Monday, January 30, 2012

Politics, Primaries and PR

On the Eve of the Florida Primary, Republican candidates have ramped up their ads and marketing throughout the sunshine state, spreading their messages and slinging mud from the Panhandle to Palm Beach. The anatomy and inner-workings of political campaigns can be as complex as inferential statistics, but dissected and analyzed they are essentially glorified, smoke and mirrors-clad PR operations. In this week’s edition of our blog, let’s examine a few of the popular public relations stratagems utilized by the Karl Roves and David Axelrods of the political world.

The Friday Afternoon Sneak

Tax returns. Shadowy business dealings. Swiss bank accounts in the Bahamas. This type of incriminating information about a candidate is always demanded by the public, and often released at an optimum time to limit damage and decrease the chances of the story gaining legs. That time? Friday afternoon, as late as possible, to ensure the negative press does not fester in the weekly news-cycle. The hope is by Monday morning all is forgotten and forgiven, and the candidate in question can continue what they do best: kissing babies and glad-handing the locals.

The ‘Hands-Off-Hands On’ Super PAC Attack

2012 is the first election incorporating Super PACs, or super political action committees that allow for exorbitant campaign financing donations. While candidates are limited to a certain dollar amount donated by one party or individual, these organizations are free from monetary restraints. Although not openly endorsing a candidate in particular, their television and radio advertisements frequently denigrate another, doing the dirty work that allows a candidate to keep their hands clean (and pockets full!) Prime example: Restore Our Future, a conservative-minded Super PAC, has already raised north of 12 million dollars in 2012, mostly going towards attack ads.

The Debate Deflect and Engage

When questioned by a moderator during a debate on an issue that will only serve to sully your image: don’t answer it! Classic deflection is a PR maintenance strategy employed by political strategists, and we’ve all seen it occur. Most recently, Newt Gingrich was grilled about his ex-wives, to which he proceeded to attack the moderator for not focusing on ‘the real issues.’ While the line of questioning was valid and certainly pertinent to any conversation about a presidential candidate, the strategy served Gingrich well: he enjoyed a standing ovation from the debate crowd and now enjoys a staggering 14-point lead in Florida.

The underlying theme: what can’t help you will only hurt you. Politicians and their cohorts are masters in the art of damage-control public relations, and by employing the strategies above (and many others) they keep a tight-seal on any negative leaks which may impact their campaigns. What are some of your favorite methods in political PR?

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Monday, January 23, 2012

Joke's On You: Avoid Online Misunderstandings

Common lunch break conversation fodder here at PR/PR is the day’s posts on, a social news website and message board. One topic last week detailed the ‘least funny jokes that leave you in hysterics.’ Sporadic laughter echoed throughout our various offices for the remainder of the afternoon. Sometimes what should be humorous isn’t, and what shouldn’t lend to hilarity leaves you at your desk with sore sides. A degree of humor is a fundamental aspect of any PR campaign, but maintaining your wits online and ensuring your message is conveyed accurately is vital.

Individuals have an uncanny way of twisting your message if you’re not mindful of how it’s constructed; this especially applies online. Sarcasm and satire may be mistaken for sincerity, and genuine sentiments may be misconstrued as facetiousness. Framing your thoughts and ideas in a succinct manner with no room for cloudy interpretation should be your aim. Trying to be funny? Emoticons go a long way on Twitter to avoid confusion.

Your online voice and tone establish your cyberspace persona. No one likes to be misunderstood, and no one wants a misunderstanding going viral, potentially spoiling a vibrant career. Do not give others an opportunity to take you out of context: guarantee your 140 characters on Twitter contain no grey areas and your status updates are concise and informative.

Sometimes we catch ourselves laughing at the wrong times. It was a struggle compiling databases while rifling through ‘a man walks into a bar…’ jokes, but the puns and punch lines were so dreadful that the only logical response was a burst of raucous laughter to break the awkward. Keep a tight lead on how you relay your message and brand on the Web. You want your audience to laugh with you and not at you.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK and the Social Media Revolution

Martin Luther King Jr. represented social progress, a forward-thinking society and inalienable rights for all Americans. From Selma to the State Capitol and Montgomery to the Washington Monument, King shouldered the burden of an entire people and cast himself as a beacon of hope and a voice for national change. More than fifty years later, the embers that fueled Mr. King’s fighting spirit still burn in the hearts of many Americans, though the avenues for protest have drastically shifted. Social media is the new social transformation, with picket lines established with URLs and marching crowds organizing themselves with shares and re-tweets; utilizing the unlimited possibilities that online interconnectivity has to offer.

The Arab Spring and Occupy movements were both galvanized by online activity, namely Facebook and Twitter. Both crusades shared integral similarities with the civil rights movement, an unflinching demand for liberties and rights on a universal scale, but innovation has seen the status update replace the street corner and micro-blog replace the megaphone. While the organized protest will always remain, the means for unifying the masses now exists in cyberspace, and increases the span and scope of the message.

TIME Magazine named The Protester its 2011 Person of the Year. The country had not seen such discord and turmoil since the 60’s, and the millennial dissenter came equipped with the information superhighway at his fingertips. Across the globe, videos were captured, streamed, and subsequently shared within minutes, creating a documentarian look into the day’s events and happenings. Social networks became assembly points for the politically conscious, and transmitted each communique with precision efficiency. The means had changed, but the ends remained the same.

Organizers no longer need a meeting hall or shadowy back room, all that’s required is a modem and a Facebook account; just one example of how immeasurably different the world has become in fifty years.

It’s harrowing to reflect on the atrocities that many experienced while rallying under the banner of equality. Truncheons and hoses became unfortunate motivating factors in the 1960’s, further catalyzing an inspired group to overcome injustice and prejudice, regardless of cost. In a vastly different era of societal evolution, it is important we continue to reflect on the immense sacrifices made by those who marched in the streets.  The mediums may have changed, but Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision is still thriving in the hearts and minds of Americans today.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Monday, January 9, 2012

In 2012, Set Professional Resolutions

The New Year is a time for goal-setting. Establishing benchmarks for progress that often fall to the wayside; the treadmill gathers a Pompeiian coat of dust, ashtrays remain filled and overflowing, and interest continues to mount on the credit card from that ill-advised spree at the mall. One week into January, and many are already rationalizing the grip they’re losing on their personal resolutions, but what is the status of those of the professional variety? What outline have you set to ensure profitability and relevance in 2012?

The main item on your professional resolution list should be full-immersion in print media. Your articles and interviews in trade and association publications as well as daily newspapers and newsstand magazines establish you as the expert in your field, and put your name into the hands of decision makers and industry leaders daily. There has been no lull in the viability and power of print, and this trend will continue, regardless of other avenues. Want to increase the frequency and fees for speaking engagements? Concentrate on getting your name in print.

Want to diversify your online footprint? Become active on the litany of social media sites available. just released a social media preview for the New Year, and many niche sites such as Quora and Plaxo are on the upswing, continuing to attract new users daily. Intelligent activity on the big three: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are givens, but inclusion of other social media platforms into your online cloud only serves to promote your brand and increase visibility.

Your professional resolution needs to consist of a two-pronged attack of print and online media. Print media cements you as a go-to source in your field, and social media expands the reach of your message and brand. There’s no better remedy for stress and headaches than career success, and the worry and time you’ll save yourself with print and social media will allow you to finally devote yourself hopelessly to that neglected treadmill of yours.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations