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Howard Bragman Advises Public Relations People
Howard Bragman is Hollywood's premier public relations professional. He founded Bragman Nyman Cafarelli Public Relations and Marketing (BNC) in 1989. The Company is one of the most respected public relations agencies in the United States with billings of more than $15 million annually and a blue-chip client roster of celebrities, consumer products and events. In 2001 BNC was purchased by Interpublic, one of the world's largest holding companies for marketing companies. He founded a strategic media and public relations agency, Fifteen Minutes, in 2005.
Bragman is a nationally respected crisis counselor and has provided litigation support for a significant number of high-profile cases and individuals. These include: Joseph Steffan who was kicked out of the US Naval Academy for his sexual orientation; The Lewinsky Family; and Sharon Smith in Smith v. Knoller, a high-profile civil rights and justice trial involving a tragic dog mauling death. Bragman was also an adjunct professor of Public Relations at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communications for six years and has been honored for his teaching excellence by his students and the University. Bragman has written articles for publications including: Advertising Age, The Advocate, The Los Angeles Times and Playboy. A frequent television guest on issues involving the entertainment industry and popular culture, Bragman has appeared on local and network news programs more than 100 times. He has been a featured speaker for numerous groups including The US Conference of Mayors; The UJC Youth Congress; and many others. He is also the author of Where's My Fifteen Minutes?: Get Your Company, Your Cause, or Yourself the Recognition You Deserve.
Question: What are the obligations of PR people? Bragman: In the early part of the 20th century was a practitioner named Edward Bernays, and he’s known as the Father of Spin or the Father of Public Relations, and one of the things that he said was, “A PR person…,” and it’s still relevant today, “A PR person has three jobs,” and I’ve always taken this very seriously. The first, obviously, is to present your client to the public, right? But the second is to interpret the environment that your client’s going into. That is, if you are going out with a story, if you’re an auto maker right now and you are going out with a story about a new car, you have to deal with the environment you’re dealing in. I have a real estate company, a high-end residential real estate company that I represent in Los Angeles, and the story we’ve been saying is, “Why do these morons own a high-end residential real estate company and launch it in the middle of the worst recession in decades,” and we’ve gotten a lot of [plague] based on that. The third job of a PR person is to do good, and, for lack of any better vision, to make society a better place, to affect positive change, these are the good things we do and I’ve always tried to follow that in my career. Question: What are the key elements of PR today? Bragman: You need to manage your perception in this world. It is a basic life skill. Let me explain. PR used to stand for Public Relations, no longer. PR now stands for ‘perception and reality,’ and the job of me, a media relations person, a Public Relations person is to manage that relationship between perception and reality. And for most people, if this is perception and this is reality, the reality is better than the perception. That is most people. I’m really good, people just don’t know it. I’m a great actor, I’m a great dentist, I’m a great environmental activist. For some people, their perception exceeds their reality. We call those people Dr. Phil. Oh, we call that hype. When your perception exceeds your reality, that’s called hype. You want to keep your perception and reality relatively happy, because, if not, you get that term we all learned in college psychology, cognitive dissonance. Something is out of whack here. Something is not right. And the job of somebody like me is to manage that relationship between perception and reality. So if I got somebody with not a great perception but a great reality, I tell the world. I tell the world so these things could be equaled out. If I have somebody where the perception is there one thing and there something else, again, I put more reality in there and try and even that out so people can understand the fuller picture of my clients. Whether they get out of it, they get clients, they get business, they get to change the world, if they’re president of the PTA, if they’re an environmental activist, if they run a small business, everybody’s got a website, everybody seems to be on Facebook or MySpace. These are not optional anymore. These are required if you want to compete in this world we live in. Question: How do you make a client see an accurate perception of themselves? Bragman: I do my research before any new business client comes in and I do internet research. I talk to people in the business. A lot of times it’ll be actors, things like that, where people think they’re one way and they’re another. Most people have a basic image, but we all are human, and we all think of ourselves differently. It’s how people are going to always write other people’s resumes but not themselves. People can always judge, do I like that outfit on somebody else but not themselves. So we all get a little thrown off by the fact that we’re dealing with ourselves and we’re never quite as grounded as when we’re dealing with someone else. And it really depends if you’re talking about the actor world, some people have a dead-on perception of who they are and what they’ve achieved. Some people think they’re huge superstars and they’re minor stars. Some people think they’re relatively minor stars and they’re huge stars. So in my own gentle style, I try and get them grounded in reality and say, “Here’s where I think we’re starting from and here’s where we’re going to.” Question: How can you predict if someone is going to be a star or a dud? Bragman: If Paris Hilton comes to me and said, “This sex tape is about to get out,” and you can be one of two minds about it. She can say, “I have no desire to be in the public eye. I want to go hide and I don’t want to do anything,” or, “Sex tape be damned, I am going to be a movie star, a singer, and have my own line of merchandise clothing and fragrance and I’m going