Spring Running Mix – The Interactive Edition

mndr-first-in-heaven_largeLoving the bona fide spring weather here in Jersey which has been perfect for running, especially to these tunes, courtesy of The Alternate Side.

Warning: Potential time suck.  Click at your own risk . . .preferably NOT while running!

  1. Gangnam Style” by Psy, 2012.  Yes, this over-the-top, bombastic romp through the posh streets of a Seoul suburb continues to top my playlist. Brief English phrases pop up in this Korean tour de force but it’s the dance moves in the video that I can’t get enough of.  Ride the horse baby!
  2. It Don’t Move Me” by Peter Bjorn and John, 2009. A great synth-pop song on its own with a driving bass line, the video for this song features a socially and physically awkward young man executing (rather well, I might add) iconic dance moves from Michael Jackson’s videos.
  3. Global Concepts” by Robert DeLong, 2012. I was always gonna like a song that poses the question “Did I make you fucking dance?” But truth be told, the entire song is a rather powerful call for gaining perspective on one’s life, even managing to work in a reference to Plato!  I love the concept of waxing philosophic while rocking out on the dance floor in a sweaty existential daze. Yeah, that’s how I roll . . .
  4. Time to Run” by Lord Huron, 2012. The hopeless romantic in me goes all gooey for this song, in which the singer “wanted everyone to know that you’re the girl for me.” Should probably also mention the narrator of the song is running from the law. . .
  5. I’m Just Me” by Diamond Rings, 2012. Alternating between stripped down New Order-esque delivery and soaring synth choruses, this song captures the spirit of the ‘80s, complete with a little Madonna –esqe Vogueing in the video.
  6. Default” by Django Django, 2012.  Definitely a DEVO vibe going on here.
  7. Tonight I Have to Leave It” by Shout Out Louds, 2007. According to Amazon.com this Swedish band is all about “the rush, the emotion, and the infectious melodies that along with youth, good hair, and the endless pursuit of love, make up the foundation of all great pop music,” which here, sounds very much like a combination of Big Country and The Cure.
  8. “#1 in Heaven” by MNDR, 2012. I am all over this song and can’t play it loud enough. The chorus refers to the moment the kidnapped heiress Patty Heart begins to sympathize with her kidnappers:  “Tell them (my brothers and sisters) I am smiling and send my greetings.” The video, which features Amanda Warner channeling a seriously Madonna-esque 80s vibe, is a Spin magazine must-see video.
  9. “Faster Horses” by MNDR, 2012. Because one MNDR song is simply not enough.
  10. Repatriated” by Handsome Furs, 2011. Some serious synth-pop from a Canadian husband-wife team, who according to SubPop!, “use keyboards and drum machines to forge life-affirming anthems taut with muscle and blood.”
  11. Big Mouth” by Santigold, 2011.  Pure, unadulterated nastiness (in a good way!) at 2:40 into the song. The Philly-born singer who eschews comparisons to MIA, has nevertheless, surrounded herself with people who used to work with MIA. I love that she takes swipes at Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. Cat fight!
  12. Pass Way” by Pomegranates, 2012. Love the falsetto on the chorus, which reminds me of Roland Gift from the Fine Young Cannibals.

Not Lost in the Transmission

Joy Division WarsawI was pleasantly surprised to discover an essay by Joy Division founder Peter Hook on the last page of the New York Times magazine a few months ago.  I gained insights into the band’s creative process as well as a deeper understanding of the magic Ian Curtis brought to the band.

I was also excited to learn that Peter Hook has a new memoir out.  I was a fan of the book and movie versions of “Touching from a Distance” in a voyeuristic schadenfreude kinda way.  I mean, life can be shit, but it typically doesn’t culminate in an untimely suicide at the peak of a promising musical career.

But then I got to thinking: a fringe band from 1970s Manchester was being featured in a widely read, highly regarded news outlet.  What did that mean for me, someone who likes to think I still linger near the fringe.  Now the freakin’ New York Times was speaking right to me!

