Media Moves: September Edition

As a number of our favorite reporters switched addresses to start 2016, the media carousel continued through the middle half of the year. While some of us said “goodbye for the summer,” many reporters said goodbye for a little longer than that in the latest edition of our media moves.

Please don’t forget to update your media lists after checking out the below changes at such notable outlets as: Bloomberg, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Wired and Recode. 

The New York Times

Thomas Fuller has left Southeast Asia to become the San Francisco Bureau Chief for The New York Times. He was previously an international correspondent for the publication.

Takeaway: Welcoming a journalist to a new post is always a good relationship-building opportunity. Look to drop Thomas a quick line, particularly those who work at SF-based firms.

Forbes

Forbes recently said goodbye to Bruce Upbin who was the managing editor overseeing technology coverage for the last seven years. Bruce now works in strategic communications with transportation technology company Hyperloop One.

Takeaway: Another example of a journalist taking their writing and content development skills in-house. Anyone who has worked with Bruce in the past should look to maintain contact – you never know when your favorite journalist might get the itch to go back into journalism.

TechCrunch 

Brian Heater has joined TechCrunch as their new hardware editor where he will lead coverage around consumer electronics, gadgets and emerging hardware technology. Heater also serves as a contributing writer for Mashable.

Takeaway: CES will be here before we know it. Brian could be a good contact for those looking to launch any new products at the show.

Wall Street Journal

After four years at CIO Journal, Rachael King has transitioned to WSJ proper and will now be exclusively covering enterprise technology.

Also, last month the WSJ hired Alexander “Alec” Davis as a news editor based in San Francisco. Previously Alec was the managing editor for MarketWatch.

Takeaway: Rachael’s move is a win for those with enterprise technology clients. When reaching out to Alec, note that he was once vice president at a PR firm in the Bay Area and will be familiar with the media relations process.

Los Angeles Times

Former tech editor, Russ Mitchell, will soon return to the Los Angeles Times. Mitchell will be covering a new beat at the intersection of the auto industry, Silicon Valley and the future of mobility. Mitchell briefly served as managing editor for Kaiser Health News’ California Healthline.

Takeaway: Interesting move by Russ. Guess you really can go home again – albeit a different focus area from his previous stint at the LA Times.

Wired

Recently appointed Wired editor-in-chief, Jay Fielden, has hired three new editors at the magazine. Richard Dorment, former senior editor at Esquire, has joined the Wired staff under the same title. Maria Streshinsky will be joining Dorment as features editor – Streshinsky last served as deputy editor at Mother Jones.

Takeaway: Richard is based in New York and could be a fit for any consumer-related clients. Maria is a California native and could be a good resource when trying to find the appropriate reporter in the SF office.

Bloomberg News              

Sarah McBride left Reuters in July to join Bloomberg News in San Francisco. McBride will be covering venture capital and start-ups, the same topics she was covering for Reuters.

Takeaway: While 2015 was an unusually slow year for technology IPOs, investors and bankers have had a more positive outlook for this year. If any of your clients fall in this camp, Sarah might be your go-to.

Recode

Arik Hesseldahl announced via Twitter that he officially left Recode in July.

Takeaway: Arik was THE enterprise guy for several years going back to his days at AllThingsD, Bloomberg and Forbes. I had the pleasure of working with Arik in the past. Believe he’s on a bit of a hiatus right now so looking forward to seeing where he ends up.

Quartz

Alice Truong transferred to Hong Kong to cover growth in Asia and India.

Takeaway: There’s been an influx of Asian companies making noise recently here in the U.S. Might want to think twice about getting rid of Alice’s contact information.

CBS News

Veteran newsman and 60 Minutes broadcaster Morley Safer passed away at age 84. Safer spent 46 years shaping the network’s iconic news program before announcing his retirement in early May

Takeaway: Simply one of the best. Rest in peace, Sir. 

From The Desk of the Media Strategist: Focusing on the Bigger Story

For all the talk of new channels, content types and communication strategies, the heart and sole of public relations remains media relations.

And while there have been many talks, books, guides, etc. on pitching media, it often comes down to knowing ahead of time what a reporter covers and the content that is most valuable to them.

But remember that pitching a reporter is only half the battle. If they’re interested in your angle, they must now sell the story idea to their editors. To help us understand how stories evolve and what will entice an editor, who better to turn to than Scott Dadich, editor in chief at prominent business and technology publication WIRED.

In a recent issue, Scott provided insight into the editorial process at WIRED and how stories are determined. Below is a transcript of Scott’s feedback to the story pitch submitted by business writer Cade Metz. It’s an interesting read as this is exactly how PR practitioners should think when constructing pitches – and an overall reminder to always think bigger picture in order to help your favorite reporter get their story “green-lit.”

As appeared in the June 2016 issue of WIRED:

Last October, Fan Hui walked into a six-story office building near King’s Cross station in London, headquarters of a Google-owned AI startup called DeepMind, to play a game. Hui is the European champion at Go, the 2,500-year-old test of strategy and intuition that makes chess look like checkers. Its black and white counters have more possible positions on the Go grid than there are atoms in the universe. Every move has more possible outcomes than even the most powerful artificial intelligence had ever been able to calculate. Human grand masters don’t play the game by looking ahead at possible future moves. The move according to how the board looks. A machine needs more than “brute force” to beat the top humans. It needs something closer to, well, human intuition.

EIC Commentary: Cade had already been covering AI and this Go story, so we knew he was well sourced and steeped in the material.

Hui was in London to meet just such a machine. Built by a team of Googlers led by an engineer named Demis Hassabis, the AI relied on a technology called deep learning, a mimic of the interconnections in a human brain called a neural net. Feed it enough photos of a cat and it can learn to identify a cat. Feet it enough spoken words and it can learn to recognize the commands you bark into your phone. Feed it millions of Go moves and a neural net can learn to play Go.

EIC Commentary: The creation of a new kind of artificial intelligence I loved that. I, for one, welcome our new robot, etc.

Now, in theory, that would only produce an AI that’s as good as human – not better. So the team went a step further. They matched this neural network against itself. Two (slightly different) versions of the system played each other thousands of times over, carefully tracking which moves took the most territory on the board.

EIC Commentary: We’re always looking for inflection points, places where the future is starting to happen. That’s what this pitch argues.

The system that resulted, called AlphaG, is what Hui was there to play. In view of a few members of the DeepMind team, an editor from an academic journal, and an arbiter from the British Go Association, AlphaGo and Fan Hui played five games of Go that week. And AlphaGo won them all. In March, AlphaGo is going to South Korea to play Lee Sedol, the top Go player in the world. Experts – in Go and AI – think it’ll win.

EIC Commentary: Here’s where it goes from a topic to a story. Now there’s a conflict in the narrative and a moment we knew Cade could focus his reporting on: a human genius up against a Cylon, with the future of humanity in the balance.

The game though, is really just a proxy war. Deep learning has already proven adept at identifying images, recognizing spoken words, and even understanding natural language. AlphaGo’s abilities point the way to a future where robots interact with the physical world the same way the system interacts with Go – learning from its environment and responding to unexpected changes. As DeepMind built AlphaGo, Mark Zuckerberg and his AI researchers at Facebook were using deep learning to build their own Go player. This fight is really between Google and Facebook, over who will build the first intelligent, adaptable computer.

EIC Commentary: And these are the stakes. Beyond the metaphysical, building these AIs will have implications for the entire tech industry.

I’ve been covering this story as it unfolded, and I have exclusive access to the DeepMind team in the run-up to the match with Sedol and during the match itself. I propose building a story that spans not only the path of AlphaGo, from inception 19 months ago to the Fan Hui match to the match with Lee Sedol, but also the recent history of AI – a field that is moving faster than anyone, even its most prominent practitioners, expected. Structurally, I’d set it around a series of Go matches: AlphaGo versus Fan Hui. AlphaGo versus Lee Sedol. AlphaGo versus me. And, if I can set it up, AlphaGo versus whatever they’re building at Facebook.

EIC Commentary: (Part I) Bricklaying for the story. This spells out for the rest of us how Cade and Marcus plan to tell the tale. (Part II) A great idea that we didn’t use in the end. Cade’s access to the tournament in South Korea was too good. You’ll see.

