PR/Media Week in Review 11-30-2008

Mark Rose, Editor, PRBlogNews, PR/Media Week in ReviewWhether it was the bloody siege in Mumbai or the Wal-Mart worker trampled to death by crazed shoppers on Long Island, this year Black Friday – the first and busiest shopping day of the holiday season – lived up to its name. November 28, 2008 will be remembered for its post turkey indigestion and a sense of dread that perhaps things are even worse than they appear.

The inanity of broadcast TV news was obvious during this made-for-social-media terrorism event in India.  Indian CNN newscasters are well-schooled in tactics of American counterparts – when you don’t know anything talk faster and louder so people don’t know that you are repeating the same supposition over and over. On the ground bloggers, tweeters, texters, videographers and photographers beat out the mainstream media this time.

So who died. Well my city, Mumbai. Armed gunmen and terrorists held the city to ransom, randomly shooting and killing innocent citizens for no rhyme or reason while the administration and other citizens helplessly watched. Kinda like the school campus shootouts we read in the news that happens in US of A. From Deeply Deeps blog by Deepa Prabhu, Mumbai, India. She “is licensed to tweet” at DDeeps

The Wal-Mart worker trampling on Long Island was the big news buzz around New York on Black Friday.  A mob killing at five in the morning for 20% off on a plastic tub is local socio-economic brutality that trumps events in the sub-continent.  Although a CNN online poll showed that 2/3 of all respondents are in total spending lock down for the holidays, maniacs were still camping overnight in cardboard boxes to get into Best Buy on 6th avenue.

The stock market – inured to worldwide economic and political catastrophe – actually posted strong gains for the “holiday-shortened week that saw investors increasingly confident that much of a dire economic outlook is already priced in,” according to MarketWatch. Meaning good times ahead, the economy is back on track, go buy a condo, find somebody who will give you a loan.  Yes, there are bargains out there – in stocks and real estate – but who has the money to buy?

Story of the week:

New York Daily News logo

GIANT JERK SHOOTS HIMSELF

BURRESS FUMBLES GUN AND NAILS LEG

 ”Mercurial head case” Plaxico Giant Idiot Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg in a New York night club ( goes from hero to zero). The “Giants’ Super Bowl hero currently in the process of punching his ticket out of town, goes from being an accident waiting to happen to an accident that actually did happen.”

Mumbai Madness Feeds Social Media Overload

Mumbai terror attacks feed best and worst of social mediaThe madness in Mumbai continues as the Internet responds with heightened levels of user generated news and opinion that reveal the best and worst of social media. New York Times reporter Keith Bradsher was my lifeline in the middle of the night as the NYT blog “The Lede” issued updates sent from Bradsher’s BlackBerry. Mainstream media use of social media tools brings immediacy to news without compromising professionalism – a welcome balance to innane Mumbai Twitter tweets.

As blogger Tim Mallon put it, “I started to see and (sic) ugly side to Twitter, far from being a crowd-sourced version of the news it was actually an incoherent, rumour-fueled mob operating in a mad echo chamber of tweets, re-tweets and re-re-tweets. See CNN.com/asia Tweeting the terror: How social media reacted to Mumbai

 Chabad.org is an excellent web site that employs social media tools and its own news-generating resources that unfortunately were highly useful in reporting the deaths of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, the directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of Mumbai.

ZDNet warns that using social media to capitalize on the Mumbai tragedy for PR is a bad idea - yes, there are some (many?) in PR who are that clueless. CNN.com iReport continues to grow in sophistication and interactivity with 24 hr live video feeds and an app for people to send in photos, videos and audio comments.

Some have questioned whether all this info on the web is aiding the terrorists. I have seen a lot of confusion, very little concrete info, and many, many conflicting reports. If the terrorists were acting on what they learn on the web they would have shot each other by now.

Will Obama Transform Government Communication?

Fifty years of tromping through the streets of Manhattan and I never experienced the widespread spontaneous elation that erupted in this city election eve, 2008. At two in the morning the subways were still full of people so overcome with joy they would yell and break into dance with no prompting. In Harlem, where we live, the smiles on people’s faces were wide and unabashed. If you grew up in the 60′s it was a long, long time coming – a feeling that we can actually hope for a better day and we believe once again that we have the power to change the world. It is a sense that individually we can make a difference, and we don’t have to do it through coercion and bullying, it can come through intelligence, compassion and thoughtfulness. We can lead by example, not by force.

Barack Obama Transition Team Unveils Change.gov

As communicators we have to marvel at the transformative nature of the moment. When you expect gloating, Obama chooses humility.  When you expect forcefulness, Obama chooses deference. We know that politics will never cease (enter Rahm Emanuel, the enforcer) but within that is a larger agenda – we all share the same planet, our experiment in democracy never ceases to evolve and survives only by the will of the people.

Today, the day Obama visits the White House of the most unpopular U.S. President on record, a President who has raised government secrecy and intransigence to a new level, the transition team unveils Change.gov, a web site meant to support the open flow of information from the government to its people, and a means for the people to interact with the Federal government.

Does this mean that we can send an email to the federal government and expect an answer? I doubt it. But the intent is there, and a blog, and a method to apply for a goverment job, and the understanding that we are living in the digital age when school age children and middle age executives rely on the web to get their information and stay connected.

The thrill of Obama is that we don’t know what to expect from him. He has the ability to surprise in a way that seems measured and logical, in the moment and playing to history. If we at least have the sense that government is listening to us we believe that our involvement in government has value and can be reciprocated. That is the art of public relations.