It was kinda like an experience my friend Carla recently had in Walgreens.  She nipped in to buy some diapers for her two-year-old daughter and was assailed by the MUSAC version of The Clash’s “London Calling.”  Whoa.  That’s so wrong, it ain’t even right, I said to her.

What the hell?

She sadly informed me that we are no longer the hip, cool kid set.  We are now the mommy demographic, the one that marketers are targeting so we’ll part with our hard-earned liberated mommy money.

And while we may think it’s cool that our daughters listen to The Black Keys, The Black Eyed Peas and New Order, she maintained it’s essentially akin to our listening to parents’ 50s do-wop favorites like Frank Sinatra, Frankie Valli and Bobby Darren.

Hmm.  I ran this by another friend, a true music aficionado, and he categorically disagreed. We are different he said, because we continue to discover new music. Yes, we may have plenty of nostalgic moments around music from our youth, but we have long tails of nostalgia because of our enduring quest for new music.

OK, I am feeling better. I may be chair dancing to “Bizarre Love Triangle” at the Old Folks home some day, but I’ll also be humming along with the tunes cranking from the kitchen, where  high school boys are scrubbing dishes.  Love of music will never tear us apart, indeed it will always bring us closer.

Transmission out.

Unlikely Pairings Can Lead to Unexpected Places

The impact of foreclosures was the subject of an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art earlier this year– an unlikely – and unexpected combination of topic and venue if I ever did see one.

This got me thinking about the unexpected and I realized that often, innovation is the result of unlikely pairings between seemingly unconnected thoughts, concepts or beliefs.

Everyone talks about innovation these days – and how important it is.  Indeed, being able to make those connections – to see them and imagine the end result – is what ultimately separates the followers from the leaders.

Here are three things that have recently caught my attention as being truly innovative because they combine unexpected elements to create a surprising result.

  1. Put It on My Account – at Walmart
    Bluebird, the new pre-paid Amex Card offered through Walmart was dubbed a “surprising alliance” by The New York Times, representing a brilliant mash-up of high and low end brands that offers the cache of American Express to a new consumer segment. Win-win (with a possible hint of predatory lending) but definitely unexpected.
  2. Own Your Mistakes – Artfully
    The recent and “audacious” theft of seven paintings from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal art museum has presented a monumental PR problem for the museum, under scrutiny for lax security measures. They should take a page from the Tate Gallery book of innovation, which launched earlier this year an exhibit about lost paintings.  In the words of Jennifer Mundy, curator of The Gallery of Lost Art, museums normally tell stories through the objects they have in their collections.  But this virtual exhibit focuses on works that cannot be seen. Counter intuitive and therefore innovative.
  3. Chew Two Sticks and Call Me in the Morning
    For many of us, chewing gum in school was verboten – exactly why I am not sure. We only put it under the desk because responsible disposal risked exposure. Well, turn that rule on its head. Dentists are now recommending that children chew sugarless gum in school as a way of preventing cavities – seems the saliva generated by chewing breaks down the bacteria responsible for tooth decay. Unfortunately, the jury is still out on bubble blowing . . .

From finance to fine art, each of the above examples demonstrate how thinking unconventionally, connecting things that are not like the other and flying in the face of tradition can lead down the path to innovation.It’s a road less traveled, to be sure, but one certain to end up in places not yet on the map.

5 Things Martha Stewart Taught Me About Improvising

I love to cook – probably because I love to eat! – and am always looking for new recipes, ingredients and styles to tinker with and improvise on. But I never expected that improvising on a Martha Stewart Living recipe could teach me a lesson about life.

Earlier this summer I happened upon a recipe for a zucchini, summer squash and tomato salad. The picture looked amazing – the bright greens, vibrant yellows and rich reds instantly made my mouth water.

But as I looked at the instructions, I knew I needed to improvise.

