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Hack turned flack

POLLING ALL PR TYPES: What Do You Want to Be Called?

Hello-my-name-is

Here’s a serious question: What do you want to be called by your colleagues in the industry, pals in the media, partners and clients?

Everyone in this not-quite-fabled industry has an idea of what they like and don’t like, what they hear and ignore, what they answer to and what they wish no one would ever call them.

Some are accustomed to the big agency titles of account executive, manager, director, supervisor, and other synonyms for “hierarchy.” Others are interested in the boutique titles of guru, ninja, expert, and other nom de plumes that mean “badass.”

Before you jump, think about it: If you had to be labeled, what would your label read?

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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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Why More Firms Are Hiring Journalists As Content Strategists

shutterstock_127242293

If you read this blog (or any other) regularly, then you’ve almost certainly noticed lots of recent reports that seem designed to create a few new creases in your average journalist’s brow.

Reporting may have scored a small victory in moving from America’s worst job to its second worst job for 2014. But whether it’s a failure of media salaries to keep up with inflation or a study revealing that fewer people now say they want to write news for a living, there’s plenty of evidence that journalism still hasn’t quite decided what it will look like ten years from today.

Firms know this, of course–and they’re responding in turn. For example, in order to address the communications industry’s focus on content, content, content, San Francisco agency Bateman Group recently hired former USA Today tech writer Scott Martin while promoting veteran journalist and content practice leader Elinor Mills to VP of content and media strategy.

We asked Martin and Mills for their thoughts on the state of the media and the hack-turned-flack phenomenon.

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5 Secrets Every PR Pro Should Know About Reporters

old reporter guy

For starters, they don’t all look like this because technicolor is a thing.

In the fabled world of public relations, it amazes — well, really, disheartens — me how few flacks take time to get to know reporters. Forget the national ones who are on everyone’s bucket list. I’m talking the general assignment reporter in their own backyard.

These are the people that can make or break your effectiveness as a PR professional and not once is there an attempt to humanize these folks. I should know. As I have shared a few times in this blog, I’m a proud hack-turned-flack. I have good friends in the media, and I suppose that is why I can understand the jitters when pitching a reporter who answers the phone (intentionally) like a brash horse’s patoot, “NEWS!”

For that, I offer this list for you: 5 secrets every PR pro should know about reporters. Enjoy and share with your team.

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Yahoo Says PR Is Replacing Journalists. Wait, What?

PR + mediaMost journalists are highly skilled at what they do — research, reporting, writing and telling an intriguing story to the public. They represent both sides of a story without bias. They are able to see angles to a story that help educate and inform in a tangible way. Some went to school for journalism. Others went to school for English.

In short, they all know what they are doing and how do it.

So, how strange would it be if PR took over the news world? Very. According to Yahoo! Education, there are five jobs “nearing extinction” due to a combination of outlying reasons and other professions that “will take [their] place.” 

Yep, you guessed it. And you can probably guess how we feel about it too. More after the jump…

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Here’s Your Favorite ‘Hack-to-Flack’ Twitter Wedding Proposal

When we first saw this social media wedding proposal yesterday we thought “that’s too personal to blog”. But then we realized that ABC News tech journalist Joanna Stern tweeted it not only to her now-fiancee Michelle Barna of Deep Focus but also to her 35,000 followers.

It was literally a case of a “hack” proposing to a “flack” over Twitter. Oh, and the flack said yes.

Also: it was far smoother than our own proposal.

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Bob Schieffer on the 50th Anniversary of JFK’s Death: ‘There Were No PR People.’

Junior Reporter Bob Schieffer (left) with Russ Bloxom in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newsroom, 1963

Junior Reporter Bob Schieffer (left) with Russ Bloxom in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newsroom, 1963

With sincere apologies to all my journo friends, TV news broadcasting will never be like it was in the heyday of the three national networks, when the family gathered ’round the tube for the nightly news.

Rather. Jennings. Cronkite. Brokaw. Smith. Brinkley. Murrow. 

Those were the biggies, but in my fair burg of North Texas, there is none more regaled and respected than the great Bob Schieffer.

The guy has a school of journalism named in his honor for crying out loud. Simply put, he’s the shizzle in Dallas/Fort Worth. And all year long, he has been in the news for what he experienced 50 years ago — reporting the assassination of John F. Kennedy in his own backyard

In a riveting interview from The Daily Beastthe lovely Eleanor Clift writes about Schieffer’s memories from that fateful day near 50 years ago, November 22, 1963.

Among the gruesome descriptions and hearkening memories, Schieffer says something that should strike all of us flacks to the core. More about that after the jump…

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Public Relations: The Journalist’s New Frontier (Part 1)

Andy CToday we bring you the first post in a two-part story by Orbit Media Studios founder and content marketing specialist Andy Crestodina (find him on Twitter and Google+). 

It’s inevitable. Every time I speak about content marketing around the city of Chicago, I’ll be approached by a journalist-in-transition who was sitting in the audience. With each passing month, they make up a larger percentage of the crowd.

Honestly, it’s a bit sad. These are, after all, people who chose to pursue a career in news, a noble profession that requires long hours and has never paid all that well. But at least until the last decade, it was one that provided some job security.

Not anymore, reports Holly Regan of Software AdviceSince 2000, newsrooms have laid off 25 percent of their workers, and many have closed entirely. Regan cites some depressing numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which predicts a further drop of 6 percent between 2010 and 2020. That actually sounds optimistic.

According to the American Society of News Editors, there were 40,600 print journalists in 2012, with the number expected to dip below 40,000 this year for the first time since 1978. But there’s hope for erstwhile journalists because, as Regan says, “there is still a large and growing demand for journalism skills.”

After the jump: The Content Marketing Career Explosion

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Hack Turned Flack: Former NYT Editor/Current PR Pro Weighs In

Get the scoop, see?

Here’s something we wish we’d found earlier. For the past 11 months Gorkana, provider of database and analytics services designed for both sides of the PR/media equation, has run a series on its company blog called “Moving to the Darkside” in which media professionals describe making the transition into public relations. A month ago they featured our own contributor Lindsay Goldwert, and for their most recent post they spoke to former New York Times assistant metro editor Nicole Collins Bronzan.

This one is particularly interesting because Bronzan previously represented gay rights group Freedom to Marry and now works as director of communications for non-profit investigative journalism organization ProPublica, whose revealing stories about corporate misdeeds feel designed to make PR people sweat.

Here’s a key quote about journalists considering a career change:

…many people turn to PR as an easy out – and give the profession a bad name – without really considering whether some whole other career would make more sense for them. In a nutshell: If you see PR as a “way out,” take a little time and think more deeply about it.

Don’t hear that point made often, do you? The whole series is well worth a look.

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