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PR Lesson from Tim Thomas

February 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Much has been made of Bruins’ star goalie Tim Thomas’ recent social media based controversy. For the actual details of the story, see a couple of good blog posts here. (Note: the linked posts are an exception to the industry opinions discussed below.)

The very short version of the story is that Thomas, who declined to attend the White House as part of the traditional photo shoot event awarded the Stanley Cup champion, posted some thoughts and personal opinions on Facebook.

What ensued over the next few weeks was that lots of communications professionals offered advice to Thomas that could usually be summed up as ‘shut up and play hockey.’ The lesson was that an iconic athlete shouldn’t speak his mind regarding politics or religion.

If that really is the lesson, does that mean that these same people would have also told boxing champion Cassius Clay not to speak out against the Vietnam War and not to change his name to Muhammad Ali in support of Islam?

Of course, Thomas and Ali are very different people at different times in history, but the point is that PR/SM people need to remember that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all industry. Ali was a tremendously gifted fighter, but in many ways it was his over-the-top personality that elevated him from a great fighter to “The Greatest.”

All the people that immediately concluded that Thomas needed to be more diligent and protective of his public image may be missing the point. Of course, I don’t know the truth either, but maybe just maybe this controversy is just what Thomas wants. The larger point here is a reminder that not all clients are created equal and that social media isn’t the only measurement of a person’s character.

Ali photo

Thomas photo

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PR WIRL February 22, 2012

February 22, 2012 8 comments

Okay, it’s still not a very catchy title, but this is still a work in progress.

As mentioned when publishing the 2012 PR33 list, a new recurring feature on this blog will be PR WIRLWhat I’m Reading Lately – which will highlight some of the best blogs, articles, books etc.

The general idea here is simple. I appreciate when someone recommends something for me to read. And, I’ve found that there are lots of things out there that deserved to be shared. Enough said.

While these posts certainly don’t need any additional commentary from me, it is worth noting that these six blogs highlight some of the best thoughts regarding Bruins goalie Tim Thomas’ recent media firestorm and the ongoing debate regarding the PR industry’s failed attempt to find leadership capable of serving itself. So much for no commentary from me. Anyway, read these six blogs and you’ll be smarter.

————– Tim Thomas
Four Communications Keys for Bruins Goalie Tim Thomas by @Jimbarbagallo

If I were Tim Thomas’ PR counsel, I would advise him of these four communication keys:

▪ as a public figure, your personal and professional lives are inextricably connected.  People read your Facebook page for only one reason:  you are a public figure;

▪ you can’t be provocative and controversial and then expect to be allowed to run and hide.  Stand up to your convictions;

▪ you’re a hero to Bostonians because you’re a winner.  You’re enjoying the halo affect of a career season. But like most things, halo affects have a shelf life. And they are typically shorter in Boston than in other towns, and

▪ be proactive instead of defensive (not a hockey pun).  Let your fans see who you really are — the man behind the mask and the Wall.  How about a “town meeting” for your fans (and the media) after the season, where you can explain your important positions on politics and religion because you clearly have a lot to say. The rest of the story.

————–

Social Media Policy: The Blurry Line Between Personal and Professional by @TedWeismann

For anyone advising companies on social media policy, the Tim Thomas situation is a fascinating case study in action.

Thomas is the starting goaltender for the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. He set records in last year for making the most saves during the Stanley Cup Finals and having the highest save percentage in history during the regular season. He capped his historic year by being the first goalie to earn a shut out on the road during game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, and winning awards for playoff MVP and best goalie in the league.

 Now there is the distinct possibility the Bruins will trade him this year. Crazy thought. Here’s why. The rest of the story.

————–  Defining Public Relations (Note: comment sections worth a read too)

Redefining Public Relations by @Ginidietrich

Right before the holidays, PRSA embarked on a new initiative: Redefining public relations.

An admirable undertaking and one that surely was not to please everyone, they made an impressive decision to have the definition crowdsourced.

 There were, of course, some flaws in how you could submit your definition. In an effort, I would guess, to make everything uniform and make it easier for them to get through all of the responses (nearly 1,000 of them). The rest of the story.

————– 

We Cannot Define PR by @Soulati

I am pretty much over this topic of redefining public relations, my core profession. Last year on this blog, we set out to do that very thing and engaged the globe in the best crowd-sourcing activity I’ve ever facilitated. It was high energy, awesome to have people on board, it was heady, and it was the coolest spur-of-the-moment thing I’ve ever done on my blog.

The outcome was a definition that came to be from a variety of sources, words, disciplines, expertise, practitioners seasoned and newbie, and those not in public relations. The rest of the story.

————– 

PRSA’s #PRdefined: Please Don’t Redefine Failure by @Frank_Strong

I contend PRSA’s method for soliciting input — its crowd source methodology — was biased.  The PR community was asked to fill in the blanks on a sentence that was already three-quarters complete. That’s a leading question and suggests to me the committee started with a prejudicial definition. It’s not research yet PRSA’s defense is that we’ll hey, everyone else is doing it. 

