Death of the Internet? I think not.

Prince: “The Internet’s like MTV. At one time, MTV was hip, and suddenly it became outdated.”

Prince: “The Internet’s like MTV. At one time, MTV was hip, and suddenly it became outdated.”

Prince is getting a lot of headlines for proclaiming the Internet is outdated. “The Internet’s like MTV,” he said to a reporter from The Mirror. “At one time, MTV was hip, and suddenly it became outdated.”

He should probably take that back – along with The Black Album. Sorry Prince, the Internet will be dead when pigs fly – or doves cry.

This is especially true for people who work in public relations. Online media provides some of the most valuable targets for media relations and PR campaigns – despite being undervalued in the eyes of some clients, who think it’s all about TV and daily papers.

Online media opportunities continue to grow as the traditional media continue to deal with shrinking space and cuts in staff and budget. Internet media offers so many terrific opportunities, probably 1999 or more, including:

· Connecting directly with customers through social media: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, Yelp, LinkedIn, etc.

· Reaching out to a targeted, niche audience through blogs (some of which have tremendous followings)

· Generating brand buzz and awareness through online video: YouTube, etc.

· Posting company news through online press releases (all while building SEO)

· Promoting events through community and national calendars

· Garnering the benefits of user-generated content

Who knows what the future will bring with the explosion of smart phones, iPads and the next big thing being cooked up by Apple and Google.

The (purple) reign of the Internet will last for a long time. Make sure to seize the many PR opportunities it offers.

The only thing that’s outdated for sure is this:

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No PR…er Soup…for You

About 100 people stand in line for the reopening of the Original SoupMan gourmet takeout that inspired the Soup Nazi character on "Seinfeld." (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

About 100 people stand in line for the reopening of the Original SoupMan gourmet takeout that inspired the Soup Nazi character on "Seinfeld." (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

When positive press comes along, most businesses see it as a good thing. After all, a lengthy story in let’s say The New York Daily News or a 2-minute slot on CBS’s The Early Show can do wonders in terms of public image and the bottom line. And who doesn’t like that?

Turns out—the “Soup Nazi.”

After a six-year absence, the man who inspired the Soup Nazi episode of “Seinfeld,” Al Yeganeh, is back. He reopened his original soup stand doors this month in Manhattan, and the media started slurping it up.

Yet come opening day, Yeganeh (now known as The Original Soup Man) was nowhere to be seen.

Add that to The Wall Street Journal article that published a list of rules for interviewing Yeganeh, including:

  1. No tabloids
  2. No use of the word Nazi
  3. No personal questions
  4. No follow-up questions

Plus, the fact that Jerry Seinfeld has had trouble in the past getting through the door, according to a recent NPR story. Yeganeh has dismissed the “Seinfeld” episode as an unfair character assassination. Once saying on CNN, that his product didn’t need “that clown” Jerry Seinfeld—that it spoke for itself for a quarter of a century.

For Yeganeh, it really does seem like “No PR for you.” Yet, we wonder, with all this media attention centered on his anti-PR ways, could that be his strategy?

Either way, at $20 for an extra-large cup of crab bisque and a line topping 100 eager customers, it looks like media attention is paying off.

Don’t Take the Bait

AP – Tiger Woods pauses during a press conference.

AP – Tiger Woods pauses during a press conference.

Two recent news stories reminded me of a good lesson for people facing critical questioning from the media: don’t take the bait.

We expect the media to ask tough, fair questions. It’s their job and that’s what they should do. But sometimes journalists ask questions that go too far or try and bait the interview subject into an uncomfortable situation.

The first story involves Tiger Woods. A reporter at a press conference in Ireland asked him if all his indiscretions has been “worth it” since it cost him his marriage and endorsements.

Obviously, the reporter’s goal is to get him to go ballistic so they can splatter the story all over the British tabloids.

Tiger didn’t take the bait. Woods handled it well, saying “I think you’re looking too deep into this,” and followed up with a very sharp “thank you.”

The second story comes from Sports Illustrated. It’s a Gary Smith article on the Gulf oil spill (yes, an oil spill story in SI, and well worth reading). Smith went on an oily field trip with BP’s crisis commander Bob Dudley, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and a couple of network TV crews.

They wade into a large pool of oil, survey the damage and talk about having to see it to really get a feel for the damage that has been done.

Smith describes the scene after that:

Kerry Sanders, the NBC correspondent, wanted more. “Look over your shoulder,” Sanders ordered Dudley , camera rolling. “What do you see?”

