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Caliber Week in Review: the most useful stories, opinions & tools from around the web

It’s been a big week for the PR industry. Mark Cuban says never hire a PR firm. The Fed takes PR matters into their own hands, and Papa Johns is busy doing damage control. Oh, and Google+ unveiled some new features (spoiler alert: Twitter is not happy), and the Consumer Electronics Show kicked off this week. Also make sure to check out the “blog we wish we’d written” section for some sage advice on how to pitch a journalist and why corporate video doesn’t have to be boring.
First up: The Federal Reserve announced plans to publish the interest rate outlooks of its top officials Beginning with the central bank’s January 25th meeting we the people will be let in on what assumption about monetary policy Fed officials made when making their forecasts (whether we will be able to understand their assumptions is another matter). Although we still won’t know who made which forecast, commentators generally seem to agree that it will go a long way in helping people understand how the Fed goes about making its quarterly economic forecasts.

Bigger picture: Pundits have been quick to applaud Bernake’s move, chalking it up as a win for all those in favor of greater transparency. In fact Gerard Corbett, CEO of Public Relations Society of America, went so far as to herald it “the PR coup of the year.”

Questions of hyperbole aside, public trust in both business and government has taken quite a nosedive since 2008 (in case you missed it: Edelman’s latest Trust Barometer), and as communications professionals have (rightly) been banging on about, greater transparency is a wise step toward repairing it.

Bottom line: Everyone – willingly or not – is jumping on the transparency bandwagon. Thanks to mobile Internet, social media, 24-hour news, and citizen journalism, government bodies, corporations and private enterprises alike are being required to adopt more communicative communication strategies. For those of you in the investor relations or corporate governance fields, the FT has more on the call for disclosure: Investors embrace activist role. There’s also this post: MF Global: Why words matter – a cautionary tale for all professional communicators.

Next up: Papa Johns PR crisis

Here’s a crisis you may not have prepared for: Minhee Cho walks into a Papa Johns, orders a pizza, employee types racial slur about Cho on a receipt, hands receipt to Cho, Cho posts receipt on Twitter.  In less than four hours Cho’s receipt racks up 100,000+ views (full story here: Papa John’s pizza ‘lady chinky eyes’ slur goes viral also, if you’re not at work, check out Colbert’s bit on the fiasco: “no more offensive than calling Papa John’s Italian food”).

Bottom line: The actions of a rogue employee travel fast (and far). The employee is fired but there is still damage to control and a corporate reputation to repair. Unfortunately for Papa John’s, the pizza-maker is yet another example of the importance of having crises plans in place, as a rapid response goes a long way toward staving off lasting damage. It’s also a worthwhile scenario to prepare for: what to do when an employee acts inappropriately?

Next story: A PR campaign for PR

Mark Cuban’s 12 Rules for startups ruffled some feathers in the public relations industry. His 11th piece of advice? Never hire a PR firm. (The Flack has some counterpoints).

Cuban’s rationale is worth taking a look at. While don’t agree with the sentiment (Caliber Public Relations helps pay the bills), it’s a good example of why PR needs some PR (for more on that check out this spoof on YouTube: Stuff PR people say ).

And fighting that PR battle, the Publics Relations Society of America (PRSA) has decided to revamp the definition of public relations through its #PRDefined campaign . Although this campaign technically started back in 2011 this week the society showed off its PR skills with an onslaught of status updates. First we learned that the new definition would not be finalized until the end of February (PRSA CEO’s announcement). Then, three possible definitions were unveiled and a public comment period opened. The idea behind all this, according to PRSA’s CEO, is to “ensure the broadest possible consensus.”

Bottom line (why this actually matters): Now, while the cynic might point out that a compromise is two parties agreeing to something neither wants, the bigger issue to focus on is that the public relations field – how companies go about promoting themselves and drumming up good will – is changing. For a real-life look at some of the changes afoot, keep an eye on Bank of America. The beleaguered bank, looking for a bit of a makeover, has begun its agency review this week.

And finally: Google just made a huge change to its search results (

The above article from Business Insider does a nice job of outlining what the search engine giant has changed. Basically it’s going to make search a lot more personal, and Twitter, for one, is not happy about it. Twitter claims the changes will make finding breaking news stories nearly impossible (it also just so happens that most breaking news is shared on Twitter).

Even among those without a business stake, Google’s move has sparked a philosophical debate about the increasing personalization of the Internet (see: It’s the personalization, stupid! ).  Also check out this entertaining rant from Slate: I’m not here to make friends).

Bottom line: For marketers, there are SEO considerations at play. It’s probably best summed up in this post: Google+ is changing search for business. Twitter also raises an often-discussed point: with so much noise on the Internet, how can you ensure your voice rises above the din?

Blog posts we wish we’d written:


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