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A Song of Ice and Fire and Apple TV

 

Apple TV

Behold, the future of TV, which doesn’t involve cable companies. Unfortunately, much like the music industry, they’ve ignored the will of the consumer for so long that they will die upon their own swords of greed and denial.

by Jake Ten Pas

“There once was a device called Apple TV,
Cable’s customers, it did steal away
But without an app called AirParrot,
No old Mac would properly AirPlay.”
- From “A Song of Device and Ire” by Marillion

I love George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series with every last muscle fiber in my unrepentantly nerdy heart. I’ve only read the first three books, but I’ll soon start “A Feast For Crows,” which means it won’t be long before I start “A Dance With Dragons,” and then commence to bitching about how long the next book is taking, along with every other grown nerd child.

I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed the TV series based on the books, HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” I’ve enjoyed it so much that the unavailability of the second season was the final straw that broke my will and sent me on a quest that ended in me attaining Apple TV.

Regular readers of this blog well know AM:PM PR’s obsession with Apple products, which verges on the fanatical lust for conquest normally reserved for Dothraki hordes. I, on the other hand, temper my fascination with Apple with an ongoing frustration at the company’s nickel-and-diming mentality when it comes to charger cords, adapters and other peripheral products that they don’t need to gouge you for, but seem to take great and wicked pride in doing nonetheless.

 

Dothraki Khal

Even a Dothraki Khal’s ravenous appetite for the spoils of war pales in comparison to AM:PM PR and 7/Apps’ lust for the products of Apple.

Case in point. It all started with a journey to Best Buy. My goal was to pay the gold price for an adapter that would allow me to connect my MacBook Pro directly to my TV, enabling the watching of “Game of Thrones” on a screen large enough to convey the show’s visual majesty. Once there, I realized that I’d have to spend nearly $50 to buy the proper plug/cable combination. For little more than twice that amount, I could own Apple TV, the miracle puck that would open up a whole new world of adventure and exploration, also known as “time wasting.”

Let’s rewind for a moment. As I said, season two “Game of Thrones” is not yet available for purchase, but a traveling minstrel told me about an amazing site where you could stream pretty much every great show of the past five years with no fuss or muss. Because I don’t want this site to get shut down – on the totally slim chance it’s doing something semi-legal – I’ll simply refer to it as Mt. Dew and Whoppers. Now, Mt. Dew and Whoppers, or MD&W, is truly a miracle, sent from The Seven to serve me my stories on a silver tray. If it was possible for me to watch it on my flat screen instead of my computer, by the Lord of Light, that destiny had to be realized.

Picking the brain of the Nerd Herd (Geek Squad?) at Best Buy, I was assured that my TV would be able to mirror any content from my MacBook Pro upon release of Apple’s newest operating system, Mountain Lion, with the help of Apple TV. As an aside, I hope Apple calls its next OS Shadow Cat. What the experts forgot to tell me was that this only would be possible if my computer was newer than 2011, which it most assuredly isn’t.

 

AirParrot

Because Apple decided to be evil and not let AirPlay screen mirroring function with computers older than 2011 (as in MOST OF THEM), a clever company called AirParrot came along and solved the problem, allowing your Mac’s screen to appear on your apple TV, and saving the world from wondering what happened in its favorite TV shows.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this was an issue until I was at home with Apple TV purchased and set up, Mountain Lion downloaded and MD&W cued up and ready to make all my Throne-Gamey dreams come true. After thrashing about, reprimanding both my TV and my computer, choreographing a punch-dancing sequence and trying to will an AirPlay icon to appear on my screen for roughly a fortnight, I took my cyclopean problem to the real Geek Squad, my coworker Cam and the think tank at our sister company, 7/Apps.

What they discovered on my behalf is the most amazing invention ever in the history of the past few months. It’s an application for your computer called AirParrot that allows you to mirror your computer screen onto your TV using AirPlay even if your computer is old and decrepit. Mine is about three years old, which in computer years translates to being buried in the ground long enough that your bones are considered fossils.

