Wednesday, August 23, 2017

No, "Any Publicity" Isn't Always "Good Publicity" [Abbott Media Group]

It was an infamous and widely circulated interview. Speaking in January, 2007, Paula Abdul, speaking live to a FOX affiliate about her hit show American Idol, appeared drunk.

She responded to the co-anchor's comment about some bad publicity by saying, "Any publicity is good publicity. You gotta learn to eat it up and embrace it."

She actually wasn't talking about herself. However...

The show was quickly posted on YouTube and within hours, millions of people around the nation and the world have seen her slurring words, swaying and gesturing wildly, and making odd faces.

Later that night, Paula Abdul canceled all her upcoming appearances, as friends and her spokesperson/publicist made excuses for her behavior.

It doesn't help that the story they told (below) contradicts Abdul's publicist's contention that she doesn't take medication.
Abdul Cancels AppearancesSinger-turned-"American Idol" judge Paula Abdul called off all her interviews Friday after clips of an earlier TV appearance appeared to show her drunk. 
The video - in which Abdul slurs and bizarrely gesticulates - emerged on YouTube on Thursday, prompting speculation alcohol or medication were to blame. 
She subsequently abandoned media engagements scheduled for Friday. 
However, Abdul's spokesman Jeff Ballard insists tiredness and a minor throat infection, not inebriation, were the causes of the cancellations and earlier odd behavior. 
He says, "She was exhausted. This was at the end of three days of press (interviews and appearances), and she has had cameras following her around for a reality TV show too.
"She was sitting in a room with just a camera and a mic on, and the controllers dropped the sound twice, which is why she rolled her eyes. 
"She never drinks. I have known Paula Abdul since she was 13, and I have never seen her drink ever in my life. And no, she is not on any kind of medication. She was a little tired."
In fact, in 2005 Abdul had revealed that she suffers from a neurological disorder that causes chronic pain and requires a weekly injection of an anti-inflammatory drug. It's best for PR people not to lie.

What can be learned from this? Getting "any publicity" isn't necessarily good publicity. Sometimes, far from it!

Careers can be lost or severely damaged instantly with bad behavior or bizarre statements - Sen. George Allen ("Makaka"), Mel Gibson (THAT word), Michael Richards (the same word), even Howard Dean ("Yeeeehah!")

If you've said something stupid. Call me. Or better yet - call BEFORE you say something stupid.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

4 Ways To "Fix" Our Broken Network Newscasts [Abbott Media Group]

Network news - news programs shown on the original Big Three networks and other, newer, upstarts - is broken. Below are four examples, and what I believe they need to do to fix their news programs to better serve the American people:

More International Focus - A "world news" program that focuses solely on domestic news is not worthy of the name. And international celebrities getting into trouble or the latest plane crash overseas doesn't count as "news." Americans who are insular and insulated from the news of the world are suddenly surprised by trends both friendly and ferocious when they hit without warning. When that happens, that's a failure of the "world news" programs we watch. Network newscasts must rededicate themselves to covering the entire world.

More International Politics - Political trends are also vital to our full and complete awareness as voters and as citizens. It may not, at first glance, seem important that a new anti-American party is rising in the polls in a nation traditionally friendly to the USA, or that a certain governor was elected in a prefecture in Japan. But if that nation  turns hostile, or if that governor is more hostile to Americans remaining in a military base there than his predecessor, then that indeed is a problem that will have regional and international repercussions. Network newscasts should commit to covering international politics, because it's relevant.

The Weather Is NOT "news" - It's snowy in the winter in the Northern half of the United States. It's a fact. It's not, however, news. It's exciting to show cars skidding off the road, rivers frozen and, in other climes, wet summers, minor hurricanes and tornadoes. But aside from an in-depth analyses of how slowly the aid got there after the storm, or how we are adapting to changing weather patterns, it's not "news." Network newscasts should stop wasting time covering routine and expected weather, and blowing storms out of all proportion.

