Posts

You answered: Are News Releases Dead?

By Gerard Braud

This week we asked corporate communicators and public relations professionals all over the world, “Are news releases dead?” Are they an effective way to communicate to the media and your audiences? Here is what your colleagues said.  Make sure to subscribe here to the weekly question so you can contribute next week.

 

Are news releases dead?

Click image to watch

 

 

This question is one of a series of debates in the media relations, crisis communications, public relations, and social media industries where you and your colleagues can share observations with each other. Yes, YOU are invited to share your bite size bits of best practices. Here is how:

Step 1: Subscribe to The BraudCast on YouTube

Step 2: You will see a short video that poses a new question every Monday. You then post your best practices and observations on The BraudCast YouTube channel.

3: Once your opinion is shared, you can follow the discussion online so you can compare your best practices to those of your professional colleagues.

Step 4: Watch the Follow up Friday Video where you will see a short YouTube video outlining some of the most interesting observations. Yes…your comments may actually show up on our BraudCast video, bringing you world-wide fame, fortune, a big raise, glory, street parades, and more.

Thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge. Please take 2 seconds now to subscribe to The BraudCast.

You answered: How do you talk to your spokesperson after they have messed up their media interview?

By Gerard Braud

Does one bad media interview ruin a career?

Earlier this week I asked corporate communications and media relations professionals for their best advice for talking to a spokesperson after they have screwed up in a media interview. In this follow-up video, I am sharing your comments and best practices you shared on social media. Make sure to  subscribe here to participate in the new discussion next week.

 

Media Interview Spokesperson Gerard braud

Click image to watch

 

 

This question is one of a series of debates in the media relations, crisis communications, public relations, and social media industries where you and your colleagues can share observations with each other. Yes, YOU are invited to share your bite size bits of best practices. Here is how:

Step 1: Subscribe to The BraudCast on YouTube

Step 2: You will see a short video that poses a new question every Monday. You then post your best practices and observations on The BraudCast YouTube channel.

3: Once your opinion is shared, you can follow the discussion online so you can compare your best practices to those of your professional colleagues.

Step 4: Watch the Follow up Friday Video where you will see a short YouTube video outlining some of the most interesting observations. Yes…your comments may actually show up on our BraudCast video, bringing you world-wide fame, fortune, a big raise, glory, street parades, and more.

Thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge. Please take 2 seconds now to subscribe to The BraudCast.

7 Frightening Media Realities for Public Relations

By Gerard Braud –-

As the media changes, your media relations strategy must change with it. We covered these changes and strategies in detail at the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) conference in San Francisco during my Monday morning workshop, #IABC15 The Changing Media Landscape.

For those of you who attended the workshop, this blog will be part of the continuing education program you were promised. For those who missed the workshop, this will help you learn what the group learned. For those of you who would like a similar workshop for your chapter or professional association, please contact me at gerard@braudcommunications.com.

Before the teach-back segment, here are links to the two additional free training modules I offered to everyone:

Resource #1: 29-Day Media Training Online Program

  • Follow this link
  • Enter coupon code BRAUD
  • Click APPLY
  • When you see this $199 program ring up as $00.00, enter your e-mail address
  • Hit submit order.

Resource #2: 23-Day Video Tutorial for Smartphone News Videos

The changes in the media landscape include:

1) Reduced staffs, i.e. fewer reporters, photographers and journalists to tell your story.

Interviews

Not too long ago a typical network news crew had five people. A typical local television or print crew had a reporter and photographer. Today, newspapers and television stations alike expect a single person to be both the reporter and photographer.

 

2) The “Caught on Video” craze.

PastedGraphic-2With fewer employees to gather the news, the media depend upon videos submitted by eyewitnesses. The media save a lot of money by not having to chase the news and by letting the news come to them. However, verifying authenticity and facts is a problem. The old rule of, “consider the source,” seems to have gone out the window.

