Sword and the Script

7 Tips for Reporters for Managing PR Spam

by Frank Strong

Wired PR Spam

Screenshot from Wire’s former Editor in Chief, Chris Anderson timeless 2007 rant against PR spam. He later hinted he regretted posting it.

Nobody likes spam, but everybody gets it. A lot of it.

Whatever new mediums arise, spam is just a moment behind.  It’s on Twitter, its infected commenting systems, and of course we get it by email. It is…pervasive.

For a reporter, it’s got to be the bane of existence.  What could be worse than the pressure of a deadline and having sift through erroneous messages that bombard your inbox in order to find the messages you need to confirm or otherwise relate to sources?

It’s a problem.  It’s probably never going to end in our lifetime.

The only way to fix it is to avoid using email, but then it’ll just spill over into other vehicles for interpersonal communication, like voicemail or social media.

What possibly can a PR pro tell you about managing spam?  Over the course of my career, here are tips I’ve found, including some from your peers, for avoiding spam. Read More…

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10 Timeless Creative PR Ideas

by Frank Strong



Where do creative PR ideas come from?  How do we develop ideas and what does the life cycle of an idea look like? 

There are those in our field that advocate a strict discipline of science – that is to say no idea is funded or given a seal of approval — without math. Data has the limitations of structure, yet we are not rationale beings.

On the other side, there are others that are purely creative — the Don Draper myth — they operate on instincts and gut feelings. However the very phrase “trust me” invites risk and suspicion.

The two approaches are at odds and I’ve found no better explanation than the words of Malcom Gladwell.  In a post titled, Art or Science: Creative Marketing and PR, I took a look at his analysis of the difference between puzzles and mysteries:

In the book, What the Dog Saw, Malcom Gladwell breaks down the distinction between a puzzle and a mystery. A puzzle is when we have all of the pieces we need to make a complete picture, we just need to arrange them in the proper order so that they make sense. With a mystery, information is scarce and we instead rely on intuition, interference or a gut feeling. Perhaps this is what Rumsfeld meant when he famously said, “unknown unknowns.”

If PR were a puzzle then we’d have all the pieces needed to simply assemble a creative idea. If PR were entirely a mystery, then we’d all be starting from the beginning with every effort. Maybe that’s how to make the uninteresting, interesting. Neither side is quite right, there is very little in our world that fits neatly into some bucket we’ve designed; the fact is that PR is a mix of art and science.

We can’t excel with just English (or a language) or just Math, we need them both. Read More…

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5 Creative Marketing, PR and Social Media Ideas

by Frank Strong

creative PR marketing social media

If reading too much can suppress creative thinking, then so too can habit.  Sure, Aristotle said excellence is not an act, but a habit, but how easy is it for marketers to fall into a pattern? The same old pattern.

Patterns are predictable and measurable; but they are also avoidable. It is consumer reflex to avoid a pitch. Consider email, for example, which is easy enough to mark as spam.  What would happen if email suddenly was not a tool in the marketer’s toolkit?

I’d suggest that a freak-out session would be followed by a creative session – and perhaps even better and more creative marketing ideas. To that end, here are five creative marketing, PR and social media ideas: Read More…

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Persuasion Theory: Power of a Story

by Frank Strong

persuasion theory

We remember stories (Photo: Flickr).

We see it a lot in corporate presentations:  slides that are heavy on text, but light on stories.  Presenters end up reading slide to a literate audience.

To be fair, businesses aren’t unique: you haven’t lived until you’ve sat through the tedium of a military briefing, especially those for “Command and Staff” or a CUB or a BUB or pick your pain.

Some of the most painful meetings I’ve ever had have been conducted in uniform – and unfortunately – I have at times served as chair for some of those. You can’t change the world in one rotation.

I’ve always found that presentations are most effective when they are heavy on images, have just enough content to hint to the audience as to the context, but mostly rely on the speaker to tell the story.

Think about some of the presentations from the big names in marketing and PR: Stratten, Shankman, Solis, or Scott. The key note presentations these people give are often based on slide desks with more images than words.  They use anecdotes to make points. Read More…

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The Biggest Twitter IPO Story the Media Completely Missed

by Frank Strong

Tweetoro, twitter IPO,

Forrest for the trees? Not one story in Google News search about Tweetoro — the online stock trading company with a promoted tweet the day Twitter went IPO.

It would seem to me that a creative PR idea for a company that allows people to trade shares online, would be having the foresight to place a promoted tweet on the day Twitter launched its IPO.

The surprising fact however is none of the big electronic trading companies were on point. Companies like Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade and E*Trade, who should have all over this opportunity were not.

