Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood’

Personal PR: I Love Lucy Life Lessons

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

I Love Lucy


YouTube re-introduced me to the charm of I Love Lucy and its spin-off shows. Perhaps the classic sitcom subconsciously reminds me of watching it with grandma during days off from school. I’ve also watched behind-the-scenes footage of Desi Arnaz addressing a live studio audience and, with comic flare, introducing the show’s characters moments before cameras began to roll. Someone posted color film apparently shot by an audience member and edited it into a sequence with corresponding black and white segments from the actual episode. The color film highlights Lucille Ball’s striking red hair and, in this particular instance, a sharp blue hat she wore for a sketch. You suddenly remember the show is not real and consists of performers, real people who in a less-connected world found a simple formula that entertained viewers at home around the world.

I’m surprised I Love Lucy still makes me laugh. I wonder if my sense of humor is less sophisticated or perhaps the show truly is, like Mickey Mouse, a timeless classic attractive to all generations. The show clearly demonstrates how technology, colloquialisms and the roles of women inside and outside the home have changed. But, in many ways, the decades have changed little about people and the everyday, instinctive interactions between men and women and married couples.

But the fairy tale stories surrounding the show and Lucille Ball offer me lessons with extremely rough edges. The show and its spin-off, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, often included guest stars who, in their day, held the fame and fortune of today’s Brad Pitt. But I only knew some of these stars after visiting Wikipedia, which quickly reminded me time after time that people the public once assumed held the world in their hands were no longer with us. I feel somewhat uneasy about how only a touch of a finger can fast forward me from larger-than-life personas in their prime to decades later when it all ended.  Despite the reruns, I imagine some of today’s younger generations have only a vague concept of I Love Lucy and the genius of its star character. Wikipedia also explained how Vivian Vance (Ethel) apparently disliked William Frawley (Fred) enough to pass on pairing with him on a future project. (I guess their on-screen bickering reflected heavy doses of reality.) And a Barbara Walters interview with Lucille made it clear as black and white that her marriage to Desi was a disappointment. The glamorous Hollywood marriage only was such in the public’s desires and imaginations.

All this reminds me of simple life lessons that are complicated to implement. We stress over life’s small moments and ultimately forget why it even matters. Work creates tension because work is a means to money. Money is a means to a lifestyle. Lifestyle often leads to materialistic purchases we persuade ourselves we need to achieve status and greater happiness. Enough never seems enough. To stay aboard this fast running train, we spend our lunches, meetings and even visits to the park staring down at smartphones searching for new emails or distractions to fill a void. We magnify the unimportant and forget to watch our families smile or the striking mountains passing us while we drive. Rush hour is every hour and the end is a constantly moving target that nearly comes closer.

We imagine the personalities surrounding the success of I Love Lucy over the years had it all:  the fame wrapped in fortune. From their studios, they spread worldwide magic. But Barbara Walters interview with Lucille reminded me in the end, no matter our status or bank accounts, people generally want the same treasures in life:  happiness, health and love. Fame, fortune or a new BMW may momentarily realign our thinking, but even those with so much seem to eventually realize the basics are our true foundation for tranquility. And this re-occurring conclusion leads us to our common expressions of “life is short” and “smell the roses.” In reality, that is a religion so few practice.

I don’t believe I Love Lucy is meant to conjure up such deep or simplistic thinking depending on your point of view. But this is my experience. Fame, fortune and achievement earn you a Wikipedia entry, but our legacies, even if not publicly appreciated, should strive for much more than that.

Video Production: Hot And Saucy! Kissing On Camera?

Monday, December 16th, 2013


By Victoria Rosenblum, The Flip Side Communications

Some couples go to dinner to share their dreams for success and spend the evening talking about their busy workdays. For Jason Steffen and Kat Bingham, it is easy to stay on the same page. Not only do they live together, but they also share the same dream of being actors and shared the same day job at Queen’s Pizzeria in Mesa, AZ.

While shooting a video, Keith and I met the couple that was obviously head over heels for one another. The two couldn’t keep their hands off of each other and even asked if they could kiss on camera. This is still the strangest request I have ever heard of at a shoot—let’s just say they certainly were not camera shy. After we decided the kiss on camera wasn’t going to be a cohesive fit for our b-roll, Keith decided to let his journalistic side kick in and question the two lovebirds.

“Are you married,” asked Keith? “What do you do when you’re not working here?”

Turns out we met a young “Brangelina.” Let’s call Jason and Kat “Jaskat.” Jaskat explained that they live together and feel as committed to one another as a married couple. The hitch is that they agreed they would not get a marriage license until all people have the right to wed. Kat confided in Keith and me once Jason turned around. She flashed a smile and whispered that she’d take a ring from Jason any time.

The two can’t get enough of each other. Not only does Jaskat live and work together, but they also act in community theatre together. They moved to Los Angeles and plan to make it big.

