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Inside PR at The Guardian in the Edward Snowden Era

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Very few publications have won as much attention or acclaim over the past year as The Guardian.

The British/American paper shared its recent Pulitzer Prize for public service with The Washington Post, but three people are truly responsible: Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and, of course, Edward Snowden.

Since those fateful days in June when the story first broke, nearly every government in the world has faced a moment of reckoning; the revelations gradually revealed by Greenwald and Snowden have shaken the public’s trust in both its elected representatives and the companies producing the technologies it uses every day.

But there’s another side to the story, and it comes from the perspective of the communications team that helped manage what is unquestionably the biggest scoop of the century to date.

We recently spoke to Gennady Kolker, who oversees media relations at The Guardian US, for an insider’s view of the events of the past ten months.

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Mediabistro Course

Public Relations: Build Your Portfolio

Public Relations: Build Your PortfolioIn this intensive workshop, you'll get feedback from your instructor on how you can refine and tighten your prose, structure your work, and build a body of work. Whether you are looking to create materials for a PR portfolio or wanting to polish your work, you'll leave this class with a professional portfolio and the skills to build it throughout your career. Register now! 

Remembering Former Hill+Knowlton Chairman/CEO Bob Gray

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Over the weekend we learned of the passing of Bob Gray: Nebraska-born author, lobbyist, presidential adviser, founder of Gray and Co. and onetime CEO/chairman of Hill+Knowlton Strategies. He was 92.

While Gray began his career in politics before joining H+K, he is best known as “first flack” for President Ronald Reagan. Gray worked on Reagan’s campaign, co-chaired his inaugural committee and went on to become the prototypical lobbyist.

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PR Pro Terrie Williams Explains How Eddie Murphy Became Her First Client

Terrie-Williams-ArticleTerrie Williams has represented everyone from Janet Jackson to Chris Rock at her eponymous public relations and communications firm. This licensed therapist turned PR pro has truly seen it all and has four best-selling books to show for it.

In the latest installment of Mediabistro’s So What Do You Do series, Williams talks leadership, mental health advocacy and, of course, unloads plenty of PR knowledge. Here, she explains how she acquired one of her first high-profile clients, Eddie Murphy:

One day I heard that Eddie was looking for a PR person. He had never had one. I was kind of self-taught. I took two six or eight-week courses, but I didn’t major in it in college or grad school. I knew I was supposed to represent him. I just knew. So I wrote him a letter. I said, ‘You don’t really know me, but I’ve been to parties at your home and we met at Miles’ [Davis] birthday party. And this is who I am. I would love to represent you.’ I got a phone call maybe two weeks later and a voice said, ‘Eddie’s here. He wants to talk to you.’ He got on the phone and just said, ‘I would love to have you represent me.’ Just like that. I was in tears on the other end. I launched my business with him. Because Eddie was on board, Miles wanted me to represent him. So very early on, all eyes were on me like, ‘Who is this person? Who does she think she is?’

For more from Williams, including her keys to an effective agency, read: So What Do You Do, Terrie Williams, Author, Activist and Public Relations Strategist? 

STUDY: Mobile Marketing Isn’t Just for Kids Anymore

gty_smartphone_ll_130104_wmainThink it’s only Millenials clogging up store isles while pausing to check their smartphones for coupons and better deals on the items they’re about to purchase? Think again.

According to a Thrive Analytics study recently released by the Local Search Association, Baby Boomers and seniors are catching up to their younger counterparts when it comes to actively using their mobile devices throughout the local purchasing process. The data suggests that it may be important for businesses to invest in their mobile presence and marketing in order to attract and retain not just younger customers, but those of all ages.

