Sword and the Script

Reading: Goat becomes Raleigh-Durham Publicity Hound

by Frank Strong

Turtle puts a juke move on

You know it’s football season, when you spot a turtle putting a juke move on a fallen maple leave on the American Tobacco Trail.

It’s a little later on Saturday than I typically aim for, but here’s my weekly roundup of savory marketing and PR reading material for the week — and a weekly random photo.

1. If Googling were over. And Chrome. And Gmail.  And Google Reader…oh wait, that’s gone already.  Even so, author Ken Hammond wrote a pretty though provoking post titled:  A World without Google.

The world is forced to return to their Yahoo! and Hotmail (now Outlook) accounts they haven’t used since 2004. They go to retrieve their email passwords and realize that their backup email where their password will be sent is their Gmail.

Don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.  It’s easy to beat up on Google, but it’s a good perspective to keep in mind where things would be without the company. Read More…

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Seriously Fun Analysis: Google’s Android KitKat PR Stunt

by Frank Strong

Google Android KitKat

Chocolate robots? This is a Halloween 2013 costume for sure.

Who would have known a candy bar could make such headlines? After all when was the last time chocolate earned this level of media? I’d suggest I was chocolate covered grasshoppers – and that was a PR stunt too. Before that it was E.T. and Reese’s Pieces.

By way of quick background for those that might have missed it, Google decided to name its newest version of its Android operating system, that’s the stuff inside smart phones like the Nexus 7, after a candy bar. In this case, KitKat was the lucky brand.


Candy Coated Headlines

It’s been all over the news, with editors and producers everywhere writing sugar-coated headlines that play off old marketing taglines. “Break me off a piece of that,” begins ABC – while CNN writes “Android sweetened by KitKat.”

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Delta: How the World’s Worst Brand can also Be the Best

by Frank Strong

delta worst brand

Wait! Didn’t we just see a headline saying this was the worst brand?

The first thing I remember reading last Thursday morning was a passing headline about the most – and least – respected brands.  Delta Airlines was in the headline as being the least respected brand.

Delta even got nailed by their hometown paper. The world is just unkind sometimes.  On the upside, I haven’t seen Scott McCartney write or interview about it.

I scanned the article briefly and moved on; that an airline ranks so poorly isn’t exactly earth shattering news.  Flying today is simply a miserable experience from start to finish and surely the airline has earned its reputation.

The complex industrial confluence of catastrophes that started on 9/11 have been long over, but the airlines have never looked back. Customer service is not a competitive advantage.  Not in the airline industry.

Later that night as I fortuitously boarded a Delta flight, I couldn’t help but notice the giant sticker posted on the right hand side of the aircraft door (photo nearby) which read “most admired companies.” And this year no less.  That reignited my interest in the story I read earlier.

How can this possibly be?  How can Delta Airlines be the least respected brand on in one study, and among the 100 most admired companies on another? Read More…

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Off Script #3: Ian Lipner and Quiet Professionalism in PR

by Frank Strong

Ian Lipner, Lewis PR

Ian lipner is a vice president with LEWIS PR and leads the firm’s Washington, DC office

We have to listen carefully to find them, but they are out there.

The silent but brilliant minds.  These people don’t pen PR or marketing blogs, fire off dissenting opinions in comments and aren’t streaming a feed of hot content.  We won’t find them on the speaking circuit, or quoted in the trades, or promoting their latest book. They are discreet, reserved and generally getting it done for their clients with a quiet professionalism.

Ian Lipner, in my view, fits in this category. He’s a throwback of sorts, to the time when PR wasn’t the headline, quote or the story. You won’t find him online championing what’s hot now, but if you’re lucky enough to grab a quiet lunch with him in an undiscovered DC restaurant, listen carefully, because he’s been pretty darn good, by my accounting, at forecasting what’s next, and often, long before its cool.

Ian has both opened and led the DC offices of LEWIS PR, which is a sizable and growing independently owned PR firm. LEWIS PR ranked #39 and #40 in 2011 and 2012 respectively, on Paul Holmes’ list of the 250 firms, which ranks firms by revenue.

Within agency circles, and certainly in Washington, DC, Ian is a familiar name, perhaps even a frenemy of sorts to many.  For corporate PR types, I’m betting he’s the smartest PR pro you’ve never heard about.  He’s genuinely humble, polite and generally, a really decent guy.

I’ve been fortunate to have known Ian since the last time America saw a sock-puppet in a Super Bowl commercial.  In this way, I’ve seen him in multiple roles as a competitor, friend, peer, and twice the lead for my PR agency of record. Read More…

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Words: Goldman has Clients; Wells Fargo has Customers

by Frank Strong

Goldman has Clients; Wells Fargo has Customers

Are you bullish on word choice?

Somewhere between my junior and senior year of college, money grew real tight and I needed to pick up a full-time job to finish my degree.  I started working full-time, while carrying a full course load, in a secure juvenile detention facility for felonious youthful offenders.

Don’t let the youth part mislead you, some of these “kids” were pretty tough, either pending trial (so still innocent until proven guilty, but where a judge decided to remove them from the home environment), or in some cases, booted from other programs for misconduct. While they had no more freedom than their adult counterparts in the county jail, the former were called “prisoners” while the latter, the kids in our facility were “clients.”

