PR In Progress

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Thoughts on Public Relations, Communications, Social Media, Sports and anything else in my life…

Social Media Measurement: Your Thoughts?

As I read through blog posts and articles about social media, I find myself wondering how companies are measuring ROI for their  social media efforts and how they are developing their social media strategies. I’ve been consuming any information I can on this, but I’m still hungry for more insight.

In my search, I stumbled across Ryan Zuk’s article about social media measurement in PRSA’s Tactics and The Strategist Online which suggests measurable objectives be put in place before any tactics are deployed.

Common sense, right?

Well, the more blog posts I read, the more cautionary messages I encounter reminding me to only tread into the social media waters with a clear picture of what I want to achieve. This leads me to believe that some companies are still jumping on the bandwagon for the ride, not for any quantifiable or strategic purpose. Is this true?

So, how are companies developing their social media strategies? What types of measurable objectives are in place? What methods of measurement are being deployed?

Another thing, how are companies adapting to the dynamics of social media? I’d like to learn more about this process from any communication discipline or perspective.

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Changes Are A’Brewin…

After spending some time looking back at my past posts, I realized that I’m not happy with my style or the quality of my posts. I feel like, and I’m sure you’ve noticed this too, that I’m lecturing everyone without any true substance It all seems too redundant and I aim to change this.

So, please bear with me as I make this transition and find my true blogging personality. I may not post for a little while because I’m also moving in the middle of this epiphany.

Hopefully I will re-emerge with more interesting posts and with a more regular schedule. I apologize in advance for this hiatus.

Thanks for reading my posts throughout the last year. I will be back.

Photo credit: Aaron Molina

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Have You Reviewed Your Media Relations Strategy Lately?

I’ve just started reading Making News: A Straight-shooting Guide to Media Relations by David Henderson and can understand his desire to provide a guide for all ranks of the PR trade, from the newest practitioner to the seasoned professional. Although it was published in 2006, the book is still relevant for PR folks today.

Henderson incorporates extensive research and interviews with over one hundred journalists and media professionals from all over the globe into the book. His approach is fairly simple: What advice media professionals have for PR folks to improve their media relations and increase their chances of exposure? The book walks you through several scenarios, principles and practices that are backed by many media leaders with insider tips for better relationships with them and their media colleagues.

The added bonus to this book is that Henderson himself has spent his life on both sides of the spectrum.

As a new graduate and someone who hasn’t had extensive media relations training, I can appreciate and learn a lot from Henderson and this book. The book sparked this question from me: Why are we as PR folks reluctant to make personal contact with journalists or reporters such as a phone call? I know this sounds like a broad generalization, and it isn’t meant to be, but this is a trend among those interviewed in the book. Are you sending out your releases to hundreds of journalists hoping for a placement or are you taking the time to target specific journalists who cover what you’re communicating and learn their preferred contact methods?

A point from the book I’ve also been thinking about is that the media folks complain that PR people aren’t providing solid news angles in their releases or pitches.  I can see this. I’ve read many releases that don’t actually say anything. As PR people, we are charged with several duties, one being the ability to find a great story about our client or organization and tell it in many different ways. Are we getting away from this somehow?

One more quick question: Are you monitoring media’s trends (not trends in the media) to make sure you are current with your approaches?

This post is more or less my thoughts on media relations and the current state of media relations practices among PR firms and departments. If it sounds like I’m bashing the PR field, I’m not. I love PR, but I want to be an effective media relations practitioner for any organization I work for and to make sure our field earns the respect it deserves. If nothing else,  maybe this will reinforce the need to understand our media counterparts as much as we understand our clients and their audiences. Keep in mind that although social media allows us to bypass the mainstream media in many ways, social media isn’t going to eliminate the MSM altogether.

Hopefully this will get some folks to take a second and think about their media relations practices, for change or for reassurance. Any ideas on this?

