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!



August 28, 2008

Are you making the grade?

Posted in A walk on the "dark side", Industry Standards tagged at 8:56 am by R

HubSpot has released a new program for press releases. It’s called Press Release Grader. This free analysis reviews your press release for content, links, key words and contact info. Ultimately a marketing tool, Press Release Grader is helpful, especially when it comes to gauging how successful your release will be when it comes to SEO.

I ran a press release our firm wrote about Revolution 3D making its way into the San Francisco marketplace.

…it got a 40%…

Shocked and appalled, I looked at the rationale behind this completely unfair grade. What Press Release Grader helped us realize was that we were losing a lot of points for being a web-worthy document. The writing might have been good, the use of metaphor and linguistic jokes superb (we fancy ourselves witty around here), but we weren’t prepared with proper links making the release not just readable, but functional and purposeful for the recipients.

So noted Press Release Grader.

While I’m not inclined to rely on Press Release Grader as the be-all-and-end-all measure of a decent release (40 percent be damned!), I’ll probably use it to make sure that I’ve got good links, contact info and major messages covered for future projects.


August 12, 2008

I can be your HARO baby!

Posted in A walk on the "dark side", Industry Standards tagged at 8:38 am by R

If you haven’t been utilizing Help A Reporter Out (HARO), you’re behind the curve.

This service is the brainchild of PR guru Peter Shankman. HARO is a networking group that puts PR practitioners and journalists together to serve each other.

Here’s how it works:

There are two pages you can sign up on:

  1. I am a source (PR practitioners)
  2. I need a source (journalists)

Once you’ve signed up you get three emails a day with a list of queries that reporters need help with.

If you’re a journalist, you can submit queries as they arise and assign deadlines, locations, details and descriptions to ensure that you get the kind of quality responses to help fill in the story.

Really, HARO operates on the trust system. Peter trusts his fellow PR peeps to pitch well and be good resources to make it worthwhile for the media to keep signing up and submitting queries. And it seems to be working because there are generally about 20 queries per email…that’s a lot  of requests for sources!

Since I’ve been using HARO, I’ve had a few opportunities come up that worked out nicely and I might never have found them other wise. Also, I’ve enjoyed connecting my reporter pals into this resource as well. Everyone I’ve referred really seems to be pleased with the new tool that helps them get the job done.

Peter goes above and beyond with his thrice daily emails by adding little notes at the top talking about what he’s up to. Maybe it’s just me and my sense of humor, but I think Peter is a dang crack up! I look forward to his quips almost as much as I look forward to seeing what opportunities will be there when I scroll down.

Peter Shankman if you’re reading this, let me know when you go on a stand up comedy tour, I want to buy tickets.

Bottom Line: It’s free. It’s a great way to make connections. And hey, you can be somebody’s HARO!


July 29, 2008

Great Clients Aren’t Born, They are Made

Posted in A walk on the "dark side" tagged at 11:52 am by R

The wisest business people, I have learned, are often the ones who realize that they aren’t able to strategize and execute on all levels of their business. They are willing to accept expertise from people who are knowledgeable in their respective industries and are happy to have those people contribute to the company’s success.

That being said, there are business people out there who think they just know better. When it comes to design or public relations strategy, I’ve come across many who just want it done their way. And that’s not always the best way to do things…especially if they are going to hold you accountable in the end.

I’m paid to act in the client’s best interest, sometimes that means saving them from themselves.

Here are three tactics that I use to nudge clients in the right strategic direction:

  1. Outline the Consequences: Make sure your client understands that if they don’t go with your strategic suggestions then they won’t necessarily get the results they are hoping for.
  2. Manage Expectations: You know what your clients media goals are. Be sure to highlight what they can expect with relation to those goals for each means of execution. As in: “It’s not likely that you’ll see an article in December if I don’t have approval by such and such a date. Otherwise, it’s not likely that we’ll see anything until March or April.” (See how I used #1 and #2 there!)
  3. This is a two-way street, so look both ways: Make sure your client understands that they have responsibilities in getting the job done too. Many clients don’t understand the commitment that is Public Relations. Be clear about what your expectations of them are to get the results they desire.

When you get a client committed and involved in the process, help them understand what to realistically anticipate and communicate what the consequenses of inaction or alternative execution are, everyone is going to be happier.

The goal is not simply to get client coverage, but also to help clients understand the process, understand what is newsworthy, understand how they play a role in the media.

In my experience, these three tactics are critical in helping clients to become familiar with the PR process, establishing appropriate client/vendor boundaries and helping your client see you as a professional and expert when it comes to public relations matters.

