Mark Grimm


Cutting Edge Twitter Insights for PR & Politics

“Twitter is the new AP news wire.” — Andrew Mangini

That conclusion from a savvy communications director for a NY State Senator speaks volumes on how important Twitter has become for reaching and interacting with media.

Mangini (second from left) took part in a PRSA panel on social media and politics moderated by a TV reporter, YNN’s Nick Reisman (far left).







Zack Hutchins
(second from right), a New Media Director runs a Senate Majority Twitter account on what’s happening in the state legislature. He said it picked up 4,000 Twitter followers in one day at the height of the same sex marriage debate in the legislature. We literally were getting “hundreds of tweets per second,” Hutchins said. He advised the way to get Twitter followers was “to provide a service you can’t get anywhere else.”

All emphasized mistakes made on Twitter are hard to retract because simply deleting a post doesn’t remove it from where it has been re-tweeted to.  Andrew Gregory, responsible for the Unshackle NY Twitter account, highlighted the importance of good proofreading, “You should measure twice and cut once,” and play close attention to message discipline.

Repetition is needed, too, given the volume involved in the Twitter universe. “Don’t be afraid to tweet the same thing over the course of the day,” said Hutchins.

Reisman said he gets between 400-500 emails a day and relies on Twitter to keep up to date. “You have to grab my attention.”

As for managing the volume of social media, Mangini says “take advantage of Twitter lists.” Hutchins recommends using to narrow in on the subjects and people that interests you most.

The writer is a communications and political consultant and former TV anchor.





Obama Wins On Points; Romney Passes Key Tests

President Barack Obama used an attacking style and an incumbent’s foreign policy advantage to win on points in his third presidential debate with Governor Mitt Romney. A CNN poll of debate viewers gave Obama a 48-40 edge.

Yet, Romney passed two important tests. Those same viewers placed the two men in a virtual tie on being commander-in-chief, a key test for any challenger in a foreign policy debate with a sitting president. Romney also gained a virtual tie (Obama 48%, Romney 47%) on likeability, a key Romney disadvantage in the campaign.

The President had a sharper focus on foreign policy issues, capitalizing on his first-hand experience. Romney was too vague and much more willing to agree with the president than in previous debates. Romney’s sharp pivot to domestic policy did help his cause, but his decision to pass on the Libya controversy indicated his strategy in debate three was to try to be more likable than forceful.

Obama repeatedly attempted to portray Romney as “reckless,” yet Romney gave him little ammunition. The challenger gave an extremely measured performance emphasizing peace and taking a much more conciliatory tone towards China. The voters must decide for themselves if this is shift in emphasis or a shift in position.

The final presidential debate was more of a chess match than a fist fight. We’ll have a better idea of who really won in two weeks.

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


Newsweek Going All Digital: Adapt or Perish.

After nearly 80 years of print operations, Newsweek will print its last magazine on December 31. It will provide all its content digitally after that.

Adapt or perish.

Many print operations have not moved quickly enough to embrace the new reality. Distribution costs (huge rolls of newsprint, delivery trucks, print operators and printing presses) are a heavy drag on the bottom line forcing layoffs even among those who hold the keys to the industry’s future — the good storytellers.

Shedding distribution costs is an opportunity. Yes, it will sadly mean lost jobs and pain for those in distribution. But candle makers endured the same fate when light bulbs arrived. Too many print publishers insist that people want their papers in their hands and there will always be a need for that. Well, people loved riding their horses but when automobiles arrived, they got over it.

A Pew Research Center study indicates just 23% of adult Americans will read a print newspaper today, down from 47% in 2000. For magazines, it’s 18%, compared to 26% in 2000. Meanwhile, Newsweek states its online sister publication, The Daily Beast, attracts more than 15 million unique visitors a month, a 70 percent jump in the past year alone.

The handwriting is not only on the wall, it’s in BOLD CAPS. In a statement, Newsweek said, “we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in all-digital format.”

The good news is the consumption of information has exploded due to the Internet and social media. Those who produce good content — concise, compelling stories that interests people — will own the 21st century. Since anyone on Facebook is in the publishing business, the competition is fierce. Attention is a commodity and the print industry’s focus should be on always improving content, not on clinging to dinosaurs.

