Tag Archives: public relations

Be Your Own Flack (“B.Y.O.F.”): So what is PR, anyway?

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Before I started my business, I thought PR was about getting press.  Period.  A bunch of my friends are entrepreneurs, and they hire PR agencies to convince journalists and bloggers to write about them, TV shows to feature them, and twitterers to tweet about them.  Some of these friends have entirely separate crews to handle their publicity (but isn’t that part of the whole PR thing?).  So I sat down and asked some of my most successful small-biz owner friends what they pay for these services.  And I about died.  Since I’m running a start-up, my PR budget is exactly zero.  As I mentioned in my first post, it was about then I decided I’d do this PR thing myself.

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Mobile Technology: The Next PR/MarComm Frontier?

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In the grand scheme of things, our constant, seemingly never-ending discussions and Twittering and blogging about the evolution of PR/marketing/advertising and how cool social media is will eventually die down, and we will get back to our normal—albeit now drastically altered (hopefully for the better)—professional and personal lives.

So rather than talk about what is currently going on in the social media landscape (look, a new Twitter app came out . . . and another!), I’d like to actually think about what we *might* be talking about a year, two years, or five years from now. Specifically, mobile technology and just how big of an impact it’s going to have on our lives, particularly in the PR world.

Look around you; the damn things are everywhere. You can even take a cell phone into a delivery room now and tweet while giving birth! Crazy, I know. But that’s just it: The effect mobile technology is going to have on communicators in terms of how we get messages across to key influencers, and how we engage the public, will be enormous. Far bigger than what is currently going on in the social media landscape. We’re talking about a technology that is now in the hands of more than 82 percent (250 million) of Americans and approximately 50 percent of the world!

But it gets even better: A recent MediaWeek study showed that 1 in every 7 minutes of media consumption is now done through mobile technology. Think about that for a minute: That great op-ed you wrote for your client that’s read on an iPhone now by the most tech-savvy around us? Give it five years. Everyone in your community is going to be instantly reading it on their smartphones, tweeting it back out to their followers (if Twitter still exits in five years . . . .), and sending it all over their social media network(s) to audiences you could have never even dreamed of.

Or even cooler, the fact that very soon (as in, it’s in its infancy now in the U.S.), marketers will have the ability to embed special 2-D barcodes into posters, shirts, billboards, practically anything, and someone with a mobile phone can take a picture of it and get all kinds of cool promos, buy movie tickets, or even get train times sent directly to their phone. Don’t believe me? Check out this piece from The Economist for a view into the not-too-distant future.

So what does that mean for you, the PR guy, the marketer, or ad man who is desperately trying to keep up with the current changes? Well, I hate to tell you, but it’s only going to build from here. And that’s actually a good thing. Because while the last five years in our business has seen a rapid growth and movement toward expanding from traditional services and offerings, opportunities are going to continue to arise that will keep us busy—and hopefully—excited for many years to come.

I envision a future in the PR world where certainly ideas like the social media news release, Wikis, and other mobile-friendly formats will become even more prevalent, as brands quickly realize that there are far more efficient and cheaper ways to reach their targeted consumers than the traditional giant, static billboard on the side of the road.

Where do you think the PR, marketing, and advertising industries are moving? Are the technologies and ideas I noted above going to be part of this movement, or are these just flash-in-the-pan ideas? Let me know!

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You don’t know me!

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No, seriously, you don’t. You might have a clue about the ballpark range of my age because of my photo here, you know where I work (because I’ve told you), and you know that I at least have a degree in Public Relations.

So why are you still reading this post? Who says I’m the authority here?

Allow me to explain the questions I pose . . . .

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Ethics…you mean there are ethics?

