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Friday, September 30, 2011

60 Minutes profile of the New York Police Department (NYPD): Great PR, Bad Guys beware.

As a crisis counselor who has worked with law enforcement, I saw the "60 Minutes" Sept.25 "Fighting Terrorism in New York City" as a terrific PR coup for the NYPD and Commissioner Raymond Kelly.  It was also a great get for "60 Minutes."



The PR community has been talking about the treatment, including Scott Van Camp’s blog PRNews. From my media training perspective, the NYPD provided CBS with numerous sound bites and anecdotes that the producers picked up on.  The example of the NYPD cricket leagues is the ultimate anecdotal proof point of the broad statement that the police are trying any and all ways to gain intelligence about any possible terrorist plot.

The other excellent example was the police boats in NY harbor that are trying to detect "dirty bombs".  The scanner technology is so sensitive that it can pick up radiation traces from an individual undergoing cancer treatments.

Kelly comes across as thoughtful, organized and committed to public safety.  I believe he had messages for a number, but not all, audiences.  In fact CBS gave him a pass - at least in the edited version - on how the NYPD balances security with protection of civil liberties.

For New Yorkers, including people who visit and do business there, the message was, "Be confident; we're doing everything we can."  For the bad guys, and it didn't take the "Casablanca" movie imagery to score the point, the message was, "Don't try to attack New York.  We have many ways of detecting your plans."  While terrorists and Al-Qaeda in particular appear to like challenges, the other implied story is: "We're not telling you everything we do."

As to Kelly's hesitation on the question of whether the NYPD would shoot down a plane, he was both candid and trying not to reveal all of the tactics that might be used to thwart a plot.  He was also forthright in discussing the "luck factor" in uncovering terrorist schemes, such as last New Year's Eve Times Square bombing attempt.

Scott Pelley probably asked but didn't use the question of whether $3 billion to improve New York's terrorism force was too high a price to pay. Pelley also didn't question whether New York was taking over a role that should belong to the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security.  Due to the real and symbolic importance of New York City to the US and the globe, the answers to these questions are that is that no price is too high for our security, and New York will do what it takes over and above what other agencies will provide.

It was compelling TV.  What do you think?

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Message Brainstorming: Opening Up The Bottle

Esquire’s Ross McCammon was intentionally making light of corporate message brainstorming sessions in his recent blog "What's The Secret to Brainstorming?"

We took the tongue-in-cheek approach in stride   -- "You could put a bottle of tequila in the middle of the table" – after all, we at CommCore have our own message development methodology and techniques that do produce results. What we liked was that overall he struck the right tone: brainstorming does work, but give participants room to have fun, be engaged and be creative:

"You're surrounded by smart people," McCammon wrote. "And the reason you're leading the meeting is because you've become successful enough that you can tell a good idea from a bad one. As the leader, you allow people to go down certain roads and abandon others. But gently."

Among his other tips: allow silence; people in thought shouldn't always be talking or listening. And if you feel the discussion is going down the wrong path and needs to be redirected on point, don't step in and stop it; wait for a pause, and simply, declaratively, ask the mission question again out loud.

Message development is a crucial process for most business communications – a media interview, a presentation to stakeholders, legislative or regulatory testimony, crisis response, a public speech. It is important because what you say has to accomplish three things at once – resonate with and meet the needs of your audience; meet your own organizational, brand or personal needs; and be true to you as a spokesperson.
Preparation is essential to hit on all cylinders, and the tools and techniques of message development, if properly applied, should draw out the best ideas, stories, analogies and sound bites.
What are some of your experiences with Message Development? Did the process work? If yes, how and why? If not, why?

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Infographic: Crisis Planning


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Netflix too "Qwik" for Its Own Good

When we signed on to Twitter on Monday we noticed that "Qwikster" is a trending hashtag. So we searched Qwikster online and noted the news that Netflix is breaking the company up into separate DVD-by-mail and streaming units. We had been linked to the DVD side.

Interesting, we thought, so we monitored the Twitter feeds and noticed the following: The twitter handle @qwikster had over 1,800 followers at 1PM and by 4PM it had over 2,700 followers. Yet it only had 19 tweets. Hmmmm. Normally this would be a good thing…right? It would be a good thing if was actually owned by Netflix!

Further investigation took us to a Smart Briefs article reporting that Netflix apparently did not do their research before launching their new "Qwikster" product to the media. The @qwikster handle is not owned by Netflix; in fact tweet topics range from dish about ex-girlfriends to drug use. Not exactly the image Netflix is likely seeking as it navigates an increasingly competitive marketplace for on-demand video content. (It turns out the @qwikster Twitter handle is owned by a teenager, who now has just under 10,000 followers as of Tuesday morning).

This harkens to what we at CommCore always remind our clients, whether they are engaging in social media, the mainstream media, or live audiences -- the importance of simple due diligence before engaging in any outreach. A simple search would have saved Netflix a lot of embarrassment.

How would you counsel Netflix to proceed from this juncture? Have you or your clients faced any similar situations, and how were they resolved?

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Lessons Learned from 9/11


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Political Reporting "De-volves"

The 2012 US Presidential campaign is well underway and so is the media coverage of the media coverage.  Each 4-year cycle produces a President and a Vice President as well as its share of media stories, campaign books, new reporting stars, and plenty of coverage of the press talking about themselves.

Hopefully for journalism watchers we get stories, great writing and dramatic narratives as good as The Boys on the Bus, The Making of the President, 1960,  or Game Change.

But if the NY Times is right, the odds of a great book are getting longer.  The Times says that due to budget cuts and readership declines, political reporters are getting younger.  Younger can often mean less experienced and with perhaps less perspective.  The other factor impacting political reporting is the rise of blogs and a larger number of partisan web sites.

This can mean more "noise" rather than sound political reporting.  Partisan journalists/bloggers/commentators then create the spiral effect of political interest groups who will try to discredit reporters and news organizations.  Sean O'Keefe is just one example of a "investigative" reporter/partisan trying to shed light on groups he doesn't believe are impartial.

As a former journalist and a media coach, I'm hoping to see as much factual reporting as possible, the return of fact checkers (not likely) and web site and publications identifying their biases.

What are your wishes for news coverage for the 2012 elections?

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