The BlackBerry & the Bedroom: Where Do You Stand?

Do you love your spouse more than a toaster? How about a pencil holder? OK, how about your PDA: Who do you love more? And therein lies the nut graph of the press release from the PR team at Sheraton Hotels & Resorts. To raise awareness of their new Wi-Fi lounges that allow business travelers to stay more connected to family when traveling, Sheraton commissioned a “work/life study.” And 87% of respondents say they bring their PDA into the bedroom and 35% said they’d choose their PDA over their spouse.  What kind of question is that? A good one, from a PR perspective, even if the margin of error is roughly 34% in this case. And don’t forget – 66% choose their spouse over their PDA. This is just fun, attention-grabbing PR. I refuse to believe that one would choose their BlackBerry over their loved one. Barack Obama is choosing the White House over his Blackberry and I’m pretty sure he’d pick Michelle over the Blackberry (right?).

The nice part of this survey, in an effort to satiate all readers and media types who can grab a fun stat to confirm their convictions or to prove someone wrong, 84% of respondents in the survey did say that their PDAs actually enhance their ability to be with family since they can bring the “office” home with them. So, back to the point of Sheraton’s new press release — that their Wi-Fi/Internet lounges help people stay more connected to family when they’re on business travel.  Um, do business travelers really want to be more connected to their spouses? I am betting 35% of business travelers will be renting a movie in their hotel room instead, though 100% (an increase from the initial survey) will be bringing their PDAs into their (hotel) bedroom. This calls for a new press release from Sheraton. Kudos to Sheraton. I had fun reading this press release, and I’m writing about it here (while ignoring my spouse).

So, PR Newsers — what’s your take on this? Would you choose your BlackBerry over your spouse? Would you take a job take requires you to relinquish your BlackBerry? Share your thoughts — maybe we’ll turn it into a press release.

- Diane Schwartz

Dr. Jekyll, Meet Mr. Hyde

In an article in this week’s issue of PR News, I wrote about a subject that I imagine is top-of-mind for many communications executives: hiring. But I wasn’t going for a how-to piece about recruiting strategies; rather, I was thinking about a few recent horror stories I heard from executives who interviewed a candidate for a job opening, swore it was a match made in heaven, and then found themselves in management hell when the new employee showed his/her true colors–and they weren’t pretty.

With the emergence of digital communications platforms, it’s much easier to learn about people beyond their handshake. Between blogs and personal profiles on social networks, some individuals leave very little to the imagination. But it’s still all too common for hiring managers to fall for a standing ovation-worthy performance at an interview and then realize the actor and his character are two very different people.

The article discusses strategies for minimizing the chances of ending up with a Mr. Hyde–from digital detective work to writing tests–as well as a few red flags to look for during the interview process. With that said, do any of you out there have suggestions for vetting job candidates? Any horror stories? If so, how did you undo the damage? Do tell!

By Courtney Barnes

Transfer of (PR) Power

With Barack Obama visiting the Oval Office yesterday for the first time and President Bush slowly transferring what power he has to the incoming leader, it makes me think about our own succession planning in PR.  A lot of PR executives talk about this and are even mandated to come up with a plan.  Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, there’s no public election for PR executives to lead a PR firm or a communications department.  So your succession plan is your organization’s best vote on who can hit the ground running and impact growth.  A long-time general manager of a PR firm told me recently that his succession plan was “definitely in the works.”  A head of a PR dept at a mid-sized company told me her successor is in the hands of HR.  In other words, she hadn’t really thought much about it. These two examples are of what not to do. If you are in any kind of management position, it’s time to start thinking about who can take over when you leave, whether your departure is voluntary or involuntary. A manager of mine nearly 15 years ago called it the “beer truck test” — if you got hit by a beer truck, who could handle your job from Day 1? Over the years, I’ve been a bit disturbed by her choice of trucks though we were a bunch of young journalists and we could relate to the alcohol analogy.  So, if you haven’t already, start thinking about who you’re grooming to step into your shoes, and who might be re-organizing the furniture in your office one day — whether you’re office is square or oval.

- Diane Schwartz

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