MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-August 2017 Edition

August 30, 2017

TAKING A STAND OR TAKING A ‘PASS”—The present has never been better for corporate communications experts to step up and advise senior leadership about political positioning in the Trump era. Is it too risky for a CEO to take a position on a political issue? Does it make more sense not to take a stand? Are we talking about ethical issues? Do employees expect the ‘big shots’ to step up and do the right thing? And what about shareholders. Do they want an openness to diversity? What about the risk of poorly communicating a corporate issue which could adversely affect the stock? As marches, protests, demonstrations continue will it be as easy to recognize ‘good’ leftists and ‘good ‘rightists from bad ones? A communications plan, these days, should include regular conversations between communications, senior execs and key operations people to set and discuss internal and external strategies.

WHAT YOU SAY ISN’T AS IMPORTANT AS YOU THINK—Communicators who really don’t understand presentations believe a lot of facts plus acronyms plus slides = success. Actually it equals tune-out. Most of what is memorable in a presentation has nothing to do with 1+1=2. It has to do with the perception of likeability, the ability to use stories and examples to make points and a genuine effort to connect with the audience at the outset and reconnect at the close. Most audiences won’t remember 80-90% of what you said 15 minutes after you’ve finished. But they will remember stories and examples that appeal to them and whether they liked you or not.

FORMER TRUMP COMMO BOSS DIDN’T UNDERSTAND ‘OFF THE RECORD’—Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House Commo Director, did an on-the-job interview with a reporter from a New York magazine. The Mooch now candidly admits that he said some things that could have been misconstrued and eventually led to his being booted out of his job. But the AMAZING part is that The Mooch thought his Q+A with the reporter was off the record. Why did he think that? He admitted later that he didn’t ask the scribe for the interview ground rules. Unless you know how to ‘play the game’ you NEVER go off the record unless you want to see it, read it or hear it.

GOLF GURUS MISS A TAP-IN PUTT WHICH MAY BE PAR FOR THE COURSE—Before the 2017 US Women’s Open golf tournament was played at Trump National in New Jersey, four USGA big shots (2 women and 2 men) held a news conference to herald the event. Soft-ball questions until one reporter asked “Does the USGA (United States Golf Assn.) have a position on sexual assault?”
S I L E N C E then a response. “We’re here to talk about golf competition but would be happy to talk about it (sexual assault) afterward.” A truly ‘lame’ answer to a compelling question. When holding Q-and-A, prepare for the four or five questions you hope you won’t get asked. The USGA sent out an e-mail 2 ½ hours later which said there was a long-standing policy on harassment. Too little..too late!

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MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-June 2017 Edition

June 23, 2017

YOU HAVE TO FIGHT FOR FREE SPEECH—The Redskins can stay with Washington…Chief Wahoo lives on in Cleveland but, alas, Chief Illini is no longer around to witness the Supreme Court unanimous (8-0) decision to confer free speech status to an Asian-American rock band called ‘Slants’. Lately ‘political correctness’ has grown like a virus and has threatened a basic First Amendment principle: SPEECH MAY NOT BE BANNED BECAUSE THE LANGUAGE OFFENDS. A victory for plain talk, sometimes distasteful, but preferred by the Justices to self-censorship. The Wall Street Journal points out that the Washington Post polled native Americans’ feelings about the Redskins logo. The percentage who were offended was 9%. The rest checked “doesn’t bother me”!
A clear message to the so-called “progressives” who have been battling in media, sports as well as some college and high school campuses to ban talk they define as offensive. Americans remain able to think for themselves.

WHEN GROWN-UPS ACTED LIKE CHILDREN—A 4-year high school class president, valedictorian and commencement speaker at a small Wilkes Barre, PA consolidated school district. Peter Butera praised teachers and administrators who ‘made a difference’…then criticized other teachers, administrators and school board members for an “authoritative attitude” that prevented students from developing as leaders. “It is not what we have done as Wyoming (Pa) students that will define our lives but what we will go on to do as Wyoming area alumni,” he said. When his words got ‘testy’, the adults cut his microphone but social media + networks gave him the play he didn’t seek.
Communications is two-way.
TALKING and LISTENING. Too much of the former and not enough of the latter.

