Category Archives: Brand Journalism

Media Can Do Better Than Deflategate

As an Indianapolis COLTS fan, I need to air it out as the investigation of deflated balls continues past the Super Bowl.

football 2015-02-01 at 1.28.09 PMI’m not deflated that it happened because as COLTS tight end Dwayne Allen tweeted, they would have lost to the Patriots no matter what.

I’m deflated because the media names so many scandals !#x-gate. It’s become boring-gate, tired-gate and lazy-gate.  The term gate began with the culturally shifting journalism by reporters Woodward and Bernstein for coverage of the 1972 break-in of the Watergate Hotel. This eventually cost Richard Nixon the presidency, just a little bigger than football.

That hotel in Washington, DC is expected to reopen next summer after a big renovation. Media, let’s take this opportunity to renovate as well and stop living in this “gated community”. Some other football examples of “gated” episodes include “Nipplegate”, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during a Super Bowl half-time performance and the New Orleans Saints’ “Bountygate“. The Washington Post and BBC wrote about this obsession with naming scandals, (not just football) and noted that gate was formally named as a suffix in its own right in 1991.

Mike and Mike, the popular sports talk radio hosts on ESPN, in George CostanzaSeinfeld mode, at least tried to break this pattern.

Even though their effort wasn’t a game changer on social media, they didn’t shoot an #airball, but what about this? Can the media use its replay challenge and rule that #airball replace deflategate.

The opinions expressed in this blog are my own. My Twitter handle is Ronald Petrovich



From Mayo Clinic Social Media Week: Creating and Launching a Brand Journalism Site

We work at Mayo Clinic where we try to connect with the heart, mind and eye. We’re not neurologists, cardiologists, psychologists or ophthalmologists. What are we? We’re brand journalists and that means telling our story with emotion, credibility and imagery on traditional and Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 3.14.11 PMsocial media platforms.  Learn about our successes and challenges in this post on the Mayo Clinic Social Media Health Network 

Twitter and TV go hand in hand to make history

I am so proud of my fellow-couch potatoes that I’d stand up and applaud except that I am holding three remotes and an iPhone in my hands and resting a MacBook Pro and Kindle on my lap. Tweeting and watching TVWe used to watch TV open-mouthed and drool on the furniture but that was so 2010. Today we’re onto to something big-our consumption of traditional and social media is making history. TV used to own the prime real estate of ratings and now it wants to share with social media. This is a good thing because the giant consumer research company, Nielsen, recognizes this trend and for the first time ever, has begun measuring Twitter and TV together like traffic and weather. TV shows like Dialing For Dollars, entertainment oriented web pages, blogs and Facebook built the framework to share a programming experience and today, Twitter has made interacting even better. It’s fast, easy, reaches millions of people and lights up the globe during big events. When the horse California Chrome lost his big for the Triple Crown at Belmont, the reaction to his owner’s tirade about fairness instantly ignited a real time conversation #CaliforniaChrome that has lasted for days. tweets on california chrome Why is this happening? It’s simple-television and Twitter have altered our brains and fingers to work as one to watch, talk and listen. I have to credit our daughter, @manthapetrovich, a TV aficionado, for introducing us to Jimmy Fallon and his creative use of #hashtags to engage his audience, as shown by buzzfeed.

(Article from buzzfeed that shows examples of hashtags with Jimmy Fallon

Anna Washenko Anna Washenko posted this story on the TV industry’s leadership of #hashtag use.  She references the creative crime solving comedy hit (now concluded) Psych on USA Network and how it invited viewers to help catch a criminal on Twitter. Twitter sees this potential too and has been testing TV engagement. It is probably biased, but I agree with this study conducted by Brandwatch and posted by the staff at that says TV shows with hashtags deliver better viewer participation, which possibly translates to ratings. Personally, I remember events better while Tweeting because to me it’s like taking notes. As mentioned in the top of this post, TV ratings company Nielsen has started measuring how Tweets and TV complement each other. (more in this report by ABC) It found that the Grammys, Oscars and SuperBowl generated the most tweets and reached the most people. Breaking Bad, one of the best TV shows ever, led the way with engagement, averaging more than 500,000 tweets per episode.

Click on this image to read the post on Nielsen Ratings

Click on this image to read the post on Nielsen Ratings

News organizations are using this same brand journalism formula. Reporter Dr. Nancy Dr Nancy SnydermanSnyderman is a journalist who brands herself and NBC News on Twitter. While she connects with audiences on TV and Twitter, she is also developing good sources for future stories and growing her fan base. What will the future bring? It’s logical to assume that the barriers between all the media are blurring and that there might be more happy places for popular platforms to prop each other up, something we all need when we’re in couch potato mode. Fellow coach potatoes, if it’s not too much effort, here is another chance to see Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake take hashtagging over the top. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own. My Twitter handle is Ronald Petrovich.

NBA Boss Adam Silver Puts On News Conference Clinic

The new commissioner of the NBA thrust himself into the limelight with his decision to ban the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling, for life. There is wide support and some disagreement about his actions but one thing is certain, Adam Silver held a clinic on how to conduct a news conference.

Silver was succinct, framed the situation with context, referenced his supporters by name, and then announced his decision with conviction, all in less than four minutes. He appeared to be well-prepared and answered questions slowly and patiently with apparent honesty. If he didn’t know the answer, he admitted that, which is fine as long as there was follow-up with the media person who asked the question.

His non-verbal communication of swaying back and forth can improve, but his message resonated. If you or a client ever hold a news conference, take a half hour and watch this.

