Why we're cool with the fact our website may go down today

Why we're cool with the fact our website may go down today

As a business owner, these are words I never thought I would utter: "Our website is temporarily down. And we're cool with that."

That shows you the power of great communications. Our site is hosted by Squarespace. They're a great company and their operations have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy (more on that below). Operational disruptions happen.

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Pat Burns, Facebook and the Hockey Hall of Fame

Burns Recently, we told you about the social media campaign we started to get former NHL coach Pat Burns inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010 (Burns has terminal lung cancer). Over the course of a few weeks, more than 70,000 people joined the group, helping to generate extensive media coverage for the cause.
The Hall announced their 2010 inductees in late June and to the amazement of many, Burns was not included in this year's class. His omission generated a significant amount of negative media coverage for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Here's a sampling:

A big thanks goes out to all of the reporters across North America who supported this campaign from its earliest days and who took the HHOF to task for this bewildering error in judgment. I owe each of you a cold beer. Email me if you'd like to collect.

Burns will be inducted some day. But instead of making the speech himself, it will likely be his wife or one of his children. That's a shame. The HHOF missed a great opportunity to do the right thing for one of their own. Here's hoping the former coach is still with us in 2011 when we try again.

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Note: This story is taken from our 'Manage your Message' e-newsletter. To get your own copy sent to your inbox each month, sign up here.

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Campaign to get Pat Burns into Hockey Hall of Fame surges past 50,000 members

I started this group a few weeks ago with some friends because it felt like the right thing to do. If you're a hockey fan, a Pat Burns fan, someone who has been touched by cancer, or just a decent human being, please take five seconds to visit www.patburns.ca and join this facebook group. Thanks, WW

Campaign to get Pat Burns into Hockey Hall of Fame surges past 50,000 members

OAKVILLE, ON, April 8 /CNW/ - Less than two weeks after its launch, an online movement to fast-track former NHL coach Pat Burns into the Hockey Hall of Fame has attracted over 50,000 members.

Burns, one of the most accomplished and respected coaches in NHL history, has terminal cancer. In late March, three Oakville, Ontario residents launched a Facebook group called 'Let's Get Pat Burns into the Hockey Hall of Fame - NOW!' The group has attracted more than 50,000 members and has been profiled by media outlets across North America.

"We're sending a message to the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee that we'd like to see Pat Burns on the ballot on April 15 and that the voting and induction processes should be accelerated in light of his illness," said the group's organizers. "This isn't a debate about whether Pat Burns belongs in the Hall of Fame - his accomplishments speak for themselves, and 50,000 hockey fans agree. This is about expediting the process so he and his family can enjoy this great honour while he's still with us. It's about the hockey community seizing a rare and fleeting opportunity to do the right thing for one of their own."

The Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee must submit its nominations for this year's class by April 15.

"The larger our numbers, the louder our voice," said the organizers. "We're asking Canadians to take a few seconds to visit www.patburns.ca and join the group to show their support for getting Pat Burns into the Hockey Hall of Fame now."

Burns won the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2003. He is also the only NHL head coach in history to win the Jack Adams Award (for Coach of the Year) three times. His exceptional coaching career, which included 501 regular season wins, was cut short by a cancer diagnosis in 2004.

To show your support, please visit www.patburns.ca.

For further information: Warren Weeks, (416) 238-6361, warren.weeks@elevenpr.com; John Perenack, (416) 238-2576, perenack@room-40.com

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David Letterman gives a lesson in crisis management

David Letterman gives a lesson in crisis management
Even if you didn't watch the Late Show with David Letterman last Thursday night, you've likely seen the news coverage that followed it. Letterman used 10 minutes of his show on October 1st to tell millions of people about an alleged extortion plot against him. If you're unfamiliar with the story...
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Really, AIG?

$165 million in bonuses to your employees? Really?

In the wake of the $170 billion government bailout the company has received, this move defies reason and only serves to underscore the prevailing greed that has created this global financial disaster.

The best quote I've seen so far was from New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo, who said, "A.I.G. made more than 73 millionaires in the unit which lost so much money that it brought the firm to its knees, forcing a taxpayer bailout. Something is deeply wrong with this outcome."

The company says these bonuses are needed to persuade employees to stay on with the company. Where else are they going to go and work? The companies that haven't imploded are significantly impaired. These folks are lucky they still have jobs at all.

