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Monday, December 27, 2010

The best of The GH Spin

For many media outlets, New Years is an excuse to reminisce about the previous year and create hundreds of lists announcing the top stories, events, and people of the year. At The GH Spin, we agree – it just wouldn’t be New Years if we didn’t have a “best of” list. Here are some of our top blogs from 2010:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy holidays from Goff & Howard

Goff & Howard is wrapping up 2010 with our traditional mix of interesting client projects, solid teamwork, and rewarding community involvement. We look forward to a successful and fun 2011 and hope the same for you.

Happy holidays!

Friday, December 17, 2010

In case you missed it

It’s been another busy week in the fast-changing social networking world. Here are a few updates from The GH Spin’s “In case you missed it” file.
  • Time Magazine’s Person of the Year: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was named 2010 Person of the Year by Time Magazine. Time credits Zuckerberg with wiring together a “twelfth of humanity into a single network.” It is clear that Zuckerberg has made an enormous impact on the way we communicate, and Facebook’s popularity is not expected to wane soon – more than 250 million people (or half of Facebook’s members) use the social networking site daily.
  • Mobile phone use increases: While this may come as no surprise due to the increasing popularity of smartphones, a recent eMarketer survey found that people spend as much time on their mobile phones as they do reading a newspaper and a magazine combined. The average user spends 50 minutes a day using his or her mobile phone, 30 minutes reading a newspaper, and 20 minutes reading a magazine.
  • Myspace integrates with Facebook: Myspace is now letting users log into their Facebook accounts through their Myspace pages. Myspace will import users’ likes and interests listed on their Facebook walls and stream entertainment content based on these interests. According to Myspace, this move will deliver an “even richer entertainment experience” to its users. Learn more here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Passing the digital tipping point

Some of us may remember the first time we saw a Web browser and started our journey down the information superhighway. The Internet and its impact on our lives have since exploded, and we’ve reached a “digital tipping point.”

Americans now spend as much time online as they do watching TV, according to a recent Forrester study. The average U.S. household watches an average of 13 hours of TV per week, equaling the amount of time spent on the Internet.

While people ages 18 to 30 have watched TV and surfed the Web equally for a few years, this is the first time Gen Xers (those ages 31 to 44) have joined the trend. It’s not that we are collectively watching less TV; it’s that Internet use has gone up 121% since 2005.

With more people making the Internet a growing part of their daily lives, it’s even more important for anyone who needs to reach customers and other audiences to have a strong digital strategy to complement traditional communications.

Those who integrated blogs, social media, and other new channels into their existing communications early on may not be surprised by this information. Others who are waiting to see if the Internet “trend” will sustain itself need to accept this new reality. The digital Pandora’s Box is not going to close anytime soon.

Faster networks, smarter phones, and more access to the Web regardless of where you are will expand Internet use and data consumption. What will never change is the need to have a smart plan in place that connects all of this to goals that matter to your company or organization.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

G&H announces strategic partnership with McClung

Goff & Howard and McClung Communications & Public Relations are forming a strategic partnership to work together on public affairs and public relations projects in Minnesota and across the country.

The partnership brings together the experienced team at Goff & Howard, a full-service public affairs and public relations firm founded in 1994 with a staff of 13, with McClung Communications & Public Relations, started this June by former gubernatorial spokesman and deputy chief of staff to Governor Tim Pawlenty, Brian McClung.

This partnership will strengthen Goff & Howard’s position as a leading public affairs and public relations firm in the Upper Midwest. Our alliance with Brian brings another experienced, highly regarded, and well-connected person to our already fantastic team.

Goff & Howard and McClung Communications & Public Relations will remain separate entities that will work together with clients on a project-by-project basis.

I’ve known Brian personally and professionally for more than 13 years. Others at Goff & Howard have also known him for many years. Our history with Brian makes it even more exciting that we have the opportunity to partner with him on future projects.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The death of advertainment in Minnesota

Television news operations have long been looked at as a hybrid between journalism and entertainment. Happy talk between anchors, reporters standing outside in a hurricane to help us better “understand” the significance of a storm, and features full of gift, shopping and dining ideas are just a few examples.

From its call letters to the “focus” of stories within its newscasts, KARE-11 has been a leader in blurring the lines between news and entertainment. The station created a backyard for weather broadcasts, made desks of ice to cover the Winter Carnival, and got people to wave to the camera at the end each newscast.

Five years ago, KARE-11 pushed the journalism-entertainment envelope even farther when it launched “Showcase Minnesota,” a show that combined entertainment segments with paid advertising segments – advertainment.

When “Showcase Minnesota” was launched, KARE-11 general manager John Remes said, "This is an opportunity for advertisers to connect with audiences in a way they haven't done before.”

Critics said it was “paid advertisements masquerading as programming” and that “guests will pay to be on the new show and the anchors will act like inquisitive hucksters.” Critics were concerned that audiences wouldn’t notice or care about the difference between real news and advertainment.

The age of advertainment may be over in Minnesota – KARE-11 announced last week that “KARE-11 Today” would replace “Showcase Minnesota” in January. KARE-11 has not said if the decision was based on a lack of interest from advertisers who wanted to “connect” with audiences in a new way or if it was based on other factors.

"It's a great opportunity to highlight our strong news teams at KARE-11," said Remes. "Whether its early mornings, midday, evenings, late news, or weekends, we are proud of the commitment of our journalists and their connections with our community."

For now, the thin wall between news and advertising has been restored, and advertisers will have to find another way to connect with audiences.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A personal touch

The United States Postal Service is struggling to find a place in the digital world and recently reported an $8.5 billion loss in the past fiscal year. Many people have switched to using e-mail or social networks to stay in touch. While I’m a fan of social networking and e-mail, I also appreciate the sentiment of a handwritten note. I don’t think digital communications can replace that.

The holidays are a perfect example of the difference a handwritten, mailed note can make. The warmth of a hand-addressed envelope brimming with holiday greetings and family pictures could never be replicated by an e-card.

Nevertheless, to survive in the digital world, the Postal Service needs to reinvent itself like many other businesses have done.

Learn more about the Postal Service’s struggles and potential solutions from a National Public Radio series.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A community partner

This holiday season The GH Spin wants to tell you about a company that consistently invests its time and money in its community. Flint Hills Resources, which operates Pine Bend refinery in Rosemount, maintains a steady presence in the community by sponsoring educational opportunities for children, environmental clean-up efforts, a training facility for law enforcement officials, and more.

