Friday Wrap #184: Conflating PR and lobbying, reporters’ pitch preferences, PR’s data woes, and more

Posted on January 29, 2016 9:34 am by | Virtual and Augmented Reality | Content | Visual Communication | Brands | Business | Ethics | Legal | Marketing | Media | Mobile | PR | Publishing | Research | Social Media | Social networks | Transparency | Trust

Friday Wrap #184The Friday Wrap is my weekly collection of news stories, posts, studies, and reports designed to help organizational communicators stay current on the trends and technology that affect their jobs. These may be items that flew under the radar while other stories grabbed big headlines. As always, I collect material from which I select Wrap stories (as well as stories to report on the For Immediate Release podcast, along with stuff I just want to remember to read) on my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. If you want to make sure you never miss an edition of the Wrap, subscribe to my weekly email newsletter.


New York wants to classify PR agencies as lobbyists—The state of New York is considering classifying public relations practitioners working in political arenas as lobbyists. The legislation would require anyone paid to influence public policy on behalf of clients to share the fees they’ve been paid, the clients’ name, the legislation they’re trying to influence, and whether they are supporting or opposing the bill. The rule would force a lot of PR people to register with New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics. The PR community opposes the move, calling it impractical “because it would require the Commission to investigate and draw lines with respect to every turn of phrase or statement uttered by a client or its representative to determine whether a particular consultant did or did not have a meaningful role,” among other reasons. The takeaway: The practice of public relations has always been about influence, but conflating it with lobbying is just wrong. Read more

The PR industry is pushing back on New York’s proposal—Not surprisingly, the PR industry isn’t happy with the idea of registering as lobbyists. The First Amendment (of the U.S. Constitution) is the key argument against the rule, with a civil rights attorney calling it “vastly unconstitutional and a PR agency head saying, “his rule would have a tremendous chilling effect on our clients’ ability to communicate with the media and the public. The takeaway: It would be years before the rule came to the U.S. Supreme Court (if ever), and in the meantime, other states may follow New York’s lead. PRSA has weighed in; other associations should join the opposition. Read more

Peach comes to the web—While some have already predicted the demise of the viral social messaging app Peach, its founder has released an “unofficial” version of the app—previously available only for the iPhone—on the web. It’s for developers, but existing users can take advantage of it and new users can sign on from the website. It’s not as functional as the iPhone app; most notably, “magic words” don’t work on the website. An official Android version of the app is currently undergoing testing. The takeaway: If you’re in a mood to experiment, try Peach. I know a few people are thoroughly enamored with it, including my 26-year-old daughter. For serious PR and marketing, though, I’d wait to see if it’s still popular in 60 days (after the Android version has had a chance to spread). Read more

Cause video prompts brand responses—Madonna Badger, a principal at the woman-run agency Badger & Winters, created a video calling out brands that objectify women in their advertising, including Carl’s Jr. and Budweiser. Associated with the hashtag #WomenNotObjects, the video went viral, and now brands are responding. A spokesperson for the company that owns Carl’s Jr., for example, said, “The women in our award-winning ads are intelligent, talented and beautiful professional actresses and models who often reach out to us and voice their interest in being part of our fun, iconic ads. We also use female role models in our advertising. Our commercial featuring the uber popular UFC champion and Judo Olympian, Ronda Rousey last year is a prime example of that.” The takeaway: Ten years ago, the idea of brands responding to this kind of individual protest would be unthinkable. Today, being fast—and smart—with a reply is vital when the protest gains popular (and celebrity) support. Read more

Google introduces political features—Google and the Fox news Channel are teaming up to deliver three new dimensions to the next Republican candidates debate. First, an experimental feature will allow candidates to share ideas and positions via long-form text, photos, and videos during the debate and discoverable in search results. Second, during the debate, Google will “spotlight key insights from Google Trends that offer interesting insights about the candidates, issues, and debate topics.” Third, three well-known YouTube creators will add their questions to those posed by the moderators. The takeaway: The current presidential contest could give a big lift to the idea of the “second screen,” which is also at the heart of Facebook Stadium, the sports-focused app covered in last week’s Wrap (and on this week’s FIR podcast). Read more

Get ready to bid farewell to the Facebook like—Facebook is preparing to introduce six emoticons to replace the famous “like.” Called “reactions,” the icons represent love, laughter, excitement, amazement, sadness, and anger. You will choose the icon that best represents your feelings by pressing and holding the like icon, which will bring up the choices. The takeaway: From a brand perspective, it will be a lot easier to assess sentiment through these new emoticons, which have been undergoing testing in six countries, than trying to figure out what someone really meant when the clicked the like icon. Read more

