September 29, 2008

Networking Counts

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 11:57 am by SD

While I was reading a recent article in Advertising Age that discussed some of the myths of networking, I got to thinking about how networking has impacted my life. Every single job or internship that I have ever had has come as a result of networking. Fresh out of school and looking for a job in a new city, I contacted an old colleague of my former internship supervisor. Several interviews later, I had my first PR gig. When I was ready for a change, I met my mentor for lunch to discuss people I should meet with to discuss potential career paths. One of those people I met with is now my current boss and I guarantee you neither one of us came to that meeting expecting it to end up the way it did.

I’ll tell you a little secret. Networking is not on my top ten list of things I love to do but I know I need to do it. Unlike most other PR people, I’m shy, so striking up a conversation at a random networking event sounds about as fun getting stranded in a snow storm. Even though it’s not my favorite thing to do, I do it anyways and I’ve actually learned to enjoy it. As a result of it, I’ve met some awesome people and learned a lot. Let me share a few tips about networking that I’ve found helpful:

1. It Can Take Place Anywhere: It doesn’t have to be at a designated networking group. Strike up a conversation at the dog park on one Saturday afternoon, at a cocktail party or standing in line at a coffee shop. You never know who you may meet and how your paths will cross in the future so take a minute to chat it up with that stranger standing next to you.

2. Utilize Your Hobbies: Love running, join a running club. Passionate about community service, join a non-profit board. Whatever you like to do, there are other people out there who like to do it to so find that group to get involved in. Once you join the group, make an effort to strike up a conversation with one person at each meeting. Now you enjoy doing something you love, while making potential contacts.

3. Take a Buddy: Attending a networking or professional event by yourself can be daunting so find a friend or co-worker to go with you. Here’s the caveat, make a pact to talk to other people besides each other. It’s easier to talk to strangers when you are with someone you know, so the two of you can work together to engage others in conversation.

4. Start Small: Whenever I attend a networking event, I make a goal to meet three new people. It’s a manageable number that can be easily accomplished, yet it introduces me to a whole new group of people I didn’t know before. For your first event, start with one person and work your way up from there!

5. Observe the Pros: Being able to “work a room” is a true art form that takes a long time to learn. Watch those people who you know do it well. You can learn a lot! One of the biggest lessons, I learned is that a good networker asks a lot of questions to learn about the other person. They spend more time listening and less time listening.

Relationships are key to helping you land your next big job or client in the PR industry! And, relationships are built from networking. No matter how uncomfortable it is, get out there an network. Start small and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you get comfortable. Before you know it, you’ll be the one working the room!

~S

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September 25, 2008

Web Anonymity Makes People Nasty – So how do you measure comments?

Posted in A walk on the "dark side", In the news, Social Media at 9:43 am by R

Diana Mapes, an MSNBC contributor, wrote an intriguing article about how the increasing facelessness of communication turns us in to Jecklls and Hydes. This sociological and psychological phenomenon begs the question, how do you measure the comments on blogs and articles in a way that accounts for “online disinhibition effect?”

It’s impossible to write off negative comments completely, because there has to be a grain of truth in those thoughts. But is it accurate to assess those really nasty ones as is? Is it strategic to respond to those comments in action or directly to that person?

I think you have to execute an overall comment analysis to really flush out the tone of the public/reader/viewer’s response and make adjustments to strategy and response based on the comments as a whole.

And what if your client sees these comments and takes offense? What if you are blamed for the reaction to a news item you didn’t write/edit/produce?

Well, that’s why this is good knowledge to have in our PR practitioner tool belt. Knowing that people give wacky, tacky and occasionally true responses via the faceless atmosphere of blogs and news forums, we can advise clients of this phenomenon to explain away some of the angry things people say.

That being said, when there are specific examples left in comments or clear knowledge about the topic, it’s important to use that as a resource to right a wrong or re-direct strategy.

Bottom line: take comments with a grain of salt and evaluate the whole picture. Look at article content and comment content as two separate entities and measure them individually to represent a holistic picture of your work for your client.