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From Bystander to Conversationalist

It’s no secret that today’s communicators need to take the leap from social media bystander to an active conversationalist. For some, me included, it takes a little while to adjust to the fast-paced flow of information. It can be intimidating to join in and share your two cents, but here are my two cents on how to join the conversation:

1. Figure out your purpose for using SM tools.
2. Find industry/opinion leaders in areas that interest you and follow them, read their blogs, etc.
3. Take the time to read and understand the aforementioned leaders’ thoughts.
4. Don’t be shy to reach out and ask for advice or information. Everyone wants to help and share their knowledge.
5. Contribute to the flow of information. Retweet information, show some link love on your blog, share your thoughts on issues, pose questions to spark conversation, etc.
6. The more original content you provide, the better your chances are to be heard.
7. Be patient, enjoy the purpose of these tools and realize that you will not read or absorb all information available.
8. Converse. The purpose of social media is to be social, not to spam everyone with your product, clients, etc on every platform available. Talk from a human perspective and connect.

Sadly, it took me a while to understand all of this. It’s a process, but one that requires a little hard work and perseverance. I’d like to think I’ve finally had my “Aha!” moment with social media and realized its true value and impact–but who knows?

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How Golf Can Strengthen PR Skills

For almost a year now, I have been slowly learning the game of golf and developing my skills. It wasn’t until this past weekend during a round of 18 holes that I realized golf and public relations have a lot in common. Maybe not on the surface, but golf has reinforced many skills that I apply to public relations and communications.

First off, golf teaches you to be prepared. You cannot show up to the driving range or golf course without clubs, balls and tees and expect to perform. The same goes for communicating for your company. If you do not have the essential information to properly communicate your client/company’s message, how do you expect to succeed?

Golf also requires you to practice and hone your  skills. Tiger Woods, believe it or not, has to practice constantly to keep his skills at the top level of performance. The same goes for communicators. Every successful PR practitioner has spent countless hours, days, and years honing their skills and elevating themselves to the positions they rightfully fulfill. It doesn’t happen overnight nor does it come easy.

Often, most beginners in golf tend to bend the truth as they keep score during a round of golf. The hole may be a par 4 with a lake bordering the narrow fairway, and somehow the erratic beginner is able to shoot par–or even birdie! How? Well, you may not have seen them take their ball out of the water only to put themselves in great position without counting the extra stroke penalty. Sound familiar? Sometimes PR practitioners bend–spin–the truth, but golf teaches a person to be honest and remain accountable for anything that happens while you are on the course. Be honest and transparent as a communicator and you’ll be surprised at how well the public views your company/client.

Finally, golf teaches you to think strategically about your position on the course and how to best approach your goal. Professional golfers do not walk up to their ball with just any club in hand and whack the hell out of it hoping for great results. Instead, they consider their surroundings, their position, and tools to determine which will be most effective at reaching their target. The same goes for PR. You cannot simply approach a task and use just any tool to get your message out. Instead, you must analyze your position, strategize the best course of action, choose the appropriate tools and take the shot once you are confident in your plan.

The next time you are drawing a blank about how to approach a campaign or target a message, take an afternoon off and play a round of golf. Not only will it relax you–as most courses have amazing landscapes that’ll leave you breathless–but it’ll give you a chance to hone your PR skills, or just dust them off a bit.

Photo Credit: chispita_666

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Lessons Learned and the End of an Era

First off, this post marks the end of my last undergraduate semester.

In four years I have successfully completed a degree in Mass Communications at USF, held two outstanding internships, been Account Executive for the USF Bateman team, served on the USF PRSSA executive board and held  a steady job. I think I have done everything in my power to prepare myself for the next step in public relations–full-time employment!

Now, to properly end the semester, I must impart some recently aquired wisdom to anyone who wishes to listen:

1. Recommend no one unless you are certain they can do a better job than you.
Yesterday I learned that recommendations should not be something to take lightly. Regardless of how well you know a person, be very careful putting your reputation on the line for someone else’s sake. I recommended a friend–a very intelligent, hard-working person–for an internship, but they did not take the time to draft a professional email nor did they show any indication that they were prepared/capable of the duties required. Needless to say, I felt embarrassed by their lack of effort and poor reflection of my personal recommendation.

