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HILL AND KNOWLTON EXECUTIVE PREDICTS CEOs WILL SOON APPEAR ON TALK SHOWS

HILL AND KNOWLTON EXECUTIVE PREDICTS CEOs WILL SOON APPEAR ON TALK SHOWS
 NEW YORK, June 23 /PRNewswire/ -- The Executive Vice President of Hill and Knowlton, Inc., the public relations firm, today predicted a new trend in media where corporate CEOs would soon be appearing on talk shows like "Larry King Live."
 Christopher Komisarjevsky, speaking at a seminar sponsored by Bulldog Reporter, the media newsletter, and PR Newswire, said the public "likes interactive media. It gives them a chance to speak directly and to 'touch and feel' more directly than ever before. They get to communicate directly and make their own judgments."
 More than 160 leading public relations professionals attended the conference. They heard directly from reporters, writers, editors and bureau chiefs at leading national media from around the country.
 The complete text of Komisarjevsky's speech follows:
 Keynote Luncheon Address
 Bulldog Reporter and PR Newswire Conference
 Parker Meridien Hotel, New York City
 Remarks by Chris Komisarjevsky
 Executive Vice President
 Hill and Knowlton, Inc.
 June 23, 1992
 SENSE AND NONSENSE ABOUT THE MEDIA TODAY
 Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
 It is indeed a pleasure to be here with you. You are in the middle of a fabulous day -- a day to work with the media -- in which you have the opportunity to meet and discuss story ideas directly with the healthcare and family journalists, editors and bureau chiefs from some of this country's leading local and national media.
 I would like to take these next few moments to take us out of the day-to-day issues of dealing with the media and to offer a different perspective. Perhaps also to be a little provocative ... by commenting on some of the trends that we see in the media today.
 Over the past few months, I've been asking myself, What's different about the media in 1992?
 Why did Ross Perot take his unofficial candidacy straight to the voters by way of television talk shows? Why has Britain -- home to the world's most vibrant yellow press -- realized that it has to set up a watchdog commission to curb, as they called it, "prurient reporting"? Why is CNN now advertising what it calls a "new" kind of election coverage ... one that is specifically designed to counteract rumor, dispel myth and expose exaggeration? Why are allegations of auto repair rip offs or turmoil in the executive suites front page headlines?
 What's going on? Where's the sense ... and where's the nonsense in it all? Especially for us as professionals who work with the media every day.
 I've been in this business for almost twenty years. I've dealt with some fabulous media opportunities and my fair share of crises. And I've had the chance to work alongside some of the greats when it came to the media. But even with that experience, five trends in the media have really struck home this year.
 The first point is ... we, our companies, are the stuff of which front page headlines are to be made.
 If you are among the leading corporations of the world, there is absolutely no doubt that, at one time or another, the media will focus on what you've done ... what you haven't done ... what you are about to do ... or what they think you did. Suddenly, you're in the headlines ... maybe even the tabloids.
 If you're General Motors, your profits are way off and you're closing factories throughout the world. If you're IBM and the press has your internal memo. If you're Bennetton and you create controversial commercials. If you're Merck and you consistently rate highest on the most-admired list. If you're General Electric and you're the first into Hungary. If you're Nestle and you've just won the fight for Perrier.
 If you are a leader, at some time or another, you will be front page news. And that holds true, whether you are among leaders internationally, nationally or regionally.
 We only have to read today's or yesterday's headlines to know that the real question is ... how to manage the process when you want to be front page and how to manage it when you don't?
 Second, the ground rules really haven't changed.
 The nation's great newspapers and the television news organizations are, for the most part, as scrupulous as ever. It is the exception rather than the rule when TV market share is more important than straight news, accuracy, views and informed opinions. But there are also an increasing number of organizations willing to violate the ground rules in the name of building audiences.
 As Hollywood said to us seventeen years ago in the film "Network," "TV is show business." And yes, Time, Inc. merged with Warner Communications and a pillar of journalism merged with an entertainment conglomerate. And yes, in American politics today, the boys on the bus are still on the bus. And yes, everyone still knows that President Bush doesn't like broccoli and that Gennifer Flowers is spelled with a "G." And today the Ross Perot sound bites are nibbling at everyone's ear.
 The media is always looking for what is new ... what is controversial ... what is exciting ... what is colorful ... and what is different. This grabs people's attention.
 You might be interested in a quote in last Sunday's New York Times from an article which criticized New York's own local television programs for, as they called it, "(beaming) New York's worst nightmares...to millions of viewers." A senior reporter for WNBC-TV complained, "We run a lot of garbage. The whole thing is: Can we be more outrageous and sensationalist than the next guy? Can we tease people into the 10 o'clock news?"
 The media reflect what we want to see and hear about. Our penchant for the sensational is not new. It's been with us ever since before the Roman Coliseum.
 There is no doubt that what television journalist Bill Moyers calls the "down-marketing of the news" does exist. But none of that is really new. A good story is a good story ... and it sells. And we have always known that the media is a business ... a very big business.
 But, above all that, there are -- and always will be -- very good journalists. They have integrity. They research thoroughly. They play fair. They separate news from views. Fact from opinion. And they often call on professionals like us for help, for story ideas and for film which they can use.
 My third point is -- while some things have not really changed -- there are some things which indeed have changed. Or perhaps, it's just that the media have become more and more sophisticated. It clearly is one of the factors and realities of communications today.
 It's what I call the "crossover." It's when gossip or opinion cross over as "news" and newspapers pick it up as fact. It's when the "Nightly News" is followed by "Rescue 911." Where fiction and acting become confused with news footage and documentary. And where what's fake looks so real.
