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Posts Tagged ‘Geoff Livingston’

Will Media Convergence End the ‘PR or Advertising’ Debate?

“Is it PR, or is it advertising?”

This is a question that many in the public relations field must consider on a daily basis, but worry not; the debate will soon disappear as the two disciplines become one and the same.

Marketing pro Geoff Livingston attended USA Today’s 30th anniversary/”USA Tomorrow” multimedia rollout event this month, and he left the “future of news” mini-conference believing that the PR/marketing debate will be irrelevant within five years.


In the traditional “mass communication” media landscape, a clear line existed between advertisements and press releases or related content; they may have had similar goals (publicity and consumer outreach), but they had to reach them in different ways due to the limits of their respective venues.

Now, however, the model is shifting due to a fractured media landscape and an increasing public distrust of traditional advertising and corporate messaging efforts (stop us if you’ve heard this one a million times before). Livingston thinks that promotional content will still be separated into the “earned” and “paid” categories, where “earned” content is more trusted by customers and “paid” content earns more ROI.

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Peter Shankman and Kami Huyse Engage in Epic PR Blog Battle

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Is it really epic? Maybe, but that’s for you to decide. However, Help A Reporter Out founder and all around well-networked PR guru Peter Shankman has gotten into it with another well-networked PR consultant Kami Huyse, after Huyse pointed to a tweet from Shankman that read, “New rule: If your email starts off with ‘I want to pick your brain,’ my reply starts off with ‘at $400 per hour,’” and used it as an example of how “micro-fame breeds arrogance.”


Huyse didn’t mention Shankman’s name in the post, but it wasn’t hard for people to almost immediately connect the tweet back to him. And of course, Shankman unleashed back on Huyse in an open letter on his blog.

This PRNewser knows both Shankman and Huyse personally, and thinks this whole thing is one big waste of time. However, there are a few points to be made.

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eBay Contest Shows Little Give


The following is a guest post from Geoff Livingston, co-founder of Zoetica, a social enterprise that “provides communication consulting, training, and strategy to help mindful organizations affect social change.” It originally appeared on his blog and is re-published here with his permission.

Do companies and their agencies of record think about cause marketing? One has to wonder when you look at the repeated free-for-all contest mania that corporate America and many nonprofits engage in. Look no further than Humanity Calls/eBay’s tournament free for all for environmental nonprofits.

One has to wonder when the marketplace and nonprofits will start saying no to these contests. It’s clear that corporate marketers won’t stop until the attention well dissipates. What’s worse is corporate marketers don’t even look at past contests for lessons learned and best practices.

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Beth Kanter, Kami Huyse and Geoff Livingston Launch Communications Consultancy Zoetica


Three prominent players in the public relations and social marketing industry have banded together to start a new agency that will focus on nonprofits and companies with corporate responsibility or sustainability programs. Dubbed Zoetica, the agency will provide, “communication consulting, training, and strategy to help mindful organizations affect social change.”

Beth Kanter will serve as the CEO, leading in strategy and training; Kami Huyse will run account services and operations as President and COO, and Geoff Livingston will lead the sales and marketing effort as CMO.

Livingston, who sold his previous agency Livingston Communications to CRT/Tanaka in April of 2009, told PRNewser Zoetica is a completely different venture because, “We have a specific market, with a specific purpose: affecting social change. That’s what I want to invest my skills and time on now. Livingston was just a general communications firm.”

“Social media has gotten so big, it’s time to start focusing on the verticals that really matter. No one can own all of it. If this is my last, then this shoemaker wants to affect change,” he said.

Huyse said the agency will rightfully use their combined “track records of success and successful campaigns” to pitch new business. Huyse has previously served as a contractor to Livingston Communications. “We want to offer clients a brain trust,” she said, adding the agency will be working with a “cadre of freelancers.”

Year in Review: Top 5 Mergers & Acquisitions

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Downturns are a great time to shop if you have the money, and a lot of firms took advantage in 2009. The big got huge, the medium got big, and some got more social as firms merged and gobbled up other firms. We can’t remember a year when more M&A took place.

We pulled five deals for your consideration, ranked by “interesting-ness,” not revenue:

1) Next Fifteen + M Booth

With solid tech shops Text 100, Bite, and Outcast firmly in pocket, holding company Next Fifteen expanded in to the consumer, lifestyle, and travel PR market with M Booth in the U.S., and Lexis in the U.K.