Flint Hills has been the title sponsor of the Flint Hills International Children’s Festival for almost a decade. The festival, which is one of the nation’s first of its kind geared toward children, introduces more than 50,000 people to international art each year. The company also sponsors several programs with the Science Museum of Minnesota which allow children to learn about science through fun, hands-on experiments. Most recently, Flint Hills and some of its female engineers hosted Girls and Science, an event at the Science Museum aimed at inspiring more girls to become engineers and scientists.

Flint Hills is also working to restore natural habitats near its Pine Bend refinery. For the past 11 years, volunteers from Flint Hills and the surrounding community have pulled buckthorn and opened and connected prairies on a section of the Mississippi River bluffs that is owned by Flint Hills Resources.

Local, state and federal law enforcement groups have trained at no cost for more than a decade at Flint Hills’ training facility. The multi-faceted training grounds include a mock duplex and apartment building, an obstacle course, and a K-9 course.

Companies that are truly great community partners are few and far between. We are proud to have Flint Hills as one of our clients.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Seven score and seven years ago*

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most famous speeches in U.S. history in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – the site of a major Civil War battle four months earlier. It proves that some of the best speeches are also the shortest. At only 10 sentences, it concisely captures Lincoln’s feelings while inspiring the American people to believe in the nation’s future.

Lincoln was not the keynote speaker that day. The keynote speaker lectured for two hours before Lincoln spoke. But Lincoln is the remembered speaker. These were his words, no doubt carefully selected:
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” **
* The Gettysburg Address was delivered 147 years ago. “Score” means 20.
** This text is one of several versions of the speech that Lincoln wrote. It is believed to be the final version.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Manganese demonstration project underway

Congratulations to Cooperative Mineral Resources, a subsidiary of Crow Wing Power, which began a demonstration project this week to mine bulk samples of manganese ore from a site in Emily, a small town in central Minnesota. Manganese is used to make steel and is being considered for use in new technologies to reduce power plant emissions, purify water, and improve rechargeable batteries.

Cooperative Mineral Resources went through an extensive approvals process in Emily and with state and federal agencies to secure the necessary health, safety and environmental permits before starting the demonstration project. Goff & Howard has helped explain the science behind the environmentally sensitive mining technique, answer questions, and address concerns about the project.

If the technique proves viable, this could be the first step toward a larger commercial project that would create jobs and potentially share millions of dollars with members of the Crow Wing Power Cooperative. Learn more about the project from Minnesota Public Radio’s coverage, and look back at Goff & Howard’s first blog about Cooperative Mineral Resources.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The end of e-mail as we know it? Facebook says yes, the GH Spin is not so sure.

In 1972, Ray Tomlinson transformed the way we communicate when he invented e-mail. Tomlinson used the “@” symbol to send information from one computer to another, and communication has never been the same. Now, 38 years later, 26-year-old Mark Zuckerberg wants to change e-mail as we know it.

The Facebook founder announced yesterday yet another new feature for his ever-expanding social media empire – a comprehensive message system that would consolidate e-mail, texts, and instant messaging in one social inbox. In less than a month, each of Facebook’s 500 million users will receive an e-mail address (@facebook.com).

You will then be able to choose how you prefer to receive messages – text, e-mail, or Facebook account – and messages will automatically be forwarded to you in your preferred format.

Zuckerberg says that Facebook’s messaging system is not e-mail. In fact, he said in a news conference that he doesn’t think e-mail is going to be a modern messaging system, partly because it is too formal. For many, he’s right. Younger people are forgoing e-mail in favor of more casual instant messaging and texts.

There is also an important business reason behind this. The messaging system creates more chances to reach the more-than half of a billion Facebook users via ads. Some are positioning this new service as Facebook’s way to better compete with Gmail and other e-mail services.

Despite the rise of informal texts, tweets, and Facebook wall posts, The GH Spin believes there will always – and should always – be a time and place for formal communications, namely in the workplace. While your in-laws might not care if you send them a quick message via Facebook, a potential client, employer, or colleague might not be impressed with your knowledge of Internet abbreviations.

Additionally, domain names associated with e-mail addresses subliminally inform recipients about the sender. Will an e-mail from an @facebook.com account have the same clout as one from more acceptable e-mail domains, like Gmail or a company domain?

As with all technology developments, we will have to wait to see whether or not the Facebook messaging system is successful. Google recently tried to take on Twitter with Google Buzz. But the buzz faded quickly, and Google is ending the service.

Nevertheless, this new development shows how Facebook is evolving to serve the needs of those who want quick, informal communications. How we communicate and the options available continue to evolve, especially as the social network strives to be an even bigger part of our lives.

Count on The GH Spin to keep you up to date.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Learning from Austin

Once a year for the past nine years, InterCity Leadership, a group of business, government and civic leaders from the Twin Cities, have visited other cities to learn how they deal with critical issues such as transportation, economic development, and education. Much like touring other homes to find ideas to make yours better, the trip has become an incredibly valuable way for our community to see how others have managed challenges and created opportunities.

This year Goff & Howard’s Mike Zipko was a part of an InterCity Leadership group that visited Austin, Texas, which has been heralded as the next Silicon Valley complete with an eclectic mix of arts, culture, and live music. At a time when the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area needs to find ways to keep existing companies and to attract new businesses, the group learned how Austin leaders have successfully done just that.
Through strong and consistent messaging, Austin has become known as the “live music capital of the world.” This buzz, along with the city’s collaborative relationship with the University of Texas, has helped attract large corporations and create thousands of jobs. According to city officials, Austin doubles in size every 20 years.

While there is much that can be learned from Austin’s success in growing its economy, there is still much to appreciate about our metro area, including the number of corporate headquarters located here, a strong system of colleges and universities, and a transportation system that continues to improve. Through trips like these, we are strengthening our regional economic development vision by incorporating some strategies from other cities and finding better ways to leverage the things that already make our region strong.

Members of the 2010 InterCity Leadership group visit the Mueller redevelopment project in Austin. In this project, the public and private sector are working together to redevelop a former airport into a 711-acre, master-planned, mixed-use development that will be home to approximately 10,000 people, 10,000 permanent employees, 10,000 construction jobs, more than 4,900 homes, and approximately 140 acres of public open space. The project could be an example for the Twin Cities to look at as decisions are made about redeveloping the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site in Arden Hills and the Ford Plant site in Saint Paul.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

In case you missed it

It’s been another busy week in the fast-changing online world. Here are a few updates from The GH Spin’s “In case you missed it” file.
Patch goes live: AOL’s hyper-local news source, Patch, went live in Edina this week. Patch journalists in several Twin Cities locations are already active on Twitter and Facebook. According to MinnPost, Patch is hiring journalists for nearly 50 sites in the metro area and is adding 600 journalists nationally. Read more from MinnPost or The GH Spin.

