Monday, April 5, 2010

Tiger's PR machine: Pure genius

Those handling Tiger Woods image are really doing a good job.

The key to rehabilitating an image - or creating it - is to control the media environment. You can't let the media take control, you must control them.

Tiger has done it perfectly. Today's interview was the logical next step in a two-month process.

First he started out with a statement in the PGA Headquarters in February. No questions. Just a prepared statement that had probably been at least a few weeks in the works.

Later, he lets two television networks - ESPN and the Golf Channel - have five minute interviews. Both were interviews were conducted standing up and the ESPN reporter was asking questions off the top of his head - not from notes. Tiger gave up a little control by allowing someone to ask questions. But the length and format of the interview kept things in check for Tiger.

Today, he gave his first press conference in front of more than 200 reporters at the Masters Tournament. This is probably the best move of all.

The officials at Augusta National maintain a tight grip on the media and how it conducts itself. Augusta National controls the situation on and off the course when it comes to information and the media room and format of today's interview was a safe first outing for Tiger.

While I like sports reporters, they are not as aggressive as ...oh, say... a TMZ vulture. There were some good questions today - including one from our own sports editor Lance Lahnert - but questions like "How's your knee" and "Will you play in the Ryder Cup" were useless and no one cared.

The story was about Tiger and his life since Thanksgiving, not about his golf game.

But I think his handlers knew out of a 30 minute interview, 15 minutes of it would be softball questions.

There were a few pointed questions, but Tiger was well coached to handle these situations.

He gave very short answers to the questions he really didn't want to answer (the problem most people run into with the media is when they talk TOO much, not when the don't talk enough) and he just didn't answer some of the questions.

When asked if he should return to golf while still trying to repair his relationship with his wife, he answered: "Well, I'm excited to play this week."

Tiger has controlled this situation from start to today. The media will tire of this story after a while and he will go back to being a golf star first and People Magazine cover second.

That will happen sooner if he's in the running on Sunday.

Like it or not, the public is very forgiving, especially to someone who admits he screwed up.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Johnny Carson would be proud

Unlike our friend Mike Leach, former coach of Texas Tech, Conan O'Brien knows how to handle a dispute with his bosses.

Earlier this afternoon, Conan issued a statement announcing that he would not be part of The Tonight Show if it was forced to move to 12:05 a.m. Eastern time.

In his address to the "People of Earth," he stated the change would be damaging to the more than 50-year-old franchise .

"But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction," the statement said. "Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn't matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more."

And the statement ended with a dash of humor: "Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it's always been that way.

Not only is Conan correct, but it's also showing the challenge the all media face. Once able to dominate television, networks and their local affiliates are facing many challenges. More media niches mean more choices for all consumers.

But Conan is right for trying to preserve an American television icon. Only time will tell if he's successful.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Media Monday: Will you pay for online content?

Perhaps the biggest question being debated in the newspaper industry today is would people be willing to pay for content online.

The model for print newspapers has been that about 20 percent of the revenue comes from charging for the newspaper and 80 percent comes from advertising.

But the online model now depends nearly 100 percent on advertising revenue.

A recent study about the issue by an organization called ITZ/Belden Interactive indicates that paywalls are not a panacea.

Of the few newspapers who are charging for content, they have only 2.4% of the number of their print subscribers paying for online content.

And when you do the math, the revenue generated falls far short of the revenue made by advertising or even the print subscriptions generate by these newspapers, I imagine.

The Wall Street Journal does charge for some online content, but I wouldn't consider them the "normal" newspaper. Although they are expanding their coverage to compete more with USA Today and the national edition of the New York Times, I imagine most people are paying for access to financial information that only the Journal provides.

Unfortunately for those advocating charging for online content, the "genie," as they say has already been let out of the bottle.

This survey shows and the future will show that people are not willing to pay for online content.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Going out with a (sponsored) bang

When Texas Stadium is demolished, there will be a sponsor for the event.

For a mere $150,000 Kraft Foods gets to call it a "Cheddar Explosion."

Half the money goes to charities selected by Kraft and the other half to charities selected by the city of Irving.

According to the contract for the sponsorship, the demolition must occur between March 14 and April 18.

Kraft claims it will offer the city of Irving the equivalent in $1 million in publicity (including this blog).

No word on whether there will be vast amount of macaroni and cheese planted inside the stadium for a real cheddar explosion.

Mayor, newspaper publisher get in fist fight!

No, it's not myself and Mayor Debra McCartt. It's the mayor of Gallup, N.M., and the publisher of the Gallup newspaper. (Click here for story from a New Mexico television station.)

Seems they were both leaving a local bank when they started having words and part of the dust up is on video.

There appears to be a longstanding feud between the newspaper and the mayor, who the publisher calls "a thug."

I don't think it would come to that here. Mayor McCartt and I get along and if we didn't, I think we'd battle over tiddlywinks or Scrabble, not duke it out in the parking lot of Amarillo National Bank.

Only 238 days to kickoff

Last night's BCS National Championship was an absolute letdown to what had been an above-average bowl season and a below-average regular system.

There weren't many highlights for either team in last night's contest.

Colt McCoy went out on the fifth snap of the game and the backup quarterback just couldn't get it going, despite a pretty good second half.

But the most disappointing part of the game is when Alabama chose to run up the score with less than two minutes left. That was a classless, "Leech-esque" kind of move.

And my goodness, did someone tell Nick Saban his team WON the game? He looks like it would kill him to smile.

College football is the best sport, period. No other sport brings the passion and excitement of college football. Too bad last night's game didn't show this.

But the good new: only 238 days until the 2010 season begins. Let the countdown begin!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

And the winner is .....

One of the most asked questions I've gotten since moving to Amarillo seven years ago is: "Do you miss Georgia (which is where I moved to Amarillo from)?

My response: "Only during football season."

While I certainly embrace almost everything about the Texas life, it's been hardest to switch alliances to new teams and to a new conference.

In the South, SEC football is (almost) a religion. The truth is people will show up in the worst weather on Saturday for a game, but if the weather isn't perfect on Sunday, the church pews will be half full.

My favorite football book is about the University of Alabama: Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer : A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania by Warren St. John.

St. John is from Alabama but attended Columbia University in New York. He grew up an Alabama fan and met the legendary coach, Paul "Bear" Bryant shortly before his death, thanks to a friend of his father who worked for a sponsor of Bryant's weekly television show.

Bryant is a legend in the South and Alabama, but when St. John put a picture of him in his room at Columbia, his friends asked: "Who's that, your grandfather?"

What prompted St. John to write the book - chronicling a season with RV tailgaters who attend every Alabama football game - was a short television news segment interviewing a couple who had one of these RVs.

They had attended many games in a row and the interviewer asked if they had ever come close to missing one.

"Yes," they said. "Our daugther scheduled her wedding on a game day in the fall. We told her not to, but she did any way."

"It worked out," they said. "We were able to make the reception."

Deep South football addiction is intense. Alabama football addiction is insane.

Which brings me to tonight's game.

If both teams play their best, Alabama wins. The team with the fewest turnovers will win. I think it will come down to the kicking game.

If Alabama wins, it's the fourth straight BCS championship for an SEC team. And it would put the SEC at 6 of the 12 BCS championships since the inception of this system.

If Texas wins, it's the Longhorn's second championship in five years and it would put the Big 12 at second place in BCS championships with three (ACC , Big East, Pac 10 and Big 10 have one each.)

My pick: Alabama 27, Texas 24.