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Events

MINI USA: the Car Brand Keeps it Cheeky in Real-Time

“It’s tricky to react quickly. So brands should be prepared to be spontaneous”, said Lee Nadler, marketing communications manager at MINI USA. He offered that advice, along with creative content and marketing tips, at ANA’s recent Real-Time Marketing Conference in New York.

The petite (aka “itty biggy”) British car brand has maximized its U.S. presence. When MINI first launched here 12 years ago, they threw a party, jointly hosted with The New Yorker magazine, at a showroom venue in Manhattan’s up-and-coming Chelsea neighborhood. “MINI works of art” featured several MINI cars where artists had painted the roofs with “you-nique” themes.

Fast forwarding to 2013, how does MINI’s lean marketing and comms staff and agency (Beam Interactive) stay ever-so-clever on real-time’s race track? For starters, check out this video about the car’s soon-to-be-redesigned MINI Hard Top model creative contest. The MINI Final Test Test Drives clip shows the brand’s marketing and design employees’ tongue-in-cheek reactions to the crowd-sourcing concept. (video courtesy of MINI USA)

Nadler provided a road map highlighting how the MINI brand stays fresh in real-time.

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10 Event Planning Pointers: Don’t Overlook These Logistics

NY Entrepreneur Week Elevator Pitch CroppedEvents should be a win-win for attendees, since they offer a change of scenery, generate news, and provide learning, entertainment and networking opportunities. Since more media brands now offer live programs, the events arena has become more competitive.

Event strategy and objectives remain top priorities, but key logistics shouldn’t be overlooked. We cover a range of events, and here’s our take from an attendee perspective. Some may seem obvious, but since we’ve experienced these faux pas recently, a refresher seems to be in order.

1. Panel moderators should be discussion enablers, not conversation hijackers. The moderator needs to hold his/her own, but events should be more about the panelists.

2. Skip reading long speaker bios on stage, and leave the details to the event website or handouts. Given short audience attention spans, first impressions count the most.

3. Set a limit of 4 panelists, since you’re not aiming for a Guinness World Record. There are reasons why TV shows only have up to 4 guests at a time: screen space and storytelling.

4. Provide detailed schedules, even for two-hour events and receptions. That’s especially useful in the early morning and evening when attendees scramble to arrive on time.

5. Stick as closely as possible to the promoted agenda, with some room for impromptu moments. But don’t have scripted plants in the audience, as happened recently.

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The New Yorker Editor David Remnick Comments on His Career, the Magazine’s Content and Cover Controversies

New Yorker Cover“While most magazines have their moments in the culture, The New Yorker has mattered a lot at various points in time,” said David Remnick, the magazine’s editor. New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute hosted a wide-ranging conversation with him on Tuesday evening.

Remnick shared his candid thoughts on his career, his editorial role, the magazine’s print and digital content and occasional controversies. While being The New Yorker editor is a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity, many takeaways from Remnick’s experiences about career timing, managing work relationships, having strong competitors and staying relevant apply across positions.

Below are selected highlights.

Early career: “There were things back then called paid internships”, Remnick emphasized, (in his only reference to the ongoing Conde Nast internship controversy). He got an internship at Newsday, and another at The Washington Post. He also taught English in Japan and served as WaPo’s foreign correspondent in Moscow, competing for stories with Bill Keller of The New York Times.

He attributes his eventual switch from newspapers to magazines to the waiting room at his father’s dental practice. He spent time there reading magazines while listening to rock music. “The New Yorker was hard to grasp beyond the cartoons when I was little, but I warmed to it.”

Being named editor : After Tina Brown left, Remnick, who had been working at The New Yorker, became editor. He said he got the job, even though he had no prior professional editorial experience, after Sy Newhouse’s initial choice was nixed. As Remnick recalled, “they really needed an editor in a hurry. But the geometry of my relationships with other editors changed, and that’s still complicated.”

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PRSA Partners with American Cancer Society for 2014 Conference

PRSA Conf '13 - ACS Announcement

L to R: Colleen Fitzwater (ACS), Rebecca Andersen (PRSA’s National Capital Chapter), Bill Murray (PRSA National), Joe Cohen (PRSA, MWW), Jeff Ghannam (NCC) and Sabrina Kidwai (NCC)

The Public Relations Society of America just announced that the American Cancer Society will be its philanthropic partner for the 2014 International Conference to be held next October 11-14 in Washington, D.C.

As you can see from the pic above, the event’s theme will be “Leading the Way: A Fearless Future for PR”, with heavy emphasis on using the power of influence to “enact positive change.”

Joe Cohen, MWW Group SVP and PRSA National Chair-Elect, explained why the ACS pairs so well with that theme in an official statement:

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The Diverse Dimensions of Pitching Shelter and Design Stories

Lonny Magazine Door Numbers PRN PostAspirational or accessible, fabulous celebrity properties or home makeover solutions, brand new items or older but undiscovered products? These are a few of the many choices in the disparate home, garden and design media category. Types of outlets have also expanded, from coveted ‘shelter’ magazines to sought-after blogs to TV shows and out-of-home taxi video segments.

Pitching opportunities for stories and product placements have similarly increased. PCNY’s panel on Monday featured editors and producers from six home and design media outlets, all providing clues about optimal approaches. They also offered tips about what to send, such as photos or videos. One brand even has a ‘submit story’ button on their site.

