Everyday PR

Is Bud Adams of the Titans a Strategist?

In the midst of a company-customer contract negotiation, a former CEO once announced that we were all going to go into another room, drop our drawers and see who had the biggest set of you-know-whats.  As I was the only female in the meeting, he looked at me and said “you too Susan.”  I responded “Absolutely” completely confident of my ability to participate. 

Enter Bud Adams, Jeff Fisher (now former Coach Jeff Fisher) and former QB Vince Young of the Tennessee Titans. In the beauty pageant of the NFL, Coach Fisher wins hands down.  On the media savvy scale, the crown still goes to Fisher.  In the temper tantrum category, Young takes the prize.  But in the strategist corner, Adams wins. When Adams denounced Young a few weeks ago, people believed that Fisher had “won” in the match apparently taken to another room.

However, from a managerial perspective, I thought Adams had missed an opportunity. Any time you have consecutive and internally devisive seasons, combined with too much drama involving everybody from the police to homicide detectives to Twitterers, the team’s dynamics are forever changed.  That’s why Adams should have told both Young and Fisher AT THE SAME TIME  to pack up.  The isolationism, allegations of racism and on-field performance were at the point of no return.  But the reality is that an 88-year-old Adams is the only left standing in that other room. 

Three virtual Cups of Joe to Coach Fisher for the countless contributions he’s made to the NFL, the Titans and to the community, to Bud Adams for hiring him in the first place and for showing (intentionally or not) the power of strategy and to all Titans players, coaches and fans for their consistent support during trying times.

The virtual Cup of Joe Award from EveryDayPR spotlights our pick of the week for a public relations performance –  good, bad or ugly.  If you’d like to make a nomination, contact shart@hartpr.com or www.Twitter.com/susanhartpr.

Don’t Raise the Bar if You Can’t Jump that High

Last night’s State of the Union address, like many in the past, was full of touted rhetoric, great promise, but with little substance.  It spoke of five-year plans, green job investments and spending cuts that barely make a dent in responsible fiscal policy.  The President promised many of the same things in last year’s address, but no movement was made toward any of the words spoken then.  Plus, five years is a little presumptuous for a person who may not be in office then. 

Green jobs and technology have led to financial boondoggles in Spain, Australia and many other places.  Some analysts believe that every green job displaces over two regular jobs in the current economy.  If there were true demand for green technology it wouldn’t have to be so vastly subsidized by  taxpayer funds.  Ethanol subsidies are a great example. Ethanol drives up food cost, lowers fuel economy and produces a product that takes more energy to create than the produce produced.  Look at the innovations in computers, phones, I-pads and web businesses.  These were created out of consumer demand without government subsidy.  As to the budget cuts, we’ll have to wait and see.  I have yet to see anyone in Washington, even before the Kumbaya seating, who was serious on cutting any spending of any substance.

During the 2008 election, Barrack Obama came on the scene touting the globe was starting to cool, the seas were starting to recede, and that his administration would change all that.  They shouted transparency and accountability. They promised hope and change. Earmarks would be gone. Proposed bills would be posted online in advance to allow public comment. No lobbyists would work for them. And no family who earned under $250,000 would be given any kind of tax increase. (To quote “Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.   

Say we’re at Fenway Park watching the Yankees and Red Sox play.  The pitcher throws two out of every five pitches in the dirt, hits one batter each inning, and the first baseman misses one in every three balls thrown to him.  In protest, we would scream loudly, demand our money back or at least wonder why we’re paying eight bucks for beer. But if we’re watching a little league game with the same set of circumstances, we would display a completely different attitude. 

It’s the same principle with the White House. The Obama administration has raised the bar it can’t reach, yet when we as a participant in this political landscape point out the flaws, we are told to silence our criticism. We are told that pointing out errors, misleading rhetoric, and outright failures is “throwing stones” and does no productive good.  I would point to my first two examples as to my reasons for all the criticism.  Our country cannot afford to stay silent when, in November 2008, so many people obviously looked to Obama as our deliverer.  Those of us who saw through the disguise still see through it, and we ask those who were once fooled to step up and demand better performance. Demand follow-through on empty promises, especially those that contradict pre-election talk. We have to demand transparency, responsibility and accountability in Washington. We have to point out the flaws with such volume that the current administration can either be changed into productive good or silenced with the revolution at the ballot box.  

