure you have a welcome.

As days passed for the June event, I’d get random emails. Often with cryptic instructions, if any. And with very little turn around. I’m a very flexible person. I rarely enjoy details and can wait till the last minute, but I gotta tell ya, this was pushing it for me. I received an email on the 9th requesting me to send my visa to get to its destination by the 11th. Without really explaining what would happen to my visa once it arrived and when I’d get it back. I trusted in the process, but most people wouldn’t.

Rule two: save yourself the headache. You MUST communicate reasons WHY you want something. Rule three: Consider that not everyone is standing by email to read your missive–provide time for planning. And did I mention you need to explain to people why you want what you want and what you’re going to do with it? Yeah, do that.

I’m not exactly a world traveler. I’ve lived in England on a US military base; gone to Paris for a week; crossed the Mexico/USA border for six hours and ventured to Canada to two provinces. I knew nothing about going to Kyrgyzstan. The program director provided a conference call but gave limited info about what to expect. Callers asked about culturally appropriate dress, getting local currency, medical issues and received answers. We also were assured other information was coming in the packet prior to departure.

The “packet” turned out to be a very limited PowerPoint with only weather information and nothing really substantive. I felt frustrated with the very limited info. I didn’t even know what questions to ask. When I returned home and couldn’t exchange the currency because of its rarity, I realized I should have asked how and when to return the currency.

Rule four: anticipate every step of the journey for your group-getting there and returning. Make sure your materials start from a zero information educational basis. Don’t assume every person as done something similar. Yes, search engines can provide tons of information, but it doesn’t help answer the likely questions that address your program.

The trip was amazing and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The coordinator assigned to the project did a great job herding 7 adults. At the end she asked for a quick response evaluation about the project, with a promise that a thorough evaluation would be sent.

Rule five: deliver an evaluation. It’s been 3 weeks since I returned. I’ve had more time to process, if only they asked for my suggestions. Of course I could send them unasked. But it’s the clients who don’t forward insights on their own that you have to worry about.

Returned from Kyrgyzstan, Cultural exchange

Been a while. I had the extraordinary opportunity to serve as a Legislative Fellow to travel to Kyrgyzstan in an cultural exchange program. When asked “how was it”, my answer has been “interesting and intense, hardly fun.” The hospitality of the Kyrgyz people ranks phenomenal. We were hosted and wined and dined every night. Learned quickly that expectations are you eat what you are given, but with a small balance left so they don’t reload your plate or your glass. My six fellow Americans and I meet with a vast array of people from 8 or 9 am to 5pm daily. The intensity of understanding their country has only been independent for 30 years and that only two years ago they had a 2nd revolution provides perspective. They are struggling to build this fragile democracy while 80% of their people are unemployed; they have to change a culture of corruption from political forces to cops, from news media to education. Bribery is rampant because for the 20% employed it’s not at a livable wage. Without fixing corruption International governments or businesses won’t invest much needed currency to allow the growth to employ their countrymen. Where do you start?

Women are getting a voice (every third candidate on the ballot must be a woman), but they still aren’t allowed at the table for company-unless that company insists. Young girls and women can be kidnapped as brides, married-often with their family’s support, yet they have an 80% divorce rate.

Their infrastructure doesn’t exist–sidewalks are created as new owners upgrade a building-they’ll put in intricate concrete shaped as tiles. The rest deal with tar or maybe used marble blocks. As Americans we take so much for granted. And the whining about what we have or what is asked of us now magnified for its ridiculousness. As a country we are no different than the blueberry girl from Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Flew on a Friday at 7am to San Francisco, from there to London. A layover long enough to eat a full traditional English breakfast including rasher bacon and tomato with tea. Flew to Azerbaijan for refueling, then in to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan-at 4am on Sunday–long trip. Took a nap till noon. Then toured the area for the Sunday evening–and that’s the last easy-going part of the trip.