First of all, the salad called for a mandoline to thinly slice the squash.  Since I don’t have one – I keep a pretty scaled down kitchen gadget collection – I sharpened my best knife and set about making thin slices the old fashioned way.

Next, I realized that I needed to figure out how to transform the crispy texture of the salad into something a little softer so that my husband – who had recently had some serious dental work – would be able to enjoy the dish.

To do that, I threw the squash and tomatoes into the sauté pan where I was actually following the directions and infusing some thyme in heated olive oil.

I let the squash sit in the hot oil for about 10 minutes and the flesh softened nicely.

Since I am not a huge fan of basil and felt strongly that a garnish of brash basil ribbons would compete with the subtlety of the thyme- infused dressing, I omitted that ingredient.

The final step involved adding a dollop of ricotta cheese on top of each plate.  In the recipe’s original incarnation, the cheese would have remained nice and cool, in keeping with the uncooked veggies, but since I had warmed them, the ricotta cheese got nice and gooey and warm, an unexpected but delicious development.

I got to thinking that this act of improvisation had great legs in terms of life-learning, and came up with five key takeaways:

  1. Look for inspiration in places you don’t always look.
  2. Don’t be afraid to take an alternate route to accomplish the task at hand.
  3. Feel confident in your ability to make changes on the fly that best suit the situation.
  4. Stand up for what you believe in – even if it flies in the face of tradition.
  5. And be open to the unexpected surprises that may come your way when you improvise.

While I didn’t expect the warm ricotta to be so yummy, I also didn’t expect that a zucchini, a squash and a tomato would have so much to tell me about how to live my life.  Definite food for thought!

Boxed In

Sometimes it’s not enough to be a critic. You need to be a visionary.  As we emerge from the deepest real estate downturn since the Great Depression, it is critical that we not lose sight of the fundamental cause of the devastating erosion of personal wealth for so many Americans:  homeownership.

Yes, the very birthright that all Americans are entitled to, what has come to be called “the American Dream,” must be re-imagined. And that was precisely the task given to five teams of “architects planners, ecologists, engineers, landscape designers, and other specialists in the urban and suburban condition” who set out to imagine new models of housing for an exhibit presented earlier this summer at the MOMA “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream.”

The central mission of the exercise, which asked people outside of housing policy to rethink housing habits and de facto dogmas, was to invoke novel approaches to a problem that will plague us long after the ink dries on the last foreclosure signing.

Today, we may be faced with the aftershocks of the Great Recession, but the planned communities in the MOMA show dealt head on with the need to create places where people can work and live throughout the continuum of their housing and employment needs. In a sense the plans presented here get so far out in front of the issues, they do in fact seem light years away from reality.

That means, in reality, most people probably wouldn’t live in places like these now, because their thinking has been ingrained.  Innovation requires not only the presentation of the unlikely connections, but the selling in of them.

Within the framework of an art exhibit, the exhibit’s merits included its brilliant imagination, a purposeful reexamination of tradition and the presentation of a new way of looking at things. Can you say Housing Moderns?

But I think the true value in this noble foray into what can only be called a cultural shift, is that it clearly demonstrates the need to approach housing through a different lens – say that of art – to effect meaningful change.  Given today’s housing realities, the issue is not simply the subject of an art exhibit, it is a national imperative.