Today’s guest post is from William L. Hughes, CPA, CMPE, administrator, Women’s Health Specialists in Jensen Beach, FL.  Bill and I have known each other for decades.  We always clicked. Of course we couldn’t help it as schools use the alpha order, and we were always seated close to one another.  He can be reached at bhughes@whsfl.com.  



Method behind the logo madness

Ever wonder what graphic designers and others were thinking when they created logos for icons like Amazon, Federal Express and IBM?  Here are the hidden meanings behind 12 popular logos.  Read more.

Enough with the Racy Halftime Shows

So you can’t say the Pledge of Allegiance in school anymore, but you can allow sports fans of all ages to watch live bumping and grinding during the halftime show of a recent Boston Blazers lacrosse game?  What’s wrong with this picture?  In my never-ending quest to bring awareness of the exploitation of females (cue sound of broken record here), I’m continually befuddled at the women who participate in said behavior.  Girls, if you don’t play, it can help make it go away.  Just think about it. 

Although the general manager for the Boston Blazers expressed his disappointment, blamed volunteer show participants and vowed that it wouldn’t happen again, I’m not impressed. No virtual Cup of Joe to the Boston Blazers for this week’s poor public relations performance.  At least you won your game.

The virtual Cup of Joe Award from EveryDayPR spotlights our pick of the week for a public relations performance –  good, bad or ugly.  If you’d like to make a nomination, contact shart@hartpr.com or www.Twitter.com/susanhartpr.

Coach Fisher’s Media Savvy a Plus

Now that the big Tennessee Titans stand-off between coach and quarterback is over (Jeff Fisher won), let’s talk about media relations.  Say what? While I won’t even try to pretend to know about the X’s and O’s of football, I do know that media relations is a part of any coach’s job.  That’s why I dare anybody to final an NFL coach with more media savvy, sensibility and accessibility than Coach Fisher.  The man knows how to save face for the higher ups, tote the party line, protect his team and be himself all at the same time.  I’ve worked with CEOs of Wall Street powerhouses who couldn’t handle themselves with as much poise.

Tennessee Titans Coach Jeff Fisher is more media savvy than many coaches.

Years ago I asked Coach Fisher if players received media training and/or guidance on doing commercials for local businesses, which is the equivalent of  “Hollywood Squares” for C-list celebs, but to each his own.  He said that players did receive media training (the late Steve McNair’s communications transformation was amazing), and that players had contractual stipulations to ensure the Titans’ image stayed in tact.  I’m presuming those stipulations were there so that players can’t hock anything like beer or bail bonds.  He didn’t mention whether or not he received media training.

Considering all the drama in the final weeks of the Titans’ season, Coach Fisher has handled himself very well.  No, he didn’t divulge strategic details, closed-door discussions or what he really thinks about certain people.  But how many adults do you know, including yourself, could perform in front of the entire world with intense pressure coming at you from all directions, including the owner, the team and the fans?  And don’t forget the covey of pundits endlessly opining about his possible replacement.  I’m surprised Oprah wasn’t consulted.

Strictly speaking from a public relations perspective, I find Coach Fisher’s ability to speak with media refreshing.  Of course I worked with prison wardens for years whose idea of a good sound bite was “What? It ain’t like the inmate died or ‘nuthin”  Okay, I’m exaggerating but there was the time that a reporter called to verify the fax number, and the warden said “oh I thought you were calling about the staff assault we just had.”  The point is that organizations often don’t get to pick their leaders and/or spokespeople.  When you have someone who demonstrates both qualities, count your blessings.

Like this post?  Hit the Subscribe button in the upper left corner for more.

Together We Thrive to Offend

Yuck.  My sentiments exactly.  That single word from one of my colleagues is the perfect way to describe the University of Arizona’s decision to print specialty T-shirts handed out at this week’s memorial service for shooting victims.  Other descriptors from friends and colleagues ranged from “nauseating” to “inappropriate” to “you’re kidding, right?”.  Contrary to some reports, the White House didn’t have anything to do with the “Together We Thrive” slogan or promotional materials.  The $60,000 idea solely rests at the feet of the university who wanted to provide attendees with some memento of the service – like listening to the President of the United States wasn’t satisfying or like hearing about individual victims wasn’t moving or like attending a moment in our country’s history wasn’t enough.  Worst of all, the action is being labeled as “branding an event” like it was a circus or movie opening.  If branding was a goal, the University of Arizona got it.  The bad news is the branding they got.  No virtual Cup of Joe for this week’s public relations performance.

