Archive | June, 2010

Putting the Bright Shiny Object to Work

30 Jun

If you follow me (@JessFlynn) on Twitter you probably know that I succumbed to the BSOS (Bright Shiny Object Syndrome). I went out an bought an iPad. A first generation gadget. I NEVER buy first-gen anything. Heck, it took me two years to get an iPhone and many more years than that to switch from a PC to a MacBook. But I have a good reason for doing so this time around. At least, I’m trying to convince myself I do!

The more that I skim, read and consume about the evolution of PR the more I’m thankful we started Red Sky in early 2008 – right when signs on the street corners began popping up saying the world was coming to an end. I thank the universe every day we kickstarted when we did – in the midst of the global shift, the democratization of communication, and at the nexus of the integration of communication strategies. Incorporating multi-media and activating technology in the name of public engagement is more important – and possible – than ever.

So how is Red Sky thinking of integrating the iPad into our work for clients?

  • Exit Polling We’re working in support of a passage of a levy for public safety. So what are the best channels of outreach to spur citizens to get out the vote? What works in a rural community vs. an urban setting? We’ll be utilizing a simple tally app to conduct exit polling the day of the vote.
  • Live Surveying Red Sky is heading up a component of a market testing program for a food product this fall. Boise’s the first stop for this multi-national client to test out a brand new product. We’ll be conducting sampling and outreach throughout the Valley. We plan to use one of the many polling apps to develop an instant feedback form for samplers to let us know what they think. We also plan to have videos loaded and ready to show about the production of the product that explains its unique attributes.
  • Recording How many times do you find yourself in a meeting struggling to keep up with notes or the flow of brainstorming? Or – you’re jiving on an idea and just want to get your stream of consciousness down?  We’re going to give Dragon Dictation a whirl in some upcoming brand discovery sessions and proposal sessions.
  • Livecasting Any list of top business apps for iPad always includes Webex or GoToMeeting. So that’s a must and we plan to utilize it for some upcoming professional development seminars
  • Intimate /Customized Presentations Not that I don’t feel like killing PowerPoint at least once a week. But the iPad will definitely change the way we present concepts, trainings and plans. We plan to utilize the platform  – and Keynote – for more intimate presentations and proposals. Incorporating video and photos, and using it as a ‘handout’ of sorts during our projected presentations. For instance, While we are talking to a static presentation up on a screen for a group of 25 people, we’ll use our CradlePoint to connect the iPad to 3GWifi and have the various websites we’re addressing available for browsing as the toy (I mean, tool) gets passed around.

And I’m sure as I sit at home snuggling my iPad  – and more apps roll out – the list will grow. Already the staff is jonesing to move our tangible office Scrabble game onto the iPad and take it outdoors for some park Scrabble. I’m thinking we’ll tackle that next week.

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(7/5/10) and just learned of an iPad app from MailChimp that could prove pretty useful as well – Chimpadeedoo, a simple sign-up app for physical locations. Think we’ll put it to use at my family’s Lakeside Lavender Festival this weekend….

And here’s a great post from Arik Hanson on 4 PR Uses for the iPad

– Jess (& the Red Sky office via Yammer!)

A PR Postmortem of the College Football Scramble

16 Jun

Few things rival my obsession with football, although watching the media cycles churn – seeing what gets covered and doesn’t, dissecting carefully crafted statements for hidden meaning and witnessing perfectly timed leaks is another considerable fascination of mine. Both worlds collided in spectacular fashion recently, leaving me and many others with Pac-10/16/12 and Big 12/4/10 ties on the edge of their seats for a two week ride through what could have been and ultimately came to be.

I’m talking about the nearly colossal restructuring of the “power” conferences in college football, specifically the Big 12 who lost one and nearly half of their teams to the Pac 10 (after Nebraska bolted to the Big 10) with promises of a record-setting network deal that would guarantee each member of the Pac 16 upwards of $20 million per year for their athletic departments.

While the specific motivations and impact on college football, athletics and academics are being discussed at length elsewhere, I wanted to focus on some of the key events that reinforce many of the media relations topics we cover with our clients and during our media trainings.

Timing is Everything

A critical part of our role as communications counsel is keeping tabs of trends and topics and taking advantage of timing whenever possible.  While college football has a built-in audience starved for information during the summer months, the timing involved with this entire saga was masterful. The concepts of conference implosion and superconferences dominated the national conversation, media scrambled to get the latest inkling of where universities were leaning and many powerful people and organizations were driven into action to protect their own interests.

To recap, June 2-4 the Big 12 held their annual meetings where whispers of Nebraska being unhappy and potentially jumping ship with Missouri to the Big 10 started to gain momentum. Despite the rumor, all was relatively calm on June 2 as Big 12 Commissioner Don Beebe promoted the unity of the conference in prepared remarks to the media. But clearly all was not well, as Kansas Athletic Director Lew Perkins looked like someone was breaking in his back door when addressing the media about the Big 12’s future that same day.

The following day, Thursday June 3, Chip Brown from Orangebloods.com (a blog covering all things Texas Longhorns) reports that the Pac 10 plans to invite six Big 12 teams to their conference. Chaos ensues.  This leak is timed not only during media day, but hours before the podium mics go live.  The press conference is pushed back, then canceled outright, and both the commissioner and a few athletic directors escape from the assembled media through back hallways to their respective headquarters without comment. The rumors are now legitimized.

During that weekend the Big 12 issues deadlines for select teams to commit their loyalty to the conference, Pac 10 Commissioner Larry Scott declares he has carte blanche from the university presidents to expand and all eyes look to Nebraska as the first domino to fall for the Big 12 to begin its implosion.  (Cougcenter provides a thorough recap & breakdown of the carefully timed leaks here: PAC-10 EXPANSION: Scott, ADs shrewdly use media)

Throughout the course of many days and media cycles over the following workweek, Nebraska bails to the Big 10, Colorado joins the Pac-10 and reports from college football experts and insiders lean toward five more Big 12 universities following them, including the grand prize of the University of Texas. An official announcement is scheduled for Tuesday, June 15.