Preview websites instantly: Google announced today a feature that will allow people to preview a screen shot of websites that appear in a search before they click on a site. The “Instant Previews” feature will be launched in 40 languages over the coming days. Read more here.

Twitter starts advertising: Starting this month, Twitter will allow companies to place an ad in a user’s Twitter stream regardless of whether the user follows the company. Virgin America, Starbucks, and Red Bull have already bought ads. This advertising option complements the “promoted tweet” that appears at the top of searches on the Twitter website. Read more here.

Clip coupons via Facebook: Facebook is now offering coupons through a new feature called “Deals.” More than 20 companies, including Gap, McDonalds, and American Eagle Outfitters, have signed on. The feature can alert users when a store near them has a coupon available, making it especially useful for smartphone users. Read more here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Chris Georgacas named top political influencer

Goff & Howard President Chris Georgacas was recently named one of Minnesota’s top political influencers by Campaigns and Elections magazine. On the list, he joins Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Congressman Erik Paulsen, former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale, and others.

Chris is widely regarded as one of Minnesota’s top public affairs strategists. He has been involved in Minnesota government, civic affairs, and politics for more than three decades, including serving two terms (from 1993-1997) as state chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota. Earlier this year, the Republican Party honored Chris with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Following a transition of leadership in the Emmer campaign, Chris became chairman and helped Tom Emmer become highly competitive in Minnesota’s gubernatorial race.

Congratulations to Chris on this well-deserved honor.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Your vote matters

Election Day – Tuesday, November 2 – is approaching quickly. In a state of more than five million people, some wonder if one vote really matters. It does. Hundreds of federal, state and local elections in the United States have been decided by less than a percentage point, including several races in the past decade.
  • The memorable 2008 Coleman/Franken Senate election was decided by a margin of only 312 votes.
  • In 2008, an election for the Alaska House of Representatives was decided by one vote following a recount.
  • An election for the Oklahoma House of Representatives was decided by only two votes in 2006.
  • A gubernatorial election in Washington State was decided by 133 votes in 2004.
  • A primary election for the Ohio Senate was decided by 22 votes in 2004.
  • A U.S. House of Representatives election in Colorado was decided by 121 votes in 2002.
  • George Bush narrowly won the Presidential election in 2000. He won in Florida by 537 votes and in New Mexico by 366 votes. The margin of victory was less than 5% in 12 states and between 5 and 10% in 10 states, making it the closest Presidential election since 1876.
  • Going further back in history, Minnesota’s closest statewide race was decided by only 91 votes. In Minnesota’s 1962 gubernatorial election Karl Rolvaag defeated Elmer Anderson by a margin of 0.01%.
Although the state gubernatorial race has been getting a lot of press over the past few months, there are also several important city and county referendums and races that might not have grabbed the attention of the media. Because fewer people vote in these elections, it is even more important that voters make informed decisions and vote. The Minnesota Secretary of State website has sample ballots listing who and what will be on your ballot.

On November 2, remember to go to the polls, because your vote really does matter.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rock Star PR Move: The Wishing Tree

While strolling around her favorite Minneapolis lake a couple of weeks ago, this GH Spin blogger and her husband stopped abruptly when tiny pieces of neon-colored papers waved at them from a tree along the walking path. Before even knowing what we were seeing, we couldn’t help but smile at the whimsy. Turns out, this “wishing tree” was the first part of the 52-week Hokey Pokey Project, launched by Minneapolis mom Deb Arora and her family. Passersby were prompted to write down their wishes on the tiny pieces of paper and hang them from the tree with pieces of yarn. There were hundreds of them, calling on the giver of wishes for everything from world peace to a dog.

Photo courtesy of the Star Tribune.

We mention it here, not just because it brightened our day, but because it is also a hall-of-fame-worthy Rock Star PR move.

On her blog about the project, Arora said, “For the next fifty-two weeks, my family will strive to create a weekly public project that will serve no other purpose than to make people smile – perhaps hundreds of people or maybe just one. But smiles are the primary goal.”

Arora, a former advertising pro, says her husband’s dream is for the Hokey Pokey Project to become a global phenomenon. As both a do-gooder and savvy marketer, Arora just might pull that off. Her idea has already appeared in the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, and the blogs of other young moms and Lake Harriet enthusiasts.

Friday, October 22, 2010

In case you missed it

It’s been another busy week in the fast-changing communications world. Here are a few updates from The GH Spin’s “In case you missed it” file.
The next odd couple: Northwest Publications, the Pioneer Press’s publisher, announced yesterday that it is partnering with The Onion, and will run the paper’s Twin Cities business operations, including sales, production and distribution. The GH Spin hopes the Pioneer Press takes advantage of The Onion’s outstanding headline writers. Read more here.

The social network meets the retail opportunity: Target has expanded its partnership with Facebook this week past Farmville gift cards. Minnesota’s own discount retailer announced this week that customers will be able to print pictures directly from their Facebook accounts at in-store photo kiosks. Read more here.

Internet use swells to 2 billion: Does it seem like the Internet is getting a bit more crowded? New research says the World Wide Web is on pace to reach more than 2 billion users before the end of 2010, according to a recent report. That means nearly 30% of the world’s 6.9 billion people have access to the Internet. Read more here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Putting the hyper in hyper-local news

There is a new online news source heading into our market that The GH Spin is watching closely.

AOL-owned Patch is putting the hyper in hyper-local news. It is creating community-specific sites for suburbs in 18 states so far (mostly near the coasts). It covers everything from little league games to crime, business openings and “average folks doing extraordinary things.” It will also include directories of local restaurants, businesses and organizations.

In Minnesota, Patch is hiring staff to create sites for several cities in the West Metro (plus Eagan). The first site, covering Edina, is slated to go live on November 1. Local staffers say Patch will expand into the East Metro eventually, but not yet. They don’t plan to serve the downtowns of Minneapolis and Saint Paul because that’s not where the advertisers want to be. Such is the continuation of the micro-targeting of those who consume news and ads.

Mainstream media has been wrestling with the best way to provide the trendy hyper-local news. In this market, Channel 5 has a “Where you live” section on its home page, but the content is light. The Star Tribune has shuffled its special zoned sections several times, trying to find the right fit, and MinnPost is working hard to claim its piece of the online news share in the state. All of these outlets should be watching patch.com very closely, as should local weeklies.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why not to start a sentence with “We need a PowerPoint on…”

I’ve written plenty of PowerPoint presentations in my time. They can be effective and interesting.

But an editorial by Nancy Duarte for CNN.com reminds us why we shouldn’t approach a presentation by thinking of it as a PowerPoint. The better way to approach it is by asking ourselves why we are being asked to speak and what our audience should take from it. After all, the purpose of communicating is to reveal meaning, not just to throw information at people.

