We all know we're supposed to shut off our "portable electronic devices" when our plane is taking off or landing. But it seems every flight has a few sneaks who just can't be bothered.
Which begs the question: does the use of a smart phone or I-pad imperil the safety of everyone on the plane or has there never really been any reason for any of us to shut down?
The FAA announced that it will form a government-industry panel this fall that will study the issue for six months. Ok, it's hard to cheer the launch of another government study. But it does seem to be a common-sense move...although it makes you wonder why no one thought to study the issue long ago. Without any research, how did the take-off and landing shutdown become the industry standard? And why does it need to take six months? The MythBusters folks could solve this in one episode.
It's quite a verbal tic for Pelley. And unlike the way he holds his chin, or clasps his pen or reading glasses, when the camera returns to him after a correspondent's story, for an on-cue poignant moment, it seems to be utterly unconscious.
Scott Pelley (CBS Evening News): Thank you, Madam Secretary. You are in close coordination with all of the European Union countries, and I wonder how much confidence you have that the European nations are going to be able to create a soft landing for their debt crisis that doesn’t wreck the economy here in the United States?
Scott Pelley (CBS Evening News): The stock market is terribly worried about Europe right now. I wonder what your confidence level is?
Scott Pelley (CBS Evening News): The Obama Administration has described Bashar al-Asad as illegitimate, and I wonder if it’s time for him to go?
While the CBS Evening News anchor role doesn't carry the same cultural clout as it did when Walter Cronkite or Dan Rather sat behind the desk, it's still important. Katie Couric certainly amped upped her gravitas when she stepped into the role after a 15-year run on the Today Show, but pulled it off admirably. Undeniably aware of the big shoes he has to fill, Pelley seems to be trying too hard to put a unique signature on the role. Whether the "I wonder" tic is intentional or not, it's getting old, Scott.
When trying to motivate people to take an action, we can stress the benefits of change or the dire consequences of failing to act. While the best approach often is to include both positive and negative messages, putting the stronger focus on the benefits of acting will ensure that most people will embrace the change willingly, even enthusiastically.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Federal government is not following this simple recipe for change communications. The "once coming-soon, now delayed, but wait it's still changing today in many places"switch to digital TV broadcasts has focused almost entirely on the bad things that will happen if consumers don't go out and get their converter boxes. Namely that their old rabbit-eared TVs will no longer work.
To those of us who have long ago embraced digital everything, the dire messages of the end of analog TV signals is a yawner. We've heard for months, years really, about the February 2009 switch. I'm not sure how you could have missed it if you watched any television lately. The PSAs and local news shorts have been everywhere. If you don't watch much TV (in which case this change isn't going to cause you much inconvenience, is it?), you may have seen the posters in your supermarket or post office.
Concerned that word of the end of TV as we have known it had not reached every last living American, the Obama Administration agreed to forestall the switch to June. It was a good opportunity to both blast the Bush Administration for another instance of ineptitude as well as demonstrate the new regime's empathy for the infirm, elderly and otherwise less-than-digital America.
But Team Hope is repeating the Bush Administration's basic mistake in communicating only the negative.
So as a public service, Force for Good presents The Case for Change (to digital TV):
Wouldn't you enjoy a much sharper picture and a lot more channels? Your TV is capable of receiving a lot more channels and displaying them a lot more clearly than you probably think it can. This is especially the case if you live in a rural area and rely on the sometimes weak signal of a small- to medium-sized city's TV stations. .
It doesn't cost you anything. The converter box costs about $50 and your tax dollars have already paid for the voucher coupons to cover the cost of converting two TVs. If you haven't yet received your vouchers, you can buy the converter box, keep your receipt and get reimbursed later. .
It's easy. The converter boxes can be found at your nearest electronics or hardware store. Or Wal-Mart. (I know you have one of those near you.) And there are only two cables to hook up -- one to your antenae and one to the back of your TV. .
You don't have to wait. All TV stations are already broadcasting in digital. Hook up your converter box today, enjoy the clearer signal and expanded choice of stations. There's no reason to wait for the new deadline from the nanny state, I mean Federal Government. (My parents live in rural southern Indiana and have enjoyed their digitally converted TV's much improved quality and quantity of channels for several months now.) .
Oh, and if you don't get the converter box, eventually, some day, your old TV is going to go all fuzzy on you.
"Word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of advertising."
Like so many truisms, this one is not literally true. Word-of-mouth is not advertising at all; as unpaid endorsement it is the purest form of PR. In today's hyper-connected world, electronic word-of-mouth (WOM), is the holy grail of consumer product promotion. And in that world YouTube is the NewYork Times.
The difference between "that world" and the media world most PR professionals live in is that it isn't about the placement that counts; it's the viewership it attracts that matters. Anyone can (and does) put up video pieces on YouTube. Most are nearly unwatchable and, in fact, most go unwatched. But the ones that are clever, or funny, or unexpectedly real, draw hundreds of thousands of viewers. And they do more than tell a product story; they demonstrate that the company has an original spirit, a sense of humor even, that can make it endearing to consumers or other stakeholders.