The following national and local media outlets and panelists were represented:
NBC/LXTV Open House, Tracy Evers, supervising producer
Hearst Design Group’s 3 brands: Elle Décor, House Beautiful and Veranda, Orli Ben-Dor, Market Editor
Lonny, digital magazine, John Newlin, editor-in-chief, Livingly Media
Apartment Therapy blog, Maxwell Ryan, founder and CEO
Inhabitat website, Jill Fehrenbacher, founder and editor
The New York Observer newspaper, Kim Velsey, senior editor, real estate, development, urban planning

(First image is courtesy of Lonny.com, and second image is courtesy of Veranda.com)

Below is a brief rundown by outlet:

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Stephen Colbert Hosts StoryCorps Gala, Discusses the Art of Storytelling

Many of us love Stephen Colbert for his ability to stay in character, but last night he talked about other characters—and how their stories compel him.

The event was the tenth anniversary of StoryCorps, the NPR project dedicated to sharing the tales of everyday Americans and painting a broader, deeper portrait of our nation and its people.

After the event, Colbert talked to Vulture about the art of storytelling. Some key quotes:

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The Future of Content: Takeaways from the Council of PR Firms ‘Content Frenzy’ Event

CONTENT!!!

  • Content is the future of public relations—but do we really want to enter such a “shitty business?”
  • Content is the best way to reach the audiences our clients value most—but we can’t follow the media industry “over the cliff”
  • Our core competencies are in storytelling and earned media, and we should “think like editors”—but we have to demonstrate real-world value to our clients or we’re toast.

Confused yet?

The Council of PR Firms‘ 2013 “Content Frenzy” Critical Issues Forum was nothing if not contentious. During the event’s opening panel moderated by Ogilvy CEO Chris Graves, BuzzMachine founder/media critic Jeff Jarvis and WebbMedia Group CEO Amy Webb encouraged attendees to forget everything they thought they knew about “content” and stop trying to view PR as the new journalism, because:

His point? PR is all about “relationships”, not “creating more crappy content”, so we should stay away. And he didn’t let up.

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Navigating the Tricky Terrain of Ethics Issues

NYSE PRN PostNYSE Euronext served as the venue for Ethisphere’s Best Practices in Ethics Communications Workshop, held last Thursday, and what a difference a year makes. in October 2012 Superstorm Sandy caused the stock exchange to close briefly due to flooding nearby. Last week, NYSE Euronext visitors didn’t need to wear wading boots.

Instead, workshop attendees became immersed in weighty topics: the reasons for ethical failures, building ethical cultures, boardroom oversight and the example set by Warren Buffett. While the “oracle of Omaha” didn’t appear at the New York event, his presence was felt in the image gallery outside the conference room. Many other ethics specialists were on hand to offer their perspectives, including PR and corporate executives, professors and lawyers. Below is a brief series of takeaways.

Ethics trends and views vary by region: “Ethics is a bigger trend now in Europe than the U.S., while in Asia, ethics is a work in progress”, said Paul Argenti, professor of corporate communications and social responsibility at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

“It’s interesting to see how those in developed countries see ethics practices in developing countries, since there’s often hypocrisy in their views”, noted Alex Thompson, EVP of business and social purpose at Edelman. The firm conducts domestic and global surveys on trust and ethics-related topics.

Reasons why ethical lapses occur: “Pressure to meet unrealistic business objectives” is by far the biggest culprit, not the perpetrators’ egos, Argenti reported. Shortcuts leading to tainted food, for example, can result from staff desperately trying to meet short-term returns, he added.

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5 Ways to Host a Successful Holiday Party for Your Clients

Oh, Shutterstock. Never change.

Today’s guest post comes from Nicolina Cabezal, marketing manager at NYC-based premium paper company JAM Paper & Envelope. JAM is a go-to shop for PR to create media kits and other promotional materials—and they’re on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

With the holidays fast approaching, it’s time to start working on clients’ holiday parties. Most of the time the media won’t bother covering an office holiday party, but if it’s done right your employee party can turn into a full-on media event. Here are five simple steps:

1. Start Planning and Promoting Early

Planning – It’s all About the Theme: Planning should be done at least two months in advance, if not sooner. This gives you enough time to brainstorm a clever theme and execute it. The theme is the most important thing because the press isn’t going to care about the generic corporate holiday party. Find a clever way to turn it into a story: for instance, invite members of a reputable charity and make a donation in the company’s name.

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10 Lessons from White House Press Secs Fleischer and Gibbs: Witnesses to History, Human Piñatas

Washington DC White House PRN PostBeing White House press secretary is arguably one of the toughest jobs in Washington. While television cameras inside White House press briefings have offered the American public selected snapshots of the job, former press secretaries Robert Gibbs and Ari Fleischer (candidly!) filled in many other details at a recent 92Y event in New York.

Help Wanted Ad: Based on their comments and our takeaways, here’s a brief job description:

“Highly experienced communications exec to serve as spokesperson in political capacity. Able to quickly distill and convey complex material to intensely curious, skeptical audiences. Physically fit since it’s a grinding, grueling exercise. Involves sitting through many meetings, extensive note-taking and speaking from podium. Can withstand being woken up three times during the night. Shows fierce loyalty to boss, but is willing to break bad news. Thick skin so you don’t take it personally, extremely diplomatic, and keen sense of humor. Skilled at assigning press seating charts.”

Ten Lessons Learned, Often the Hard Way:
While Fleischer and Gibbs each met with their predecessors before starting, they still learned a lot on the job, especially from unscripted moments. Crises proved to be pivotal, including the anthrax attack (“We thought it was a wave 2 attack on the U.S.”, said Fleischer) and the Gulf Coast oil spill (“The hardest 3 months of my professional life”, said Gibbs.)

Below is a paraphrased list of ten things they learned, some of which may also apply to corporate spokesperson roles.

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