WE NEED A DOCTOR’S rx TO CURE INCIVILITY—Two customers at a suburban Chicago auto dealership argue about changing channels in the waiting room. The owner says “it got ugly.” MSNBC, Fox, CNN are off-limits, says the dealer, “until the political climate cools down.”
When did our political leadership train jump the tracks leaving only the far right and far left cars standing and the the middle derailed?

EDUCATED TO BE TRAINED OR TRAINED TO BE EDUCATED—A former college president and economist says “people can’t just afford to be educated they almost have to be trained”. He believes colleges/universities should spend less time on humanities and more on nursing, engineering and business. How about more time too on vocational studies for those who want to learn a skilled craft? Maybe a return to today’s versions of shop and home ec.
The suggestion here is less on life’s meaning and more on making a living.

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MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-May 2017 Edition

May 12, 2017

NOTHING IS SIMPLE ANYMORE—Healthcare reform, a new tax plan, U.S. infrastructure
mapping. Why can’t any proposal be easy enough to understand for people who can read and write? Is tax reform a big tax cut for the middle class? Yes? No? We’ve heard it’s all “very complicated” and can’t be explained easily. Then w a i t until you can.
What ever happened to common sense and everyday language in communicating? K-I-S-S has worked well in our lifetime…why not now? You don’t have to be a MENSA member to know you won’t support a change in your healthcare coverage if you don’t know what it means.
KNOW WHO YOUR AUDIENCE IS AND ADJUST YOUR VERBAL AND WRITTEN COMMUNICATIONS ACCORDINGLY.

WHEN NATURE CALLS WE ANSWER—Delta kicked a guy off a flight because he needed to pee but the flight attendant said no. He went anyway. United dragged a guy off a plane and paid a BIG price in negative ‘pub’ and $$$ paid to forgive-and-forget. Spirit pilots refused to fly and passengers got rowdy.
BUSINESSES THESE DAYS ARE ALL ABOUT ‘PROCESS’. MAYBE THINKING THAT PEOPLE COME FIRST WOULD MAKE MORE SENSE.

RINGLING BROTHERS BARNUM & BAILEY STILL LIVES—After 146 years, the circus we remember as kids may be ending but it’s human version lives on in Washington, D.C. The Ringling elephants have been retired but the capitol pachyderms and their donkey friends carry on. Every circus needs a “ringmaster”. You have many D.C choices. Every circus needs a ‘top clown’. You have many D.C. choices.
TOUGH TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN TRUMP, CLINTON, RYAN, PELOSI, MCCONNELL, SCHUMER AND THE CIRCUS.

MAYBE ONLY THE NAMES AND FACES CHANGE—Watergate was 40 years ago. Deep Throat…Archibald Cox…I am Not a Crook. Fast forward the tape. Comey…Russia…E-Mails…
White House “leaks”…The #1 Narcissist.
HAS OUR CULTURE CHANGED SO MUCH WE LEARN NOTHING FROM THE RECENT PAST? WHO BURIED THE TRUTH AND WHEN?

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MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-April 2017 Edition

April 7, 2017

REAL JOURNALISM IS STILL ALIVE IN HIGH SCHOOL—Dr. Amy Robertson was hired by the Pittsburg, Kansas school board to become the principal of Pittsburg High. Six members of the school paper, “The Redux” decided to check out her credentials. They found no evidence she got Masters or Doctorate degrees from an accredited university. “There were some things that just didn’t add up,” said one of the sleuths, 17-yr-old Connor Balthazor. In the face of overwhelming evidence Robertson was a fraud, the school board accepted her resignation this week. “We’re at a loss that something easy for them to see couldn’t be seen by adults. You would expect your authority figures to find this,” Balthazor quipped.
There is hope for the future of real journalism and an end to the fakery of the present.