The virtual Cup of Joe Award from EveryDayPR spotlights our pick of the week for a public relations performance –  good, bad or ugly.  If you’d like to make a nomination, contact shart@hartpr.com or www.Twitter.com/susanhartpr.

What Are the Qualities of an Ideal WH Press Secretary?

Robert Gibbs lasted a lot longer than I expected he would as President Obama’s Press Secretary.  Until I read John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s Game Change, I didn’t realize that Gibbs is part of a longtime inner circle who has proven himself quite useful in getting unlikely candidates elected.  However, such proximity to the President’s ear shouldn’t distract from the job description’s fundamental role, which is to help the press do their job by answering the questions du jour.

As a former reporter, and spokesperson for various public and private entities, I know that speaking on behalf of an organization, much less the Commander-in-Chief, isn’t an easy one. So much depends on the people above and around you, as well as the information given to you in a timely manner. Then there are those details like accuracy, truthfulness and disclosure. But as life would have it, our society is full of controversy, statistics and those pesky political relationships (they exist everywhere), which is why I tip my hat to well-spoken, well-informed and well-mannered spokespeople.  It’s that final, yet simple quality of cordialness, that Gibbs repeatedly needs a do over. His arrogance and combativeness, combined with his penchant for trying to tear down members of the media to build himself up, annoy me.  Apparently I’m not the only one annoyed as posted in this recent Huffington Post article. And don’t even get me started on the preselected questioners policy and the lack of transparency in press briefings, but I digress.

So what qualities should the next Press Secretary bring to the table? Besides the obvious strong work ethic and dedication, here are some suggestions in no particular order:

*   Zealousness for transparency

*   Knowledge of current issues and a willingness to share as appropriate

*   Knowledge of U.S. and world history

*  Ability to write and write well

*   Assessibility to the President

*   Journalism experience

*   Understanding of communications theories among people and media outlets

*   Respect for deadlines

*   Equitable inclusion of questioners

*   Follow-up skills

*   Excellent listener

*   Diplomatic

*   Empathetic

*   Ability to ask the President tough questions

*   Objectivity

*   Understands which battles to pick

*   Personal and professional balance

What other qualities would you add?

Do you like this post?  Then please subscribe in top left corner.

Tucson Reminds of Need for Current Crisis Management Plans

When Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords woke up on Saturday, I’m confident it didn’t occur to her, her staff, area law enforcement and local media that she and others would be fighting for their lives in a matter of hours, with some losing that battle.  The tragic event prompts us to question many things, and for public relations professionals, one question should be whether or not our crisis management plans are current.

What kind of crisis communications plan does your organization and/or clients have?  This isn’t a “yes” or “no” question – it’s a question of depth of preparedness to act expediently, responsibly and accurately – a component that vacillated all day in Saturday’s media reports.  And this question is no longer about the fundamentals – it’s about the ability to be able to communicate and disseminate information with today’s technology that has likely advanced since you last worked on your plan.

Review the following checklist. If you can answer “yes” to most, if not all, of the statements, then you’re ahead of the curve. If you can’t check “yes” to most of the statements, then do something about that.  As Saturday’s tragedy shows, nobody is immune to a crisis.   

____  We have identified potential crisis situations within our organization, and we have developed a communications strategy for responding to each.

____  In the event of a crisis, we are prepared to quickly communicate with all our target audiences, including but not limited to, staff, volunteers, consumers, constituents, donors, shareholders, elected officials, media and the general public.

 ____  We have established a crisis team and a formal notification plan to key audiences.

____  We have secured domains reflecting or related to our organization’s name (such as UPDATE @ NAME OF ORGANIZATION) to activate in the event of a crisis, as well as other potential communications tools like a designated web page for media use.

____  We have accounts with appropriate social media tools to use for crisis communications purposes as necessary.

 ___   Our management team and key board members/stakeholders/decision makers are familiar with the crisis communications plan. 

____  At any hour of the day, our crisis team knows how to contact each other. 

____  Each member of our crisis team has a copy of the crisis communications plan at home and at the office. 

____ If an incident occurs, we are confident the employee or volunteer on duty will know what to do to alert the crisis team.