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ms. Campbell, who was kind enough to grace me with her xomapny at dinner last week along w/ ms. Vallejo and ms sena, recently brought us this blog post addressing ethics in our chosen profession — the great world of public relations in it’s various forms.
as in many other fields there are some bright lines that we dare nit cross. then there are those ethically grey areas. yes(!) — there can be ethically grey areas, not evwrythjng is black or white. these usually pop up when our own ethical rules for various areas of our life come into conflict and we must step up and make that decision of what/which is most important to us.
first let’s understand that ethics is diferejt than morality and differnt than legality. that could be (and is likely) the topic of thousands of blog posts (an dissertations). but for the purpose of separating the issues consider a physician in a state that does not permit assisted suicide.  certainly the doxtor’s priority is healing the sick, but in circumstances where that is a lost cause where does the physician’s duty lie — to his science to continue treating the untreatable or to end the suffering of his patient in any way he can.
certainly our own issues are rarely this dire but on a near daily basis we can potentilly confronted with issues where our various duties lie in conflict.
I do work with accounkng firms. not infrequently they’re called upon to present expert pinion on relevant topics.

This one’s in response (expansion) to a post from the lovely Ms. Campbell (@prsoapbox), who was kind enough to grace me with her company at dinner last week along with Ms. Vallejo and Ms. Sena. She recently brought us this blog post addressing the ethics in our chosen profession—the great world of public relations in its various forms.

As in many other fields, there are some bright lines that we dare not cross. Then there are those ethically grey areas.  Yes (!)—there can be ethically grey areas, not everything is easily placed on a black or white square. These usually pop up when our own ethical rules for various areas of our life (personal and professional) come into conflict and we must step up and make the decision of what/which is most important to us.

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Street Dish: The Reality of Public Relations

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Scene 1: Camera One pans to girls at door.  A faint voice states “thirty seconds till we air.” Final checks in place, Louboutins(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Louboutin) (check), black dress (check), clipboard (check), stern look (check.)  Let’s roll, 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . air.
Camera Two pans to X celebrity arriving in the black sedan and walks up to red carpet; she stops to pose for a few photos to hear cat-calling from paparazzi in the galley.  Cut to second scene.
Scene 2: Louboutin-wearing girls hovering around a VIP table having a cocktail (yes, at their own event) and hanging out with their friends they snuck in.  Drama begins to unfold.  Cut, end scene.
Okay, how many of us have watched reality and primetime television shows where this act is played over and over again? (Pause for all PR people to verbally grunt at the computer.) Exactly.
Recent turmoil has been unleashed in response to Kim Kardashian’s announcement (http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20300835,00.html) of a PR reality show appropriately reported on People.com.  My immediate reaction was frustration and defense of the PR industry as a whole.  Then I wrote this blog post.  While my first draft is lying nicely in my trash can, I came to a realization that I can see the glass half full on this matter.  Please hear me out.
As Lauren Fernandez eloquently pointed out in her blog post (http://laurenafernandez.com/2009/08/31/the-difference-between-pr-and-publicity/ ) Monday, Publicity is different from PR. I concur on this matter with a footnote that publicity is still a form of public relations and has proven successful for corporate clients as well as the entertainment industry.
As I was emotionally ranting of the frustrations that PR is not just red carpets, designer duds, and celebrities, I found myself being a hypocrite.  Currently I finished a publicity/PR event that involved step and repeats while wearing a designer dress and shoes, clipboard in tow, and there was a celebrity involved.  How is this any different?  No, I am not having cocktails with J-Lo and having Versace designers knocking on my door with free gifts, but in some form I am producing the same type of a publicity event and exceeding the client’s expectations in the process. While my background primarily lies in events and launches, my day-to-day public relations duties consist of social media, writing, networking, and all the normal corporate communications.
Publicity events for corporate clients with celebrities, red carpets, and features in magazines are only the icing on the cake for this form of public relations.  Sure, the drama surrounding the on-site events holds the sex appeal to draw millions of viewers, but as PR professionals we all know where the REAL drama lies: behind the scenes.   I believe this is the sore spot with everyone in this industry.  Where are the cameras when the nuts and bolts to the campaign or event are being born?  Brainstorming sessions conducted a la Mad Men style (in no reference to Sunday’s episode), ideas being pitched to clients, hundreds of creative design ideas for invitations, step and repeats, Web sites, logos, press releases being written (and the twenty revisions), media lists compiled, talent negotiations, do I really need to keep going?  I think we understand all the hard work that happens behind the scenes that makes PR and publicity campaigns work.
So, one may ask, “Why are these scenes edited?” My guess: viewers, money, advertisement dollars, and TV executives.  Outside of the PR industry, we would lose the general public on the first draft of a press release.  The producers, and general public, want the glitz and glamor.  Is this necessarily the “right” thing to do? No, but PR isn’t the only industry in the same boat.  What about “Making the Band”( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Making_the_Band) and “Project Runway?” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Runway) Is it really this easy to get a record label or a four-page feature in a major fashion magazine for up-and-coming artists? Are all the steps and dirty laundry revealed? No! Why? Million dollar word: viewers!
Bottom Line:
While some view publicity as Louboutin-wearing blondes with a clipboard obsession, publicity is a form of media relations that has proven successful for many clients.  Our problem lies more in the lack of education to the public on the different sectors that lie within the PR industry.  Trust me that a successful publicity event uses as much communication as a traditional press release launch, plus a few side orders of event logistics.  Now, I can’t say the individuals participating in Kim’s reality show hold these same standards, but they shouldn’t be held as the poster children to the Publicity ring either.
Therefore, PR flacks, I challenge you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the drama that someone else will be experiencing and revel in the fact you are sitting on the couch when their talent says the wrong name of the product!