WHY THE FED IS LOSING ITS ‘CRED’—The president of Richmond’s Federal Reserve Bank resigned this week after admitting he leaked confidential Fed internal financial info to an analyst. The Wall Street Journal reported the breach occurred in Oct 2012. Subsequent inquiries by the government and Congressional Republicans yielded a criminal probe of Jeff Lacker as late as 2015. In February, 2016 , Lacker is reappointed to a new 5-year term as president. This January he says he will retire in October.
If you follow the timeline, why didn’t Lacker get called out by the Fed or Congress or Ben Bernanke or Janet Yellin for what he did and his cover-up? Surprising public faith in government is so L O W?

IN LIKE FLYNN—Would you give Mike Flynn immunity from prosecution for telling the truth about his dealings with the Russians before and after the Trump transition? Smoking out people who speak with ‘forked tongue’ seems to be the new best-selling national sensation. Even more popular than personality news!
A retired 3-star general…34-years of service to his country…leader of men. Wants a ‘pass’ to tell the truth.

SPARTANS DUNK FREE SPEECH—Michigan State has banned white boards on dorm-room doors because the dry-erase boards, intended for messages like “Taking a Nap” or “Am at Library” are also repositories for hate and bullying scribblings. An MSU spokesman said “We are in an emotionally charged time. We have 50,000 students from all walks of life, all different races, religions and socio-economic classes.”
What’s the message here? Who is the key audience? Politically-correct solves nothing. Maybe catch the scrawlers?

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MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-March 2017 Edition

March 5, 2017

IF YOU WANT IT…TAKE IT—Recently we had a client appearing on a national cable (CNN) split-screen news interview program about a local issue. Our counsel? Do some homework about the host, his style and demeanor. The other guest. Who is she and what is her background? Who is your key audience? What is your key message? What story/example will you use to ‘put icing’ on the message? When you are introduced, thank him for the invitation…look into the lens of the camera with a smile on your face and take control of the interview right from the git-go. He did and was a clear winner. Homework+ an interview plan=SUCCESS.

AND THE LOSER IS “P-C”—Brian Cullinan. Know the name? He’s the PwC accountant who handed out the wrong best pic envelope at the Academy Awards. Since then he’s been reassigned from his annual gig. Used to be in the ‘old days’ you made a mistake, admitted it, learned from it and life went on. In the ‘new days’ you make a mistake, you are publicly embarrassed and thrown to the wolves. Political correctness in its worst form. An Oscar mistake…MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.

KIDS AND THE FUTURE OF THE BUS THEY RIDE ON—BA school bus transportation expert (client of ours) knocked the sox off of an early morning Chicago radio interview by being enthusiastic and eager to share info about the future of school buses with her key audience–parents. She talked about bus safety, smarts and environment with great examples to make her point. The host asked good questions and then GOT OUT OF THE WAY which is what a great interview is supposed to sound like. The host wants the guest to engage the audience so they don’t flip to another station. Interviewers appreciate guests who fill up time and space with good stuff. Lousy guests leave early.

A LIBRARY TEACHES COMMON SENSE—The public library in N. Bend, Oregon is teaching a series of classes called “Adulting 101″. Somebody’s great idea to help kids transition from little person-to-big person thinking so they don’t have to call Mom or Dad for help. How to balance a checkbook…making a dorm room grilled cheese sandwich with an iron…setting a budget and onandonandon. And a class in” How to Understand REAL news on the Internet”. The hope is that this class is Standing Room Only with just as many adults as kids.

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MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-January 2017 Edition

January 24, 2017
In a new era of WHO TO BELIEVE and WHAT TO BELIEVE The Dave Baum Media Training/Presentation Skills Group is well positioned to share rock-solid journalistic values with its clients and show them how to penetrate the filter between news-maker…reporter…and key audiences. The same principles apply to dramatically better presentations. Experience of more than four decades in understanding how media thinks (we are them) and helping you succeed.