“It’s devastating … it’s very emotional.”

"This is oil from right here." - BP’s crisis commander Bob Dudley

"This is oil from right here." - BP’s crisis commander Bob Dudley

Not enough. “Can we see it on your hands,” demanded Sanders, “and can you tell us what it is?”

Dudley, on a contrition mission, scooped up the goo and gave NBC its money shot, blood on his hands. “This is oil from right here,” he recited dully.

Not enough. From the railing of a boat that the group had climbed aboard, CBS’s Harry Smith pointed to a phalanx of orange, fist-sized tar balls. “This is your oil,” declared Harry. “Do you feel guilty?”

Dudley, hangdog but litigation-leery: “I just feel sad.”

Dudley took the bait from Sanders and shoved his hands in the oil when asked. With BP’s lack of PR preparedness, Sanders probably could have had him in the oil floating on a raft sipping a cocktail – “now hold your drink in one hand and that dead bird in the other.”

Dudley should have gone out there and stuck with professional, responsible answers and not played into the hands of TV reporters trying to manufacture a “moment” for their stories.

I’m not trying to defend Tiger Woods or BP. The point is that anyone in the media spotlight better be able to recognize when the bait is tossed in front of them and know how to avoid it.

Independence Day on Publicity Stained Beaches

We don’t have an oil problem; we have a public relations problems.

We don’t have an oil problem; we have a public relations problem.

The summer travel season is well underway this weekend with big 4th of July celebrations planned. But how many people will be vacationing along the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and our home state of Florida?

Independence Day for many this year means independence from the bustling crowds of tourists. That is just a crying shame. Julian MacQueen, a hotelier in Pensacola Beach, Fla., proclaimed to The Wall Street Journal this week, “Our biggest problem is a public relations problem, and not an oil problem.’’

MacQueen could not be more right on – at least in Florida there are hundreds of miles of beautiful Gulf beaches completely unaffected by the BP oil disasters. But for tourists looking at one shot at a great summer vacation, many have voted with their pocketbooks that the Gulf is too big a risk.

Actually, smart tourists looking to save big money should come on down. In many places, Florida beaches are more likely to be littered with deals than tar balls.

For resort owners affected by the oil either in perception or reality, they must stay vigilant in trying to get their message out to tourists. BP had funded $25 million for advertising in major drive markets and Florida’s governor is seeking more.

While getting the message out on a large scale is appreciated, vacation home managers, small inn operators and restaurant owners have issues closer to home – how to keep revenue up!

Possible PR steps should include:

·         Regular web site updates with shots of their deals

·         Training and talking points for your front desk and reservation staff

·         Direct marketing and e-blasts to past guests

·         Social media updates on Facebook and Twitter

·         Making yourself available to stories about tourism and the oil impact in your area

·         Honesty with your customers

·         Crisis and customer care plan in place for refunds

No one can tell how or when this oil crisis will end for the travel, tourism and hospitality businesses along the Gulf Coast. Treating the customers right and providing the best information possible as fast as possible will be the best PR of all.

There is hope that the Gulf Coast can celebrate independence from the oil leaks as soon as possible.

From The Wall Street Journal

From The Wall Street Journal

Larry King is Hanging up his Suspenders

Larry King announces his retirement after 25-year gig on CNN.

Larry King announces his retirement after 25-year gig on CNN.

Larry King announced that he is retiring from his prime-time cable TV interview show on CNN, where he has been asking the tough questions to celebrities, world leaders and people in the news for a quarter century.

For me, the announcement is not just a sad note for King, but also an indicator of how long I have been in the news business. While all the American media have been talking about how King is a pioneer in cable news, I was stuck with the thought that I remember King vividly as a national late-night/early morning radio talk show host. It was on radio that he deftly honed his interview skills making him adept at talking with anyone and everyone.

Larry King is also a study in media trends. His career has successfully spanned different mediums, but his ability to draw on the latest newsmakers and storylines kept him current for decades.

In the media—as well as in public relations—the mode of how news is delivered is ever changing.  Yet, the power of the story and the storytelling will determine its success.

Good luck, Larry on your next chapter. Who knows? King might start doing interviews on Twitter.

In 1959, Bobby Darin, left, was Larry's first major guest on his WKAT radio program.

In 1959, Bobby Darin, left, was Larry's first major guest on his WKAT radio program.