____ Our plan defines our communications boundaries.  We understand when we speak as an organization; we understand when other entities such as law enforcement, medical personnel, expert leaders, etc., are to speak on behalf of the situation, and we continually communicate among all parties during a crisis to ensure consistency and accuracy of information.

____ Our organization has established a formal communications policy on providing the media with full and accurate information in a timely manner.

____ We have a current media policy that specifics designated spokespersons and how employees should respond if questioned by media.

____ The spokesperson for our organization has received professional media training and is an integral part of our management team.

____  We have an ongoing communications effort in place to maintain a foundation of goodwill in our community BEFORE any crisis occurs.

How many can you confidently and positively answer? What else would you add?

Do you like this post?  Hit the Subscribe button in the top left corner for more posts like this.

Navy Videos Show No Progress

This week’s buzz about raunchy videos to boost the morale of Navy crew members unfortunately serves as another reminder of how our moral compass hasn’t moved one iota.  Produced years ago by then second-in-command Owen Honors, the videos degrade women, among other groups of people, and for that reason alone, I’m not laughing.  It’s the same exploitation recently demonstrated by the UMass Memorial Medical Center who hired pretty girls in high heels to recruit bone marrow donors. 

Comments from Navy crew members ranged from the videos “are no worse than Saturday Night Live”, “weren’t meant to be taken seriously” and my personal favorite ”were taken out of context because they weren’t meant for the public.”  Just because you’re on a ship halfway across the world doesn’t mean that video and the Internet cease to exist. The fact that Honors states a disclaimer at the beginning of each movie that “the admiral and the captain have no idea about the contents of the video, and they should not be held accountable in any judicial setting” is a large clue that even he knew something was inappropriate about what he was doing.  Sounds like he’ll now have plenty of time to form his own production company since being fired on Wednesday.  Sadly, this incident isn’t the first or the last of its kind in the military, business, politics, religion and other sectors.  Until men AND women understand the damage that exploitation causes, don’t expect the moral compass to move.  No virtual Cup of Joe for the Navy, Owen Honors and video participants. Your ship has sailed.

 If you’d like to nominate a public relations performance for the virtual Cup of Joe Award, contact shart@hartpr.com or www.Twitter/susanhartpr.

How Space Affects Your Brand

Smart businesses like Starbucks and Target work hard to give consumers a positive feeling the minute they walk through the door.  When you think of your doctor’s office, day care provider, hair salon or corner diner, does their space give you a positive and strong first impression?  Does the location look and feel like it accurately represents the purpose of the business?  Or does the place have magazines from last century, mismatched furniture and questionable wallpaper?   Just like people only get one chance to make a good first impression, so do businesses.

The design of the corporate office can create a relationship between the “brand” and the “experience” of the office. The design of the lobby of a multi-tenant office building above is both professional and inviting, and it started with a dialogue between the Interior Designer and the client. Questions to consider include:
• What are our company’s core values?
• What are our company’s goals?
• What is our corporate culture?
• Are we progressive and modern?
• Are we serious and stable?
• Are we on the forefront of technology?
An experienced Interior Designer can help translate the answers to these questions into the work environment.

Some may ask “why bother?”  A few benefits of branding the work environment include:
• Strengthening clients’ perception of the company’s mission, values and identity
• Differentiating the company from its competitors, which is especially important in today’s economy
• Communicating visually to employees the company’s mission and values
• Improvement in the retention rate of employees
• Attracting quality recruits to company’s work force
A professional Interior Designer can enhance a company’s branding through the design of the work environment, which sends a consistent message along with the company’s other branding elements.  And the process must start before the customer walks in the door.

This post is one from several branding and marketing professionals who will be presenting at the 2011 Winter Session of Branding Boot Camp beginning Wednesday, January 12. Click here for details.

Ginny Caldwell, IIDA, is a professional interior designer who works with clients to enhance their brand through interior design. She can be reached at gcaldwell@southeastventure.com.

Susan Hart

Susan Hart, APR, is an independent public relations consultant with 25+ years of experience. Beginning as a journalist, she represents clients in health care, financial, technology and real estate. Accredited by the Public Relations Society of America, she serves as Co-Chair of the Ethics Committee for her local PRSA Chapter.

Follow me on Twitter

Subscribe to the main feed via RSS