PR Fuel: PR News, Views, & Stews

Making News in 2006

Welcome to 2006: a year that will see mid-term elections, Winter Olympics, and the release of Paris Hilton’s first (and dare we hope last) album.

As is the case every year, the news cycle will be driven by known and unknown events. Being prepared for the unknown events is difficult. Being prepared for the known events can be easy. With the latter statement in mind, here are the events and emerging trends I think will dominate headlines this year.

Politics

1. Mid-Term and gubernatorial elections
2. Jack Abramoff scandal fallout
3. Iraq
4. Iran
5. North Korea

Food For Thought: Local politics will grab the spotlight as state representatives will be lining up to glad-hand constituents and win votes. Politically oriented PR people should use their power to force the issues to the forefront, not the background.

The Consumer

1. The housing boom is over
2. Consumer credit quality
3. The impact of energy prices
4. Too many gadgets!?
5. Online security

Food For Thought: The end of the housing boom and the deterioration of consumer credit quality go hand-in-hand. Remember all those stories about condo-flipping? By the end of the year, you’ll be reading stories about condo foreclosures.

Technology

1. Google vs. The World
2. Enterprise technology spending
3. Digital content (music, movies, podcasts, etc.)
4. Freedom of speech issues online
5. Cable versus Telecom

Food For Thought: What will Google do next? The early word is that they’ll launch a low-priced PC, possibly in conjunction with Wal-Mart. Whether this happens or not, all eyes will be on the company this year as it looks to expand beyond the browser.

Wall Street

1. Hedge fund regulation
2. Activist investors
3. The health of the automotive industry
4. Google’s stock price
5. Naked shorting

Food For Thought: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think there’s an enormous amount of money to be made doing PR for the hedge fund industry. Last year’s blow-ups have forced the Securities and Exchange Commission to take a serious look at how hedge funds are regulated. Hedge funds, of course, don’t want any additional regulation, and they’re going to have to mount an effective lobbying and PR campaign to stave off the Feds. Also, keep an eye on how new SEC regulations related to proxy votes affect individual shareholders. PR firms looking for causes and not worried about Fortune 500 business can make an easy buck working with lawyers in this area.

Media

1. The health of the newspaper business
2. Satellite radio
3. The future of Time Warner
4. FCC regulation
5. HDTV

Food For Thought: The potential sale of Knight-Ridder, a shake-up at Dow Jones and the awful circulation numbers coming out of the industry will keep the business of newspapers in the headlines. PR people should take into consideration that newspapers have traditionally been one of their important venues. As such, the question becomes, how can you constructively help the newspaper industry’s cause?

The Economy

1. Ben Bernanke replaces Alan Greenspan as head of the Federal Reserve
2. Energy prices
3. Gold versus the Dollar
4. Skilled labor shortage
5. China’s economy

Food For Thought: Energy prices are absurd, and have you seen the price of gold lately? Alternative energy clients should be jumping up and down and clamoring for more press. Where are all the stories about the gas-to-liquids technology that is being developed?

Sports

1. World Cup
2. Winter Olympics
3. World Baseball Classic
4. USC Football
5. Ryder Cup

Food For Thought: Start kicking the soccer ball around and get in on the world’s biggest (and easiest) PR party.

Anniversary Events

1. 9/11 Terrorist Attacks
2. Recognition of first case of AIDS
3. San Francisco earthquake and the correlation to rebuilding New Orleans
4. Impact of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster
5. Impact of the Enron scandal on Corporate America

Food For Thought: Tread carefully when dealing with 9/11 stories. If you work with AIDS-related causes, now is the time to hammer home your point.

Entertainment

1. Cultural impact of MTV on its 25th anniversary
2. Release of movie version of “The Da Vinci Code”
3. 9/11-related movies from Oliver Stone and Paul Greengrass
4. Consumer boredom with Hollywood re-makes and TV-to-big screen movies
5. The return of intelligent network television programming

Food For Thought: Paris Hilton is out; good movies could be back in.

This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.

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