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Interviews

PR Veterans to Launch ‘The NRA for Cannabis’

Weed 420 bro

Marijuana: it’s been all over the news recently, in case you somehow missed it.

Not only have two states officially decriminalized recreational use of the stuff–a majority of the American public now supports legalization for the first time, and the New York Times officially threw its hat into the ring this week, forcing the Obama administration to respond with a lame version of “our hands are tied; we have to enforce the law as it stands.”

What does this have to do with PR? A good bit.

When last we spoke to friend of the site Andrew Graham, he and his partners were introducing us to their new agency Clear and telling readers why “Do startups need PR?” is the wrong question to ask.

Today, however, Graham and his partners are working on an entirely different initiative–the world’s first advocacy group created to focus not on the rights of Americans to use marijuana for medical or recreational purposes but, rather, the American businesses community’s right to share in its economic benefits.

Meet Grow America. Our interview with Graham after the jump.

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Q&A: Separating Business from Personal Politics

In case you missed it, venture capitalist/Silicon Valley money guru and Y Combinator founder Paul Graham–who helped startups like Dropbox and Airbnb achieve their impressive valuations–received a bit of negative attention from others in the tech scene over the past week for tweeting news stories about the Gaza conflict currently dominating headlines around the world. Here’s an example:

The tweets didn’t go over well with some Israeli members of the tech world. VC and sometime TechCrunch writer Roi Carthy wrote a blog post protesting Graham’s tweets and announcing his decision to stop working with Y Combinator in Israel. He spoke to Kevin Roose of New York magazine and compared Graham’s actions to those of Brendan Eich, who resigned as CEO of Mozilla after reports revealed his donations to the anti-gay marriage Prop 8 campaign:

“Due to mandatory army service, the tech industry and the army in Israel are intertwined…If you don’t recognize that, you shouldn’t be doing business with Israelis.”

The question: how can executives and other public figures avoid this potentially toxic meeting of politics and industry thought leadership?

We spoke to Stan Steinreich, CEO of Steinreich Communications, for his take.

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New SHIFT Communications EVP Scott Monty on the Future of PR

ScottMontyWe’ll make a wild guess and assume that, if you work anywhere in communications, you heard the big news this morning: Scott Monty, former head of social for Ford Motor Company, joined Boston-based SHIFT Communications as EVP of strategy (he even has his own URL).

The announcement received mentions in trade pubs from Adweek to Automotive News and even inspired a bit of good-humored hashtaggery:

Scott elaborated on the #MontyDecision on his personal blog this morning, but he and SHIFT CEO Todd Defren also talked to us about the logic behind the move and their shared vision for the future of the comms industry.

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Can a Brand Win a Pulitzer? Former WSJ Tech Reporter on Content Strategy

CONTENT!

Every agency worth its salt has begun moving into content creation. That much is no longer up for debate.

Almost everything else involving the word “content”, however, is less certain–especially when we’re discussing what makes related projects effective and how we can measure their value for clients.

On that point, ReadyState is not quite your traditional agency: the one-year-old San Francisco shop focuses on “strategy, design and content” to serve a primarily tech-focused clientele.

ReadyState recently won attention for hiring former Wall Street Journal tech reporter Ben Worthen (now Editor in Chief), and we spoke to Worthen about the new ways of creating value for clients and the many keys to winning the content game.

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Politico, Burson-Marsteller Discuss the Future of Journalism

In a perfect world, would the answer to the question “What does the future of journalism look like?” include the word “Politico?”

We’re not sure as we don’t live in a perfect world. But this related conversation between King of Poli-Blogs Mike Allen, Burson-Marsteller’s Worldwide Chair/CEO Don Baer and Alan Murray of the Pew Research Center is still interesting, particularly in the wake of White House “TV Whisperer” Dag Vega’s move from politics to corporate PR. A couple of key quotes from Baer:

“The vast majority of journalists and news organizations still think of themselves as content producers…I think you’ve got to turn that upside down and say ‘what service am I providing you, the reader?’”

