Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

Last night, I checked my personal email account and a LinkedIn update caught my attention. Robert Cornet, who owns his own PR firm, sought to measure (unscientifically), how corporate executives view the PR people within their companies. He found that “Only a little more than one-third (36%) strongly agreed (10%) or agreed (26%) with the statement, The PR people in my organization have valuable knowledge I don’t have. The rest who answered – 61% — either disagreed (24%), strongly disagreed (27%) or said they didn’t know if PR pros had valuable knowledge.”

While there are a whole host of issues that factored into the results, I’m warming up to the idea that the environment is skewed in ways that make it difficult to be seen as possessing valuable knowledge.

I think that this video from a segment from one of Conan O’Brien’s shows – one with Conan and Louis C.K. – is pretty insightful about the people’s expectations. If this is in any way a semblance of the environment in which we live and if these are the expectations that people have, people in the communications business, whether they are public affairs people or marketing gurus, face some significant challenges. The player is disabled by request….so here is the link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoGYx35ypus

Now long ago, I commented on the explosion of Twitter and wondered how I was going to use it in the public affairs arena in new ways that had not been explored. A number of members of Congress either were using Twitter or were on the verge of entering tweeterville, which convinced me that the tool needed to added to the toolbox. I think it was a week or two later that the Washington Post published an article about all the Twittering that was being done during President Obama’s address to the Congress.

I’ve decided that it’s time to expand my ability to communicate and so I have set up a twitter account. You can follow me at http://twitter.com/rorydavenport. Hope you tweet with you soon.

It’s not like we talk about the end of the media as we know it for 16 or so hours a day…but we do.  It’s kind of like watching a Formula 1 race (or a NASCAR race for some of the members of the team, and you know who you are) to witness the crash.  Or, should I say crashes as the number of media outlets in Washington continues to increase.

Nick Ludlum, a colleague, points to a couple of interesting articles on the topic.

Under the better late than never category, all international affairs junkies should check out the newer blogs – nine of them – at ForeignPolicy.com

Some of the blogs are a real hoot, far from the dry stuff that can be widely seen in the foreign policy space.  Hillary’s army will want to check out Madam Sec to follow the happenings at State!

It looks like this YouTube thing is going to take off.  Ok, YouTube has been a big deal for some time now.  But, isn’t it the place people go when they want to watch cats doing strange things or videos that didn’t air on America’s Funniest Home Videos?  Could YouTube somehow work in the public affairs arena?  I think it can but there is a while to go before we really know the answer to that question.  However, the evidence to support my opinion may come rather quickly.

Way back in September of 2008, HouseHub and SenateHub were set up as dedicated channels for members of the House and Senate to use to communicate with constituents.  Now, we are likely to see more Senators and Representatives using those channels because of the success then candidate Obama had during the election season.   In fact, Senator Lamar Alexander and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi have recently posted “welcoming” videos to the site and I think you will see more members doing the same thing in the next couple of weeks.


So, I suggest you update your public affairs plans to include a little YouTube action and get comfortable with a little make-up.

When you are credited with running the most technologically savvy presidential campaign in history, there is bound to be quite a bit of anticipation of how the Obama team in the White House would use WhiteHouse.gov.  Well, the digital curtain has been raised on the site.

For anyone familiar with Obama’s campaign web site, WhiteHouse.gov has a similar feel.  And, if you are are suffering from campaign withdrawal syndrome, you don’t need to suffer any longer.  The fundamental tools such as RSS feed and e-mail sign-up capabilities are in place so you can get your Obama fix 24 hours a day.  And, to faciliate transparency (and use the site as a political organizing tool?), there will be a blog section and a space for “the public to review and comment” on non-emergency legislation before President Obama signs it. 

So, the White House’s attempt to build an online community using government instruments is underway.  It is sure to be an interesting experiment.

Let us know what you think about the site and what you would add if you were the site’s guru.

Search is huge.  Think about how you use the web.  Sometimes you know exactly where you want to go but many times you know you want to get information about a particular topic or issue but don’t know where to go.  You start at Yahoo or Google and go from there. 

I’ve received more questions about how to improve or maximize search in the last couple of weeks than during the whole Q4 of 2008.  Hint, expect more digital efforts this year! 

PBS’s MediaShift has some are some tips to get you started if you’re so inclined to boost your search power.

In the next few weeks, The Intersection is going to be the receipent of a little make-over and that includes adding some new features.  We are looking forward to integrating some of the interactive ideas we’ve been talking about for the past couple of months.

One of the interactive features that we are going to include is a question of the week (or so) because we also want to know what you’re thinking and talking about with your friends and colleagues.  And, isn’t the sharing of ideas one of the reasons why we blog and read blogs?

Instead of waiting for the refresh, which will include a dedicated area for “The Question,” I’m going to kick-off the action by asking:

What should be the first 44 actions the 44th President should take on the first 44 days? 

Everything is on the table including executive orders, foreign trips, etc.  Let us know what you think.

Many social media mavens have declared that Twitter is a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon – a communications force that simply can’t be ignored.  Twitter was receiving such grandious claims that I had to be somewhat skeptical of its usefulness – particularly with respect to impacting public policy.  No communication tool could possibly live up to such hype, right?

While Twitter may eventually fade away as an ice cream cone on a hot July day, it is alive and well today.  The Wall Street Journal has even stated that “Twitter Goes Mainstream” and it has been reported that Rep. John Culberson is working to allow members of Congress to freely tweet.  Indeed, I’ve learned that Rep. Culberson is using his Twitter account to “help him stay in touch with his constituents,” which I heard on National Public Radio as I was zooming in-and-out of the typically abominable Washington traffic.

So given what I do every day, a couple of questions come to mind.  Should constituents tweet their member of Congress during votes (at least those with Twitter accounts)?  And, how will members of Congress respond to those tweets?  Will “twittering” Senators and Representatives monitor their Blackberry during the role call vote?  Could a vote be decided by the final tweet?

Hmmm.  Looks like I may just have to start considering “the tweet factor” in future campaign plans.

Given that blogging has been around for about 10 years, it is hard to imagine that news organizations – and it appears to be many news outlets – don’t have personal blogging guidelines for their journalists.  Kevin Rector in the article “Murky Boundaries” in the June/July 2008 edition of the the American Journalism Review reports on this amazing situation.  Rector found some very interesting situations such as “…the Miami Herald, which has extensive policies for the 30 or so blogs it hosts on its own Web site, has no specific guidelines for personal blogging.”  How in the world….

A couple of other remarkable discoveries are in the article.  First, Rector found that in the 2008 State of the News Media report issued by the Project for Excellence in Journalism that reporters’ blogs on news sites grew 210% from December 2005 to December 2006!  Really.  So, people are more interested in reading reporters blogs – which I assume is likely to be commentary – than in their straight news pieces.

But maybe that shouldn’t be so shocking.  Who wants to read straight news when you can pull up a blog and get a little extra juice?  Maybe that is why the tabloids fare well in the U.K.

But wait.  A July 2006 survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 34 percent of the 12 million American adults who have blogs said that they “considered their blog a form of journalism.”  Alright, its time to be scared.  Very scared.


Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide