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Media relations

STUDY: Readers Remember Misleading Headlines

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Here at Mediabistro, we often get requests from reps to change or alter our headlines. We usually respond with annoyance, but a study featured in Fast Company yesterday explains why such demands can be very important: readers will remember a misleading headline even when they read the full article for a better understanding of the story.

The paper, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, makes a pretty basic point: headlines can be “misleading” without being incorrect — and the difference between the two is often lost on readers through no real fault of their own.

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Is BuzzFeed Really America’s ‘Least Trusted’ News Source?

The study that has everyone’s attention in the media world today concerns trust and political ideology.

Depending on your affiliation and your favorite outlets, the extensive Pew Research Journalism Project survey could be seen as either a good or bad thing: more American readers of various political persuasions trust The Wall Street Journal than any other publication, and CNN/Fox remain the biggest/most trusted sources of TV news (which is great for Brian Stelter).

We’re not too concerned with party politics, though. We’re most interested in the fact that the pubs with the smallest divide between “trust” and “distrust” were PBS and WSJ, while the pub with the largest difference between those numbers was…BuzzFeed. Here’s the chart:

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So does this survey encourage doubts about the value of placements on BuzzFeed?

We have to say no.

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Gawker Clarifies on Tweets by Writers

gawker-logoHere’s what we know about #Gamergate: people mention it on Twitter a lot. The root of the story concerns alleged ethical transgressions by a blog that covers video games, but the tag quickly devolved into a large group of anonymous (male) people wishing violence on women.

Last week, the guy behind the hashtag admitted to BuzzFeed that it was all about a recent breakup and said that, while he regrets certain “outcomes,” he would do it again.

On Thursday, Sam Biddle of Gawker’s Valleywag made a joke about the story that lead to an internal memo from editor Joel Johnson in which he effectively warned writers to be careful about what they tweet.

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Obama Names #EbolaCzar; Everyone Freaks Out

RonaldKlainOnce again, President Obama seems ready to feed the meme: this morning, someone within the White House chose to “leak” the news that Ron Klain, who served as Chief of Staff to Vice Presidents Gore and Biden, will be tasked with helping the government inform the public about the ongoing Ebola scare.

And yes, every single publication included the word “czar” in its headline.

As TIME told us way back in 2009, this is something of a media relations issue: titles for such positions tend to be unwieldy, so the “czar” meme is simply too easy to resist. It all started back in the early 20th Century:

“Woodrow Wilson appointed financier Bernard Baruch to head the War Industries Board — a position dubbed industry czar (this just one year after the final Russian czar, Nicholas II, was overthrown in the Russian Revolution).”

Politico compiled a list of such officials in the Obama administration before the TIME story ran.

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Cision, Vocus Merge to Sweet Home Chicago

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Back in June, our fearless leader Patrick Coffee had a nice conversation with someone you really need to knowPeter Granat, who is the new CEO of the now-merged Vocus and Cision media database software organizations.

Yes, kids, it’s official.

All the technology you love and the customer service you might not is now part of one big happy, unified family. And just like the Brady Bunch, they all have to live under one roof: One Prudential Plaza on East Randolph in Chi City. Movin’ on up, anyone?

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Why Do So Many Journalists Dislike PR?

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This morning we came across a post on LinkedIn written by Account Executive Kim Cox of The Cline Group and titled “There’s a Reason Journalists Hate PRs.”

We were compelled — especially since the premise of the story was a reading of EZ-PR founder Ed Zitron‘s book This Is How You Pitch, which he also discussed with us two months ago.

The headline’s conflict is a problem to which we see no long-term “solution”. Cox’s point (and Zitron’s) is that each PR professional needs to develop something approaching a relationship with those on the other side of the media aisle rather than simply sending blind emails and wondering why no one ever replies.

But we all know this. And it’s not so simple, either: no matter how often the journalists Cox cited in her post talk badly about PR, we also see them going back and forth with smart reps on Twitter. And those are just the public interactions.

We reached out to Zitron, who had a few things to say and write.

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NYT Writer Creeped Out by Her PR Dossier

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Most PR people and the pitching services they use maintain profiles for prominent media contacts.

You can imagine how that might be a little weird for the other party, though, right? The vast majority of journalists aren’t celebrities, but accessing such a profile would be similar to a boy band member reading his own Teen Beat “interview.”

Natasha Singer, who covers business in various forms for The New York Times, wrote of encountering her own dossier this weekend.

It was awkward.

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VICE Discovers the Ethical Perils of Corporate Sponsorship

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Looks like the cool kids sometimes get tripped up on ethics, too.

According to reports posted earlier this week, VICE — the very organization that inspired Edelman to make a call to defend itself for working on sustainability projects while representing clients who deny climate change — has occasional brushes with conflict-of-interest problems.

A post on Gawker and one on Capital New York both demonstrate how VICE editors worked to squash stories that could have reflected badly on corporate sponsors and/or media partners.

This is really a classic PR/media condundrum.

SPOILER: It’s about the money.

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Uber Basically Uses the Same Statement Every Time a Driver Gets Into Trouble

uberHere’s a basic principle to keep in mind if you’re in charge of speaking with the media when there’s trouble: switch up your message. Your response is going to be quoted, it’ll go online, and it’ll be Google-able.

Buzzfeed noticed that Uber has a tendency to repeat some version of the same line when one of its drivers gets into trouble: “Safety is our #1 priority.” And they’re using it no matter the circumstances – when a driver had a seizure and hit a pedestrian, when another groped a female passenger, when another was caught with liquor and weed in the car, when another hit someone with a hammer, etc.

There are two lessons here. First, if you sound like a broken record, people will stop listening. And second, have a short conversation with your Uber driver before you get in the car.

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Reporter Interviews Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig Without Seeing Their Movie, Pays the Price

A Denver reporter showed up on set without first doing his research and ended up slinking off camera in embarrassment.

Kristen Wiig and Bill HaderSNL alums and co-stars of the new movie The Skeleton Twins, appeared on a local station to be interviewed by Chris Parente.

Clearly Parente never got away with not doing his homework in school because he gives away almost immediately that he has no clue what he’s talking about. The long-winded opening question literally ends with, “What is it?” But the dead giveaway was the question about Wiig being naked. Neither star is naked in The Skeleton Twins.

Besides the fact that both sides should always be well-versed in the topic that they’re going to be talking about during an interview, it’s particularly critical when you’re going to be talking with someone who’s good at an ad lib.

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