A "knowledgation officer's" response to meager questions
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
Lauren Heishman is the chief executive strategic knowlegation officer of Heishman-Flillard, which is on Twitter and Facebook. In a recent Facebook post, Heishman wrote, “Loving this wild new website — Faceburst. It’s neat. We even created a page for Heishman’s throngs of admirers.”
When you send Heishman an e-mail, you get this automatic reply: “Thanks for contacting us here at Heishman-Flillard Communications. We offer our clients a robust, synergistic menu of strategic, creative, out-of-the-box communications options for the complex needs that we know your business faces today.”
The company’s Facebook page states, “Heishman-Flillard is a strategic global independent marketing communications agency that is broadly considered the most strategic, powerful and award winning tradigital force in public relations and social media in the universe.”
The PR firm also has a YouTube page here.
Heishman talked to Talking Biz News earlier this week via e-mail about her opinions regarding business journalism. When she replied, she wrote, “Here are the answers to your meager questions.”
What follows is an edited transcript.
1. What is your opinion of business journalism today amid cutbacks in staff and space?
A: We hear a lot about the decline of mainstream media and we just don’t see it. I still enjoy my morning paper, a cup of Sanka and the many informative morning news shows on all the networks. Our research has shown that this remains the media consuming habits of our target audience of the American public that buys the products our clients produce and the issues they care about, from denture cream to adult diapers and many, many health care products and services. Meanwhile, this Twitter thing is clearly a fad. I can’t even get it to work right and I can’t believe I’m alone in that.
2. What do you think about the relationship between PR people and business reporters these days?
A: In a single word — better than ever. We have direct relationships with a deep roster of reporters and editors. Lately, a lot of those contacts have been more receptive to our pitches than ever before. For some reason, they seem to have more spare time than they’ve ever had. This is a huge opportunity for the firms who work with us to get their stories out to these hard-working pros. We’re at a point where many of these high-level reporters have been calling us, so many, in fact, that we haven’t had time to return their calls. Talk about a bonanza for our clients!
3. How could the relationship be improved?
A: A lot of problems would be solved if reporters worked harder to build relationships with PR professionals and understand our issues. Both sides have work to do here. PR folks are not perfect. For instance, we need to understand that when a reporter writes a headline on their story, they are only doing it to sell newspapers and not to hurt us personally. I guess the best thing reporters can do is to work with us more closely to make sure the stories turn out well for our clients.
4. What is your biggest pet peeve when working with the business media?
A: They need to respect the public relations process. They need us and they know it. When they call or fax us with a need, request, or just fishing around – they need to be more respectful, not waste our time, and understand how their stories should be crafted in the manner we know is best for their readers.
5. What is the one story that business journalists seem to consistently get wrong?
A: Off the top of my head, I would say the tremendous value the public relations industry contributes to the economy. It’s a hard-hitting story that’s just not being told. In general, I’ve found that journalists are like children and they need to be led by the hand to stories. Very few of them understand the complex issues of the stories about which they are writing. That’s job security for the leading professionals at Heishman-Flillard who, through tightly crafted talking points, explain complex issues in very simplistic ways.
6. Do you think that the business media should have warned consumers about the economic crisis before it happened?
A: That’s a very amusing premise Chris. You must be a journalist by training. As if anyone in the media – from Bob Barker to Johnny Carson to Walter Cronkite — could have foreseen that the U.S. economy would be as strong as it’s ever been through our smart use of workers in India and China.
7. What business media do you read, and why?
A: Of course A.M. radio continues to be a leading news source for all of us, and I’m a lifelong fan of Life magazine. It just has the leading business content that’s compelling and rich. Plus, USA Today is always a must for me. If I want to get the in-depth analysis on what’s going on in my world today, it’s USA Today or bust. My colleagues have suggested a few online sources, but you just can’t believe anything you read on the Internets. My daughter keeps telling me about this Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I’ll have to give that a shot one of these days.
8. What is your opinion of The Wall Street Journal under Rupert Murdoch’s ownership?
A: I’m vaguely familiar with the Journal although I know its content and readership is principally focused in the upper Midwest. But not so much that I can speak to the differences, so I should probably just take a pass on that one.
9. Who is the best business journalist in the country today, and why?
A: Paul Harvey is solid and NBC’s Roger Mudd is very, very good. Mudd’s piece on the Iran Contra scandal last year was compelling to say the least. But I’d have to say it’s Pat O’Brien. His pieces are provocative, hard-hitting yet provide the appropriate depth and compassion to paint a full picture of what’s really happening in the world.