Regardless of whether you’re a

Democrat

Republican or

None of the Above

ALTERNATIVE FACTS AND SHUCKING AND JIVING—C’mon. I’ve been a print and electronic media ‘guy’ my whole life and I never heard anything as absurd and moronic as trying to hide from the truth with such claptrap! What’s the big deal? Anyone who looked at the same pix from 2009 and 2017 saw that Pres. Obama won. Why waste time, Sean Spicer, suggesting news organizations lied to sow divisions at a time when Pres. Trump was trying to ‘unify’ the country?
IF IT’S A NASTY FIGHT THE TRUMPSTERS WANT TO CONTINUE WITH THE MEDIA, SOMEONE OUGHT TO CLUE THE NEW PREZ AND HIS ADVISERS IN. M E D I A ALWAYS GETS THE LAST WORD. DISAGREE BUT DON’T LOOK S T U P I D EVEN TO LOYALISTS.

A MEDIA LESS THAN FOUR IN TEN BELIEVE FOR GOOD CAUSE—A Gallup Poll shows that 32% of Americans believe the news media can report news fully and accurately and fairly. The number was 40% in 2015 and has been trending down since the “high water” mark in the 70s. Speed has replaced accuracy in the 24/7 news game of today. Easy to understand the cynicism of those who told Hillary to take a hike. The New York Times admission it didn’t do a good job covering the election. How could it? It never “got off the interstate” to find out what people other than so-called elites and progressives were thinking. TV networks used to have U.S. bureaus where reporters had a sense of what was going on. Not any more. Overseas bureaus? Dumped years ago to save $$$. Local news? Basically a repository for stories with video that comes from someone’s smart phone…not a professional. The pros are gone…down-sized out the door.
A GOOD TIME FOR PRINT AND ELECTRONIC NEWS MEDIA TO SERIOUSLY REFLECT ON THEIR PRODUCT. TRUST, THESE DAYS, IS EASILY LOST BUT ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO RECOVER…LIKE A BAD MARRIAGE.
AND SOCIAL MEDIA? IT’S NOT NEWS…IT’S OPINION. SO STOP COVERING IT LIKE IT WAS.

THE SIXTIES VERSUS THE SEVENTEENS—Luckily I’m one of those folks who can compare and contrast the revolutionary 60s (young vs old) and the revolutionary 17s (elites vs not-so-elites). The rebellion then was against the Viet Nam war…the rebellion now is not about war although we have men/women fighting/advising in two of them. The rebellion then was against Nixon and his friends (remember Erlichman and Haldeman). The rebellion now is against Trump and his friends (Steve Bannon). Young against old in the 60s…young against old in the 17s. Old-time conservatives against old-time liberals then. Elites/progressives against populists and left-outers now. Reporting on the opening trial day of the Conspiracy 7 in 1969 Chicago, I approached an old grade school and high school friend, Jerry Rubin, who was dressed in a pajama top at the defendants’ table. After we played ‘career catch-up”, I asked him why the Yippies (Youth Intl Party) made older people so angry? Jerry smiled and started laughing, “we’re doing guerrilla theater and those %$&##s don’t have a clue…they never listen!”
WE AREN’T LISTENING TODAY EITHER. IT’S SAD BUT WE RARELY LEARN FROM PAST MISTAKES…WE KEEP REPEATING THEM.

THE SCARY MONSTER CALLED SOCIAL MEDIA—If you’re in business, no reason to be afraid of social media regardless where its coming from (1700 Penn Ave). Ford jumped when the Prez talked about building new plants in Mexico and taxing vehicles coming back into the U.S.
Then there’s the CEO of Stanley Black&Decker. He bought Craftsman Tools from Sears for $900 million and pledged to make more of the Craftsman tools domestically. “It makes good business sense for us. It’s an excellent opportunity to re-Americanize,” he said.
PREZ TRUMP USES THE BULLY PULPIT OF TWEETS TO THREATEN. SMART PEOPLE TURN IT INTO OPPORTUNITY.

