The Flack

This blog attempts to shine a brighter light on the subtle role public relations plays in politics, popular culture, media/journalism, business/finance, technology, marketing, healthcare, and sports. 

  • Is ChatGPT PR-Tested?
    I used OpenAI’s Chat GPT content engine for a PR function. This is what I learned.
  • It Will Take a Global Village
    COP27, the annual UN Climate Conference, drew a vast audience with one shared goal.
  • Where Founders, VCs, Creators, and Journalists Collide
    In my last post, I offered some personal observations and select conversations from several media panels at the 2022 Collision Conference, which just concluded in Toronto. Here I’d like to share some memorable moments, which included taking the ContentMakers Stage alongside three path-breaking entrepreneurs who built their companies by helping gamers and influencers monetize their … Read more
  • Collision’s Audacious Return to Toronto
    It’s been three years since Web Summit’s sister tech conference, Collision was physically held at Toronto’s Enercare Centre. This year the tech confab returned big time, with a sold-out audience of 35,000+ and more than a fair share of forward-thinking founders, entrepreneurs, VCs, and established tech giants and luminaries to fill the nearly four days of programming … Read more
  • The 2022 PR/Media Quiz
    Want to work in PR? Test your mettle.
  • Making Cents of News Subscriptions
    Paywalls be damned! If you’re an avid news consumer, like me, or your profession demands it, like mine, you’re no doubt alarmed by the toll your daily habit is taking on your wallet. A quick tally of the digital news outlets to which I subscribe puts my annual outlay at around $1635. You do the … Read more
  • Substack, Media Fragmentation & PR
    How the Explosion in News Creators impact Communications Pros It was inevitable. The ability to profit from a personal news brand through the creation and distribution of original content has gotten even easier. “We the media” started 15+ years ago with CGM/blogging and, to a lesser degree, podcasting and has evolved to the point where established journalists … Read more
  • PR Firms: Doing Well, But Doing Good?
    Can An Industry That Advocates for its Clients to Embrace ‘Social Good’ Practice What it Preaches? It’s been a long-time pet peeve of mine to observe how many reputable firms in the PR industry will accept clients whose business or advocacy goals raise ethical questions. We’ve seen big oil companies retain PR agencies to publicly tout their social good … Read more
  • White House Communications Team Encounters Turbulence
    Did @PressSec’s Staff Seek Journalists’ Questions in Advance? I suppose it’s all relative. Compared to the horrific daily White House press briefings of the last four years — when there were any — the transparent and truthful approach of President Biden’s new Press Secretary Jen Psaki and her team is a breath of fresh air. Didn’t I read that … Read more
  • Embargoes and Exclusives
    Media Manipulation or Good PR Strategy? Journalists bristle at the notion of being manipulated by PR people as if they’re some cog in a company’s marketing communications program. Some of their biggest gripes include the PR person’s request to see a reporter’s questions in advance or review his/her story copy prior to publication. More often … Read more
  • Journalism’s Reckoning
    Dogma Be Damned: Set Real Journalists Free
    For many, it would seem unusual, if not highly suspect, for a long-time public relations executive to opine on the state of journalism and to offer remedies for its preservation. After all, aren’t most PR pros charged with positioning their clients more favorably in news and feature stories? (There are strategies to achieve this.)
  • Can the Dems Find Their Soul and Take Back the Senate?
    The short answer is probably not. That is until the Democratic leadership recognizes a significant shortcoming in how their brand is perceived and the urgent need to mount a communications plan to fix it. Sure, “one America” resonated loudly with an electorate that was tired of four years of division and demonization by Trump, his … Read more
  • Where PR is Needed Now
    I belong to several private groups for communications professionals on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Slack. In following the conversation strings, one can’t help but notice a palpable frustration by many practitioners that PR as a marketing communications discipline is DOA during the coronavirus crisis. This is mostly true, except for the brand-focused story angles that are … Read more
  • ‘I Hope All Is Well’
    This is the opening line for far too many PR story “pitch” letters emailed to journalists. To call it a cliche would be to state the obvious. In fact, it’s such a hollow greeting — often sent to reporters with whom the publicist has no prior relationship — it becomes a non-starter, if not a … Read more
  • November Surprise
    More than a few media watchers have audaciously proclaimed that this week’s viral performance by the “President” spells doom for his prospects of re-election come November. I disagree. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the age of Trump, scandals big and small simply dissipate in a matter of days, if not hours. Some never … Read more
  • Disinformation and the PR Industry
    Between Trump and the GOP’s disregard for the truth, and the unwillingness of the major social platforms – Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter – to remove provably false or purposely doctored information from reaching its users, America is poised for a whole lot of hurt in 2020. Now comes the news, thanks to some nifty reporting … Read more
  • Superhuman or Not
    I’ve been following with more than a passing interest the big debate over whether it’s an ethical breach to receive a read receipt from a sent email without the recipients’ knowledge. The controversy stemmed from the invite-only roll-out of the Andreessen Horowitz-funded premium-priced ($30/month) email app called Superhuman, which includes read receipt as a default … Read more
  • Ad Tech Wars
    At the recent Collision Conference, I had the pleasure of taking the stage alongside The Trade Desk‘s co-founder/CTO Dave Pickles and AdRoll Group president Scott Gifis. We talked about the fast-changing and increasingly complex world of data-driven advertising in the age of programmatic and connected television. We opened the session by gauging whether the audience … Read more
  • In the Matter of Bezos and The National Enquirer
    I was asked by a leading PR industry trade magazine to share some thoughts on Jeff Bezos’s audacious PR gambit aimed at the blackmail-happy National Enquirer and its Trump puppet owner David Pecker. I was hardly alone in acknowledging the fearless guile of the billionaire owner of Amazon and The Washington Post. It prompted my … Read more
  • The 2019 PR/Media Quiz
    Some years ago, frustrated by the lack of a mechanism to assess prospective PR agency candidates, I developed a questionnaire on media and PR trends that served as a non-scientific barometer for hiring. It was not intended as a measure of whether a candidate will ultimately succeed in the job, but rather one that speaks … Read more

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