Adapt or perish.

The writer, a small business owner, is a former TV news journalist and current adjunct media professor at the College of St. Rose.

Prez Debate Two: Each Exploits Opponent’s Weaknesses

In the second presidential debate, both men exploited their opponent’s weaknesses. President Obama was more assertive than the first debate, much better at punching back this time. He was more prepared on Mitt Romney’s record and had effective moments highlighting some of the inconsistencies in Romney’s record. He also turned the tables on Romney over the Libya attack, saying it was “offensive” to suggest they played politics there.

Romney, showing message discipline, pounded away at Obama’s jobs record, his biggest vulnerability. Romney’s best moment occurred when a black man, Michael Jones, stood up and told the president he voted for him last time but is undecided now, asking him, “What have you done?” to earn his vote. Romney followed Obama’s tepid response telling Jones you asked the question because “you’re not confident the next four years will be better.”

President Obama seemed a bit angrier than Romney, certainly not the cool hand we’re used to seeing. Moderator Candy Crowley said she didn’t sense personal animosity between the two men, saying it was more a case of them being “intense” and having a “sense of urgency.”

Romney mishandled the last question; “What’s the biggest misperception about you?” He repeated he is 100% for the people, a defensive response to his 47% remark. It opened the door for Obama who blasted him with it in his close. Obama’s stronger finish was a significant edge.

A CNN poll of debate watchers gave Obama a slight win over Romney, 46-39. That edge may be due to low expectations after his first debate. 73% of those polled said Obama did better than they expected. Obama stopped the slide from his first performance and Romney proved once again he can go toe-to-toe with the president of the United States.

Can’t wait for Round Three.

The writer is a speaking coach, political consultant, and former elected official.

Biden-Ryan: Bar Brawler vs. Math Professor

Emotion and intellect tangled in the VP debate and partisans from both sides are convinced their guy won.

On the “Who won?” question, a CNN poll of debate watchers gave Congressman Paul Ryan a slight 48-44 edge over Vice President Joe Biden.

Democrats, frustrated their presidential nominee didn’t take the fight to Mitt Romney in last week’s debate, got plenty of red meat from the pugnacious Biden. He played mostly offense in this one, putting Ryan on the defensive.

Biden was plain spoken and had some effective emotional appeals to voters, particularly on the 47% issue, insisting his “mom and dad” were the 47%. Biden’s major flaw: there is a fine line between feisty and obnoxious and he crossed it. It seemed like he was in an argument at the corner bar. His frequent odd smiles when Ryan was talking were dismissive and his constant interruptions were more rude than being tough.

Ryan showed a strong intellect and had an impressive command of the issues, not an easy task for a challenger against a sitting vice president. But too often he talked over people’s heads with endless math or obscure Mid-East geography. Voters don’t believe a string of numbers is the answer to every problem. He needed to connect more emotionally, especially in light of Biden’s “Joe Six Pack” persona.

Biden energized the ticket’s base voters who were demoralized a bit after the presidential debate. But his over-the-top behavior cost him what may otherwise have been a victory. Ryan proved he really knows his stuff but needs to be less of a policy robot.

The effect on the presidential race — very little. The A Team returns next week.

The writer is a speaking coach, message strategist, and former elected official. More at

What Would You Put On Your Gravestone? That’s Your Brand.

What people think of you is your brand. Do you know what yours is? Are you sure?

Your “brand,” your reputation, needs to be carefully cultivated, especially considering your livelihood may depend on it. Prominent career counselor Dr. Tom Denham asks individuals to write down what they think should go on their own tombstone. This clever idea forces the introspection needed to confront fundamental questions that require clear answers: What are the things you value most and how does your life and work reflect those values?

Achieving such clarity is not a simple task. Simplicity is not simple. We must come to grips with what truly motivates us and also be aware of what others think. Brands are developed one statement or act at a time over hundreds of such statements and actions.

