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Nancy Lazarus

The Diverse Dimensions of Pitching Shelter and Design Stories

Lonny Magazine Door Numbers PRN PostAspirational or accessible, fabulous celebrity properties or home makeover solutions, brand new items or older but undiscovered products? These are a few of the many choices in the disparate home, garden and design media category. Types of outlets have also expanded, from coveted ‘shelter’ magazines to sought-after blogs to TV shows and out-of-home taxi video segments.

Pitching opportunities for stories and product placements have similarly increased. PCNY’s panel on Monday featured editors and producers from six home and design media outlets, all providing clues about optimal approaches. They also offered tips about what to send, such as photos or videos. One brand even has a ‘submit story’ button on their site.

The following national and local media outlets and panelists were represented:
NBC/LXTV Open House, Tracy Evers, supervising producer
Hearst Design Group’s 3 brands: Elle Décor, House Beautiful and Veranda, Orli Ben-Dor, Market Editor
Lonny, digital magazine, John Newlin, editor-in-chief, Livingly Media
Apartment Therapy blog, Maxwell Ryan, founder and CEO
Inhabitat website, Jill Fehrenbacher, founder and editor
The New York Observer newspaper, Kim Velsey, senior editor, real estate, development, urban planning

(First image is courtesy of Lonny.com, and second image is courtesy of Veranda.com)

Below is a brief rundown by outlet:

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Navigating the Tricky Terrain of Ethics Issues

NYSE PRN PostNYSE Euronext served as the venue for Ethisphere’s Best Practices in Ethics Communications Workshop, held last Thursday, and what a difference a year makes. in October 2012 Superstorm Sandy caused the stock exchange to close briefly due to flooding nearby. Last week, NYSE Euronext visitors didn’t need to wear wading boots.

Instead, workshop attendees became immersed in weighty topics: the reasons for ethical failures, building ethical cultures, boardroom oversight and the example set by Warren Buffett. While the “oracle of Omaha” didn’t appear at the New York event, his presence was felt in the image gallery outside the conference room. Many other ethics specialists were on hand to offer their perspectives, including PR and corporate executives, professors and lawyers. Below is a brief series of takeaways.

Ethics trends and views vary by region: “Ethics is a bigger trend now in Europe than the U.S., while in Asia, ethics is a work in progress”, said Paul Argenti, professor of corporate communications and social responsibility at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

“It’s interesting to see how those in developed countries see ethics practices in developing countries, since there’s often hypocrisy in their views”, noted Alex Thompson, EVP of business and social purpose at Edelman. The firm conducts domestic and global surveys on trust and ethics-related topics.

Reasons why ethical lapses occur: “Pressure to meet unrealistic business objectives” is by far the biggest culprit, not the perpetrators’ egos, Argenti reported. Shortcuts leading to tainted food, for example, can result from staff desperately trying to meet short-term returns, he added.

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10 Lessons from White House Press Secs Fleischer and Gibbs: Witnesses to History, Human Piñatas

Washington DC White House PRN PostBeing White House press secretary is arguably one of the toughest jobs in Washington. While television cameras inside White House press briefings have offered the American public selected snapshots of the job, former press secretaries Robert Gibbs and Ari Fleischer (candidly!) filled in many other details at a recent 92Y event in New York.

Help Wanted Ad: Based on their comments and our takeaways, here’s a brief job description:

“Highly experienced communications exec to serve as spokesperson in political capacity. Able to quickly distill and convey complex material to intensely curious, skeptical audiences. Physically fit since it’s a grinding, grueling exercise. Involves sitting through many meetings, extensive note-taking and speaking from podium. Can withstand being woken up three times during the night. Shows fierce loyalty to boss, but is willing to break bad news. Thick skin so you don’t take it personally, extremely diplomatic, and keen sense of humor. Skilled at assigning press seating charts.”

Ten Lessons Learned, Often the Hard Way:
While Fleischer and Gibbs each met with their predecessors before starting, they still learned a lot on the job, especially from unscripted moments. Crises proved to be pivotal, including the anthrax attack (“We thought it was a wave 2 attack on the U.S.”, said Fleischer) and the Gulf Coast oil spill (“The hardest 3 months of my professional life”, said Gibbs.)

Below is a paraphrased list of ten things they learned, some of which may also apply to corporate spokesperson roles.

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Content Forecast: Partly Sunny Skies, Some Clouds and Fog, High Revenue Pressure Front

AMC 2013 Logo FinalAs the lines around content continue to blur, the media industry assessment and outlook has been mixed. The AM2C / American Magazine Media Conference in New York this week convened a wide range of media, ad and tech industry leaders. They offered an array of diverse and sometimes controversial perspectives, and below are selected excerpts. Much like the classic Farmers Almanac, only time will tell how it all plays out.