I’m thinking we’ll be seeing big things from Jaskat and the two won’t let Hollywood get in the way of their romance. They seemed to make a great team in the pizzeria, as they will during the next step of their journey in LA.

At work Jason rolled out and tossed the dough and handed it off to Kat for the sauce and toppings. Jason is the cheese to Kat’s peperoni. Now that’s love.

Media Relations: 10 Reasons To Love TV News Producers

Friday, January 25th, 2013

When reporters don’t like a PR pro’s story idea, reporters can simply pretend to pitch the idea and blame the producers for not liking it. This is similar to husbands blaming their wives when telling a salesman “no.”

Producers are not afraid to come to work in jeans and ponytails, a stark contrast to reporters who walk in daily under a mound of make-up and Hollywood sunglasses.

Producers won’t hesitate to tell you which reporters popular with the public are actually quite lazy.

Managers often think producers are their allies, but producers sometimes mock managers even more than reporters.

Producers can actually move up in their industry for hard work, while reporters often must rely on whether they’re hot enough to turn on some middle-aged executive reviewing resumes in a corner office.

Producers are the first to know about free food and will save you some if you’re not a lazy reporter.

Producers aren’t afraid to laugh at their old anchors who constantly flirt with them.

Because they sit in the newsroom most of the day, they often have the best gossip, especially about managers, who like to pretend everything is amazing.

Producers will go bat s—t crazy on photographers who complain about stories simply because the assignments require them to set up live shots far from the station late in the day.

Producers who find good and reliable reporters aren’t afraid to let them try some off-the-wall story ideas that wouldn’t fly with managers who can’t see past crime and house fires.

Media Relations: Would Going Topless Really Work On TV?

Monday, January 14th, 2013


In the movie “Wanderlust,” a TV reporter is covering a groundbreaking. Alan Alda’s character, speaking through a bullhorn, asks her to stay to report the real story of a land dispute. She declines, citing time constraints.

Jennifer Aniston’s character asks the reporter, “You want a news story?” and then takes off her top. The reporter returns to cover the story. Other men and women also start taking off their shirts. Aniston’s character and her friends later watch the news, smiling in pride at the coverage they generated.

Would going topless really grab an otherwise uninterested media? Absolutely. TV newsrooms like few things better than to blur out something. I even recall an example of a newsroom obscuring out something that, in my opinion, did not need blurring, making the content more interesting and mysterious.

But going topless brings risks and questions:

  • How would taking off shirts affect your brand? Would going topless to obtain news coverage be worth breaking with a brand which otherwise promotes people wearing clothing?
  • Would your spokespeople be able to speak smoothly to the media and keep on key messages without wearing a top?
  • Would your representatives speak passionately or allow the adrenaline rush to drastically change their tones?
  • How would a business ensure the stunt did not backfire? It’s one thing for glamous Hollywood actors to pretend to protest in the nude. Would you be ready to see real life co-workers take on this task?
  • Would the company itelf take its own photos to post on social media?
  • How about citizen journalists covering the event who decide to post video without blurring it?
  • And how would a business handle employee communications, ensuring everyone understands the strategy and can come forward with concerns?

The movies can inspire us and reflect reality more than we wish to acknowledge. But before trying topless, consider how the concept fits into the overall communications plan. Most likely, the end will bring more than simply rolling credits.

For Me, Football Is A Season Of Social Media

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

For Me, Football Is A Season Of Social MediaThis time of year, I often see Tweets and TV commercials hailing the new football season as if it is an annual religious experience. Many fans simply appreciate the Xs and Os of the game, while others fool themselves into believing their favorite cast of characters will find the perfect combination to reach the Super Bowl. Most fanatics, even in early August, can devise a calculation of what-ifs that convince them a Super Bowl run is realistic. How silly this is considering even when last season’s NFL playoffs began, I heard few people pick the Giants as the obvious team to hoist the trophy.

I once was a football fool until I grew up. I am a former Miami Dolphins season ticket holder, a fan in their corner the last 30 seasons. (That’s me in high school, not to be confused with my dog Molly, an obvious fan.) And I say with disappointment that eight victories this season will pleasantly surprise me. A football fool would instead argue that players in their mid-30s will recapture past glory or a rookie quarterback will grab lightning. But chances are the Hollywood underdog story will not unfold on the field.

I still approach football with excitement because fans find interest in even a mediocre product. But the days of For Me, Football Is A Season Of Social Mediapassing a stack of money over to Sunday Ticket are over. For me, Twitter notifications from South Florida sports writers are an economically responsible way of following my favorite team. I still haven’t persuaded myself to buy a ticket to watch the Dolphins in their visit here in the desert. I enjoyed attending their last trip to Arizona, but my end-zone seats left me spending most the game attempting to determine the line of scrimmage.

But I really fear for my friend the Bears fan. After his team traded for our Pro Bowl wide receiver, he legitimately believes his team has put the pieces in place for another Super Bowl shuffle. For his sake, I hope he’s right considering the Cubs, which he insists will be good soon. But countless other teams also potentially have pieces in place and their fans also are texting about a clear path to the promised land.