to be a brand.” And it really depends on what that person wishes to achieve and you start from there, if it’s achievable at all. And one of the points I make in the book is you look at a Kim Kardashian, who was essentially discovered by a sex tape, or Paris Hilton, whose career was certainly accelerated by that, we live in different times. We don’t judge those kinds of things anymore, particularly young people. It’s just not a big deal. They think being famous is cool and something that almost everyone’s entitled to. I have one researcher in Chicago and he does teen research, 20% of all teenagers believe they will be famous in their lifetime. Not want to be, but believe they will be famous, and there may be some truth to that, because there’s never been more ways to become famous. There are reality shows and Facebook and YouTube and pageants and, you know, the list is endless. In sports and so many ways a young person can really stand out in this world. So there’s some truth to that, but it really starts with the recognition of here is where I am and here is where I want to go. Question: What’s your take on someone like Julia Allison? Bragman: Well, my question is, “What are you building out of that?” I know a lot of famous people, okay? And I know a lot of poor famous people. Fame is not an endpoint and that’s what I have to disabuse people of. Recognition is the endpoint, to be recognized for being an internet expert or YouTube expert or a great journalist or a great doctor or a great researcher. The fame will come from that. But to be famous for the sake of being famous, you might get a good restaurant table but, beyond that, you give somebody the finger when you’re driving and they cut you off, you can bet it will be on Perez Hilton the next day and you lose a lot of privacy by just becoming famous. So what I always encourage people is to go for recognition, go for achievement and the fame will come. And recognition is good because you build a brand that is something you can monetize. Fame is not necessarily something you can just monetize. You don’t make a living by virtue of the fact that you’re famous, you make a living by virtue of the fact that you do something well, and the fame helps accelerate a lot of these things. The other thing I tell people is we’re trying to build careers in the crackpot, not a microwave, think of food. You take your crackpot, you put some chicken in, you put some vegetables, broth and spices, and a number of hours later, you come out with this, it’s alchemy, this amazing, delicious thing. You take the same thing and you put it in a microwave and you come out with sort of cooked in one spot, raw in another spot, chewy at this end, and it’s like…. So you want to control the speed and velocity of your recognition or fame that it doesn’t happen so quickly. Now, having taken this to a certain place, she’s a pretty clever lady, who knows where she’ll end up in five years, but the question is does she have a five-year plan? How is she going to monetize it and what is she going to do with that recognition to change the world, to make money. I don’t judge people’s motives. You know, people say I want to be famous because I want to be rich. I want to be famous because I want to change the world. I want to be famous because I want to be laid, whatever it is, that’s their right, that’s their choice and I support it, but the question is are the ways you’re going about it really getting you there. Question: How do you spot the next trends? Bragman: You know, trends really come as a result. The PR person uses trends because I want to proactively get my clients in the media. So I remember years ago in Chicago, stories are either part of a trend or against a trend, and you have to understand that. If I can find three of something, I have a trend. I had a celebrity whose mother was his manager, for example, and we got a story, I believe it was in the New York Times about ‘mama-gers,’ as we called them mothers who were managers. And we said, “They’re not stage mothers anymore,” and it had to be a willingness to understand that other people are going to share the spotlight with this particular celebrity, but he could get a very nice story about it. Years ago in Chicago, I had a client and even 25 years ago, people were talking about our high tech future. And my client made trailer doors for trucks; how do you make that exciting? Well, I made him the guru of low tech. In this time, when everybody was going after high tech, this guy was going out and buying these industrial, low tech companies, and we got tremendous amount of press for him. What you want to be is anything but a pet rock. You don’t want to be a flash in the pan trend. You want to… this goes to how you become a good PR person. Do a lot of work for a journalist. If you say, “Hey, I found this trend out or I found these four companies that are doing this particular thing,” journalists are going to appreciate it because, as we all know, journalists are struggling now. There are less journalists at the paper and they have more to write, so if you do some work for them, they’re going to be very happy. And a trend just comes as you get to know a particular client, and what it is, what are the things that make up that particular person. A trend may be how they dress, how they look, maybe your client is diabetic and you have clients who, you know, deal with diabetes on the road. That may be a trend. You know, health issues are always interesting trends because there’s an eager pool of journalists writing about medical and science things that want to do it. You just have to be able to look at not the big picture, but sort of break it down into the component parts, if you will. Question: How do your stay sane in a business that can be so vapid? Bragman: I’m really clear in my own life about who and what is important and what’s not. I mean, people would be shocked. I tend to go to bed, you know, barring having an event for a client or something, I’m generally in bed by 9:30 at night and get up at 5:30 in the morning. Although I have a handful of celebrity friends, they act very un-celebrity when they’re around me. And when I’m around them, they’re not “fabulous,” because I tell people that I do fabulous for a living, and I’m a nice Midwest guy and I know what my values are and I know what my priorities are and I know what’s important out there. And it’s not going to some [chic] party, I’d rather be in bed with my dog and my husband.
