Beckham jersey ruins friendship

david beckham

David Beckham, moderately famous for playing soccer and extraordinarily famous for inexplicable reasons, has become the subject of a gurfuffle as he tossed a game-worn jersey to two ten year old former best friends. Former, because the ownership of that LA Galaxy sweat rag has torn the two apart.

“Okay” you’re saying to yourself, “has Stractical stopped commenting on public relations issues completely to focus on linking to hilarious news?” Well, let me tell you emphatically — sort of.

But read the last line of the article (that’s usually where the best/worst media relations happens)

Alexi Lalas, the Galaxy’s GM, had a solution.

“Cut the thing in half and give half to each,” he said.

Snide remarks are tremendously fun and effective in some situations but not here. David Beckham was brought over to Major League Soccer and given a $5 million per year contract (the average MLS player makes about $90 thousand) because he is a publicity machine. Most North Americans didn’t even know there was a professional soccer league until Becks crossed the Atlantic. With that in mind, its best to keep the goodwill flowing as the interest in the sport is so tied to one dude.

How much does a jersey cost? $60? How long would it take Beckham to bicycle kick a soccer ball in said jersey? Three minutes? How long would it take him to autograph the aforementioned jersey? 18 seconds? Are we figuring this out, LA Galaxy? Hey, maybe the crazies parents will still battle this one out in court, but at least you’ll have done everything you can.

One jersey for each boy with autographs and smiles. You don’t want to be the unforgiving parent here, teaching these lads about right and wrong and sharing and giving. You want to be the fun uncle who brings presents and good times and then leaves and everyone loves you. Be the fun uncle, Alexis Lalas.


Pitch, Feverishly

I recently received a pitch from a PR agency through e-mail. At first, I was a little annoyed. There was no possible way I could have been interested in the watery social media company the practitioner was acting on behalf of. I thought of simply deleting the e-mail. I thought I might publish the pitch and critique it in a “how to write e-mail pitches” post. I thought of sending a “STOP SPAMMING” reply. But after my initial displeasure subsided, empathy sunk in as I realized that I have been that practitioner. I have shot a thousand pitches from the hip and I have received angry, threatening responses from bloggers. So I decided I would send back some constructive advice to the coordinator. Here is my response:

Hi Elliot,

Unfortunately, Stractical doesn’t solicit pitches from PR agencies. Also, there are some glaring spelling and grammatical errors in your pitch. You really should take additional care before sending out mass e-mails, especially to bloggers as many will publish your contact information and vilify your client if they feel they have been spammed.

I’ve been in the position of intern/account coordinator and I understand the pressure to get media hits without having my own media contacts. Perhaps a more focused approach with fewer journalists/bloggers would be an effective strategy — something to consider and discuss with your supervisors. Often senior level practitioners preach relationship-based media relations yet bill on the backs of coordinators who are building media lists from software services and pitching for quantity.

Best of luck with your pitching.



Stractical: Very Public Relations

I run this blog, more or less, for my own interest and amusement and therefore do not use unsolicited pitches from public relations agencies. But I never explicitly state that on this blog — and I should. Blogger relations, as a subset of media relations, is an unfriendly, impossible to navigate terrain right now. There are billions of blogs about millions of topics and 99.99% of them are not interested in pitches. But if 0.01% do then it is in PR agencies’ best interests to explore that space. What we need is to start the conversation: between media/bloggers and PR, between PR and their clients and between senior and junior PRtists. Focused pitches, developed relationships take time and investment. Agencies need to provide the time and clients need to make the investment. Until then, media pitches will remain a numbers game, an obfuscated practice we’re not proud of, yet refuse to abandon. Good luck, Elliot.

A typical pitch environment?

Ways to, and ways not to Harp

The arrests of the ship captains of the anti-seal hunting vessel, the Farley Mowat has brought increased media coverage to controversial practice.

Let’s examine statements from both Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder Paul Watson and Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn.

First Watson, who in framing the context of the seizing of the vessel with the ultimate fate of the seal hunt says:

“We haven’t seen any evidence of a humane hunt here,” Mr. Watson said. “We’re presenting this evidence to the European Parliament. They are going to pass a bill to ban seal products. That will end the Canadian seal hunt. We’re looking at the end of days for the seal hunt.”

The statement pushes back the story away from the seizure and the arrest (ie the anti-seal hunters acting illegally) and re-frames the concept of the hunt as an archaic, soon to be obsolete practice. The last line is a little more inflammatory than an advocating statement should be, but groups that protest like unions, social or environmental agencies can get away with fiery language.

Now, let’s look at Minister Hearn’s statement. First, he denies that the government is blocking observers:

“We have issued over 75 permits this year for people to come visit within 30 feet of the hunt,” Mr. Hearn said. “If you have a permit, you can do that. … The boat did not have a permit.”

This appeal is to policy which may not be exceptionally compelling but is acceptable, especially from large organizations and governments — as long as the policy is reasonable, or at least, procedural. But then, inexplicably, the Minister gets cute:

Mr. Hearn said the incident has garnered international exposure, exposing Mr. Watson’s group as one that flouts the rules with little regard for international law.

“Observe is one thing, obstruct is something else,” he said. “It’s like the old days in Dodge before Wyatt Earp. This is the new Dodge, Mr. Watson. Welcome to Canada and welcome to the new Dodge City.”

Now Minister Hearn leaves the comfort of a policy defence by making allusions to the Wild West and martial law. The statement is overly aggressive and suggests an overzealous threat against seal hunting opponents. Analogies in media statements should act to simplify a complex position. This analogy only aggrandizes the perception of the government as an out-of-touch bully.

4 Stractical points for Mr. Watson and we’ll take away a Colt .45 from Minister Hearn in honour of his self-proclamation as Canada’s Wyatt Earp.

seal hunt

Scrabulous talk keeps scoring

CBC Radio’s excellent Spark takes up the Scrabulous issue and comes to many of the same conclusions as Stractical: Hasbro/Mattel/other license holders saw a phenomenon rising and jumped on board, legally and communicatively.