May 2018 Print

Welcome New Members

LiRon Anderson-Bell
Assistant Professor of Instruction
Klein College of Media and Communication, Temple University

John Dwyer, III
Associate Member

Robin Sprague

Amy White
Associate Director, Media Relations
Lehigh University

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Events in Review

Ike Richman Delivers Riveting Insider's Account of the Eagles' Super Bowl Celebration

PRSA Philadelphia Learns Sports PR and Event Planning in a One-Two Punch Workshop

By John F. Kouten, CEO, JFK Communications, Inc.

Ike Richman, legendary Philadelphia sports PR and media relations expert, had the PRSA Philly audience in rapt silence as he recounted his Eagles Super Bowl celebration experiences. According to Mr. Richman, immediately after the Eagles defeated the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, he texted the mayor and said, “I’m ready for anything. Count me in!”

Mr. Richman, who recently launched his firm, Ike Richman Communications, spent 29 years with Comcast Spectacor, where he oversaw PR for many of Philadelphia’s premier sporting events, including the World Cup of Hockey, the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, the American Hockey League All-Star Game, NCAA Men’s and Women's Basketball, the NBA Finals and All-Star Weekend, and World Team Tennis. 

In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, the Mayor’s Office and Mr. Richman began the painstaking process of running scenarios in anticipation of an Eagles victory. In his PRSA talk, which took on more and more drama with every sentence, Mr. Richman repeatedly emphasized that he was part of the team and denies responsibility for the overall precision and success of the celebration. 

So, when the Eagles ultimately won, and Eagles Nation was celebrating, Ike was preparing. Right off the bat, three texts were sent:  1. Mayor Kenney, 2. The Eagles PR Department, and 3. Fred Stein.

One of the most important aspects of the planning included the key leadership and expertise of Fred Stein, executive producer for the Creative Group. Quoted in the February 7, 2018 Philadelphia Inquirer, Ike said, “He’s the wizard. The man behind the magic. If it’s a big celebration in Philadelphia, Fred has his handprints all over it and no one would ever know.”

Fred Stein’s resume includes production of several Mummers parades and the 76ers championship parade in 1983. He was also the mastermind behind the 200th anniversary of the Constitution in 1987.

(Pictured: Tom Logue, Secretary, PRSA Philly; John F. Kouten, President, PRSA Philly; Ike Richman, Principal, Ike Richman Communications; Lisa Packer, Director, PRSA Philly; Randy Alexander, President & CEO, Randex Communications)

Central to the success of the celebration was Mr. Richman’s leadership in counseling the Mayor’s Office and Philadelphia Eagles front office. He was also pivotal in helping with planning and negotiating the sensitive needs of a variety of key publics.  Mr. Richman quickly became a hub in much of the celebration’s internal communication and planning. 

A Super Bowl celebration has all the trappings of a major event, and then some! Negotiating competing interests from disparate publics.  Major security concerns. Potential for inclement weather. And a countless list of issues that required the cool head and expertise of a seasoned PR veteran.

Mr. Richman outlined the strategy in masterly detail—while keeping his remarks humorous and entertaining. Like the Eagles victory, the celebration succeeded based on strong teamwork. Central to the celebration’s success was the cooperation and teamwork from a core team consisting of: Fred Stein, the Mayor’s Office, the Eagles front office/PR Dept., Philadelphia PD, SEPTA, local businesses, and the media. And most of all, the players who beat the Patriots and the Eagles fans. 

Some of the key lessons Mr. Richman provided included:

  • Planning, planning, planning
  • Team development; team consensus
  • Delegating specific assignments to each team member
  • Strong leadership; demanding accountability
  • Possessing the courage to say no
  • Keeping a cool head and having patience with key publics with differing interests
  • Enjoying the ride (The only footage of Mr. Richman that was captured during the celebration was him dancing with the Eagles’ mascot)

The Philadelphia public relations community is lucky to count Mr. Richman among its ranks. His long-standing commitment to local sports public relations, excellence in event planning and implementation, and community service distinguish Mr. Richman as a local leader with clout and class.