 

Media Moves, Spring Edition: Part 2

Back at it again with the media moves! Journalism is a tough industry right now, so we’re helping you keep a pulse on who’s where. The other day we reported on the big layoffs at Mashable, Rachel King’s move to New York and more. Keep reading to get the update on shifts at Quartz and a big shakeup at Re/Code.

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Quartz

Michael Coren joined Quartz as technology reporter on March 21. Michael is based in San Francisco and his coverage will focus on the people and business in Silicon Valley, including startups and venture capital. 

Takeaway: Michael should be settled into his new digs by now so feel free to welcome him to Quartz – particularly if you have clients based in the South Bay.

 Re/code               

Dan Frommer, former tech editor for Quartz, has been named the new editor in chief at Re/code. Ken Li, Re/code’s founding editor in chief has moved on from the company.

Takeaway: If Dan’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he helped create the tech-and-media-focused news site Silicon Alley Insider which is now Business Insider. Read more about his appointment here in a post by Kara Swisher.

San Francisco Chronicle

Owen Thomas is the new business editor. He comes to the publication from ReadWrite, where he served as the Editor-in-Chief since April 2013.

Jess McCuan, deputy business editor has left the publication to join Quid, a startup selling software for analyzing media impact.

Takeaway: With the departure of Jess, the addition of a media industry veteran in Owen is a nice win for our local paper. Recall that Owen has spent time at a number of prominent outlets including: TIME, NBC Universal, VentureBeat and Business Insider.

TechCrunch

Lora Kolodny is the new emerging technologies editor. Previously Lora was a reporter at Dow Jones in San Francisco, where she covered venture capital and tech businesses.

New additions to TechCrunch’s staff also include: Stefan Etienne and Signe Brewster. Stegan Etienne has been named contributing editor and will be covering gadgets and bleeding edge hardware. Signe Brewster has been named contributing writer and will be covering emerging science and technology, with a focus on 3D printing, robotics, drones, VR and space.

Takeaway: Robots, drones and more recently VR continue to be the rage so some fresh targets for those with clients in related areas.

Vanity Fair

Maya Kosoff has been named a staff writer covering the technology industry. Previously, she was a tech reporter for Business Insider since November 2014.

Stephanie Mehta is now a deputy editor. She joins from Bloomberg where she was the editor-at-large and oversaw its live events programming.

Takeaway: Stephanie has been primarily focused on technology so it’ll be interesting to see how this hiring impacts Vanity Fair’s coverage and editorial direction.

The Wall Street Journal

Doug MacMillan will leave the publication this summer to become a Knight-Bagehot Fellow at Columbia University in New York.

Sam Walker has been named deputy enterprise editor. Sam previously served as sports editor for the paper.

 Matthew Rose was named editor of enterprise. He previously served as the WSJ’s deputy Washington bureau chief

Technology editor Jonathan Krim recently left the publication to pursue new opportunities.

Takeaway: Some notable additions for those with enterprise clients. The loss of Doug is huge as not many technology reporters are more respected among PR and competing media outlets. Note that his plan is to return to the publication at some point next year. 

Media Moves, Spring Edition: Part 1

As a follow up to the holiday edition of our media moves list, we’ve compiled the latest round of changes among our favorite reporters and outlets. Not surprisingly, a lot of changes to start the New Year, both at prominent publications such as Bloomberg, Fortune and the Wall Street Journal as well as several other moves that may have flown under the radar. 

Don’t forget to update those media lists!…

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Bloomberg

Bloomberg Politics nominated Jennifer Jacobs to national political reporter and will be covering the 2016 election.

Margaret Talev has been named the senior White House reporter for the Washington bureau at Bloomberg.

Michael C. Bender has been named a senior reporter for the publication, covering national politics. He was previously a national political reporter at Bloomberg since January 2011.

Brendan Greeley will now be covering the intersection of politics and economy, as well as campaign finance at Bloomberg.

Alistair Barr, most recently Google reporter for WSJ, joined the U.S. technology team as editor.

Takeaway: Some interesting moves on the political side given that this is an election year. Alistair is a veteran technology reporter so those with enterprise clients should take note.

Fortune

Nin-Hai Tseng has been promoted to senior editor of Fortune Insider, a network of business leaders who offer career and leadership advice.

Patricia Sellers has left Fortune editorial to start her own media company, SellersEaston Media (SEM). Patricia will continue working with Fortune/Time Inc. as Co-Chair of the Most Powerful Women multimedia franchise. Joining Patricia in this endeavor is her former, Fortune editorial colleague, Nina Easton. Similar to Patricia, Nina will continue her role as Co-Chair of Most Powerful Women.             

Aaron pressman has joined Fortune as a reporter covering technology. Previously, he covered technology and tech/telecommunication companies for Yahoo! Finance.                 

Rachel King has left SF for the East Coast and is now the technology editor in New York City. She was previously senior editor at CBS Interactive where she covered business and enterprise technology news and trends.

Takeaway: When reaching out to Aaron, keep in mind that he has started out covering the likes of Qualcomm, Verizon, Apple and did a feature on Intel’s CEO. At Fortune, Andrew Nusca told me that he and Adam Lashinsky still direct the technology team ship while Verne Kopytoff – and now Rachel – help “drive.” 

Investor’s Business Daily

After 32 years of being published five days a week, Investor’s Business Daily is reducing its publishing frequency to once a week, effective May 2. The paper will move more of its editorial operations online and will retain the Investor’s Business Daily title. Additionally, 20 newsroom positions will be cut.

Takeaway: Another example of hard copy print publications being devalued and as a result, a legacy brand going digital.

Los Angeles Times                 

Ben Muessig has been named technology editor. The former business/tech editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, Ben replaced Russ Mitchell.

Takeaway: Interesting move by Ben. He was only here in San Francisco for about two years and prior to that, an eight-month stint at the New York Daily News. We’ll see how long he stays in Hollywood.

 Mashable

Following recently announced layoffs Jim Roberts, executive editor, has left and will be replaced by Greg Gittrich.

Other departures include: Heidi Moore (business editor), Juana Summers (political editor), Cameron Joseph (political reporter) and Emily Cahn (political reporter)

Takeaway: Layoffs are always tough, but this part of the outlet’s shift away from hard news and more towards video content in partnership with Turner Broadcasting means they’ll be reporting on less timely news and producing more sharable content.

The New York Times

Mike Issac has relocated to San Francisco from New York and will be covering social media. He was previously a technology writer, covering the NYT’s business and technology Bits Blog.

Takeaway: Folks may not know that this is actually Mike’s second stint in the city by the bay. After 10 years in San Francisco, Mike moved back to the Big Apple in the summer of 2014. Apparently, he missed the fog.

 

Fridays Aren’t Just for Happy Hour Anymore

Nothing makes a reporter cringe more than the dreaded “follow-up” to a press release announcement or proactive pitch angle. But as PR practitioners we have an obligation to our clients to try and obtain some type of feedback – whether there’s any interest in the pitch/news item or not. However, following up in the game of PR requires a unique skillset.

The challenges to following up in PR are numerous: no response to email, unable to catch the reporter live via phone, reporter unavailable to chat due to deadlines, etc. In fact, it’s likely that whatever media database you have access to will even have several reporter bios that read, “DO NOT FOLLOW UP.” So what’s a PR practitioner to do?

As with anything in life, it’s all about timing. If you’ve done your homework to find out when a reporter is “generally” available or when they’re typically on deadline, then you’re halfway there. Now it’s about being persistent and giving yourself the best opportunity to get a response.

This month’s tip: Follow-up Friday.

Reporters seem to always be on deadline, but Fridays are typically a good day to follow up. As I wrote in a previous post, reporters are people too, so we’re all prone to being a bit more casual at the end of a busy workweek. As a result, members of the media may be more likely to respond to an email or actually pick up the phone (!) on a Friday as they’ve likely gotten their major items on their to-do list out of the way. Now I realize you may not have the luxury to wait until the end of the week to follow up, depending on the timing of your initial outreach, but if you have a choice, reach out to your favorite reporter on a Friday – and don’t forget to share the feedback you’ve obtained with your client before heading over to your favorite watering hole. It just makes the weekend that much better…

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Season’s Greetings: Update your Media Lists for the Holiday Season

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Season’s Greetings!

Last month here at Above the Fold, I provided the first installment in our series of media relations tips to help build stronger relationships with the media.

This month, as we turn our attention towards the holiday season, the focus is on a few of the recent media moves – so those “Season’s Greetings” we send make it to the correct address of our favorite reporters.

