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Sean Dougherty
Clifton, NJ
A media relations strategist reads the morning business news
Interests: news, politics, business journalism
Recent Activity
It's a sad statement that thriving, innovative companies are the targets of bad publicity because of what they don't do. The government, and a healthly slice of the media, expect all companies to be capitalized the same way forever. So when companies that don't need labor scale up - politicans and reporters as "where are the jobs?" When companies that can't be pinned down to a geography because their products are largely intellectual, they ask "where are the taxes?" A sane answer would be "we aren't that kind of company, please go do something else," which has been the rule... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2013 at SeanReadsTheNews
When I first launched the category, I reserved the "Panic in the Streets" tag for stories that purported to shock readers with tales of a personal threat - usually from new technology - but lacked any examples of the bad thing actually happening. "The IRS is checking your Facebook posts to decide when to audit you," was the classic of the genre. Of course, since publication, that particular example has become a lot more plausible. Today's New York Times feature by Mark Mazzetti and Justin Elliott on spies playing online roll-playing games just in case terrorists are using them to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2013 at SeanReadsTheNews
Fortune's Michal Lev-Ram caught my eye this morning with an interview with Anne Wojcicki, founder of 23andMe, in which she blames public relations for the FDA deciding to ban her product. But here's the thing: did she really, or did the headline writer just get ahead of herself? In her first media interview since the headline-making letter (and 23andMe's equally terse response to the FDA), Wojcicki told Fortune that her company fell behind schedule and failed to communicate proactively with the FDA and the public. At the same time, she also said she is taking steps to work with the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2013 at SeanReadsTheNews
David Carr of The New York Times reports today that New York Magazine, a highly decorated weekly news and arts magazine, is cutting back circulation from weekly to bi-weekly in the new year. However, unlike the recent decline and fall of Newsweek, the underlying news out of New York is actually tremendous and if it breaks the right way a great sign for the whole industry. Digital revenues have been growing at a rate of 15 percent year-over-year, and in the coming year will surpass print advertising revenues, according to Mr. Burstein. But part of the reason those lines are... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2013 at SeanReadsTheNews
A semi-recurring theme of this semi-recurring blog is the extent to which public relations practices have become newsworthy parts of corporate management coverage - alongside mainstays human resources, financial management and supply chain management. Unfortunately, most of the time PR Makes News, it is for the wrong reasons and so we arrive today at Amar Toor's Verge article on how Texas firm Wiki-PR had been engaging in paid editing of the open-source encylcopedia. With the exception of poorly moderated Yahoo! Finance chat boards, very little makes thin-skinned corporate management teams more upset than critical WikiPedia entries and PRs both well-meaning... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2013 at SeanReadsTheNews
David Wainer of Bloomberg News has found a new spin on reporting the impact of the heightened security between Israel and it's surrounding hostile neighbors - it has forced the Israelis to start growing their own weed. Any long-time readers of this blog will observe that I am a sucker for a business news-style report on otherwise illegal activity for what it reveals about the form as well as for its ability to compel an audience to view a controversial issue objectively. Wainer achieves that in spades with his report today. “From a public interest standpoint, this is a positive... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2013 at SeanReadsTheNews
What better way to return after several months of not blogging than the latest thought-provoking column from the media's best media columnist, David Carr of The New York Times. Carr chips in today with a review of Contently, a high-end content shop that produces sponsored editorial for corporations, often for posting on media sites. He covers it mostly from the perspective of a journalist, evaluating how valuable high-end sponsored content is and how it could fit into a wider universe of reporting. Contently, which grew out of the TechStars incubator program in New York, developed a roster of writers and... Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2013 at SeanReadsTheNews
My old pals at The Motley Fool are at it again - taking my absolute favorite business hobby horse - reporters who call every appreciating asset class a bubble - and beating it further to death. Their April 1 story includes all the staples of the genre, an obscure analyst who is trying to make a name for himself with an outlandish call, the rush to the internet, obscure charts you won't read, a branded index that explains the problem, apocalyptic third-party quotes and more! Also, as someone who reads Zero Hedge every day, this one was perfect: You'd better... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2013 at SeanReadsTheNews
