Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Underwhelming Isaac and Secondary Storylines

Isaac has left the building, but the story is far from over. As I dodged standing water so as to not soak my shoes on this Tuesday morning, I was reminded of the amalgam of ‘Isaac mockery’ memes making their rounds online over the weekend. As Floridians, we are used to the ‘over-promise/under-deliver’ method often employed by news teams when a storm threatens. The reporter being battered by wind and rain, the rattling stop sign on an abandoned street corner; we’re afforded these visuals every summer and for many of us it arouses a feeling of cautious skepticism. As conditioned as we are as Florida residents to hold a cynical view of hurricane forecasts (only further reinforced by Isaac’s underwhelming impact), it’s entirely easy to forget that sometimes the real story is what occurs after the real story is over.

While the damage assessment from Isaac’s impact on Florida may only amount to a list of blown over lawn chairs and soggy topsiders, the story does not end there for this tropical hooligan. Another interesting narrative has developed, as Isaac is now poised to form into a hurricane and make landfall on New Orleans, on the seven-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. There’s no need to dredge up any unnecessary memories from one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, and certainly no need to draw any kind of parallel between the two storms; but storylines drive news, and top stories will once again revolve around Isaac and how it will affect The Big Easy.

The point I’m making here is simple. While some stories don’t quite deliver the ‘Hollywood Blockbuster’ type payoff that news directors and producers seek while hoping for a ratings spike, the bigger story may actually be gleaned once the hype has died down. Will the reinforced levees do their job on Lake Ponchartrain? Georgia is undergoing massive droughts; what kind of influence will Isaac’s weather have on their climate conditions going forward? These are the questions that will be asked, and media sources will be scouring their network for qualified individuals to answer them.

The rain is still saturating us here in Orlando, but the severe storm-threat has all but passed. With Isaac inching towards New Orleans, our thoughts are with those residents, and our hope is that whatever secondary-storyline emerges from the storm’s impact will be one of resiliency and redemption. For those following news such as Isaac, just remember to always be prepared for your expertise to be called on. While the original story may not directly apply to you, there are always after-effects and undercurrents that can and will be explored.
-Carter Breazeale
PR/PR Public Relations

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Perks of Being a Floridian

Isaac has got us fairly waterlogged, so a new blog post will be up tomorrow!

Stay dry!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

My how the time flies. One year ago I volunteered for what would morph into one of my massive responsibilities: manning the S.S. PRBlog and keepin’er seaworthy and afloat. While we haven’t nicked any icebergs or found ourselves in the blogging Bermuda triangle, there was, admittedly, an adjustment period that accompanies any new and uncharted undertaking. We’ve run the topical gamut in one calendar year: from political analyses from a public relations viewpoint to admittedly embittered rants on Dwight Howard and the Atlanta Braves, it’s been an interesting ride thus far. So while I take a moment to adorn my own personal blogger’s birthday cake with all the necessary accoutrements, let’s examine some of the highlights from The PRess Release’s first year.   

Everyone around the office is acutely aware of my excitement when my sports-centered blog ideas are approved. This one was a joy to brainstorm and write, as I was still coming down from Super Bowl Sunday euphoria, and knew that putting Indy under the social media microscope was a worthy and necessary topic. The payoff was more than we could’ve imagined at the starting gate, as the post was picked up and shared via Twitter by the company who organized the publicity for Super Bowl XLVII, garnering some new followers and earning the blog captain a congratulatory pat on the back from the boss man.

Politics has always been an area of interest for myself, and with 2012 being an election year, I’ve had the pleasure to write about the various happenings surrounding the Presidential race. One post in particular that garnered some attention focused on PR landmines and verbal gaffes, two aspects of politics that occur quite often in politics. The racist namesake of Rick Perry’s Texas ranch, Howard Dean’s infamous scream and Barack Obama’s shady business dealings with domestic terrorists: all ammunition for political opponents, a potential downfall and a topic that readers want to see.  

This was one of Lindsay’s personal favorites, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it here. Pop-culture is a revolving door of what’s considered hip and what’s not. I shudder to think of some of the music I listened to in the late-nineties, but hey, at the time, it was par for the course. MTV is not the same beast it once was; you know – one that involved music. This piece took a look at MTV’s shift from a music-oriented television channel to a reality-based outfit, and the ups and downs associated with a drastic change in identity. In publicity it is essential to keep your finger to the wind as to the changing trends, and that’s why I enjoyed crafting this post.

So you’ve stuck with us for a year, and I can promise more quality content from your favorite resident blogger on Monday afternoons. Thank you for your support, and continuing to read about all things public relations-related here at The PRess Release.