Medium integrates more tightly with Twitter—Medium, the publishing platform that has become a popular venue for messaging from some important individuals and companies, is introducing new features that further integrate the long-form content service with Twitter. The new features, geared to publishers and writers, include the ability to convert people who follow a publisher’s Twitter account into followers of the publisher’s Medium posts (assuming they have a Medium account). The service is also enabling scheduling, allowing you to write a post now but have it published on a day and time of your choosing. The takeaway: There are still a lot of doubters on Medium, but everyone from the head of IT at the White House to leaders at The New York Times are publishing there. Its ease of use and appealing minimalist design will continue to appeal to writers and publishers. When I write something I hope is profound, I cross-post it on Medium as well as LinkedIn and Facebook (as a Facebook Note). Syndicating content is a bigger and bigger deal, and Medium is a platform to explore. Read more

IBM acquires a creative shop—IBM Interactive Experience, which provides digital marketing services, will acquire the digital creative shop Resource/Ammirati. The takeaway: Convergence is happening. Watch for more consulting operations to build or acquire content shops rather than outsource the work. Read more


Reporters want branded digital content and visual story ideas via email—A survey of 200 journalists finds an overwhelming preference for being pitched by email. 91% of respondents picked email as their preferred channel, and less than 1% selected social media or traditional wire services. Why? Email news releases come already digitized, making it easier to cherry-pick what they want to use in their pieces. Despite the bad rap press releases get, 57% of the surveyed reporters said news releases are a very useful (or useful) tool, but 83% said searching is the best way to find new stories and 67% cited their email inboxes. As for the kind of content they’re looking for, reporters say they are tasked with including images, graphics, video, and other visual assets, which their publications require. The takeaway: Don’t believe all the hype about the death of press releases. If they’re relevant and include usable digital assets, they can be gold to a reporter. It’s also a bad idea to assume social media is taking over everything, since email ranked as the top means of getting press releases. Read more

Evidence mounts: Consumers want genuine transparency and CSR—A new study from Havas Worldwide finds that consumers are increasingly vocal about their belief that companies need to behave well in all aspects of business. 78% say corporate transparency is a requirement; that number soars to 100% in Brazil, and 71% believe businesses are obligated to do more than just make money; they are as responsible as governments are for driving positive social change. 72% say businesses need to fight injustice and 80% want them to work with NGOs and non-profits to make the world a better place. 83% want companies to make life better for their workers, well over 80% want companies to provide pleasant work environments and pay fair wages. The study also shows only a small percentage willing to excuse bad behavior if it means lower prices. The takeaway: There are so many surveys and studies that mirror these results that it’s crazy for PR to ignore them. Communication should spotlight a company’s good behavior without looking like the organization is patting itself on the back. The best approach would be for employee advocates to share their experiences. As for formal communications, they should talk about goals rather than accomplishments. Read more

Brands post to Instagram daily—Facebook may be the de facto social network for brands, but Instagram is where they post most often. More than three-quarters of brands with Instagram accounts post every day. Interestingly, Snapchat inspires 9 posts per day on average, but only from about 16% of brands with accounts (and that’s a far smaller number of brands than those using Instagram). Nearly 75% of brands with twitter accounts post daily, and almost 65% of brands on Facebook share content every day. The takeaway: Sporadic posting just doesn’t cut it any more when you’re trying to build engagement with consumers. If you’re not using an editorial calendar, consider starting one to help turn your posting into a more structured regimen. Read more

We’re not very good with data—We’re awash in data, which opens a universe of opportunities through data analysis. Is that data we’re analyzing any good, though? A new study from IT data intelligence firm Blazent found that less than half of C-suite executives and data scientists are “very confident” in the quality of the data the organization is analyzing. Nearly everyone (94%) knows that bad data quality has a negative impact on business, from lost revenue to bad decision-making. Nevertheless, attitudes toward the quality of data are “lax.” The takeaway: Garbage in, garbage out. If you’re making communication decisions based on bad or low-quality data, do something about it. If you have no idea how reliable your data is, find out. Read more

