.... my 2 cents ....
musings on marketing, media, public relations....and life,
by David Reich
Reich Communications, Inc.
Reich Communications, Inc. is a boutique public relations agency in New York City offering full service in a variety of areas, with specializations in business-to-business; advertising, marketing and media firms; transportation safety; non-profits, and select consumer products and services.
For more info, call us at (212) 573-6000, email to david@reichcommunications or text to 914-325-9997.
We are located at 228 East 45th Street, Suite 11-South, New York City 10017
I haven't been to Atlanta for many years, so I didn't realize that the Atlanta Auto Show, the reason for my work visit, is only a 10-minute walk from my hotel. So I called an Uber car.
When we got into the car, a lovely conversation ensued with driver Michelle. Her "day job," she explained, is teaching piano. She currently has 89 students at her U Can Play Piano school.
After a 7-minute ride, my business associate and I got out of the car and went into the Georgia World Congress Center to get ready for our press event.
About an hour later I got a call from Uber Michelle, to say my associate ( also Michelle) had left her cell phone on the back seat. Uber Michelle only noticed it when she got back home to prepare for her teaching gig.
She offered to bring the phone back to us that evening, after she finished her last lesson. When we learned she would have a 45-minute drive each way, we said it could wait till tomorrow and if she's working in the city, she could call and we'd meet her.
Sure enough, I got a call around 1 today. She was on her way in and would meet us outside the Auto Show to give us the phone.
She called again and I went outside to meet her. She was so excited to see the phone safely returned, and she took some pictures of us, as she thanked me for my help. Thanking ME? She's the one who did the good deed, especially after she admitted she wasn't Uber driving today, since she offered to help a friend with something. She had, after all, driven into downtown just to return the phone, even after I told her we had a rental car and would have driven to her tonight to get the phone.
This is an example of someone with a real commitment to go above & beyond for customer service, and Uber should be very proud of her.
If you know anyone in ATL who is looking for piano lessons, contact Michelle Barnett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell her David from NY sent you.
For client The National Road Safety Foundation, we developed a tie-in with the Atlanta International Auto Show, the largest in the southeast.
We worked with the auto show to organize Drive Safe Atlanta, a contest for teens from throughout Georgia, where we invited them to send their ideas for a public service message about distracted driving. Distraction, including that caused by cell phones and texting, kills nearly 3,500 Americans every year.
From almost 200 entries, we picked a script submitted by 14-year old Gabriel Howland, a student at the Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School. In addition to a $2,000 prize, he also had the chance to work with an Emmy Award-winning director who we sent to his school to make the script into a professional 30-second TV spot that will air later this year on more than 200 TV stations nationwide.
We introduced Gabriel and his winning spot to the Atlanta media today at the Auto Show.
Here's a link to Gabriel's message. I think it has real impact, especially coming from a teenager.
The administration’s motto of “America First” may have brought in votes, but what sort of message has it been sending to other nations, especially our allies around the world? Are they seeing us pulling back from the global stage, where we’ve long been the leader – both in terms of military might and in terms of moral right.
The proposed budget – which admittedly is only a proposal at this point – seems to give a mixed picture. Upping the defense budget by ten percent positions us to be an even bigger power in terms of sheer military strength. Do we really need to bolster that might? We’re already big and strong. And at what cost do we need to be even stronger?
The discretionary part of the budget is relatively small compared to the over budget which has spending that can’t be touched – interest payments, money for Social Security, etc. But the cuts proposed, although a very small part of the total we spend, will undo or seriously harm many programs that help make this country great – from programs that feed some of us who need help, to others that help our teachers do a better job to programs that bring art and culture to all of us and not just to those who have access to major cultural institutions.
The proposed budget seems to put many Americans last. Much attention has been given to the cuts to Meals on Wheels, for instance, a program that helps many older people with food and human interaction. But other cuts to the Dept. of Housing will impact the poorer among us who rely on subsidies to keep a roof over their heads.
Cuts to the Dept. of Education threaten programs that provide ongoing training for our nation’s teachers. Money may be diverted to charter and private schools, which do offer alternatives for some people, but at what cost? Remember, some charter schools are operated by for-profit companies, which means some of the money goes into the corporate till and back to shareholders.
The arts are one of the things that makes America great. Destroying the National Endowment for the Arts will put a severe strain on many cultural institutions, especially in smaller cities and towns that don’t have a large donor base to draw from. It will also harm our public broadcasting systems – PBS and NPR -- which provide informative and cultural programming that would be difficult to thrive on commercial channels.
One of the core principles of this great nation is our answer to the Biblical question – Am I my brother’s keeper? Historically, the answer to that has always been “Yes” in how we as a whole pay for programs that help the less fortunate among us. But maybe the “America First” vision of the new administration doesn’t consider those Americans who need a hand. They are not the Americans of power and wealth who, it seems, will be helped “bigly” by tax cuts and changes to the health care system. Ironically, many of those who will be hurt by these changes were conned into voting for the new president last November with his promises to drain the swamp and bring back jobs.
Are we bringing back jobs by cutting 3,200 jobs in just one Federal department – the State Department? Rather than drain any swamp, it may, in fact, risk getting us into quicksand. Top generals have been warning us that the “soft” work of diplomacy very often saves us from the “hard” work of the military that ends up costing billions of dollars and thousands of lives.
Destroying the Environmental Protection Agency and halting research on climate, space and other areas of science is simply short-sighted. And it puts at risk future generations, here and worldwide. Remember, 96 percent of the world’s experts say climate change is real and that it will eventually come back to bite us in the ass if we ignore it.
Cutting wasteful spending is a way to trim budgets. We’ve all heard stories about the $500 hammers the military buys. More money could be found for legitimate military spending by getting a handle on the military’s purchasing procedures.
So with all those cuts, the president still wants to spend $30 billion on his wall, which the Mexicans will NOT pay for. That’s $30 billion that could go to education, food and shelter for the needy, and with maybe a little left for the arts.
The proposed budget, in my opinion, will not make us safer from foreign threats. It will not make life better for most of us in the middle and lower economic classes. It will not help keep us healthy and free from worry about having good healthcare. It will not keep us as the beacon of freedom and moral leadership that we have traditionally been. And it will not make America great.
I’m happy to see more efforts by the media to promote “real news” as reported by legitimate media with journalistic integrity.
The Wall Street Journal is launching a new campaign it calls “The Face of Real News,” which uses sketch-animated vignettes showing how WSJ reporters develop their stories, working hard to verify information to ensure its accuracy.
The first two vignettes are out now, following two reporters and how they developed important stories --investigative reporter John Carreyrou, who uncovered a major sham behind Silicon Valley darling drugmaker Theranos, and mergers & acquisitions reporter Dana Mattioli, who wrote about the biggest deal in Warren Buffett's history.
Five more reporter profiles are expected in the next few months, according to an Advertising Age story.
Another effort to encourage use of media that report real news is from The New York Times, which recently began a new ad campaign called “Truth,” which I wrote about here recently. The paper is soliciting donations to enable it to offer free subscriptions to students, as a way to help build the habit of reading a daily newspaper. The Times reports that donations from some 15,000 people so far have bought subscriptions for more than 1.3 million young people.
I think this is a great way to get millennials to begin using legitimate media for their information, which can help make them immune to the fake news that we’ve seen on various so-called news websites. It will take some time, but we need more of this and we need more media to stand up and debunk the crazy charges we’ve been hearing about their reporting being fake news.
America’s reputation has slipped since the election, thanks largely to the actions and statements, spoken and tweeted, of the new president.
A new study, by a prestigious branding firm for ad agency Y&R, Wharton and US News & World Report, is a sad commentary on how the world looks at us now. It ranks the 60 best countries in the world based on many criteria ranging from perceived power and economic influence to citizenship and quality of life.
In last year’s survey, the U.S. ranked 4th, only behind Switzerland, Canada, the UK. The new research now puts us in 7th place, behind three other nations as well… Germany, Japan and Sweden.
What's most telling -- and troubling -- is that “nearly 75% of survey respondents said they lost some respect for U.S. leadership after the 2016 presidential election,” according to US News editor Brian Kelly.
If the tweet-storms from the White House continue, I wonder where we'll rank in next year's survey.
More tweets from the man in the White House, as we see even further erosion of credibility for the "leader of the free world."
After a day or two of seemingly "normal" or "presidential" behavior with his surprising ability to keep it together long enough to read an hour-long speech to Congress without adding his own nasty or head-scratching ad libs, he quickly went back to tweeting strange and unfounded accusations.
