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MR Summit: Charlie Rose and the Death of the VNR

Posted by Media Relations on Monday, April 7th, 2008 - Comments »

Todd Grossman – VP Sales, MultiVu
Todd begins by Introducing to YouTube, and online video media. The VNR is dead, he declares. He’s right, of course (VNRs as a tactic had been on life support anyway), but where’s the news here? New media are certainly exciting, but I think we need to transcend this “aw shucks” paradigm when it comes to new technology. It exists. It’s awesome. But our industry doesn’t have time to gawk at the spectacle.

That’s not a knock on Todd, who does a good job keeping us up to date, but a general industry observation.

Faye Shapiro – “Why PR Needs a New Narrative”
Stepping in for Jim Sinkinson, Ms. Shapiro declared earned, unpaid media to be up for grabs. Public Relations managers are being retitled Chief Conversation Officers, she informs us. That is just the sort of thing that social networkers love to make fun of. She declares that this is a brand new direction for PR. Is this true? Does a change of tactics (wholesale thought they may be) constitute a new direction? Are the fundamentals changing? I’m not sure that’s a settled question.

“The Art of the Story: Finding the Heart of Drama”

A Q&A featuring Rubenstein turning the tables (he uses this phrase many times) on Charlie Rose for a tableside interview. Charlie states that Howard is good at what he does because he is so good with people. Media relations professionals don’t need a reminder on the importance of being friendly with people, but being good with them is an altogether different animal, isn’t it?

Rose discusses couching interviews and stories as narratives. It isn’t about specific questions, but about creating a story that makes it easy for the interviewee to provide their component of the narrative. He relays a story of an interview with Ted Turner, in which he did not want to discuss his relationship with Jane Fonda. Of course he did, and Mr. Rose was able to parlay that into an award-winning interview.

Rubenstein introduces the question of how interviewers work to move past talking points. It is worth noting that this is the very first question he asks. As PR professionals, we should recognize that the first thing any journalist or outlet wants to do is cut to the chase. Their goal is to get AROUND our talking points, or at least move beyond them. This is even more true for social media. Too often, we fight against the very journalistic impulse to acquire news, and our clients pay the price.

Rose reveals something interesting. Recently, he became frustrated with CEOs and businessmen “with reputations”, and set his producer to find something as far from that as possible. How do we benefit from such a search? By establishing a reputation for relevance. The producer certainly didn’t search a stack of press releases to find which talking-head could provide the most talking points. She went to the person who she knew could provide a great interview on the fly because that person wouldn’t even know how to provide anything else.

Rubsenstein broaches the subject of ethics in Public Relations. Both note that it is a mixed bag when it comes to ethics. He brings it back to understanding what he needs and wants, and how PR can deliver to those needs. He admonishes media relations folk to eschew the notions of trying to “spin” reporters. We are strategic advisors to our clients. It stands to reason we should take that role for reporters as well. Isn’t that what we’re trying to do anyway? Advise reporters on what they should report?

Rose is asked who he would most like to interview. Johnny Depp, Jack Nicholson and the Pope are on his short list. So if anyone reading this happens to represent the Pope, you have a great shot at the Charlie Rose show.

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