My six fellow Americans and I worked from 8am or 9am – 5pm meeting with Parliamentarians, city councils, NGOs (non-government organizations) working on everything from Election Structure to Internet and Privacy to Media law. We talked talked to journalists trying to get truth and accuracy in the media that’s predominately owned by politicians or influential business owners. We met members of two of the five leading political parties. We watched Parliament in action. We connected with students-60% of the population are 18-25 year olds. The hardest place to get into was the US Embassy-my first visit to an embassy in my limited travels.

At night we dined with hosts, many who have been Legislative Fellows from Kyrgyzstan who have traveled to the USA. The Kyrgyz people are extraordinary hosts. Learned quickly that food spreading the table upon arrival is merely course one-or what we’d call appetizers. Except it’s a full on meal. Must pace oneself! And manage not to put too much food on your plate-rude not to eat what you take. Then comes course two. No desserts-they provide lots of sugar for tea, sweetened breads or candies, dried fruit, fresh fruit for every meal.

Just the appetizers!

I’ve lots of thoughts about this experience, and intend to share throughout the summer. At least I have blog content.

100 “Likes”, Barely 10 reads, Let alone 1 action

From the Progressive Libertarianism Facebook page

Facebook can be an extraordinary market place for businesses, as other social media outlets can be. Blogger Dan Herr shares a story about a landscaper getting $150k worth of business from a viral posting in ONE day.

It takes time to develop that list of friends. Make sure you drive traffic to the social media which in turn should drive traffic to your website with awesome content.

It takes time to get people to move from voyeur to activist.

Jakob Nielsen, shared from Bernard Warner on Social Media Intelligence

It’s easy to get “likes”. Much more difficult to get people to take action-like sharing a link, let alone actually leaving the computer and going to volunteer.

Just means you need to know what you want from your audience and where you reach them to do that. Activists for campaigns don’t come from social media. Online shoppers might.

Clever contest by Zoya

Zoya, a toxin free nail polish, held a contest last month I thought was a particularly clever use of Pinterest. (The Contest is over, so don’t try to win now). I love Zoya for my pedicures (too much gardening to keep a manicure) both for the lack of toxin and all the colors are named for women. Although sadly there is no “Alison” color. It would be an iridescent purple or teal or silver. But I digress.

The company sent me an email about the contest. Then some of the social media mavens I follow were pinning their colors. What the elements of the contest did were build their Pinterest base; provide a small prize, set a limit for growth, which drives participation. Keep these tactics in mind for your own online contest.

Help us create the ultimate Zoya Nail Polish Summer Trio and we’ll give away 2000 of them.

Get ready for some fun in the sun! Re-pin your favorite Summer 2012 Beach and Surf Collection colors to help Zoya Nail Polish create a beachy-chic mini (.25oz bottles) trio that will seriously amp up your summer style…

What you need to do:

  1. Follow Zoya on Pinterest
  2. Re-pin your must have Beach & Surf shades from the Zoya Pinterest Collection Board onto any board of choice.
  3. The top 3 most re-pinned shades will determine the trio shades!
  4. 2,000 trios of the unique combo selected by Pinterest followers will be given away *FREE!
  5. There’s a catch… 20,000 re-pins TOTAL must be reached between all 12 shades for the giveaway to take place!

Happy Pinning! The promotion ends Monday June 5, 2012 at 11:59pm EST. Pinterest Collection trio and code will be announced Monday, June 11th IF the re-pin goal is met. Don’t forget to spread the word!

*Shipping & Handling fees apply.

Terms & Conditions
*This contest is valid on Zoya’s Pinterest page ONLY from 5/22/12 – 6/05/12 11:59pm EST. Giveaway is contingent to number of re-pins achieved – Promotion code will be released on the Zoya Pinterest Collection Board. Mini trios (.25oz bottles) will be available while supplies last. Limit one promotion per account and household. Consumer orders only. Not valid with any other coupons, codes or promotions. Orders with promotion codes are not eligible for returns or exchanges. We are not responsible for incorrect addresses or credit card entry errors. Code must be entered at the time of purchase. Please allow up to 4 weeks for shipping if volume warrants it.