~Robyn

September 24, 2008

Gen Y Lambasting

Posted in Millenial Mumblings tagged at 10:33 am by R

I was at a conference last week for a client. It was an extremely interesting event. I got to put a lot of names with faces, be a part of the 2009 strategy launch and was one of only a handful of Gen Yers in attendance.

As part of the conference we discussed how to engage younger users and how to attract, keep and grow younger talent into leadership.

During the section on generational differences, the presenter asked:

What are some characteristics of Millenials?

When from across the room in response, with out raising a hand, came a drenched-with-distaste:

Entitled. Everyone needs to get a gold star.

People around the room lightly chuckled in agreement. It wasn’t so much the actual statement, but the way  it was delivered that really got me — and the crowd’s reaction. There’s some downright bitterness toward our generation!

Our presenter asked what other characteristics there were. Several other people answered with less-than-flattering comments, generalizations and other stereotypes (like lack of patience, “job-hoppers,” and impatient) about Gen Y. Finally I’d had it. I raised my hand and said:

We grew up with technology. The entirety of our formative years has taken place at a time when the world was obsessed with going at a faster and faster pace because of new technology. We have little patience for paper or elongated processes because we’ve been trained to know there’s probably a better and faster way to do it.

Silence. Just silence.

In that silence, I realized we are a conundrum unto older generations. They just don’t know what to do with us. It’s hard for people to understand what we are able to contribute and it seems that the focus is on “breaking” our “bad habits,” not utilizing the natural skills we bring to the proverbial table.

Some of the questions I heard posed that day included:

  1. How do I make them adhere to my values?
  2. Why don’t they do things the way they ought to be done – the way they always have been done?
  3. Why don’t they work as hard?

If I may quickly dispell these:

  1. Whoa. Why can’t we share our values? Isn’t it possible there’s some common ground there? Collaboration and acceptance is a big thing for Gen Y. It takes everyone to be a genius.
  2. The way things are done is simply not the way they will continue to be done — in everything. Tiiiiiiiimes, they are a’ changin’. Millennials have a fresh perspective and forward-looking attitude on technology. Change is scary for many, especially those who aren’t superb with new technology, but it’s happening anyway. Gen Y’s natural aptitude can be an asset in this transition.
  3. WHAT!? I’m attached to my Blackberry 24/7. I work from home at night, on the weekend, on vacation. Being a hard worker doesn’t mean being in the office any longer. The office isn’t a requirement for working hard. It’s not out-of-office-off-of-work anymore. That’s a paradigm that’s going to change forever.

We’ve got to be ambassadors for the positive characteristics that our generation can bring to the workforce. We have to help people ease into the inevitable change and wave of things to come. That’s one of our strengths; to adapt to technology. And there’s a few more…but that’s another post.

And hopefully, other generations will consider the ways we can benefit the workplace, not just the nagging stereotypes that have clearly been branded on us.

Gold stars for everyone!

~Robyn

September 22, 2008

CELEBRATE Good Times COME ON!

Posted in Our News, Personally... tagged at 12:55 pm by R

Allow me to introduce the lovely Mrs. Nicole Gummow! My friend and fellow blogger tied the knot with her college sweetheart Grant at (where else?) Gonzaga University September 20, 2008 with a big old bash at the beautiful Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Wash.

Here’s a few photos courtesy of our friend Courtney Siegel:

(L to R: Moi and the beautiful bride)

(Me and hubby working the dance floor.)

(Mr & Mrs. Gummow!)

It was a beautiful wedding and a great time was had by all. My sweet friend is so happy and I’ve never seen a bride actually physically have to try to stop smiling. It was precious. Don’t expect to see any posts from Nicole for at least a couple weeks as she’s on her fabulous honeymoon. After that, I’m sure she’ll be a regular!

Cheers!

~Robyn

September 15, 2008

How Social Media is Impacting Grammar and Language

Posted in Social Media tagged at 9:11 am by R

I bet my mom is gonna jump on this one.