Lee Jenkins @SI_LeeJenkins from Sports Illustrated penned this insightful report on Silver that detailed his formative years in New York and highlighted his ability to interact with just about anyone. Jenkins wrote that prior to that news conference, Silver focused more on the message than the punishment, gathered input from colleagues prior to this media event, but in the end reflected on his life experiences and went with his gut.

Here is a full transcript of the news conference posted by USA Today, and below that, tweets, including one by Dennis Miller @DennisDMZ, with reaction. Under the tweets, there’s a video of the entire news conference. (note, there is a 15-20 second commercial prior to the video on


link that takes you to video from

Click on image to view entire news conference

A lesson from NBC’s The Voice to help your voice

Do you know somebody with a voice and speaking pattern that makes you cringe? Is it the umm, umm, ummer, the uptalker, the person who always says “like”, the run-on sentencer, or a speaker with one of these irritating traits listed by the National Speakers Association? An annoying voice stays with your memory like a bad smell and more importantly it detracts from your message.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 2.41.14 PM

Click to learn more about Sophia Bush fan page

Now turn that around and recall a pleasant voice and speaking pattern. Actress Sophia Bush or James Earl Jones both have distinguished voices and memorable speaking styles that I like. You don’t need to speak like a performer, you just don’t want to distract your audience. In today’s world of branded content and branded journalism, it’s likely that you or a colleague will present to a group or appear in some type of video or audio piece. It might be recorded from your mobile device or high end production gear.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 2.44.54 PM

Click to learn more about this program

The hit NBC Program, The Voice, is about more than singing, it’s pitch is perfect for every day life, especially in today’s world of multimedia messaging. In the first round of competition, the judges make their selection exclusively on voice, not appearance.

When I was a television news producer, a very smart news director taught us to evaluate on-air talent on three levels. Just like The Voice, first he made us listen to the candidate with our backs turned. If the candidate passed this most important voice review they would move onto the silent, non verbal communication test. In the third phase we would grade the applicant with voice and visuals combined. The person with the best voice and clear delivery style was usually selected. Our exercise which targeted news reporters and anchors applies to anyone who appears in any form of multimedia and today that could be an executive, a CEO, or a random spokesperson.

Communications consultant Roshini Rajkumar says it comes down to how you sound, how you deliver and how people perceive you through what they hear. To manage internally and externally, this vocal expertise has an impact on your organization.


Forbes Magazine contributor Cheryl Conner profiles a book titled Pitch Perfect: How to Say it Right the First Time, Every Time in which author and former TV reporter Bill McGowan offers helpful speaking tips, among those, giving your audience a headline which is quoted below.

The Headline Principle. Get attention for a topic by sharing your best information first, McGowan says, especially if it’s a thought-provoking line that makes listeners think “I want to know more.”  This is golden wisdom. It applies to investment pitches, sales presentations, and, of course, to articles, press releases and blog columns as well. As I like to put it, writing a great press release or article is like telling a joke backwards: You begin with the punchline. Then you proceed down the pyramid to fill in the color and the additional details.

In addition to these suggestions that will help you deliver your branded content message more effectively, here are three other ideas that might help you:

  1. Record yourself and listen to your interview or presentation. It’s very uncomfortable but can help you identify patterns.
  2. Just follow the arrow. If you are uptalking and want to vary your delivery, draw an up, down or sideways arrow at the end of each sentence and intonate accordingly.
  3. Keep your thoughts simple. When possible make your points in groups of three.

If you try a few of these simple suggestions, maybe the audience won’t bash you on Twitter when you’re talking and your colleagues won’t pick up fake phone calls when they hear you approaching. With the low cost of producing content on platforms like YouTube, podcasts and webinars, the odds are pretty good that sometime soon, you’ll be using one of your most powerful marketing tools to brand your content, Your Voice.

The opinions expressed in this blog are my own. My Twitter handle is Ronald Petrovich.

Get Shorty Awards

In any generation the key to engaging an audience is telling a compelling story.  Today this is called branded content and branded journalism. For the sixth straight year, the Shorty Awards in New York recently recognized the best story-tellers in social media who compete on subjects that include art, entertainment, news, sport, video games and even health care. Nominees (individuals and organizations) are judged for their impact on Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Foursquare, Instagram, Vine and Twitter; it pays to be facile on Twitter because candidates are nominated through Tweets.

Logo and link to Shorty Awards website

Since I work in health care, I wanted to highlight the winner in this category and demonstrate that good story-telling applies to any field. Congratulations to ZN team at hyperthinker, top-rated in the health category this year.  According to its website, Break Dengue is a branded content initiative that was created in 2013 to combat dengue fever, a global neglected disease that affects the most marginalized populations and is now found in some of the world’s wealthiest countries. A major international public health concern, the World Health Organization says that about half of the world’s population is at risk from dengue.

Break Dengue

Break Dengue

The winners  said, “With Twitter, we have taken a very different approach. @BreakDengue is not only focused on raising public awareness on dengue prevention, but also seeks out and has built many strategic relationships with dengue Key Opinion Leaders worldwide. These include experts from the pharmaceutical industry, certified medical professionals, healthcare analysts, educators, marketing professionals for the healthcare sector, activists, and other organizations that share our goal”

Here is their winning entry.


The Shorty Awards are produced by Sawhorse Media, a New York-based technology startup. Sawhorse also created and runs Muck Rack, the leading network to connect with journalists on social media.

The opinions expressed in this blog are my own. My Twitter handle is Ronald Petrovich.