This blog frequently mocks business reporters for announcing crisises that have no victims, such as the non-scourge of people's homes being targeted for burglary based on their social media updates. My rule is that you need at least one or two victims before you can report a problem like that or you're just making stuff up (probably at the behest of a consultant looking to use the media to build a service line). That long introduction is to an admirably compact article by Steve Hargreaves of CNNMoney.com who reported today on risks to U.S. infrastructure from hacker attacks. He opens... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2013 at SeanReadsTheNews
In general, I resent gimicky, holiday-driven opportunistic pitches because they almost always lead to vapid, content-free journalism. That said, when they work, they are awesome and such is the case with this TIME story by Brad Tuttle on a couple of retail sites pitching anti-romance on Valentines day. At the specialty resale sites NeverLikedItAnyway and ExBoyfriendJewelry, sellers are encouraged not only to get rid of gifts from their ex-lovers, but also to explain what went wrong with the relationship. “You MUST share your story,” the rules at ExBoyfriendJewelry stipulate. “We want to keep things fun and cathartic so get it... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2013 at SeanReadsTheNews
I don't usually blog articles that aren't by journalists but Brad Hoover, CEO Grammarly, had a guest post on Fortune.com this afternoon that was so true - and something I've been guilty of- that I am forced to act. The article is about why the word "try" is poison to managers and why it should be banished from our vocabulary. If you contact a company and request action on an issue, hearing "I'll try" isn't going to alleviate your frustration; as a matter of fact, it's more likely to exacerbate the problem. Likewise, when I hear employees say they will... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2013 at SeanReadsTheNews
James Dao of The New York Times reports today that Wal-Mart intends to offer a job to any veteran who wants one for at least two years up to a total of 100,000 positions. I blog this story not because it's particularly groundbreaking journalism - its certainly well written and all but is basically announcement coverage - but because it shows what you can get away with if you have more money than Croesus. In a statement, the first lady, Michelle Obama, who has led a campaign by the White House to encourage businesses to hire veterans, called the Wal-Mart... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2013 at SeanReadsTheNews
Susanna Kim of ABC News pens an instant classic today that only goes in the SRTN entertainment file because it didn't happen to me. In the two years that Dobson has lived in his one-story home with his wife, five people--all missing their Sprint cell phones--have come knocking on his door, demanding that he return their handsets. If a GPS tracker for your lost cell phone leads you to Dobson's home, you'll find a sign outside his door in North Las Vegas, Nev., that reads, "No lost cell phones!! This location gives a false 'phone locator' position due to a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2013 at SeanReadsTheNews
Dan Fisher, Forbes' legal reporter, doesn't break a lot of new ground in his take-down today of the "mortgage fraud" settlement announced yesterday but he does repeat a central fact of the story that can't be repeated often enough: The outcome shouldn’t come as a surprise. After I wrote a piece critical of the parallel mortgage settlement with state attorneys general last year,comparing it to the deeply flawed tobacco settlement, I was barraged with comments from critics accusing me of downplaying foreclosure fraud. I responded with one simple question: Has there been a single case in the past five years... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2013 at SeanReadsTheNews
A long-term interest of this blog has been the transition from old to new media and cord cutting. The first interest is professional as it affects what tactics and activity are most effective at supporting client goals. The second is personal because I hate how much I pay my local cable provider. David Carr of The New York Times today delivers a typically insightful column on why the dinosaurs of old media are still performing better than their upstart digital competitors. Why? One word - content. The worries about insurgent threats from tech-oriented players like Netflix, Amazon and Apple turned... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2013 at SeanReadsTheNews
David Wessel published a column in The Wall Street Journal reporting that 47% of Aetna's employees work from home. I have a complicated history with that issue. In the 1990s and 2000s, I was the office grump on that issue. There was nothing I hated more than a snowy day. I would get up at 4:30 a.m. so I could shovel out, change and make the white-knuckle drive to work at 15 mph. I would then arrive at work on time to a parade of calls from people who reported to me declaring a work-at-home day because of the snow.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2012 at SeanReadsTheNews
