What a Play!

Just one inning into the game. You can feel the tension as every sports bar in America has tuned in to the highly anticipated 2017 World Series, Game 1. The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros begin to battle it out. An ad flashes across your screen: T-Mobile #HR4HR, Home Runs for Hurricane Recovery.

Say what? Wasn’t Houston where all the flooding was?

Hurricane scene Home Runs for Hurricane Recovery aims to heal.

Photo Courtesy of The Independent

T-Mobile created the hashtag “#HR4HR” at the onset of postseason baseball to encourage donations for hurricane relief. With each postseason home run, the company offered to donate $10,000 to the hurricane recovery fund Team Rubicon, the disaster response organization utilizing the skills and experiences of military veterans.  T-Mobile also offered to donate an extra $1 each time the hashtag was tweeted or retweeted.

The charitable acts only increased as the playoffs continued when T-Mobile President and CEO John Legere made it a double header with $20,000 per home run and $2 every time #HR4HR is tweeted during the World Series!

While some tweeters criticized the company’s interruption of the games and the use of natural disasters for promotion, most fans found the hashtag both philanthropically supportive and entertaining. The tweets poured in, not only flooding the website but also raising awareness and funds for fellow Americans in need.

Risky Business?

T-Mobile, the official partner of Major League Baseball with lots of customer tie-ins,  took a risk by putting the financial results in the hands of twenty-first century social media users and a possible seven game series. But the decision to initiate “Home Runs for Hurricane Recovery” and promote rebuilding the nation was a strategic marketing move.

Baseball’s loyal viewership guaranteed millions of eyes on the screen when the #ad first ran. This exposed all viewers to T-Mobile as a potential cell phone carrier. Even more powerful, though, was the branding image that was now illuminated: T-Mobile was working with viewers and fans to support those in need, on cell phones!

The company loaded the bases to do a good deed and enhance their brand. Seems they knocked this one out of the park!

In the Public Eye

It’s often said, the camera doesn’t lie. Nor or does it blink. The same can be said of social media.

Recently Mrs. Louise Linton Mnuchin, the new since-June wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin documented her posh summer lifestyle in Italy and France publicly on Instagram, complete with a parade of designer tags…”#TomFord,” “#Valenrinorockstudheels,” and #HermesScarf.” However, a brand spokesperson said these were not free products or compensation, The New York Times reported, for her “label-loving shoutout.”

Photo Courtesy of Business Insider

But the public arrogance begged for a defacing of her Wikipedia page, which can be edited by anyone. Following this criticism, Mrs. Mnuchin’s Instagram post featured herself as she and her husband and Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell disembarked from a government jet.

Commenting on the public posting, a 45-year-old mother of 3 from Oregon criticized her photo op, “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable.”

Grammatical error

Mrs. Mnuchin fired back defensively without the benefit of a grammar check….

“Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country?” she wrote.

“I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day “trip” than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.”

And finally, “You’re adorably out of touch.”


A Winner in our Hearts

One of the youngest professional golfers at this summer’s British Open,  22-year-old Jordan Spieth, ended his chances of winning all four major titles in a single year by finishing one stroke behind Zach Johnson. However, with a handshake and a hug, Mr. Spieth was the first to walk over and congratulate Mr. Johnson on his win.


Photo courtesy of www.concordmonitor.com

Fans across the globe cheered his gesture.  All in all, he stated that he was happy for his role model and friend, Zach Johnson, to win the title. Viewers immediately took to social media complimenting Mr. Spieth’s grace, and stating that he is a champion … ” a truly stand-up guy.”

“We gave it a great effort. Ideally, par-birdie is a perfect way to finish out here, and that would have gotten the job done, so it stings a little bit. Ultimately, I thought we gave it a pretty good run.”

Good sportsmanship always plays a part in winning the media game. If Mr. Spieth had shown anger at himself or a lousy attitude toward his opponent,  he would not have received the high praise that he did.

In media training at READY FOR MEDIA in Los Angeles. we coach our clients that Courtesy is one of the C’s of Communication, along with Candor. And Mr. Spieth showed another of our C’s of Communication, as well. Class.

“Token Fluzzies” Unite

Communication and presentation skills combined with appropriate branding can create the message desired, but not always the message received. The right message delivered by the wrong person is damaging and can both offend and distract from the issue or position.

