We’re looking forward to re-invigorating postings at calmpatientandgoodhumored soon. (Yes, even Bill N promises additional posts!)

To ease logistics, we’re consolidating postings to the Google platform. So, if you’re pointing to, please redirect to

If you’re pointing to, you should be fine.

Past postings have been carried over to the new site. Earlier comments, however, will remain on the original site. Thanks for your patience.


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Folks paying less attention, whatever we call it…

Whether called “communication” or “public relations”, there seems to be increasingly less attention paid to it. Check out post at Trendinator.

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New York Times Names New Public Editor

The New York Times has named its third Public Editor, Clark Hoyt, who had an outstanding career at The Knight Ridder newspaper chain. He will serve for two years, as did his predecessors.

The Public Editor is pledged to giving voice to the Times readers. His column appears every other Sunday in the Week in Review section. Mr. Hoyt says he will be driven by “what readers care about and complain about.”

It would be interesting to know how you as professional communicators rate the importance of Public Editors. Thanks for answering these questions:

Does the Public Editor serve a worthwhile role?

Do you read his column in the Sunday Times?

Have you ever e-mailed him a comment or complaint? Why not?

And while we are polling, please answer this question:

If you had a vote, would you favor or oppose Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to take over Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal? Why?

(Posted by Larry Foster)

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Calm, Patient and BUSY!

My regrets for this lag in postings – it’s remarkable how busy you can stay keeping up with the activities of 250 or so operating companies. I’m signing on today to provide a link to an interesting Pew Research Center study, highlighted by Byron Reimus, one of the select observers in our field with true kaleidoscopic vision. One thing you’ll learn in this study is that, despite her challenging press and ratings, Katie Couric remains the favored journalist among U.S. citizens. But, related, and more importantly, you’ll learn that, as a breed, journalists are considerably less well-known and less prominent than they were 20 years ago. No surprises here – the Internet, with its long tail, has undermined this centrality.

By the way, if you have any junkie tendencies about the progress (or regress) of the news media business, you may also want to check out, a decade-old center that just last year came under the wing of Pew Research Center.

(Posted by Ray Jordan)

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Career Guidelines Stay the Same for Students and Professionals

I preach basics because I believe so strongly that this is at the core of sound public relations performance.
Because I live some seven months a year in Happy Valley, home of Penn State, I interact with students in the College of Communications. They thirst for guidelines in planning their careers.

It’s interesting that the advice I give them also applies to professionals working their way up the ladder. And to those on the top rung as well.

Become intimately familiar with the company’s (or client’s) business so you can better understand key issues or problems.
(It’s amazing how often this basic is overlooked.)

Earn a reputation for bringing good judgment to the decision making process.
(Good judgment is one of the most illusive of all skills. Think before you jump in with an opinion when big decisions are being made.)

Don’t be afraid to disagree.
(Some of the best PR reputations are built on hearing from “the loyal opposition.”)

Become recognized for your writing talent.
(If you can write an internal memo with clarity and persuasion and a degree of brevity you are headed for distinction. Competing against the lawyers is the most fun of all.)

Now it’s your turn to come up with some basics I’ve missed.

(Posted by Larry Foster)


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Responsibilities defining character

Our colleague Bill Nielsen has provided another in a long string of contributions to our discipline — this time, by way of the International Distinguished Lecture he delivered in London for the Institute for Public Relations. In his lecture, Bill articulates the critical path from responsibility to commitment to action for public relations itself – a path that so many of us persue on behalf of our employers and clients. Bill’s insight is to aim this bedrock ethical principle back at our own profession. I will stop paraphrasing Bill’s superior language, and simply point you to it here.

(Posted by Ray Jordan)

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“Rubbish.” – A New Era at Hand

The world of social media matters. To prove this, I will point you to a story. But for you to understand that story fully, I need to point you to an earlier story.

Back in the mid-90’s, the Internet’s World Wide Web looked like an intriguing communications space, though far from proven. Its users were mostly geeks and its applications mostly sketchy and technical. I had put up a small company web site for my employer by then, but wasn’t thinking terribly much about it. Then, one evening, I opened an admittedly young bottle of 1994 Rutherford Hill Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Printed right there on the cork, along with the winery phone number, was ““.


My goodness. Think about this. Here was one of world’s most low-tech producers, a winery, thinking enough of the World Wide Web to print a web site address on a cork — a cork that was designed to stay in some bottles of this wine for half a decade or more. What a commitment. It meant that 5 or 10 years from now, this winery would still have its web site operating. It meant, indeed, that this emerging communications environment was real, durable, and ubiquitous across industries. It was my “cork moment”. From that point forward, I knew the web would change much about our world.

Fast forward to today. The world of social media – blogs, wikis, MySpace, etc – is intriguing. Its users have been mostly kids and geeks and its applications mostly sketchy and personal. I’ve helped my employer put up a small history blog, but haven’t been thinking terribly much about it. Frankly, I’ve been waiting for a cork moment.

Then, one recent evening, I was fortunate enough to hear Brian Akre of General Motors tell the story about the tussle between GM and the New York Times concerning a letter to the editor. The scrap started when a NY Times op ed piece by Thomas Friedman accused the company of being “dangerous to America’s future” and likening it to a “crack dealer”. Taking a first traditional step to remedy the claims, GM sought to have a rebuttal letter published by the Times. When informed by the Times that their letter in response to the 800-word column could contain 175 words max, GM began a negotiation process that ultimately bought them an additional 25 words.

As Brian tells the story, “Our letter opened with a paragraph that accurately summarized the most bizarre elements of Mr. Friedman’s attack, then reacted with this one-word sentence: ‘Rubbish.'”

The New York Times objected to the use of the phrase “Rubbish.” and instead offered “We beg to differ.”

So ensued an ultimately futile stand-off between the companies. Frustrated with the proceedings, GM opted to drop the negotiations with the New York Times and instead came clean with this entire story via its own blog. As it turned out, the blog itself became an online attraction, rapidly drawing hundreds of incoming links. The full story was soon picked up by publications ranging from major daily newspapers to the Columbia Journalism Review. In a strange turnabout, GM was sometimes characterized as the “David” to the New York Times’ “Goliath”. From a public relations perspective, imagine GM, with a market cap of over $19 billion, being characterized as “David”.

My goodness. Think about this. Here was one of the world’s largest employers effectively taking on one of the world’s most influential newspapers on that newspaper’s home turf – public opinion – via a blog. Could anyone now believe that this communications environment was not real, durable or ubiquitous across industries? This was my “rubbish moment”. I must now acknowledge that social media (or whatever it is destined to be called) will change much about our world.

(Posted by Ray Jordan)


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