While 97 percent of Gen Y respondents said they use their smartphones at least sometimes when shopping in-store, 69 percent of seniors and Boomers admitted to doing the same; sure, the younger crowd is still ahead, but the majority of the older crowd is taking part in mobile — that’s pretty huge. Read more

How Did We Become ‘Spin Doctors’ Anyway?

what-is-public-relationsSo, there I was reading PR Week recently when I noticed its quote of the day: “PR professionals hate spin and what it stands for.” The fact that said PR professional shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition notwithstanding, the sentiment is right on!

Candidly, I have never been so smug with this craft to think I am beyond being called a “flack.”

It’s our nickname and it’s a term of endearment. Many journalists respectively celebrate their status as “hacks.” However, one term that is universally frowned upon in this establishment is “Spin Doctor.” 

Why? The term connotes ne’er-do-wells, people who suck at PR, and borderline used-car salesmen or, in the worst case scenario, lobbyists.

Unfortunately, the literal meaning of the term is even worse…

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UPDATE: NYPD Tries, Fails at Twitter Outreach

Looks like someone didn’t learn much from the #AskJPM fiasco.

As communications professionals we understand that groups providing services to the public generally benefit from highlighting their relationships with that public.

At the same time, unpopular campaigns seem to garner even more attention on social, don’t they?

In case you haven’t seen the aftermath of this terrible decision, we’ve got some pictures after the jump.

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Edelman Names New U.S. President/CEO

EdelmanToday Edelman announced that Russell Dubner–who currently holds the position of president, Edelman New York–will be the next head and CEO of the firm’s entire U.S. operation.

Effective June 1st, Dubner will oversee Edelman’s fourteen U.S. offices after running the New York office for six years and managing its 800 employees. He replaces the departing Mark Haas, who “more than doubled” the size of the firm’s China operations before returning to New York in 2012.

Dubner has been deeply involved in various internal Edelman initiatives for some time, contributing to the firm’s Participation Platform, thought leadership methodology and Master Narrative approach to corporate communications.

In addition to his new title and responsibilities, Dubner’s promotion also earns him a spot on Edelman’s Executive Committee.

Dubner will report to global COO Matthew Harrington; the fact that he joined the firm as an entry-level account exec in 1992 should provide some encouragement for the optimistic among us.

America’s Most Elitist Crossword Puzzle Uses ‘Fo’ Shizzle’

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Yes, my nizzles. That’s the New York Times, fo’ rizzle!

In case you have absolutely no clue what that cutline says, no worries. I speak “Snoop Dogg.” According to the Urban Dictionary, “-izzle” is ”a suffix, often used by gangsters, used to cut off a word when one’s brain cannot process words with greater than three syllables.”

“Izzle” was basically a cutsy lingo developed by the Snoop D-O-double-G. It was such a popular way to speak, screwing up anyone advocate of AP-style, that the New York Times covered it in 2004. I suppose since that day in almost a decade ago, editors at the “Old Grey (White) Lady” thought they accrued street swagger … so they included “Fo’ Shizzle” in their nationally respected crossword puzzle.

What the fizzle?!

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Spirit Airlines CEO Explains What You Get When You Fly on a Budget Airline

Spirit A319-3The average consumer wants to get things on the cheap, but doesn’t always know what exactly that means. On its face, spending less money is always preferable. But when you actually experience the budget option, it can be disappointing.

That’s exactly what Spirit Airlines is running up against. With the cost of air travel increasing, flyers are looking for a deal. Their eyes are drawn immediately to the low price tag. But then they take their flight and they’re looking for more.

A couple of weeks ago, a story ran in The Dallas Morning News that included a stat from the US Public Interest Group showing that Spirit has the “highest rate of consumer complaints among US airlines.”

Rather than get angry and defensive (at least not publicly), Spirit’s CEO Ben Baldanza decided that the problem could be a failure to communicate. After all, over the past five years, eight out of 100,000 customers have complained, leaving 99,992 people who didn’t. He decided to respond with an explanation.

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The Ticker: Journalist Tics; Four C’s; ‘Colombia’ Not ‘Columbia’; Blue Focus CEO; Sharing Economy

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