Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One Year Anniversary

Today marks exactly one year since my first posting of "More of Les"!

Anniversaries have long been great excuses for putting out press releases. Clients come to their PR people declaring, "We're celebrating our first anniversary. That's big news in the start-up field!"

"But nobody cares about that," retorts the despondent publicist (me). "Please come back when you have real news. Like new partners, new clients, new products...or at least a fifth anniversary!"

So I won't use the anniversary of this blog as an excuse for a press release. Instead, I'll use it as an excuse for another blog posting.

First, let's see who else is publicizing an anniversary today.
  • CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE–Atlantic Cape Community College invites local residents to Community Day, a celebration of the five-year anniversary of the opening of the Cape May County Campus, 2 to 6 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 13, at CMCC, 341 Court House-South Dennis Road.
Not earth-shattering, but in addition to keeping with the five-year rule, it actually becomes news by creating a tie-in with a real event -- like the time my then-client CABLEready celebrated a key anniversary by launching a major scholarship program.

Then, there's this:
  • Integrated Marketing Summit Celebrates First Anniversary  
    30 Marketing Experts Coming to Kansas City October 12 + 13

    KANSAS CITY, Mo., Sept. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Top thought leaders behind some of America's most celebrated brands will gather for an exceptional two-day event as Kansas City hosts the Integrated Marketing Summit (IMS) on Tuesday, October 12th and Wednesday, October 13th at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center.
Stop the presses! The Marketing Summit is celebrating the anniversary of its first event! Oh, btw, they're running another one too. And it's exceptional! 

Actually, the agenda doesn't look too bad. Indeed, despite the Summit's own press release, PR Newswire's Director of Emerging Media Michael Pranikoff spoke yesterday on the topic, "Forget what you THINK you know about's a Whole New World." 

Sure is. In sports too. Right there in Kansas City, in fact, the Chiefs -- despite losing Sunday -- stand atop football's AFC West. In baseball, the Texas Rangers last night advanced in the playoffs for the first time ever.

But some sports certainties remain. The Yankees win, for instance, and the Pittsburgh Pirates lose (18 straight losing seasons).

So no wonder the only real significant anniversary being celebrated today is in Pittsburgh:  
  • 1960 World Series Celebration and Mazeroski Plaque Dedication
PITTSBURGH, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy is partnering with Pirates Charities on Wednesday, October 13 to mark the 50th anniversary of Bill Mazeroski's home run that made the Pittsburgh Pirates the 1960 World Series Champions.  The day will begin at 11:45 a.m. with a public unveiling of a sidewalk plaque honoring Mazeroski for his walk-off home run.  The ceremony will take place near the old Forbes Field wall at the intersection of Schenley and Roberto Clemente Drives in Oakland.

Yes, 50 years ago today, Bill Mazeroski's epic home run propelled the upstart Pirates to World Series victory over the Yankees.

While there's long been newsreel footage of this classic moment, the complete NBC telecast of what has been dubbed "the best game ever" was thought lost forever -- until film of it was recently discovered in Bing Crosby's wine cellar. The late great crooner, you see, was not only a pioneer in the recording of radio and TV shows (before him, everything was done live) but also part-owner of the Pirates.

That's why Crosby has a cameo in the original 1951 Angels in the Outfield, which I recently viewed on Turner Classic Movies. It's a fantasy film where the Pirates miraculously win the pennant during another multi-year period when the real-life team was just plain awful.

At this point, I planned to conclude this celebration of "More of Les"' first anniversary with a video or audio of Crosby singing "It Was a Very Good Year," but apparently Bing never sang that Sinatra standard.

So instead, I'll turn to the co-star of Angels in the Outfield, Janet Leigh. At the time of the movie's release, she had just married Tony Curtis, who passed away two weeks ago today. Curtis is renowned in PR circles because six years later, he would star as sleazy "press agent" Sidney Falco in undoubtedly the greatest movie ever made about PR, The Sweet Smell of Success. Like me, Falco ran a small independent shop, but he definitely had a different approach to landing clients -- pushing his way in and then guaranteeing placements in is his equally sleazy abettor JJ Hunsecker's hugely influential newspaper column, as shown here:

Wow, I bet Falco never needed to hang a press release on an anniversary hook. Maybe I should have used his new business approach to land a client or two at ShowBiz Expo this past weekend?

No, wouldn't have worked. I don't know any JJ Hunseckers, thank god.

But I've got my own "column" to fill, and to end. Thanks for reading. It's been a very good year.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Radio, Newspapers: Back to the Agency Silos?

 via Tales of Future Past -

At the OMMA (Online Media, Marketing & Advertising) conference, keynote speaker Arianna Huffington takes pains to note the continued viability of newspapers. She gets seven papers delivered daily and reads them all, she declares.

I glance about. It's around 9:30 am. For the first time in a long history of attending morning business meetings, no newspaper is in sight. And most of the attendees are not teens or millenials. But all are in the ad industry.

Huffington is so old-fashioned that's she's also made a commitment to sleep eight hours nightly -- and she  wants to find common cause between right and left political partisans. Not only does she read newspapers, she probably even listens to the radio.

My mind is on that ancient audio medium, because I'm heading next to a big Advertising Week event -- more a rally in fact -- thrown by NYMRAD (New York Market Radio). Radio execs, of course, have little interest in taming rabid partisans (almost entirely right-wing) because that's where the listeners and revenues lie. 

The first speaker is former TV star/liberal turned radio talk show host/conservative Dennis Miller who, unlike Huffington, can't separate his politics from the business pitch. Miller''s there to sell radio as an ad medium, but he can hardly utter a sentence without bashing President Obama, Speaker Pelosi or Secretary Clinton. Yet he insists that he's holding back his worst vitriol in deference to what he terms a Democratic audience.

But if Democrats don't listen to talk radio, and media buyers are Democrats, where does that leave the radio industry? During the event's cocktail party, I strike up a conversation with a typical media buyer.

"Radio's not something we ordinarily think about," she admits. "Who listens to radio in New York?"
So I start thinking. Ad folks obviously watch TV.  Even OMMA has a Time Warner cable exec on one of its panels. Of course, that's because cable has begun including the Internet in its ad sales mix. But so have newspapers and radio.

Weren't "silos" supposed to be a thing of the past at media agencies, and integrated media now all the rage? Yet if buyers are so obsessed with checking out sponsored tweets and testing the latest mobile apps that they can't bother to pick up a Sunday newspaper circular to see how Target garners store traffic, or turn on the radio to hear how Dennis Miller sells sump pumps (the things you learn at industry events!), perhaps online has become the new TV -- the only thing that really matters now in the ad world.

So while Huffington hypes newspapers and Miller talks radio, I...well, I admit it,  I too don't have a newspaper with me during Advertising Week -- I'm getting the news I want via my Blackberry. And I'm not listening to drive-time radio on the way to the conference either -- that's impossible on the subway, for one thing, but I can hear all the tunes I want on my iPad anyway. Who needs radio these days after all? Who needs newspapers?

Oh well, time to stop pontificating and get back to the real world,  I've got online advertising companies to promote. Hmm, let's see. That client's story should be just perfect for Stuart Elliott in the Times. That other client keeps pestering me to get mentioned by Mossberg in the Journal.  And that book about politics and technology?  Well, a radio tour is the only way to go.