It’s my theory that great clients who take direction are open to unique strategy and hold up their end of the bargain aren’t born, they are made through great experiences with PR practitioners who help them understand the trade and the benefits of well-nurtured client/vendor relationships.


July 23, 2008

Millenials Getting the Short End of the Economic Stick

Posted in Millenial Mumblings tagged , at 12:12 pm by R

Reuters posted an article today entitled:

Young adults face tough economic struggle: study

Someone actually had to “study” that? Because…duh! It shouldn’t have taken a whole lot of effort to come up with that one.

When I graduated from Gonzaga University three years ago people were already writing about how we were coming into the workforce as the most indebted group ever. Credit card companies had been marketing to our set heavily and no one (hello banks you missed a golden PR opportunity) took the time to educate us about the importance of credit and how to use it appropriately (I’ll exclude myself on this one…thank you dad for your wisdom on spending and hard-line monitoring of my expenses:) ).

To top that off education was more expensive that ever before. Many of our peers will be paying student loans back until the edge of their mid-life crisis!

It goes with out saying that the current economic strife is another up hill battle. The rising cost of gas and food is of enormous concern. Thirty-three percent of young adult credit card holders owe more that $10,000 according to Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. What’s more, that balance isn’t moving. Many are only able to pay the monthly minimum.

Dismal as all of this comes across, I have to ask, “Is there an opportunity in this?” If you’re in PR and represent a bank, I think absolutely.

This is a time for education. Knowledge is power after all. Now that the power isn’t in our pocketbooks as spenders, it needs to be in our arsenal of wisdom so we can do things the American way and pull ourselves up by the bootstrap and move along.

Some PR Strategy/Tactical ideas:

  1. Peer-to-peer Guidance: Banking has a treasure trove in its young employees. Successful banks with conservative practices (like UMB Bank who just had its SECOND quarter of earnings — which is HUGE in this banking climate) could set up innovative social networks where select young employees blog or host webinars about issues directly targeted at young bank members.
  2. Co-brand with a purpose: Banks of all sizes can pair up with similarly sized businesses to offer value-added services like a free financial planning session on or around young members’ birthdays. (It’s the new Baskin-Robbins free birthday ice cream cone or the Red Robin Birthday Burger!)
  3. Break the cycle: A wise friend of mine said (when she sent me the Reuters article), “Someone should teach this in college.” She’s absolutely right. Why didn’t the lending bank talk to me about credit when they did the exit meeting for my student loan? Why didn’t they keep in touch with me during my four years at school to keep me informed so that I’d not only be solid financially (and pay them back on time) but also, perhaps, a customer? It was a missed opportunity, but maybe it’s a greater one now.

Maybe we’ve been dealt a bad hand or maybe it’s just the perfect storm, either way, we’ve got the know-how to get out of this fiduciary rut.

Financial Millenials, assert yourself and some of these ideas and add value to your team’s work. Make your voice heard and get some help for the rest of us. 🙂

PR Millenials — you know your charge — keep people talking. Get your financial clients positioned to be part of the remedy. Encourage our newsroom peers to advocate for coverage that’s relevant to their lives and happen to be hot buzz words these days: economics, indicators, struggle, solutions.


July 21, 2008

To Get A Job, You Have To Ask For It

Posted in A walk on the "dark side" tagged at 3:26 pm by R

Not so long ago, when I was applying for my first job I sent out a lot of letters. I’m sure I made some hilarious errors that some sweet HR person got a good chuckle out of.

Exhibit A: This is the letter that prompted this post (please note: all the names were changed to protect the innocent)

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Gloria Estephan,

I am a recent graduate of the Barbara Wawa School of Journalism & Mass Communications at The View University. I just completed a 14-month internship as a public relations/media associate for the Fancy Schmancy Event Host Committee.

Attached is my resume and two letters of recommendation. Further references will be provided upon request.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Best wishes,


Now that I’m the “To Whom It May Concern” as the hiring manager for Armstrong Troyky, I’d like to pass on some wisdom that will help you get that job.

  1. Tell me what you want to do here. Do you want another internship? Are you interested in a full-time position with us? Do you want to be an administrative assistant, account coordinator, account service rep? I need to know what position it is you want to fill to properly assess your ability to execute the duties of said position.
  2. Tell me why you should be considered. I get plenty of these emails. What I don’t get a lot of are ones that wow me with a stand out skill or marked accomplishment that makes me want to open an attachment (I’ll cover attachments in a moment).
  3. Call me! Yes. I absolutely prefer email. But so do reporters and I call them anyway. Let me know you really are interested in a position by following up with me. My father-in-law always says, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” It’s true, the more (appropriately) persistent you are, the more likely you’ll be to get an answer, even if it is a no.
  4. Attachers Be Ware. Do you know where emails with attachments from strange email addresses go…junk mail. This is why #3 is so important. I might never get your resume, writing samples and recommendations because they were automatically forwarded to the land of no return…my Spam box.