It is shocking to think that no one at A.I.G. saw the awarding of these bonuses as an impending PR or business disaster. But apparently sound judgment is not something the company is flush with.

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Obama makes rare Oval Office call to reporter

15obama_spanLast week, President Obama took the unusual step of calling a New York Times reporter from the Oval Office to clarify a point from an interview that took place earlier in the day. Obama was concerned that he had appeared to dismiss a question from the reporter about whether he was a socialist. The President phoned the reporter personally and said the following:

"It was hard for me to believe that you were entirely serious about that socialist question." He then went on to say that there was "just one thing I was thinking about as I was getting on the copter. I did think it might be useful to point out that it wasn't under me that we started buying a bunch of shares in banks. It wasn't on my watch. And it wasn't on my watch that we passed a massive new entitlement -- the prescription drug plan -- without a source of funding. And so I think it's important just to note when you start hearing folks throw these words around that we've actually been operating in a way that has been entirely consistent with free-market principles and that some of the same folks who are throwing the word 'socialist' around can't say the same."

I like this proactive call by the President. While reflecting about the interview earlier in the day, he pinpointed something that he thought might become a larger issue in the paper the following day. Instead of waiting to do damage control after the fact, he called the journalist personally to eliminate any confusion about his response and pre-empt a negative story characterizing him as a socialist.

This unorthodox call also serves another purpose. It puts the media on notice that the President is paying attention and that he will vigorously defend himself and his administration in the press if he feels they're crossing the line. I would bet that as a result of this call, more than a few White House reporters will be thinking of that phone call while they're putting the finishing touches on their daily stories.

If you want to check out the original coverage of this story, it's here.


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Captain 'Sully' Sullenberger - A great TV interview

It's refreshing to see a great media interview every now and then.

Too often, these pages are filled with the foibles and screw ups of spokespeople. The idea behind posting these cautionary tales is so that the rest of us might avoid making these same mistakes in our dealings with the media. And while it's helpful (and sometimes fun) to learn from the mistakes of others, there's much more to learn from watching someone really knock an interview out of the park. The problem is that such examples are few and far between.

80% of media interviews fall into the category of 'average' performance. 10% is made of of people who have no business being in front of a camera (see some of our older posts). And somewhere in that final 10% are spokespeople like Captain Sullenberger, the pilot who landed his jet safely in the Hudson River last month. His interview with 60 Minutes this past Sunday was fantastic.

The interview was completely compelling. And Sullenberger's messages and delivery were sincere, succinct, evocative and human. Sure, part of what made this interview great was the subject matter. But the hero pilot instinctively employs so many of the techniques of expert media spokespeople that it's really quite impressive. His answers are concise. He paints extremely descriptive images with his words, making you feel as though you were on the plane that day. And throughout the entire interview, he's cool as a cucumber and totally in control.

If you're called upon to do TV interviews as part of your job, I would encourage you to bookmark this interview and revisit the next time you're getting ready to speak with a TV reporter.

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How a well-chosen analogy can elevate your media quote

In our media training sessions, one of the topics we touch on his how to increase the odds of getting a particular message into the reporter's finished story. If you participate in an interview that's 10, 15 or 20 minutes long, that's a lot of material for the reporter to choose from. How can you help narrow that choice down to the points you want them to include? There are several techniques to make an important message stand out. You can: - include metrics that provide context and meaning (percentages, dollar amounts, etc.) - keep it brief (most quotes used in the media take less than 12 seconds to say) - use an anecdote or analogy that helps you tell your story Finding the right analogy can be tougher than it sounds. You have to choose something that won't offend your audience, first of all. And it needs to be something common enough that people can identify with. The odds of coming up with something obscure or inappropriate are high. But with a bit of thought before the interview, finding the right analogy can lead to a short, powerful quote that helps underscore your point of view. I found just such an analogy in a recent New York Times story, "Hope for a brighter future on a darker broadway". A number of productions are closing due to the grim economic times. Marc Shaiman, the composer of Hairspray, summed up the situation as follows:

"For me, it feels like putting a pet to sleep, but not because it's sick -- because you can't afford dog food."

This quote does a nice job of capturing the passion these professionals have for their craft. And likewise, how painful it is to watch these shows close. And all in 21 words. Well said.

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