Monday, April 20, 2015

5 Ways to Fix America's Nightly Network "News"

Network news - news programs shown on the original Big Three networks and other, newer, upstarts - is broken. Below are five examples, and what I believe they need to do to fix their news programs to better serve the American people:

More International Focus - A "world news" program that focuses solely on domestic news is not worthy of the name. And international celebrities getting into trouble or the latest plane crash overseas doesn't count as "news." Americans who are insular and insulated from the news of the world are suddenly surprised by trends both friendly and ferocious when they hit without warning. When that happens, that's a failure of the "world news" programs we watch. Network newscasts must rededicate themselves to covering the entire world.

More International Politics - Political trends are also vital to our full and complete awareness as voters and as citizens. It may not, at first glance, seem important that a new anti-American party is rising in the polls in a nation traditionally friendly to the USA, or that a certain governor was elected in a prefecture in Japan. But if that nation  turns hostile, or if that governor is more hostile to Americans remaining in a military base there than his predecessor, then that indeed is a problem that will have regional and international repercussions. Network newscasts should commit to covering international politics, because it's relevant.

The Weather Is NOT "news" - It's snowy in the winter in the Northern half of the United States. It's a fact. It's not, however, news. It's exciting to show cars skidding off the road, rivers frozen and, in other climes, wet summers, minor hurricanes and tornadoes. But aside from an in-depth analyses of how slowly the aid got there after the storm, or how we are adapting to changing weather patterns, it's not "news." Network newscasts should stop wasting time covering routine and expected weather, and blowing storms out of all proportion.

Less "Special Kid Plays On the Team" Stories - I love the stories in which a young person - who is disabled in some way or is a terminal patient - gets to play on their favorite professional sports team or on their high school team, especially when they actually score for the team! These stories (and there are many of them) are inspirational, interesting, heart-warming, and emotional. Note that none of those words are "news," and are not newsWORTHY. They should exist in a separate show, which I'm sure would get great ratings, but they should not be taking up time in the nightly newscast, crowding out actual news. Network newscasts should leave the "feel good" stories to other shows on the network.

Fewer YouTube Videos - What's truly shocking about today's American nightly "newscast" is the inclusion of actual YouTube videos. ABC News includes these (and the aforementioned "kids play on teams" videos) in its "Index" segment near the end of the program. It literally shows YouTube videos of animals doing funny things, near-miss car accidents and other hilarity, which we can see with better justification on shows like "America's Funniest Videos" or its cable show equivalents. The YouTubization (tm) of Network news must end. 

"If it bleeds, it leads" was the old saying about the nightly news and the local paper. National Network newscasts shouldn't fear though. There is plenty of blood in the political turmoil around the world to quench their viewers' hearts. Demonstrations, corruption, trade deals, hard-fought elections, coups and uprisings, and much of it with consequences for American voters and consumers.

That's one of the reasons why I founded "World Politics News," a news aggregation service that points American readers to the news they're missing on the nightly network newscasts.

American news organizations owe it to us to bring us the world, and to show us accurately and fairly what's happening THERE before it happens HERE. And if they begin to do this again, the nightly "World News" programs will once again be true to their names.

Stephen Abbott
Abbott Media Group

Monday, March 09, 2015

4 Ways Your Business Can Build #Trust With Customers

4 Ways Your Business Can Build Trust With Customers
by Stephen Abbott of Abbott Media Group

People will do business with those that they trust. Public Relations can help to build that trust.

There are several ways a business can begin to build trust with their customers and future (potential) customers. Among them are Consistency, Courtesy, Care, and Community Involvement.

Being Consistent is critically important to a business. There's a reason why restaurants, pet stores, hotels, and hardware chains, among others, are so popular. Ideally, they offer consistent service and products offered professionally in multiple locations. Customers know they can get the same products and services offered for about the same price, wherever they go. For some, that may seem "boring," but customers actually yearn for boring over the alternative: inconsistent service and the inability to get their favorite products. Public Relations professionals can guide a business to accept and disseminate internal policies and standard graphics and messaging that will help create a consistent experience for customers.