Mr. Richman can also be found on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Events in Review: PRSA Philly Hosts VICE News Producer

Alyse Shorland Discusses VICE's Approach to Transforming News for Millennial Audiences

By Andrew Post, Principal, AWPost Marketing Communications, LLC 

What’s the average age of broadcast news viewers? Would you believe 60? Millennials (born between 1982 and 2000), on the other hand, prefer to watch news on social media platforms. These and other facts were cited by VICE News producer Alyse Shorland at PRSA Philadelphia’s event at City Coho in Center City on March 20. The event, titled “Transforming TV News for Millennial Audiences,” provided an overview of VICE News, its approach, and its demographic focus.

Shorland is an award-winning producer for HBO’s flagship nightly newscast, VICE News Tonight. Her presentation was preceded by a trailer that showcased the program’s in-your-face style of TV journalism. She began her presentation by explaining that VICE News started out on YouTube before transitioning into a show on HBO. The content is “not just headlines,” in her words, but rather documentary-style video stories that tell you things you don’t know and provide a different perspective—one geared towards millennials, who have been described as “America’s first digital generation.”

Shorland described VICE News Tonight as being very ambitious in terms of its focus and scope, with the downside being that it “doesn’t always work.” But as viewers of the show—which number over half a million people for each episode—can attest, VICE News Tonight is a hard-hitting program that goes where traditional TV news rarely goes.

After her presentation, Shorland took questions from the audience of PR professionals. The first questioner asked how VICE News Tonight balances its counter-cultural perspective with the need for objective newsgathering. Shorland explained that the program has grown up with its audience and is less counter-cultural than it once was. As she put it, the counter-culture has become its lens, not its driving force.

In response to a question about keeping viewers up-to-date, Shorland acknowledged the need for quick reaction to unfolding events but took note of the program’s commitment to understanding underlying issues. Talking about coverage of Hurricane Harvey, she contrasted VICE News Tonight’s focus on infrastructure and urban planning with CNN’s footage of people being pulled from boats.

Shorland highlighted the importance of trusting your sources and “knowing what you’re putting out.”

“The more you do it,” she explained, “the better you get at it.” You need to plan for the worst and things usually come out okay at the end, she noted. Shorland said that a five-minute VICE News Tonight piece can take several days to produce. 

Shorland was asked how VICE News producers find out what the habits are of the intended audience. She replied that YouTube views provide a good way to gauge audience interest and noted that eight to nine minutes is the average length of time that viewers spend watching VICE News YouTube videos. Viewers care about social justice, police department activities, racial profiling, and other topics, according to Shorland. A segment about the closing of a local library drew an unexpected three million viewers.

One audience member asked Shorland how to effectively pitch story ideas to VICE News Tonight. “Watch the program,” she replied. “See what VICE News Tonight does, and tailor your pitch to fit the VICE News approach.” Also important is the willingness to get on the phone and talk about your idea. Shorland said that she loves getting pitches, which was a surprise to some. Health care is among the topics that rank high on her list.

Shorland was asked where she sees VICE News Tonight five to ten years from now. She replied that the future lies in on-demand content, wherein viewers can pick the segments that they want to see, instead of just being passive consumers. She also said that sponsored content will continue to grow and noted that more content is being produced than ever before. She gave the example of PepsiCo, which produces its own content in order to tell its brand story in a different way and delivers it via YouTube and its own website.

Shorland explained that VICE News content is tailored to fit different digital platforms. For example, VICE News on Instagram is composed of shorter clips but also includes extra footage from the cutting room floor. Content on Facebook is also made up of shorter clips, but VICE News’s Facebook strategy is evolving.

Millennials have the ability to spot BS a mile away. When asked to pick a word that sums up the VICE News approach to content and sharing stories, Shorland said a good choice would have to be “authenticity.”

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