Time for each of us to produce the bottom line. I’ll go first. Here’s what I’d put on my gravestone:

He put family first
Helped others create a better life
Fought for justice
Had zest for life
(learn more at

OK, maybe the last line was a joke. But the rest is no laughing matter. What would you put on your gravestone? Try it today and ask others what they would write about you on your gravestone.

Mark Grimm is a clarity expert. If you need help in formulating any business message, be sure to contact him.

Passion Guides Romney’s Debate Win

With no gaffes or knockout punches, body language took center stage in the first presidential debate in Denver…and that contest wasn’t even close.  A CNN poll gave Romney a 67-25 advantage among viewers. No candidate has topped 60% since the question was first asked in 1984.

An energetic Mitt Romney seemed like he couldn’t wait to get started. As one of Romney’s harshest critics, liberal pundit Ed Schultz of MSNBC, put it, “Romney looked like the guy who really wanted the job.”

President Obama started slowly, nervously noting his wedding anniversary, and appeared defensive. His body language indicated the debate was, for him, a little like eating his vegetables.

Was there any doubt who was enjoying the debate more?

Romney endured 20 debates in the primary that toughened him up and allowed him to bring his “A” game. The president, who lives in a highly controlled environment, was rusty and not used to having someone directly confront him. His strategists certainly didn’t want him to jeopardize his high “likability” numbers by being too aggressive, but he may have been too passive.

Both men were smart, knowledgeable and civil. There was plenty of substance and there was a sharp contrast in the two competing visions. Romney appeared every bit the president’s equal on stage. This was critical because so much of the Obama campaign has been about making him an “unacceptable alternative.” As one Fox News focus group member put it, “Up until tonight, Obama has defined Romney. Tonight, Romney defined himself.”

There was no way to predict how the two men would appear when on the same stage together for the first time. The President’s laid back style proved to be a sharp contrast to Romney, a contrast that favored the challenger.

Bill Gates once said, “the thing I do best is share my enthusiasm.” Romney did that much better in debate one and it reversed the momentum in the campaign.

Expect round two to be much more confrontational.

The writer is a speaking coach, message strategist, and former elected official. More at

What Mitt & Prez Need to Do in the Debate

Wednesday night’s debate offers Mitt Romney a chance to reverse the momentum in key battleground states. He has the most to gain, and to lose. Here’s what each candidate should do to capitalize on this unique opportunity.

Mitt Romney:

Romney’s biggest vulnerability is the prominent perception that he’s a rich guy who really doesn’t care about the average person. This has been carefully cultivated by the opposition and some media and enhanced by Romney’s own mistakes. This is why the infamous 47% tape was so damaging. His top priority must be to alter this perception. Otherwise, the race is over. Voters have no innate problem with rich candidates. FDR and JFK made that clear. The candidate doesn’t have to be like them, but the voters must feel the candidate is for them.

So Mitt, don’t offer any programmed language that shows you’re one of us. You’re not and that’ s OK. Give specific examples, in your background and policies, that show you’re human and you care.

Secondly, try to get under the President’s skin (in a nice way). The President’s “likability factor” is his biggest advantage over Romney. However, any President rarely faces a one-on-one confrontation where he is challenged in such direct terms. This is an adjustment and President Obama has shown a bit of a condescending streak (view Hillary is “likable enough” comment).

Barack Obama:

The President’s team decided long ago the path to re-election is to make Romney an unacceptable alternative. Many feel Obama’s economic record left them with no other choice politically. Indeed, the incumbent’s support remains below 50% in the polls. They have done a good job of creating a Romney caricature (Mitt’s personal negatives are sky high) and Obama must close the deal on that in the debate.

The president must keep his cool. He’s known for that. But it’s been four years since his last debate. He’s likely a little rusty. Romney had 20 raucous debates that nicked him up, but also toughened him up.

Romney must address the 47% issue head on and Obama must capitalize on it.

The real test for each candidate may well be what role he plays in any surprise, and debates often have them — Al Gore sighing, Nixon sweating profusely, Bush 41 checking his watch. The unanticipated moments are often the most revealing…and the ones that impact voters the most.

The writer is a speaking coach, political consultant, former TV anchor and former elected official. Tune in to this blog for a post-debate video analysis.