More on press releases, newsjacking


Last week, Marketing Monday focused on press releases. I ran across a great article with links to several other resources on the topic that I think are helpful in a couple of ways. First, these should give you additional clarity and insight on what news is worthy of the “blanket” press release. Second, and more importantly, these resources give you ideas on how better to package and share your business/non-profit news through a variety of methods.

Robin Samora’s headline about the current state of the press release tells us this is a question with which movers and shakers in the public relations and marketing industries are still wrestling. To me, a definitive answer is less important than the helpful ideas created by exploring the question.

In last Monday’s post, I pointed out that some readers might find my opening thoughts cynical. Check out Mike Butcher’s comments and you might think I was incredibly restrained. A couple of things about his piece: First, he’s very frank and his language is PG-13. Secondly, although his comments are solid and important, keep in mind his “beat” is the worldwide high-tech market. (Butcher is editor-at-large of TechCrunch, and according to the UK’s Daily Telegraph, is one of the 50 most influential Britons in tech today.)

My point? The author is a big deal, but he’s not the editor of your local paper or the business/non-profit reporter. Don’t let his no-nonsense style intimidate you from trying to build a good working relationship with the appropriate media reps in your area.

Last month, I shared a cautionary article from Spokal about newsjacking, which they define as “the process of leveraging trending news to elevate your brand’s message.” The death of musician Prince last week paved the way for hits and misses for a few big brands, and presents a good opportunity to review Sarah Burke’s post.

On the “hit” side was Chevrolet, maker of the legendary Corvette. Overwhelmingly, Prince fans approved of the tribute. Why? “Little Red Corvette” arguably was the song that vaulted Prince into the stratosphere of a music superstar. That direct connection, and the respectful tone of the ad, led fans to give Chevy “permission” to do a little gentle plug for the brand. The ad gave the impression that Chevy was grieving right along with fans.

Thumbs down went to Cheerios, and Hamburger Helper, among others, according to a rundown from Adweek. Obviously, The Purple One never wrote songs about either of these products. Adding insult to injury, in my opinion, is that both products are ordinary, even thrifty (dare I say “cheap”?) fare. “Ordinary” is about the last adjective to describe Prince. Both posts are naked attempts to capitalize financially from the death of a celebrity. Even though the companies removed the posts fairly quickly, damage was already done.

The Adweek piece includes several tributes from Minnesota-based companies/concerns. Like Chevy, there’s ownership here because Prince was a lifelong resident of the city and great promoter of the local music scene.

The lesson here is to look, hard, before you leap on a bandwagon pulled by breaking news. Like Chevy, it could work in your favor, but discuss the pros and cons with people you respect before you post. With social media in particular, it’s nearly impossible to un-ring the bell. An Escape key won’t do you much good. If you need some advice, give me a call, I’d love to help.

Soundtrack of a lifetime


“Oh no.”

I said it to the dog, the ether, the universe yesterday, like many people, when checking my Twitter feed.

Prince had died.

I said the same sad, pointless words when I heard about Robin Williams, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Alan Rickman … and others.

But music is different.

For the most part, when you watch a movie, that’s what you’re doing, watching a movie. Certainly music is, and should be, experienced in the same concentrated and uninterrupted way … but it’s not always like that.

It’s in the foreground, then moves to the background only to switch seats again. When I need to let a thousand racing thoughts go, music insists, persists and demands my full attention. It’s also the ice breaker and the mood setter for conversations, and the most comfortable of silences, among friends. (Regarding the latter, my sophomore college roommate and I frequently went to sleep listening to Barbra Streisand’s compilation album, Memories, released in 1981.)

Music has helped me write leads for news stories, and on long trips, entire scripts and chapters. (It never judges my stuff, either.) It has never cared if I was speeding, crying, cussing, arguing or plotting as I drove. It never got its feelings hurt when I lowered the volume or changed the station. It’s seen me at my absolute worst, and has never given a crap if I had on make-up or was just wearing my pajamas.

And there are those moments, those unforgettable, eye-popping, gut-clenching and oh-so-meaningful moments, when the song I hadn’t heard “since that time when …” was waiting for me on the station, the long-forgotten mix tape, and these days, Pandora.

I pity anyone who has never been so bombarded with memories contained within a song that they had to pull the car over.

All of those moments, from the “surprise attacks” to the deliberate act of putting a disc on the turntable, have created the soundtrack of a lifetime … my lifetime. It’s an intimate collection of music and musicians unique to my story.

It began with something that looked a little like this*


upon which I heard Cher, Rare Earth, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, and many others. On road trips to see the grandparents, we switched to these

Many old 8-track audio tapes of different colors

and Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, and Charley Pride. Then came the cardboard record player and one of these


so my sister and I could start the magnificent journey of defining our own musical tastes. We began with Disney tunes, The Partridge Family, Bobby Sherman, Donny Osmond, and Elvis Presley. Eventually we graduated to 33s and Ronco compilation albums, Abba, Simon and Garfunkel, and Neil Diamond. There were The Eagles, Foreigner, Queen, and REO Speedwagon on the juke box at the Pizza Hut in Hodgenville, and every roller rink in three counties. Then came college. The family sedan only had AM radio, so there was this:


and these


along with some treasured purchases on cassette such as Hall and Oates, Billy Joel, Springsteen, and the Purple One’s 1999.

Finally came a car with this:

car stereo copy

and WQMF where I cranked Fleetwood Mac, U2, Zeppelin, and (specifically) Pink Floyd’s Learning to Fly so loud it scared livestock on the county roads I traveled as a greener-than-green reporter.

Richard Strauss, Mozart, Mahler, Copland, and Bach have helped me settle into each new home, and taken me back to the days when I played this


and my life changed. There’s Rich Mullins, Susan Ashton, Natalie Grant, and Geoff Moore, who helped me find hope again.

There’s Basie, Ellington, and Billie Holiday who got me through a nasty three-week upper respiratory infection, and Debussy, Barber, and Mussorgsky who helped me finish the best 350 pages of my life.

Yes, music is different.

It’s the framework of the sometimes-lovely-sometimes-messy-but-never-boring mural of our lives. It belongs to everyone, but it’s also so naked, so intimate that sometimes it makes me want to hide.

It’s that intimacy and ubiquity, I think, that makes those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s grieve so hard at the passing of musicians such as Glenn Frey, David Bowie, Merle Haggard, and now, Prince.

They’ve been in our passenger seats, back seats, kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms and offices–right there with us–through the bullying, the break-ups, the deaths, the loves, the successes, and even some triumphs.

Background music? No way. That sounds so insignificant. They’ve been mastering the soundtrack of a lifetime … ours.

*Copyright through Creative Commons, Dan Johansson, Musik & Teatermuseet, 2008


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