Category Archives: PR

That’s Not What I’m Here To Discuss

Also known as “No Comment”

nocommentHere’s some PR analysis from Matt Wilson at Ragan.com on a recent interview with former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. As reported at Mediaite, after MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell posed a question about spying, Oren’s earpiece (conveniently?) had “technical issues.” Coincidence?

Another approach could have been to state, “Sorry, but I’m not going to offer you any insight there…” then steer the discussion back to his message: “what I can tell you is…” and then: key talking points.

Other phrases useful in this situation:

  • “I’m not going to speak to that, but…”
  • “I understand your question, but we’re here today to talk about…”
  • “This has been addressed elsewhere (only if so), but right now…”

The lesson here is to acknowledge the inquiry directly and politely, but not offer any additional information — then promptly get the conversation back on message. It can be tricky in the heat of the moment, especially on a controversial issue, but this can also be a more honest approach in the direction of getting PR right. It’s more likely to help ensure an interviewee’s points are heard, and is far friendlier than a blunt “no comment.”

Check out these additional options offered by Ragan’s PR Daily: Alternatives to “No Comment,” and see this video of awkwardness compiled by Huffington Post of politicians dodging reporters.

What do you think? Have you ever been asked something where your only answer was “no comment?” Do any examples of question-dodging come to mind? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Stuart

20140729-231916-83956845.jpg
This is Stuart, the neighborhood cat. He technically lives (i.e. gets food) a couple of houses down, but really, he lives where he, himself, lives; does his thing where he gets it done; and sleeps where he sleeps – in this case, my porch, which happens to be in his territorial patrol. He always has a friendly word and is amenable to a quick head scratching. And then he’s on his way again – sometimes back on patrol, sometimes to cat dreamland.

I think he sets a good PR example: do your own thing, in harmony with your environment and community, in a non-overbearing way that’s confident and content yet friendly. That’s something we all can aspire toward.

What do you think? Ever learned or observed a broader concept from an animal or pet of your own? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Twitter PR Win For Sainsbury’s

This is a particularly good Twitter PR moment from a while back for UK grocer Sainsbury’s I happened upon lately. It works because of the follow-up, and also for the brief interjection of personality and humor:

And then…

But what really counts is that Sainsbury’s followed up the comedy moment with direction for the customer to call them directly.

SainsburysThis has all the makings of Twitter being done right for customer service and PR:

  1. The brand shared an actual human-like response
  2. It was funny
  3. But they take it seriously; hence the phone redirect
  4. We’re talking about it

I noticed this via a LinkedIn discussion from Twitter for PR Communicators about PR Daily, who noticed it through AdWeek.

Also, rest in peace, Ultimate Warrior.

What do you think? Is this use of humor appropriate? Have you ever experienced a humorous interaction from a brand via Twitter or some other channel? Let us hear from you in the comments.

In The News? LinkedIn Knows!

Perhaps you have a role as a spokesperson for your business or your public relations clients that sees your name, or their names in print, broadcast or on the web. If this is the case, then you’ll want to be paying attention to LinkedIn more closely.

LinkedIn is rolling out a new feature where you or your contacts are mentioned in your email if they (or you) are “in the news.”

LinkedIn Mentioned In The News

I reached out to LinkedIn for details on this, including how to disallow it, should a site member wish to be excluded from the program. I also asked how they differentiate between users with similar names (how do they know to highlight the right Richard Smith, for example?) Here is their response:

We do have back end algorithms that differentiate members with similar names. We also offer functionality to disable this from your settings. You can turn your activity broadcasts on or off and select who can see your activity on their homepage from the Privacy & Settings page.

-Ciara
LinkedIn Trust & Safety

So if you’re already famous, get ready for more exposure. And if you aren’t famous already, LinkedIn can now help you get there – unless you’d rather it not, in which case you might want to review your settings.

What do you think? Are you active on LinkedIn? What are your observations of the site? Do you find this new feature beneficial or intrusive? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Inside McDonald’s: PR 101

As one who pays attention to the public relations world, I often notice especially good or especially bad examples. One especially good example I noticed recently was McDonald’s CEO, Don Thompson, in a brief CNBC piece, Inside McDonald’s.

insidemcdonaldsCNBC fires several tough-ish questions at Thompson, all of which he answers in plain English, followed by one very important thing: he steers the discussion back to his points. Even the classic, “(controversial topic) followed by, “how do you feel about this?'” comes back around to “we’re about opportunity” in a conversational manner.