That leads us up to last weekend, where Commissioner Beebe starts to promise more money for the remaining schools, reassures Texas it can create and solely enjoy the proceeds of its own network (something the Pac 10 would not promise) and gives strong indications that they can pull in a conference network deal rivaling what the Pac 10 had to offer despite having only the two Texas markets in the top 25 compared to the six the Pac 16 would have.  By many, this was considered a hail mary by a man desperate to save the conference and his job. But on Monday Orangebloods.com broke the news that Texas was leaning toward staying in the Big 12 with ten teams because of this deal, with a potential announcement by end of day.  Once again, this blog covering all things Texas Longhorns was right.  The Big 12/10 survives and the dramatic reshaping of college football fizzles down to the swapping of a few deck chairs. In the aftermath, the question is whether Texas was ever serious in the first place or using the Pac 10 and media to get everything they wanted.

Regardless of the intent, this is a powerful example of timely, strategic communication and media relations that will be referenced endlessly by communications professors and PR professionals for years to come.

Blogs Reshape the News Cycle

The central role that Orangebloods.com and Chip Brown specifically played is a strong reminder that blogs – niche or not – can lead the news cycle depending on sources and timing.  Chip Brown had both on his side and elevated his name and reputation as a result, and was referenced as the source in nearly every ESPN and national media update. One can only imagine the traffic spikes to Orangebloods.com during the past two weeks.

Beyond the power of blogs, the story of Chip Brown itself speaks to the drastic changes in news media.  He once covered the Branch Davidian standoff for the AP and worked the Texas Longhorns beat for 17 years, including ten at the Dallas Morning News.  Sensing the decline of the newspaper, staff downsizing and the potential loss or merging of his beat, he jumped to Orangebloods.com in 2008.  Given the huge boost to this site, it not only looks like the right move but perhaps a trend that will continue – journalists turned bloggers with more contacts and familiarity about the subject than either the remaining traditional media or the blogger who simply sees a niche and decides to fill it.

Public Comments Often Drive Behind-the-Scenes Results

This Bruce Plante cartoon was inserted by the highly biased Longhorn grad Jess Flynn (Hook 'Em!)

From the beginning the University of Texas was the epicenter of potential change.  Their fans and alumni dominate two of the top ten U.S media markets in Dallas and Houston. Combining this with four more top 25 markets through the Pac 16 made the promise of $20 million per year in TV revenue legitimate and gave Texas the most clout of anyone – both conferences included.  They leveraged this clout publicly with the leaks and updates to Chip Brown, putting the Big 12 on the precipice and leading Commissioner Beebe to give them everything they wanted – more revenue (Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M will split the buyout money Colorado and Nebraska will pay the conference), the ability to create and harvest the proceeds of their own network and an even stronger competitive advantage in their conference and across college football.

No doubt there is more change to come, but the colossal shift appears to be off the table for now.  But the past two weeks have offered an unbelievable ride and many lessons for anyone involved with the media about the importance of timing, the substantial role that bloggers have and how media relations can drive results – behind the scenes and in the minds of your stakeholders. Now if we could just start the college football season already…

– Chad Biggs
(aka Red Sky Token Male)

Rookie lessons of planning inaugural blow out events

14 Jun

The past couple of months that I’ve been at Red Sky have been a fun whirlwind; it’s gone by incredibly fast. I started in February as an unpaid intern working 12 hours a week, and worked up to a full-time account coordinator in a matter of five months. I’m learning so much everyday – like how executing an inaugural blowout event is fun, but it is no simple task.

One of my favorite projects is the Boise Rec Fest. This is a fabulous event (scheduled for June 26 -27 in Ann Morrison Park) that encompasses all of Idaho’s recreational activities and offerings in one location.  Recreational enthusiasts will enjoy exhibits and workshops taught by experts in their respected fields. Workshops range from ‘How to prepare for a marathon’ to ‘Road Cycling Tips’ to ‘How to pack a daypack when hiking through Idaho mountain trails.’  Boise Rec Fest will also feature local musical talent, children’s entertainment, local vendors, regional beer and Idaho wine.

The Rec Fest team has just two weeks left before the action packed weekend fills Ann Morrison Park.  Everything is coming together, but it’s not been easy.  I’ve learned that in order to pull off an event of this magnitude, or any event for that matter, the initial planning stages are key.  Brett Adler and his leadership team have worked tirelessly to secure sponsors and overcome the ever-changing obstacles. While I knew that sponsorship and funding needed to happen to support advertising, promotion, park rental fees, etc., I was unaware of the challenges that funding and sponsorship can bring. With the current economy and the failure of the Boise River Festival, potential sponsors are more cautious with their dollars.

I’ve also learned that volunteer recruitment may sound simple, but it’s not easy. With such a colossal event, there are hundreds of shifts that need to be filled – and you have to think of EVERYTHING! Positions range from manning the merchandise station to pouring drinks for beer enthusiasts and the ever so exciting and glamorous trash picker-uppers. There are lots of other volunteer jobs that still filled, so if you are reading this and you’re thinking to yourself, “I would love to be a part of Boise Rec Fest!” Stop right now, go online and sign up!

All in all, this is gearing up to be a phenomenal event, my hope is that it will be ultra successful in it’s first year, so that it may only become better in the coming years.  So don’t forget, June 26th and 27th, support the community, gather family and friends together and head out to Ann Morrison Park for a fun-filled weekend!

Happy Rec-ing!

– Gloria

(Rec Fest on Facebook, Twitter)