Here’s the back story: My Uncle Larry just joined Facebook. Oh yes. It’s a family affair now. He sent me a message that said, and I quote:

You can tell them if Uncle Larry can do it…..
bumper sticker brevity and YB poignancy – c even i’m doing it!

It was the ‘c’ that caught my eye. He meant ‘see,’ but more importantly, did my mom’s cool older brother just phonetically spell in a social media format? This wasn’t a text. This was a message. Presumably typed on a keyboard.

OMG! What’s happening to the sanctity of the English language!?

It’s an evolution. Our means of communication has changed and it follows that our language must do the same.

Social media communication requires a new way of speaking (I’ll quote Uncle Larry again):

It is like communicating in the strange language of bumper sticker brevity and Yogi Berra poignancy, one thought at a time.

Clearly, it goes with out saying that my Uncle Larry, with bumper-sticker-brevity-and-Yogi-Berra-poignancy no less, summed up what communicators, sociologist, marketers and other cultural attaches have been trying to put to words.

In a new world where abbreviations abound and text language is common place. It’s the message that is at the core of communication. And while the brevity and inventive spelling may irk some (like my mother the English professor), isn’t the point simply to understand each other?

Do U C what I mean?

~Robyn

September 10, 2008

Up PR Creek Without a paddle

Posted in A walk on the "dark side" tagged at 9:06 am by R

The hysterical and spot-on Richard Laermer and Kevin Dugan of Bad Pitch Blog (God help me if I ever show up there!) wrote a poignant post about what the changing scape of journalism and the shifting influence of media means for the public relations industry.

Says Kevin:

Everyone I know wonders whether these papers (and a whole host of magazines) firing just about anyone who’s not a star will affect our little PR industry. They’re asking:

1. Will their cuts be followed by mega-ones on our side?
2. Does this mean talented reporters will take the good jobs in PR?
3. Finally: Who will we be pitching?

Is our world or public relations about to implode? Bad Pitch thinks not and I agree.

It’s not about print media anymore. That front page hit of the local paper doesn’t amount to much. On-line hits resonate, they can be searched for, headlines are texted to subscribers, search terms are delivered to RSS feed subscribers…and a print hit just sits there.

Here’s the real gold of the article, especially as a Gen Yer who sees the writing on the wall and wants to lead this budding little agency into the future.

Kevin continues:

If your boss or client wants to “be in the paper” and doesn’t count anything that doesn’t kill trees as real media, now you just have to buy a better printer. Soon, he or she isn’t going to be able to count much except what’s online.

The metrics are changing faster than I can type this. The old fogeys who can’t figure why a blog post is better than a few words in the Atlanta Journal are going to have the point proven expediently. Stop them in their tracks by showing them Technorati rankings and compare them to the 200,000 readers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution (and for a kicker, show them the paper’sonline rankings, which are probably lower than most uber-popular blogs).

The key is not to cling longingly to the way things once were. To be exceptional PR professionals, we need to be ahead of the curve, move with the change — not fight it.

Our industry isn’t going anywhere. We just need to leverage our strengths to reach a new brand of journalist and meet them on their court…the Web.

~Robyn

September 8, 2008

Word Up.

Posted in In the news, Who was the advertising genius... tagged at 11:19 am by R

The Phoenix Business Journal had a small article this week about Cramer Krasselt releasing an annual “cultural dictionary” to keep their employees and clients up-to-date on the new slang. The terms were garnered from the Web, blogs and conversations. And let’s not forget text messages.

Some of the highlights:

  • “Faceslam” — to ignore or deny a friendship request on Facebook or social network.
  • “Smexting” — smoking and texting
  • “infosnacking” — wasting time at work by surfing the Web

Take that Merriam-Webster!

~Robyn

September 5, 2008

Politics + Co-Workers(or clients) + Watercooler = Debacle

Posted in In the news, Personally..., Political Punditry tagged at 10:37 pm by R

It’s the touchy season that arrives every four years, the presidential election. People are talking politics everywhere, in meetings, at the coffee shop, over dinner and, of course, in the office.

But how to handle all of those inevitable political discussions appropriately? Do you engage in the conversation at all? If you do, how much do you reveal about your political self and beliefs?