Instead, a company we never heard of, with 258 followers on Twitter, called Tweetoro, was savvy enough to purchase a promoted tweet on Twitter’s big day.

There must be a gazillion news stories about this company, right?  Nope.  As the screenshot of Google News shows nearby not a single news story about Tweetoro.  Not one. Read More…

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Off Script #5: John Barnett; PR, Twitter, and a Navy Master Chief

by Frank Strong

John Barnett PAO PR

John Barnett: What a retired Navy Master Chief and PAO can show us about the power of Twitter and resiliency in PR. (Photo: Twitter profile)

I don’t remember when I met John Barnett, but I’m pretty sure I know where I met him.  We met on Twitter, perhaps two or three years ago, but have never quite gotten past 140 characters.

A week or so ago, I contacted John, a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer for this occasional series – the Off Script series – first started this past July.  We’ve traded several emails to finalize this post and it just so happens I’m writing the introduction on the eve before Twitter begins trading shares on a public stock exchange.

It seems fitting because the purpose of this series in many ways is for me to both get to know some of these connections I’ve made on Twitter on some deeper level – and it’s also the chance to introduce these good people to this community.

Interviews with people who are Internet famous are plentiful – I’m after people like John – ordinary people like you and me – who are getting the job done every day. More to the point, it underscores how a social network like Twitter changes everything, because it connects people we might not have otherwise met by exchanging messages no longer than 140 characters long.

Imagine pitching that concept to a venture capitalist in 1999; it would have been laughable.  On November 7, 2013, Twitter will raise several billion in capital, but the real value is in the connections we make with people like John.

And on to the interview… Read More…

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Why Reporters Should Check Out Google+

by Frank Strong

Google $1,000

Google news search results results favors the bylines of writers with a Google+ profile.

I’ve been thinking about a blog post about Google’s $1,000 victory over the stock market.  I’ve got a different angle in mind, but also did some (news) searches tonight to see what else had been written. My search terms were fairly straight forward, “Google and $1,000.”  The results of that search are shown above.

As I scanned the list of results I noticed this result from Reuters for two reasons.  First, Reuters is a financial news outlet and I was specifically seeking financial analysis. Second, I noticed the byline: Alexei Oreskovic.  The name seemed familiar so I clicked the link to read and that’s when I noticed it.

This Reuters article wasn’t just by Oreskovic but was co-written by Soham Chatterjee.  However in my news search, Google was only giving credit to Alexei. Read More…

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Would You Outsource Your Native Ads?

by Frank Strong

paid media, earned media, native ads

Does it matter if you can’t tell the difference between paid and earned media?

Media outlets are hiring writers that are not journalists.  Instead these writers are hired to write advertisements, which are designed to look like news stories, for advertisers.

So reported Michael Sebastian in an AdAge article titled: Who’s Behind the Sponsored Content at BuzzFeed, Gawker, Hearst and WashPo?

It’s disruptive on so many levels – for journalism, advertising and PR. Read More…

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Off Script #4: Chris Bagley, Journalist; Goes to Law School

by Frank Strong

Chris Bagley, triangle business journal, UNC law

Chris Bagley a former reporter with the Triangle Business Journal, covered legal-services industry, transportation and utilities

Ask a reporter what’s change in journalism the in the last few years and many of them will mention more stories and less staff.  It’s a similar scoop nearly everywhere as media outlets grapple with the economics of trading print for digital.

Over the last few months, I’ve been fortunate to have gotten to know one (former) journalist, who until recently, reported for the Triangle Business Journal (TBJ) based here in the Raleigh-Durham area.  In August, Chris Bagley (Twitter: @CRBags) left journalism and headed to law school at UNC.

While I’d bet he’s drowning amid the deluge of his first year, he took the time to entertain five questions I posed to him. His thoughts on how journalism has changed, the challenges, and a few suggestions fitting for either an aspiring journalist or PR pro.   Read More…

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2 Billion Meetings a Year are a Waste of Time

by Frank Strong

meetings are a waste of time

Meetings make many sleepy.

In the United States, educated guessers say we hold about 11 million meetings per day, which adds up to 4 billion meetings a year. Those same educated guessers, Harvard historian types, point to survey research finding people believe about half of all meetings are wasted.

Net impact?  Two billion wasted meetings a year.

The problem isn’t education or a lack of resources. There are thousands of quality results for searches on “productive meetings.” Quora’s got a bunch of helpful answers too on the topic, so long as we don’t get distracted by fascinating questions such as If a tiger fought a lion, which animal would win?  (Spoiler:  Dant.  Dant-dant-dant).

The culprit then?  Email! Read More…

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