Praise for James Carney in a Week from Hell

May 6, 2011 by

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We’ve read a couple reports this week taking White House Press Secretary James Carney to task for the bungled way the Obama administration has released information about the killing of Osama bin Laden.  And to be fair to Carney, these critical reports aren’t completely fair to Carney.

Some have questioned whether he has the muster for the job.  We don’t.  While we’ve not had the privilege of serving in the White House, we have worked untold numbers of emergency situations through two Alabama governors and in Dallas representing the Dallas School District with more than 163,000 students, 20,000 employees and 1.5 parents per child.

This week’s repetitive changing of the “narrative” out of the White House has been compounded by one thing–there’ve been too many people talking.

For the president’s assistant Brennan, who got up Monday at the afternoon briefing with Carney and laid out a host of “facts,” based on what he had witnessed in the Situation Room at the White House in “real-time,” one has to wonder what in the world it was they were watching in the now famed “Situation Room Photo.”  To make the matter even more comical, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that her hand covering her mouth indeed wasn’t in response to something she saw on screen, but rather, to cover her mouth as she was about to cough from hay fever.  (It’d have been more poignant to just let that fact stay private.) (And the duration of the photo was probably 1/60th of a second, not a milli-second…but we digress.)

You can read the accounting of how the week has transpired here, from the Fox website.  It seems fairly level-headed, particularly for Fox.

The Telegraph in England had this accounting and criticism of Mr. Carney. It’s the real trigger of this post.

Back To James Carney

Mr. Carney has survived a baptism by fire this week.  People often remark that the president’s job is hard.  A press secretary’s job is harder.  While a president, governor, superintendent, CEO has decisions to make about the operation of a business, etc.  it’s the press secretary who stands there for the group and takes the beatings when they’re being issued, and who well, still takes a beating even when things are going good.

One loses their life in a job like Mr. Carney’s.  It’s 365/7.  There is no break.  And in an ever evolving world with 24/7 news cycles, it’s almost impossible to stay ahead of the curve, particularly when there are so many people around you telling “facts” to the news media that you have to support carefully without discrediting their status, and without embarrassing the principal being served.

Hang in there Mr. Carney.  You made it through the week.  There will be something new in a few moments.  Enjoy the ride. As one sage adviser once counseled us, “Every day you’re here is one less day until you leave.”  Some times that can seem impossible to comprehend.  At others, it couldn’t come fast enough.


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The Huntsville, AL Tornadoes

Apr 29, 2011 by

We were in the middle of the tornadoes of North Alabama this week.  At this writing, 1/2 the state is still without power and likely won’t have it for several more days.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Alabama who are suffering in the recovery or who have lost loved ones.

This has been an awful event, but Alabama will recover.  We are here to help that process as well.


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PR Resume Tip Number One–News Releases

Apr 26, 2011 by

Do not send us a resume that says you have written “press releases.” If you do, it’s going in the trash.

We have a hard and fast rule in our company.  Our activities are geared toward getting our clients news coverage.  It’s that simple. We do not write fluff and stuff information to clog up a reporter’s inbox.  This is a mind set and a very important one.

So in this spring time and as college students are preparing to send out resumes suggesting that they’re ready to enter the public relations marketplace, here’s one very important point: Do not send us a resume that says you wrote “press” releases.

Anyone can write a press release.  And frankly, if you’re not interested in writing news, then why should we be interested in your working for our company?


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Athens State University: Example of FB Business Pages Working QUICKLY

Apr 10, 2011 by

This morning we posted a request for information on the Athens State University Facebook page.  We’re back in Huntsville, Alabama working with our client here and looking for some assistance via interns who might be looking to actually try their teachings out on a live project.

A short post on the Athens State Facebook page yielded an email asking for more information to forward on to the right person on campus.  All in about an two hours.  And on a Sunday, no less.

This is how social media, and particularly, Facebook’s business pages, even for universities, is supposed to work.

Still trying to figure out how to reach the same people at the University of Alabama at Huntsville.  (By contrast, here is their FB page:

Nonetheless, congrats to Athens State.

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Why April Fool’s Jokes Don’t Need To Be Done In Business

Apr 1, 2011 by

You may have seen the earlier post today about HootSuite’s April Fool’s prank re Happy Owls.

Well, later today I received a second email from Ryan at HootSuite.

This one reads a little differently than the first.

The prior email entitled HootSuite Pivot was sent to you in error. It was intended to be sent only to our Board, Investors and Advisors and is highly confidential. Please delete and ignore.

Thanks for using HootSuite, and have a great day!

Ryan Holmes, CEO
HootSuite – Social Media Dashboard

It will be interesting to see if he is in trouble with his board and investors.

Like we said in the other post.  We tried something like this in college and it didn’t go so well.  When we said the SGA was going to have free beer at their Easter egg hunt in the student paper, the joke took a bad hop.  It all started because we were in photo journalism classes and did the set up of the blow up bunny.   We said they were going to have Budweiser at the hunt.  Some were calling the SGA office asking if they didn’t like Bud, could they bring other beer instead.

We had to put up fliers all over campus saying our bunny joke had taken a bad hop.  Our paper also lost credibility over the matter and we learned not to ever do something like this again.   Bets are, Ryan Holmes will be in the same boat for future April Fool’s.


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AMC Don’t Lose Mad Men Mo

Mar 30, 2011 by

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Comes now the horrible news that the AMC show Mad Men, a show about advertising in the 1960s, is being delayed.  No new shows until early 2012.

The Huffington Post and other sites are full of the details about contract negotiations, efforts to shorten the show by a couple of minutes so more advertising can be employed, and cuts in costs that inevitability will have an impact on the number of actors who are able to remain with the show.

Brian Steinberg over at Ad Age pretty much says show creator Matthew Weiner needs to wise up and let the network have its way over the budget cuts and particularly, allowing another 120 seconds or more of new advertising to be sold for each episode.  He then ridiculously tries to make a comparison to how much revenue NCIS makes on CBS on Tuesday nights, and how much less Mad Men makes on AMC on Sunday nights, when it runs.   That’d be like comparing how much revenue a high school production of Grease brings in v. how much the same show brings in on Broadway.

Sadly, business comes down to making money.  We know that.  Doing work where you get to do your artistic expressions with an endless budget are things all in the PR, Advertising and Marketing business all dream of, but it just doesn’t work out that way.  At the end of the day, whomever is footing the bill, wants to see a little (a lot) extra when their eyes get to the bottom line.

This delay, however, likely will have other consequences.  Sure the fan base’s curiosity will remain and be ready for its return, but having a TV series is like having a blog.  If you don’t do it regularly, your viewership/readership will migrate to other places and you’ll be lucky to bring them back.  AMC should give that a once over as they try to play hardball here.

It’d be great if there was a way to get the show OFF of AMC.  If such were to happen and it to be taken up by a real network, viewership would likely skyrocket.  But such as it is with most things in life where a “cult following” groups around a band, show, book, group.  Apple is probably one of the few branded as such that have been able to break free of such and jump out into mass appeal.

We hope AMC will get its stuff together and get the wheels of Mad Men rolling again and fast.  My gosh, we need to know if Don and Megan are really going to get married.  Will Dr. Faye Miller spill the beans on Don?  Will the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce get some new business?   Will they pick up work with the American Cancer Society?  What about Henry and Betty moving?

You see?  There’s too much at stake here.


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