Mark Grimm

 

Bad Calls & the NFL Brand: Let’s Get a Grip

People have short memories. Those now claiming the NFL’s integrity is at stake over the controversy involving replacement refs have forgotten the league once used replacement players during a strike. Yet, when that episode ended, fans returned in greater numbers than ever before and so too did the billions of dollars in revenue.

Many are exaggerating the impact of the replacement refs’ problem on the NFL. Fans have always complained about the refs. When the regulars do come back, this will continue. The replacements provide additional incentive to complain. That’s not to deny the refs are struggling. The call that ended the Packers’ game was embarrassing. But we forget how many controversies the regular refs created. Some poor officiating is as much a part of the NFL as dropped passes and blown coverage.

As long as the NFL produces a product viewers want to see, it will flourish. To be clear, Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL are getting a black eye over this, but this will soon be ancient history once a settlement is reached.

What is most significant are the implications this fight may have on management-labor relations nationwide. The fight between the owners and refs is largely over pensions and job security. Does that sound familiar? If the eventual outcome affects how those matters are resolved elsewhere, that is far more important than whether or not your favorite football team wins on Sunday.

The writer is a former sportscaster and current crisis communication expert and political consultant. More at markgrimm.com.

Unraveling Media Mystery: Advice from a TV Anchor

For many, the media is a mysterious world. Where do stories come from? How do I get covered? How have changing times affected the news biz?

In truth, media folks are similar to everybody else. Their jobs are threatened by intense competition that didn’t exist two decades ago. They are stretched thin by harsh economic realities. People seeking news coverage should offer the media the one thing they want most….HELP!

Gone are the days when a reporter could spend a whole day doing a single story and file a single report on the 6 pm news. Reporters and videographers are expected to produce far more reports with often smaller staffs. One-person bands (the reporter is the videographer, too) are increasingly more common. There isn’t the time or staff “to do it like they used to.”

That’s where you come in.

Every media outlet has to “feed the beast” every day — required to produce content to fill all the newscasts, newspapers, and web pages that compose what we now call traditional media. The beast’s appetite is unrelenting. Journalists don’t have time to research stories the way they’d like. When you contact them, be sure to have an answer for this persistent question: “What’s in it for them?”

You have expertise in something. Share it. If you provide it in a clear, compelling way and you’re available at the drop of a hat, you can be a help. If you can generate story ideas about things people care about, the media will take notice. If you are the source of an opposing viewpoint that is thoughtful and passionate, you’ll get more exposure. Think visually. What would make your story more visually compelling? Find out more about their deadlines, their process, their challenges, and follow the people closely who cover the subjects you know best. Don’t expect to get noticed by media, if you don’t notice them.

Grab the low-lying fruit. New hires, new clients, speaking events, business anniversaries, these all are fodder for business pages. Submit them. Write letters to the editor, call talk shows. A tiny fraction of the public takes part in those forums. Why aren’t you?

While it’s true, in the 21st century, we will get most of our news from each other, traditional media will still play an important role. Will you be a part of it?

The writer is a former TV news anchor/reporter and a current adjunct media professor who runs a speaking coaching and media relations firm. Don’t hesitate to contact Mark for help: markgrimm.com

 

The Clinton Speech: Can Snake Oil Trump Truth?

The praise afforded President Clinton for his convention speech should spark an important debate that transcends politics: What role does the truth have in good speech making?

Mr. Clinton’s speech was peppered with dishonest claims. Yet, there is no denying he was effective in revving up the troops who absolutely devoured his carefully concocted narrative.

Two quick examples and then I’ll return to our central question:

His contention his policies were working in 1994 but the people hadn’t begun to “feel it yet” is a rewrite of history. Voters rejected his policies so soundly the GOP took the House majority for the first time in 40 years. Unlike Obama, Clinton changed his approach in order to salvage his 1996 re-election bid. He abandoned Hillary Care completely, for example.

Furthermore, his claim the GOP is more responsible for the national debt ignores the “arithmetic” he himself wished to highlight. Debt has grown more under Obama than any president in history.

Clinton was entertaining and persuasive to many people. The speech had many traits that make for strong presentations — passion, clarity, a plain spoken quality, with wonderful storytelling. President Clinton is a powerful storyteller. One of the best. But as the Democrat Senator Bob Kerrey once observed, Mr. Clinton is “an unusually good liar.” His fake earnestness when he looked into the camera and swore he didn’t have sex with that woman remains an awkward and revealing moment in the American psyche.

What role then does the truth play in good speech making? The answer lies more with the audience than with the presenter. Each of us sees the world through our own prism and our individual perspective is afftected by it. Yet, evaluating facts is more about homework than perspective. Our capability and willingness to do the legwork on the issues that matter most remain the floating variables on how speeches are judged.

The writer is a speaking coach, communications professor, and former elected official.