"Today's video PR campaigns must include both traditional and online components," counsels PR Week.in its latest edition. "Leave nothing on the cutting-room floor ... put it on YouTube or another video-sharing site." Don't take that advice literally. You should leave plenty of video on the cutting room floor; that's why you have a cutting room. Putting unusable footage on YouTube won't help your brand -- even worse than going unnoticed, it could back-fire with viewers associating your brand with boring monotony.
Instead, think of what might illustrate the human side of your company, its people or its products. It doesn't have to be zany (how many companies are truly zany place?) but it has to be fun or provocative in some way to draw an audience. WOM is all about "Hey, did you see this? Check it out." There has to be an element of the unexpected.
One powerful way to do this is to provide a "behind-the-scenes" look at some aspect of your business that the average consumer never gets to see. The beauty of this approach is that it need not be expensive or difficult to produce. Quite the opposite. You don't want it to look polished and over-produced.
the Hellion, hosted by Miles Johnson (Disclaimer: Miles used to work for me at Ford, and I'm happy to see him succeed at Hyundai). During and after the press reveal, Miles narrates the unseen goings-on, recorded on an inexpensive digital video camera. Sure, it's awkward at times, a little self-conscious and certainly cheesy, but it serves its purpose well -- showing Hyundai to be a company unafraid to show its unpolished side and featuring the product reveal to an audience it might not reach otherwise.
It will be interesting to see how other companies pick up on this approach and improve upon it.
Caution: contrived humor can go over with an awkward thud. What seems funny when viewed against the stale backdrop of your Dilbertesque office environment may seem embarrassingly unfunny to outsiders. Get some fresh eyes to look it over before you uplink.
Think of the aspects of your business that ordinary people never get to see but might find interesting. How might you showcase one of them in a way that's fun and light and original?
For the crisis communicator, there’s an important facet to the much-ballyhooed upgrade from analog to digital TV broadcasts.
In March, the U.S. Commerce Department unveiled its plan to transition the country to digital TV – including the provision for each household to receive two $40 coupons to be used for converters allowing old analog TVs to receive the new digital signal.
Photo image: u.S. Defense Depratment.
The Federal government is supporting the digital transformation of television not only to bring a sharper resolution to monotonous C-Span programming, but because it will help free up “much needed spectrum for advanced wireless broadband services and interoperable communications among emergency first responders,” according to the Commerce Dept. news release.
In other words, digital will allow better coordination among local, state and federal emergency response teams.
“The digital transition will enable more efficient use of the nation’s airwaves providing new advanced wireless services and increased public safety services for all Americans,” says Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez in the news release.
A month earlier, the Commerce Department and the Department of Homeland Security agreed to create and administer a $1 billion “Public Safety Interoperable Communications Grant Program” to help state, local and federal first responders better communicate during emergencies.
States can start applying in mid-July for a share of the $1 billion that will be set aside from the Federal Communication Commission’s upcoming sale of licenses for the public airwaves that currently carry free, over-the-air television signals, according to a Stateline.orgreport headlined: S1 Billion on Horizon for Crisis Communications:
Those TV frequencies will be turned over to new uses as the nation switches to all-digital TV broadcasts by a Feb. 17, 2009, deadline set by Congress. The extra $1 billion in new federal funds will be targeted at helping state and local governments upgrade their public communications networks so that first responders can talk to each other and to other key players during an emergency.
In a time of budget cutbacks in state government, these federal dollars will help fund much-needed upgrades in crisis communications readiness. State colleges and universities will be among the public institutions lining up to apply for these funds, particularly after the Virginia Tech tragedy put a spotlight on the need for crisis readiness in a new era.
With the kickoff of the Super Bowl only hours away, it’s time for fearless predictions of the perfectly obvious. And the biggest lock of them all is that throughout the game, and most certainly in the post-game interviews, the English language will be sacked repeatedly by people who have spoken this language their whole lives and allegedly graduated from respected institutions of higher learning.
If butchered grammar grates on your inner ear like fingernails strafing a blackboard, beware: The jocktocracy charged with filling the airwaves surely will:
oUse “that” when they mean “who.” It’s so simple, guys; my kids have heard it a thousand times from me: “People are WHOs; things are THATs.” .
oAdd "very" to adjectives that already are superlatives, as in “that very spectacular kickoff return.” Or to words that make no sense being intensified, as in “their very mediocre performance.” (In researching this little post, I Googled “very mediocre” and discovered a new low in jock talk – Minnesota sports website Channel 4000 describing one of the NFL's divisions as “very, very mediocre.”)
oUse that peculiar jock talk construction when referring to a hypothetical outcome that didn't transpire. “If my offensive line doesn’t block for me on that third down play, I don’t complete the pass,” the QB will say, referring to a past event in the present tense. "If I don't set my alarm clock last night, I sleep through the kickoff and cost my team big-time."
I enjoyed Seinfeld as much as anyone during its run, but really, don't we all have better things to do than watch the same re-runs over and over? Which begs the question: What do you find more disturbing, that a Governor has found the time to watch 720 hours of Seinfeld, or that he brags about it to his electorate?