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Shawn Paul Wood

Shawn Paul Wood is a PR executive, copywriter and online strategist with more than 20 years’ experience in the field, with 12 of those years as an on-air host and radio news director. In his "free time," he also writes for Talent Zoo‘s Flack Me blog, PR News' Insider, as well as writes and edits for national blog Through The Fence Baseball. For more about SPW, follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood or his agency @WoodworksComms.

5 Pitfalls to Avoid While Newsjacking

waffle-house-belgium-twitterAnyone remember this famous tweet? It happened during Team USA’s run in the World Cup. As you can tell, Waffle House got a little notoriety from that soccer success as well. This act of genius, according to a term coined by the great David Meerman Scott, falls into the “Newsjacking” category.

It has become a social media phenomenon that brands and people alike try to leverage for their benefit…with varying degrees of success.

To summarize, newsjacking is seeing a runaway story or a widely followed trend, riding on its coat-tails in the name of ‘brand awareness,’ and subtly exploiting that story or trend hoping to score exposure. It’s like photobombing an online conversation, and it works well if done properly. Then again, if it doesn’t, your brand will suffer.

Here is the latest 5 things list for your edification…

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THIS JUST IN: North Carolina Town Council Approves Street Named After Local Klansman

THIS JUST IN 2America has been doing so well lately.

We elected an African American President and both of our most recent administrations had female Secretaries of State. Much of the country is also standing behind Native Americans as they take on Daniel Snyder, owner of a certain Washington football team, and whatever flacks he can afford.

And just when you get comfortable resting in the warm embrace of Lady Liberty, she belches, loses her composure, and drops you into Hudson Bay.

Welcome to Fair Bluff, N.C. where the town council recently approved a street to be named after a man with a dubious distinction — a former Ku Klux Klan leader convicted in 1952 for his role in a local flogging.

Ah, yes.

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The Art of ‘Um’ and ‘Uh’: Different Vocal Pokes for Different Media Folks

likeIf you have spent any time in PR, you know there are a fair number of media trainers. Typically, these are hacks-turned-flacks who understand how to help clients talk to the media without sounding like remedial English students.

That brings us to a lingustic affliction called Speech Disfluency.

SD involves speaking with “any of various breaks, irregularities, or non-lexical vocables that occurs within the flow of otherwise fluent speech”. You may think of stuttering or hesitating, but this definition also refers to the use of the universal word (and media no-no) “Huh.” (True story, look it up.)

We call those “vocal crutches.” And now — thanks to some deep, battle-of-the-sexes-type research, such crutches can demonstrate one’s gender you are during one of those deep throat interviews.

So, like, see it, um, after the jump…

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Why a Lack of Government Transparency in Media Relations Affects Us All

White-House-open

If only this were the case…

Last month, we brought something to our scrolled pages (and thank you, PRNewsers) about the Obama Administration reneging on its promises to be the most transparent in U.S. history. In that post, we shared the petition that various journalism wrote to the White House, advising the administration to cease its “political suppression of the news.”

A week later, the administration did it again, this time locking the press corps out of fundraising events.

All that ballyhoo caused this hack-turned-flack to wonder about the current state of affairs in network news and its relation to government transparency: aimless speculation from various and sundry “expert guests” left with only their opinions in the absence of more reliable sources.

That trend is affecting “We, the People” in very negative ways. Here’s how…

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Can the ISIS Strikes Become a #PRWin for the President?

Iraq-Jihadist-flag

No one in their right mind (or in a public forum) would ever equate a declaration of war as part of a PR strategy, but it could be one of the side effects of what took place in the Iraq recently.

Without getting into the nuance of military and political goings-on, the terrorist group calling itself Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) doesn’t play well with others. They almost certainly like American even less than they did after the U.S. military bombed ISIS’ ammunition stockpiles to help our “friends” in Iraq defend themselves.

To wit, ISIS released a video proclaiming that they will “raise the flag of Allah over the White House.

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How Little America Cares About War in Iraq as Seen on LIVE with Kelly & Michael

kelly michael uptonICYMI: Kate Upton is easy on the eyes. At least, that’s what the cool kids say. I’m married so my eyes were removed years ago (Hey baby).

Anyhow, Upton provides a ratings spike to most shows as you can imagine.

Such was the case for LIVE with Kelly & Michael. Kelly Ripa is one of her 18 annual vacations, so the ABC network show decided to have Upton co-host with the recent Hall-of-Fame inductee Michael Strahan.

There they are: chuckling about a trip to Starbucks and visions of Upton in “flip-flops and a robe” causing a local barista to “jack up” Strahan’s cup of joe. Suddenly, ABC News interrupts with news of a presidential approval for air strikes in Iraq…again.

Twitter then bombed ABC for that painfully awkward juxtaposition.

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CNN Thinks All African Nations Look Alike

africa-map

ICYMI: The Ebola outreak in West Africa that has killed more than 930 people is scaring everyone. In fact, the World Health Organization has recently declared it a “public emergency.” The Center for Disease Control has given it, essentially, a DEFCON 1 rating.

For a brief lesson based on the picture above: Nigeria is the world’s 7th most populous country with more than 170 million people along the West African coast. Niger, which borders Nigeria to the north, is a landlocked country with approximately 1/10th of Nigeria’s population.

Confused? So was CNN.

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Newark, N.J. Named Unfriendliest City in America Again

NJ SucksBeing part of a Convention & Visitors Bureau (or, as they are called now, Destination Marketing Organizations) can be thrilling when national publications release the lists.

The “Best Of” this. The “Most Of” that.

These hallowed dispatches are the Holy Grail for many cities. And then, there are the bemoaned mentions in travel publications or websites that suggest your city — for lack of a more appropriate term — sucks.

Crisis communications can’t help an entire city, can it? Look at Detroit and tell me how that’s working out. Unfortunately, the one we know as Newark, New Jersey now finds itself at the bottom of just such a list.

Again. 

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Is the Public Statement of Advocacy the New PR Stunt?

rainbow_targetMinneapolis-based Target hit a direct bulls-eye with an interesting blog post from Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Jodee Kozlak. In the post, she notes her retail chain had signed on to a recent federal amicus brief.

Nothing too exciting, until you see that Target now stands side-by-side with Apple, Nike, Starbucks, and Facebook in support of judges striking down bans on gay marriage in Wisconsin and Indiana.

This announcement came as a stunner to many in the press as the organization has been unclear about its stance on the subject for many years. Target executives do not talk about it, which is why many assumed that they were not supporters.

Then this blog post happened, inspiring headlines everywhere. And a few hacks and flacks of the more cynical nature were left wondering whether it was a sincere statement or a stunt.

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3 Proven Tips for Pitching Bloggers

pitch blogger

For a couple of years, I was just a boisterous guy with an opinion. Then, something happened. I don’t know if I began speaking to people differently or if it was that new Paleo diet I was on, but it was strange — I got pitched.

The email took me on a trip down Amnesia Lane; I had completely forgotten what it felt like to receive a pitch. Back in the old days when I worked in media, I received pitches via phone … or even fax. This newfangled “email” pitch took some getting used to, but I didn’t respond well because the pitch didn’t relate to anything I could discuss, didn’t include my name anywhere, and only served to relay information about a specific product.

It should go without saying that this is not the best way to pitch. For those pros who spend countless hours trying to pitch bloggers, we have three tips.

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