Responsive Design – Publicists and Editors Be Warned

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As publicists we work tirelessly to get our clients the best possible coverage. We strategize, develop messaging, media train, customize pitches, nurture relationships, and capitalize on trends, but at a certain point it is out of our control. We have to trust the writers we work with, and they in turn have to trust their editors. At the end of the day, you’ve done your best, you hold your breath and wait – maybe an hour, a day, or six months for the coverage to publish. Many times, the final article doesn’t make your client happy: why did I only get one quote? Why wasn’t our company named first in the list of market players? Why wasn’t the picture of our product used? Where is my site link?, etc. And then it’s our job to explain, reason, and justify why certain editorial decisions were made. Sometimes, we are lucky enough to gain insight from the writer we worked with, but often the editor or photo editor doing the final layout took liberties with which content was included and how it was displayed (just doing their job), leaving us without an explanation. I’m here to warn everyone – publicists and journalists – that this could get worse for all of us moving forward simply because of two little words: Responsive design.

The Future of Online Publishing: Responsive Design

Normally, I only care about website design on a surface level – my agency, 451 Marketing, has an entire creative team that specializes in that. However, in the February 17th Wooden Horse Magazine media News  e-newsletter, Meg Weaver suggested that publicists should be worried about the editorial implications of responsive design. This technology optimizes website layout and content for the reader based on how it is being consumed (tablet, PC, mobile, laptop) and is quickly being adopted by publishers. Weaver reports, “Over the next few months, all of Hearst Digital Media‘s titles are getting a new look, starting with and” Similarly, released its responsive design site in December 2011, and in October 2012, became the first global news site to roll out a fully responsive redesign optimized for mobile and tablet browsing. Responsive design: It’s the future of site design and the future of publishing.

Why worry? Editorial Implications of Responsive Design

Weaver suggests that what has started as something helpful for the reader could lead to the following, “Later, a magazine could create several different versions of an article with different headlines and images to appeal to different site visitors.” Not so bad, right? Think again. Weaver predicts that if the content is “learning” readers’ interests and providing them with what they like, eventually readers will cease to be challenged, enlightened or inspired. “And soon, the current problems magazine publishers face with dwindling print circulations, may soon seem quaint in view of plummeting website visitors.”  This is concerning, but worse is that publishers without a smart editorial plan in place will effectively make designers and developers into editors.

What happens when you take content written for a website and “shift” it to display on smaller screens? Content gets moved, hidden, or chopped altogether.  This Content Strategy and Responsive Design post from Brain Traffic’s Sean Tubridy goes into further detail. How does a designer know which few keywords to keep in the headline across layouts? How does a developer know which image is the most compelling? Side bars – forget about it – those will likely be dropped altogether.  Jared M. Spool, founder of User Interface Engineering, outlines in this article the key stages to, “Devising a Strategy for Responsive Design.” If the editorial process ends with the final layout of a single article across each device being determined by someone without editorial experience, ultimately the content, the reader, the writer, and even the publicist will suffer. The scenario I described at the start of this post will become more frequent and likely be more egregious for the brands we represent.  One last caveat, there’s the fact that advertisers (who keep publishers in business) aren’t up to speed yet with technological requirements of responsive design. Now, I think we can all see the implications of this hiccup.

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Ring In the New Year with Cheer


New Year’s Eve is sneaking up and the most raved about restaurants and bars in Boston and surrounding areas present an array of entertaining options. Whether fancy, fun, somewhere in between, or completely low-key, we have options from prix fixe French cuisine and drink pairings to “Anti-Resolution” parties. Our list covers something to appeal to all celebratory styles for an evening to remember!


L’Espalier is rolling out the red carpet for guests to ring in the New Year in style. Chef Frank McClelland has handcrafted a lavish menu at this luxe dining destination in the heart of Back Bay. Enjoy the lights of the city from the enchanting dining room while welcoming 2013 with a delectable eight-course menu complete with champagne, for $195. Preview the menu


Abby Park, the first restaurant in Milton to boast a full bar, offers American cuisine with a modern and creative twist. Mediterranean and European influences infuse classic comfort dishes with a hint of worldliness making it a fun place to kick off the New Year with family, friends or a special someone. Chef Tony DeRienzo offers a full NYE menu with an array of tasty dishes to pair with a drink of choice. Abby Park is located at 550 Adams Street in Milton, MA. For reservations, please call: 617. 696.8700.

