Jan 15

That’s What He Read – Writing, Wrestling, and Storytelling Edition

That's What He Read

That’s What He Read is a look back at five of my favorite articles from the past week. It covers all topics, but you’ll usually find the focus on writing, social media, and storytelling. I try to add some color to spice it up, but I usually fall flat on my face. Anyway, enjoy!

How agencies get employees to fill in their timesheets (Digiday) – Time is the bane of the PR industry’s existence. Account people hate to enter it and finance people hate when it’s not entered. But there has to be a way to encourage us to enter our time besides threats sent via e-mail, right? How about beer? Okay, that’s a start.

Writing Your Way to Happiness (New York Times) – This might sound strange, but as someone who loves to have written, I don’t particularly like the act of writing. But I’ve committed (privately, to myself) to write more in 2015 because I notice an emotional difference in me when I write on a regular basis. And it’s not just me. Researchers have determined that writing your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness.

How To Write 4,000+ Words A Day (Ksenia Anske’s blog) – Remember that thing I just said about hating the writing part of writing? Well, Ksenia Anske is determine to make writing hell on budding writers by showing them how they can write 4,000 words every day. The way she spells it out doesn’t make it seem so daunting, but putting that many words to paper regularly takes superhuman effort and focus.

The Surprising Amount of Time Kids Spend Looking at Screens (The Atlantic) – I’ll be the first parent to admit that I let my kids play on our iPad for longer than is probably okay sometimes. But I also make sure to limit their time in front of the screen when I can. At school, they’re also using iPads, and I doubt the teachers are making sure their posture is correct. Schools are increasingly going high-tech. Will they attempt to reduce screen time to fall in line with the recommended daily dosage?

Inside WWE: An Exclusive Look At How A Pro Wrestling Story Comes To Life (Bleacher Report) – Let me just tell you up front that I’m a huge wrestling fan and I watch Monday Night Raw every Monday night. I have for as long as I can remember. It’s a nice escape from the rigors of daily life. And, yes, I know everything is scripted. But this article is an interesting look into how stories are shaped on the fly, and how leadership decides which way to take the wrestlers. Crowd interaction is factored in, too.

Did you read anything this week that you just have to share with everyone? If so, put it in the comments! Or, just leave a comment!

Jan 15

It’s Time To Kill The Media Impression


Media impressions.

As Thomas Armitage so eloquently stated on Twitter: “Impressions are literarily [sic] the worst metric on the face of the earth.”

I’ll excuse his spelling error (which he later corrected), as well as his hatred of Dave Matthews, because he hits on a point that needs to be addressed.

Besides artificially boosting numbers so you can brag to potential new business — “Our PR campaign around a new operating system drove one billion impressions! — the media impression sends a message that we are actually reaching a large audience when, in all likelihood, it’s much smaller.

Let me give you an example.

If we are to take impressions at face value, we subscribe to the notion that a story placed in the Detroit Free Press is read by each of the 175,000 people who subscribe to the print edition.

Then we multiply that number by 1.5 to come up with the “pass along rate.” This new number takes into account the belief that some of those readers will pass along the newspaper to a friend to read that article.

(When was the last time a friend or family member called you up and said they saved the hard copy of the newspaper because they want you to read an article? Go ahead and think. I’ll wait.)

The impressions now stand at 262,500. That’s 262,500 people who read the story in the newspaper about our client; 262,500 potential new customers who read about the client’s product or service and want to purchase from them.

I know, it’s a stretch. But impressions remain one of the most important ways we deliver “value” even though it’s sketchy math, at best.

No wonder PR people get a bad wrap sometimes.

So what’s the solution?

That’s a good question.

If I were in charge, I’d eliminate impressions altogether, or reduce by, say, 80 percent. So if we’re sticking with the Detroit Free Press example, we can say (with a bit more accuracy, I think) that 35,000 people read the story, as opposed to 175,000.

But even then we’re guessing, so maybe eliminating altogether is a better idea, then settling on the number of stories we place as the driver of success.

At least we know that’s accurate.

So, in my imaginary PR world, we can tell potential clients that we landed 100 original stories, instead of saying our campaign drove 316 million impressions. (That’s the number of people in the United States – do you really feel comfortable making that claim?)

If you were in charge, what would you do with the PR impression? Do you think it still has value?

Jan 15

That’s What He Read – It’s Like We Never Left Edition


That’s What He Read is a look back at five of my favorite articles from the past week. It covers all topics, but you’ll usually find the focus on writing, social media, and storytelling. I try to add some color to spice it up, but I usually fall flat on my face. Anyway, enjoy!

A Site That Knows Your Favorite Books Before You Do (Fast Co. Create) – As an avid reader, I’m always looking for new books to add to my list of books to read. So when I saw this article pop up in my feed, I thought I’d rate some books to see if the algorithm checks out. I rated ten of my favorite books to see which books they would suggest. Some were spot on, but then it threw in “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” and “The Three Musketeers.” Unless the algorithm recognizes a deeply embedded connection between those books and “The Silence of the Lambs”, I’m not sure it’s going to uncover any gems.

Not Everyone’s Internal Internal Clock Is Set For The 9-to-5 (The Atlantic) – Wouldn’t it be great if we could work the hours we wanted to work, instead of being shackled to the working world norms that are imposed upon us? For the 400,000 Americans who suffer from delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS), they certainly do. Thankfully, the growth of a flexible workforce is helping these sufferers. But, sadly, not all of them can work when they’re most productive. While in a morning meeting their body might think it’s the middle of the night. As a result, many lose their jobs because they physically can’t wake up.

