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Good News & Bad News for the New York Times

December 17, 2008

Good news: you can survive as a web only entity. Yippee!

Bad news: you need 1.3 BILLION page views per month. Yikes!

That today from online media-research company ContentNext.

(context – the NYT had 173 million page views in Oct ’08)

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Giving Thanks

November 27, 2008

Posted over at LEWIS 360.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Recession proof businesses: myth or reality?

November 18, 2008

recession-cartoon

Is there such thing as a recession proof business? I must admit, I’m beginning to think not so much. Especially if gambling, tobacco, entertainment, and alcohol businesses are feeling the economic pain.

Newsweek columnist, Dan Lyons, has an excellent post touching upon the issue, which is a must read for all PR reps: Flack Watch: “This downturn is going to be good for us.” After all, we work with clients who occasionally seem to think their products and services are 100% recession proof. Worse than that insular belief is the notion that any business press reporter would care. From Dan’s post:

“As we head into the maelstrom of another economic downturn, flacks and spinmeisters will be rushing out to tell the world why the bad times are actually good for their companies. I’m already hearing people deliver some version of this, including the one that while many companies are going to get crushed, this particular company won’t suffer, because they possess the magical Anti-Downturn Potion, or they’re living inside the protection of an Economic Distortion Field. Some go a step further and even say the downturn could be a wonderful opportunity.”

It’s up to us to challenge our clients about the recession proof message: dig for more information to support the claim, even if your client is private, encourage them to share hard numbers, speak with one of your client’s c-level buyers for more perspective (heck, maybe they’ll give a gem soundbite – “our budgets are being slashed across the board except for in the areas of [enter client industry]).”

For example, we’ve heard the rosy claims from SaaS clients (i.e. low cost, per seat, predictable revenue streams, etc.) but it’s difficult to bring that to a savvy reporter when the poster children of the SaaS market are far from immune and struggling just like the big tech bellweathers.

As the eyes and ears to what is being discussed in the media, it’s no longer sufficient for a VP of Marketing to say “travel budgets are being axed, we offer video conferencing solutions, therefore, our business is just fine thanks” and think a reporter would run with that. The media has heard it all before. And, according to Dan, they’re not buying it anymore.

Encourage your clients to bring a fresh and honest approach to the recession proof story. Whether it’s an “experienced” client who was around in the previous down economy, learned from that, retooled the business and prepared for the next slowdown (i.e. NOW) or a start up (remember – Google and Yahoo! basically began in economic slowdowns) who is lean, focused on a specific “cottage industry,” that’s one way to begin open the media conversation.

Please don’t open the pitch with “We’re in the funeral parlor business. Everyone dies someday so we’re safe…”

Magazines Come and Go

November 5, 2008

magazines_03

And now some good news from the magazine world…(even on a day when US News & World Report slashes frequency to monthly putting “more focus on web efforts.”)

According to Samir Husni’s research, 52 new titles have launched in September and October 2008 with a frequency of four times or more (compared with 36 during the same period of 07).

ABC News email: no parties, no pubs

October 25, 2008

Check out the email from ABC News president to staffers, David Westin (courtesy of the Observer). In it, he lays out measures to cut costs with those high ticket items like subscriptions to the New York Times and the Economist…

Here’s the text of the email:

We report every day on the economic climate and the effects being felt throughout the country. We are not immune from the downturn. At the same time, the importance of the election and economic stories reminds us how much we have to do to help our audiences absorb and understand what is going on around them. What we need to do—and will do—is to make sure that we have all the resources we need to cover the news.

To that end, we (together with the rest of the Media Networks Group) are adopting the following, new guidelines to reduce some of our administrative costs.

1. All executives are asked to fly one grade below what they’re entitled to. Some have contractual provisions on air travel, and the company is not breaching any contracts. But we are being asked to use our discretion on this.

3. All executives are asked to stay in “B” level hotels. I’m told that Travel knows what this means.

4. Starting immediately, the only business meals for which we will be reimbursed are those with third parties. Any meals (or drinks) with ABC or Disney employees will not be reimbursed.

5. All non-production (i.e. administrative) travel must be pre-approved by the CFO (in our case, Jim Hedges) in writing. Your finance and operations people can help you with this.

6. As of December 1, we will cancel all subscriptions (newspaper and magazine) for executives and production employees and move them to on-line. This change will have the added benefit of helping the environment. If there are particular circumstances where you believe this will materially impair your ability to get your work done, you should make your case to your executive producer or supervisorby November 15th. Dave Davis, Kate O’Brian, and Paul Slavin will review these requests and submit their recommendations to me.

7. We’re asked to keep any convention or conference attendance to an absolute minimum. Anyone who attends things like NAB or RTNDA, we need to have a conversation. If someone needs to attend, it will be a skeleton crew.

8. We’ll forego all holiday parties this year. This means that the company parties in LA, NY and DC are cancelled.

Thanks again for your understanding and cooperation. I won’t pretend that this won’t be difficult. But, I truly believe that there is a way for us to do this together that will result in a stronger ABC News.

USPS looking for PR

October 4, 2008

Looks like the US Postal Service is looking for a PR firm. Here’s the synopsis:

The U.S. Postal Service requires contractor support to provide strategic messaging services in order to respond to public communications and news media inquiries. Additional services to communicate these strategic messages will include communications to the American public, postal operations, and postal personnel in order to protect the overall security of the U.S. mail. Services will be provided in accordance with the attached Statement of Work.

If you’re the lucky agency, you can look forward to responding to:

Good luck!

Be special

September 25, 2008

These are crazy times indeed. Stocks are plummeting. Jobs are disappearing. Budgets are shrinking. Oh, and the Patriots are losing.

Serving clients is challenging enough and adding a sagging economy to the mix doesn’t help much. All this said, your PR campaign is most likely living under a magnifying glass these day. Embrace the it, don’t run from it. If you do, you’ll start seeing the backs of your (former) clients running from you.

Internally, at the agency, we constantly remind ourselves that it’s infinitely easier to part with an outsourced administrative vendor than a strategic communications partner. So what are you doing that’s special?

  • market the hell out of your team’s successes (daily can be obnoxious, weekly is sensible)
  • send a framed clip of that NY Times article featuring your client
  • if you’re struggling with generating successes (i.e. media hits), start outlining the turnaround plan. NOW
  • book an hour brainstorm with the client for next week
    • if they’re within 200 miles, do the brainstorm IN PERSON
    • strongly recommend product leads/engineers/developers attend
    • deliver the ideas and output document within 72 hours
  • draft an email to the client’s sales team requesting customer references for releases and/or media interviews
    • attach a few recent articles featuring customers.
    • call out the specific sales reps who have worked well with PR.
  • start asking questions about 2009
  • start developing the 2009 straw man PR plan
  • start being special
  • stop being an admin