Category Archives: Public Relations

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



Three Ways The Media Set A High Standard With Buffalo Snow

More than a dozen people are dead, residents remain trapped in homes and roads are impassable. As Buffalo digs out from a record snowfall the focus moves to building collapses and flooding. Mother nature’s big dump stirs feelings of isolation and fear when you know you’ll be crushed by a mountain of snow when you open your door, but as seen below, some people overcame that by downing a few cold ones before clawing out.

Alcohol may have helped, but TV, social media and digital devices played an even bigger role to reduce fear and isolation. Six feet of snow is a record-setting height and during this event, the media set its bar just as high; they all complemented each other and connected the Buffalo community and the world in real time. This is just a glimpse into the future of story-telling, where consumers demand multiple sources of news from multiple forms of technology, even drones.

1. Local TV News Does It Best– Local stations covered the storm wall to wall and proved that TV is still the most powerful medium for big events. Why is this? TV stations dedicate hundreds of staffers and spread themselves across the scene when major stories hit. This provides a valuable public service and the metrics back this up.  The Buffalo News reports that Channel 2, WGRZ was the ratings winner for the storm and viewership with stations beat a Buffalo Bills game, no small feat. Today’s TV news media is much more than reporters live in the field; journalists want want to share as many interesting human elements and public safety announcements possible. That’s why they dedicate personnel and resources to facilitate and coordinate the social media conversation.

2. Social Media Lit It Up -Posts ranged from warnings of a building collapse via the Erie County Sheriff’s Facebook page to multiple images of regular people trying to cope.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 4.14.36 PM

Lohud was one of many sites that chronicled stories of regular people digging out. Social Media posts appeared on TV stations, newspapers, other blogs and often went viral without media help.Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 4.19.55 PM

3. Digital Technology Flies High –It’s strongly advised that news choppers avoid severe weather and news crews on the ground encountered limited mobility, so James Grimaldi programmed his drone to record video the storm with this dramatic story.

The blanket coverage from television news, aka “smotherage” combined with social media and digital story-telling made this communications effort one for the ages, just like this epic storm. I won’t predict the weather, but it’s safe to forecast that this is the future of news delivery and consumption. Local TV will always play a major role in our backyard and from now on, it will have an even bigger supporting cast of credible platforms with stories and images that bring the news even closer to us, in real time, which benefits everyone.

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

picture of Ron Petrovich

picture of Ron

Disco Riot Anniversary: A Social Media Perspective

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 4.12.25 PMHe wobbled, stared at me with glassy eyes and mumbled, ” Wow man, I’ve never pissed on second base.” Next he fumbled with his zipper then sprayed his impulse all over his pants, shoes and eventually the intended target. In baseball terms he stole second and in stoner lingo he scored and fried. I still smile when I think of that unknown, fellow rioter on the baseball field from an infamous promotional campaign that is now part of Rock ‘n’ Roll, baseball and Chicago media lore, Disco Demolition.

35 years ago this week, two high school friends, Ralph, Mark and I made a last minute decision while listening to our favorite Rock Radio station to drive 40 minutes from Northwest Indiana to Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park, the former home of the Chicago White Sox. Admission to the double header between the Sox and Detroit Tigers was 98 cents (the radio station promoting the event was WLUP, The Loop FM 98) and a 45 rpm disco record, which looked like an oversized CD with a hole in the middle. Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 12.37.35 PM

WLUP disc jockey Steve Dahl had recently been fired from a rival station after it converted to disco music programming. This promotion carried out his revenge and our disdain for the genre. In between the games, Dahl, dressed in an anti-disco military uniform strutted to a dumpster in center field and fired up 59,000 fans with “Disco Sucks” chants. When he reached his destruction destination, he blew up thousands of records and ignited the mayhem. A giant plume of white smoke and gunpowder smell blended with the blue cloud of burning weed that had been wafting before the first pitch was even thrown. Seconds after that explosion, I heard, “Let’s Go,” and we were off. From center field, our thundering herd flew over seats, sprinted down ramps and hurdled retention walls until we landed on the grass near first base. Our trio slowly wandered and gazed up toward the empty seats marked by Disco Sucks banners while dozens of other knuckleheads set fires throughout the field. For at least a half-hour, everyone disregarded the pleas, “Holy Cow, please get off the field,” from famous announcer Harry Caray. We savored every second of our major league debut until tactical police units arrived on horseback with billy clubs.

It would have been cool to record all that action like we do today with our mobile devices even though I hold onto vivid memories of the sights, sounds, smells and feel of the entire stadium rumbling during the initial rush, which is a great thing. I embrace social media and I’m uncertain what kind of thing this is, but I believe that if Disco Demolition was promoted today, it would not spontaneously combust because of the medium’s ability to spread news so quickly. An audience much bigger than fans of Steve Dahl would control or crash the party for five reasons:

  1. Twitter would be trending with #discodemolition #discosucks and #disco prior to the event
  2. Instagram would be rolling for days with selfies of kids wearing Disco Sucks T-Shirts
  3. Vine and YouTube would be filled with videos of teens destroying disco records
  4. Facebook pages of WLUP RadioThe White Sox would be smothered in disco-hating rants
  5. Organizers would react to the social media conversation and take preventive steps and bring in extra security 

Disco Demolition

Back then, we didn’t take a lot of pictures of ourselves. Now, we watch old footage on YouTube and recall this anniversary through our memories of the sights, sounds and smells that connect a bygone media era to today’s social media. There could even be a lesson as we chronicle so many moments on social media. Before, during or after that selfie, think about pausing for a moment and engaging all of your senses to remember and interpret; not knowing it at the time, this worked for me at Disco Demolition and just might help make your milestones more memorable.

With Disco Demolition, Steve Dahl became a media icon because he was an outrageous visionary who understood the power of being himself. Today, he’s active on social media, has his own network with podcasts and is just as real as he was in 1979.

The opinions expressed in this blog are my own. My Twitter handle is Ronald Petrovich and the days of hating disco are way behind me even though I still fear dancing. 

picture of Ron Petrovich

picture of Ron


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.

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.