So all hail football season! For most of you, the season will shockingly end in disappointment. Enjoy the honeymoon of disillusion. There’s nothing wrong with living a football fairy tale. But don’t hate me for learning my lesson. I’ve come to understand enjoying the game is as much about the personalities and the story lines than it is about winning. My Sundays won’t glue me to a TV set, but my phone will be all-abuzz will bings and dings of updates. Call this my virtual reality. And if the Fins eek out more than eight wins, I’ll try to be the first to Tweet it.

Most Journalists Won’t Leap At This Opportunity

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

This is the top of an email someone sent me. When I read “SATELLITE INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY” surrounded by eight stars, I did not assume this was a golden opportunity. Interviewing someone via satellite isn’t necessarily cool. I would prefer to interview someone locally face-to-face. Simply the word “satellite” did not make me feel one step closer to imagining myself as a correspondent with The Today Show.

I’m not sure why the person who crafted this email considered it important to put “SATELLITE INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY” at the top of the email. With the stars, we’re only missing some neon. Many journalists see satellite dishes nearly every day on top of their buildings. Someone offering reporters the opportunity to use one firsthand is like offering free tickets to a professional athlete.

The worst part about most satellite interviews is they usually provide you with nothing more than a talking head. After the interview, you rarely get an opportunity to shoot video of the subject to add visuals and audio that help bring a story to life. Plus this interview was available on one particular day during a certain time period. Journalists don’t typically work well around other people’s schedules.

I arranged satellite interviews as a last option. But they don’t always go off without a flaw. Too often I found myself tracking down ten people at a station to ensure someone in the building properly set up and recorded the interview. It’s not as if some techno genius pumps the satellite feed right into a journalist’s desk computer. I eventually dropped satellite interviews and instead went with Skype or even a basic, recorded phone conversation with someone’s head shot placed on a graphic. The recorded phone interview doesn’t come packaged with much flair, but it’s easy, quick and provided far fewer problems.

You might be thinking, “Why are you so against pitching satellite interviews? I see them all the time on morning news shows.” That’s true. Both those satellite interviews typically involve Hollywood stars, a political pundit or someone who shot the latest YouTube viral video. The email I received was an opportunity to interview a master plumber/contractor. I like my chances of finding someone similar locally.

Opportunity only knocks once, but plastering “SATELLITE INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY” at the top of the pitch won’t encourage most journalists to answer your email.

Media Training: Businesses And Politicians Can Learn From Javelinas

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Media training for businesses and politicians, who must maintain control of their message and tell their story.


As we walked our dog Molly and darkness quickly settled in, a shadowy figure galloped toward us, its feet “clip clopping” against the cement. A dog, I figured, escaped from his leash. But as the shadow approached, the little light remaining revealed this was no happy-go-lucky pup on a joy run. This was a pig, none other than what we know as the modern javelina. It was too late to escape. We prepared for hand to hoof combat. But with seconds to spare, the javelina adjusted course, scurried across the street as if deciding he was in no mood to tangle. He or she disappeared into the desert and we returned home after yet another sidewalk adventure.

During our next walk, I armed myself with an aluminum cylinder, refusing to surrender Scottsdale’s sidewalks to disgruntled pigs. We also took a lesson from Will Smith’s character in the film “I Am Legend.” His character set an alarm on his wristwatch, notifying him night soon approached and reminding him to swiftly return home before zombies began to stroll the streets. I set a smart phone alarm, alerting us to start our walk earlier than before. This time, we encountered only a rabbit and large lizard. This time, the javelina did not disguise itself as a dog as part of a devious plan.

  1. Don’t Lose Control Of The Message:  Javelinas lost control of messaging long ago. They owned the desert first. Humans built houses on their homeland. They earned the right to “clip clop” wherever their heavy hooves so choose. Instead of holding a grudge, they learned to co-exist with humans. But we approach them with fear, carrying weapons as if these creatures are neighborhood intruders. We compare them to Hollywood zombies. Businesses and politicians:  Don’t allow the media and opponents to define your existence. Focus on your key messages. Answer critics with your positives. You are a javelina, the hometown hero and compromising friend willing to reach across the aisle or change with the times.
  2. Tell Your Story:  You are not a stinky, ugly pig who bites when cornered. You are a family man or woman. In fact, people often see you about town taking leisurely walks with your spouse and children. While others hide behind walls and garage doors, you enjoy wandering the community, meeting strangers, even those who greet you with skepticism and aluminum cylinders. You also believe in discipline, following the rules and setting a strong example. When people see you stroll, the family is single file, the youngsters showing respect and learning from their elders up front. And family is important, so people should not blame you for confidently galloping toward them now and then to protect those precious loved ones. This is your home. You are willing to compromise. Family, community and discipline are important values. If people call you a pig, explain you are an important one, a leader of your kind. You are beautiful. And you smell great. Say it proudly:  “I am javelina.”