2) Publicis Groupe + Razorfish

French giant Publicis bought Razorfish from Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) for a cool $530 million. While not a PR deal per se, Publicis added a lot of size to its Vivaki suite (see VivaKi’s Superfriends of Social Media Get REAL)

3) CRT/tanaka + Livingston Communications

CRT Tanaka bought Geoff Livingston‘s firm in the Spring, along with his very popular Buzz Bin blog (now with multiple authors.) Look for the social big foot’s new firm sometime in 2010.

4) WPP Group + TNS

After a lot of chatter and speculation, global conglomerate WPP Group (Nasdaq: WPPGY) acquired Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS), known for their Cymfony analytics tool. WPP has countless marketing brands in their stable, including huge PR shops such as Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton, and Ogilvy PR.

5) Middleberg + Dowd

The growth of Don Middleberg‘s firm is deja vu all over again. Ten years ago he sold the $18 million Middleberg & Associates to Euro RSCG. Now his Middleberg Communications reaches mid-size with the acquisition of Jim Dowd‘s firm. It’s Middleberg’s third purchase in as many years.

Geoff Livingston Leaving CRT/tanaka; Starting New Company in 2010


Six months after CRT/tanaka acquired his agency, Livingston Communications, Geoff Livingston has announced he will be moving on to start a new company sometime in 2010.

Livingston has not announced details on the new company, but did say it will include, “deep rooting in social responsibility.” CRT/tanaka said that Priya Ramesh will be filling Geoff’s role in the agency’s DC office, and added that they will also be “looking to bring someone else in.” Livingston will also remain on as a consultant for the foreseeable future.

“In many ways, I felt my job had been accomplished,” Livingston said in a statement. “With Geoff’s assistance and the expertise of our D.C.-based staff, we have substantially enhanced our social media expertise,” said Mike Mulvihill, CRT/tanaka president, adding that he looks forward to continuing working with Livingston as a consultant and “in possible future collaborative efforts.”

Five Popular Types of PR Tweets


If, like most PR pros, you spend a good deal of time on Twitter tracking journalists, clients, industry influencers or anything else, you begin to notice some trends. Many Tweets often fall into one of five categories, which we’ve carefully outlined for you below.

Is this scientific research? Absolutely not. But it’s all in good fun and we hope you will enjoy it and post your own examples in the comments. Read on for the five popular types of PR tweets.

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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Calls for End of Arrogance in Communications


Since the Pentagon ended its contract with the Rendon Group over the weekend, the controversy over the profiling of embedded journalists in Afghanistan has cooled a bit, with the exception of an editorial in the New York Times.

Much bigger sh*& is hitting the fan in Afghanistan right now, ironically as Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen’s essay in the new Joint Forces Quarterly calls for a strat comm approach that fosters credibility:

“We need to worry a lot less about how to communicate our actions and much more about what our actions communicate. What we need more than anything is credibility.”

[PDF of "Strategic Communication: Getting Back to Basics" is available here]

It’s interesting that Mullen likely wrote the piece months ago, and it reads as if it’s addressing the Rendon and Wackenhut scandals today: “The irony is we should know better”.

Stars & Strips covered Mullen’s essay in a piece about the possibility for transparency, quoting social media expert Geoff Livingston on the pros and cons. There are obvious security reasons to consider, though he concludes, “if you have an overemphasis on controlling the message, you can lose its impact.”

Mullen does have a Twitter feed and a robust Facebook Fan page with plenty of positive messages, though neither address the problem with Rendon.

Related: Pentagon Cancels Rendon Contract Over Profiling Flap

Journalist Obtains His Own “Rendon Report”

CRT/tanaka Acquires Livingston Communications


Livingston Communications announced late last week that it has been acquired by agency CRT/tanaka. After an (almost) merger with Social Media Group late last year that never quite panned out, CEO Geoff Livingston seems to be happy to have his agency in new hands.

Kami Huyse, a sometimes contractor for Livingston Communications published a Q&A with Livingston on the deal, and asked the “why now” question, to which he responded:

I don’t want to be the man, or the most popular guy on the Internet, and so having a CEO title doesn’t mean anything to me. What means something to me is becoming more available to my family, and doing great things that impact our society through clients, through openness and transparency, and through the embracing of public responsibility for our society’s issues, and the charitable efforts to resolve those problems.

Livingston also posted his own take on his blog here, which is certainly worth the read.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although we do know that CRT/Tanaka now has ownership of Livingston’s popular blog, The Buzz Bin. The company will also not become a subsidiary of CRT/tanaka but instead will merge under the existing corporate brand. CRT/tanaka clients include Sprint, Altria, and Charles Schwab & Co.

[image: Geoff Livingston, courtesy Beth Harte]