When I started the word client struck me as an odd description for kids wrapped up in some, way, shape or form with the likes of gang violence or domestic abuse.  Over time though, I began to understand how a simple word can shape an organizational attitude, which becomes pretty important when dealing with the fragility of youth, including those accused, guilty or innocent. Read More…

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Reading: Indie PR CEOs Frown on Omnicom-Publicis Merger

by Frank Strong

Ben Franklin is attributed as saying, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”  Here are some great reads (and one view) for this weekend.

1. Caturday Catvertising.  By 2015, 90 percent of the content on the internet will be about cats. You might laugh, but somehow that is nearly believable. If you work in marketing, you must watch the video nearby. If its Saturday morning and you are drinking coffee – you’ve been warned: wear a bib. Read More…

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Google to Clamp Down on Press Release Anchor Text

by Frank Strong

Google to Clamp Down on Press Releases Anchor Text

Google no like anchor text in press releases (and Google has big teeth even it’s arms do look funny).

It’s been time honored advice for the better part of a decade, and maybe a little longer.  A staple of press releases in the modern media age is to hyperlink key words in the body of the release, otherwise known as optimized anchor text.

That is until now.

On Friday, Search Engine Land reported Google was cracking down on guest posts, advertorials and press releases. That the search giant has bucketed these three items together is not accidental.

This is one of the big changes that may have not been so clear for many webmasters. Google said, “links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites,” is an example of an unnatural link that violate their guidelines. The key are the examples given and the phrase “distributed on other sites.” If you are publishing a press release or an article on your site and distribute it through a wire or through an article site, you must make sure to nofollow the links if those links are “optimized anchor text.”

Here’s how you create a nofollow link. Read More…

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Off Script #2: Gini Dietrich on Business, Balance and Access

by Frank Strong


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communication firm.

I had mentor once that used to say:  you may not remember what people say, you may not remember what people did, but you will always remember how people make you feel.

Over the years, I’ve found that to be true – and it’s true of Gini Dietrich.  I don’t really remember how or when I first bumped into Gini online, but I do remember being surprised at her responsiveness. Not just with me, but with everyone. The commenters on SpinSucks are a community onto ourselves; the “crazies” as she affectionately calls us.

Here was an influential PR pro, with tens of thousands of followers, as CEO of Arment Dietrich with a business to run, taking time to respond to individuals as individuals. It was beyond impressive – and a lots of people noticed. Gini makes you feel good, and I often wonder if that’s a talent that can be learned but not taught.

If you peruse her posts regularly, you’ll begin to pick up that Gini has had some tip-toe-to-the-edge-of-failure experiences in the business world. Even so, there was always some detail in between I had wondered about…and Gini agreed to answer the five hardest questions I could think to ask.

* * *

S&S: You’ve often written you used to work for a Top 10 PR firm.  Then you left and started your own company.  How did that evolution take place? Did one day you just decide to resign and go put out a shingle, or was this something you had been planning or something else? Spontaneous?  Read More…

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Off Script #1: Ruby Simmons PR Pro with a #socialCV


Ruby’s application to Porter Novelli (Australia) using the controversial #socialCV hash tag on Twitter

One of the first things I did when I started this blog in early 2009, was to implement Google Analytics. Right off the bat I realized, it tends to get quite a bit of international traffic.

The US and UK rank #1 and #2 as might be expected. India ranks #3 which isn’t a surprise since I’ve connected with several PR pro from India on Twitter over the years. Canada is #4, which is also unsurprising given geography and economic ties, eh?

Then there’s Australia at #5. There are some common factors:  we speak the same language, our countries are strong allies and we have common roots in Great Britain. Even so, it struck me as rather random…why would people so far away read this little blog?

It’s the magic of the web I suppose.  The flattening world, shrinking borders, pick a cliché, but the web brings us what has become an under-appreciated benefit:  the ability to connect with people we might not otherwise meet.  This brings me to Ruby Simmons.

Until just recently, Ruby Simmons spent her last few months of college as an intern for the Public Relations Institute of Australia, or PRIA.  One of her roles was identifying and curating content – sourced content – for the PRIA blog which is what led the two of us to connect.

Having just recently completed school she’s begun her job search, which included an application under a controversial recruitment initiative by Porter Novelli.  Applicants, including Ruby had to apply using the #socialCV – a resume in 140 characters.  Unfortunately, the hash tag was hijacked by trolls, which seems rather mean-spirited to me; it’s hard enough to find gainful employment without the trolls.

In either case, she has pressed on and was informed the PR firm will follow up with her – perhaps even this week. In the meantime, we caught up by email, where she graciously answered a few of my questions for the purpose of kicking off this series. Read More…

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Celebrate July 4th Differently this Year: Read the Declaration

by Frank Strong

Read the Declaration of Independence

Celebrate different: Read the Declaration of Independence. It’ll take just a few minutes.

The Declaration of Independence is a little more than 1,300 words — the length of an old-school contributed article.  It contains 56 signatures from representatives of the 13 original colonies.

As a society we often celebrate such holidays with fanfare, but how many of us actually take the time to read the documents at the center of what these holidays signify? Read More…

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