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caughtonvideoStatistics provided by IQ Media show that in the past three years, there has been a monumental jump in the number of times the phrase “caught on video” is said on television broadcasts.

 

 

3) Substituting Trending for NewsPastedGraphic-3

Virtually every television news cast and every media website feature a segment about what is trending. This means that television airtime and web space are being filled with fluff provided by social media, rather than news gathered by professionals.

Statistics provided by IQ Media show that in the past three years, there has been a monumental jump in the number of times the phrase “trending” is said on television broadcasts.

trending

 

4) Judgment Day is Everyday

The media have also substituted real news with social media comments from people who judge other people. A perfect example is the condemnation after the U.S. Navy rescued a family from their sinking sailboat on April 6, 2014. The parents had a small child on board and social media lit up with mean comments, which made up a huge part of the news coverage.

PastedGraphic-8

 

5) Pretend In-Depth Coverage

CNN looked foolish with their all-in attempt to cover the Malaysia 370 plane disappearance. Non-stop coverage of a single issue means fewer employees are needed than if your network covered a variety of issues affecting the lives of viewers.

 

6) Fake Breaking News

Combined with the pretend in-depth coverage is fake breaking news. The television media have a need to put up a banner across the screen each time they learn one new detail, regardless of how silly it is.

PastedGraphic-4 PastedGraphic-5

 

Among the many crazy things that CNN called “breaking news” in the Malaysia 370 story, is first breaking the news that the final words from the crew were, “Alright, good night.” The next day it was “breaking news” that the final words were, “Good night Malaysia three seven zero.”

Really CNN? In my time as a journalist we would have called that an error and a correction.

Statistics provided by IQ Media show that in the past three years, there has been a monumental jump in the number of times the phrase “breaking news” is said on television broadcasts.

PastedGraphic-6

 

Solutions to Media Changes

Among the many solutions we discussed, is the need to recognize that in the future, the media will expect you to provide video from any crisis experienced by your company, as well as a narrative. They will expect you to do a selfie style video directly from the scene.

Such videos are hard to do and require training and practice. While the interactive portion of our workshop taught some of the basic skills, the online 23-part tutorial will teach you even more.

5 Crisis Communications Lessons from Dr. Oz

droz 2By Gerard Braud

Dr. Mehmet Oz is in crisis communications mode. He has been making headlines in the media as medical colleagues criticize him for advice he gives and things he says on his syndicated television program.

His hometown newspaper, the New Jersey Register, asked for my opinion on how Oz has begun to attack his critics. You can read the full article here:

When a crisis comes, you can communicate or remain silent. My advice is that if the crisis is the result of criticism and you feel the criticism is unfair, then defending yourself by attacking your critics is a strong tactic. Oz has been on the attack against his critics, sighting that they have ulterior motives.

booklesson gerard braud

If the media tell the story of your critics, you must reach out to the media to tell your story. Too many executives caught up in a crisis or controversy in the media, believe in the flawed old adage that, “You should never get in a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” (I address this in Lesson 7 of my book Don’t Talk to the Media Until…).

Here are 5 ways to address critics:

1) Call a news conference and point out the flaws in their statements.

2) Write letters to the editor to all publications that publish erroneous criticism from your opponents. Keep the letter to about 150 – 200 words.

3) Post a longer version of your letter to your own website.

4) Think carefully before taking your fight to social media. The haters can get ugly fast and make the problem worse.

5) Never underestimate the power of taking out ads in major publications so you can print your full letter.

Don’t let a critic hurt your brand, your reputation or your revenue.

4 Media Relations Lessons from Rolling Stone and 5 Public Relations Ways to Deal With Bad Reporters

rolling stoneBy Gerard Braud

The Rolling Stone Magazine retraction of their University of Virginia gang rape story is filled with parallels I often warn of in my media training and crisis communications programs.

