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Archives: April 2008

The Ticker: PR Typos, Morning Edition Rival, Spinning Alaska Pipeline

Unique Pitches: The Love Letter

love letter1.jpg

While most of the pitches we receive here at PRNewser come through email, there are an occasional few that arrive to us via alternative channels.

When sending swag, or any other type of buzz seeking materials, the line between cute and scary is often a thin one.

A good example of a successful campaign is that of Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo of Capulet Communications. When promoting their book, Getting to First Base: A Social Media Marketing Playbook, the duo “postal mailed love letters to the authors of 10 major marketing blogs — complete with perfumed paper and handwritten praise. The letters directed each blogger to a personalized landing page featuring a personalized video describing the book and a link to a review copy.”

Overboard? Maybe, but in this case it worked out. 178 blogs wrote about their book, including 6 of the 10 “A-listers” they focused on.

Now, for the scary campaign – a Midwestern branding firm sent what amounted to, “Anonymous sexually-suggestive” love letters to a Chicago-based Advertising Age reporter. One of the letters included a “pair of pink panties in an otherwise empty envelope, which was scribbled on by what appears to be a crazed teen admirer (‘U R My Idol!’)”.

Needless to say, the AdAge reporter was not impressed.

Next time you’re planning a creative pitch that involves something besides an email, think in advance: how well do I know this person? What would they find funny versus offensive? If you find yourself having any second thoughts, err on the side of caution and tone it down.

TV PR Execs at White House Correspondents Dinner


mediabistro’s own Chris Ariens made it to DC for the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. At least two PR execs had their picture taken by Ariens: ABC News SVP of communications Jeffrey Schneider with his CNN counterpart, SVP of public relations Christa Robinson (pictured above).

Visit TVNewser for a complete recap of the night.

For Immediate Release Fridays

This edition of For Immediate Release Fridays uncovers a few pieces of buried bad news including a problem with soy milk, another smack by the EPA of Scott products, some empty chairs at E*Trade, a chapter 11, and the strange pilfering of a radioactive gauge from the back of a truck:

Department of Environmental Protection issues a warning about a stolen moisture density gauge containing radioactive material. The object in question was taken from the bed of a flatbed truck in Philadelphia

After going IPO just one year ago, Superior Offshore (cool stock sympbol, Nasdaq: DEEP) files for Chapter 11. The company provides subsea construction and commercial diving services for the oil and gas industry

E*Trade announces resignation of their CFO, and their General Counsel

Undeclared milk protein may be found in 11-ounce chocolate Silk Soymilk

EPA orders Scotts to stop sales of two more pesticides with false or misleading labels

In better news, we must not be in a recession. A bottle of 1959 rose Dom Perignon went for almost $85,000 at auction


Veterans Health Adminstration Chief Denies “Shhh” Coverup of Suicide Data


(Dr. Michael Kussman)

The tamping down of data regarding suicide attempts by Iraq war veterans is playing out this week in California Federal court.

According to a new story, Dr. Michael Kussman, the VA’s Under Secretary for Health, said, “I disagree with the premise that there was some effort to cover up something.”

To recap the news cycle, Everett Chasen the chief communications officer for VA’s Veterans Health Administration (VHA) sent an email to top VHA officials including Kussman about the real suicide attempt rate and how to handle it in the midst of pending CBS story.

The VHA’s top mental health official Dr. Ira Katz responded to Chasen’s email with, “Shh! Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1000 suicide attempts per month among veterans we see in our medical facilitates. Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?”

Look for this to spin out possibly as much the scandal about the poor conditions at Walter Reed. Rightfully so.

The Ticker: Edelman Studions, Link Love, Three Jobs

Web 2.0 and SCNR Fill Up Bay Area

[Google at Web 2.0 - From Flickr: The man pictured on left declared that Google PR doesn't want photos taken of their booth and told me I must vacate the area. I politely told him I had every right to take a photo, to which he said he understood, but was being forced by PR to make the effort to avoid people taking photos. What didn't they want you to see? (image cred)]

There’s a party going on this week in San Francisco – and that party is called the confluence of the Web 2.0 Conference and the New Communications Forum.