I believe those conversations are important to have. Sometimes the best political pundit, is your book keeper or IT person. Every voters’ opinions have value and insight…but only if you allow them too.

I have two simple rules for weathering the next 60-some days:

  1. Respect Everyone’s Opinion – McCain supporter*, Obama supporter*, Paul supporter*, whatever the party line or candidate, do your best to respect and be open to the opinions your fellow Americans have.
  2. Listen Before Speaking – Don’t stir the pot with some snide Donkey or Elephant joke. Make sure you know the tone of the conversation before piping up with your position. You could just end up with an earful and some awkwardness if you’re not careful.

Basically, just be respectful and know when to zip it.

Other tips for navigating the political mind field:

  • If your client is a raging Right Wing Nut, don’t diss Alaska
  • If your colleague is The Angry Left, don’t diss community organizers
  • If your boss is a McCain supporter, don’t blare Wyclef’s “Yes We Can” in your office
  • If your regular barista is an Obama supporter, don’t hum Big & Rich’s “Rasin’ McCain” or else…

Your personal political positions send a message about who you are as a person. Be strategic about the messages you send in the workplace by being professional and deliberately respectful.

Nod your head in thoughtful contemplation as a client says, “McCain is the only way this country can run.” Even if you’re thinking, “Press bashing, senile, warmonger.”

Smile considerately when your colleague says, “Obama is the great hope for our country.” Even if you want to respond with, “Marxist, no experience, media-made celebutante!”

No matter how hard the moment is, remember you can immediately go rant to your Right Wing Nut/The Angry Left friends after exiting the conversation.

Your personal (professional) PR  is far more important than expressing views in a political tantrum. Plus, you may have to live it down November 5…

~Robyn

*For purposes of political fairness, candidates were listed alphabetically, all future party references were assigned in order of the original candidate’s alphabetical placement in the first reference.

September 3, 2008

AdAge and Al Ries, You Are Brilliant

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:33 am by R

This article, emailed to me from AdAge, is sheer genius. Al Ries manages to, in one article, do what it takes months and years of educating and coaxing many a client and potential client to understand.

Whet your whistle on these tid bits:

PR and advertising are in a symbiotic relationship. Before you launch an advertising war, you should first engage in a PR battle.

PR provides the credibility that makes your advertising much more effective.

PR first, advertising second” has been our mantra for a number of years. But PR can often be more effective if it’s based on “doing something” rather than just “saying something.

Now go read the whole thing in all its brilliant glory here!

~Robyn

September 2, 2008

Blatant Political Overload

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:37 pm by R

I’m sure Shannon can relate to Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper’s exhaustion and political overdose induced looniness from last week’s Democratic political convention in Denver. There was seriously a five minute conversation between pundits about how great the band was and how in the groove Wolf was during commercial breaks.

The first time Anderson mentioned it, I thought it was funny. “Haha, Wolf gets down to 70’s funk cover bands.”

The second time I thought, “Careful Cooper, you’re pushing it.”

The third through fifth times I just rolled my eyes and thought, “Seriously?”

Tonight, in St.Paul, the band came up again. My jaw dropped. Really. We haven’t gotten over the band yet? I was close to crying “UNPROFESSIONAL!”  Then I realized: these poor, sweet broadcast journalists have been talking about nothing other than politics for two weeks straight. They must be going nuts! Bonkers! Looney Toons!

Wolf needed the band as a distraction from the political gobble-di-gook and Anderson needed something other than politics to talk about. And you know what, I needed that band. Dare I say, it’s refreshing to see buttoned-up commentators interacting like sleep-deprived, normal human beings.

The “Best Political Team Ever” must be punch drunk from all the back and forth between the Obama and McCain camps. They clearly need a break, as (I’m sure) do the teams from MSNBC, FOX News, ABC, CBS and that PBS show that does all the features that my mom loves.

I say, enough verbal kickboxing (at least until the debates)! Can’t we have the band from Denver play from 3-9pm on CNN? They do a bang up Brick House. Wolf, Anderson, are you with me?

~Robyn

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