Talking Points & Must-Airs

It’s pretty clear that in preparing for this interview – and you know there was some serious preparation – keywords definitely included, “opportunity,” “innovation,” “real food,” and a few others that stand out to anyone who’s ever done any sort of media analysis. Still, Thompson comes off as sincere, keeping his cool (very important), and gives a textbook example of handling questions on one’s feet.

Reporter: You said last year the menu to you seemed to lack a bit of energy. You didn’t want to repeat what you did last year. What went wrong?

Thompson: Well, I’ll say it’s less than what went wrong, it’s what didn’t we do? It’s always about the opportunity. Some of the opportunities we had were… (and: back to talking points).

Inside McDonald’s is much less of a hard-hitting exposé than a top-level look at how things operate. Regardless of what you think of McDonald’s (they are not paying me for this, and I do eat there occasionally) or the merits of this production vs. others – see Netflix for some less-than-friendly reviews – the interaction between reporter and executive here is what makes this worth watching.

Here’s Inside McDonald’s in its entirety via Bloomberg.com:

mcvideo

What do you think? Have you seen any examples of good or bad PR lately? Have you ever developed talking points or been in a similar media situation yourself? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Anchorman 2: Mediocrity, Alas

So I just saw Anchorman 2. Meh.

Anchorman 2: MehSure, there’s no way any sequel to the classic original could live up to almost a decade of expectations, but this film really felt like pandering to the lowest common denominator. And I feel like a chump, having spent the ticket money.

Sigh.

Still, Anchorman 2 is not terrible. It’s just… a reminder of the times. I guess all these stars have to get paid, but… come on. The original was inspired, and that’s what made it a classic. This thing is just a weird mess, and I have no desire to see it again. Unlike the original, which I will likely never tire of. Oh, well.

will-ferrell-coverSince this post is about PR, I do have to hand it to the PR and/or marketing folks for getting some hype happening around the film. Seeing Will Ferrell/Ron Burgundy on the cover of Dog Fancy when I went to get food for my dogs is well-played, indeed. Not to mention the teaser trailer and obvious hype machine in full force prior to release.

If you haven’t seen Anchorman 2 yet and are a fan of the original, do not let this post dissuade you. Go see it. Or, if you’re patient, wait for the DVD/Netflix release. For science.

In the meantime, here’s some genuinely enjoyable Will Ferrell from the SNL days:

SNL Jeopardy Suck It Trebek

What do you think? Did you love Anchorman 1 and feel disappointed by Anchorman 2? Did you never see Anchorman at all and wonder what all the hype is about? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Rob Ford Time Bomb Has Taken Months to Explode

It’s obvious what a public relations debacle Rob Ford’s situation is, and plenty has already been written on it. As one with an interest in PR, there’s a particular aspect I find very interesting.

It’s amazing to me that the situation taken this long to detonate. I remember reading in Gawker six months ago about this video of the Toronto mayor smoking crack. At that point it was just a bizarre, yet well-chronicled tale:

Gawker Original Coverage of Rob Ford Crack Video

Rob Ford, Toronto’s conservative mayor, is a wild lunatic given to making bizarre racist pronouncements and randomly slapping refrigerator magnets on cars. One reason for this is that he smokes crack cocaine. I know this because I watched him do it, on a videotape. He was f-ing hiiiiigh. It’s for sale if you’ve got six figures. -Gawker, May ’13

The only thing that came of it other than an interesting story and an IndieGoGo campaign at the time was suspicion toward the mayor that only added more doubt to a shady tale. If the mayor and his team were at all serious about salvaging their professional futures, coming clean immediately back then and making reparations in some meaningful way would have been the best course of action and avoided a Saturday Night Live parody. But here we are. It will no doubt be interesting to see how this plays out as a great example of a PR “don’t” for decades to come.

As a side note, I have a Canadian colleague who notes that this whole thing will go away once the world sees the actual video, stating that as long as Ford was polite when smoking crack (“May I see that pipe, please? Thank you, kind sir.”), no big deal. If he was rude — well, then it’s all over.

What do you think? Have you been following the Rob Ford story? How do you see anyone in the Ford camp making it through all this? Let us hear from you in the comments.