The Pertinent Negative: Find Out What’s Missing

pertinent negative

There’s a term used in medicine called “the pertinent negative” that helps doctors and other medical professionals diagnose illnesses and identify problems. Essentially, it’s to look for what’s missing.

For example, a pertinent negative is when it appears someone has heart failure but they haven’t gained weight, a common symptom of heart failure. To a doctor that’s weird, and it’s a pertinent negative, because weight gain is missing from the symptom list.… Read the rest

Sound Bite Case Study: Meet the News Media Where It Lives

In the communications business, to say we need to meet the media where they live is essentially to say, make it as easy as possible on reporters, editors, journalists and producers. Give them the content they need when they need it, where they need it and in the most user-friendly format possible.

The problem most newsrooms face these days is lack of resources.… Read the rest

Is Your Review and Approval Process Killing Your Results?

I got an email today from a respected consulting organization that provided details on a recent ransomware attack that occurred over the July 4th weekend.  The rather polished e-news alert was robust in its information, but there was a problem. It’s two weeks too late, and I’ve already gleaned all of the information in the article from other sources when the news first broke.… Read the rest

Whose Truth Is It, Anyway?

I had an interesting interchange with a colleague, Karen Swim, President of Words for Hire in Detroit, on social media recently. The thing that prompted our discussion was her posting of this article from Forbes about a new analytics program called Protagonist which is claimed to help “better manage communications strategies.”

That sounds good, and if it does what it says it does it could be very meaningful, but I have my concerns for one simple reason.… Read the rest

Why Emotional Language is More Powerful than Facts

In more and more situations of late, I have found myself counseling clients that the facts can’t speak for themselves, and that we need to frame facts in the proper context with a little help from emotion. It would seem that in today’s communications environment, one person’s fact is another person’s opinion.

What does seem to break through is anger, fear, joy, surprise, sadness and trust, though some emotions seem to dominate more than others.… Read the rest

What Can a Traffic Cop Teach You About Business and Communications?

My dad’s birthday was always around or on Father’s Day, so the annual flurry of sentimental social media posts I see from others often spurs me to reflect on my own dad. So, when it all came around this year, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the lessons he taught me about business and communications, even though he spent the majority of his own working life as a police officer.… Read the rest

When that PR Guru Says You Need a Wakeup Call

wakeup-callThe next time you hear a guru tell the communications industry or public relations field to answer his wakeup call, hit the snooze button.

Let me explain.  Consider this story from my relatively short Boy Scout career.  In that time, I went on many campouts.  Without fail, there was always that kid who woke up before everyone else. … Read the rest

You Want to Know How to Create a Powerful Key Message? Try this.

hint-its-not-about-business

In my media training work, I once worked with a colleague who liked to handle the portion of the workshop on key messaging. That segment included classroom lecture followed by an independent exercise.

She would “click” to the Powerpoint slide that featured this question:

“What is the meaning of life?”

Then she would ask the group to spend a few minutes writing their own individual and personal answers to the question.… Read the rest

The Personal Touch May be Making a Comeback in PR

Coffee - Face to FaceI had a conversation with a recent graduate I know who is working on a project that involves no small amout of public relations, marketing and promotional work. As you might expect, he gained a lot of traction from the start using social media sites that included Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.

It was amazing to see how creative he was at leveraging the power of the many apps he used, much of which was done on nothing more than his smart phone.… Read the rest