Fewer YouTube Videos - What's truly shocking about today's American nightly "newscast" is the inclusion of actual YouTube videos. ABC News includes these (and the aforementioned "kids play on teams" videos) in its "Index" segment near the end of the program. It literally shows YouTube videos of animals doing funny things, near-miss car accidents and other hilarity, which we can see with better justification on shows like "America's Funniest Videos" or its cable show equivalents. The YouTubization (tm) of Network news must end. 

"If it bleeds, it leads" was the old saying about the nightly news and the local paper. National Network newscasts shouldn't fear though. There is plenty of blood in the political turmoil around the world to quench their viewers' hearts. Demonstrations, corruption, trade deals, hard-fought elections, coups and uprisings, and much of it with consequences for American voters and consumers.

That's one of the reasons why I founded "World Politics News," a news aggregation service that points American readers to the news they're missing on the nightly network newscasts.

American news organizations owe it to us to bring us the world, and to show us accurately and fairly what's happening THERE before it happens HERE. And if they begin to do this again, the nightly "World News" programs will once again be true to their names.

Stephen Abbott
Abbott Media Group

Friday, January 20, 2017

Candidates: What Is Your #PoliticalVoice?

What is your "Political Voice"?

A Political Voice (TM) is what I call the vital component of a Message - the WAY in which that message is conveyed to relevant publics. It isn't necessarily the words that are said (though it IS that) it's also the value of the message to the group toward which it is directed, and the tone and tenor at which it is delivered. The message is composed of the policies, plans and promises a candidate or business leader has to convey. The Voice is the MANNER in which the message is conveyed, and how much of the content of that message is conveyed to them.

For instance, with Pres. Trump, his Political Voice is cluttered, but approachable and casual, often having no regard to complex policies or even core beliefs. His speeches are short, brief, and aimed at "average voters."

When in office, Pres. Obama, by contrast, always had a Political Voice that was extremely structured and uplifting, approachable, but with soaring rhetoric, filled with weighty policies but also descriptive of why those policies were relevant, from a philosophical point of view. He was long-winded at times, often losing his audience, which were often upper middle-class city-dwellers.

Pres. Reagan, the "Great Communicator," had yet another style of Political Voice, one that was at times structured and uplifting, but also approachable and casual, often with humor and kindness as his tone. His rhetoric could be uplifting, and he never failed to convey his policies and core values in what he said. His speeches were of average length, never too long, and were aimed at "average voters" without seeming to exclude anyone.

It's extremely important for candidates who intend to seek public office to work with a professional communications consultant to develop a Voice. This will enable them to approach and appeal to not only to relevant future voters, but also - and perhaps even more importantly - to early donors and thought leaders.

Failure to do this, and to develop the right messaging that will be delivered, results in a failed campaign effort. And with the cost of today's political campaigns, deciding to "wing it" means to fail to sound like a viable candidate, and to come up short on election day.

I can help you develop a message and a Voice to convey it the RIGHT way. Contact me immediately if you plan to seek higher office in 2017 or 2018.

Stephen Abbott

Friday, January 13, 2017

Fair Dealing And #PublicRelations [Abbott Media Group]

Reputations in business, as in life, are built on fair dealing: by treating customers and employees well, by paying employees what they have earned and on time, and by giving customers friendly attention and fair value for what they purchase.

Without this culture of fair dealing, employees grumble, are dissatisfied on the job, and are disloyal, and customers simply leave and never return, making sure everyone knows why they have taken their business elsewhere.

But when a culture of fair dealing is fully embraced, employees are enthusiastic and do all they can to make the company successful, and customers reward it with loyalty and positive recommendations to their neighbors and friends.

Fair dealing cannot be faked. And it is not the job of public relations to pretend a company that is not dealing fairly actually is doing so. Public Relations can never allow itself to be used to paint a false picture of fair dealing where none exists. Employees and customers alike will see through any such attempt at whitewashing. Lying always makes things worse, in the end.

But when a company that has damaged its reputation by not dealing fairly begins to deal fairly in all aspects of its corporate life, it's a pleasure for public relations consultants to tell all who will listen about this more positive attitude towards doing business.

- Stephen Abbott