Basing inflammatory tweets on reports he sees on super-reliable "news" sources like Breitbart just makes everything else the president says that much less believable. And that's not just in the eyes of Democrats, but also with many in his own party -- Senators and Congressmen who are finally speaking up. Leaders of other nations are also wondering exactly where the U.S. stands on many issues, as they try to interpret the early-morning tweets. The non-committal statements from his press secretary or others in the administration do nothing to clarify or to build credibility.
As I've said before, credibility is one of the most valuable assets an institution, company or individual can have. Squandering that credibility and trust undermines the office of the president and the country he represents. He needs to start listening to some people who know something about public relations and truth and trust.
When it comes to tweets these days, most of us tend to think of the president and his late-night tweet-rants. His tweets have often been costly in terms of damaged international relations, further divisiveness within our own country, and lots of head-scratching and confusion within his own party. Yes, tweeting can be costly.
And we all just saw an example of a very expensive tweet, when the accountant for PriceWaterhouseCoopers working the Oscars Sunday night handed the wrong envelope to Best Picture presenter Warren Beatty. It turns out, the PWC guy with the envelopes was busy tweeting from backstage and was distracted.
Just like distracted driving, except no one was hurt or killed. The guy's career at PWC, however, might be dead as a result.
From a public relations/crisis communications point of view, PWC handled it properly. They immediately issued a statement apologizing and not making excuses. They promised to check to see what went wrong, while again apologizing to all involved.
And now that we see the fault lay with one distracted person, PWC should be forgiven. I disagree with CBS head Leslie Moonves who said said the firm should be fired.
It certainly is embarrassing, but the company will get past it. Here's a very public example of how truth wins out when it comes to public opinion. The company made no excuses, accepted the blame and offered a sincere apology.
That's the idea behind a new ad campaign being launched by The New York Times. The "newspaper of record" has been the brunt of attacks by the president and by his followers who believe his fake news accusations, which are designed to distract attention from the fake news being disseminated by the White House.
A full-page ad in Friday's Times introduced the campaign, with the tagline "Truth is more important now than ever."
The Times is also running a 30-second ad during the Oscars telecast, at a cost of $1.2 million.
It's part of a two-pronged effort to fight back against the fake news allegations while boosting circulation. Since the election, people searching for truth have boosted the paper's online subscriptions by more than 270,000.
Other papers are also responding to fake news charges. The Washington Post this week introduced a new slogan, Democracy Dies in Darkness. They are running it immediately beneath the paper's masthead in Page One.
I've seen other papers including the Chicago Tribune use the theme of real news or reliable news in promotional campaigns online to draw new readers.
As we continue to hear rants and charges of fake news from the president and his minions, more people are turning to media they feel they can trust to ferret out the real news from the contradictions and outright lies being fed to us by the administration.
We are seeing more news coverage that corrects wrong information. Many papers and networks are including fact-checks that correct inaccurate statements or put them in context.
This is what we need and what people should use if they hope to have a real and honest picture of what our new administration and our elected officials are doing. We can't and shouldn't rely on questionable reports on websites posing as news but really run by political groups, whether leaning left or right.
Truth is what we need now and what we get from legitimate and credible news organizations like those in the president's cross-hairs.
When I began this blog just over ten years ago, my goal was to focus on professional issues and events in public relations, marketing and media. I generally stayed away from politics. But that’s changed over the past two years, since the presidential primaries began.
For readers who only want my 2 cents on professional issues, I apologize. But I think current events in politics are impacting media and public relations and, bigger than that, the moral fiber of our great nation. I cannot stay silent in this space. If this bothers you, please close this post now. If not, read on and comment as you see fit.
The circus of a presidential news conference the other day was shocking and troublesome on many fronts. Aside from his rudeness to reporters, his anti-Semitic and racist posturing and his doubling down on his belief in alternative facts about the election results, his approval ratings and his inheriting “a mess,” the ongoing and misplaced attacks on the news media pose a real threat to our democracy.
His claims of fake news are grossly off-base. He even predicted that headlines the day after his news conference would focus on his “ranting and raving.” He was right on that, but if he didn’t want those kind of headlines, then why did he rant and rave? I heard the news conference and “rant and rave” would be an accurate description.
He sounded like a whiny baby, saying the press has treated him “unfairly.” This, coming from a man who behaved like a spoiled child when he mocked his primary opponents, called them silly names and used theatrics to take the focus off the important issues the public wanted to hear the candidates discuss.
Worse yet, his constant portrayal of the news media as “fake news” and now “enemies of the American people” is more than off-base. It’s almost self-servingly treasonous in its attempt to take down a key element in our democratic system of checks and balances.