-Carter Breazeale
PR/PR Public Relations

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ruminating on Dwight Howard

And on Thursday evening, Superman left the building (again). Dwight Howard’s summer-long scorched-earth march to his eventual exodus to the City of Angels has a revitalized Magic fan base in an uproar, his ‘can-do-no-wrong-favored-son’ image in shambles and left the city of Orlando saddled with the task of coaxing attendance in the Amway Center, now America’s shiniest indoor swap-shop, just off highway downtown.

The city’s tabloid-worthy divorce with its biggest star since Shaquille O’Neal has spurned a confusing flurry of emotions - a cognitive dissonance of sorts - between fervent anger and guilty remorse. The writing was on the wall for a year, but the Orlando-faithful refused to shed their ‘blue and white ignite’ colored glasses and read the fine print. After numerous trade demands and posturing that served to hold the city hostage; countless flip-flops as to his desire to remain in the city that built him his own certifiable castle to play in, Dwight is finally gone, and he’s left in his wake a trail of shattered relationships and bitter feelings.
Dwight Howard whining his way out of town has made the Lebron James Decision debacle actually seem respectable in comparison. From a PR standpoint, the public’s perception of Mr. Howard is now eons from the aloof and innocent guy he appeared to be two years ago; and under the bright lights of Los Angeles, where image is everything and the media will eat you alive: Dwight has some definite work to do.

His behavior amidst this calamitous ordeal should serve as fair warning to how quickly the tide can change on how you’re viewed by others. Dwight Howard was practically the ambassador of Orlando, serving as our beacon for national notoriety and relevance - not just in the basketball world, but in the professional and economic arenas as well. The construction of the Amway Center, a virtual ‘must’ to ensure that he stayed in town, brought many jobs and helped to rejuvenate a declining sector of the metro area that enjoyed the booming business associated with sold-out Magic games. All this seems for naught, now: as Superman has skipped town and Orlando fans have taken their frustrations to makeshift funeral pyres for Dwight Howard memorabilia, showing that even the most loved can become the most reviled in minutes.
The fact of the matter is Dwight abandoned his base. Maybe he outgrew town and has a desire for the celebrity-status that comes with Southern California. Maybe he soured on a team that he felt was not serious about contending and bringing a championship to Orlando. Maybe he just got tired of abhorrent I4 traffic. Whatever his reason, he’s got an uphill battle rebuilding the brand that is Dwight Howard; the good-hearted kid next door who puts his team before himself.

-Carter Breazeale
PR/PR Public Relations

Monday, August 6, 2012

PR 101: Press Releases

It’s Monday afternoon, and that means it’s time for your weekly infusion of publicity-centric content courtesy of your resident (and favorite) PR/PR blogger. The caffeine is flowing and we’re going to discuss a fixture of the public relations business: press releases. I seem to receive questions fairly often about crafting a successful press release; what are the requirements and guidelines, and what strategies are utilized to secure success? Well, pull up a chair get ready to take in some PR 101 in this week’s blog.

The object of a press release is to generate attention and buzz about a specific topic, be it your speaking career or new happenings at your company. The end-objective is to establish you as an expert and go-to source and have your thoughts and ideas printed across a variety of media. Now that we’ve gotten the obligatory definition out of the way, let’s get into a few of the dos and don’ts of press release writing.

Do: Seek Out Newsworthy Topics to Assert Your Expertise

As I’ve mentioned before when discussing blog-writing, many times a topic you can align yourself with may not be immediately obvious. Releases that yield results will involve a trending tie-in to your area of proficiency, but does not need to directly parallel your focus. This is a common stumbling block when discussing release themes, as it may be difficult to wrap your head around how a story applies to you. Take a leadership expert, for example. We could design a release that revolves around the Olympics and the inherent responsibility of being a representative for your country. Press releases with these angles garner the greatest results.

Don’t: Self-Promote

An all-too common mistake when drafting a release is coming across as too advertorial. The quickest way to lose an editor’s interest is to self-promote rather than pitch your expertise. The object of a press release is to pique someone’s interest in you, and have them pick up the phone. Harping on your list of accomplishments will appear self-serving. The symbiotic relationship that exists between editor and public relations agent is a tricky one; create curiosity as to how you can benefit a story, and the phone will ring.

Do: Provide a Bulleted List of Other Know-How
Towards the end of your release, always highlight separate topics you can speak on. While your initial media-hook may not produce results, by outlining other areas of knowledge you increase the probability that an editor pencils your name down for a future story.

Don’t: Forget Your Audience

With any writing, it is imperative that you are mindful of who you are addressing. A business editor from the New York Times will not be receptive to the same press release you’d send over to a lifestyle editor at the Sacramento Bee. Customize your releases to reflect those who will be reading them or risk PR purgatory. Language and word-choice are of utmost importance to catch an editor or reporter’s attention.

So there’s your lesson for the day. Writing effective releases is a learned skill, but by taking these dos and don’ts into account, it will allow you to overcome some of the hurdles that come with public relations territory.

-Carter Breazeale
PR/PR Public Relations