Beach Reads: The Jersey Shore Edition

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By definition, summer reading is meant to be light so be forewarned: the following books will NOT be voted into the literary canon, win a Pulitzer prize or provide a road map to retool your life, your finances, or political campaign reform.
Now that we have the disclaimer out of the way, let’s begin. Here’s a trio of quick reads, all with a New Jersey connection in honor of my Jersey girl state of mind.
Janet Evanovich, New Jersey native and author of the famed Stephanie Plum bounty hunter series, birthed a variation on the theme when she cooked up the Wicked series.  Lizzy Tucker, a cupcake baker living in Salem, Mass., and Diesel, a surfer dude version of Stephanie Plum’s flame Joe Morelli, join forces to combat various forms of the slightly supernatural, although Lizzie is initially a somewhat reluctant skeptic.
While Morelli is a cop who carries a gun, Diesel possesses a variety of mild super powers – like the ability to open any locked door and an uncanny knack for knowing what Lizzy is thinking.  While Lizzy and Diesel seem to be cut from the same cloth as Stephanie and Morelli, Evanovich breaks new ground in creating two unforgettable supporting characters: a pet monkey named Carl who likes squeezable cheese and giving people the finger, and a co-worker who endeavors to embrace her inner witch by casting dubious spells and enchanting a broom. Needless to say, a willing suspension of disbelief is required for this one, but the brain candy quotient is deliciously high.
On a more sophisticated character and plot front is the latest from Livingston, N.J. native Harlan Coben. Live Wire is another installation featuring celebrity sports agent Myron Bolitar, who always seems to get himself embroiled in a complicated mystery requiring surveillance, subterfuge and some good old sadistic ass-kicking by the hand of his best friend Win. While I honestly can’t recall the details of the plot, I do recall that I devoured the book in about two days.  Never met a Harlan Coben book I didn’t like and Live Wire did not disappoint.
And for the final offering in the Jersey Shore edition of beach reads we have Can I Get an Amen?  Now I don’t tend toward books with a religious bend, but this one was recommended by Janet Evanovich, so I bought it. I also assumed (wrongly) that the slightly irreverent title meant the book was about moving AWAY from religion.  Well, as the plot unfolded, it was actually the opposite.  Ellen Carlisle, who refuted her born-again upbringing in suburban New Jersey, readjusts her relationship to religion after moving back in with her family following a divorce.
Now, the book was touching, and at times pretty darn sad, but it did not live up to my expectations of delivering a funny, blasphemous romp through organized religion.  Despite that, I did read it to the end. Not sure I would actually recommend it, but it did rather conveniently form the third side of my Jersey-themed trilogy. Yes, I succumbed to function reigning over form, but I never said I was a purist – just a Jersey girl.

Travelogue St. Thomas: No Passport Required!

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A bad case of beach envy resulted in a recent trip to St. Thomas, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands.  After I watched three colleagues bugger off in quick succession to Aruba, St. Kitts and the Dominican Republic, I decided I needed to jump on that tropical beach train. My husband needlessly expedited a passport for our daughter: my own passport had expired in February so we turned our sights to the USVI and an all in-inclusive resort called Sugar Bay.  Located on the East End of the Island, the property included a labyrinthine pool complex just steps away from a secluded beach straight out of a postcard.  We spent six days, five nights and over the course of our stay I came away with – you guessed it – a St. Thomas Top 10 list.