Mobile and Wearables

You can now stream Periscope sessions using GoPro cameras—The quality of Periscope live streams is about to get a boost as GoPro and Twitter join forces to let GoPro ownees live-stream video from the Hero4 Black and Hero4 Silver. Periscope’s popularity only continues to grow, and GoPro is having sales problems as a host of competitors offer comparable products. For now, owners of the compatible GoPro cameras will need an iPhone; the GoPro video will stream through the iOS app. There’s no word on when the GoPro-Persicope connection will work on Android. The takeaway: There will be more convergence like this, with higher-end tools working with smartphone apps. It’s all part of the Internet of Things. Read more

How are people using Snapchat?—As I’ve noted before, Snapchat is becoming a dominant messaging player, with users sharing 9,000 “snaps” every second. It’s so important, 30% of marketers are using Snapchat as part of their Super Bowl marketing campaigns. With so many content discovery capabilities, though, it’s worth knowing that users tend to stays away from branded features, using the app mainly for messaging with friends and family. Only 2% view Live Stories all the time; 36% view them “sometimes,” but 55% either never view them or rarely do. It’s even worse for Snapchat Discover content. The takeaway: Getting in front of 15% of Snapchat’s huge (and growing) user base is nothing to sneeze at, and as the features become more widely known, use is likely to increase. Read more

Snapchat introduces personalized URLs—Snapchat quietly introduced a new feature in its latest update that lets users create a dedicated URL to send to friends (or post online); when someone clicks it, they begin following your Snapchat account. The takeaway: I’m seeing more and more professionals adding ways for people to follow them on Snapchat. This one will be particularly useful for adding a link to, for instance, your Twitter bio. Read more

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Google has shipped 5 million Cardboard VR headsets—If you think VR isn’t a big deal yet, consider that Google has shipped 5 million Cardboard VR headsets, including those that have been ordered from the Google Play store, those sold by third-party retailers (like fashion house Rebecca Minkoff), and those Google and others gave away (including 1.2 million distributed by The New York Times to its subscribers). The company also says more than 500,000 students have taken Expeditions VR field trips. The takeaway: As the article notes, that’s remarkably fast adoption. The release of these numbers should inspire some marketers to move faster on VR efforts, though they would also be wise to read the next item. Read more

Should marketers take VR seriously this year?—2016 may not be the year for marketers to dive into Virtual Reality, according to a VR production company, who says it will take this year for gamers to “break the barriers for people to feel comfortable wearing the headsets…It will become more commonplace in 2017.” The article distinguishes VR from 360-degree video (both of which are accessed with VR headsets), arguing that real Virtual Reality can be manipulated by the user. Still, “marketers are among the early adopters of VR” and “empathy VR” has become a fundraising tool in charity circles. The takeaway: Whether it’s too early is a judgement call. Know your market and how well your message lends itself to VR. Refrain from simply jumping on a shiny new object. Read more


Agencies are dumping Powerpoint—Not just Powerpoint, but presentation software in general, is finding its way into the trashbin in the agency world. Work & Co., for example, has banned PowerPoint, Keynote, and Prezi or anything that produces a deck. One person in front of the room dominating a passive audience is the opposite of collaboration, according to the agency’s founder. Smarter clients have rendered the idea of a presentation moot, and the Millennials tasked with producing the decks are just as happy to no longer get the assignments. The takeaway: I have never been a fan of Powerpoint-bashing. Blaming Powerpoint for bad meetings is like blaming canvas for bad art. The problem is people who don’t know how to use it well, not the product itself. People can get overly-dependent on it, too. Teaching people the right way to use it is better than banning it when there are instances in which it can add value or solve a problem. Read more

Voice recognition will change content marketing—We are increasingly asking natural-language questions, by voice, in order to get search results. It began with Siri, improved exponentially with Google, and has ascended new heights with Amazon’s Echo. (And yes, there’s also Microsoft’s Cortana.) For content marketers, this represents “a tectonic shift in how people search for and discover content,” and it’s only going to accelerate. “Marketers will have to do a serious rethink on how they optimize content,” writes Krystal Overmyer. The takeaway: Spot on, and something I confess I haven’t given much thought to. We must factor open-ended questions into the way we prepare content, especially since most (though certainly not all) of these verbal queries are delivered via mobile devices, not laptops or desktops. Read more

This week’s wrap image, of “thoroughly wrapped pallets,” comes courtesy of Richard Ash‘s Flickr account.



  • 1.Wearables are becoming more and more popular. Forget about go pros- the future is in wearable clothing and monitors.

    Alex | February 2016 | US

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