So much for differentiation.  It reminds me of the famous psychology experiment with monkeys, bananas and a sprinkler system. The monkeys end up avoiding something new, but do not understand why.

 That is not research and I find it absolutely mind-numbing that PRSA publicly agrees the new definitions “suck,” yet has resolved to stay the course. The rest of the story.

————– 

The Fight to Redefine Public Relations by @cnahil

So, here’s Nahil’s first take on public relations defined:

Public relations is the function within any organization that drives the creation and execution of communications programs that project the organization’s key messaging and positioning to specific audiences. These programs are most often delivered through earned media or owned media channels and, when taken together, serve to build a credible and compelling public image for the organization.

And your thoughts? The rest of the story.

————–

Photo by my wife or daughter.

Sun Setting on Paul Roberts on PR

February 21, 2012 12 comments

For a variety of personal and professional reasons, I decided that I will end this blog in June of this year. There is still lots of unfinished business and there are lots of interesting conversations still to be had, but I’ll be signing off of this forum by summer.

Blogging has been a fascinating experience and I’ve made lots of new friends and learned much in the process. These friendships and lessons I’ll take with me long beyond my final post.

I never wanted to have one of those blogs that just faded away without any notice or reason, which is why I’ve put an expiration date on this endeavor.

Before the sun sets on this blog, I’ll continue to speak up about what is right and wrong in our industry. If you wanted to comment on any of my posts about how out of my mind I am, you better do it soon. June will be here all too soon.

Photo by my beautiful wife

PRAS – Public Relations Alternative Society

February 20, 2012 1 comment

Today, President’s Day 2012, the Public Relations Alternative Society (PRAS) has been founded to provide under represented PR professionals with a safe haven for discussions as wild as suggesting a definition for the industry that doesn’t suck.

For reasons why this society has been formed see PR Undefined and PRAS Born. While still a work in progress, here are some ground rules of the PRAS.

  • First, we will not have a president. That is too arrogant for this type of organization.
  • We will not limit membership to America. What’s that about. The world is a small place.
  • We will encourage debate. It’s okay to disagree, but we will do it in a professional manner. No DBs.
  • No dues. Non paying PR professionals have full membership here. If you are in PR (student or professional), you are welcome to be a member of PRAS.
  • And finally, we will discontinue operations immediately if another organization proves capable of meeting the needs of the PR community.

To join, repeat the following:

I (state your name) hereby declare that because no other Public Relations Society in America (or beyond) has proven to accurately represent me, I am a proud member of the Public Relations Alternative Society.

Official membership will also be granted to anyone following on Twitter @PR_Alt.

PR Undefined and PRAS Born

February 18, 2012 5 comments

The public relations industry needs to redefine itself. It has an opportunity to do so, but it is letting that opportunity and the industry’s interest in the project, die due to some combination of arrogance and ignorance.

The failed project won’t be rehashed here. If you are interested in additional background, read Frank Strong‘s take. He is one of the most passionate and articulate folks fighting for a real definition for PR.

During a recent online conversation on the topic, I let my emotions get the best of me. Here is an abridged version of my comment posted at SpinSucks.

There are lots of well thought out and articulate opinions about why, PR should be re-defined, what is wrong with the current process and what should be done next. This isn’t one of those. This is raw emotion from a PR guy that has been in the industry almost 20 years, has had little use for PRSA and now finds himself embarrassed by this entire process.

There are lots and lots of PR people that don’t know this conversation (defining PR) is happening and there are even more that don’t care. I’m now in the don’t care category.

I agree that PR should be redefined. I agree that redefining PR is difficult. I agreed that this is a good and noble cause. But, as of right now, I’m officially out.

No matter the final outcome, I will not get behind any definition the PRSA comes up with.

I don’t need it. I don’t want it and I will not accept it. You don’t speak for me. I only wish I were ever a paying member of PRSA, so I could publicly demand my money back.

Looking back, do I wish I took a moment to calm down and write a more thoughtful comment. NO! Sometimes emotion is called for, but, upon further reflection, I may have been too hard on the PR society. So, I’ve decided it would be best to turn anger into something positive.

Realizing that there are lots of PR people that have no other organized ‘society’ to turn to, I’m launching the PRAS – Public Relations Alternative Society. Full organization charter still to be defined, but if you are a frustrated PR professional looking to join with like minded folks, please feel free to consider yourselves members of the PRAS.

Public Relation Alternative Society on Twitter @PR_Alt

Photo by arztsamui

PR WIRL February 2012

February 12, 2012 4 comments

Okay, not a very catchy title, but this is a work in progress.

As mentioned when publishing the 2012 PR33 list, a new recurring feature on this blog will be PR WIRLWhat I’m Reading Lately – which will highlight some of the best blogs, articles, books etc.

The general idea here is simple. I appreciate when someone recommends something for me to read. And, I’ve found that there are lots of things out there that deserved to be shared. Enough said.

While this feature will usually present new recently published (communications-focused) works, this first issue features a couple of posts that are a little dated, but have recently been republished and have proven to be timeless.

P.S. If any graphic designer wants to contribute a cool PR WIRL logo, I’m more than willing to accept it.

Read more…