The qualities of a media spokesperson must include charisma, relevance, credibility and above all, one who is appropriate and WANTED by the industry. The latter was not the case for self-appointed spokesman for women’s equality in technology, Vivek Wadhwa. A member of Singularity University, a Silicon Valley and Stanford University think tank, Mr. Wadhwa is being criticized as an un-appointed spokesman for women. According to the Executive Director of Double Union, a women’s studio for creativity in San Francisco,  ” Mr. Wadhwa has kept actual, qualified women’s voices from being heard widely in the mainstream media.”

man right or wrong blog

Mr. Wadhwa. Photo courtesy of New York Times

Women have criticized Mr. Wadhwa for, “clumsily articulating our cause.” Using quotes like, “token fluzzies” to describe them, many women take offense to this man being seen as their representative, harming the brand of women in technology and the identity of women executives throughout Silicon Valley. Blaming his poor English for many of his harmful quotes, Mr. Wadhwa is adamant that he only wishes to help women succeed. However, several women who know and have worked with him, including Sarah Szalavitz, the Chief Executive of 7 Robot, feel that while “his intentions are good, his message and his voice are actually damaging women.”

woman right or wrong blog

Ms. Sandberg.Photo courtesy of Yahoo News

By contrast, Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg has recently launched a new campaign, based on her book of the same title, “Lean In,” promoting gender equality in ads with NBA and WNBA players. As a woman with an executive position in technology, Ms. Sandberg has all the qualities desired for a good spokesperson on this issue. According to Ms. Sandberg, “Lean In,  is focused on encouraging women to pursue their ambitions, and changing the conversation from what we can’t do to what we can do.”

Even before the media training begins to craft the messages and coach the personality, the chosen spokesperson must be compatible with the issue. Spokespeople are not only important in branding the issue, but must be engaging and credible in the eyes of both the public and the sector they represent.

Caution and appropriateness are advised in all forms of media appearances, especially in ones as personal as spokespersoning.

Politically Incorrect

Scolding and shushing an interviewer is not the way to win the media game. Media coverage is a privilege and responsibility granted to those worthy of public interest. It requires effective communication, presentation skills and media training. Here, the Republican Junior Senator from Kentucky, Dr. Rand Paul, proved himself less than worthy.

The potential 2016 presidential candidate patronized, accused, demeaned and belittled the knowledgeable, young, female financial news reporter, CNBC’s Kelly Evans, who kept her cool when asking him to clarify past statements. He also criticized all media with statements like: “this is what’s wrong with TV”, “twisted”, “slanted and full of distortions” and “you need to try a little more objectivity going into the interview.”

By scolding, repeating hearsay (“I’ve heard of cases”), being defensive, blustering, talking over her, shushing her with his finger to his lips, waving his hands at her, interrupting, arguing, threatening (“if we do this again”) and condemning, Dr. Paul lost his opportunity to brand himself and his perspective on issues to his best advantage. His testiness became the story, not his political message because of his failure to present himself in a professional and presidential manner.

Additionally, the split screen format can be confusing. Each participant, situated across town or across the world, faces a camera and speaks to the other, hearing the questions and answers through their earpieces, sometimes with a delay. Practice and satellite media coaching can make a satellite appearance more familiar. But it’s often been said, which tends to be even more obvious in a satellite interview, the camera doesn’t lie, nor does it blink.

The audience is always listening and watching.


Be True to Yourself

Candor is one of the C’s of Communication preached at READY FOR MEDIA, along with Credibility, Compassion and Charisma. All were at play when Ellen DeGeneres was true to herself in responding (below) to an article written by a pastor accusing the TV host of promoting a ‘Gay Agenda’ on her show and  influencing her young, female viewers to turn towards her sexual preference.

Photo courtesy of blogdailyherald.com

Photo courtesy of blogdailyherald.com

Effective communication and branding skills are crucial in disproving and putting a negative story in context with facts and reason, rather than rage or emotion. Rather than fanning the flames with a juicy argument or enraged comment, Ellen’s humor took the sting out of his mean-spirited criticism.

Ellen quickly addressed the accusation directly in both a funny, yet serious and effective way. She calmly and professionally rejected his claims and encouraged every viewer to “be true to yourself.”  Ellen employed a speech communication strategy which allowed for both sincere conversation on the topic, as well as entertaining television.

Spinning the story away from the negative accusation into a positive media message was a smart decision by the savvy TV host. It is a technique emphasized at READY FOR MEDIA where clients are encouraged to control an interview by addressing questions as topics rather than dutifully answering every question put to them.