  1. Sun – yes there is sunshine in abundance, although it was a bit more humid than I expected.  The beach breeze was lovely and I kept very cool sitting on the edge of the water playing in the sand with our three-year old daughter Georgia. John and I managed to only get a bit of a burn on our last day and Georgia remained burn free thanks to liberal application of SPF 50. I have kept my tan going all summer thanks to the week-long base building trip and have vowed to make a tropical trip each June to ensure I am a bronzed beauty all summer long.  My dermatologist is now picking Ivy League colleges for her kids based on the many visits I will be making in the future.
  2. Iguanas – the squirrels of the tropics, these ubiquitous reptiles horned in on our lunches, looking for lovely morsels of dropped food and fighting to the death for the privilege of eating them.  We watched one eat a napkin and be the subject of an intervention by a gamekeeper who enlisted the aid of two tourists to stick their fingers in the sharp-toothed craw of said iguana to retrieve the napkin.  Both sustained minor flesh wounds from the ungrateful bugger who will happily live another day to hopefully not eat something inedible.
  3. Rum – in abundance! We were greeted at check-in with a complimentary glass of rum punch and for the next few days, we sampled the MANY varieties of rum-based concoctions aptly named things like Pirates’ Punch, Rum Runner, and my favorite, the Mind Eraser. But the funny thing about an endless supply of rum drinks is that you soon get over it! By the third day, it was close to 5 pm before we had our first drink.
  4. Seafood – We left the grounds of Sugar Bay one night in search of authentic Caribbean seafood. One of the locals working at the hotel gave us a tip and we enjoyed a great night eating harbor-side with a lovely breeze wafting through the open air restaurant.  I splurged on Caribbean lobster, which unlike its Maine cousin, lacks front claws and is primarily a big-ass hunk of tail.  The meat was not as dense as Maine lobster and a little more buttery in taste. Deee-lish!
  5. Home field advantage – The no-passport-required was definitely a convenience, although on our way out, the customs official RAKED Georgia over the coals asking her what Mommy’s and Daddy’s names were, how old she was and when her birthday was! Thankfully, Georgia answered everything perfectly, but I was totally sweating the fact that this lady might think we were abducting the child and throw our asses in jail.  NOT FUN!
  6. Bird watching – Yes, I said bird watching, the past-time of retired folk.  But I will say it was strangely thrilling seeing the St. Thomas versions of a sparrow (the chirpy thrasher), a great blue heron (the pervasive pelican) and a white egret, which was much larger than egrets seen in my parts.
  7. Match Play Mini-golf – Now who knew that the campy little game of miniature golf could take on such competitive proportions? My husband is a near-scratch golfer so he offered to give me one stroke a hole.  Now what I lack in power off the tee, I make up in my short game but nevertheless, I think John was mightily surprised when I beat him the first game.  I didn’t take it too seriously – I mean when your three-year-old is tending the holes for you, the experience is really all about how damn cute it is to watch her play with that kid-size club and pink golf ball.  However, when I was challenged to a re-match and STILL beat him, then I felt I earned some bragging rights!
  8. Snorkeling – well, let’s just say it LOOKED fun.  We didn’t actually do any snorkeling because we didn’t want to go solo (someone would have had to stay with Georgia) but the people who did snorkel were ALL IN, , swimming up and down the craggy shore of our resort, swimming around islands, going ga-ga over all the fish.  We did get a small sense of it as we stood in the water – small silvery fish regularly swam close to the shore and enjoyed visiting the swimmers, even “kissing” some people with little bites!
  9. Limbo dancers and fire eating voo doo ladies – the things they do with fire are not even one bit funny! The voo doo lady let out a fiery breath in our vicinity and all I could smell for the next 10 minutes was the very real smell of petrol and the very imagined smell of singed eyebrows. The limbo dancers were amazing –the St. Thomas equivalent of NCAA competitive cheerleaders – all smiles, double-jointed limbs and unbelievable body contortions.  And did I mention they did it all with FIRE????
  10. Calypso music – I don’t think you can ever get enough of the steel drum infused tunes of St. Thomas when you are IN St. Thomas. That said, this genre of music loses some of its appeal once you are stateside. Nevertheless, like everything else on this list, it will be part and parcel of the collective St. Thomas experience for the duration.

The Big Easy: Easier Than I Thought!

They say the third time’s a charm and for me and the Big Easy, that was definitely the case. My first two trips to New Orleans were “strictly business” and while I was staying on the edge of the French Quarter, I didn’t get to check it out. My third trip, however, while also for business, provided ample opportunity for pleasure as well.

I will confess I had absolutely no expectations, so when I was treated to a wide array of music – none of it jazz – I sat up and took notice.  Since jazz is really not one of my go-to genres, I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. Zydeco and Satchmo aside, here is the soundtrack to MY New Orleans:

At Rock and Bowl, an out of the way live music venue featuring, you guessed it, bowling and a bar, we screwed the pooch in terms of live music, but the soundtrack we heard really took the cake: a seriously long Jackson-inspired set featuring MJ, sister Janet and the whole damn brood, followed up by a classic rock set that included Cream, the Clash and Three Dog Night.  You can’t make this shit up!  I am not ashamed to say I danced to it all.

