Friday, September 23, 2011

Little Trust in the Media - But Less in Business and Government

So, you work in the media, and you hear that by record numbers the public considers the media inaccurate, biased, influenced by powerful interests and even immoral. How do you live with yourself?
Easy, when you read a little deeper. Even with all this, the public still trusts the media more than business, government or politicians.
All this is from the Pew Research Center’s insightful View of the News Media, 1985-2011, just published. Among its important findings:

• More Americans think the news media are often inaccurate (66%), one-sided (77%) and easily influenced by powerful groups (80%) than ever before.
• Local news organizations are still highly trusted as a source of information (69%), with business (41%), Congress (37%) and political candidates (29%) falling far behind.
• TV is the main source of national and international news, maintaining essentially the same 20-point lead over the Internet that it enjoyed last year.
• The dominant news medium is cable TV – when Americans are asked to name a “news organization,” 63% cite a cable channel.
• 58% of Americans say that the media’s criticism of political leaders is worthwhile because it keeps them “from doing things that should not be done” – with essentially the same percentage among all political viewpoints.
• 27% at least sometimes get their news through Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites – increasing to 38% for those under 30.
• 42% - a record high – say that the press is “immoral,” but majorities also believe that the media try to do a good job and are highly professional.

It’s hard to know what to make of all this. But as an ex-journalist now working mainly for businesses, it’s painful, anyway you look at it.
- Potomac Communications Group

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Truth Shall Set You Free (I'm Talking to You Patriot's PR Pros)

Yesterday, Tom Brady, the all-world, super-model marrying, NFL MVP, football god quarterback for the New England Patriots was asked how fans can better support his team with some noise during this Sunday's home game. According to Yahoo Sports, his tongue in cheek answer was: "Yeah, start drinking early. [...] Get nice and rowdy. 4:15 game, lot of time to get lubed up. Come out here, and cheer for the home team."
Courtesy of Yahoo Sports
Whether or not you agree with Brady's sentiment, the video clearly shows he was making a joke. However, it was a little embarrassing for the team's ownership and so they decided to reach out to reporters and suggest that Brady was encouraging fans to stay hydrated. Ridiculous!

This kind of lame spin-doctoring just doesn't work. It is always the best PR policy to tell the truth and find a different way to work on your image.

The team could have easily said, "While we don't share all of Tom's thoughts, we echo his desire for our fans to show up and loudly cheer for the home team." That would have been the end of the story and this brief episode would have been kept brief  by utilizing the truth. The team's cover up effort has now made the story a brief internet sensation.

So what can we learn? Weak attempts to "spin doctor" embarrassing stories often leads to more pain, but the truth can set you free (eventually).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More and More, It's All About Social Media

So when people are hunched over their laptops, Ipads and smartphones, what are they really doing? Not reading online newspapers and magazines. A new report from Nielsen on the state of social media shows that more than ever, they’re focused on social networks and blogs. News and current events barely register:

Social networks and blogs 22.5%
Online games 9.8%
E-mail 7.6%
Portals 4.5%
Videos/movies 4.4%
Search 4.0%
Instant messaging 3.3%
Software manufacturers 3.2%
Classifieds/auctions 2.9%
Current events and news 2.6%

(All the rest, 35.1%, was labeled ‘Other,’ which includes sports, education, gambling, adult entertainment, etc.)

Other findings in the report:

• Nearly 40% access social media from mobile phones.
• The fastest growing demographic in using social media is the over-55 age group.
• We spend far more time on Facebook than any other website.
• Tumblr is coming on strong, nearly tripling its audience over the past year.

This report is a valuable snapshot, but the scene is changing fast. Check back.

- Potomac Communications Group