Today, I am thrilled to announce a new, self-styled foray into making a difference. A difference to people who give a damn about journalism and the bridges that connect it with media relations, even as I highlight best practices and reasons for hope in both fields.
It’s a webinar series called “Lou’s Views.” Read on, and you’ll see why I’m excited to embark upon it.
Disclaimer: The name “Lou’s Views” is not idea. I’m vain enough as it is. But with the encouragement of Qwoted’s fearless, peerless Brit commander Dan Simon, I’m beginning this initiative as a periodic webinar series to provide the kind of “sharing economy” the media landscape so often lacks today.
“Lou’s Views” is an intra-community initiative, meant for Qwoted users but with my right-this-second invitation to join us, and invite your colleagues, onto this platform.
Why do this? For better or worst, I’ve been doing this journalism thing for a long time.
A lifetime of dreadlines
When I started in journalism, dinosaurs did indeed stalk the Earth in search of proto-plankton and raw flesh. There was no email. Instantaneous communication meant a fax machine or a dot-matrix printer in what we called “the wire room.” A few newsies I knew still used manual typewriters. The first newsroom computers we connected to this bitchin’ new thang called the Internet crashed daily. When I hosted the first live streamed concert in Chicago music history back in 1996 — perhaps the first ever for a U.S. journalism outlet — I had to explain to my even my most brilliant co-workers what live streaming was and how it worked. (Don’t be too impressed, though. It was a John Tesh concert.)
So yeah, I’m a veteran journalist and media professional who spent 16 unbelievable years at the Chicago Tribune. I became a nationally syndicated weekly columnist. Twice. Along the way I wrote a journalism textbook used at Loyola University Chicago and National Louis University. Unconventional? It had a whole chapter dedicated to surviving newsroom politics. I did not name names.
And it all began at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where I was trained and mentored by a Pulitzer Prize winner and a Pulitzer finalist, the latter my mentor to this day. Thanks to them, I would go on to be a Pulitzer finalist myself as a team reporter with multiple bylines in the Tribune’s “Killing Our Children” series. I did win other honors, now proudly collecting dust on my shelf.
I’ve had significant stints at Reuters, U.S. News & World Report and AOL, where as a managing editor I founded a web page, “Money College,” written mostly by college students I recruited and trained. Within a month, we had a $50,000 monthly sponsorship and the kids were kicking ass, sometimes earning page views in the six digits. Never discount the young, ever.
Oh, what a tangled webinar we weave…
Yeah, Lou, so what? Glad you asked, or didn’t. But…
…the most important accomplishments of my career revolve around relationships and the passing on of institutional knowledge. I love to mentor and my charges have often outshined me, which is infinitely gratifying. I’ve also made my fair share of impactful connections with members of the media. When you’re new to the game, it can seem impossible to stand out in the crowd. So for starters: How can PRs communicate with journalists effectively? What are the secrets to building that rock-solid rapport?
Thus the title of my first webinar, currently scheduled for Thurs., March 4. “PR and the four Ps: Persistence, Professionalism, Politeness — and People.”
Please join me as I host a judgement-free, face-to-face style webinar that provides a safe space for our users to ask everything they’ve ever wanted to know about the media and media relations. Hear that? EVERYTHING. I do not mince words. I will tell you why so much of PR is gunk, static and mud — as well as share stories of PR success. You will notice that they all have a common theme. Spoiler alert: It has to do with this resource called “people.”
What does that mean? Gotta tune in. When you do, you’ll hear some of my best and worst experiences as a journalist and glean some first-hand insight on how to be the best PR pro you can be. We’re angling to get a very special guest to drop in as well. All I can tell you is that it’s not President Biden.
A webinerd’s manifesto
Hate webinars? I do, too. But I’ve also hosted many. I swear, this will be different.
I am not afraid to lob loving little bombs across the bow and sing praises to the rooftops. Plus, get this: My voice actually modulates when I speak! I actually get juiced about what I discuss! And if there is any freaking PowerPoint, I promise it will include at least one cringe-worthy picture of when I was a South Jersey hair rocker and had locks down to my ass. I may be a media something or other, but part of that lead guitar guy still lives on in me. (“In me” is my only choice because among other things, I’ve gone bald.)