Here are 4 realities:

1) Reporters love an underdog and generally value the word of the accuser more than the word of the authority. I’ve witnessed it as a reporter and as a communications consultant representing companies and organizations that have been wrongly accused by zealots. Giving more credibility to the underdog represents both bias by the reporter and a lack of proper training on ethics and fairness.

The perception by reporters is that the accuser is honest and a victim, while the institution in question has something to hide. Sometimes that is true, but often it is not. The reporter’s job is to conduct as many interviews as possible and to allow all parties to tell their side of the story.

2) Generally in an underdog story, the media interview the underdog at first, then call the authority figure for a response, often asking you to defend your actions. That should be a big red flag. (Although the investigation by the Columbia School of Journalism seems to indicate the reporter didn’t even call the fraternity accused of the gang rape to get their side of the story.)

3) The media get sloppier each day. Deadlines and budget limitations have frustrated members of the media from editors to reporters. Their self-defeating attitude about the media industry bleeds over into the belief that they can only dedicate so much time to a single story and that they can’t be as thorough as they’d like. That mindset needs to change, but likely won’t. Budget cuts and the downfall of quality reporting is what inspired me to resign as a television reporter at WDSU-TV6 in New Orleans and to not move on to a full-time job at CNN, where budget cuts were already underway and continue today.

4) A growing number of people in the media want to classify themselves as “advocate” reporters. In other words, they believe it is their moral responsibility to report on a point of view or on behalf of a group. This frightens the daylights out of me when I hear this. It is a clear example of bias and managers should not allow it, but they do. (The world as we know it is over.) Such individuals should be bloggers, but never paid reporters.

How should you deal with these issues? I suggest you consider these 5 options:

1) If you are called for an interview in which you are expected to “defend” your position or organization, always ask the reporter who else they have talked with and what those individuals said. You have the right to know.

DSC_01142) Make a list of specific questions you would ask the accuser and then ask the reporter if he or she asked these questions. You can even suggest that the reporter delay the interview with you until those questions have been asked.

3) If it appears the reporter is asking you questions that put you on the defensive, your goal should be to make your story compelling in ways that puts the accuser on the defensive and places you on the offensive. This requires research, key message writing, and media training before the interview. This is never accomplished through spontaneity or ad libs in an unpracticed interview.

4) If you perceive bias from the reporter, call the managing editor of the media outlet to have a conversation about your concerns. Better yet, tell them you’d like to visit them in their office with the editor and reporter present. I’ve done this many times. Many times it results in the story being killed. Other times, it swings the story to our point of view.

As with number three above, this requires research, key message writing, and media training before the meeting. This is never accomplished through spontaneity or ad libs in an unpracticed meeting. Yes – practice and role-play for the meeting, including using video cameras to evaluate what was said so you can parse your words.

5) If you’ve done your best to manage the story before it is written and it turns out poorly, write a letter to the editor. Aim for 150 words and settle for 250 words. Nothing any longer will get published.

Warning: Many executives will want to “just let it die” because they have been taught to “never get in a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” Those are outdated ways of thinking. The internet gives you as much ink as the media. Furthermore, search engine optimization requires that you post a well worded reply, i.e. letter to the editor, so it is recorded in history and on the internet, especially on the internet site of the accuser.

Remember: There is a huge reputational and monetary impact on any organization that is reported on by the media. You can’t afford not to play the game and win.

Yet to be answered:

1) Why the story of the alleged rape was fabricated by the accuser?

2) Why no one has been fired?

Reality: An interesting case study is ahead as the fraternity sues Rolling Stone.

The Self-Centered Media and How it Affects You  

By Gerard Braud

gerard braud ron burgundyThe media love their gadgets. They also love promoting their gadgets.

At KSLA 12 in Shreveport, Louisiana, LifeEye12 was our mother ship. That is why I laughed so hard when the opening scene of the movie Anchorman shows Ron Burgundy stepping out of his helicopter. I’m not, however, laughing at CNN’s disgraceful coverage of the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama.