Zoya is the new color of fashion!
You are receiving this email as a customer of Art of Beauty, 5060 Taylor Rd #D, Cleveland OH 44128
Phone: 216-438-6363.  Art of Beauty is the maker of Qtica, Zoya and Zoom Product

I didn’t participate in the contest. I haven’t blogged in two weeks, no time to get caught in Pinterest. But as a consumer, I still love the product, loved the idea of the contest, and may actually purchase the trio if I can find the time to figure out what the summer beach colors are. Zoya won’t know it came from the contest. But I will. Keep that in mind as you build your online revenue.

Earn the Right to Be Heard

A recent client for my students reminded me about the marketing adage “the right to be heard”. It’s a reference to the need to demonstrate that you know the client, so that when you pitch them an idea about how to move their business in a direction, they’re more likely to trust you. Same holds true when you’re offering clients solutions as a business owner.

And why targeting your audience is so important. How can you speak to them and motivate them to action if you don’t really know them? How you talk to your family, your co-workers, your friends, your local barista–all different approaches. Why would business be any different? It’s not.

People do business with people they know, like and trust. Sometimes they don’t really “know” you, that’s the role of public relations. Developing a connection with people you want to do business with, provide solutions for, etc. The reason television ads work so well is because you’re in people’s homes. Showing up in their social media often also in the homes, and cars, and boring meetings. Think about how to earn the right to be heard-know the people you want to talk to.

It’s so much easier for them to accept the pitch when you do.

Don’t be a Brutus Backstabber

If you are engaging a speaker for your students, your event or your business,  applying good public relations practices critical for your reputation. I’ve recently been on a public speaking circuit and/or had occasion to help others with their engagements. Thought I’d share some observations.

One of my closest friends teaches high school English. To engage her students in the story of Julius Caesar and Brutus, students were assigned a media relations challenge: conduct a media publicity campaign for either Caesar or Brutus and defend the case. Kids did great jobs: citizen on the street reaction to the death of Caesar, radio scoops interviewing “Brutus” and TV reality shows. For those who have forgotten their high school history, Brutus and Caesar were pals until Caesar started making like a king. Brutus thought a republic with fair representation a better way to go. Seeing his friend’s grandiose ideas, Brutus felt his only option was to take Caesar out-stabbed him in the back. About 3/4ths of the students supported Brutus and the push for democracy, even though killing was extreme. We talked about the challenge in public relations about taking on a client who goes against the administration and when that is appropriate, overcoming oppressive regimes.

My friend invited two of us working in the field of public relations to come “judge” the media efforts. We committed nearly three hours of our time to observe 4-50 students present their cases and provided feedback on the elements of persuasion and public relations they showcased. Gladly arranged my schedule to accommodate this educational endeavor.

But the high school administration became Brutus. My entire experience was ruined when I went to my car. You see I couldn’t find any parking upon arriving. I got to the school at the appointed time but couldn’t find parking and still had to negotiate signing in at the front office. The 6-8 visitor parking spots were all occupied, the street parking was full, so I parked in a spot clearly marked faculty. There were several open faculty spots, not like I was preventing faculty from parking closely. When I returned to my car an astrobright gold piece of paper was on my windshield. The note read

You have parked in a faculty designated parking spot. In future, park in the designated visitor parking. -High School Administration.

Clearly the administration knew I was a visitor and not a student. What an abysmal way to treat a visitor. I had to sign in and state my purpose as a guest. They knew why I was there–to share my expertise with their students. And yet, they left a nasty gram on my windshield. No one asked me where I parked when I checked in. But they sure wanted me to know where to park if I ever came back.

If the high school teacher who invited me wasn’t my best friend, I wouldn’t ever go back. I’ve painted a mural on the wall over a hot summer weekend for the class. This is the third year I’ve volunteered time to provide professional insight to student class work. And one moment could easily have ruined our relationship (mine with the school, not my friend). I told my friend about my disappointment, so this isn’t a surprise. But she wasn’t surprised either. The school administration’s heavy handed approach created a great analogy for the class assignment, fulfilling both Caesar and Brutus parts.