Somewhere on Bourbon Street, at the Old Opera House I was treated to a GREAT bar band that rocked amazing renditions of Train’s “Soul Sister,” Jet’s “Are you Gonna Be My Girl,” Lenny Kravitz’s “Are you Gonna Go My Way?” and the White Stripes “Fell in Love with a Girl”. I danced to it all, swinging my hair wildly around in sheer delight.  The gold earring I lost was well worth it. Truly.

As part of the ERA Real Estate 40th Anniversary celebration, we hosted an opening night party at Generations Hall which featured music from the last 40 years, most notably a heavy set of late 80s/early 90s hip hop that included Salt n Pepa “Push It”, Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock “It Takes Two,” and Sir Mix a Lot “I Like Big Butts,” culminating in MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This.”
Unbelievably brilliant in a totally nostalgic kinda way.

Of course, throughout the course of my week, the iPod got its work out. Songs that stuck out and that will remind me of my trip include: Butthole Surfers “Pepper,” Broken Social Scene “Sweetest Kill,” Coldplay “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” These United States “I Want You to Keep Everything,” Thom Yorke, Harrowdown Hills and, believe it or not Strafe’s “Set it Off!”

On our last night, we ventured past Bourbon Street to the “other side” of town, centered around Frenchmen Street, home to the locals.  As we traipsed along, I heard The Rapture “How Deep is your Love” and the Violent Femmes “Blister in the Sun” before having to take a fallen comrade in arms home.  I heard we missed an awesome reggae band but I feel confident there will a next time.

All in all, my musical experience in the Big Easy was a most pleasant surprise and deeply, deeply satisfying. I may be home, but the sounds of my New Orleans will stay with me for some time.

Three Stories: Heartbreakers

I’m a big fan of the recurring NPR segment “Three Books.” However, until recently, I never actually grouped books I had read into categories of three.  But after reading The Help, I found myself thinking of two other stories that touched me deeply and thought they would well be represented in this format.

The first story, Brokeback Mountain by E. Annie Proulx, is probably more familiar to most as a movie.  I never did see the movie because the book was almost too awful to experience.  Sparse prose and a desolate backdrop magnified the feelings  exchanged between two unsuspecting cowhands. Truth was found on the hilltops; the lies revealed only down below.  The despair of loneliness made one man hard, the other could only succumb to its emptiness. A painful tale of a love that was not allowed to be.

The Grandmothers by Doris Lessing also deals with an illicit love, but its secret was shared and collectively hidden from view.  Spoiler alert: Two women, best friends since childhood who have raised their sons together, unexpectedly end up having affairs with the other’s son.   Everyone is happy with the arrangement, but four lives are stuck in this secret, frozen in time. The truest act of love, undertaken by the mothers, was to cut it off and the devastating results were nearly fatal.  The irony was that the sacrifice was not enough to save those involved, making one wonder, why was it done in the first place?

The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which divulged the secrets of a segregated South, dealt with a tough subject, yes.  But the piece which ripped me to shreds was the total apathy and indifference of a mother to her young daughter, and the ultimate impact that would have on her. I sobbed thinking of the nanny who loved the child like her own, but knew that one day this child would become her hate-filled mother.

The three stories are linked in their revelations of illicit, forbidden love, the joy and purity that exists despite of and not because it is verboten, and the utter despair, loneliness and futility that accompanies it. 

Is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all? Is the pain of a broken heart worth the joy preceding it? These questions have stayed with me like a deep wound I myself sustained upon entering the worlds of these three stories.  I can never return to life before these three stories.  But then again, I’m not sure I want to.

Blockbuster Issues in PR

As Oscar season approaches, here’s a fun look at some current issues in my chosen field of public relations through the lens of movies, some award-winning and some just tops in my book.

