A great Editorial from Adage… gets right to the heart of the issue on pulling advertising…
The primary reasons for advertisers to invest in any media product should be the bond that product has with its audience and the relevance of that audience as a marketing target. Such relationships are often based on trust and credibility. Tools such as ad-pull policies can damage that credibility. They make clear to editors and publishers that if they don’t create an editorial environment friendly to a marketer’s message, the money will go elsewhere. – AdAge
A seperate story staes: "The memo cites a new BP policy document entitled "2005 BP Corporate-RFP" that demands that ad-accepting publications inform BP in advance of any news text or visuals they plan to publish that directly mention the company, a competitor or the oil-and-energy industry."
"Scott Dean, a BP spokesman, said that to his knowledge MindShare penned the memo. He called the language in it "unfortunate" and "regretable."
"This is not meant to be Draconian or to influence coverage. We are just asking for a head’s up" about a cover story about the oil industry. We never asked to read [editorial] copy in advance."
Grikey mate… You have you no right to either. Its this thing called freedom of the press. Nice try though.
I’ve been a big advocate of companies not funding media or analysts that they deem to be unfairly reporting on them – the media have a right to free speech as much as companies have to free investment of marketing dollars. But even that is a dangerous game.
Given this seems to be an escalating trend it seems smart for all PR teams to get ahead of this issue by briefing both their procurement functions and media buying teams on media policies. A little education might go a long way here…
A study by USC Annenberg School for Communication suggests that "Articles returned by Google News tend to be significantly more biased in one direction or the other than articles from Yahoo News." And that non-traditional news sources are a cause of that bias. Some background:
Google News, still in beta three and a half years after its launch, tracks the top stories on some 4,500 English-language news sites, updating its index roughly every 15 minutes. The ability to effectively search this huge collection of timely information has helped make Google News one of the Internet’s most popular news portals, drawing about 5.9 million visitors a month… Ranking news stories based on some measure of quality may be a step in the right direction, but to maintain its credibility, Google News needs transparency – both in its selection criteria and its list of sources.
First it was Carley’s comments at a graduation – now it’s Pepsi with CEO Indra Nooyi making inflamatory remarks regarding America’s role in the world today:
After talking of her childhood back in India, Ms. Nooyi began to compare the world and its five major continents (excl. Antarctica and Australia) to the human hand. First was Africa – the pinky finger – small and somewhat insignificant but when hurt, the entire hand hurt with it. Next was Asia – the thumb – strong and powerful, yearning to become a bigger player on the world stage. Third was Europe – the index finger – pointing the way. Fourth was South America – the ring finger – the finger which symbolizes love and sensualness. Finally, the US (not Canada mind you) – yes, you guessed it – the middle finger. She then launched into a diatribe about how the US is seen as the middle finger to the rest of the world. The rest of the world sees us as an overbearing, insensitive and disrespectful nation that gives the middle finger to the rest of the world. According to Ms. Nooyi, we cause the other finger nations to cower under our presence.
Pepsi has posted a comment and a copy of her remarks. The blogosphere is wound-up on this one. Frankly, it isn’t a great speech, it’s geographically incorrect, the metaphor doesn’t work and is offensive, and the comments are definitely controversial…
It breaks most of the rules of effective public speaking, some of which are – ensure your content, tone and comments are in line with your brand – both personal and company; ensure the topic illuminates the brand and doesn’t detract from it; focus on subject matter that is relevant to your message; use clean and clear metaphors that aren’t so multilayered that they cloud the content and your message… the list is a long one. What did Pepsi hope to gain from speaking on this topic?
Aside from all that, there is another lesson here for all communicators in that the blogosphere is an incredibly powerful medium for distributing executive’s remarks, and stimulating debate on them – so much more than conventional media. Hugh covers this.
Brands are being shaped at wire-speed in the blogosphere. Having a blog might not just be a proactive communications tactic but also vital for reactive communications. Rather than the staid press release or statement, imagine a Pepsi blog right now with dialgoue taking place and Indra engaging with the enraged community of Pepsi drinkers. She might even rally a few supporters along the way.
Transparency and open dialogue would have enabled a much better response to an unfortunate metaphor.