With these things in mind, if I were to do it all over again, this is what I’d do.

  1. Research the company…thoroughly. Know who’s the boss, what work the company’s done, where their most recent client article appeared.
  2. Call the company. Say hi. Find out if they have any jobs. No? Find out if they’d be willing to have coffee or lunch and help you continue your search with the added horse power of their contacts. Maybe most importantly in this step, find out the actual name of the person you should send your CV to.
  3. Send a cover letter in an email with the offer to send an attached resume and writing samples. Trust me this will be appreciated, especially if you note that you don’t want to jam an in-box with lots of info
  4. Be overly courteous. You only get one chance to make your first impression. Whether it’s in writing, on the phone or face-to-face, be as polite and proper and sweet as you can be. Instead of “Further references will be provided upon request,” (which just sounds a little bossy when I read it) how’s about “I’d be happy to pass along more references should you require them.”
  5. Follow up like it’s your full time job. Call to follow up and ask for a time to call back. Ask for  good time to reach the correct person. Be polite, but be persistent. After all, it’s one of the skills we need to know you have if you want to work for our team.

When you are looking for and applying for jobs you have to be your own publicist. Make sure to treat yourself like a client and be strategic and thorough with the messages you are sending and tenacious in follow up.


June 24, 2008

When There Is No News…

Posted in A walk on the "dark side" tagged at 7:52 am by R

More than once a client has said to me, “So I’m having a party…” or “I just made a fifty dollar donation to…” and they think that it’s news. (Insert full-body shudder here.)

It’s then my sad duty to tell them — in the nicest way possible — no respectable member of the media gives a crap about a get together or a donation that isn’t followed by a significant amount of zeroes. It’s then my duty to say something constructive like, “But let’s think of some other unique ways we can get your company’s name in the news.”

And just how do you find ways to do that? I’ve come up with a few tricks I’m willing to share.

  1. Read, read, read: Get your nose in every paper, magazine, industry newsletter, mainstream website and celebrity blog you can find. (Yes, seriously celebrity blogs. I’ve had at least two ideas from a certain Mr. Hilton’s blog generate fantastic stories.) Brilliant ideas show up in unlikely places. It’s up to you as a PR practitioner to scavenge for opportunities to plug your clients into the news and create valuable media angles.
  2. Get Creative: Is there a current event with an angle that’s been untapped? What questions are you asking as you read articles about a client’s industry? Does your client have the answer? Go beyond the face value of an article. Did a quote or a certain line trigger a new idea or perhaps not address something your client is an expert on? Asking these questions and providing your feedback about a story gives you an opportunity to create a relationship with the reporter based on their work and it will get them to rethink their latest creation in terms of your client. Bingo!
  3. Get to know the employees and customers: The behind the scenes people are the ones who give a brand character. TELL THOSE STORIES! Does the CFO do some amazing work with a charity? Did the executive assistant just finish her first marathon? Has the building operations manager overcome something extraordinary? Are there a group of employees who stand out (all female execs, three brothers, mother-daughter, father-son, twins)? Has a particular customer appealed to the team internally? Chances are if that story resonates internally, it’s likely to touch other important audiences.
  4. Get behind an issue: It’s an election year. Now is a great time to stand for something. Every city and region has its own important issues and it’s vital for you to know what they are and how your client(s) can appeal to audiences who have a strong steak in the topics that are emerging in this election. Is it green? Is it economy? Is it immigration? (Actually, maybe don’t go there.) The point is stand for something, even if it’s just as simple as VOTE. (That may actually be the most important issue of all 😉 )
  5. Be Controversial (if you dare): This is not for everyone. Many clients just aren’t prepared to play the part of instigator. This point goes hand-in-hand with #4. You have to stand strongly for something and insert yourself into a current event. It’s playing devil’s advocate in the public eye. If your client has a strong stance, a bold spokes person and their brand has a thick skin, this can be a great way to get publicity. But PR pro beware, this has potential to backfire, so play your cards VERY carefully.

Next time you are faced with a truly frightening PR suggestion, breathe, and look around you, there are story ideas seeping out of every page (web and print). Use what’s in the media to create an advantage in the media.