Make sure to update those media lists…

Bloomberg News

Shira Ovide joined Bloomberg in late October to work on its Bloomberg Gadfly commentary service. Ovide was previously a reporter for The Wall Street Journal covering business software firms from the San Francisco Bureau.

Additionally, Shannon Harrington was named managing editor for global corporate finance, as part of an expansion of technology and business coverage at Bloomberg. Previously, Shannon worked as the head of corporate finance in the U.S. for Bloomberg.

Bloomberg Businessweek

Ellen Pollock is now the editor of Bloomberg Businessweek. She replaced Josh Tyrangiel, who left the company. Ellen was previously Businessweek’s deputy editor before being promoted to editor.

Brian Womack moved over to covering enterprise companies like Salesforce.com and Dell while retaining the Yahoo! beat.

Jack Clark slid over to Google where he will cover its transformation into the moonshot-launching Alphabet.

Brad Stone was named global head of technology coverage.

Tom Giles was named executive editor and is running the day-to-day tech coverage around the world.

Jillian Ward became the permanent U.S. team leader.

Eric Newcomer, previously Bloomberg’s startups reporter, is training his sights on the on-demand juggernauts Uber, Lyft and Airbnb.

And finally, in New York, Joshua Brustein now focuses his attention on the technology-themed disruptions to the media and advertising businesses.

Forbes

Andres Jauregui joined Forbes as a senior online editor. He was previously an editor at The Huffington Post, specializing in trending stories and breaking news, with an eye toward reporting and developing viral content.

Los Angeles Times

Scott Kraft took on a new digital role overseeing top stories for the website at the Los Angeles Times, working with the homepage and social media teams. He most recently served as a deputy managing editor of page one, column one and special projects.

 New York Daily News

Rob Moore is the new head of news at the New York Daily News. He’s worked as reporter since 2004 and was designated deputy managing editor in 2011.

Eric Barrow was named senior writer at the New York Daily News. He previously covered sports for the same outlet.

New York Times

Jan Benzel now oversees the New York Times’ Sunday metropolitan section. She was previously a staff editor in Metro.

Reuters

Dustin Volz joined Reuters as a reporter covering cybersecurity from the Washington DC angle, including nation-state conflicts, corporate espionage, federal government hacks, surveillance and digital privacy and online consumer scams. Dustin will work out of San Francisco and will be leaving his current position as correspondent for the National Journal.

Carl O’Donnell was named Healthcare M&A reporter. In his new role, he will break news and provide insight on the biggest deals in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors in the Americas.

 San Jose Mercury News

David Butler retired from the San Jose Mercury News after a 44-year career in the industry.

TIME

Katy Steinmetz was promoted to San Francisco Bureau Chief at TIME. In her new role, she leads the publication’s coverage of news and ideas in the Bay Area. Katy also writes about tech, LGBT issues and new economies, and pens features on art, language and culture.

 USA Today

Laura Mandaro was named the technology editor at USA Today. She’s been with USA Today for nearly a year, acting as a West Coast editor out of the San Francisco office and will be overseeing tech coverage, both online and in print.

 Philana Patterson joined USA Today as deputy money editor in New York City. She was previously an assistant business editor at the Associated Press, where she was a member of the senior leadership team in AP Business News and helped oversee breaking and enterprise news coverage and operations.

The Wall Street Journal

Richard Rubin joined The Wall Street Journal as a reporter covering U.S. tax policy. He was previously a reporter at Bloomberg News for nearly five years, working tax issues on Capitol Hill.

 

Reporters are People, Too

As all public relations practitioners know, a strong communications program includes a number of elements: speaking

Attractive professional male news reporter wearing grey suit holding microphone, talking to camera from urban setting.
Credit: Thinkstock

program, award submissions, contributed content/thought leadership and more recently, social media activity. However, as important as all these elements are, at the core of every PR program still remains the gold standard: media relations.

One of our primary roles as PR practitioners is to build strong relationships with the media by serving as a valuable resource for story ideas, and we do this by responding to requests for commentary in a timely manner and being a reliable liaison between the reporter and the client.