Once I installed AirParrot, I went home that night, opened MD&W, cued up episode one of season two of “Game of Thrones,” switched to Apple TV mirroring, and pressed play. What came next can only be described as what it would feel like to slap Joffrey Baratheon a thousand times with my own hand. My quest to retake the Iron Throne of my couch (and by iron, I mean of course microfiber) succeeded, and another epic chapter of George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” was written in the pages of this blog, which itself has been forged of Valyrian Steel. Winter is coming, after all, and thanks to AirParrot, I now have enough stories to keep me basking in TV’s warm, glowing, warming glow until the wheel of time brings Spring around again.

Helpful Tips

5 tips for tip-top media outreach

Media relations has always been a central part of what public relations is all about. Unfortunately for those working in PR and companies looking to tell their own stories, media outlets are no longer the same beasts we used to know. Newspapers and other print and online media have ever-shrinking staff, which is responsible for covering a greater array of topics – across a greater number of channels – than ever before. Getting messages to these overtaxed reporters is no small feat.

Below are some tips to keep in mind when pitching story ideas to media:

1. Know your target – Some questions to ask yourself include: Who is the reporter? What do they typically cover? What specific stories have they written? What are their personal interests? You need to take the time to fully understand whom it is you’re communicating with. Having a little background info can go a long way toward building trust and respect between and you and reporters. If you can find a personal interest that’s appropriate to allude to, do it. Happen to know that a certain reporter has a thing for cats? Go ahead and use that fact and a little humor in your email subject line to get their attention. I once used that particular tactic, and it did in fact elicit a response.

2. Understand the story you’re telling – Be able to succinctly summarize and explain why a particular story or news item truly matters. If you can’t articulately explain the topic or situation, don’t expect a reporter to be able to. It’s your job to make his or her job easier. Be as helpful as possible in describing the key facts and ideas; reporters will be more likely to cover something they can easily wrap their minds around.

3. Avoid PR stereotypes – Don’t be a robot. Blast emails come across as such. Be sure to tailor the email to each reporter or news outlet, keeping in mind all you learned through the research you did in Tip #1. Be professional, but also memorable and genuine. Reporters don’t like overly schmoozy PR people any better than robots.

4. Quality over quantity – Target the people you most want to tell the story. Don’t mass email a huge list of folks. Be strategic, make a list of the writers you most want to tell your story, and work from top to bottom. If you think your story is worthy of being covered at the Enterprise level, start there. If you’re shot down, work your way down your list of desired targets. Starting at the bottom might get you a writer who is willing to tell your story but is unable to either tell it properly or get it the placement it deserves. You’re better off starting with your dream targets and settling if you can’t reach them than starting at the bottom of your list and precluding optimal reporting.

5. Be flexible in your followup – Some reporters only want to be contacted via email, while you’ll have better success reaching out to others by phone. If you don’t succeed with one channel, don’t be afraid to try the other when you follow up. Also, know when to check back with those you reach out to. Use common sense to determine if you’re going overboard with followup; put yourself in the reporter’s place. Don’t badger, but don’t drop the ball. Make sure to gauge the response you get from the writer, and respond accordingly. A lot of the subtlety of follow-up protocol is best learned through trial and error. See what tends to work best over time, and take note. I mentioned earlier that members of the media are spread particularly thin these days; keep this in mind in respect to follow-up frequency. Some reporters will appreciate a friendly reminder, while you’ll drive others crazy with the exact same nudge. Be aware of the response you tend to get from a particular person and keep it in mind for future interactions.

Those are a handful of what I hope are helpful tips. Do you have any that I’ve missed? Please share.

mars surface

NASA’s Curiosity explores outer and social space

At at 10:32 p.m. Aug. 5, PDT, NASA again made history. The organization has made a habit of doing so over the years.

After descending through “7 Minutes of Terror,” The Rover Curiosity, of the Mars Science Laboratory Program, landed on Mars. It came to rest at the base of Mount Sharp, a mountain three miles tall and located inside the Gale Crater.

mars rover meme

Curiosity carries the most advanced suite of instruments for scientific studies ever sent to the red planet. This camera-loaded, rocker-bogie-suspensioned, rock-vaporizing, nuclear-powered, remote-control geology lab on

wheels is also the largest rover to be sent to Mars. At 2,000 pounds, 10 feet long, 9 feet wide and 7 feet tall, it is is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity. It’s an amazing accomplishment anyway you look at it.

