PR Niblets

Monday, June 24, 2013

Buckle Your Seatbelts.... Tray Tables Up...and Please DON'T Turn Off Your Devices.....

Finally, the F.A.A. has caught up with air passenger reality.

You know that silly edict about "please turn off all electronic devices that have a switch" that made the entire flying public either closet criminals, plain bored or impotent and docile sheep reconciled to putting our short-term health and well-being...and independence... into the hands of our flight stewards.

It's been a sort of an open joke among road warriors and flight crews that Kindles, noise cancelling headseats, tablets and even active games of Word with Friends (yes that game, Alec Baldwin) have never been implicated in a flying emergency (let alone something more dreaded).  In truth, it helped the cabin crew to establish "control" over its passengers and perhaps saved a few bumps on the head due to flying electronics if an aircraft hit turbulence. Nothing more.

Most of us complied, begrudgingly, even as we played a cat and mouse game of using our devices for a few extra seconds before the flight steward came by and either softly....or not so gingerly...requested compliance.  And how many of us have sat near someone who chose to simply ignore the protocol and do their electronic thing regardless.  Or ever been on a flight where someone, who may not know how to shut off their phone, had their phone ring during ascent?  Ooops....

But that all changed last Friday when the FAA said the rules -- they are a changing.

That's when Marketplace Reporter Dan Gorenstein interviewed our client Jonathan Spira, editorial director of Frequent Business Traveler, to help interpret the new ruling. After their interview, Jonathan (in a PR turnabout), suggested that Dan interview his "agency" head since he too was a fellow frequent traveler who he knew broke out into hives at the mere suggestion of unplugging.

Dan's story ran on NPR late that afternoon.  Grab a read/listen:

The new policy will go into effect later this year after an FAA advisory group weighs in and the policy is formally changed. What won't change? No cell voice calls on planes -- at least during this round.

Probably a good thing for most passengers who prefer whatever privacy/quality/quiet time remains during flying to cutting the cord. 

What's your experience? Ever break the rules during take-off and landing  to read an e-book, don your headset or play a game? Should voice calls remain off-limits (even MetroNorth now has a quiet car each train ride in or out of New York City where you can't even THINK of answering or placing a cell call)?

I'll chill on the point..and celebrate a small victory for productivity and individual rights.  Now to start lobbying for the return of that little bag of peanuts on board!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Public Affairs v. B2B PR: The Similarities

Michael Mallon, Intern
I’ve had lots of different internship experiences in my three post-high school years. I interned for the morning show at 103.5 KTU here in New York; I handled marketing strategies at a startup that made financial mobile apps; and I worked for Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) 
down in Washington, DC.

Now I’m in PR.

Although most people might link the marketing experience with my current PR internship at Feintuch Communications, my internship with Congresswoman Maloney was actually the most similar to what I’m doing now. From the view of an intern who had many press and writing-related tasks on the Hill, and who is now working at a full-fledged communications and PR firm, there are many similarities in both tasks and mindsets between doing political press and working in private sector press relations.

There are certainly differences as well, but I will save those for a later date. From what I’ve learned so far, here are the top similarities between government press operations and a PR firm’s operations:
Congresswoman Maloney

  1. Master Media Relations – The absolute basis of professional press relations does not change. You still need to put out press releases, you still need to coordinate with journalists, and you still need to serve the client’s (or politician’s) interests.
  2. Manage Crises Efficiently – There are times, both in government and PR firms, when crises must be handled with great poise. Whether the politician made a comment that is making headlines as a gaffe, or a corporation’s product must be recalled, there’s a need for communications professionals to attempt to counteract the sudden ‘bad press’ that arises. Writing a story that is favorable toward the client, stirring up positive news articles in important publications, reestablishing your client’s credibility, and other techniques are necessary in either field when crises inevitably arise.
  3. Develop Clear and Concise Messaging – PR firms and political press experts must both communicate the message of their client in a coherent and compelling manner. This may be through any number of means, but whether you are working for a politician or a corporation, you must make sure that the message and image that they each are trying to convey to the media and to the public are being conveyed effectively.  That could mean a politician who wants to be seen as one of the leaders of the immigration reform efforts in Congress, or it could mean a client who wants to be positioned as having the best customer service in their industry.
  4. Manage Your Databases – It’s important in either field to make sure that your databases are up to date and filled with the most relevant contacts. Journalists move from publication to publication or from one focus to another with increasing frequency, making it necessary to constantly update your databases. That way, when news breaks or it’s time to send out a release, it will go out to the proper people.
  5. Handle Difficult Clients – Some clients can be difficult to work with in both fields. Whether it’s a Senator who does not want to do interview and media training but consistently fumbles on television, or a company that is a bit too capricious with its marketing plans, it is a PR professional’s job to advise as best as possible. This means that you are constantly walking a thin line between pushing hard for something because you believe it is strongly in the client’s best interest, and serving the client based on what they want.
  6. See the Big Picture – In political press and more general PR, you always need to understand the client’s “big picture.” The more you understand a client and their overall vision, the more you can effectively cater to it and provide the right services to achieve the client’s objectives. In politics, that may mean publicizing something that a Senator did even though it may be unpopular with constituents in order to show that the politician is a team-player within the party – the end goal being a specific committee assignment (which is determined by the party apparatus). In PR, you may have a great plan to get publicity in some well-respected publications which would certainly boost the company’s product sales, but if those publications don’t cater to the marketing plan that the client has, then it does not fall in line with the company’s big picture.

Michael Mallon is the 2013 Summer Intern for Feintuch Communications. He attends Cornell University, class of 2014.