2. Use words wisely when writing.
Sounds simple enough, but sometimes you may use a word that sounds great, but it implies something else. Easy example: I used the word celebrate in a writing, but didn’t think to check to see if there really was a celebration for this occurrence. Instead, there was just a public acknowledgment. Take the time to read over everything to make sure your word choice is accurate and effective.

3. Do not underestimate the  damage liquid can do to electronics.
My wonderful German Shepherd accidentally knocked over my coffee last night with her tail and spilled it all over my brand new Lenovo IdeaPad. The laptop went crazy last night, but after letting it sit overnight and allowing the liquid to dry, it is working well now. Therefore, do not drink near any high-priced electronics unless you can afford to replace it because most warranties will not cover this type of accident.

4. Do not stress over things until you know the full scope.
When challenges arise or new things present themselves, it is human nature to stress and sometimes react to uncertainties. This semester I learned to simply calm down, look at the situation and see what options are available to handle the situation. The less time you spend worrying about the what-ifs, the more time you have to coherently adapt to these changes and move on. Life is too short to stress and worry, so put a smile on and enjoy the ride.

That’s about all for now. I’ll be sure to add to the list as I acquire new wisdom to pass on.

What are some wise words that you would like to share? Any insider secrets to the world of public relations, life, etc.? I’d love to hear them and learn!

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Seize the PR Opportunity

I’ll admit that as I near graduation, the thought of another internship post-graduation wasn’t something I had in my crosshairs. But, that recently changed.

As with any new graduate, especially a PR graduate, I wanted a job after college. I wanted to take all this knowledge I have accumulated over the past four years and apply it to that glorious  entry-level opportunity. But what do you do when that opportunity isn’t there?

GET AN INTERNSHIP!

I heard many times during my PR education that paid internships, leadership development programs, etc.,  are  excellent ways to get your foot in the door and feet wet. But being the confident student I was, I wasn’t going to do that. I was gonna get a full-time job with all the trimmings. Well, here I stand four months after that thought, seeking opportunities for internships and leadership development programs. Open mouth, insert foot.

My point is, don’t rule out internships once you graduate. Sure it isn’t a full-time salaried position, but who cares? It beats working part-time at the movie theater and fervently checking online job postings. You’ll be doing what you love and networking all the while.

If you are seeking employment as a recent graduate like me, promise me you’ll keep an open mind and seize any PR opportunity that comes around. Don’t give up, it’ll perk up soon enough.

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10 Reasons Why You Should Hire Me!

Now that I’m less than 30 days from being a college graduate, I am really bolstering my job search. In an effort to assist any potential employers with their hiring decisions, I’ve decided to list the following 10 reasons why I should be considered for employment. When you’ve finished, have a peek at my resume!

1. I am an excellent writer. I have many different writing samples in my porfolio ready for your reading pleasure.

2. I thrive on deadlines. I feel I do my best work when I’m in a race against the clock. (That’s not to say I cut corners. My work is thorough and complete.)

3. I’m self-motivated. I pride myself in taking iniative and understanding what needs to be done and when to do it.

4. I already have real-world experience. I’ve held two internships, been Account Executive of a Bateman campaign and served as Director of Marketing for USF’s PRSSA Chapter.

5. I’m willing to move. I’m the son of military parents and we moved many times during my childhood. I’m accustomed to relocating and love exploring new places. I’ll go where you need me!

6. I’m willing to learn anything new. I don’t know everything about public relations. But, I’m darn sure willing to learn as much as possible so that I become more of a critical asset to your company.

7. I’m personable. Cold calls do not bother me. Neither does interacting with new people. I am capable of forming lasting relationships that can bolster your company’s efforts.

8. No task is too small for me. I know there are downtimes. I don’t mind maintaining media libraries, updating media lists or cleaning the office. If you need anything done, just ask me to do it.

9. I think strategically. I make it a habit to fully think out any situation before acting. I like to understand the bigger picture and narrow my focus, identifying problems or opportunities that have influence on the task at hand.

