Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Business Journal Runs Story about PRSA Workshop

Andi Rodriguez ran a story in her Marketing and Media column in this week's edition of the San Antonio Business Journal about tomorrow’s workshop that we are hosting with the IABC San Antonio chapter. (I can’t give you the link, because it’s only available to subscribers.) Shel Holtz is coming to town, and thanks to Frost Bank, will be leading an afternoon workshop for us, “Introduction to Social Media.” The response has been incredible, especially since we only had about a month to promote it. But it is Shel after all.

Walk-ins are welcome. So if you’ve got a little time to spend preparing for your future, come on over. Details are on the chapter web site.

Every time I attend a session led by Shel (this is my third) or participate in one of his webinars (three so far), my professional knowledge has leaped forward dramatically. And it always pays off big time in my work.

And thanks, Andi, for helping to spread the word!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Some AP Stylebook Rules Deserve to be Broken

PRSA’s Strategist magazine recently discussed an issue regarding diversity and the AP Stylebook. At issue was use of the lowercase black rather than Black when referring to the racial group. Some readers criticized the magazine for doing so just because the AP Stylebook says to. Interestingly, the folks over at AP say the rule is lowercase because that’s what newspapers do. And the cycle continues.

In my editing, I’ve always used uppercase for racial and ethnic terms, like Black and White. It’s both respectful and logical.

After reading the discussion, I got to thinking about other AP rules that deserve to be broken. Here are a few from the styleguide I created for my organization. Interestingly, two are kind-of gender-related.

1. Chairman, Chairwoman: I agree with AP about not using chairperson. It says to use chairman or chairwoman. I prefer chair (“The chair of the board said…”). It’s clear and brief.

2. His, Her: These AP guys actually state that “the pronoun his when an indefinite antecedent may be male or female.” (They also approve of the use of mankind.) Excuse me! The better choice is to either use his or her, use he or she, or revise the sentence from singular to plural. Though I am icked-out by combination forms like he/she and (s)he.

3. Abbreviations and Acronyms: This is the one I struggle with the most. AP says not to follow an organization’s name with an abbreviation or acronym in parentheses. Every time I try to follow this rule, I hear about readers getting confused – even coworkers who know what the acronym stands for. Ed Tijerina, columnist for the San Antonio Express-News has repeatedly expressed dismay that most PR folks break this rule. It is by far his pet peeve. The conflict though is that acronyms are jargon, and the more jargon you have, the less likely the piece will be read. But taking out the first-reference acronyms causes confusion and slows reading, which means the piece is less likely to be read.

What do you think? What AP Stylebook rules do you break (on purpose)?

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Great Night for the San Antonio Chapter of PRSA

The evening of August 3 was a fantastic opportunity for the local chapter of PRSSA, which calls University of Texas at San Antonio home to see the superstars of public relations in San Antonio being recognized at the Fourth Annual Del Oro Awards. It was so wonderful for me that I had to really think about what I wanted to write for this blog posting. I first want to thank all of my executive board members for attending the event and I also want to thank Cynthia Hokanson, our vice president for acting as the student reporter for the evening.

As a student of public relations and the president of the UTSA-PRSSA it was an honor to be able to provide my executive board this opportunity. But a larger honor was being able to visit with so many of the PR professionals in San Antonio at one time, enjoying the opportunity to network and talk a little shop in order to pick brains.

I enjoyed meeting the 2006 Del Oro Tex Taylor Lifetime Award recipient, Bob Howard of the American Red Cross and learning that quite a bit of his career with ARC had been as a volunteer. It is wonderful to know that there are some selfless individuals still around.

It took some patient waiting to have a moment with 2006 Del Oro Public Relations Professional of the Year recipient Lorraine Pulido-Ramirez, Director of Marketing for CityView - a Henry Cisneros communities venture. Pulido-Ramirez was recognized for her work as the director of communications and public relations with the Edgewood Independent School District (EISD). In this position she was the spokesperson for the District. It was well worth the wait to shake her hand and tell her congratulations.

While the above mentioned recipients were intriguing and gave very heartfelt acceptance speeches, I would have to say there could not have been a dry eye in the room after listening to the acceptance speech of the 2006 Del Oro Horizon Award recipient, Carol Schliesinger who was recognized for her work as the Director of Public Relations at Southwest Mental Health Center. Schliesinger is responsible for making the media and community aware about the issues of chidren's mental health which is not recognized enough in San Antonio, let alone the rest of the country. This touched me personally as in my life I have known many chidren who have had to deal with mental health issues, and have had the opportunity to mentor some when I was a young teenager. I was extremely honored to meet Carol Schliesinger, and I am glad that she does the work that many people do not want to do.

I want to close with a final thought on Marilyn Potts, I had written previously that I did not know Marilyn. As I sit here in the position of president of my organization, I wish I had. Seeing the wonderful, fitting tribute to her did bring tears to my eyes and I got choked up. I know that if she were here today, I would have just one more mentor to learn from. San Antonio has truly lost a legend and she will be greatly missed.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

It’s More than a New Media Release, It’s a New Strategy for Media Relations

Background: There is a group of PR professionals who are exploring the development of a news release that integrates the best features of the online social media world. Among them is Chris Heuer, who has started the Social Media Club, Todd Defren and others from Shift Communications who developed the first “new social media press release” (see my previous post), and Shel Holtz, who (along with Chris) is hosting a weekly podcast on the topic. There are several others and there are several ways to become a part of this conversation. (You can get all the background scoop at http://www.socialtext.net/hrelease/index.cgi.)

Picking a Name for this Baby in the Oven
The heart of it is: how should the standard news release be changed to both be more effective and integrate elements of social media. Interestingly, a big part of the conversation so far has been what to call this new press release (or media release or news release). Is it a new media release or a social media release?

I’ve listened to the podcasts (three so far) and it sounds to me like what we are really talking about is an electronic news release. If it were a printed news release only, you wouldn’t add buttons for adding it to Delicious or for Digging it. So as far as a label goes, when I explain this to my boss, I’m going to call it a new standard for an electronic news release.

A New Strategy
Gone are the days of creating a four-page prose news release and mailing it to a list of reporters. Since that time, we’ve evolved to using multiple methods like online distribution services and e-mailing tiny descriptions of the news item with a link to the release on our web sites.

In lieu of those long-winded prose releases, I actually have been using what I call advisories most of the time. You know, with the W’ and H. But I still sent it somehow to my list of reporters.

And this group is talking about much more than that. It’s more than just a new template for a news release. It’s really a new strategy for media and community relations.

In my next media relations project, I’m going to have to decide whether or not to integrate Delicious, for example. And I have to decide how to go about setting an RSS feed and how to encourage reporters to use it. I also have to plan ahead and do a little research about what tags I will use. This is much more than using bullets instead of paragraphs. These are decisions about strategy.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Online Tutorial Introduces You to Social Media

Capture the Conversation has posted on their web site a set of tutorials that are really cool. If you’re waiting for someone to show you how, you can stop waiting. These tutorials range from about three minutes to 10 and give you basic info on how to use a particular tool and why.

Here are the topics they’ve created tutorials for:
  • How to Post a Comment on Blogs
  • Receiving Blog Trackbacks
  • Setting Up a Blog Using Blogger
  • Setting Up Feedburner
  • Submitting your RSS Feed to Syndication Services
  • How to Subscribe to a Podcast Using iTunes
  • Setting Up a Del.icio.us Account
  • Setting Up Newsgator
  • Subscribing to a Blog via RSS Feed
  • Setting Up a Technorati Account
Check it out!