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Archives: October 2009

Friday Fun: Darth Vader Visits Voce Communications SF Office

In this Halloween edition of Friday Fun, Darth Vader visits the Voce Communications San Francisco office, where he answers the phones, delivers on client strategy, and tries to eat a burrito (unsuccessfully).

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Who Will Be Fleishman-Hillard’s Next NY GM?

Fleishman-Hillard SVP, Partner and Director of Corporate Media Relations Steve Naru writes in:

With Nancy Seliger‘s promotion, there is a lot of buzz about the fact that one of the best agency jobs out there in our discipline – the NYC Fleishman-Hillard General Manager Job — is now open… A comprehensive internal and external search is being undertaken by the firm for the NY General Manager’s job.

FH appointed Seliger to the new position of executive vice president, global client relations this week. She has been with the agency since 1982. “We have a solid leadership team in place in New York…so we will have a smooth transition,” said FH president and CEO Dave Senay in a statement.

White House Counters Car Blog’s Claims; Why Are People Surprised?

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First it was Fox News. Now the White House is getting attention for going after a much smaller, albeit influential media outlet, car blog Edmunds.com. In a White House blog post yesterday, titled, “Busy Covering Car Sales on Mars, Edmunds.com Gets It Wrong (Again) on Cash for Clunkers,” Macon Philips said Edmunds.com released “faulty analysis suggesting that the Cash for Clunkers program had no meaningful impact on our economy or on overall auto sales.”

The blog shot back, stating, “instead of shooting the messenger, government officials should take heart from the core message of [our] analysis: The fundamentals of the auto marketplace are improving faster than the current sales numbers suggest.”

Our question is: why are people surprised they are using the blog to communicate in this manner, when they claimed they would do so from the beginning? In the first post on the blog, Phillips wrote, “Millions of Americans have powered President Obama’s journey to the White House, many taking advantage of the internet to play a role in shaping our country’s future. WhiteHouse.gov is just the beginning of the new administration’s efforts to expand and deepen this online engagement.” We’ve reached out to the White House media affairs team but have not heard back as of the time of this post.

Digital Agency Huge, Inc. Adds Communications Department

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IPG owned digital agency HUGE has added two internal PR professionals that will make up the agency’s communications team. Tom Siebert joins as Director of Communications; while Tessa Barrera has been named Media Strategist. Siebert comes from sister IPG agency, Initiative.

Barrera has held a number of PR positions, and the agency also decided to include the tidbit that for the 2004-05 baseball season she was the Brooklyn Cyclones’ mascot, Pee-Wee. HUGE recently re-designed CNN.com. Other clients include IKEA, JetBlue Airways, Walt Disney Company, iVillage, Time Inc. and Target.

Katy Kelley, former Director of Communications at HUGE, recently left the agency after the IPG acquisition to join another Brooklyn-based digital agency, Carrot Creative, as Vice President of Communications.

DC PR Firm In Hot Water Over Coal Industry Astroturfing

A contractor for public affairs and political communications agency Hawthorn Group is being looked into by Congress for an astroturfing campaign. The campaign, for Hawthorn Group’s $7 million client American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, urged lawmakers to opposed climate change legislation via a letter writing campaign.

The letters were supposed be from local community groups, however they were sent from Bonner & Associates directly. Bonner did call the groups to ask for support, but those calls, “made no mention of the coal industry or of climate change,” according to Talking Points Memo. They describe the process:

Phone-bankers read a quick script, then send targets pre-written letters on stationary created by using the group’s logo from its website. The groups are asked to sign the letters and return them in a pre-paid FedEx envelope.

Bonner & Associates President Jack Bonner testified to Congress yesterday. “Let one thing be very clear: this improper activity was undertaken without the knowledge or permission of anyone at our firm,” he said.

Death To Ad Equivalency Reports!

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Have you ever had to compile an ad equivalency report? Do you even know what one is? It’s pretty simple, actually. An ad equivalency report attempts to compare the value a brand received from a PR campaign – media coverage, etc. – with the value the brand could have received spending the same money on advertising. Not only do they not work, they can be misleading, many PR measurement experts say.

“…with the rise of social media, AVEs have little meaning when the value of the most traditional media is dropping daily, and the power of individual blogs, many of which don’t accept advertising, is growing exponentially,” wrote Katie Paine in a Ragan.com op-ed today.

Paine has been in the measurement game for a while and is happy to announce that the Institute for Public Relations’ Measurement Commission recently voted 19 to 2 to ‘reject AVEs (ad value equivalency), the concept and the practice.’”

Learn Intro to Public Relations, Crisis Comm. Social Media & More

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Mediabistro is offering two of our most popular courses, Intro to Public Relations in New York, which starts November 4th, and Public Relations: From Crisis Communications to Social Media, an online class, which starts November 9th.

We mention this because today we’re running a special one-day promotion: 30% off multi-week courses. Use promo code SAVE30 when submitting payment to receive your discount. Do it!

Is Cannes Dropping ‘Advertising’ From Festival Title to Appeal to Broader Audience? CEO Says No

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The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival is the most prominent advertising festival in the world. This past year, the festival added a PR category for the first time, and awards were won by Weber Shandwick, MS&L Worldwide, Taylor and Ketchum.

Tony Burgess-Webb, Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President, Hill & Knowlton, told PRNewser that PR submissions “were low” with 450 entries. “The number of the PR category entries that actually came from PR agencies was less than 43%, and the winning entry came from a Sydney-based ad agency,” he said. “So from point of view of panel of judges – Hill and Knowlton had two judges on panel – it was pretty disappointing.”

Burgess said that the Cannes team asked what they could do about the low turnout in regards to PR. In response, Hill & Knowlton hosted an event with the PRCA – PRSA’s equivalent in the UK – and invited 100 agencies to come in and hear about how they can win a gold at Cannes next year. “The fact is it’s not an advertising festival, it’s a marketing communications festival. Why not drop the whole title,” asked Burgess-Webb. “I certainly think they should,” he said.

Asked if the festival is dropping advertising from the title this year to appeal to a broader audience, Philip Thomas, CEO of Cannes Lions said, “No, that’s not correct” and did not elaborate further.

WPP Q3: Overall Revenue Down 8.7%, PR Sector Down 8.5%

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WPP Group (WPPGY), the largest of the major holding agencies, reported Q3 earnings today. Revenues in the Public Relations and Public Affairs were down 8.5% in Q3 on a like for like basis, to $312.6 million. This is a “relative improvement” the company said in a statement, after a 9.7% drop in the second quarter.

Overall revenues were down 8.7% on a like for like basis. On a non like for like basis, which takes into account the WPP’s acquisition of media intelligence company TNS, revenues were up 16%. The company did not mince words in a statement released today:

There is little doubt that consumer and corporate confidence has recovered somewhat from the panic levels of the fourth quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009. Confidence, however, remains fragile amongst consumers, because of the shadow of high unemployment levels and amongst corporates, because Armageddon and Apocalypse now were barely avoided in September 2008. Whilst the hearts of CEOs and CMOs are stronger and their minds clearer, increased confidence is still not transferring to their cheque-writing hands.

WPP also noted that it had reduced global headcount by 10% since December 31, 2008. The company’s PR holdings include Hill & Knowlton, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe.

The Ticker: Astroturfing; Embargoes; More on White House v. Fox…

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