Disgraceful, I say, because of CNN’s coverage of their drone video of an empty bridge.

KSLA Gerard Braud HelicopterFlashback to the 1970’s and 80’s — a news helicopter was the epitomy of status and the gadget of all news gadgets. At KSLA, it was
so important for us to mention and show the helicopter that I was almost fired as weekend anchor because I failed to show our anchorman landing in LifeEye12 at a local festival. Silly newsman and journalist Gerard Braud thought it was more important to report on the four different stories involving fatalities that day than to feature our helicopter. CNN is the latest sinner. CNN is using a drone and they are supporting my premise of the media making it all about them. (See Chapter 3 of my book Don’t Talk to the Media Until…)

Jon Stewart did a brilliant job of calling out CNN for their excessive coverage of the fact that they were using a drone to photograph the Edmund Pettus Bridge, even though there were no people on the bridge. If you haven’t seen it, watch this clip four minutes in. He calls out their sin better than I can even dream to.

gerard braud drone story

Click to watch video

The lesson for all of you is that each day it becomes harder to get the media’s attention. CNN would rather spend valuable airtime talking about themselves and their drone than reporting on the issues of the day. And because media copy media, you can expect to see valuable airtime on your local television station wasted as your local media praise themselves for buying, owning, and using the same toy that all of us have access to.

Marshawn Lynch and the High Cost of Super Bowl Media Interviews

_If you could attach a dollar to every-1

With Super Bowl media day at hand, Marshawn Lynch, the media shy Seattle Seahawk, can expect more attention for what he does NOT say than what he DOES say.

In the past the NFL has issued fines as high as $100,000 for Lynch, because he didn’t want to talk to the media.

Can Marshawn’s media phobia be fixed?

“Fixing” people like Lynch is what I’ve done behind the scenes for organizations since 1996. People are dumbfounded when they find out I make a living by training people to be comfortable when talking to the media. But as a former reporter who has witnessed people say dumb things to me on too many days, I decided there were things I could share to help people get comfortable and say the right thing to a reporter.

Here’s what I’ve learned…

A situation like Lynch’s requires much more than a Washington, D.C. or New York City spin doctor who wants to throw out their conventional “three key messages.” They usually provide lessons on how to stay on message and how to bridge back to their messages if a reporter gets you off track.

A media trainer should have expert training skills combined with expert skills in identifying personality types, with the ability to pinpoint what deep seeded issues may be affecting Lynch’s willingness to speak to the media.

Many executives will confess secrets to me in confidence during media interview training. These confessions help me work through issues, such as past speech impediments, being an introvert, or having a personality based upon humility rather than bragging.

The rules for athletes, from professional football players to golfers, are the same.

Here are 5 tips:

#1 Invest time and money

Investing time and money to learn these skills is money well spent. The first question I ask of each trainee in my media training classes is, “If you could attach a dollar to every word you say, would you make money or lose money?” In fact, Chapter 2 of my book, Don’t Talk to the Media, Until…, is called The Big If. It addresses the value of a good or bad interview. The NFL obviously sees an interview as being worth at least $100,000. I wish corporations fined their executives each time one of them dodged a media interview.

Marshawnlynch1#2 This isn’t your main job

For athletes and executives alike, doing media interviews is NOT your primary job and is NOT what you are an expert in. We get it. But like it or not, it IS part of your job. Like anything else in life that you have to do, you should do it well. Football players should understand they need an expert media training coach, just like each player needs a coach (or coaches) to help them be a better player. Rather than turning to an expert in media training, many rely on their agents for interview coaching. These agents have never been reporters and truly do not understand the complexities of the media and the best ways to master an interview.

#3 Is it too late now to fix this?

Preparation is the key to success. Football teams get to the Super Bowl when they start practicing in the off-season and continue to practice daily. Lynch should have invested significant time and money to fix his issues during the off-season. Trying to fix it the week of the Super Bowl is crazy. He should have addressed this a year ago when the NFL first levied their fines.