Scene 1: Camera One pans to girls at door.  A faint voice states “thirty seconds till we air.” Final checks in place, Louboutins (check), black dress (check), clipboard (check), stern look (check.) Let’s roll, 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . air.

Camera Two pans to X celebrity arriving in the black sedan and walks up to red carpet; she stops to pose for a few photos to hear cat-calling from paparazzi in the galley.  Cut to second scene.

Scene 2: Louboutin-wearing girls hovering around a VIP table having a cocktail (yes, at their own event) and hanging out with their friends they snuck in.  Drama begins to unfold.  Cut, end scene.

Okay, how many of us have watched reality and primetime television shows where this act is played over and over again? (Pause for all PR people to verbally grunt at the computer.) Exactly.

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Before You Ridicule Each Other, Think of Helping Others

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I should probably start this post by noting that I’m an eternal optimist . . . I look at the bright side of practically everything, so if that isn’t your style, you may just want to skip this post. OK, that’s out of the way, here we go!
Maybe it’s the “dog days” of summer still, or the fact that we’re still mired in a major recession that has everyone in a tizzy and seemingly at each other’s throats in the PR business when almost every minor situation that arises. Accidentally blast out an e-mail to thousands of people and forget to use the very helpful—but often misused—BCC function? Boom! You’re facing at least a week of full-on ridicule from your own brethren.  For many of us, it can get to be a bit too much sometimes.
I know for myself, I didn’t get into this business to ridicule colleagues. I actually want to see others in this business succeed, so when a big—or little—slipup happens, I usually try to give my quick two cents, offer some advice on how to move on, and generally stay out of the situation. By no means am I perfect, and I will be the first to admit that I am still eagerly learning as much as I can about PR (I come from a sport management background), so to me, I’d rather focus on the positives.
And that’s really the point of this whole post: We—the collective whole of the PR industry—have SO much good to offer, both to clients and our employers, that it really does not make a lot of sense, nor help at all, to constantly ridicule each other’s mistakes. And we’re awful about this. There is a sector of this business that almost seems to find amusement in ridiculing each other. How exactly that is helping to advance our business is beyond me.
It’s also a whole hell of a lot of wasted time and energy, and in a recession, can we really afford to waste either?
For me, I got into this business because I love to help others. Now working on the client side after five years working in college athletic media relations, my great thrill and enjoyment is finding a way to help the overall business efforts of my clients. Even if it is as simple as helping a client reach 10 more influential customers one week, then I’m ecstatic because I have helped someone beyond just myself.
Folks, we work in a service industry and, therefore, our top priority (at least in my opinion) should be focused on how we can help others. If you’re on the agency side, it’s how can you help your clients’ business. If you’re an internal PR person, it’s how can you help your organization best reach its customers and target audiences, and, more so now through social media, how can you drive customer engagement efforts. In short, think about how much good we can do for others when we truly focus our energies on doing just that, rather than constantly looking for the next 140-character zinger to tweet about.
So now I ask you: Why did you get into PR? What’s your favorite part of the business? What has you jazzed and excited to work every day?