The White House would like to control the media so only positive information – and often exaggerations and outright lies -- flows out to the American public. This would make it easier for the new administration to fulfill its misguided pledges to dismantle social programs that help so many Americans and, ironically, many who voted for him.
Blocking the flow of accurate news would help the administration put in place rules or programs that will increase the tax burden on the middle and lower class while granting generous tax cuts to the super-wealthy. It will make it easier for the White House to take away agencies and rules that protect consumers from predatory practices by some financial institutions, from shortcuts that can harm us through food we eat and products we use every day, from regulations designed to protect us from ourselves in terms of environmental issues.
Here’s the bottom line as I see it. The news media are not perfect. They make mistakes and they sometimes have a bias. But the vast majority of the hard-news reporting is accurate and truthful. It may not paint a pretty picture of the administration and the president’s actions, but the truth is not always pretty, especially these days in Washington. But we need an honest press to keep a balance on what seems to be an unbalanced White House. If we are accurately informed on what is happening in D.C., we can respond in an informed manner, working to halt actions we fear may be damaging to us and to our great nation’s standing in the eyes of the world.
It’s telling and a bit heartening that even as the president denigrates the media and calls them “failing,” subscriptions and viewing is up significantly for The New York Times, The Washington Post and other major market dailies, as well as for one of the president’s favorite targets, CNN. What we can do as individuals to help the media weather this storm is to buy newspapers and watch the network and cable newscasts.
TV advertisers have long sought what they consider the key demographics -- adults ages 18 - 49. To meet that demand, the networks have long aimed their programming at that most-desired age group in order to lure the dollars from big mass-market advertisers.
John Crupi has an interesting backgrounder on those golden demos in the new issue of Advertising Age.
He reminds us that the focus on the 18-49 group goes back more than 50 years when ABC was a young and struggling network, getting clobbered in the ratings by the larger and more established NBC and CBS, which had many more affiliates and, therefore, more eyeballs.
To combat the difference in viewership, ABC put on programming that appealed to a younger audience and then, in a brilliant move, began touting the 18-49 demographics as the ones with money to spend on products being advertised.
In reality, the younger end of that age group likely did not have lots of money to spend. Just out of school, they were either in college or getting started on the careers, with lower-paying jobs at the bottom of the ladder.
As people passed the 50-year-old mark, they suddenly became less desirable to advertisers, if you bought what the networks told advertisers.
But wait… think about it. As we get into our 50s, we tend to have fewer big expenses like college tuition and other child-related costs. If we bought a house, our mortgage may be almost paid off. And as we are older, we are often more advanced in our careers and getting a bigger paycheck.
And as we move past that magic 50+ mark, many of us have more disposable income that we can use on travel, recreation and hobbies. With kids out of the house, we might downsize, which often means buying new furnishings. We also may go out to eat more often, since we’re paying only for two rather than three or four or more.
So you can see, the whole idea of 18 – 49 being the key money-spending demographic seems to be off-base. But the networks’ sales machines, supported by Nielsen ratings, have done a masterful job of selling 18 – 49.
Smart marketers and smart agencies have seen through the sizzle and have been more targeted in their ad spending.
Lucky me. Business brings me to Chicago every year. I like the Windy City. It's a great walking-around city, with good music and eats and lots see.
The downside is my trip is always in February, when it's cold -- made to feel even colder by the wind. Like today was 25, but with the wind chill, it felt like 13.
I'm here in February because that's when the Chicago Auto Show takes place. For my client The National Road Safety Foundation, I run a contest for teens in conjunction with the Auto Show called Drive Safe Chicago.
We invite teens throughout Chicagoland to submit their ideas for a TV public service message (PSA) about distracted driving -- a major problem for all drivers, but especially teens.
From the entries, we picked three finalists and sent an Emmy Award-winning director to work with the kids to professionally produce their messages. The Auto Show then posts the finalists on its Facebook page so the public can see them and vote online for their favorite. The winner gets a $2,000 prize.
Later this morning I'll announce the winner at a news conference at the show and then we'll go over to the local ABC station here, WLS-TV 7, for a live interview on the noon news.
It's fun work and it helps educate young people to the dangers of distracted driving, which is a major contributor to the fact that traffic deaths nationally have been increased by eight percent the past two years, reversing a decades-long trend of decreasing deaths.
Here's the winning video, as part of a story based on our interview today on WLS-TV ABC7 Chicago.