WHAT THE L.L. DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING—is there anything goofier than a social activist (whatever that is) who has too much time on his/her hands? Activists wanted to boycott the venerable L.L. Bean because the founder’s grand daughter made a contribution to a Trump PAC. Hey, goofiness works both ways. Trumpians wanted to boycott Macy’s because the department store chain dumped Donald’s clothing line.
NOT A BAD IDEA TO HAVE A COMMUNICATIONS PLAN READY FOR ANY OF THE ABOVE BECAUSE, IN THIS STRANGE WORLD WE LIVE IN, YOU HAVE TO READY TO RESPOND. DELAY WORKS AGAINST YOU AND FANS THE FLAMES.

For the next four years and maybe longer, Reputation Management will have a seat in the front row of communications. The Dave Baum Media Training Group will help you (and your clients) prepare for the day you hope never comes. We understand the change of scenery and can help you continue to succeed.

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MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-November 2016 Edition

November 30, 2016

FAKE NEWS AND FAKE REPORTING A DEADLY COMBO

The election proved that purported news aided by lazy and mostly biased print and electronic news gatherers is a recipe for a very high degree of huge public mistrust. Facebook wants to fight misinformation with an acknowledgement it could be doing a lot more to halt its proliferation. “We take misinformation seriously. We know people want accurate information, ” Chief Exec Mark Zuckerberg said. The New York Times has apologized to its readers for nor working hard enough to get a real sense of America off the interstates and beyond beltways and east coast (west, too) insulation. Add to this sad refrain a study released by Stanford University that showed. among other findings, that 82% of middle schoolers the study tracked couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website. The study also pointed out that many students judged the credibility of ‘newsytweets’ based on how much detail they contained or whether a large photo was attached rather than the source. That’s why the report in the Wall Street Journal also said some universities/colleges are now teaching Media Literacy. We assume to show people ‘the difference’ between fake and fact. We are rapidly reaching the point when most Americans, of any political stripe, won’t be able to tell fact from fiction because the media messengers got lost in style rather than substance. We hope we’re wrong.

To our clients and friends we hope you have a very merry Christmas and Chanukah
with wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2017. Dave Baum

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MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-October 2016 Edition

October 27, 2016

Considerations Before a Presidential Election…

—That a Donald Trump loss could result in a Trump TV network that would siphon viewers from Fox News. The ‘mainstream’ media has been too busy reporting on she-says-he-says and stolen e-mails to pay much attention. Good journalism is at a minimum in this campaign.

—Journalistic objectivity and balance have taken a pounding from highly partisan news sources and the general public because there is no middle-of-the-road media position in 2016. How many disseminators of news can you consider even-handed in the gathering, writing and reporting of news in this election cycle? (include social media news bloggers in your assessment).

—In this election campaign, there is a great demand from the media for highly opinionated one-sided information that supports the viewers/readers/listeners views.                                P O L A R I Z A T I O N. Who wins?

—Many similarities to the 1964 presidential election between Johnson and Goldwater. “Extremism in the pursuit of…” vs. the TV commercial of a pretty, little girl holding a flower and being obliterated by a nuclear blast in the background. Perhaps in the past 52 years technology has raced forward and civil discourse has plunged backward?

—A personal thought after early voting this week. The tremendous number of candidates for legislative and judicial offices running unopposed. I can never recall so many one-party choices. Democracy in inaction.

—Do you miss the ‘good old days’ when radio and TV talk show guests argued over serious social issues…the host(hostess) prodded both sides and the audience came away smarter for it all. It’s almost extinct like coal.

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MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-September 2016 Edition

September 26, 2016

THE FIRST DEBATE:A Political Fencing Match–Parry and Riposte—

It’s all about “Like-ability”. Most people don’t remember 80-90% of what someone says 15-30 minutes after it’s said, But they do remember whether they liked or disliked the person saying it. Clinton and Trump are both very unlikable candidates.