 It's the sophistication of it all today that confuses the viewer. The reenactments are so good. The fake blood so real. The pain so obvious.
 Once the viewer is confused, the "crossover" to news from opinions and editorials becomes easy, even in the New York Times. And all of a sudden, opinion is seen as fact, and innuendo as proven. And many people are led to believe, long before anything is really proven.
 My fourth point is just that ... innuendo can be devastating. And it is the so-called "tabloid shows" -- whether billed as news or entertainment -- that combine sophisticated techniques with hung sentences. Many a politician has been thrown out by it. Many a corporate officer passed over because of rumors. Even today's popular literature knows what goes on here. In Michael Crichton's newest best-seller "Rising Sun," he writes, "... a well-mounted campaign of innuendo is a fearsome thing.... And there was no way to bounce back from weeks of negative press. Everybody remembered the accusation. Nobody remembered the exoneration. That was human nature."
 And as Mark Twain wrote a hundred years ago, "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."
 My fifth point is ... while there clearly is a trend which sees entertainment merging with news, there is also a counter trend taking place. The media is quickly splitting into two camps.
 On the one side is what I will call the traditional media, the lions of journalism who, often as not, disdain the very term "media." In this category are the major newspapers, the networks and the wire services. The great reporters who are tough, experienced, intelligent journalists. And the thoughtful, considered editorial writers who shape opinion with their insights. All of these in the traditional media act as a filter between the news maker -- the politician, the corporation, the movie star, the nation -- and the news consumer -- you and me. The traditional media filters the information, providing analysis, depth and tough questions to ferret out what's real.
 On the other side are the increasingly popular talk shows ... sometimes called "reality shows" and sometimes called "live talk journalism." In place of analysis, they offer personal anecdotes. In place of tough reporter's questions, they offer formats which are friendly. And formats which permit callers to speak with the guests directly. This is "interactive media" -- no filters, direct contact using today's electronic television technology, the guest goes directly to the people and the people get to talk to the guest directly -- in other words, a direct pipe line.
 Ross Perot started pushing what I call this media "by-pass operation." Having set the stage on "Larry King Live" and "The Today Show," he is gearing up for more of his "electronic town hall" satellite broadcasts. Bill Clinton has now been on "The Arsenio Hall Show," CBS "This Morning," "The Today Show" on NBC, MTV and also Larry King. And President Bush is now considering MTV. Can you imagine that?
 This year's candidates are seemingly more interested in Arsenio, Harry, Larry and Katie than they are in Dan, Peter or Tom.
 At least one media watcher of late sees a threat to journalists with the rising popularity of talk show journalism and the interactive media. He thinks that the talk shows have cast themselves as the champions of the "disenfranchised" while the traditional media plays only to the intellectuals and the elite.
 Ross Perot drew the same distinction between journalists and other people in a now-famous interview. When a journalist complained that he didn't understand Perot's position on an issue, Perot shot back: "Here's the good news. The American people do."
 There clearly is a split. Talk show journalism does seem to be working. The evening news anchor or the morning editorial may indeed now have to share the stage with these interactive media formats. But, in my view, the essential role of the traditional media as a critical filter of information and comment will not go away. Any society such as ours, which prides itself on having as many different and competing ways of getting information as we do, will still want news to be reported by professional journalists ... those "third party endorsers" we speak so often about.
 But this is not a passing fancy. Interactive communications media are here to stay. The key is recognizing this trend and working within it.
 Is this new format only part of a May through November election year romance? Or will the public's fascination lead to ongoing direct scrutiny of other leaders? And will consumers demand the same kind of accountability for the leaders in the private sector? Given the precedent that has been set and the undeniable power of this direct pipe line to the public, interactive media may just prove to be irresistible. Can you imagine your chairman on "Larry King Live" taking questions directly from those who buy and use his products? It may very well be part of the future.
 In closing, there is a lot of sense to be made of this all. And there is some nonsense.
 But take note. Perot's appearance on "20/20" reached 16 million households. Sound bites have been very effective. But so is the need to explain positions fully and have an action agenda. For politicians, viewers are voters. And for corporations, viewers are consumers. They like this interactive media. It gives them a chance to speak directly and to "touch and feel" more directly than ever before. They get to communicate directly and make their own judgments.
 The media should not be criticized for being a business. And we will always be looking for that intelligent filter from the best journalists who help us to think clearly and separate fact from fiction.
 From the perspective of our industry -- our roles as public relations professionals -- it is clear to me that the media value our work and the help we give them. But we do need to get better and better at what we do.
 It is also clear to me that the best public relations techniques for working with the media center on three simple principles:
 First, think strategically -- be proactive, be truthful and provide credible, factual information.
 Second, be prepared. Have all the facts at hand, be rehearsed, be knowledgeable. Understand and know the media you are dealing with. And understand and know what's on the minds of those who buy your products.
 And third, keep telling your story, over and over again.
 And, it is also clear to me that the current trends in the media mean that our business is changing and we have to change with it. If we are ready to explore new ideas, we will be much more effective.
 Our role is to be on the cutting edge. To do that, we have to watch what's going on with the media and think of the implications. If we anticipate, we can lead, not follow. And not be surprised. As the author Tolkien wrote: "It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him."
 You've been a great audience. Thank you.
 -0- 6/23/92
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Christopher Komisarjevsky is available for comment and elaboration at 212-697-5600./
 /CONTACT: Gloria Wynder of Hill and Knowlton, 697-5600/ CO: Hill & Knowlton ST: New York IN: SU:


AH -- NY092 -- 3058 06/23/92 19:27 EDT
COPYRIGHT 1992 PR Newswire Association LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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