Citizen Wane
Issue: The incredible shrinking news hole

Think back to the days of the broadsheet newspaper.  Now take a look at your phone and you will see how much real estate we have lost in terms of message placement. Soundbites used to be just for radio and TV, but now we need to compress our written messages into a single screen. The irony is that the web has endless real estate, but yet the way we interact with the web, we lose that wonderful opportunity to present information in-depth. 

Dude, Where’s my Audience?
Issue: Pull vs. Push

There was a time when people started their day reading the newspaper and ended it by sitting down in front of a radio or TV to catch a newscast.  This was a captive audience.  Fast forward to the day of smartphones, RSS feeds, and YouTube where consumers have more opportunity to select the information they want to receive and decide when they want to consume it. That means PR people have fewer opportunities to push information to a captive audience.

Combine that with a declining newspaper circulation, declining online news consumption and an increasing number of niche outlets and the result is that identifying and targeting your audience has never been more important or more difficult in today’s fractured media landscape. Also significant is that when people pick their news, research proves that they tend to seek out sources that reinforce existing beliefs and that it’s very hard to change their minds once an opinion has been formed.  That means PR folks have to double down when faced with changing opinions.

I, Reporter
Issue: Disintermediation and the rise of citizen journalism

Never before has the “public” part of public relations been so on point.  Back in the day, you released news to the press in the form of a – you guessed it – press release. Editors decided if the news was worthy enough to share with the public.  Today, with the accessibility of the internet, we can release information directly to the public by posting to our company website, our Facebook page, our YouTube channel or Twitter account.  The press release has become the news release.

Couple that with the rise of the blogger, a person who operates outside of the journalistic code, and that guy with a smartphone who can share his news with the world with a click of a button.  You know, like the guy who broke the story of Captain Scully’s heroic plane landing in the East River.

Kickin’ It Old School
Issue: In terms of source credibility, word of mouth rules

Despite the rapid technological advances that have changed how we communicate, there has been a significant return to old school communication: word of mouth. From “likes” and shares on Facebook, to reviews on Yelp! and Angie’s List, we no longer need an expert or authority to validate or recommend.  In the race to reach target audiences, PR folks need to deploy two approaches: identify opinion leaders who will in turn, tell their two friends, and so on and so on, and also appeal to each individual in our target audience by deeply personalizing as issue.

Anchorman: The Rise of Infotainment
Issue: Hard news is succumbing to the soft stuff

A recent Nielsen study on American web usage puts it all in perspective:  just 2.6% of the time we spend on-line is accessing news.  The remainder of the time is spent on email (7.6%), online games (9.8%), movies/videos, search, shopping (32.4%), social networks and blogs (22.5%) and other/porn (35.1%).  You Tube gets incredible eyeballs, people spend hours on Facebook, people play Angry Birds instead of checking the news. When you can always have candy, why eat your vegetables?

The problem is when we rot our brains on the sugary online offerings, we lose our ability to gather information that helps us navigate an increasing complex and interconnected world.  And I don’t mean simply following politics to inform an educated vote, but understanding the world we live in enough to be able to apply that knowledge for the benefit of our society. 

Lessons from Legally Blonde
Issue: Write, Reuse, Recycle

So why do we still work hard to get the placements in the highly regarded media outlets, even though fewer people are reading them? Consider Elle in Legally Blond. What do you remember most about her? She was all about the color pink. When we repurpose or SHARE these fabulous and credible third-party endorsements with our known and defined audiences – donors, members, employees, franchisees, consumers who visit our website, Facebook fans – we reinforce our messages to the point that we become as well-known for them as Elle was known for pink. 

Roll the Credits
As PR people, we are used to being behind the scenes, working our magic to produce Oscar-worthy placements.  But being attuned to the blockbuster issues facing the profession gets us front and center, in a starring role, with the possibility of many sequels to come.