Mark Grimm

 

Nike’s Tiger Ad: Infidelity Isn’t So Bad

Nike Facebook ad

Infidelity isn’t really so bad. Nike says so.

A new Tiger Woods ad available on Nike’s Facebook page that proclaims “Winning Takes Care of Everything” has sparked a fierce debate. Woods just regained the world’s no. 1 ranking as a golfer for the first time since his marriage scandal became public in 2009. Nike hopes to cash in on his new success and is doing what it hoped to do with the ad — draw attention to Tiger and their company.

There’s been passionate and mixed reaction. One Facebook entry (Eric McDonald) stated, ” ‘Winning’ didn’t take care of his little girl who saw daddy teach that women are expendable sex objects.” Another (Janice Owens): “Any behavior is OK as long as you win at sports? This is a HORRIBLE message to send to young people.” Ad supporters countered, (Kyle Janiga) “Most of you need to get a life and look in the mirror..no skeletons in your closet?” Another (Robert Gecy) wrote, “Most of the naysayers have an ax to grind with Nike or just don’t like Tiger in the 1st place.”

The ad is controversial because it confronts our values. Just where does winning fit in our list of priorities? How great an offense is infidelity? What is the time frame for contrition? Is all publicity good for selling sports gear?

Nike claims the ad was simply “a salute to his (Tiger’s) athletic performance.” They would also tell you they were shocked to discover there was gambling going on in Rick’s Cafe in Casablanca (1).

Do you believe Tiger’s humiliated ex wife feels his improved golf game has “taken care of everything?” What about his kids? If Nike believes “winning takes care of everything,” why did it dump cyclist Lance Armstrong? He won seven Tour de Frances.

Our real heroes don’t swing golf clubs, dunk basketballs or star in movies. They do the everyday things that matter to their families and their customers. Not one of them is perfect. And yes, many everyday Americans cheat on their spouses. But they don’t ever suggest sports achievement makes up for it.

There’s no question Tiger Woods is a great golfer. But he needs to take a mulligan (2) on his latest ad.
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The writer is former TV journalist and adjunct media professor who runs a communications firm.

(1) In the 1942 film Casablanca, Captain Renault proclaimed he was “shocked, shocked” to learn there was gambling in Rick’s Café, as he pocketed his winnings for the evening.

(2) In recreational golf, if you hit a poor shot off the tee you’re allowed to “take a mulligan” by  taking another shot.

Want a Job or Promotion? Use Good Grammar.

“If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use ‘it’s,’ then that’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with.” – Kyle Wiens

Kyle Wiens

IFixit CEO Kyle Wiens won’t hire people who use poor grammar. Wiens gives all job applicants a grammar test because he finds people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also “make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing — like stocking shelves or labeling parts.”

A new analysis of the writing in LinkedIn profiles draws a correlation between good grammar and professional success. The higher up you go, the better the grammar gets.

Consider these statistics:

LinkedIn Profiles Studied: Grammar Mistakes per 1,000 Words
Director Level or Higher – 8
Below Director Level – 20

Grammarly conducted the study and its CEO, Brad Hoover, said the study “clearly supports the hypothesis that good grammar is a predictor of professional success.” Of course, there are many other factors that lead to professional success. But the report should make us think.

I’m a strong believer in conversational writing that omits much of the bureaucratic speak that bores us to death. But casual writing and good grammar are not mutually exclusive. Why not make good use of them both?

The writer owns a communication business and is an adjunct college professor. Don’t hesitate to contact him for communication help.

Report: Media Future Is Knocking. What’s Your Answer?

New Research Report on News

The bad times for traditional media are getting worse and nearly every citizen is becoming part of the mass communication landscape. The question is, “Are they ready for it?”

A new report from the Pew Research Center reveals newspaper employment is off 30% from its peak in 2000 and local TV audiences were down “across every key time slot and across all networks in 2012.” Average revenue for news-producing stations dropped 36% from 2006-2011.

