Saturday, November 11, 2006

LOBP#25: Bill Smullen, former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, PRSA Philadelphia Luncheon Speaker, 11/8/2006

In this podcast we present a PRSA Philadelphia Chapter luncheon speaker presentation, "Managing the Big Kahuna," by F. William Smullen III, Director of National Security Studies at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

The program was recorded November 8, 2006 at the Westin Hotel in Philadelphia.

Smullen Speaks at PRSA/Philadelphia: PRSA Chapter President Michele Chierici, APR, left, with Col. Bill Smullen and Frank Wilkinson, APR, of SEI Corp. (Steve Lubetkin Photo)

Download the podcast here (105.1 mb stereo MP3 file, 01:14:43 duration).

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dan Rubin thinks I like to say "I told you so..."

He's right. I do. And I seem to be the only blogger in the Delaware Valley who never believed that Brian Tierney would keep his hands off the editorial content of the Inquirer. Everyone said "wait and see, wait and see."

Here's a reminder from the May 23 article announcing the deal:

"Pressed on how his promise to respect the newsroom will be enforced, Tierney said, 'I'll beat the crap out of anyone' who breaks it."

The Newspaper Guild has produced a radio advertisement that speaks to its concerns.

As a vigorous and zealous PR counselor, Brian fiercely fought on behalf of his client, the beleaguered Philadelphia Catholic archdiocese.

He tried mightily to suppress news coverage of the church's ham-handed efforts to hide pedophile priests by moving them from one parish to another, instead of turning them over to law enforcement.

At least one Inquirer columnist has written about his pressure tactics in that role, which included a public tongue-lashing. (Now who do you think will be one of the 150 journalists getting a pink slip in the next week or so?)

It's that previous background that makes him such an unlikely person to publish the Inquirer. It calls to mind the Annenberg years, when you couldn't mention Milton Schapp's name in the paper, even though he was a sitting governor.

Now, it's a little disappointing that Inquirer readers and the business community are losing Executive Editor Amanda Bennett. Three years ago, she got a standing ovation from the Philadelphia PR community at a panel program where she acknowledged that the business section of the paper had failed to provide any kind of sustained coverage of local companies that contribute to the vibrancy of the economy.

Now, I have nothing against Bill Marimow, he's a top notch journalist with a long reputation here and elsewhere, but what made Amanda fall out of favor?

Was it the NPR interview she gave when Knight-Ridder, the former owner, told management they would have to make major job cuts, and she said she spent the morning throwing up? She told Editor & Publisher that it's "nothing personal, just business."

Amanda walks the plank while Brian watches.

Even more worrisome, Brian's using each of these changes to further consolidate control of the Inquirer's content in his hands.

Take a look at this paragraph in the press release Brian issued announcing that he's tossing Amanda Bennett off of the SS Inquirer:

"Following the model of several other large city newspapers, Mr. Tierney also announced that Chris Satullo, editor of the editorial page, will
report directly to the publisher. Previously, Satullo reported to the editor."

So now Chris Satullo, one of the most respected editorial writers around, has to worry about whether he came down too hard on the housing industry (a member of the Toll Brothers family is one of the Inquirer's investors) or the Church, or some other client or "friend of Brian" (FOB)...

Wasn't there a promise that the investors wouldn't be getting directly involved in the editorial? But didn't he also promise he wouldn't take the publisher title? That lasted how long?

Oh well. The emperor didn't have any clothes when he made the Promise. He's still walking around in his BVDs.

You work in the Inquirer Newsroom? So why aren't you out networking?

I spend a lot of my working life in a windowless office in my World Headquarters (OK, it's in the basement...someone once took note when I said it was "windowless" and responded "Oh, you use a Mac?")

So I try to go to lots of events to network and market my services. It's productive time, but I didn't realize until I actually started my own consulting practice how much time I would need to spend doing those things. So whenever I can go to an event someone else organizes, I do. I consider a networking meeting a success if I engage in at least one business card exchange during the evening.

Tonight was one like that. Irene Maslowsky, the irrepressible PR empress of northern New Jersey, has helped her client, Boss Staffing, establish a regular series of monthly networking happy hours for creative types, like PR people, advertising copy writers, editors, graphic designers, art directors, etc. They do them in several cities on the first Wednesday of the month. You can find the schedule and location at CreativeConnects, a special page on the Boss website.

Philly creatives, especially Inquirer scribes watching the writing being erased from the walls as they prepare for the next career, please note: The party in our market is held at Manayunk Brewery & Restaurant, 4120 Main Street, Philadelphia, PA 19127. Next one is in December.

You should come!

I used to go to events like this...

Somewhere, there must be a school where they teach business executives to think that forced "cute activities" are great teambuilding exercises.

They pile you into a bus to go do a day's worth of charity in a section of town you'd never visit on your own. They make you wear special shirts and work in teams to solve some pretend problem.

They encourage people to write poetry about how much they love their jobs.

It's like the Stockholm Syndrome for corporate life. Everyone is such a scared hostage, so afraid that they might get a pink slip that they will happily drink any Kool-Aid, play any ridiculous role-playing game that the HR people hire a high-priced consultant to "facilitate," just to give themselves a chance to survive another day.

It keeps getting worse. Now, they make you sit in a meeting after a merger that you know is going to result in thousands of people being fired and listen to a song someone wrote about the merger.