Starting with this post, Above the Fold will be your monthly go-to resource for (1) quick tips on how to build stronger relationships with the media, and (2) the latest media moves to understand which of our favorite reporters have changed email addresses and have new 401K providers (unless of course they’re a freelancer). Yours truly will be the messenger of this gold mine of information – while still maintaining his part-time gig of dropping the occasional B&O Street Insight.

This month’s tip: Reporters are people too.

Most reporters are chained to their desks writing stories and don’t have time to blink, let alone get out of the office for some fresh air. That said, there are some reporters who will occasionally make time for a break if the opportunity presents itself. Ask a reporter out for coffee, a drink, or a meal – you’d be surprised as to their response. This gives you an opportunity to learn more about which topics and story angles interest them the most – and they get a free lunch. What reporter wouldn’t want that?

Just as reporters go the extra mile to mine sources for their stories, PR professionals should do the same to find a way to relate to the reporters we deal with on a daily basis. Is the reporter a San Francisco Giants fan, just like I am? Door opened. Did they just tweet about how much they enjoyed a meal at a restaurant I ate at a few weeks ago? Another door opened. At the end of the day, while PR professionals have had plenty of instances in which reporters have chased us off the phone and we can oftentimes view them as a means to an end, it’s imperative for us to keep in mind that they’re people, too. So if we treat them that way, some positive results will surely follow.

B&O Street Insights: Andre Lauren Benjamin

Credit: Gage Skidmore
Credit: Gage Skidmore

The next installment of the B&O Street Insights comes by way of Mr. Andre Lauren Benjamin, better known as Andre 3000 from the hip-hop duo Outkast. In 1996, Benjamin recited text for the chantey, “Elevators,” where he discussed the importance of maintaining a positive relationship with the media.

And I replied that I had been going through the same things that he had
True, I’ve got more fans than the average man,
but not enough loot to last me to the end of the week
I live by the beat, like you live check-to-check
If you don’t move your feet then I don’t eat, so we like neck-to-neck
– Andre 3000

Benjamin emphasizes that for pre-IPO companies, fame is not always equivalent to prosperity (ok, I made quite a jump here, but stay with me). While the start-up lifestyle filled with expensive furniture, fancy office décor, a Keurig and a fully stocked kitchen may seem lavish, that is far from the reality.

Although it is true that putting out a successful product and/or service has gained him numerous media and analyst advocates and made him richer than the common man, he’s far from being set for life (one can only assume that the company is currently running on seed money). Benjamin has no other job so his entire well-being depends on the media coverage he and his company achieves across business and trade press. Therefore, despite the fact that his popularity is much higher than the average beat reporter, their responsibilities and work ethic are actually quite similar.

Insights:

  • Good rapport with reporters is essential to positive media coverage
  • Never neglect one’s brand advocates – particularly those with ties to the VC community
  • Reporters are people too (sometimes)
  • Members of the media aren’t normally good dancers

Bill Rundle also contributed to this post.

B&O Street Insights: Malik Isaac Taylor

Karppinen / Wikimedia Commons
Karppinen / Wikimedia Commons

2015 is well under way and through this blog, we have picked up right where we left off last year: continuing to provide you with our unique commentary on the key trends making headlines in the communications industry. However, one burning question has remained constant among the readers of Above the Fold – what happened to the B&O Street Insights?

As many of you may recall, my colleague Bill Rundle and I launched B&O Street Insights last year to pay homage to old-school rap – but also to uncover the hidden PR messages often buried beneath the rhymes, fat gold chains and Kangol hats. Although the knowledge from the streets has been on hiatus, I’m pleased to announce the re-launch of B&O Street Insights taking place in the first half of this year. Bill and I appreciate everyone’s continued support during our time away, as we hunkered down in the lab for weeks and months, gathering a refreshing set of lyrical PR magic.

For a preview of the 2015 edition of B&O Street Insights, we turn to one Malik Isaac Taylor, more commonly known as “Phife Dawg” from the acclaimed hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. In the 1991 arrangement entitled “Check the Rhime,” Mr. Taylor provides his recommendations on launching a new venture and the importance of a strong executive bench:

Now here’s a funky introduction of how nice I am 
Tell your mother, tell your father, send a telegram 
I’m like an Energizer cause, you see, I last long 
My crew is never ever wack because we stand strong

– Malik Isaac Taylor

We all know the saying, “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” While a company launch can be an exciting time, Mr. Taylor reminds PR practitioners that the birth of a new company should be communicated with confidence and vigor and validated with strong leadership.

