Sunday, June 22, 2008

AP expands entertainment news coverage – emphasis on 'news'

AP expands entertainment news coverage - emphasis on 'news'

By George McQuade,
West Coast Bureau Chief,

Associated Press Meet EPPS

Associated Press entertainment editors and reporters gathered in Los Angeles this month to introduce the wire service's ambitious new approach to entertainment news coverage.

The presentation took place at a media workshop of the International Cinematographers Guild in Hollywood, hosted by the Entertainment Publicists Professional Society. Lou Ferrara, managing editor for sports, entertainment and multimedia in New York, said the AP is expanding its entertainment news coverage with an emphasis on the news value of entertainment stories.

Dan Becker & Lou Ferrara, AP

"We think entertainment is important, that the coverage of it is important, and it's relevant in our society," Ferrara said. "And we can be the best, the most accurate, and the first with the news and entertainment.

Lou Ferrara (R), Global Director, Entertainment, Associated Press

The panel was moderated by Joe Schlosser, senior vice president, Communications, NBC-Universal Television Studio Distribution.

Steve Loeper, administrative news editor in AP's Los Angeles bureau, said the news service's worldwide staff of thousands of journalists stands ready to back up its core of entertainment reporters on big entertainment stories such as the recent fire on the Universal Studios backlot.

"The bureau is here to back up AP’s entertainment division to tell the story right with a high amount of accuracy," said Loeper.

(L-R) Dave Germain, Mike Cidoni,
Jesse Washington and Steve Loepel

Ferrara said the organization is "going through deep and vast changes, and I can’t underestimate how profound they are for the AP."

"We have become a digital organization," he said. "All formats are represented and we deliver the world in video, text, multimedia, photos, your name it."

Speaking to the PR pros attending the media workshop, Ferrara emphasized that AP wants to distinguish its entertainment coverage from other, similar, content by reporting entertainment news on the record – a sometimes challenging notion in a field in which publicists for stars and studios have become accustomed to planting stories on background.

"The staff is going to be hounding you and you hound them, give it to us on the record, it really makes life a lot easier," Ferrara said. "I realize you all dealing with sensitive situations, but it really makes a difference in being able to do a job accurately. There have been several stories where bad information got out there. The AP has been a victim of that, you guys have been a victim of that and the industry has been a victim of that.”

In a recent high-profile example of the potential pitfalls for off-the-record attribution, a TV tabloid show reported that Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie had given birth to twins – a report that turned out to be false.

The AP's Dan Becker told PR pros the news service's intention is to deliver a high quality, reliable and objective entertainment report.

"Our reports are always going to be accurate, balanced and informed," said Becker. "That’s the core of what AP’s banner will always be and bringing that to entertainment.”

Becker said one billion people see AP content on any given day, visiting some of the largest online portals, including Yahoo! and MSN.

"We have 243 bureaus based in 97 countries," Becker said.

The largest and oldest news organization in the world began hiring new entertainment division employees in January. Becker said the AP, as of June, had 70 editorial employees dedicated to entertainment coverage.

The presentation included practical advice on pitching story ideas.

“First and foremost, we want you to think of AP when breaking news,” said Becker. “We want you to pitch us, we want high profile news, we want to break it and we want to be exclusive. We don’t just want to break news and be exclusive in a text world. We want exclusive photography, exclusive video, and exclusive opportunities for sit down interviews. We are in a multimedia world."

Becker said the "most effective way for AP to tell the story" is through a combination of text, photo and video.

"So no longer will you be dealing with just a text person, photo person or video person. And no longer with a text person who just understands text, or a photo person photo or video person video. We are going to work with you to tell the story across all platforms."

Becker stressed that the quality of AP's coverage would depend largely on access to newsmakers.

"At so many events the story is happening inside, and so many times news agencies are held outside of the event," he said. "It is only part of the story. We need to be inside."

AP personnel advised PR pros to be sure to provide reliably accurate information when dealing with the news service and said e-mail is the preferred method for sending pitches for most writers and editors – with plenty of lead time for event coverage planning. Publicists need not call AP to see if a routine e-mail or fax has been received.

Last-minute pitches are generally more difficult to consider, and publicists can improve efficiency by using AP Entertainment's contact sheet. (Multiple pitching to various AP writers is acceptable, but if AP passes on a particular story, please do not pitch it elsewhere in the AP.)

AP wants to be first. Exclusive pitches will always get AP's attention. Best AP e-mail contacts:

  1. General Event Media Advisories – U.S.
  2. General Event Media Advisories – Int’l.
  3. Entertainment Film Coverage
  4. Entertainment Music Coverage
  5. Entertainment Television Coverage

The AP features a massive digital photo network, a continuously updated online news service, a television news service and one of the largest radio networks in the United States. The outlet offers RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Associated Press is available on the World Wide Web at

MAYO PR - "We don't guarantee media, we just get it!"