Catalyst opens its doors and welcomes guests to a fun celebratory dining option for ringing in 2013. Chef William Kovel has created a delicious four-course menu for food lovers to enjoy as they cheers to the New Year in his comfortable, yet modern, Cambridge establishment. With constant praise for his mouth-watering dishes, guests are in for a fabulous start to their year’s dining adventures for just $75. Be sure to look at the full menu.

Tres Gatos Tapas Bar, Boston’s first full service restaurant, book and music store, is the perfect blend of an intimate and lively scene to ring in the New Year. Dinner service will feature their classic menu with some luxe new additions from Chef Marcos Sanches. Starting at 10PM, the three cats will change gears into a late night party as music & literary guide Phil Wilcox spins great music from the record player and salutes the New Year with vuvuzela blowing. Plenty of cava will be flowing and grapes will be abound in the true Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes, 1 for each month, to the chimes of the clock at midnight. Tres Gatos is located at 470 Centre Street in Jamaica Plain. For reservations, please call 617.477.4851.

At il Casale, Chef Dante de Magistris is offering two New Year’s Eve seatings depending on guests’ celebratory schedule. Choose fancy, fun or both. At this suburban gem in Belmont, guests can expect top-notch service and an enjoyable start to 2013.  For those who wish to dine on the earlier side, the first seating is from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. There will be an option of selecting either a three-course prix fix menu, for $55, or a four-course prix fixe with choices and a bubbly toast, for $75. Guests looking to ring in the New Year at the restaurant will be invited to attend the second seating, starting at 8 p.m. The holiday experience will feature the four-course prix fixe with a champagne toast.

Ducali Pizzeria & Bar will celebrate “A Low-key NYE,” with a special “champagne-style” beer list with selections which all use re-fermentation including: Brooklyn Local 1, Unibroue Fin du Monde, Sam Adams Infinium, and Duvel Magnums. Ducali will also be serving its gluttonous Roman-style pizzas (think Tortellini or Patate), Nachos Italiano (pizza dough chips baked with mozzarella cheese, hot pepper, salami, and served with a spicy tomato sauce), and indulgent sandwiches until midnight – because hey, there will be no tight dresses to stay slim for. Guests can also watch the ball drop on the big screen projectors. Reservations strongly suggested. Ducali is located at 289 Causeway Steet, Boston, Mass. For reservations please call 617.742.4144 or visit

Restaurant dante is hosting its annual anti-resolution New Year’s Eve cocktail party. Join fellow Boston rebels and DJ Adilson to dance the night away and indulge in the seven deadly sins food stations,  passed hor d’oeuvres and a special midnight toast. No judgement, no rules, and plenty of fun to be had. The food station selections include tasty options such as Restaurant dante’s own Cotechino with lentils, an Italian tradition, which is said to promote wealth in the new year.


Five Lessons Learned from Rihanna’s 777 Tour

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In honor of her seventh album, Unapologetic, pop star Rihanna took on a major endeavor with a very Vegas-like name: “The 777 Tour,” a concert series that would have her travel to seven cities in seven countries in seven days on a plane with about 50 fans and 150 journalists in tow. While Rihanna’s star status alone guaranteed the tour being a week-long celebrity news headliner, it was quickly overshadowed by the apparent torture experienced by the fans and journalists traveling with her: jet lag; cramped spaces; the lack of proper food, toiletries, and Internet access; and little to no interactions with the singer herself after the first few days on board as she remained at the front of the plane. Needless to say, the event turned out to be a public relations disaster, one that upset even the most loyal members of her RihannaNavy fanbase and the journalism community—two outlets an entertainer like Rihanna depends on to be the brand she is today.

Although the tour has reached its end, and the terrifying, if not murderous tweets from those on the plane, stories about Australian journalist-turned-streaker Tim Dormer, and overall mutiny from journalists only live on in Internet infamy, there is a lot companies and service providers can learn from this endeavor turned disaster. After all, while hindsight is 20/20, it’s better to avoid as many disasters as you can.