A Guide to Getting Past the Dez Bryant Catch (Grantland) – Have you been following the NFL playoffs? If so, you’ve probably noticed some outrage over the way the games have been officiated. When the fans are talking about the refs at the water cooler the next morning instead of the players, the league has a problem. I especially like this quote: “This sport exists to piss off everyone who pays attention.” The NFL has been pissing people off all year for the way they’ve handled certain situations, yet, we continue to flock in droves to games and television sets. You have to wonder: is the league bulletproof?

25 Writing Hacks From A Hack Writer (Terrible Minds) – Sometimes I think I enjoy reading about writing more than the actual act of writing. This post by Delilah S. Dawson reminds me of that fact. She is, essentially, telling you to simplify your life in order to start writing, but in a way that is way more entertaining. If you really, really desire to write, follower her hacks. And then remember she wrote her first novel while she nursed a baby. Surely you can write 500 words tonight with a beer in hand.

Three Steps To A Killer Pitch (Spin Sucks) – In public relations, we’re only as good as our ability to pitch a story to a reporter. After all, we’re paid to drive coverage, even if the current incarnation of the business makes it seem like we’re straying from that ideal. We’re not. Like I said in my comment, the kids entering the business today need to learn this skill. Lindsay Bell does a great job of laying out a few ways (three, to be exact) they can get better at it.

Did you read anything this week that blew your mind? Tell us about it!

Jan 15

The Only Person You Can Count On Is You


File this blog post under “Things I Wish I’d Figured Out Sooner.”

If there’s one thing I took away from 2014, it was this: the only person who you can truly count on each and every day is…you.

I’ve suspected this for awhile now. I didn’t wake up on New Year’s Day and come to a realization. It was really a confluence of events that got me thinking about this.

When I was just starting out as a young PR professional with big dreams and a small paycheck, I was told by one of my managers that they had big things in mind for me. I was going to be someone!

I was thrilled to hear this, of course. I went back to my cube with a giant grin on my face and continued working, knowing that, very soon, I was going to be put in a spot to succeed where my strengths would be put to good use.

Two weeks later, that manager quit, leaving me high and dry.

It turns out the conversation we had was never shared with anyone else. So when the manager was gone, so was that big transition we talked about.

No promotion. No advancement. Just status quo.

I might as well have made up the entire conversation I had with her in the conference room two weeks prior. Nothing had changed.


I don’t blame my manager at all, although I did at the time. (Hey, I was angry.) She bettered her career. Wouldn’t you do the same thing if you could?

If I was going to be angry at anyone, it should have been me for nodding my head in agreement in that conference room and not doing anything to push forward. But I was young and naive enough to think it would just happen.

Now it’s 2015 and I’d like to think I’m a little smarter.

If someone higher up tells me I would be a great fit, I will nod politely and say I’m flattered they think so, but I will not let them hold my fate completely in their hands.

I’ll have a say in the matter.

Like I read somewhere once, I’m the CEO of my career. Nobody else.

Those making the decisions are busy. And, like it or not, the betterment of your career is not at the top of their list, nor should it be.

So whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been in a job for awhile now, I think it’s worth remembering that, ultimately, you are the only person you can count on.

You are the final arbitrator of your success. Nobody will hold your hand and lead you down the path of success.

You have to guide yourself.

Jan 15

That’s What He Read – First Edition of 2015

That's What He Read

That’s What He Read is a look back at five of my favorite articles from the past week. It covers all topics, but you’ll usually find the focus on writing, social media, and storytelling. I try to add some color to spice it up, but I usually fall flat on my face. Anyway, enjoy!

Mitch Albom Must Be The World’s Most Miserable Sports Fan (Awful Announcing) – If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I loathe Detroit Free Press sports columnist, Mitch Albom. The sad part is that he used to be my favorite sports writer. Now he’s like the old man who sits on his front porch and yells at the neighborhood kids to get off his lawn. Anyway, Ian Casselberry nails it in his description of how far Mr. Albom has fallen. I suggest you read it.

The Shameful Triumph of Football (The Atlantic) – Contrary to my tweets last Sunday during the Detroit Lions playoff loss, I’m not a big fan of the NFL. The league’s popularity has soared even during a season that has it’s fair share of controversy and negative PR for certain players. Tuning in each week tells the league everything’s fine, even when we tell ourselves it’s not, but we can’t tune out.

The 51 Greatest Articles on Writing I’ve Ever Read (Buffer) – Whether you’re a PR person, a novelist, a content marketer, or just someone looking to write better, you’ll surely find something in here that will capture your interest.

A Teenager’s View on Social Media (Medium) – I found this post to be quite insightful, even though it told me a few things I already suspected. Namely, teens hate Facebook, love Snapchat. But hearing why they love and hate certain channels was a peek inside the mind of most brand’s target demographic. Who needs million dollar research budgets when what we want is right in front of us.

Atlanta Hawks Host Tinder Night (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) – I would’ve expected a team like the Philadelphia 76ers or New York Knicks to host a Tinder night, not the Atlanta Hawks. Bad teams need to keep fans interested, but the product on the floor in Atlanta is good enough that fans don’t need a diversion. Still, the same team whose CEO sent a letter excusing fans from staying up late to watch the team play on the West Coast hosted a night based on a popular matchmaking app. Not something you’d expect to see, but maybe that’s why it worked.

Did you read anything this week you want to share with the class? Tell me in the comments!