As Taylor so eloquently suggests, a business’s coming out party should start with a dynamic and personable CEO and be backed by a strong executive team which sets the company’s foundation for a long and fruitful existence. The presence of a strong C-Suite should then be communicated to all of the relevant media audiences including one’s parents, legal guardian or caregiver.

Insights

  • Introducing a new company must be accompanied with a bit of confidence and moxy from the CEO
  • The staying power of a new company or venture should be communicated to one and all
  • Be sure to highlight the existence of a strong executive team that is in it for the long haul
  • Since the telegram has obviously been replaced by more real-time communication avenues, Mr. Taylor should be applauded for his dry wit

Bill Rundle also contributed to this post.

PR Best Practices from Old-School Rap Geniuses

Credit: Raelene Gutierrez
Credit: Raelene Gutierrez

In the sprit of knowledge sharing, my colleague Bill Rundle and I recently debuted B&O Street Insights.

What started as friendly banter between a guy from the “Yay” and another from the “mean streets of South East Auckland” morphed into an internal communications initiative. Now, we’ve decided to share this musical treasure trove with you – the fine readers of Above The Fold. The purpose of this project is to take our fondness for old-school rap/R&B/hip-hop, and use it to further enhance each other’s knowledge on the key concepts of PR in a unique, fun and (sometimes) creative manner.

Basically, we’re going to show you how the old-school rap geniuses were actually speaking to music lovers all over the world about communications best practices. Our first four installments are below. Come along for the ride and enjoy the lyrical journey.

Volume I: Mr. Robert Matthew Van Winkle

Stop, collaborate and listen.

This nugget of wisdom comes from the profound words of the poet Vanilla Ice. An evangelist for teamwork and active listening, Mr. Ice reminds us that we should take time to stop what we are doing, think about how we can collaborate with our co-workers and clients, and listen to customer and industry feedback.

Volume II: E-Z Rock and Robert Base

Ladies love me, girls adore me, I mean even the ones who never saw me
Like the way that I rhyme at a show, The reason why, man, I don’t know

Robert Base describes a situation in which his personal brand is known and adored, reinforcing the value of word of mouth. His brand ambassadors were born as a result of high-quality messaging being delivered through a successful speaking and awards program. When asked about his strategy to build brand ambassadors and fan loyalty, Mr. Base was hazy on the details.

Insights: 

  • The most successful PR campaigns build brand reputation, loyalty and generate word of mouth.
  • Agency staff need to remember to save their PR plans on the server so they can be replicated at a later date.

Volume III: Jonathan Smith

Shots shots shots shots shots shots
Shots shots shots shots shots
Shots shots shots shots shots

Mr. Smith refers to a popular form a of liquor consumption (a shot) multiple times throughout the prose. He expresses enthusiasm for the micro-portions of alcohol with a raw and unrefined delivery. Smith’s approach is highly engaging and persuasive, and stands out as an example of highly effective messaging.

Insights:

  • Keep messaging simple and concise
  • Repetition builds familiarity
  • It’s all about the delivery
  • Shot Friday is an essential element of the PR lifestyle

Volume IV: David Jude Jolicoeur

Hey how ya doin’
Sorry ya can’t get through
Why don’t you leave your name
And your number
And I’ll get back to you

As PR practitioners, we are often caught in situations where we are unable to answer the phone, and Jolicoeur’s best practice guide to voicemail greetings still rings true today.

His voicemail strategy involves a greeting delivered in a friendly yet professional manner, which acknowledges the inconvenience that your absence might have caused the client/journalist/influencer. Jolicoeur then recommends callers leave their name and number, before communicating intention to return their call.

While most voicemail strategists agree that callers should be encouraged to leave their name and number, many have criticized Jolicoeur’s weak suggestion (‘why don’t you leave your name and your number’) and believe this should be a firm request.

Insights:

  • Ensure your voicemail is friendly yet professional
  • Encourage callers to leave their name and their number
  • Communicate your intention to return their call
  • It was probably the Wall Street Journal so return that call as soon as possible

That’s all for now. Get at us next month for more rap-infused PR tips and tricks.

Bill Rundle also contributed to this post.