CBS Channels Snarkiness

CBS recently served a side of snark to ABC — press release style. CBS posted an official “fake” news release announcing a “new” show in development called Dancing on the Stars. The jab is a nod to the network’s legal battle where CBS asserts that ABC ripped off its network’s reality show Big Brother with The Glass House.

I wasn’t surprised to see the move — considering that CBS is trying to channel Generation Z. A New York Times article discussed how CBS hired hip reporters on 60 Minutes to court younger viewers.

But the tone of the press release made me envision high-powered guys in suits throwing a modern-day temper tantrum. I didn’t even find it that funny (FOX could have given them some pointers). Although I’m sure the real funny material was deleted through the proofing process. I give CBS credit for taking a risk, but an official news release isn’t the right medium for snark. Social media is.

In the public relations world, we’re notorious for saying what we would have done (hindsight is 20/20). So here’s my take:

Since former Big Brother cast members love publicity, I would have had a few of them “pitch” CBS network shows as obvious ABC rip-offs and post on YouTube. I also would have posted it on a Twitter account that would be the “official unofficial legal gripe Twitter feed of CBS.” That way, the feud could still be funny, but it wouldn’t need to bother with the network’s press releases.

With the lines already so blurred in traditional media … and newsrooms being notoriously understaffed and unable to fact-check the way they used to … and people going to multiple sources for news … it’s best to keep some things like company “news rooms,” for lack of a better word, sacred.

Doreen Overstreet enjoys both Big Brother and 60 Minutes. And always a little smart snark. Amy Spoor, a longtime Linda Costa Communications Group PR employee, also contributed to the post.

Procrastination? There’s a .GIF for That

College can initiate a lifetime of effective practices for maneuvering the real world that follows graduation. You learn how to budget (eat only peanut butter and bread and you can still afford to go downtown on the weekends). You learn how to run a household (instead of washing dishes, buy paper plates). And most importantly, you learn how to waste more time than you ever thought possible.

This is where you can find me, current undergrad student and procrastinator extraordinaire, methodically checking Facebook, Pinterest, blogs about various topics, and now, #Whatshouldwecallme. The latter is my latest addiction and new favorite time drain. The Tumblr blog pairs relatable life moments with “moving images” called “.gifs.” When words alone can’t do a moment justice, the .gifs can explain exactly how you feel. Although the scenes are taken completely out of context, there’s something about them that just … #works.

Two law school students and best friends started the blog in February as a way to keep in touch. They didn’t broadcast it to anyone, and they weren’t trying to start a craze. A few months later, the Tumblr was an Internet sensation with tens of thousands of followers, and the students who created it have been interviewed by Forbes.

The strategy is that there is no strategy. It’s genius. These girls found a market that they weren’t even searching for simply because they didn’t try too hard. The images are easy to access and share with your friends and even easier to scroll through with no notion of the passage of time. But perhaps more importantly, it’s authentic, relatable and funny.

What can we, as professional communicators, learn from this Internet sensation? Normalcy is underrated when it comes to reaching 20-somethings. Leave the scripted, perfectly glossed campaign at the door … some self-deprecating humor is all you really need to have mass appeal.

Intern Devin Pascoe tries to add some variety to her college life by interspersing peanut butter sandwiches with an occasional bowl of Ramen noodles – it proves a good energy boost for her long nights procrastinating on the Internet.

Speak Easy

One of the funniest blog posts I’ve read in a long time was from PR Daily. In case you missed it, the blog listed 12 of this decade’s most irritating words and phrases. I’ll admit that I’m guilty of using quite a few of these words (namely “amazing” and “just a thought”). So in the spirit of a little comedic relief at the beginning of the work week, here’s a list of the most overused words and phrases in the workplace.

  • Going/moving forward – Doesn’t have any implication of real-time, so no one is actually responsible for the outcome.
  • Take a stab at – Condescending.
  • Duly noted – Meaning “I hear you, but I’ll most likely dismiss your idea the minute you leave my office.” If you disagree with this, check out how “duly noted” is defined by Urban Dictionary.
  • Throw this out there – Used to preface what is most likely a bad idea. Just throw these words out of your vocabulary already.
  • Friendly reminder – Not really intended to be friendly. It actually means “Get whatever is due to me pronto or I’ll really be upset.”
  • Throw him/her under the bus – Somehow less violent than using the word “backstabbing.”

You should add your “speak” to the list. Just a thought.

Summer Walker focuses on her core competencies and leveraging her synergies at Linda Costa Communications Group very proactively in the PR department.

Jay Boyar’s Guide to “Five-Star” Writing


Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Jay Boyar, a writer for Orlando Home & Leisure and an adjunct film professor at the University of Central Florida and Rollins College.

I was excited to meet Jay because for more than 20 years he was the movie critic at the Orlando Sentinel. An avid moviegoer, I wanted to get his take on some of his favorite movies and was eager for him to explain to me exactly why he gave Batman (the one with Michael Keaton in 1989) five stars.

Jay is not only a nice guy, he’s a big believer in meeting the younger generation “halfway” with his teaching methods.

For example, he maintains a blog where he posts upcoming discussion topics for his students. He says they come much better prepared for dialogue after reading the blog as opposed to him just announcing the topics in class beforehand.

Jay is still “traditional old school” on some things, though — like the importance of grammar and clear writing. Below he shares some of his timeless writing tips. Enjoy!

Prof. Boyar’s Timeless Writing Tips

  • Imagine a reader who doesn’t know anything about the subject you’re writing. Don’t suddenly introduce information (such as a character’s name or a specific scene) without providing at least a few words of context or explanation.
  • Wikipedia is never a valid source. Never.
  • Use who when referring to people, that (or which) when referring to things.

So it should be: The barista, who made the latte, used too much milk.

And it should be: It’s the magic hammer that allows Thor to fly.

(And it can also be: Thor has a magic hammer, which allows him to fly.)

  • When referring to plot events in a film or book, usually try to write in the present tense.

It’s: Harry and Hermione walk into Hogwarts.

Not: Harry and Hermione walked into Hogwarts.

  • Here in America, commas and periods go inside quotation marks. (Semicolons, oddly enough, go outside quotation marks.)

It’s: “I like ice cream,” she said.

Not: “I like ice cream”, she said.

  • Always proofread your work, preferably after letting it sit for a few hours or even overnight.
  • When proofreading, always ask yourself two equally important questions:

Is anything important missing from this paper?

Is there anything in this paper that doesn’t really need to be there?

Doreen Overstreet enjoys writing and movies. She thinks Jay Boyar should start a local film club and would even be open to watching Batman again to re-evaluate her 1989 opinion.