Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's a clip show

I'm using an influx of new followers to my Twitter feed, which includes a link to this blog, as an excuse to do a recap of the most-read posts from Spin This in 2011, with a little added commentary to make it all worth your while. Here goes:

1. Matt Lauer, meanie

This was not only the most popular post of 2011, but has gotten the most hits since I started this blog in July 2010. I'll admit to walking back a bit the argument I made in this post that my fellow PR practitioners spend too much time worrying about the perception of the public relations industry. It sparked a healthy conversation with Frank Strong, PR in Pink, and Gini Dietrich about the consequences of negative stereotypes of our field, and how we should go about combating them. My prescription -- that we should simply let our good work speak for itself -- was a bit naive; if that was all that was required to maintain a good reputation for a person, organization, industry, etc., than no one would have any need for our expertise in the first place. The bottom line is that our clients and employers do need us, not just as communicators but as strategic advisors, to help them make sound decisions, and they won't trust us to do so if they see us as nothing but spin artists.

2. Brand Journalism 101

In this post, I talked about the opportunities that digital communications tools provide those of us in marketing and PR to tell our stories directly to our target audiences, bypassing the news media and other traditional filters. It's about giving your audience value: information that is useful to them but that also advances your organization's strategic goals. Some people call it content curation. Whatever you call it, it's the reason why there's never been a better time to be in public relations.

3. Stop this man before he speaks again

Just when it appeared that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings couldn't do any more damage to this once vaunted brand, he gave an interview in October to the New York Times Magazine in which he seemed to blame his company's customers for the debacle that was Qwikster. Previously I had discussed the difference between a genuine crisis and a PR crisis, and noted that Netflix had both on its hands, thanks to its CEO's verbal diarrhea.

4. Print is still fit for news

We're not dead yet, says the traditional news media, given a media use survey that found affluent audiences -- the ones that are often most coveted by marketeers -- still get most of their news from TV and print, and prefer to read magazines in print rather than online. The bottom line for professional communicators: Know your audience, know their preferences, and don't forget the old tricks even as you master new ones.

5. It's the message, stupid

This post was of particular to interest to my Pittsburgh readers, but is of relevance to everyone. I dissected the public relations battle between hospital giant UPMC and insurance giant Highmark. I concluded that despite a preponderance of negative publicity, UPMC was coming out ahead because it was consistent in its message that it had a plan that would allow Highmark subscribers to continue to have access to UPMC physicians. The lesson here is that the messages conveyed by media coverage may be more important than the tone of that coverage.

Well, that's likely it for 2011. Have a Happy New Year, and thanks for all your support. Let's do it again next year.

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