What strategies do they adopt in Monday’s debate to win over the key audience–THE UNDECIDEDs?

Trump has to prove he has a statesman’s ability to clearly make a policy point and vigorously support it with examples and stories. He represents a change from the “status quo”(Clinton/Obama). The “bully-in-your-face” mentality, that worked in the GOP primaries, won’t work in this format. Tough guys don’t have to tell you they’re tough. What they say and how they say it gives perceptive credibility. Trump needs to emphasize the visual elements of his countenance—eye contact, gestures, facial expressions, movement and energy and keep from overpowering vocal volume.

The undecideds want to know if Clinton, with all her ‘baggage’ in government service throughout the years, provides any change in direction domestically and globally. Perception (not reality) of her is conniving, secretive, untrustworthy–the typical politician of the 21st century. How does she change that perception against a man who likes to attack? The undecideds need to see a caring, smiling and confident candidate who has worked to soften her image. That change must come through the TV cameras rather than a litany of what she will do and how she will do it. She doesn’t have to defend the last eight years—tell the undecideds how it’s going to change using examples and stories. Will the ‘do-over’ make her likeable?

BOTTOM LINE

In a good fencing match, one opponent begins an attack on his rival. The rival is either able to parry (push aside) the blade and initiate a reposte (response). The winner of this debate will be the candidate who accepts the attack, defends his/her position and then goes on the offensive. Whomever scores the most “touches” will win the undecideds.

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MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-August 2016 Edition

August 16, 2016

FOX DOESN”T SAY WHAT AILES THEM— The public continues to see erosion in media ethics. Latest example is Fox News. Fox boss Roger Ailes resigned almost a month ago after charges of sexual harassment went public. A published report (Wash Post) says the folks at Fox spent about 11+ minutes of airtime talking about the story. No discussions, no frothy hosts yowling, no comments from the big shots. Come to think of it, NBC did the same thing when it booted top news anchor Brian Williams who had committed the sin of telling people he was where he wasn’t. Williams was vacationed for a few months and then exiled to a foreign post on cable news. Reporting on yourself is excruciatingly tough. If you do you increase confidence in journalism as a noble profession. If you don’t, the profession gets another black eye.

SCAPEGOATING MEDIA IS OLD NEWS— When the defecation hits the ventilation, public figures need someone to blame. So why not the media? It’s as old as Methuselah. The old testament says “reporters, editors report the news…they don’t make it.” The new testament says that’s hogwash. If you can blame print, TV, radio and social media for your stupidity…do it! When you throw mud against a wall some of it will stick. But, in the end, it’s still mud.
“If the disgusting and corporate media covered me honestly and didn’t put false meaning into the words I say, I would be beating Hillary by 20%,”
The trump-et continues to blast discordant notes. Time for new music.

A C.R.O FOR THE CITY THAT ‘WORKS’— Mayor Rahm and his team can’t seem to do much right these days if you believe what you read and see. Crime, bad ed in poor areas, unhappy school teachers, gigantic tax hikes, repressed cop videos etcetcetc. But the city has hired a Chief Resilience Officer whose job it is to develop future strategies to address everything from crime, poverty, natural disasters and aging infrastructure. He’s Aaron Koch. His experience?
For the past four years he was the Deputy Commish of the city’s Dept. of Water Management.
Resilience officers? An idea created by the Rockefeller Foundation. It’s paying Koch’s salary for two years as well as software and networking expenses.
Wishful thinking or the kernel of a good idea? Depends on transparency and media coverage.

IF YOU SAY IT…YOU OWN IT— Maybe second thoughts can prevent first babbles?

  • “uncomfortable and unorthodox” Chris Sale on White Sox 1976 throwback unis
  • “I can’t imagine what the country would be—with Donald Trump as our President” Supreme Court Justice Ruth B. Ginsburg
  • “I didn’t get into golf to try and grow the game” Rory McIlroy on why he skipped golfing for Ireland in the Olympics.
  • “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material…” Hillary Clinton 3/10/2015
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