Sunday, July 1

Covering Hot Topics: Second Quarter 2007

Every quarter, we publish a recap of our five most popular communication-related posts, based on the frequency and the immediacy of hits after they were posted. While we base this on individual posts, some are related to larger case studies.

Jericho Fans Make Television History

When CBS executives cancelled Jericho over Nielsen ratings, fans of this post- nuclear terrorist attack/small town survival drama went nuts, literally. Using the Internet and social media as their point of organization, they launched the largest cancellation protest in history: sending 40,000 pounds of nuts (from just one store); rallied almost 120,000 petition signers; cancelled CBS related-cable subscriptions; boycotted network premieres; sold network stock; sent in countless letters, postcards, and e-mails; captured media attention in every major newspaper and tabloid; and flooded the network with phone calls. Within a few weeks, CBS reversed its decision in record time, heading off what was quickly becoming an exercise in crisis communication. Of all the posts, pointing out the error in CBS’ marketing of Jericho took top honors with over 10,000 hits.

Link: Jericho

Wal-Mart Strikes Back Against Julie Roehm

If networks are looking for a new made-for-television docudrama, the ongoing Julie Roehm story continues to turn heads (and maybe stomachs). Filled with twists, turns, sex, back room deals, character defamation, lawsuits, countersuits, media bias, allegories, and more spin than the planet Jupiter (which rotates once every 10 hours), this story demonstrates the pitfalls of second-tier executives becoming public figures and the companies that keep them. In the end, if she has any credibility left, Roehm’s personal brand will always be linked to the short-lived, um, alleged Wal-Mart funded affair with a subordinate, her master-class ability to spin herself into another lawsuit and, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, being more indestructible than a cockroach.

Links: Julie Roehm, Wal-Mart

Digital Media Will Change Everything

While some might say it was the very loose Jericho link, we like to think it is related to the increasing interest in the future of digital media, specifically how old media is becoming new media. When we gave some attention to how News Corporation and NBC Universal are speeding ahead with the addition of FUEL TV, Oxygen, SPEED, Sundance Channel, and TV Guide as content partners committed to bringing programming to Web video consumers, people wanted to know what it might mean. To us, it means that one day very soon, broadcast news and entertainment will be forever fused with the Internet, people will access it all via versatile technologies like the iPhone, independents will have the potential to break into the big leagues overnight, and businesses will fully develop what we sometimes call income marketing.

Links: Digital Media, NBC Universal, FOX

Paris Hilton Splits Public Interest

We don’t know about you, but Mika Brzezinski of MNSBC perfectly captured the public’s sentiment over Paris Hilton. In a YouTube clip, Brzezinski refuses to lead the news with Hilton, but then goes on and on about how she refuses to cover it, making her refusal to cover Hilton carry on probably three times longer than if she would have just read the script. Love her, hate her, love to hate her, or hate to love her, we’re not buying that you’re not interested because if we post about her, we always see spikes even though we generally only cover communication side items like blaming publicists, marketing humor, and overly long media statements from jail. Hmmm… maybe that’s why Hilton took second against Roehm in terms of most read public figure.

Link: Paris Hilton

The Office Parodies A Public Relations Nightmare

Although some follow-up stories to JetBlue and Jobster came close, NBC Universal's 2006 Emmy Award-winning show, The Office, proved fictional crisis communication is sometimes more fun than real life. For our part, we wrote up how The Office episode "Product Recall” mirrors how executives sometimes allow a crisis to run away from them by applying “tried and true” communication strategies. In the show, Michael Scott (Steve Carell), regional manager of Dunder-Mifflin, applies the practice of “always running to the crisis and never away from it” after a disgruntled employee at the paper mill put an obscene watermark on one of their most popular paper products. The operative word in this case is “always.” Crisis communication rules are only guidelines, silly.

Link: The Office

It’s very promising to see non-bad news posts starting to give bad news posts a run for their money. We're still hoping good news and educational posts might one day dominate the top five (admittedly doubtful). For example, when it comes to social media, we’d love to see more attention given to our underpinning concept that strategic communication is best suited to drive social media despite the fact that most companies seems to be trying to do it the other way around.

Anyway, while those were the top five posts (and related case studies) for the second quarter, several others came close (and almost all of them beat out last quarter). Runners up (no order): Fans of the The Black Donnellys lobby for HBO to save the canceled NBC show; PR bloggers made a non-issue into an issue over Nikon; JetBlue proved you really can overapologize in a crisis; Jason Goldberg of Jobster goes a whole week or so before behaving badly again; and our sum-up of Harris Interactive mobile advertising research despite my initial skepticism, mostly fueled by a not-so-great Webinar release.

So there you have it, except for one very, very important ingredient: thank you all for dropping by, adding comments, promoting several stories, and continuing to bring communication issues to our attention so we may offer up our sometimes serious, sometimes silly take on them. Whether you agree or disagree, all of it lends well to the discussion and I appreciate those who remember to target the topic and not each other in providing input.



Sweet Tea on 7/1/07, 11:00 AM said...

Did you say " target the topic"? I would love to comment on Paris being in your top 5 but I won't. Okay, so it's interesting as to why she's there. I'll overlook her since Jericho is No. 1. Just don't let her have a Jericho t-shirt.
Very interesting article. Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to see who makes the next list.

Rich on 7/1/07, 11:31 AM said...

Ha ha ha! In this case, Paris is the topic so it's okay. Public figures can be treated a bit differently than, let's say, other readers. :)

So you don't understand why Paris is there? That's easy. It's all those people who search for Paris so they can comment on how they don't want Paris to be written about.

Personally, I don't understand the interest in Hilton or Roehm much like I didn't understand Barba (from Idol) was No. 1 last quarter!

JS, forgive me ... but I don't pick 'em; I just report on what the public picks. Yes, I am wondering who might be the next top five come Oct. 1.

Rich :)

Sweet Tea on 7/1/07, 12:28 PM said...

What the public picks, huh? I hope they pick Jericho next Fri. night. If we're really lucky maybe the Hilton's are a Nielsen family and maybe they'll watch because Paris is a friend of Ashley Scott's.
Put on your pajamas and write about that. Ha.

Rich on 7/1/07, 1:19 PM said...


Yes, this is all very unscientific (but kind of fun), but these topics are all dictated by number of hits with the immediacy after posting, which is partially attributed (I imagine) how quickly other sources pick it up and circulate it on message boards, forums, Digg, other blogs, etc.

For example, we wrote about how public readily dismissed the fact that Sheriff Lee Baca made the decision to release Paris Hilton, but the public outcry was directed at her, despite the fact that the crisis was created by Sheriff Lee Baca. When that post went up, we had several hundred hits within 24 hours (much like the one related to The Palms signage).

In contrast, our Selling DVDs post garnered attention, much more than Paris Hilton, but the hits were spread out over several days, partly because VM fans noticed a few days after it went up and TBD fans later added to the NBC message boards.

Statistics are funny; it all depends on how you slice them. If we looked at June alone and took all the immediacy out, it's a different story all together. Oh, with exception to Jericho. It would still be at the top.

In fact, there is an irony in that I advocated centralization for Jericho fans yesterday because the decentralization actually seems to benefit our blog traffic. But then again, we're less moved by blog traffic here than other factors related to our strategy in employing social media.

All my best,

Unknown on 7/5/07, 11:03 AM said...

Yippy for them bringing back Jericho! What is even better is that they are showing the previous series over again this summer. Friday they are showing the pilot again!


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