Content quality: (Jonah Peretti, co-founder and CEO, BuzzFeed)

“It’s dangerous to only follow the optimization numbers. You need the creativity to experiment with lots of different content types. There’s a broad purview of topic areas we cover, from entertainment to investigative reporting. We create content that people are proud to share.”

“If you only create salacious garbage, then you end up with 90 percent of people that won’t want to read your site and won’t want to return.”

Discovering unique content: (Eric Schmidt, executive chairman, Google)

“In the media industry everyone is at the same confabs reporting the same things. The challenge is to report things that no one else has found.”

“Editorial content tells me things I wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. Google can program 90 percent of serendipity regarding what you’re reading and who your friends are, so we can suggest other interesting items. The other ten percent is one-offs, and there you need gifted editors.”

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Inside The Wall Street Journal: A Newsroom Tour and Pitching Guide

WSJ News Hub Intro FinalSince landing a story or mention in The Wall Street Journal qualifies as the major leagues, it requires a pitching approach similar to that used by New York Yankees’ ace reliever Mariano (Mo) Rivera: a combination of tenacity, resourcefulness, integrity and precision. That was our takeaway from a recent panel discussion with a team of seasoned WSJ editors, organized by PRSA NY.

Gabriella Stern, the WSJ’s deputy digital editor, moderated and hosted a behind-the-scenes group tour of WSJ’s state-of-the-art midtown newsroom. She described The Hub as “the nerve center and the heart of the New York news operation”. That’s where print, online and wire editors coordinate their efforts. The Opinion Page functions separately from the news operation.

“We have a sprawling digital operation, and our digital strategy is increasingly mobile”, Stern added. She pointed out areas devoted to social media, mobile, Infographics, design, video, and an on-air digital control room. WSJ hosts about seven live video shows per day.

“As PR professionals, you’re often the keys to information and thought leaders we need to talk to for our stories”, Stern told the group. She offered a wealth of pitching tips, along with her editorial colleagues:

  • Jim Pensiero, deputy managing editor (focuses on talent, training, newsroom projects)
  • Noelle Knox, editor, CFO Journal (addresses CFO suite)
  • Geoff Rogow, editor, Real-Time Finance News (area includes markets and finance)
  • George Stahl, corporate news editor, Real-Time Corporate News (handles news put out by companies)
  • Kevin Noblet, editor, Wealth Management (covers financial advisors and how they manage their practices and help clients)

We’ve organized the range of pointers like a baseball pitcher, with an outline for pitch selection, windup, delivery and mechanics.

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Uptown Boy: Banksy’s Artwork Makes Cameo on Manhattan’s Upper West Side

Banksy UWS1Banksy’s art appeared on a wall outside retailer DSW at Broadway and 79th Street on Sunday, as the stealthy British artist whose painted stencils caused a media phenomenon headed uptown. Entitled Hammer Boy, the work drew a large crowd of spectators, eagerly snapping photos.

Our Banksy art sighting was purely by coincidence. We read about his New York escapades, but hadn’t actively followed his website where he posts daily entries. We were out for a stroll after seeing New York Historical Society’s exhibit, the Armory show, which also caused a stir–in 1913.

As we were taking photos of the boy with the sledgehammer, another onlooker placed a Time Magazine with a cover story of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg below him. That gave the impression that the boy was about to hammer the Mayor — for recent anti-Banksy comments.

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9 Pointers for Building Branded Blogs

Gear Patrol Super Gear Featured Image The theme “If you build it, they will come” worked magically in the baseball movie Field of Dreams, but in the crowded blogosphere, only a fraction break through to the big leagues of major media brands. While The Huffington Post, Bleacher Report and Vice are well-known examples, many other blogs succeed on a smaller scale.

A “super bloggers” panel convened at Advertising Week in New York on Thursday, sharing their perspectives on editorial content and sponsored posts with moderator Manoush Zomorodi , host of WNYC’s New Tech City radio show. They included Ben Bowers, founder of Gear Patrol, Julie Carlson, editor-in-chief of Remodelista, Emily Schuman, founder and editor of Cupcakes and Cashmere, and Joy Wilson, founder of Joy the Baker.

While their blogs cover consumer categories like home design, baking, fashion and gadgets, their approaches also apply on the corporate side. Some areas below serve as reminders, while other issues like sponsored content are more recent.