David Carr of The New York Times continues to be the most consistently interesting business news columnist covering the media industry - finding ways to make topics that should be inside news-industry baseball broadly interesting, such as today's column on the subject of quote checks. He writes on how more sources are demanding to see their quotes prior to publication and how more journalists are giving in. I've seen this a lot recently myself and even though I'm on the PR side, I generally don't like it. Why? Carr neatly gets at the truth of the situation in this paragraph.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2012 at SeanReadsTheNews
I've always admired Craig's Lists' corporate communciations because of their inability to feel shame or be knocked off message. They communicate authentically and directly and don't seem to care who it upsets. The result: thousands of users and a profitable company. Nick Bilton of The New York Times, however, has finally found a reason to hate the company: it is blocked third-party applications that users have created to make the site more user-friendly. There may be part of the answer in this tale. Eric DeMenthon, a 27-year-old programmer, was one of the users overwhelmed by the site. In 2008 he... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2012 at SeanReadsTheNews
We continue to bow to Google's PR team for finding ways to keep positive stories from the increasingly complicated company in the news. Today, they targeted Ian Austen of The New York Times with a pitch about how Google Street Views came to a small inuit village, complete with an awesome picture of a tricyle version of their picture-taking cars. All that would suggest that Google Street View has limited value there. But a pitch to Google from an Inuit man brought a tricycle fitted with Google’s camera system to the streets of Cambridge Bay on Monday as part of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2012 at SeanReadsTheNews
Les Christie, CNNMoney's excellent real estate reporter, today reports that we have reached the real estate media equinox, the time when it stops being a problem that housing prices are falling starts being a problem that housing prices are rising. It just got a little harder for most Americans to buy a home, according to an industry survey. Nearly 74% of the new and existing homes sold in the three months ended June 30 were affordable to families who earn the national median income of $65,000, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo. To Christie's... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2012 at SeanReadsTheNews
SeanReadsTheNews doesn't often feature contributed columns as we mostly stick to reporting by professional journalists, but Seth Goldman, CEO of Honest Tea, whose bottle size falls .9 oz. over Mayor Bloomberg's new legal limit, had such an inspired piece on today's Wall Street Journal editorial page, we're making an exception. What to do if you are a soft drink maker who picked the size of your standard bottle based on what your shipper had in stock when you launched and suddenly find that the Mayor of New York City has made your product illegal? If you're PR team is on... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2012 at SeanReadsTheNews
Brad Tuttle of TIME's Moneyland blog today covers an urgent issue facing the American middle class - how do we deal with so much stuff all the time? My personal friends are familiar with my personal Stuff Abatement Program, in which my wife and I are categorically searching our house for stuff we don't need to dispose of and evaluating all ongoing purchases against the odds that whatever is bought will ever be on a shelf unused. My hope is that when we eventually move out, our possessions will fit in the trunk of our car. The UCLA survey that... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2012 at SeanReadsTheNews
Virginia Postrel post-"Substance of Style" career has been much more focused on style and glamour than her earlier writings on public policy. Today, she indulges in a long, well-researched column on what shoes say about their wearers that combines her usual interest in style with solid information about culture and economics. The reason to love her unique voice is just that - only one journalist working today would come up with anything close to this: Whether Jimmy Choos, Pumas or Toms, shoes let us stand out as individuals while fitting into similarly shod social groups. The complex relationship between the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2012 at SeanReadsTheNews
Jeff Haden of Inc. Magazine today published an absolute classic "as-told-to" story of an IT person with a dark side as part of a series on really bad firing stories. Basically, he admitted in front a co-worker that he'd cracked a government database and illegally downloaded a bunch of classified information, which led to his firing. What made it most interesting, however, is the heights to which managers will go to protect valuable but flawed assets. First, the HR Director called a meeting between my accuser and my immediate boss, which resulted in an order to terminate me immediately. My... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2012 at SeanReadsTheNews
To the Celebrating Audio Theater - Old & New Community, On Thursday night, July 5, the Steering Committee of Celebrating Audio Theater - Old & New met to decide whether or not to proceed with our October convention. As you know, we had set July 1 as our deadline to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2012 at CelebratingAudioTheaterOld&New