If you want at least a taste of what you can expect, I invite you to tune in to this special presentation I did for L.A.-based Hollywood Branded over the summer as part of their Marketer’s Content Playbook conference. Hours ago, they announced that they would mount an encore presentation of my talk, which went live this week. Listen to get a taste of the moxie I’ll bring to “Lou’s Views.” Though maybe with a bit more dignity. Maybe.
Meanwhile, the Content Marketing Institute has solicited a proposal. If my idea flies, it will go under the title “Everything You Think You Know About Customer Experience is 100 Percent Wrong.” Before the haters and content eggheads try to dismiss me, I’ll cut them off at the knees within the first five minutes. Maybe, I’ll be wrong. But I doubt it. And I will not waffle.
The ‘Lou’s Views’ four promises
- You’ll have fun.
- You’ll enjoy the little bit of South Jersey mullet-man, pink guitar-playing 1980s rocker who provides the rocket fuel for how I share my media sagacity.
- I will refuse to take myself seriously, but will take the material seriously (advice from my hero David Brancaccio of PRI’s Marketplace Morning Report).
- If you’re good, I’ll write and perform a topical song.
So there you have it. I have no idea how I will do at this but really: Is some cocksure dude doing a third-rate Tony Robbins what you really want? The world is full of people propping themselves up as experts. They are zigging. I choose to zag. Thirty-plus years of doing this and I’m still learning every day. Still stealing someone’s chops, shamelessly. Still not quite sure of everything I say until I step up to the mic.
Still passionate about all things media and PR. Maybe in all of this you’ll see that I’m a lot more like you than they are. I wear my warts like sexy diamonds. That is how community starts, my homies.
Tune into “Lou’s Views,” Thurs., March 4, 12 PM CST. With our mission of sharing the best of the best, gleefully calling out the worst and forging community, we are just getting started.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I must return to writing my song about Heath Freeman. Anyone got a rhyme for “heartless, greedy, gutless vulture?” And who is this Heath anyway? Why, here’s who.
Hot off the press: Chicago Tribune, rest in pieces?
Apologies to John Lennon, but I read the news today, oh no: Vulture capitalist Heath Freeman and his Alden Capital are about to buy Tribune Publishing and hence the Chicago Tribune for $630 million. And so, mark my words: They will decimate it in the quest for lucre, as they did before with the Denver Post. And other once-proud companies such as Fred’s Pharmacy and Payless Shoe Source. Heath gives a lot of money to his alma mater Duke. How about the journalism program there launching an investigation into Freeman’s practices and writing an editorial to get his family name taken off of Duke’s Freeman Center for Jewish Life? (There is such a thing as largesse in the name of good PR and a mask for far greater misdeeds.)
And so I shake my fists and wipe away a few tears. But I will also raise my pen: Freeman is in my verbal crosshairs. Even if just three people read this column (and one of them because he was looking for a donut recipe and hit the wrong link) today I throw down the ink-stained gauntlet. I will go after Herr Heath in the weeks ahead. Not every week, of course. But wherever his latest media “moves,” if you could call them that, deserve scrutiny and the spotlight. Wielding a machete is not exactly a thoughtful move.
In the past several weeks I’ve seen a mass exodus of the Tribune’s best critics, all former colleagues. They saw this coming. Freeman is a greedy punk who hides behind his silence, a frat boy in an ill-fitting suit jacket who cares far more about his framed Christian Laettner Duke basketball jersey than the people at any newspaper or business he bought, bled and and used to enrich himself and his cronies. Just ask the poor souls at the Denver Post, their Alden-led undoing I covered in this column.
The Tribune purchase is big news and for me, heart-wrenching news: I spent the best years of my career there. But hey, I left in 2009. And as my therapist Dr. Tom has reminded me again and again: Trying to control the things you can’t is the very definition of neurosis.
He’s right. But here’s one more thing I cannot control. We had this saying in the newsroom that I embraced: I will always “bleed Tribune Blue.” Now, to watch Alden about to bleed the Tribune dry makes me blue.
Lou Carlozo is Qwoted’s Editor In Chief. All views expressed reek of self-aggrandizement and narcissism. Email Lou with your best insults: email@example.com. Or, connect with him and his merry band of media miscreants on LinkedIn.