A Grammy for integrated marketing?

This week on the social networks of the Integrated Marketing Communications program I direct at St. Bonaventure University, we shared a link about Monday’s Grammy Awards ceremony.

The link was to a Rolling Stone story about the best and worst moments of the ceremony. A little more than halfway through the article, the authors wrote that one of the evening’s worst moments was when Gwen Stefani won a Grammy for integrated marketing.


Obviously, there is no Grammy for integrated marketing, but what Rolling Stone took issue with was the product of a campaign that involved a popular entertainer, a staged roller-skating accident and a live music video that ended with the logo of the store where consumers can purchase Stefani’s new album with four bonus tracks. All of this may have rubbed some folks the wrong way, but it did create a buzz and excitement about Stefani and her latest work. 


The whole episode reminds me of the term pseudo-event, which was coined in 1961 by historian Daniel J. Boorstin.  “It is not spontaneous, but comes about because someone has planned, planted, or incited it,” Boorstin explained in his book The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America. 


More than 50 years later, pseudo-events are more prevalent than ever. IMC professionals are likely to find it tempting to incorporate them into plans and strategies. Used properly, pseudo-events can be effective, but they also can lead down a treacherous path. To be successful in this field, one must be creative and innovative, but most important of all, one must be ethical.

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Iowa: A PR anomaly


When my wife Anne and I visited Davenport, Iowa, in May, there were no presidential candidates in sight, but I did find a few interesting photo angles in the city.

Because I covered government and politics as a journalist and later worked in those fields in several communication positions, this coming Monday is a day that has long been circled on my calendar. It is the date of the Iowa Caucuses, the first official electoral event of the 2016 presidential campaign.

The caucuses also provide an interesting lesson for individuals in the communications field. Public relations professionals use research, strategy and tactics (and significant sums of money) to garner attention for clients. But some opportunities just happen automatically. Continue reading

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Why I am thankful for a career in journalism


At work at The News Tribune circa 1983

When I count my blessings on Thanksgiving, the list includes one unlikely item.

This is not to say my priorities are out of order. I am very thankful for family, friends and good health, but I also am deeply thankful I have been able to spend the bulk of my professional career in the field of journalism.

Giving thanks for a career in journalism may seem like an odd choice, especially to anyone who has never worked in a newsroom. By and large, the public feels journalists are intrusive and biased, that they sensationalize stories, and that they fail to report the news accurately and fairly. Continue reading

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Has technology altered our sense of community?

(co-authored with Anne Wojtaszek Lee)

The advent and growth of the Internet have made it possible for news organizations of all sizes to extend their coverage areas and reach audiences all over the world. But advances in technology also may have altered our concept of community because the Internet has eliminated geographic barriers of communication.

Research we are conducting at St. Bonaventure University is aimed at determining whether our sense of community is shifting away from traditional geographic-based communities and turning toward topic- and interest-based communities formed around subjects such as sports, theater and public policy.

The research involves The Convergence, an online news site staffed by St. Bonaventure journalism students who cover communities near the university. In a small survey, we asked participants to indicate what link on The Convergence homepage they were most likely to click first. Links to topics such as news, opinion, entertainment and sports were selected Continue reading

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What’s next for Carly Fiorina?

Carly Fiorina entered Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate with two advantages over the other nine participants who sought to take the spotlight off of Donald Trump.

For starters, she was a new face. Fiorina did not participate in the Aug. 6 primetime debate because the event was limited to the 10 candidates with the highest poll numbers.

Secondly, Fiorina was the only woman on the stage. As such, she brought a new Continue reading

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Five PR Lessons from ‘Born to Run’

If you are wondering why Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run album is back in heavy rotation on the radio, the explanation is simple. The Boss’s landmark LP was released 40 years ago this week.

Born to Run is a piece of rock and roll history. The album’s tracks have stood the test of time and remain among the highlights of Springsteen’s live performances. The record also helped turn Springsteen from a popular regional act into a superstar.

Aside from the music, the LP and the campaign to promote it – provide several important lessons for today’s public relations and marketing professionals.

1. Don’t cut costs

Columbia Records invested $250,000 in a promotional campaign for the album – a small sum by today’s standards, but Continue reading

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The presidential debates don’t need Jon Stewart

I enjoy and admire Jon Stewart immensely, but you will not find my name on the petition urging the Commission on Presidential Debates to select him to host a debate during the 2016 campaign.

It’s not that Stewart lacks qualifications to moderate an exchange between the candidates for the White House. As host of The Daily Show for 16 years, he interviewed some of the most powerful people in the world. He asks insightful, challenging questions that illustrate how well educated and informed he is on domestic and international affairs.

So why is a man with such credentials a poor choice to host a presidential debate? Continue reading

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