Sully's Blog

“That’s not normal!” So said the New Jersey “tanning mom” in this now-infamous (and SNL-spoofed) Today show interview (link below) that demonstrates just how images and body language overwhelm the words people say.

As Dr. Nick Morgan of Public Words wrote, “What happens when your words and body language don’t match? Audiences believe the body language every time.”

Her claim that she didn’t put her daughter in the tanning bed may very well be true, but one look at her own burned face and her credibility melts under the hot lights.

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Mike Allen of Politico – long one of Washington’s top reporters – took a brief timeout near the end of today’s Politico Playbook to offer the following advice to aspiring political reporters.  This sage counsel, inspired by recent reporting on the debt debate, should be considered nothing short of a public service:

PLAYBOOK MEMO TO YOUNG JOURNOS – This episode reminds us that: 1) Including other points of view strengthens, not weakens, your article. Readers are sophisticated, and get that the world isn’t black and white. They’re more likely to trust and article that reflects life’s complexity. Excellent pieces are undermined, or lose big prizes, over this exact issue.

2) Sometimes there are creative ways to obtain the same... +Continue Reading

 

Rich Gotham had it right. The Boston Celtics president had joined the team’s public relations staff and me on a conference call to discuss the preseason team media training session I would be conducting. When the conversation turned to Twitter, Gotham provided very specific guidance.

“Tell the players, ‘If you’re going to tweet, tweet with a purpose.’”

Gotham wanted to help the Celtics avoid the self-inflicted Twitter turnovers that can distract a team or even hurt the club on the court. Careless use of social media has resulted in fines (Brandon Jennings of the Bucks) and suspensions (White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen), players being benched (former Jets wide receiver David Clowney, now with the Panthers) and even waived (former Chiefs running back Larry Johnson).

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From a news release issued by NBC Sports & Olympics on Feb. 24, 2010:

NBC UNIVERSAL PRESIDENT OF RESEARCH & MEDIA DEVELOPMENT ALAN WURTZEL’S TOP 5 RESEARCH LEARNINGS – SO FAR – FROM VANCOUVER GAMES:

“The Billion Dollar Lab” initiative involved the participation of a number of research suppliers and the source line following each of the learnings indicates how the data was obtained.

1. THE OLYMPICS IS A HUGE CULTURAL EVENT

· 46% of Olympic viewers changed their typical routine to watch the Olympics.

· 63% stayed up longer than usual to watch, resulting in 42% being “more tired than normal.”

· 35% of viewers cried or became teary-eyed while watching (25% among men)

2. BIG EVENT TV... +Continue Reading

 

Tiger Woods accomplished what he needed to on Friday in order to take the first steps on the road to image recovery. He took full responsibility for his transgressions, his contrition seemed sincere and he talked about specific personal changes he needed to make to live a “life of integrity.

He did not take questions, which was the right thing to do.

However, Woods would have helped himself even further by assuring the media that, at the appropriate time, and certainly before he tees it up again at a PGA Tour event, he will address their questions — as long as they do not cross a certain line.

He shouldn’t be expected to provide the kinds of details that certain, less than respectable, media outlets will seek. But he will have a better chance to put this behind him... +Continue Reading

 

Bill Gates was taking questions at Microsoft headquarters from an audience of the company’s top female executives. The first question came from a woman who wanted to know how, with three young children, Gates was able to balance his personal and work lives.

“Well, I don’t watch television,” Gates began. “And I don’t follow sports. So I can’t participate in those conversations.”

He said it matter-of-factly, as if it were no big deal. As if time spent watching and reading about sports would be better spent on … well, almost anything.

“I don’t watch television and I don’t follow sports.” I found myself actually feeling sorry for the world’s richest man.

So what if he is the most respected philanthropist in the world and has generously used his wealth to take on... +Continue Reading

 

ell it first, tell it yourself and tell it all. That is the tried and true formula for handling a messy public relations crisis in the smoothest possible way.

When Tiger Woods let 13 hours lapse after Friday’s early-morning accident without issuing an explanation, he ceded control of his story not only to legitimate news outlets, but also to celebrity gossip mongers on the hunt for a tale –- made up or otherwise -– of adultery and mayhem. The story of Tiger’s first major off-the-course bogey was in their sights and the race was on to fill in the juicy details.

Woods hired attorney Mark NeJame, which shouldn’t raise eyebrows -– after all, the police are investigating Woods’ crash -– but repeatedly declining to be interviewed by the police makes it look like he has... +Continue Reading

 

Thanks to Joe Favorito for passing along “Let’s Reinvent the Game Story” – an interesting read from the National Sports Journalism Center in Indy…the writer, Jason Fry offers four options for the classic sports game storiesL  1)  Retire them; 2) Revitalize them; 3) Reinvigorate them; and 4) Roboticize them.  Here is my take,  followed by  Fry’s story:

I am in the camp that game stories get their value today from being featurized in a way that tells a story beyond the play-by-play – not by injecting opinion.  Great game stories add color and context  beyond what a viewer would have learned from watching the telecast.  In my view Washington Post Nationals beat writer Chico Harlan (referenced in the story below) at times goes too far.  His stories almost mocked the nationals at... +Continue Reading

 

I am not sure how many people — especially animal lovers –Michael Vick won over with his news conference Friday in Philadelphia and his “60 Minutes” interview Sunday night. But he got me.

Sure, I reserve the requisite amount of skepticism for all athlete comebacks these days, but I believe that Vick is sorry for his crimes and understands that only his actions will convince people he has changed.

There were four moments in Sunday night’s exclusive “60 Minutes” interview that convinced me:

  • When James Brown confronted Vick with a graphic recitation of the acts associated with the Bad Newz Kennels dogfighting operation, then asked him, “For those who may say it showed a lack of moral character because you didn’t stop it, you agree or disagree?” Vick didn’t... +Continue Reading

 

On my first day as White House communications director back in July 2006, I stuck my head   in Tony Snow’s office to say hello.  He bounded from behind his desk and said, “Come on – I     want to show you something.“

Tony, who had been press secretary a little over two months, led me out of the West Wing      and up the driveway toward the Northwest Appointments Gate.  “I do this almost every day,”    he said. When we got close to the Secret Service guardhouse on Pennsylvania Ave., Tony i  instructed me to turn around and look back at the North Portico of the White House.

“Look at that,” he gushed.   “Isn’t that neat?  That’s where we get to work.  When I worked here the first time, for President Bush 41, I was too young and too stupid to appreciate it.  This time I’m not... +Continue Reading

 

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