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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.