#4 Is there a way to simplify media interviews?

Yes. Simplifying what you want to say before an interview is the correct way to succeed. It is better than just standing there in front of a barrage of reporters asking mindless questions. Keep in mind, that at Super Bowl media day, the media just get stupid, by asking mindless questions and trying to pull stunts and gags. The dumb media represent the NFL’s acknowledgement that they want as much free press as humanly possible. I’d rather see reporters at media day be vetted so that only serious sports reporters are asking serious sports questions to serious athletes.

#5 Think like a reporter

Regardless of the type of media you face, the interview process can be simplified. It begins by thinking like a reporter. Each reporter is looking for a headline, a synopsis sentence, and a good quote.

If that is what the reporters want, the players should each be coached and ready to speak just like that: Give the headline, give a synopsis of what you want to talk about, then give a quote.

Is this easy?

No, not really. It is really hard work to make something simple, which is why you should seek out an expert coach to help you.

 

By Gerard Braud

Social Media Force Fit at KFC

photo-8By Gerard Braud

A soft drink cup at KFC screamed, “SOCIAL MEDIA FORCE FIT,” as I munched on my original recipe drum stick. The cup had the hashtag “#HowDoYouKFC?”

Nothing says uncool like adults trying to get young people to be cool by doing something uncool in an attempt to be cool. (Did you follow that?) In other words, the executives and advertising team at KFC are trying to capitalize on social media hashtags with the expectations that their youthful customers will post pictures and KFC comments.

Would you post a photo and comment about your KFC?

In my training programs I always challenge the communicators and public relations attendees to determine if social media is the right fit, the wrong fit, or a force fit for the company or brand they represent.

I also challenge them to determine if they are a social media hypocrite. A social media hypocrite would be defined as someone who promotes their brand, while never really using social media to follow other brands. For example, if you manage social media for a hospital, do you promote the hospital expecting everyone to like your Facebook page, yet you never really follow your own doctor on Facebook? Do you follow your bank’s Facebook page, or your grocery store’s Facebook page?

kfcblogIn the case of KFC, you only need to visit Twitter to see that @KFC or #HowDoYouKFC has only marginal activity. You can also visit their Facebook page to see there is marginal activity around the hashtag campaign.

Some brands are consumer eye candy and a perfect fit for social media. Some brands don’t have enough appeal to get the pop social media can sometimes bring.

How do you use social media where you work? Are you posting on a page that no one really likes or follows? If yes, you may be exemplifying a social media force fit.

 

 

 

 

 

4 Crisis Communications Lessons as the NFL Management Struggles with the Ray Rice Smoldering Crisis

Rayrice blog gerard braudBy Gerard Braud

The NFL has a crisis. Do they have a plan? Will the crisis get worse because of non-verbal communications? Can the NFL management communicate their way out of the crisis? Below are some observations and suggestions to help you cope with your own corporate crisis.

The non-verbal message from the NFL is that they are more concerned about one man hitting another man in the head on the field than they are about a man – essentially an employee – hitting a woman in the head, or more specifically, punching the woman in the face.

That non-verbal message speaks volumes and creates a crisis within a crisis.

Another part of the crisis is the NFL’s failure to obtain the most compelling video of the actual punch. TMZ – not even the mainstream media, but the tabloid media – did what the NFL could not or would not. From a non-verbal standpoint, this communicates that the NFL didn’t want to try as hard as they could, fearing the crisis might get worse. As we see, the crisis did get worse and is getting worse because the NFL executive management failed to fully investigate the crisis, perhaps in fear of what they might discover.

On the plus side, NFL commissioner Robert Goodell has done media interviews and apologized. In too many crisis case studies there is a clear failure to apologize.

On the plus side, sporting goods stores have positioned themselves as heroes in the crisis by communicating their willingness to exchange Ray Rice football jerseys for new jerseys if a fan regrets owning a Rice jersey. This is great customer service and frankly, great public relations, for essentially “doing the right thing.”