And Murray:

“Being provocative to the point of being hostile gets you noticed.”

While we certainly don’t disagree with Murray, we have to wonder whether this is really a good thing (if it means Kara Swisher being bolder in her reporting, then yes. If it means more hyper-partisan op-eds, then no). And if you speculated as to whether political coverage would, in general, grow more or less partisan in coming years, this interview serves as an unfortunately definitive “yes.”

Jill Abramson Talks to Katie Couric About What Went Wrong at The New York Times

In one of her first post-firing video interviews, deposed New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson spoke with Yahoo!’s Global News Anchor Katie Couric about what went wrong with her career at The Grey Lady.

On the “fired for being a woman” narrative:

“I don’t see gender as being…the whole explanation, by any means, of what happened, but it’s somewhat irksome to me to see so much focus on the issue of why was I fired.”

And yet…

“I think that women are scrutinized and criticized in a somewhat different way, and that certain qualities that are seen in men as being the qualities of a leader … are somehow not seen in as attractive a light when a woman is involved.”

Here’s our favorite line:

“How many people in the real world really care why Jill Abramson lost her job?”

We would say quite a few, actually. Couric didn’t ask Abramson how the NYT could have handled the firing better on the PR front, but someone could certainly write a book…

Q&A: Which Brands Won (and Lost) the World Cup?

Big Ballz

It’s all over but for the shouting…and the crying.

Germany may have surprised nearly everyone–especially Brazil–in winning everything this year, but the question remains: which brands came out on top? Which corporations got their money’s worth on the world’s biggest sporting event?

According to Rick Miller, vice president of data and insights for Networked Insights, the three big winners were Budweiser, Hyundai and Castroland the losers were Sony, McDonald’s and Visa.

We spoke to Miller to get more on the why and the how; questions and answers after the jump.

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Q&A: What Are the Keys to Effective B2B Branding?

shutterstock_105970766

Hint: it doesn’t have to be as dull as a stock photo of a business meeting

It’s one thing to raise awareness of a consumer brand among the general public, but B2B audiences are even tougher in many ways. They don’t just want a catchy campaign, a clever social feed or, say, a tasty snack–they want products that will help them do their jobs better and deliver visible career benefits.

And yet, a recent survey conducted by Omnicom’s global branding firm Siegel+Gale revealed that B2B marketers and PR professionals might have something to learn from their B2C brethren: relate to your customers as living, breathing people rather than streams of behavioral data broadcast from office cubicles.

We asked Brian Rafferty, Global Director of Research Insights for Siegel+Gale, for some guidance on conclusions drawn from the research–and what they mean for PRs who represent B2B clients.

His answers and some interesting numbers after the jump.

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Q&A: What’s the Best Way to Respond to Bad Reviews?

These chefs might seem to be reading their negative Yelp reviews for the first time, but anyone adept in the reputation management field knows how to gauge sentiments online.

We all know that such reviews have great influence, even though many are written by amateurs who may have had a few too many before deciding to bring down a business’s rating over one proverbial fly in the soup.

So what’s the best way to respond to these negative reviews? We spoke to Karan Chaudhry–CEO of “leading provider of instant feedback solutions for restaurants and retailers” DropThought–to learn more.

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What You Need to Know About Canada’s Crazy New Anti-Spam Law

Spam Vintage

Did you know that yesterday was Canada Day? Did you also know that, while everyone from Google to PR Newswire has been cracking down on spam recently, no one has gone quite as far as that country?

Some details of the world’s most restrictive anti-spam law: if the sender of any message related to “commercial activity” fails to officially verify the consent of the individual recipient, he or she could face “fines of up to 1 million Canadian dollars (about $940,000) for individuals, and up to 10 million Canadian dollars for companies.” Also: this isn’t just email; it applies to “any commercial electronic message”, which may well mean social media posts and DMs as well.

Wow. We dislike spam as much as the next trade blog, but that feels a bit steep.

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