I recently wrote a 15-minute speech for someone that included a PowerPoint. The PowerPoint itself consisted of only eight slides (photos, a basic graph, and a memorable quote). That’s because the presenter’s message was strong enough to stand on its own. She used PowerPoint for only one reason: to help make her strongest points resonate with her audience.

Next time you are asked to make a presentation, think first of what you want your audience to remember. Then determine if PowerPoint will help.

Editor’s note: The flowchart referenced at the beginning of Duarte’s editorial was first blogged about by G&H’s Chris Georgacas in March 2010.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Distrust of the media rises

A record number of Americans (57%) said that they have little or no trust in the media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly, according to a recent Gallup poll. This number has been steadily climbing since the mid-1990s, when 45% of Americans distrusted the media.

Additionally, 48% of Americans think the media is too liberal, while only 15% think the media is too conservative. (One-third of Americans believe the media is unbiased.)

What does this mean for the communications world? As media relations specialists, we take these statistics into account as we help clients identify story opportunities, tell the stories in meaningful ways, and share them with the right media outlets. A reliable and trustworthy source is critical to making sure your messages are heard and understood.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Serving intercontinental joy

In 2004 the Minnesota National Guard was not sure what to think about a group of people from Saint Paul who wanted to serve an intercontinental steak dinner to active duty troops in Kosovo and their families at home. Something like this had never been done in the history of the U.S. military.

Six years and seven missions later, Serving Our Troops has become an important partner of the Minnesota National Guard. Volunteers have helped serve more than 50,000 steaks to active duty troops and their families in Minnesota, Mississippi, Kansas, Kuwait, Iraq, and Kosovo. In the process, Serving Our Troops has helped make Minnesota a national leader in supporting active duty members of the National Guard.

On October 3-4, the Minnesota National Guard found a very special way to show its appreciation for the volunteers who made these missions possible. Members of Serving Our Troops participated in a Civic Leader Orientation program, touring the 134th Airlift Wing operations in the Twin Cities, Camp Ripley in Little Falls, and the 148th Fighter Wing base in Duluth.

The volunteers learned more about the Minnesota National Guard, its facilities, and the people who are serving our country. They also flew in C130 airplanes and Blackhawk helicopters, fired weapons from a tank and a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and watched F-16 jets scramble. The slideshow below features pictures from the two-day trip.

Goff & Howard has been a proud supporter of Serving Our Troops since the beginning, and Mike Zipko is one of the founding members. To learn more about the group and to help support what they do, visit www.servingourtroops.com.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Will you ‘friend’ the Facebook movie?

The Social Network opens in theaters today. While the GH Spin does not condone comparisons of this film to Citizen Kane, we can’t help but recognize the significance of a movie that attempts to dissect an empire that has caused a global shift in how we socialize.

In this work of art by Aaron Sorkin and slighted Facebook founder Ben Mezrich, the lead actor looks like Mark Zuckerberg’s twin but many say the similarities don’t carry through the plot. There are squabbles over details such as whether or not Zuckerberg ever really rowed crew or not (who cares?) and when and where a Facebook groupie was arrested for cocaine use (the arrest itself is not disputed.) But, we hope the movie does somehow capture what went on in the early days of the creation of this social media mega-player.

Zuckerberg says he won’t even see it (though there are rumors he sneaked into a preview). Will you?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

How to (almost) never end a sentence

I regularly read sentences that end with prepositions – words like “in” and “for,” which many of us remember being told never to end a sentence with.

Yes, I am officially a rule-breaker. “With” is another preposition, and whenever possible, I recommend reworking a sentence to avoid ending a sentence with one. This is part of what we do when editing or proofreading – both processes that we take very seriously at Goff & Howard.

However, ending a sentence with a preposition is not grammatically incorrect. The Gregg Reference Manual, Goff & Howard’s preferred style guide, tells us to “use good sense in deciding whether or not to end a sentence with a preposition.”

Sir Winston Churchill even left us with some common sense on the subject. In 1948, an editor supposedly reworked one of Churchill’s sentences to avoid ending it with a preposition. Churchill replied: “This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.”*

His point rings as true today as it did 62 year ago. If trying to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition makes the sentence awkward, keep the preposition at the end of the sentence.

*Some historians disagree on Churchill’s exact wording. A few variations of the quote exist, but they are similar to this one.

Monday, September 27, 2010

In case you missed it

This fall as the leaves change, so does the journalism industry. Here are a few changes from The GH Spin’s “In case you missed it” file.
Career inspiration? For those who think that news anchors sometimes look like Barbie Dolls, Mattel’s newest doll will likely make the holiday shopping list. According to its tagline, News Anchor Barbie has “a flair for journalism – and power pink!” If you don’t like it, blame yourself – Mattel conducted a survey via social media to choose the newest doll’s occupation. Read more here or buy it online here.

CNN’s new boss: The person who changed Headline News to more than just news will now be in charge of transforming America’s first 24-hour cable news network. This is a big job – CNN’s ratings now trail MSNBC and the Fox News Channel. Read more here.

New head for NBC: One of the last steps of Comcast’s merger with NBC is replacing the head of NBC. It will be interesting to see what, if any, changes we will notice as we watch “must-see TV” and breaking news shows. Read more here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

News consumption increases

A recent PEW Research Center survey shows that Americans are spending less time reading newspapers, but more time consuming news (an average of 70 minutes per day). It’s no surprise that the growing number of digital news options caused the change.

The GH Spin wants to find out how you get the news. Please take our survey below:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rock Head PR Move: Proofing nightmare

An advertiser’s worst nightmare hit South Bend, Indiana, when a billboard promoting the city’s public schools urged people to look at the “15 best things about our pubic schools.” The oversight of mistaking “pubic” for “public” is even worse when it’s written in three-foot-tall letters near a busy intersection and for an educational institution.

A picture of the flawed billboard circulated around Facebook before Blue Waters Group, the company that created the billboard, claimed responsibility for the proofing error and fixed the billboard.

While the Blue Waters Group made the right PR move by admitting its fault, it is no doubt wishing it would have caught the error in the first place.

Read more from the South Bend Tribune.

(Photo courtesy of the South Bend Tribune)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In case you missed it

Today’s world obviously moves fast, and technology seems to change every minute. It’s hard enough to keep up with the constant stream of breaking news stories, especially stories that don’t immediately affect you or your job. One of the things The GH Spin will do is help keep you up to speed on information that might have blipped past your already-full radar screen.