On the plus side, AE Sports is removing Rice from their video games. Again, this is great public relations, for doing the right thing.

Both the sporting goods stores and AE Sports have actually capitalized on the crisis in a way you might not have expected, but in a way that creatively allows them to denounce violence against women.

When crisis management is botched because of failed communications, there is usually fallout. Usually people get fired and revenue is lost.

People are already calling for Goodell to resign. Will he lose his job because of the perception created that he and the NFL were protecting their player hoping the fallout would not get worse? More than one expert is predicting a revenue loss for NFL sportswear among females, after years of high revenue growth from apparel sales to women.

What can you learn from this crisis?

1) When a smoldering crisis breaks out, you, the public relations professional, must vigorously investigate the case behind the crisis. Approach it like an expert prosecutor or an expert investigative reporter. You need to know what the executives might not want to know or what the executives know but have not told you.

2) The PR team must also look for executives who are in denial. Denial is characterized by the executive team’s subtle attempts to move forward as though the smoldering crisis will not ignite.

3) On a clear sunny day, make sure your crisis communications plan outlines procedures for investigating a smoldering crisis and responding to a smoldering crisis. Too many PR people and corporate crisis communication plans are structured to respond only to natural disasters and sudden emergencies. It is a huge crisis communication plan failure to not anticipate your reaction to a smoldering crisis.

4) Define a crisis for your organization as anything that can affect both the reputation and revenue of the organization. The NFL crisis is a perfect example of something that is neither a natural disaster nor a sudden emergency, but certainly something that will affect both the reputation and revenue of the organization.

Experts will tell you that in most organizations and corporations, you are more likely to face a smoldering crisis than you are to face a sudden emergency or natural disaster.

If you have more questions about preparing for a smoldering crisis please give me a call at 985-624-9976.

 

Secrets to Effective Key Messages for Media Training

KeyMsg1 By Gerard Braud

Do your key messages suck? Most people think not. I think they usually do.

Expert Media Training requires solid key messages. But public relations people have been taught that a key message is little more than giving your spokesperson or CEO a handful of bullet points, then turning them loose to do a media interview.

This spells disaster and here is why.

[ Learn more with PRSA –   ]

In a media interview the goal of the spokesperson should be to deliver a great quote because great quotes manipulate how the reporter writes his or her story. Great quotes seldom come from a spontaneous ad-lib. The greatest quotes are planned, written, and practiced to perfection.

Here is an example of what the average PR person at a hospital might give to his or her CEO in a media training class as they prepare the executive for a media interview.

They may tell the boss, Our three key messages are:

1) patient care

2) our new equipment

3) giving back to the community

The average CEO would then ad-lib: “We have the best doctors and medical staff in tKeyMsg2he state and we’ve won numerous awards. We have the best equipment in our region, including the new super knife computer system that we paid $20-million dollars for. Our surgeons are all well-trained. And I can assure you the care of our patients is our top priority. Plus, we give back to the community”

That’s horrible.

What if your CEO said this: “At Denver Hospital our goal is to be there when you need us the most. We do that by treating those simple illnesses that make you feel crummy; by treating you or your family members when they are challenged by major hospitalization; and by offering wellness care to keep you healthy.”

Which sounds polished? Which sounds professional, yet approachable? Which uses the language of the patient without being sucked into jargon? Which sounds internally focused and self-centered and which sounds as though you truly are putting the customer first?

If you’d like to learn how to effectively write and deliver key messages, join me in Chicago on September 17, 2015 when the Public Relations Association of America (PRSA) presents, Effective Messaging: Writing & Speaking With Words That Resonate

You will spend time evaluating your current messaging. You will learn to write new messaging using a conversational tone. Then, you’ll have a chance to verbally test-drive your messages to determine if they resonate with your audiences.

Great communications is no accident. Great communications requires great writing, practice and implementation.