Appearances matter, but matters of fact matter much more. Therefore, we believe that relationships between the media and business executives are often touchy and sometimes dangerous. Relationships between the media and government officials — especially at the C-Level — are always touchy and almost assuredly dangerous, especially when they involve close family members.
Similarly, a lot has been made of the media’s alleged love affair with Obama, dating back to his first campaign days nearly a decade ago. Many Obama apologists regularly push aside such criticisms as mere Republican envy or attempts at trouble-making. Regardless of such denials, an objective observer would be hard pressed to honestly say the media has covered Obama as closely and critically as it covered previous — especially Republican — presidents.
Now it comes to light that a very cozy relationship between the media and the Obama government — at the very top levels — is indeed fact, a very disturbing fact.
We believe, these insider relationships support the charge of media bias favoring the Obama Administration in terms of what it defines as newsworthy, if and how events are covered, and preferential treatment — and positive spin — given the Obama Administration by ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN.
Here are three media-government relationships that are questionable at best and ultimately untenable. We believe these unholy alliances support our claim of media favoritism toward Obama, which should end – immediately.
This is all far too close for comfort, and needs to be corrected immediately. And all other such media-government conflicts of interest should be searched out and ended.
Peggy Noonan got it absolutely right in her WSJ column in which she expressed revulsion at Steve Kroft’s unprofessional interview of Obama and Secretary of State Clinton. Noonan characterized the half-hour session on “60 Minutes” as a disgusting example of the continuing “mainstream media fawn-a-thon toward the current president.”
“The Kroft interview was a truly scandalous example of the genre. It was so soft, so dazzled, so supportive, so embarrassing. And it was that way from the beginning, when Mr. Kroft breathlessly noted, “The White House granted us 30 minutes.” Granted. Like kings,” Noonan wrote.
“What followed was a steady, targeted barrage of softballs. “Why did you want to do this together, a joint interview?” Because, said the president, she’s been one of the best secretaries of state ever, and theirs has been one of the greatest collaborations in history. Also, “I’m gonna miss her.” No reading of the tea leaves here, pressed Mr. Kroft. We don’t have tea here, Hillary laughed.”
With the exception of Fox News and most on-air talent at CNBC, major media in the US have been on a mindless love binge with Obama since his presidential campaigning began in 2006. As disgusting and unprofessional as their behavior has been, what’s worse is that the same media deny any pro-Obama partisanship.
This sort of behavior, we believe, is antithetical to everything that used to be taught in journalism schools, beginning with Reporting 101. But it appears fairly obvious that J-schools haven’t taught objective reporting in years.
Here’s the link to Noonan’s WSJ column, which begins with a justified note of positive recognition for the Dodge ad “So God Made a Farmer,” which appeared during the Super Bowl and as a broadsheet wrapper for the weekend USAToday.
We all know the cliche of about “too much of a good thing” is, well, too much. And, in our opinion, that is exactly the case with one piece of the Romney-Ryan signage. Repetitious shapes or, in this case, alphabet characters provides a too-tempting target for some graphic designers.
The repeated Rs in the Rolls Royce logo are an obvious example, where such an effort is executed perfectly. The characters are simple and clear, work harmoniously together, and optimize an elegant font. They yield an iconic logo, and one that others should not attempt to replicate. (Contrary to another cliche, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery, or of good taste.)
Not to be confused with the Rolls Royce logo, you have the situation with the RR of the Romney Ryan tag team. That’s a big, obvious temptation. And Republican graphic designers could not, and did not, resist the temptation to run them together.
Actually, we think, standing alone the double-R has something of an echoing feeling to it; and standing alone, it is not too bad. (Indeed, it is our belief that the RR logo was originally intended to give a waving-flag effect to the sole R in the name “Romney.” Then, of course, Ryan came along and the two Rs just became far too much for some designer’s will power to overcome.)
The outcome is an RR logo that is terrible when married with the remaining letters of the two individuals’ names. Kerning is nonexistent, leaving the reader to discover that s/he’s confronted with a whole new political team to consider: Mr. Omney and his Asian running mate, Mr. Yan.