Friday, June 13, 2008

Advertising is Dead New Social Media Has Arrived

Anchor Tami Di Vine interviews George McQuade on Crown City News
Airtimes: Live! 6:00 PM Ch. 56-PCAC-Pasadena Mondays replays 6:00 AM Ch. 56 PCAC
WED: Replays 6:30 PM Charter Cable Ch. 3 - SGV Replays: 2:30 AM Ch. 56 -PCAC -Pa

Consumer Technology Is Killing Advertising But Boosting Public relations

By George S. Mc Quade III, vice president, MAYO Communications

Advertising is dead, however public relations and integrated marketing communications and social Internet marketing are on the rise.

So with that scary thought how do publicists and public relations pros reach government, commercial and entertainment business media?

Social media, networks and blogs have created new platforms and in some cases are much larger distribution channels that are even larger than some newspaper circulations. A bulletin on any of the popular site could reach hundreds of thousands of members of a group looking for that kind of news or announcement about a product, an event or company.

The most surprising self campaign online recently was reported on Fox TV News. A Home Depot employee sang the classic rock group Boston’s “More than a feeling,” and posted it on Google’s site. The lead singer of Boston died, and the Home Depot guy created such a buzz Boston invited him in for an audition. They love him, hired him as the lead singer replacement, and now he’s on tour. It was Internet fame, but public relations at its finest. The Internet and social music sites have also allowed musicians and their fans to obtain and expose music online. CBS Radio Digital Network was recently launched in New York and at Universal Studios, where a free CBS player will allow you to get your news or music streaming online anywhere in America.

The only drawbacks in using social media sites or blogs is you have to have a thick skin. Not every likes your subjects, campaigns, ideas and products. My personal best advice about unknown blogs with not a lot of traffic is not to respond to anything negative, because you just fuel the fire and repost the same irresponsible blog that attacks this industry. Some people publish, but later apologize when they are wrong. Years ago journalists were taught, and most writers were required to obtain three sources before running with a story of criminal allegations or damaging details. Unfortunately, times have changed.

MAYO Communications, a green company, was instrumental in a media campaign that led to the successful passage of California Proposition “B”, a $20 billion dollar voter’s initiative to clean up the air, improve the highway system and relieve congestion at the ports. The social buzz about everything going green started in California so the timing was perfect. Another social campaign involved the emotional word of “Wal-Mart,” which an independent study by Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation found that the world’s larger retailer contributed more to the economy than it took away. It also help to have the social issues of a grocery strike, because Wal-mart was getting into the grocery biz, saving each California family $500 a year in grocery bills the study said.

The positive news overshadowed the social negative news Online utilizing the RSS and social blog sites. Often, you can turn a negative into a positive, if you capitalize on integrated marketing and public relations. Advertising would not work for Wal-Mart, but the public relations does and did work for a campaign highlighting the economic impact of 40 Wal-Mart Superstores coming to California.

“Consumers have finally caught up with technology, and nearly everyone has broadband access to the Internet. A TiVo digital video recorder brings your favorite television shows, movies, music, videos, and more to your TV,” noted Mc Quade. “Newer Televisions allow you to pause the programs during prime time shows, like American Idol, and play them back or skip through commercials an hour later,” he said.

It is a consumer revolution, where people get their news, information on demand, when ever and where ever they want it via RSS ( Really Simple Syndicate) feeds, Widgets, social websites such as MySpace, Facebook, Hi5, BlackPlanet or elsewhere Online. The entertainment and advertising agencies are realizing there are billions of dollars to be had on the Internet. And more corporations, even high tech customers are switching to PR.

George Mc Quade is vice president of MAYO Communications (, a full service marketing communications and PR firm with offices in LA, San Diego, New York and Bern, Switzerland, serving celebrity, corporate, government and nonprofit clients.

Mc Quade is a board member and was the 2006 president of Entertainment Publicists Professional Society (EPPS) LA/NY, and served on the LA chapter of Public Relations Society of America. He founded MAYO Communications in 1995.

MAYO PR - "We don't guarantee media, we just get it!"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Media Expert Reveals PR Secrets on Crown City News

Vice President George Mc Quade, MAYO Communications, a Los Angeles based PR firm, appeared on Crown City News tonight to help nonprofits and government agencies create a buzz for their organizations. "If you don't toot your horn, the media will use it as a spitoon," said Mc Quade. " If you are having a party and Wolfgang Puck is cooking, noone will know if you don't announce it."

MAYO PR - "We don't guarantee media, we just get it!"