    1. Set your priorities: While a tour of any size requires priority to be placed on things like set equipment, instruments, and wardrobe, the biggest priority for The 777 Tour wasn’t really any of these things—it was the people. While Rihanna and company are used to a hectic schedule and less-than-stellar traveling accommodations (yes, even when said accommodations are in the relative comfort of a private jet), one of the biggest priorities, if not the biggest priority, were the 200+ people who were unused to those conditions. It’s important to remember that regardless of how many times you or your company gets used to executing one type of event or campaign, priorities may change when other factors are added. Even doing something simple, like an event in an outside venue, requires just as much if not more consideration for safety than simply lighting.
    2. Anticipate problems and plan for them: It goes without saying that those 200 people not having access to many of the things it’s assumed that Rihanna always gets—like leg room and the chance to sit down and eat real food—was a very noticeable problem for the tour, one that should have been accounted for and planned. For example, maybe getting another plane for them to reach a location a bit later than Rihanna herself would have been better, allowing them to sleep a little longer, be refreshed, and better able to handle the schedule delay. Although it’s possible that any plans made for the fans and journalists that didn’t include seeing Rihanna 24/7 would have made them upset, them complaining about not being able to see her for a few hours would have been so much better than complaints about never being able to see her and feeling like they were dwelling in airplane purgatory.

      Image via Buzzfeed
    3. Remember your duties as a public figure (part 1):  Rihanna having more than 100 journalists willing to document her every move and appearance was done for a reason—having stories about Rihanna to better promote the album and give a behind-the-scenes look at her life on tour.  Their job was dependent on Rihanna being willing to take a moment out of her schedule and speak to them. The age-old lesson learned here is it’s important that if you have a company representative or are your company’s representative, your job is to commit to fulfilling your media obligations. While we now live in a world where one’s image can be created, controlled, or even changed internally, traditional media is still an important influencer in how you’re perceived. Even today, transparency and professionalism are still key.US Magazine

      Image via US Weekly
    4. Remember your duties as a public figure (part 2): For Rihanna, another duty that went unfulfilled was her remembering that the people who truly mattered were those RihannaNavy members traveling with her.  From the beginning, their experiences with Rihanna were to play a very important role in enforcing the image of her as an entertainer who connects with her fans and shaping the way others—fans, commentators, and critics alike—see her.  While 50 people won’t completely change the way over 62 million on Facebook or 26 million other people on Twitter see Rihanna, especially as Unapologetic became #1 on the Billboard charts in the United States on November 28, their chronicling the lack of interaction with their favorite performer has had to have hit home for some—if it hadn’t, there wouldn’t be so many articles about it.  Having Rihanna come from the front of the plane to where her fans were in the back wouldn’t have necessarily made everything better, but a fan being able to shake her hand, speak with her, or at worst, complain to her would have generated a much more positive impact in their experience.Again, for companies, it is important that fans see you as someone who knows what they experience, understands their needs, and reflects that in as many ways as you can.  Depending on what your company does or represents, the dynamic shared by you and your customers is one that can change almost instantly. While you can’t prepare for everything that will happen, letting them know that you’re listening to them and you recognize their needs makes all the difference.
    5. And if all else fails, apologize: Luckily, this is a lesson Rihanna seemed to put in practice as she released a formal apology on the last day of the tour explaining her absence was to make sure her voice was still strong throughout the week.While that explanation does not excuse what her fans and the press went through, and can even be seen as her being out of touch with what was going on, acknowledging the disaster her tour became allows her to better repair the damage her brand has gone through, dodge a potentially strong wave of backlash, and generate interest from other fans should she try an endeavor of this scale again.And this lesson is just as important as any of the others. Though apologizing will not always guarantee things working out in your favor, it is the first and most essential step in handling any crisis or disaster that may come save for not having one at all. It never hurts to say sorry—and to mean it.

Let’s hope that for Rihanna, using “7” that many times in a tour name will make sure the odds work out in her favor next time.What other lessons do you think can be learned from The 777 Tour? Let us know in the comments.


Written by Jalika Conteh, recent graduate of Emerson College’s Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) graduate program.