Big mistake! But, that’s just our opinion… without any political overtones.
Social media surpass newspapers – not surprisingly – as the primary source of daily news for individuals under 30. TV is a roughly-equal news source. This according to a just-released study by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and reported here by Poynter.org.
- 33% of young adults get news from social networks;
- 34% watch TV news; and
- 13% read print or digital newspapers.
Among the social media news consumption:
- 19% of all Americans get news from the likes of Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn;
- 9% was the number in 2010;
- 36% of those using social media get news there;
- 11% of the sample get their news from Twitter; and
- 17% get news on a mobile device.
The Pew study was based on 3,003 telephone interviews during May and June and has an overall margin of error of 2.1%+/- and varies for smaller subset samples.
Image source: Pew Research Center.
Savvy communicators recognize that the KISS Theory (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) is one of their most important creative fundamentals when developing client messaging. That’s why Bill Taylor’s current Harvard Business Review column, ”It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Believe,” is so gratifying.
The reference company is Apple, whose products are uniquely successful in masking extreme complexity with unbelievable simplicity of operation.
While Taylor uses an Apple vignette (from Adam Lashinsky’s new book Inside Apple) to illustrate his point, he admits that he computer gizmo maker is not alone; others that live by the same precept include Southwest Airlines, USAA, Cirque du Soleil, the Marine Corps, and Pixar among others.
The instructive anecdote goes back two years to the time when CEO Tim Cook was chairing his first investor conference call after Steve Jobs announced his medical leave of absence. It was the first analyst’s first question; he quizzed Cook about what would be different at Apple if Cook were running the company instead of Jobs.
Jobs responded with an impromptu, as-if-scripted statement, “as if [he were] reciting a creed he had learned as a child in Sunday School.”
“We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products, and that’s not changing.
“We believe in the simple not the complex…We believe in saying no to thousands of products, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us…
“We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in ways others cannot…
“And I think that regardless of who is in what job those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.”
Anyone who has ever used an Apple product will agree that the company does “innovate the way others cannot” and that Apple products “just work,” unlike any others.
Strategies for effectively dealing with the media are at once simple and complex: They are simply stated fundamentals of caution that executives should adhere to, yet they are complex in their execution because of basic human traits.
Among those complicating behaviors are a person’s eagerness to chat, to fill any sound void, to be congenial, even to reveal inner feelings.
France's Sarkozy, Israel's Netanyahu, America's Obama (Sources: Wikipedia Commons and White House Website)
All of those are character traits that can get you in trouble when dealing with the media — as we have pointed out in our 10 Media Relations Rules.
The real-life example of such an embarrassing situation occurred last week in an exchange between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Obama. Here’s what they said off-camera, but not off-mic.
“I can’t stand him anymore, he is a liar,” Sarkozy commented to Obama in describing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a G20 news conference in Cannes.
“You may be sick of him, but me, I have to deal with him every day,” Obama replied, according to the French Website Arrêt sur Images and later distributed globally by the AP and Wall Street Journal.
(Here is one of several YouTube videos of Sarkozy greeting Obama before the misstep.)
The unfortunate exchange violates both the third and fourth Media Relations Rules:
- No communication with a reporter is casual. Interviews are not chats. They are business discussions; treat them that way.
- Regardless of what you may be told, nothing is off the record. If you say it, expect it to be reported.
In addition, this situation creates what can be called The Sarkozy Corollary: “Always assume the mic is open.”
Not only did the French and American leaders assume far too much — that their mics were inoperative at that moment — their staffs trusted the media to comply with an embargo of audio translations being provided them.
The Journal reported:
“Even though the two presidents were still in a separate room, they were already wearing microphones for the news conference and aides to Mr. Sarkozy had distributed translating devices to a small group of journalists. Reporters were told not to connect headphones until the news conference started. Those who did, however, heard the exchange.”
Now, in addition to Sarkozy Corollary (assume the mic works), we have a further caution: You trust an embargo at your own peril, as the Sarkozy staff discovered.
[Thanks to Journal reporters Geraldine Amiel, with help from Joshua Mitnick and Carol E. Lee, for reporting this revealing event.]