Here are a few of the more interesting technology developments that will significantly impact the Internet and social networking.
Google introduces new instant search function: Earlier this week, Google launched Google Instant, a new version of its search engine that displays results as you type. According to Google, instant searching will decrease search time by two to five seconds (to 19-22 seconds for a typical search). Read more from PC World.

Twitter rolls out new design: Over the next few weeks, Twitter will upgrade its interface and design to place almost every function on a single screen so you rarely have to navigate away from a page to get the full experience. The new Twitter will also allow users to embed photos and videos directly on the site. TechCrunch lays out all the new elements in this article.

Google to launch new social network: Google is planning to challenge Facebook’s dominance by incorporating new social networking features in its core products. Read more from the Guardian.

The Social Network invades movie theaters October 1: The Social Network chronicles the early days of Facebook and examines a generation’s obsession with social networking. The movie has been getting strong reviews from critics, including Rolling Stone. Watch the trailer here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lowertown: The Perfect Place for Saints Baseball

Goff & Howard is excited to be part of the St. Paul Saints’ team working to bring a new ballpark to Lowertown. The ballpark would be located two blocks away from our office. What a fun and energizing complement to the neighborhood! There are many compelling reasons why a new ballpark is needed and why Lowertown should be the location.

To learn more about the new ballpark, visit ballparkfansandfriends.org and follow the latest updates on Twitter. Show your support by “liking” Ballpark Fans and Friends on Facebook.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Facebook getting gray

A common excuse for not integrating social media into a company’s communications is that Facebook skews too young. The assumption is that kids text and tweet, but people 50 and older would rather talk and meet than update their status.

But things have changed. The power of Facebook has now reached into another demographic segment. According to a recent survey conducted by the PEW Research Center, social networking use among adults 50 and older has doubled over the past year.

Nearly half (47%) of Internet users ages 50-64 and more than a quarter (26%) of users age 65 and older use social networking sites, growth rates of 88% and 100% respectively. The survey also shows that social networking sites have become a large part of older adults’ daily Internet habits – 20% of adults ages 50-64 and 13% of adults age 65 and older log on to social networking sites on a typical day.

PEW researchers believe that older adults are attracted to social media because it bridges generational gaps and provides a connection to family and friends who live far away. Social networking sites have also become popular places for professional networking, continuing education, and political participation. It is also a resource for sharing information about health issues, much like people would do via traditional conversations.

Social networking sites have rapidly become one of the easiest and most beneficial ways for a business to create and maintain relationships with its key audiences. The new research builds on the already high level of use among people in their 30s and 40s. As these users age, they continue their connection to Facebook and social media. For businesses and others who need to reach people 50 and over, it’s time to make sure you have a social media component within your overall communication strategy.

If you need help navigating this premier communications platform, let us know.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Midway Chamber names new president

The Midway Chamber of Commerce today announced that Kari Canfield will be its new president effective September 27. Kari most recently served as the director of marketing and communications for Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest. Kari replaces Lori Fritts, who was president of the chamber for almost eight years.

Goff & Howard is an active member and strong supporter of the Midway Chamber, a group of hundreds of volunteers, representing more than 550 businesses and nonprofits in the Midway area of Saint Paul. The chamber actively supports the business community, influences economic development policies and projects, advocates for public and private investment in the Midway area, and more.

Mike Zipko is a board member and was a member of the search committee that interviewed candidates and nominated Kari for the position.

Congratulations to Kari and the Midway Chamber.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Saint Paul Chamber Gubernatorial Candidate Forum

Goff & Howard is sponsoring the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce’s Gubernatorial Candidate Forum. The forum will be held at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Saint Paul on Wednesday, September 8, from 5:30-8 p.m. Join us and other members of the business community to hear Mark Dayton, Tom Emmer, and Tom Horner give their perspectives on health care policy.

To register, contact Kay Baker at kbaker@healtheast.org.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Does the Minnesota State Fair need social media?

The Minnesota State Fair is easily the most talked-about event in the state every year. Many of us know the fair so well that we barely need a map or daily schedule to find what we want to eat and see at the fairgrounds. And the anticipation leading up to the fair dominates the media coverage every year and lunch-time conversations focus on when we will try the newest food-on-a-stick.

Every year the state fair gets an amazing amount of free media attention. From television anchors trying to make the fair new each year to companies marketing their booths to customers, it’s hard to hide from news about the Great Minnesota Get Together. And like everyone else these days, the Minnesota State Fair has a comprehensive website, a Twitter account with 4,836 followers, a Facebook page with 148,147 fans, and a YouTube channel with numerous videos.

But with so much almost automatic attention the Minnesota State Fair gets every year, do the organizers really need to invest time into social media networking?

Of course the fair’s social media presence can’t hurt and builds on what is already a dominating media profile. But in a world where events struggle to find ways to reach their audiences, could the Minnesota State Fair be one of the few events that doesn’t need social media to succeed in 2010?

Tell us what you think: Does social media help the Minnesota State Fair attract visitors?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Culture shines during powwow

One of Goff & Howard’s clients, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, enjoyed one of its most celebrated events last weekend – the 44th annual Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe traditional powwow.

Powwows are American Indian celebrations of ceremonial and social dance traditions. They take place on reservations throughout the country and include singing, dancing, drumming and more. There are contest powwows, where dancers compete against each other in style and appearance, and there are traditional powwows, where participants take part for social enjoyment. Last weekend’s powwow was a traditional powwow.

The slideshow features pictures from the powwow taken by Band member and artist Steve Premo.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A “digital do-over” for young people

Have you ever said or done something that you later regret? Who hasn’t? The only thing that could make the situation worse is realizing that a friend tagged your name in pictures of the regretted incident on Facebook.

For many of us, the thought of sharing so much information about ourselves creates panic and stress. Privacy and anonymity are things to be valued and protected.

Yet for a generation that has grown up in an era of technology-driven narcissism driven by instant messaging, texting, and Facebook, sharing anything and everything raises few concerns until they realize that a prospective employer can easily connect them to incidents that might make those employers think twice about hiring them.

How do people who have documented vast amounts of their lives on the Internet transition into professional careers?

One of the people who helped create this challenge has an idea and some advice for young people struggling with this data dilemma. Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, thinks young people should have the chance to start over by creating a new identity to “escape their misspent youth.” You could call it a “digital do-over.”

Schmidt believes that young people will be allowed to change their names to distance themselves from incriminating pictures and material stored on their friends’ social media sites.

Giving people who posted too many embarrassing pictures of themselves new identities is a simplistic way to ignore the real issue. We are responsible for our actions, regardless of what friends may have done with the photos. How does giving someone a new identity guarantee better behavior by that person?

The greater irony is that companies like Google and Facebook, that have created the technology that allow us to define our digital personality, are now archiving, analyzing and using those personalities to improve their marketing efforts. Giving people the chance to create new identities seems like an easy way for Facebook and Google to enhance their marketing capabilities.

Monday, August 23, 2010

LinkedIn evolves into an online chamber of commerce

LinkedIn, a business-oriented social networking website, has recently made some changes that have led to somewhat of a resurgence. What once was another place to store contact information is transforming into an extremely active networking opportunity.

LinkedIn became popular with the business community when it first started in 2003. But as Facebook began attracting older users, the business community started making connections on Facebook instead of LinkedIn.

As a result LinkedIn stalled for a while until it developed several useful networking applications to make it more relevant for business professionals. Users now are able to facilitate discussions, connect with companies and business groups, recommend colleagues and clients, and much more. Now LinkedIn boasts a networking community of more than 75 million members.

However, like all social networking sites, LinkedIn will only be as useful as you make it.

Goff & Howard on LinkedIn

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Facebook ad revenues skyrocket

Earlier this summer, Facebook reached its 500 millionth member. While the social network’s massive user base receives a lot of attention, its ad revenue is equally significant. This year, Facebook will receive more than $1 billion in ad revenue and is poised to receive $1.7 billion next year. MySpace, on the other hand, can barely retain its advertising. The social network will bring in $347 million in ad revenue this year, a 26% drop from 2009.

To read more, click here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Moved by the voices of 9th graders

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the privilege to meet five impressive 13- and 14-year-olds from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Arizona. They are among the 25 soon-to-be 9th graders who just completed their first experience in an innovative program at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota called Countdown to College.

Countdown to College is a new no-charge academic camp that immerses prospective first-generation college students in college prep classes and campus life for two weeks each summer from the 9th through 12th grades. The intent is to prepare them for college success in a way that only an immersion experience can.

Working for a public relations firm, I seldom have the opportunity to work as directly with students as I did in supporting the Countdown to College communications effort. These students told me their life stories, which are some of the most moving stories I’ve heard during my entire career.

I have the pleasure of helping many organizations and individuals share their stories as part of my job. When those stories touch me personally, I know I’ve chosen the right career path.

Thank you, Countdown to College students.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Public support can't be engineered

In addition to having more than 10,000 lakes, Minnesota is home to world-class deposits of minerals that rival only South Africa in terms of their size, scale and value. Worldwide demand for these minerals has led to the funding of projects to explore the extent of the mineral deposits and the best ways to extract them. If these mining projects are successful, Minnesota stands to benefit from new revenue sources, thousands of new jobs, and new economic life for an entire region.

The mining industry has changed drastically over the past several decades. Scientists and engineers around the world continually find ways to improve processes and technologies needed to make mining projects more successful and more environmentally responsible.

Despite vast improvements in technology, the ability to understand, analyze and engage stakeholders continues to be just as important as good engineering work. Stakeholders – people who are affected by or think they may be affected by a project – have the power to derail projects if they are not engaged throughout the process.

Goff & Howard has been helping Crow Wing Power and its subsidiary Cooperative Mineral Resources (CMR) engage stakeholders in a new mining project in Emily, Minnesota. The city has one of the largest deposits of manganese in North America. The proposed project would involve a new type of mining that uses high-pressured water to extract the manganese, which is used to help make steel and a new type of filter on smokestacks.

Goff & Howard has been working with CMR to engage stakeholders in Emily through public meetings, a citizens advisory committee, websites, social media, e-mail lists, and other communication tools that provide venues to exchange information and ideas.

With the help of Goff & Howard, CMR also created an environmental responsibility committee to help share information with the community and address concerns long before the official approval and permitting process started. The committee met several times to learn more about the site and the project. The members of the committee then helped engage and inform their neighbors about the project as it moved forward through the permitting process.

By communicating with the public from the beginning of the project, CMR was able to gain public support for the mining project and secure the necessary permits for the demonstration project. Work will begin next month.

Minnesota has an amazing opportunity to turn world-class natural resources into economic opportunity. Making sure these projects gain public support, approvals, and permits is a process that can’t be engineered – it requires an engaged conversation.

Update: The Star Tribune published an editorial today about mining projects in northern Minnesota:

"The state desperately needs these jobs, but this issue is far more complex than that. Politicians and [mining firms] need to understand that Minnesotans will not trade the state's soul -- the BWCA, Lake Superior, the North Shore forest -- for economic gain. The Antofagasta/Duluth Metals project's eastern edge is just a few miles from the BWCA. Older nonferrous mines have an abysmal environmental track record. While technological strides certainly have been made, assurances that things are better now aren't going to cut it.

"Nonferrous mining companies don't just need to win over the regulators. They need to win over the public. Facts, openness and a willingness to work with their critics will serve them well, but the task ahead of them is formidable."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Are e-mail and the Internet replacing brochures and newsletters?

In an age of every imaginable communication flowing across the Internet or your mobile phone, it’s hard not to question if this is the beginning of the end for printed materials like brochures and newsletters.

But while there are more choices today than ever before, we believe that print communications are alive and well.

Take, for instance, the issue of portability. Sure, you can hypothetically read an e-newsletter on your BlackBerry. But it’s easier said than done. The experience of reading a printed piece is oftentimes more meaningful and more convenient than reading an electronic version. Printed pieces can also be distributed to many people at a meeting in any location or read easily from the passenger seat of a car or an airplane.

Printed pieces can also achieve a more professional, credible impression simply by using a high-quality paper or special cuts, folds or shapes.

In general, a combination of print and electronic communications have a place in most campaigns. Striking the right balance will enable you to capture the best of both worlds.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Vacationing in August? Don’t forget to vote

August is when many Minnesotans take vacations from hectic work schedules. But this year Minnesotans who are planning to be away from the state on Tuesday, August 10 will miss the chance to vote in one of the most highly contested Minnesota primary elections in recent history – unless they plan ahead.

This year, Minnesota passed a law moving the primary election from September to August to comply with a new federal law lengthening the legally required absentee balloting period for military and overseas voters from 30 to 45 days. Under Minnesota’s former political calendar, the primary election would have occurred on September 14, leaving only three days for candidates to campaign before absentee voting for the general election is required to open on September 17.

With as many as five candidates vying for one spot on the ballot, each vote is crucial to help narrow the field of candidates for the general election. Those who will be out of town on August 10 should make sure they request an absentee ballot in time to vote before then. To cast an absentee ballot, voters must already be registered (the registration deadline was July 20), but they can still register at their polling location on the day of the primary election if they will be in town.

More information about the primary elections, voting districts, and voter registration can be found on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website.

Friday, July 23, 2010

500 million like Facebook

Facebook gained its 500 millionth member this week – only six years after its inception. With a membership contingent greater than the population of the United States, Facebook has quickly grown to be one of the most – if not the most – powerful social networking website in the world.
• Facebook surpassed Google as the most visited website in the world in 2010.
• 100 million new users joined the site in the past six months alone.
• The fastest-growing demographic of users is women older than 55.
• The average user spends 55 minutes per day and views 661.8 pages each month.
• More than 25 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) are shared each month.
(Sources: Facebook, Inside Facebook, and Business Insider)
Even Hollywood is paying attention. This fall, Columbia Pictures will release The Social Network, a movie about the creation of Facebook, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will make an appearance on The Simpsons.

Facebook’s success has come with a price recently. The social networking giant has been criticized by everyone from users to U.S. Senators for its changes to its privacy settings. Facebook is even being sued by a man who claims to own 84% of the company.

But Facebook’s popularity seems solid, especially if users continue to spend more than 500 billion minutes per month on the site.

For more information, watch Diane Sawyer’s interview with Zuckerberg.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rock Head PR Move: Via-bomb

Even if you’re one of the most powerful media tycoons in the world, you can’t pressure a reporter via voicemail to divulge his source and expect any good PR to come of it. Viacom czar Sumner Redstone is being haunted in today’s headlines by a voicemail recording of him telling a reporter to divulge the source of an anti-Redstone story. The kicker: he assured the reporter, “We’re not going to kill him. We’re just going to talk to him.”


A spokesman ineffectively attempted to dismiss with flap with a “That was just Sumner being Sumner” quote.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Monday, July 19, 2010

New client among best places to work

You know your business is a great place to work when you get a call from the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Business Journal saying you won a “Best Places to Work” award and you didn’t even know your company had been nominated. That’s what happened with our newest client – Ackmann & Dickenson. Its employees nominated the company and won without owners Michael Ackmann and Andrew Dickenson being aware.

We’re excited to work for this fast-growing Web development firm that is not only impressing its clients – but its employees as well.

Congratulations to Ackmann & Dickenson.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blue Cross Blue Shield celebrates employees’ involvement in government and politics

Employees are not often given the opportunity to spend the lunch hour learning about government and politics, but at Blue Cross Blue Shield, they have been doing exactly that for the last 10 years. Blue Cross has made it a priority to provide employees opportunities to participate in meaningful civic engagement activities through its CitizenBlue program.

CitizenBlue was formed in 2000 as a grassroots initiative to provide information to employees about politics and government in a nonpartisan, non-intimidating, and fun way. In the past ten years, more than 100 public officials and candidates for office have visited Blue Cross Blue Shield. Employees have also taken Capitol tours, educated their coworkers about voting, and served as election judges.

The award-winning civic engagement program has served as a model for other companies striving to educate employees about the political system and encourage participation in government at all levels.

We have enjoyed helping Blue Cross Blue Shield shape and grow the program from the beginning. Congratulations on 10 years of success.

Goff & Howard’s Bob Goff joins Blue Cross Blue Shield officials
Kathy Mock, senior vice president of public and health affairs,
and Phil Stalboerger, vice president of policy and legislative affairs,
at CitizenBlue’s 10th anniversary celebration.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Saint Mary’s University starting classes in Oakdale

Saint Mary’s University – our client since 2006 – is expanding to the Twin Cities east metro area. Saint Mary’s is holding an open house at its new classroom center in Oakdale today.

Saint Mary’s believes in bringing education to the learners. Because 15 percent of Saint Mary’s students are east metro residents, the university is opening a new Oakdale location to better serve these students and other east metro and Wisconsin residents.

The university has improved access around the region by opening classroom centers in places like Apple Valley, Minnetonka, Rochester, and Oakdale – in addition to their campuses in Minneapolis and Winona.

Congratulations to Saint Mary’s on its newest location. Join us at the ribbon-cutting event at 3 p.m. today and the open house that will follow until 7 p.m.

For directions to Oakdale Center, click here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Media mogul oversteps boundary

Media mogul Mort Zuckerman recently told Fox News that he had helped write one of President Obama’s speeches. Zuckerman is the owner of the New York Daily News and U.S. News & World Report and a regular commentator on Sunday morning news shows.

Despite The Atlantic’s report that “Obama’s aides don’t remember consulting with Zuckerman,” Zuckerman’s claim blurs the relationship between journalists, media companies, and the people and issues they cover. Can media companies be an unbiased source of information if they also help create content for the same high-ranking officials on whom they report?

How would you react if the publisher of the Star Tribune wrote a speech for Governor Tim Pawlenty or the publisher of the Pioneer Press wrote a speech for Mayor Chris Coleman? Would you be skeptical of the newspaper’s future reporting, especially its investigative reporting? Or would you think it is just a reflection of the evolution of the media industry from unbiased reporting to slanted coverage (for example, the Huffington Post or Fox News)?

Certainly, a move like this would undermine the public’s respect for the media and public policy. But the question remains, how much would the journalism industry suffer?

Media companies are trying to stay relevant by redefining their niche in society. Speech writing for the President of the United States goes too far.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Community Action Partnership joins G&H client family

Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties has hired Goff & Howard to help raise awareness about the agency and its work to reduce poverty. Community Action provides services such as early childhood education, energy assistance, and financial independence training to reduce poverty and prevent homelessness in Ramsey and Washington counties. Based in Saint Paul on University Avenue, Community Action is a nonpartisan, locally run, private nonprofit with more than 300 employees.

Goff & Howard will help Community Action share its stories of service and advocacy. Thanks to Community Action for involving us in this important community effort.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

G&H’ers contribute to MPR’s Minnesota Today

Goff & Howard’s Chris Georgacas and Mike Zipko are among the people whom Minnesota Public Radio has tapped to regularly recommend web links to noteworthy news and commentary on its Minnesota Today site, launched earlier this month, in a feature called “Recommended Links … From People in the Know.”

Chris has recommended pieces on economics and (a personal favorite topic) the recurring failures of the mainstream media.

Mike has recommended a variety of stories on social media, public affairs, and other topics.

Look for more of Chris’s and Mike’s recommendations in the future.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Speaker Nancy Pelosi praises Minnesota’s transportation future

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, toured the Union Depot on Saturday to see and hear about the plans to transform the historic train depot into a multi-modal transportation hub.

Pelosi was joined by Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Congressman Keith Ellison, Congressman Jim Oberstar, and Ramsey County and Washington County commissioners for a special tour to showcase the history of the building and the plans to restore the concourse and train platforms.

“I came to Minnesota to see the future,” Speaker Pelosi said at a news conference following the tour.

