Friday, January 20, 2006

What's the message?

I read a lot of papers - regular ones, and online - as any media junkie/PR person should. So, while reading the papers, I look at it from a PR perspective and more often than not, I just sit there shaking my head and wondering what the thought process was for the person speaking.

So, this past week a few gems popped out at me.

From the Arizona Republic came an interesting story about homeowners who have sold their homes at what they hope is the top of the market, moved into an apartment, and are looking for the market to correct itself. It's an interesting investment strategy, but two things jumped out at me.

Kurt Nishimura is taking a calculated ride on Arizona's real estate wave. He sold his home in the Willo neighborhood, believing its value has topped out, and is renting an apartment in the Arcadia area for a year, hoping to buy something after the wave has crested.

Kurt, however, is the vice president of acquisitions for Pivotal Group. Pivotal Group is a "strategically sophisticated investment and development company." Yes, they are in the business of developing residential communities (among other high-quality real estate assets). Okay, so following this thought ... your VP of acquisitions tells a local paper that he thinks the market is over valued and is getting out? Must have been a fun day in the office that following day.

Here's a great PR lesson: make sure that only qualified and media trained executives speak to the media. There was no reason Kurt should have been contacted ... unless he's going out on his own. There's a reason we have PR people: to create messaging. I am pretty sure ... this was not on message.

From USA Today, about the lawsuit against Nickelodeon and Kelloggs because, well, kids are fat comes a great quote.

"Going out on a limb here, perhaps her (Carlson's) kids want these foods not because of ads, but because they're children," said Dan Mindus, spokesman for the Center for Consumer Freedom.

Now, just a guess, but that was probably not the message that was meant to get out: so, your kids are fat not because there are Kellogg's products with Nickelodeon characters, but, hey, they don't exercise and you are a crappy parent who folds when they whine for certain products.

I have to admit - I agree with the guy. What happened to the Presidential Fitness Tests where we would get the certificates in front of the whole school? Yes, the pudgy or non-athletic types would feel bad, but we (yes, I was one of the non-athletic types) would work harder the next year to not feel so ashamed. There's nothing wrong with peer pressure like that.

But, man, I am sure that was not the message that was supposed to get out. Funny, but not on message.

Also, from USA Today ... Amazon is working with Bill Maher. Yes, I know everyone loves podcasting and video podcasting and how streaming videos are great ... but what's the upsell here? Commercials at the beginning of each show? Why not just sponsor KSSX or Rocketboom?

"This is the next step," says Kathy Savitt, Amazon's vice president for strategic communications. "The mission or common thread through all of these series is to offer innovative and interactive opportunities for customers to discover ... new films, music and books."

Okay, and it gets people to buy films, music and books ... how? Maybe I'm being dense, but from a PR standpoint it seems like another instance of stunt PR. How about making the shopping experience better? That might work as well.
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