While the team was in Mississippi, they phoned in their observations and impressions of what they saw. Along the way, they captured the thoughts and impressions of the residents and the other volunteers.
Participating in the volunteer effort was an incredibly rewarding experience for the team. Likewise, it was a unique pleasure for me to bring their experience to our listeners.
01:10 - Cathleen Johnson, Edelman: Edelman's participation in Tourism Cares For Tomorrow
02:06 - Lou Rizzardi, Alderman, Pass Christian, Miss.: "Right now, six-and-a-half months later, we're trying to get the place cleaned up... This area of town, the east end, still stands a good chance of coming back."
03:23 - Stephanie Aenchbacher, Edelman: "It is incredibly difficult to put into words the destruction that we've seen."
04:31 - Pat Henderson, National Tourism Association: "You could make a donation and you can pray for the people, but my wife and I just kept talking about 'we'd like to just get down and do.'"
07:10 - Cathleen: "Everybody talks about what happened after the storm. That's the true measure for everything in this region right now."
12:24 - Sam Lacy, student, Transylvania University: "Didn't go to Fort Lauderdale. Came down here to help with the cleanup, and I'm glad I made that choice."
13:22 - Chip McDermott, Mayor Pro-Tem, Alderman: "We've got a tremendous amount of devastation, but we have a tremendous amount of help."
14:25 - Kimberly Price, Gaylord Opryland Resort And Conference Center: "If you look at the trees, they tell a story. Even the trees look so tired."
15:46 - Amy Patti, Edelman: "The whole experience can leave you speechless, which is pretty odd for someone in PR."
18:30 - Tiffany Fessler, Edelman: "I think the one word that comes into my head when I think of this whole experience is 'resilience.'"
"You'se A Ho... HO! You'se A Ho... HO! I Say Dat You'se A Ho..."
Great... 'Effing great...
I give talks and lectures every so often. I used to have a pretty regular gig at SFSU. One of the things that would break my heart was when it was clear that a student's only idea of PR was that Kim Cattrall's character in Sex And The City. Indeed, though not in huge numbers, far too many students looked at PR as "party-planning" rather than a real communications discipline.
Though it can't compete with Hollywood, my thought that the PR blogosphere would help turn that corner. I mean, there they are, for any student or professional who wishes to read... hundreds of online journals from folks who live and breathe this stuff every day. The knowledge I glean from this community (for free) is worth several times what a PRSA membership was.
But, then, over the weekend, we backslid. I bring you, Strumpette.
Bottom line professionally speaking, I am 5’ 4” tall, athletic, Pantene shoulder-length black hair, perfect perky boobs. I present well and am most accomodating. I’ve slept with clients. I sleep with my boss. I am the consummate PR strumpette. When I was 7 my mother told me I'd "never get anywhere with that mouth." I've apparently dedicated my life in proving her wrong.
"Professionally speaking?" What profession, may I ask? The oldest one, perhaps?
It was only a matter of time... Now the "cleavage-for-coverage" crowd as a voice in the blogosphere...
"Amanda Chapel" is clearly a pseudonym. As Kami Huysepoints out, for example, there aren't any news releases out there with Ms. Chapel as a contact.
Over at Andrea Weckerle's blog, Robert Riccisays that "A Man, Duh" Chapel could be, well, a man. Hell... "Amanda Chapel" could even be a group of men. I mean, the name itself is an anagram for "Alan, Chad, Pa, Me."
Worth following, in a trainwreck, Whitney-Houston-Interviewing-With-Diane-Sawyer kind of way.
Me [Gene]: So, I kept reading [your pitch]. And, basically -- correct me if I am wrong here -- in an effort to garner good publicity for your clients, you are proposing a positive story on how funeral directors will be helping us bury our dead in the event of a terrorist holocaust that will annihilate thousands of people.
Heather [PR person]: Well, you are incorrect. That is not in context.
Me [Gene]: Okay, here's the context: "To follow-up on the articles being written in the Post about Bush's port deals, John Fitch, VP of Advocacy for the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), can discuss how America is planning to handle the potential mass fatalities from a terrorism standpoint -- and perhaps more importantly to you, how small business owners (funeral directors) will play an important role. Most funeral homes are owned by the same family for an average of four generations."
Heather: Well, yes. The roles they will play in mass fatalities.
Me [Gene]: I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but I think I love you.
Heather: Okay . . .
Me [Gene]: What is love but a feeling of intense empathy? I can't imagine many more difficult jobs than being the PR person for the Funeral Directors Association.
Men, whose minds are possessed with some one object, take exaggerated views of its importance, are feverish in the pursuit of it, make it the measure of things which are utterly foreign to it, and are startled and despond if it happens to fail them. They are ever in alarm or in transport. (From The Uses Of Knowledge)
Tom Cruise got Comedy Central to cancel Wednesday night's South Park episode about Scientology by warning that he'd refuse to promote Mission Impossible 3, insiders say. Since Paramount is banking on MI3 to make money this summer, and Paramount is owned by Viacom, which also owns Comedy Central, the tactic worked. The South Park episode - which pokes fun at Scientology and shows Cruise, John Travolta and R. Kelly - was mysteriously pulled at the last minute.