As different projects around the country continue to compete for federal resources, the Speaker’s visit shows the importance of the project and the Mississippi River Route to the federal government. While Union Depot has a lot of regional significance to our area, it is also a crucial part of the planned national train system.

We attended the event on behalf of our client, On Board Midwest – a coalition that advocates for the renovation of the Union Depot and a proposed high-speed rail line from Saint Paul to Chicago – to capture Speaker Pelosi’s visit and keep people informed about what is happening at the Union Depot.

For more information about Pelosi’s visit, read On Board Midwest’s blog post.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

G&H honored for business success and civic involvement

Goff & Howard was honored today with the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce’s Celebrate Business Award. The award recognizes members of the business community that contribute to a shared vision of economic success throughout Saint Paul and the east metro area.

During the past 16 years, we have worked on many key public affairs and public relations projects in Saint Paul. Currently, we are working with On Board Midwest to raise awareness for a proposed high-speed rail line from Saint Paul to Chicago and with the Saint Paul Saints to secure support for a new stadium in Lowertown.

Goff & Howard has been an active member of the Chamber since 1994. Our team members have been involved in the Chamber’s board, task forces, and committees that have helped set the organization’s strategy over the years. Our work with the Chamber has ensured that it is a strong voice for business in Saint Paul.

We enjoy helping make Saint Paul a thriving place to do business.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A lesson in journalistic ethics

John Townsend, a reporter for the Minnesota-based GLBT magazine Lavender, got what a lot of journalists seek this week: national attention.

Townsend wrote a story that “outed” Rev. Tom Brock, a senior pastor at Hope Lutheran Church in Minneapolis and an openly anti-gay commentator for the Christian radio station KKMS-AM.

Lavender sent Townsend undercover to cover a confidential 12-step program for gay men – including Brock – “struggling with chastity.” Townsend recounted the pastor’s confidential conversations at the support group in Lavender’s most recent cover story.

The story was published in the days leading up to the Twin Cities Pride Festival and was quickly picked up by gay-focused media outlets, mainstream publications and spread through the Web, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels.

Lavender should never be confused with a traditional newspaper in that it clearly advocates a specific point of view to a clearly-defined audience. Nevertheless, the magazine, like other media outlets facing today’s news environment, needs to find ways to stay relevant. This story generated a lot of clicks and views for Lavender at a time when eyes on a website are very valuable.

More importantly, the story highlights the growing ethical debate about the ways reporters or media outlets should search for news. Privacy – especially for public figures – no longer exists because people are able to record pictures, video and audio with the flip of a button. Private settings that used to be off-limits to reporters can often be swarming with citizen journalists with smartphones.

But the Lavender story takes this a significant step farther. For an advocate, the hypocrisy of a minister who links tornadoes to church votes is hard to stomach. Yet, the impact of what Lavender did to rectify this wrongdoing destroyed the confidentiality and viability of counseling services and support groups that exist to help people deal with personal challenges. Lavender’s effort to shame the pastor violated the secrecy and safety of these sacred places.

This is why there has been such a strong reaction from gay groups as well as other media types from the Star Tribune to the Poytner Institute to Gawker.com.

“Outing” the minister leading up to Pride Week may be immediately satisfying for advocates but may have potentially shattered the privacy for people who need it most. I can’t imagine any story that could justify this kind of outcome.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Investigative reporting shines brightly in the newsroom

Charlotte Hall, editor of the Orlando Sentinel, recently offered a refreshing perspective on the state of journalism. In the digital age, she claims that newsrooms have become an even more important part of the public discourse.

Social media and live chats provide readers an opportunity to interact with reporters and enrich their news experience, according to Hall. These personal interactions help reporters gain the trust of their audiences and produce powerful pieces.

Hall argues that the emphasis of many newsrooms on investigative reporting continues to lead to significant changes in communities across the country.

As Hall editorialized, “A good newspaper is a lamp to its community, shining light in dark places and showing the way. That lamp still burns bright in America’s newsrooms.”

Hall’s opinion is unique – many experts believe that social media is causing newsrooms to become irrelevant. Only time will tell if the lights in newsrooms will stay lit.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Not-so-good vibrations

The Star Tribune recently published an article about how parents who are constantly connected to technology are alienating their children. While the actions of the parents described in this article are deplorable, the article caught my attention because the author’s lessons are applicable in a business setting as well.

I’ve been in meetings where people check their smartphone every time it buzzes with a new tweet. Not only is this addiction to social media a distraction to everyone in the meeting, it makes it harder to concentrate and deliver high-quality work.

While we need to always be reachable by clients, we also need to understand the difference between an urgent message and a not-so-urgent Facebook update, especially during a meeting.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Rock Head PR Move: Another Live Mic Mishap

California gubernatorial candidate Carly Fiorina committed a classic media faux pas while prepping for a recent television interview. Unaware that her mic was on and the camera was recording, Fiorina was caught ridiculing rival Senator Barbara Boxer’s hairstyle and media interview strategy. As the former CEO of a Fortune 500 company who has done hundreds of interviews, Fiorina should have known better.

Fast forward to 4:05 to see the rock head moment.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Do political ads on television matter anymore?

It’s official: the first political ads for the 2010 election have started invading our screens and monitors. As we brace ourselves for a five-month barrage of political messages, we can’t help but wonder, do these ads really work? Millions of people go to great lengths to avoid commercials by fast-forwarding with DVRs or watching shows on the Internet. With the rise of social media, tweets and Facebook ads are giving candidates new ways to reach audiences. The GH Spin wants to know what you think about political television ads. We’ll share the results here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Status update: Facebook remains strong despite protests

Quit Facebook Day has come and gone without leaving a dent in Facebook’s dominance over the social networking world. According to the Wall Street Journal, fewer than 35,000 people, less than .009% of the social networking site’s users, agreed to quit.

Perhaps Facebook’s most recent privacy changes – which were explained adeptly by the Pioneer Press this weekend – changed the minds of some users. Nevertheless, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Facebook (and Google) raising concerns about privacy settings. The committee is considering holding hearings on these issues.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

“Website” – now officially one word

I’m reminded of Steve Martin’s line in the 1979 movie The Jerk: “The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!”

At Goff & Howard today it is: “The new AP Stylebook is here! The new AP Stylebook is here!”

Well, it’s not exactly here yet, but it’s on the way. And, we are excited by the sneak peak provided by a number of media blogs and sources.

Highlights of the new updates:
- website is now one word, no caps
- the Great Recession (referring to the most recent economic downturn) is now official and capped
- e-mail remains hyphenated
- and Web in its short form remains capped

Now begins the tedious job of changing every “Web site” mention on our website, blog, printed materials, press releases, e-mails . . . bear with us, it may take awhile.