10. I love public relations and working in a team environment. I know that one person cannot do everything alone. It takes a integrated team effort to accomplish outstanding objectives. Working alongside people who love what they do makes the workflow more fluid and enjoyable.

There you have it–10 reasons you should hire me. Hopefully I’ve persuaded you to consider me for a public relations or communcations position within your organization. I’m open for any new challenges and would love to hear from you!

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What This Semester Taught Me

improveThis week marks the end of yet another eventful and tiresome semester. I successfully wrapped up my PR campaigns course, was invited to be on the USF Bateman team and grew as an individual and professional in the process. Of course, it took  a constant IV drip of coffee to keep me alert and focused (and sane) during the many late nights/early mornings, but I would say the time was worth it and I pulled a lot away from it.

Don’t wait, do what you want to do now!
It is really easy to assume that you’ll have enough time later on to do that task, but you don’t. Get what you want and need done right away. Leave yourself plenty of time to revise and polish. Plus, you’ll extend your life a little from not putting yourself under extra stress.

Jump at every opportunity to do improve yourself and your skills!
What are your weaknesses? What are you currently doing to improve on them? As I’ve said before, I want to improve my public speaking skills. When the account executive for my group fell ill, I jumped at the opportunity to present our campaign to over 70 people. Challenge yourself and push your threshold!

Take on leadership roles when they arise!
Showing future employers that you are able to lead a team is absolutely necessary if you wish to contend with other applicants in the PR field. I was asked to be a member of the USF Bateman team this year and immediately asked my fellow team members for their approval to be account executive. I didn’t do it to be cocky or because I felt I was better than them, I wanted to the challenge myself to a position I have no experience with and grow.

Join professional organizations!
As a PR student, you must be a member of any professional organization that interest you. PRSSA and IABC chapters on college campuses are excellent organizations to be affiliated with. Take  the opportunity to go to the local professional chapters and network with those members. The contacts you make there can open doors to internships and job possibilities.

Supplement in-class activities with external resources!
Get an internship, read blogs and meet with professionals. These are ways you can build on the core concepts you are being taught in class. PR is such a dynamic field that you must be reading blogs and interning in order to stay current with trends and practicies.

Find time to blog!
Any PR student who isn’t currently blogging should stop what they are doing and set one up right away. As communicators, why not utilize the tools available to communicate and improve your skills? And if you already have a blog, join me in vowing to blog more.

This semester was so unordinary, and inspiring, that I could not possibly sum it up in one post. I met great people at the PRSSA National Conference in Detroit and became more passionate about my career choice. I learned to roll with the punches and make the best out of every situation. I became more focused and driven. I realized that not everyone is cut out to be a leader. Most of all, I learned to have a short memory. Its best to not sweat the little stuff.

What about you? What have the last 3 months taught you about yourself?

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Care For Your Customers

Deaths in the family happen. When they do, it’s always a hassle to secure transportation, funds and make any necessary arrangements before you leave to be with the family.

I recently had an aunt pass away and my parents needed to get to Wisconsin quickly. My dad called Delta, who he flies with frequently and has accrued massive amounts of sky miles with, and used his sky miles to purchase two tickets.

His experience went south fast. After explaining to the customer service rep that this was an emergency, the rep made no attempt to find an alternate flight in that would not require a five-hour layover. Then, the rep told my father that in order to use his sky miles, he was required to have a Saturday-stay and could not book his return flight until Sunday. Finally, after spending over 60,000 sky miles, they rep informed my father that he had to pay an additional $360–out of pocket– in fees and for the phone call. Really, a phone call?

There needs to be some empathy in the airline industry for emergency situations such as this. I understand the economy has placed airlines in a crunch, but treating loyal customers poorly is not going to help your bottom line. Not only have they taken away time my parents could be spending making arrangements with the family, they made them use more sick-leave and “vacation” time to stay through Saturday.

Delta dropped the ball on this one. Though my father must fly Delta for business trips, he has guaranteed to use other airlines for personal travel from now on.

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