My question for NASA is: For an organization so technologically advanced, that prides it self on world firsts and that has so successfully conquered outer space – why has it taken so long for you to truly embrace social media? For example the aforementioned Mars Science Laboratory Program passed confirmation review back in 2006, but the Facebook account was not started until half way through 2010. Because I know everyone at NASA reads my blog, if you could just get back to me on that I would appreciate it.

Whatever the reason, NASA has recently blasted off into the social space. With this most recent rover landing, it seems the organization was ready, and I for one am very excited to have people all around me talking about our space program. Hopefully this is a trend that will continue for the foreseeable future.

NASA’s Social Stats:
Video: Challenges of Getting to Mars – Curiosity’s Seven Minutes of Terror has 1.6 million views.
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MarsCuriosity has 243,000+ fans.
Twitter: http://twitter.com/marscuriosity has 900,000+ followers.
Mission pages have been regularly updating and even live streaming:
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/building_curiosity.html

The internet has responded favorably, even spawning some new memes.
http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/the-internet-responds-to-the-mars-rover-landing
http://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/getting-to-know-bobak-ferdowsi-nasas-mohawk-man
https://twitter.com/SarcasticRover (60,000 followers)

mars scoreboard
FAST FACTS:

Mission name: Mars Science Laboratory
Rover name: Curiosity rover
Size: About the size of a car — 10 feet long (not including the arm), 9 feet wide and 7 feet tall!
Weight: 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds)
Features: Geology lab, rocker-bogie suspension, rock-vaporizing laser and lots of cameras
Mission: To search areas of Mars for past or present conditions favorable to life, and conditions capable of preserving a record of life
Launch: Between Nov. 25–Dec. 18, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida
Arrival: August 2012 on Mars
Length of mission on Mars: The prime mission will last one Mars year or about 23 Earth months.

Mission Slogan: Dare Mighty Things
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” ~Theodore Roosevelt

For information about Curiosity’s power source and to obtain high-resolution images, visit:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/newsroom/

Peter Morrissey - friend and mentor

Missing a mentor today – Peter Morrissey remembered

A good friend and mentor died August 3. His passing reminds me again of how we’re formed by the people we admire.

I first met Peter Morrissey when our firm joined an international network of independent public relations agencies, Pinnacle Worldwide. Peter owned a firm in Boston that specialized in corporate reputation management and crisis communications.

It was easy to see why corporate executives trusted Peter. He was honest, whip smart and direct. He also was a teacher. He shared stories to illustrate lessons. And like a good Irishman, he had great stories to tell.

Among Peter’s corporate clients was Johnson & Johnson. He counseled the company and its McNeil Pharmaceuticals subsidiary when poison introduced into its Tylenol capsules killed seven Chicago-area residents in 1982. It’s now a classic case study in PR classes on crisis communications.

In addition to running his successful firm, Peter was the consummate good citizen. He taught at Boston University, was active in numerous community groups and served on the board of Boston Athletic Association, sponsors of the Boston Marathon.

I remember him most for what I learned listening to him. I suppose that’s why I enjoyed reading Rate Your Professor comments from students he taught at Boston University.

“Morrissey’s real-world experience as CEO of a highly successful PR firm makes his class probably the most useful I’ve taken at BU.“

“Professor Morrissey’s class was a great class. He brings his real-world experience of owning his own PR firm and working with big name clients to the class. Morrissey’s work in crisis communication especially is a case study for every intro to PR class everywhere.”

“I LOVE PROFESSOR MORRISSEY! If you want to go into PR, take as many of Morrissey’s classes as you can. Work hard, talk to him outside of class, and he will help you in your job search way more than Career Services ever could.”

Peter was the same way with his professional colleagues. He would help you any way he could. Mostly he helped me remember that, at its core, our profession is about serving our communities with integrity, honest communications and a commitment to do what’s right.

Peter taught that by how he lived.