I should probably start this post by noting that I’m an eternal optimist . . . I look at the bright side of practically everything, so if that isn’t your style, you may just want to skip this post. OK, that’s out of the way, here we go!PBJ

Maybe it’s the “dog days” of summer still, or the fact that we’re still mired in a major recession that has everyone in a tizzy and seemingly at each other’s throats in the PR business when almost every minor situation that arises. Accidentally blast out an e-mail to thousands of people and forget to use the very helpful—but often misused—BCC function? Boom! You’re facing at least a week of full-on ridicule from your own brethren.  For many of us, it can get to be a bit too much sometimes.

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Flack In Training – Volume I

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By now, it goes without saying: The college graduates of 2009 had the extreme misfortune of graduating into the worst economy in decades.  Not only are they competing with their fellow classmates for jobs, they’re also going up against professionals who should be further along in their careers, but are being forced to apply for entry-level jobs due to lack of anything else.  This recession has taken the image of starry-eyed post-grads with their entire, exciting lives ahead of them and turned it into a picture of desperate young adults taking on part-time positions just to make some money.  It’s incredibly scary and disheartening.
Why do I care so much about this unfortunate state of affairs?  I’m one of those poor graduates—my four years at New York University ended in May.  Up until a week before graduation, I thought I was the luckiest girl with a communications degree in New Jersey (maybe even New York too).  Despite the terrible economy, I had managed to secure a full-time job with the small public relations firm that I had been interning at for the past year.  As an added bonus, the offices were less than 10 minutes from my house and I was going to be making more money than I thought was possible in entry-level PR.  What a surprise—it was all too good to be true.  The company lost some important clients in a short amount of time, and they regrettably had to let me know that they couldn’t take me on full time. Gone were my dreams of Tory Burch flats, my very own iPhone, and an unreasonable amount of Juicy Couture.
I’m not writing this to make you feel bad for me for missing out on all those terrific things.  I recently got hired at a terrific and exciting agency in Manhattan, so things are definitely looking up.  Instead, I want to offer you my perspective—it’s an understanding and sympathizing one. I know there are many more of you out there just like me.  I wanted to start my column on PR Breakfast Club called F.I.T.: Flack in Training, so I could take all the other recent college graduates (and anyone struggling in the industry) along with me on my journey to becoming a full-fledged PR professional.  I spent the entire summer searching for a position in PR, so I have a lot to say about the process.  Additionally, I’m hoping to learn a ton about the industry and my profession from my new job.  I think it’ll be interesting to explore the unique position I’m in as someone who is entering the business at a time when PR is going through some major changes, including the growing importance of social media and the struggles of most print media.  I’m definitely looking forward to writing Flack In Training, and I can’t wait to hear all of your thoughts and opinions.

By now, it goes without saying: The college graduates of 2009 had the extreme misfortune of graduating into the worst economy in decades.  Not only are they competing with their fellow classmates for jobs, they’re also going up against professionals who should be further along in their careers, but are being forced to apply for entry-level jobs due to lack of anything else.  This recession has taken the image of starry-eyed post-grads with their entire, exciting lives ahead of them and turned it into a picture of desperate young adults taking on part-time positions just to make some money.  It’s incredibly scary and disheartening.

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