While we do wish we were there, feasting on swag and open bar parties, we’re having fun watching the Twitter posts, aka “tweets” and blog posts of those at the events:

From Edelman VP Phil Gomes: Individually, I like a great many folks here at Newcomm Forum. As a whole, i’m so pissed at the attendees I can barely see straight.

From Read Write Web’s Marshall Kirkpatrick: first: change the world! next: look at my crappy ad widget company! we’re printing money!

Tom Foremski says Web 2.0 seemed to be a “dud,” and this surprised him, “because the build up to the show was very impressive. There was a D-Day scale PR assault on the local press corps, promoting the glories of the coming Web 2.0 show–way, way more than usual.”

Clearly, we feel lonely in NYC this week.

PR Tip: (Fact)Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself


(Michael Bolton, bad at mundane details)

We love blogging about refined topics like setting up RSS feeds. But, have you ever been in a bad situation like Michael Bolton in the movie Office Space because of some “mundane detail”? In case you forget, Bolton’s computer virus code mishandled a decimal point and nearly sent him to Federal “pound me in the a&% prison”.

It happens all the time in PR. Contracts are signed, strategy created, messages developed, then no one bothers to check to see if the client’s name is spelled correctly in the PowerPoint, or a release gets uploaded with errors.

If it’s your ass on the line, PRNewser suggests this simple step-by-step method for checking facts:

1) Print out your document (you can do it on screen the next time)

2) Highlight every proper noun (names, places, things)

3) Run each one through Google, find a reliable site to confirm your fact

4) Correct accordingly

This is common sense, we know. Common sense in PR sometimes isn’t all that common.

Ready for more advanced writing and editing education? Check out mediabistro’s classes and online resources.

Are Corporate Vlogs the Future of PR? founder and serial entrepreneur Jason Calacanis seems to think so, and he presents some interesting numbers to back up his claims.

Calacanis’ corporate vlog, Mahalo Daily, recently passed one million views for March. Certainly, the American Idol-like search for a new host couldn’t have hurt. Since the show’s inception, they’ve had over 4 million viewers. Says Calacanis:

If you were to pay for four million 15 second spots on the web the cost would be $25 for each 1,000 views–or $100,000. That’s about what we’ve spent on the show over the first six months. Additionally, the shows have archival value and will get another 2-4m views over their life I’m sure.

In other words, the Mahalo Daily will pay for itself fairly easily after one year. A $250,000 investment in the Mahalo Daily a year will bring in–if the growth continues–somewhere between 15-30M viewers a year.

Granted, it helps that Calacanis is something of a web superstar, what with his thousands of Twitter followers and blog readers that give him a big leg up on spreading his links. Calacanis calls this “monetized marketing” and predicts that in three years every company will not just blog, but vlog.

Color us skeptics – heck, many are just beginning to figure out blogging, let alone vlogging. Baby steps, people. However, early adopters like Calacanis who present us with these numbers will certainly push things forward. Therefore, it’s not suprising (plug alert) that the agency I work at built a video studio in our San Francisco office this year.

As our CEO Sabrina Horn recently told PR Week, “We have a video studio in our office and it’s not because clients demanded it – it was more like we were shooting videos for so many different things and then all of a sudden, we realized we should just have a video studio. And now we think, “wow this is great – this is where PR is going.”

Other PR related vloggers PRNewser follows include D S Simon Vlog Views and Beet.TV. Who else should we pay attention to?

Tucson Mayor Declares Public Relations Appreciation Day

[Tucson, Arizona (image cred)]

File this under the really?! category:

The Public Relations Society of America’s Western District is holding a conference on Thursday and Friday at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa.

So Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup has proclaimed Friday “Public Relations Appreciation Day” to “encourage all of our citizens to support, understand, and appreciate the intricacies of the practice of ethical public relations and public relations practitioners,” a press release said.

We work in PR, and out of all the things to dedicate a day to, it definitely wouldn’t would make our list. Then again, this case is purely symbolical, more like a “thank you for filling our hotel rooms and restaurants this week” note, but still.

PRNewser plays comedian: The mayor added, “citizens of Tuscon will participate in community events such as, ‘cold calling,’ ‘e-mail follow ups’ and ‘saying a lot but really saying nothing.’”