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The Changing Dynamics of Celebrity Branding

George Clooney Medium PostUsing celebrities to promote brands has been a “long and winding road”. While that Beatles song was about the band’s relationship, the title aptly describes the complex nature of stars’ endorsements. In recent years, the dynamics have evolved, according to entertainment industry insiders working in music, sports and modeling. At a Tuesday Advertising Week panel in New York, the discussion and takeaways also focused on the current state of celebrity marketing, deal-making, media exposure and social media.

Shifting perspectives: “Until recently superstars didn’t want to touch celebrity endorsements,” said Tommy Mottola, well-known music executive and talent manager. But now he said only a handful of A-listers, like Bruce Springsteen, steer clear of such promotions. As Ryan Schinman, CEO of Platinum Rye Entertainment added, “Meryl Streep is the only female Oscar winner who hasn’t appeared in ads.” Online videos are partly responsible, noted Jon Liebman, CEO of Brillstein Entertainment Partners. “Though stars often did endorsements overseas, now YouTube offers fans access to international ads.”

Reasons for “selling out” vary by category: In the music business it’s mainly about money, Mottola observed. “Now music revenues have been significantly reduced. So that’s helped promote the need to find other income sources”, he said. Meanwhile, “sports endorsements were catapulted by the example of Michael Jordan”, said Mike Levine, co-head of CAA Sports. “In modeling, there were fewer magazine covers available when actors and musicians began appearing on covers. So models had to figure out what else to do”, explained Faith Kates, founder of Next Model Management.

Close alignment between brands and talent: “I don’t want to let my clients in any way hurt their core business, which is acting”, said Liebman. “I make sure it’s a safe shot that’s interesting and fun.” Mottola considers deals “that enhance the artists’ image and broadens their horizons.” As for Kates, “I look for the right team, brand and package. I want long-term opportunities, not hit-and-runs,” she said.

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Halloween Countdown: Celebrity Scandals Costume Preview

Halloween Masks CroppedHalloween is fast approaching, and a potpourri of colorful celebrity scandals have occurred since last October. That means you’ll be faced with a confounding choice of costumes to choose from, so it’s better to start planning soon.

Many high-profile figures across industries found themselves in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons: major and minor indiscretions related to national security, sex, drugs, fashion, cars, food, finances, taxes and spouses.

PRNewser compiled a list by category of 30 people who made it through more than one news cycle. Some appear for the first time, while others tried to resurrect their reputations, with mixed results. We’ve also included links to the press coverage, in case you missed it.

Celebrity Faux Pas:
Paula Deen, Donald Trump, Justin Bieber, Oprah Winfrey, Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez

Politically Incorrect:
Anthony Weiner, Elliot Spitzer, Bob Filner, Mark Sanford

Halloween Glasgow Kelvingrove Museum Suspended Heads Cropped

Faux Celebrities:
Kris Jenner, Sydney Leathers, Amy and Samy Bouzaglo (Amy’s Baking Company)

Athletes Gone Awry:
Lance Armstrong, Manti Te’o, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun

National Security Leakers / Whistle-Blowers and Careless Users of Gmail:
Edward Snowden, David Petraeus, Paula Broadwell, Jill Kelley

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StubHub’s Goal is to Score with Fans, Says CMO Ray Elias

Whether you’re a “social fan” actively networking, a “fanatic” attending every game, or a “premium fan” perched in front-row seats, StubHub serves the preferences of all three segments, said CMO Ray Elias. He spoke at The Incite Summit in New York on Wednesday about the brand’s customer service, social media and mobile efforts.

“Tickets are scarce, perishable goods, and StubHub manages the secondary ticket marketplace. We focus on the buyer and seller experience and the intersection of supply and demand”, Elias said. The market has evolved, and he identified key elements behind StubHub’s success.

Customer Service: Fans of entertainment and sports events didn’t used to receive the red carpet treatment. “We recognized the frustrations consumers were experiencing with ticket purchases”, Elias explained. “Traditionally the process wasn’t fan-friendly, so we applied the customer service models you’d find with Nordstrom and Zappos.”

A core issue StubHub regularly deals with relates to the authenticity of tickets. Elias said they need to deliver on the proposition that “our tickets are real and the fans will be able to get in”. He acknowledged that’s not so easy to convey from a marketing perspective. (Although he didn’t discuss their “Ticket Oakad campaign, it offers a reassuring presence, and according to a Forbes article, the ads have improved key brand perceptions).

Customer service plays a critical role in delivering on the brand’s promise, and Elias described StubHub’s service as ‘heroic’. “We have local reps on the ground, and ‘Make it Right’ customer service” to resolve on-site issues. “We’ve empowered fans, and that has fueled our growth.”

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