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. 

  • On the Matter of AI in PR
    I recently penned a piece on NotebookLM, an AI platform now in beta at Google Labs. Toward the end, I wrote, “I’m pretty sure I’m just scratching the surface of what this cool new AI tool is capable of doing.” The PR world is ablaze with those claiming to use AI and machine learning technology in their daily… Continue reading On the Matter of AI in PR
  • NotebookLM — an “SLM” of Note
    In a rare visit back to TwitterX, I fortuitously stumbled across a conversation between the prolific author Steven B. Johnson, now editorial director of Google Labs (who knew?), and This Week in Startup‘s host and MAGA wannabee Jason Calacanis. In the convo/demo, the erudite Mr. Johnson kvelled over his latest creation, NotebookLM. While the world marvels at the large language models (LLMs) of OpenAI… Continue reading NotebookLM — an “SLM” of Note
  • 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… Continue reading Where Founders, VCs, Creators, and Journalists Collide
  • 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… Continue reading Collision’s Audacious Return to Toronto
  • 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… Continue reading Making Cents of News Subscriptions
  • 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… Continue reading Substack, Media Fragmentation & PR
  • 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… Continue reading PR Firms: Doing Well, But Doing Good?
  • 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… Continue reading White House Communications Team Encounters Turbulence
  • 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… Continue reading Embargoes and Exclusives
  • 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… Continue reading Can the Dems Find Their Soul and Take Back the Senate?
  • 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… Continue reading Where PR is Needed Now
  • ‘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… Continue reading ‘I Hope All Is Well’
  • 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… Continue reading November Surprise
  • 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… Continue reading Disinformation and the PR Industry
  • 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… Continue reading Superhuman or Not
  • 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… Continue reading Ad Tech Wars

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