In his classic work of media criticism, The Media Monopoly, Ben Bagdikian warned of the danger presented when too much media is owned by too few.
Decades later, his premise continues to ring true.
The one thing that could - realistically - happen? The collective family of Edelman Worldwide bloggers could write posts of their own about how to pitch bloggers, what they are doing, and how they will assure that these vaunted ideas of honesty and openness will be achieved.
Generally, I prefer to participate, rather than "pitch." There's a big difference — a wide gulf, actually — between the two. Over the past decade, this approach has proven to me, and others, that you can be in PR and still 1) serve your clients, 2) operate with respect for the participants in the various communications mediums you engage on their behalf, and 3) still be able to hold your head up. ("I know... I've seen me do it.")
Actually, that's how I addressed media and analyst relations at my last job and it's informed how I counsel teams to operate today in the blogosphere — be a trustworthy, informed, thoughtful, respectful, accessible, and engaged source.
(Whu? Did you hear that? Wait... There they go... The clickety-clack of keyboards... Some of my readers are about to chastise me for putting the word "blogosphere" and "media and analyst relations" comparatively in the same sentence. Some are just now preparing to look up from stirring their cauldrons just long enough to point, cackle, and chide me for "not getting it." Lying in wait... Ready to pounce on anyone who doesn't match inhale-for-inhale that particular type of breathlessness that causes some professional communicators to cease being advocates for the clients who sign their checks and, instead, stumble all over each other to "get there firstest with the brownest nose," as Burroughs used to say, in order to earn quick points with a particular set of opinion leaders who know better than to fall for that kind of ploy anyway. "Shame on the blogger!" they loudly proclaim. "Shame on his employer! I 'get it.' I know the way!" Whatever... Wanting more out of the discussion, I now read the work of those bloggers far less than I used to.)
NB: On a certain level, it doesn't matter whether you're talking to a blogger, journalist, analyst, neighbor, third-cousin twice-removed, or gallstone once-removed: You'll have a better relationship with that person if you can demonstrate that you have a sincere appreciation for what s/he is interested in and are able to converse intelligently on that level.
"It's not rocket science," Mr. Burns once said to Smithers. "It's brain surgery."
Of course, you must disclose your affiliations and your interest in communicating. A lot of the time, though, people only care that I'm constructively engaged — my agency affiliation doesn't necessarily make me the "damaged goods" that a lot of people would like to believe it does.
Oh, and I happen to have a blog. That helps, but I don't think it's an absolute requirement for engagement. All I know is that it works out for me. Communications consultants who believe that every company or company representative must blog are simply being irresponsible.
My colleagues Mike Krempasky and Marshall Manson — both considerable and thoughtful online voices in their off-hours — will continue to engage in their own communities and continue to work on behalf of WalMart. Likely, if you Venn-diagrammed their personal interests in one circle and their professional interests in the other, the overlapping part in the middle is the secret to their success. (Newsflash: That's the secret to mine as well.) Far from being mere infiltrators, dilettantes, interlopers, or marketroids, they are credible and respectful participants in online communities as well as capable professionals who take that understanding and apply it to their jobs. I have the utmost respect for their work; public affairs is a huge blindspot for me, personally, much like I would imagine the topic of 65-nanometer photolithography techniques falls well outside their peripheral vision.
I educate staff. I write proposals. I counsel account teams. I participate in new business pitches. I produce earSHOT and contribute to Talkshop. I read... a lot. I write... a lot. I travel... a lot. I participate in SNCR. I consume far too much coffee and, too often, I listen to terribly sinister music that will likely drive my officemates quite insane.
I have fun doing what I do. I get to work with great people. I am but a checkers champion in a room of 2,000 chessmasters.
As to openness? To be fair, the question "How they will assure that these vaunted ideas of honesty and openness will be achieved?" presupposes that Edelman was dishonest and less-than-open. Actually, the company is more "open" than most, in part because it doesn't have a three-letter holding company lording over it that has to answer to Wall Street.
Yes, I know, many of the company's clients are answerable to Wall Street. Their path to the Cluetrain station will be guided by the communications pros at the firm who are assigned to their accounts. Yes... As I'm fond of saying, even in the court of public opinion, there should be lawyers.
Some of these clients will dip their toe in, while others might be encouraged to yell "cowabunga" and cannonball-dive into the pool. In either case, it's a choice and one that is not (or should not) be considered lightly. Such clients will be counseled to do what's best for their communications programs and at a pace that is best for all involved. (That's what PR firms are paid to do.)
And, of course, folks always know where they stand (or might stand) with me when they read my blog. That helps too.
I was listening to talk radio yesterday and heard an interview with Steve Moore, a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board.
He offered an interesting test of whether a possible exodus from your state is in progress.
I tried his test myself.
I asked the U-Haul web site what it would cost for a one-way move from Los Angeles to Nashville on March 29. The result: $5,000 and above.
The reverse trip — Nashville to LA — was closer to $700.
Conclusion: People moving from California are depleting U-Haul's fleet in that state, driving up the price. In an effort to shift trucks from an area of low concentration to high concentration, U-Haul drops the price.
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