Ironically, these cutbacks have made traditional media outlets less capable of confronting the very competition that is pulling them under. Instead of providing more in-depth, quality coverage that would give them the edge over the many other information sources, they are doing less. In fact, about 40% of local TV news content last year was weather, sports and traffic. To add insult to injury, the non traditional information producers are getting much better at using technology to circumvent traditional media all together.

Everyone on Facebook is now a publisher. This is enormously good and bad news. It’s good because a few powerful media outlets will never be able to command the attention of the masses again. This is a body blow to media bias because such power can never really be entrusted to any small group. Mass communication today is far more democratic and the diversity of views has expanded beyond our wildest dreams.

And now the bad news. Journalism requires skill. Accuracy, fairness, context, clarity — no one is born with these traits, you have to learn and refine them. The Internet is the “Wild West” of information consumption and it’s hard to locate the good among the bad or to even know the difference if you did.

So what lies ahead for the age of the citizen communicators? That story has yet to be written. We’ve upped the ante on being interesting. Our education system must place more focus on developing communicators who care more about what their audience wants than what they want. Greater skill is needed in story telling. When was the last time college entrances exams tested for that? Concise language and savvy use of visuals are tools that are needed more. And everyone needs a plan on how to be informed. It won’t ever happen by chance.

Those who achieve these skills will own the 21st century. They will have a much better chance at happiness.

As for those in traditional media, the best storytellers will always have an audience. And the gatekeepers…they’ll never have it like they once had.

The writer, a former TV anchor, owns a communications business and is an adjunct media professor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why No One is a Natural Born Speaker

No one is born a great speaker. You have to work at it. Speaking is a skill that needs to be developed, like any other skill. The claim someone is a “natural” at speaking underestimates what it really takes to be great. Some people say Derek Jeter is a natural, too. Then, why does he work so hard at batting and infield practice?

It’s true some people are more extroverted by nature and more comfortable in front of people. But comfort level can be altered and being relaxed is just one aspect of great speaking. The first step in great speaking is good research — finding out what the audience really wants to get out of the presentation and then designing a program to exceed those expectations. Great speaking is about editing, taking a large body of information and paring it down for the audience. Sharp editing and the use of concise language are learned skills and very few people do them really well. Listening is also needed in presentations, a skill that doesn’t come at birth either. How well does your two-year-old listen? How about your teenager?

A speaker once told me he didn’t need my coaching help because he was able to easily “wing it” in front of the audience. I replied, “Yes, it appeared like you were winging it.” He wasn’t connected with what his audience was thinking.

Speaking also requires us to get constant feedback from our audience — what they like and don’t like. It is the only way to get better. No truly great speaker is ever completely satisfied with his/her performance.

Great speaking, as much as any field I know, is open to everyone. It’s not what you were born with, it’s how you use what you have. With the right coaching, the sky is the limit.

The writer is a professional speaker with many speaking coaching clients. Don’t hesitate to contact him for help. His speaking book is available here.

 

 

Bob Woodward and Reporter’s Spin

Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward is acting like many of the politicians he covers — trying to spin his way out of a jam.

Woodward had this to say on CNN earlier this week concerning an email from senior White House official Gene Sperling that used the the word “regret”:

“It makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters you’re going to regret doing something that you believe in.”

However, when the actual emails were released, they revealed Sperling’s email was largely an apology for an earlier heated phone call with Woodward. Sperling’s “threat” was put this way:

“I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim.

If Woodward felt “uncomfortable,” he had an odd way of showing it in his response to Sperling’s email. He wrote, “You do not ever have to apologize to me. You get wound up because you are making your points and you believe them. This is all part of a serious discussion. I for one welcome a little heat; there should more given the importance.”

Since the two emails call into question the actual “threat,” Woodward made a clumsy attempt at damage control on MSNBC this morning, “I did not feel threatened.” This spin is especially difficult given his own newspaper, the Washington Post, wrote a story stating he had been threatened.

Woodward, the co-hero of the Watergate investigation, leaves us with a lesson worth remembering. Reporters can get caught up in spin, too.

The writer is a former TV news journalist who teaches a mass media course at the College of St. Rose. Media consulting is part of his small business.