Courtesy is also an important factor in building Trust. If service is offered in a cold manner, or worse, in a rude manner, the bond of Trust between a customer and a business is broken. This is even the case in a long-term relationship. There's no such thing anymore as a small incident of discourteous conduct. Even one incident in which a customer is treated poorly can ruin a company's reputation in this era of instant online reviews. A Public Relations professional can help isolate and identify areas in which internal standards aren't being met, and can, once those are addressed, help repair and rebuild Trust with customers who experienced a lack of courtesy during a business transaction.

Care is shown in a multitude of ways by a business, and customers recognize when it's not there, contributing to a lack of Trust. Products or services offered in a sloppy, slapdash way can instantly signal to the customer that the business doesn't really care about them. Caring isn't a small thing, it's a major thing, and in fact, should be the top concern of any business. If you're not in business to care for the customer, why are you in business at all? Care can be demonstrated by proper training and internal messaging that makes it clear that business owners have high expectations of their employees. PR can deliver those messages in a compelling and clear way that leaves no doubt that Care is required from everyone.

Finally, Community Involvement can be a tremendous trust-building tool. While some effort should be made not to alienate a customer base with involvement with overtly political or controversial causes, showing concern for one's community is more than a gimmick to grab headlines. Instead, it shows that a business is intimately tied to the community in which they do business, and that they care about their customers' well-being, more than just as a source of cash. Public Relations professionals can help identify community activities that reflect well on a business and help show that concern that leads to stronger feelings of trust with their current and future customers.

For more information about building Trust, visit Abbott Media Group at

Friday, January 30, 2015

4 Keys to Building a Positive #Reputation [Abbott Media Group]

Your reputation - how you're perceived by others - is bound up in a host of factors, the most important of which your clients or customers are observing when they interact with you, or when they interact with people who have had dealings with you.

And in this Internet age, even millions who have never dealt with you can form an opinion of you based on what OTHERS who have never heard of you are saying!

So it's more important than ever to take control of your reputation and mold it in a favorable way, because uninformed people and forces well beyond your control will take hold of it if you don't. An like a boat that's left un-moored at the  dock, it will be drawn out by the tides and tossed with the winds whichever way they choose.

What factors will help "tie down" your reputation so these capricious winds can't get hold of it?

1. First to consider is the quality of your service or product. No amount of PR can paper over a consistently horrible product. The job of PR isn't to make a bad thing look great, because people can easily see through a snow job. And that snow job boomerangs back onto you rather quickly. But a great product, well conceived, unique and useful to customers, speaks for itself. The core of a good reputation is something of good repute to give to the world.

2. Similar to the first, the second point is to ensure that the way in which you deliver products or services is professional. It's not enough to have a great product or service. If you deliver it without passion, care and true professionalism, it will still be seen as a "negative." Having great food will bring them back to the restaurant. Once or twice. But a rude wait staff will cause them to forgo the experience again, and lead to bad-mouthing online.

3. How you treat your clients and customers is the third point that can make or break your reputation. Not only will an overworked and under-appreciated staff be less productive, they'll fall down on points 1 and 2 - the quality of the product and the professionalism of how it's delivered to the customer or client. You'll also experience heavier turnover of staff, and dozens or thousands of unhappy former employees again will not bode well for your company's reputation.

4. The final point of reputation is how the public perceives the good you do in the community. Good works is a plus and definitely has value in Public Relations and reputation-building efforts. In fact, it's seen by many as the key tool in the tool bag of Public Relations. While it can be over-used and its value overstated, good works done in the community is counted as a positive and helps "move the needle" towards a good reputation. However, as noted in 1 above, no amount of good deeds (charity and other things that are unrelated to your business model) can paper over a horrible product, poorly delivered, by unhappy or disgruntled employees. And doing charity work as a way to paper over some bad press is transparent, and is easily seen for the fraudulent effort it is.

All of these keys to a good reputation work together to create a positive reputation among your "publics." This includes your current customers, your past customers, your future customers, your employees, local and regional news media, these publics and others online, and those these various groups happen to encounter second- and third-hand.

A professional Public Relations person who is skilled in how to build a positive image for you and your business can reach out to these groups, tailoring just the right messages for each.

Let Abbott Media Group's PR division help you present these to publics that need to hear more about what you're doing!

Abbott Media Group