Howard Bragman unpacks how we have redefined what PR stands for.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.
A time for sleep<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="Mt29uUqI" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="931343dee3c02121445e51e94ba22446"> <div id="botr_Mt29uUqI_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/Mt29uUqI-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Previous studies had already suggested a link between persistent nightmares in childhood and psychosis and borderline personality disorder (BPD) by adolescence, but researchers at the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology wanted to see if a similar connection existed between these mental disorders and other childhood behavioral sleep problems.</p><p>To do this, they scoured data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a longitudinal cohort study that followed approximately 14,000 children born in Avon, England, in the early 1990s. The study followed the children for more than 13 years. During that time, mothers filled out questionnaires asking about the children's lives. Factors looked at included housing, parenting, nutrition, physical health, mental wellbeing, environmental exposures, and so on. </p><p>The cohort study inquired about sleep routines, sleep duration, and awakening frequency when the children were 6, 18, and 30 months old, and then again at 3.5, 4.8, and 5.8 years. It also assessed mental health in adolescence using semi-structured interviews, such as the Psychosis-Like Symptom Interview.</p><p>"We know that adolescence is a key developmental period to study the onset of many mental disorders, including psychosis or BPD. This is because of particular brain and hormonal changes which occur at this stage," <a href="https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/profiles/psychology/marwaha-steven.aspx" target="_blank">Steven Marwaha</a>, professor of psychiatry at Birmingham and senior author on the study, <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200701125431.htm" target="_blank">said in a release</a>. "Sleep may be one of the most important underlying factors—and it's one that we can influence with effective, early interventions, so it's important that we understand these links."</p><p>After compiling the data, the researchers discovered an association between children with irregular sleeping patterns and teenagers with <a href="https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/psychosis/about-psychosis/" target="_blank">psychotic experiences</a>—that is, episodes when the person perceives reality differently than those around them. Even when depression at 10 years old was considered as a mediating factor, their findings still suggested "a specific pathway between these childhood sleep problems and adolescent psychotic experiences." </p><p>Toddlers with shorter nighttime sleep duration and late bedtimes were likewise associated with a <a href="https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml" target="_blank">borderline personality disorder</a>—a disorder marked by a pattern of varying moods, self-images, and behaviors—in their teenage years. Depression at age 10 did not mediate this particular association, suggesting a separate and more specific pathway. </p>
A more restful tomorrow<p>While the sample size was large and mental health was assessed with a validated interview, there nevertheless remain limitations to this data. For starters, sleep habits were based on mothers' reports. Because they came from memory, versus a more direct observation method such as actigraphy, these data may be prone to imperfect recollection and reporting error. There are also many confounders that could be secretly nudging the results, such as family conditions, prenatal medicines, and a host of environmental factors. Finally, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024884/#:~:text=Sleep%20difficulties%20in%20youth%20with,fear%20of%20dark%20%5B13%5D." target="_blank">the relationship between sleep problems and mental disorders</a> is both complex and two-way.</p><p>As such, the study shows an association between poor childhood sleep later mental disorders but does not prove a causal link. Parents need not worry that a string of nightmares or the eternal struggle settle into bed will be the first ingredients in a witches' brew of debilitating mental disorders. The goal of the study, the researchers point out, is not to create undue worry but improve our ability to recognize the signs of at-risk children and deliver necessary interventions earlier.</p><p>"The results of this study could have important implications for helping practitioners identify children who might be at higher risk for psychotic experiences or BPD symptoms in adolescence, and potentially lead to the design of more effectively targeted sleep or psychological interventions to prevent the onset or attenuate these mental disorders," Isabel Morales-Muñoz, the study's lead researcher, <a href="https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20200702/childhood-sleep-problems-linked-to-adolescent-psychosis-borderline-personality-disorder#:~:text=Sleep%20problems%20during%20early%20childhood,study%20published%20in%20JAMA%20Psychiatry." target="_blank">told Healio Psychiatry</a><u>.</u></p><p>If a parent reading this is worried that their child's sleep patterns are deleterious, the take away should not be despair over an unyielding fate. It should be to seek professional help as soon as possible to begin improving sleep duration and quality. Even if you aren't worried, it's worth remembering that childhood experiences lay the foundation for a lifetime of salubrious sleeping habits. It's so much more than beauty rest.</p>
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
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Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.