Wednesday, May 31, 2006

PRSA Tactics Online Runs Tribute to Marilyn Potts

John Elsasser, editor of PRSA Tactics, the national newsletter that comes to members of PRSA, ran the following article about Marilyn Potts, which appears on the front page of the PRSA Web site.

Thanks to John for thinking to include Marilyn and thanks to Mike Cherenson, Advocacy Chair for PRSA for letting me know about it.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

"Can It Be Done?"

"Can it be done?" That is the question that is on the lips of the Executive Board of the UTSA-PRSSA chapter. What we are talking about is the creation of a Student Run Public Relations Firm. We have a completely new executive board taking the helm of a chapter that has been under the radar blip for a couple of years now. We are all extremely excited. With this excitement comes big goals and ideas of how to accomplish them.

We held our first Executive Board meeting on May 19 and decided several key factors. The first being that our theme and mantra for 2006-2007 is, "Attitude Is Everything!" We chose this because in order for our general membership to become excited about the chapter they will need to see a much different attitude than has been seen in the past.

We have three goals for the coming year. First, we must increase new membership while improving retention of new and current membership. This will be done by each of the board members being very visible while encouraging all members to get involved on the UTSA campus.We will be sponsoring different workshops for our members and social events. Second, we will look to raise our fundraising goals while also gaining sponsorship through local public relations professionals and businesses. The reason for this is that we would like to have a delegation going to the 2006 PRSSA National Convention in Salt Lake City, Nov. 10-14. Third, we have a very doable goal of creating a Student Run Public Relations Firm and securing at least one client before I leave the post of president in May 2007.

If you are interested in assisting in sponsorship of fundraising donations, supplies or other items, feel free to contact Gregory Frieden by e-mail at

In Remembrance

The PRSSA Chapter of the University of Texas At San Antonio wishes to extend its deepest sympathies with thoughts of prayers to the family and friends of Marilyn Potts a longtime member of the Public Relations Society of America. Marilyn was the San Antonio chapter president last year, while also holding several positions on the board of directors for the San Antonio chapter. While I did not know Marilyn, it was well known on our campus that Marilyn was very devoted to the support of students along with recent graduates working to enter into the profession of public relations. Our chapter of the PRSSA will move forward knowing that Marilyn contributed to our cause of pre-professionalism for the students of Public Relations.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Services been scheduled for Marilyn Potts, APR

In San Antonio, Texas
Thursday, May 25, 2006, at 7:00 p.m.
Porter Loring
2102 N. Loop 1604 East, at Gold Canyon Road

In Augusta, Kansas
Saturday May 27, 2006, at 2:00 p.m.
First Christian Church
1600 State Street
Augusta, Kansas 67010

A memorial fund has been established in the small island community where Mike and Marilyn have vacationed for many years. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent in the memory of Mrs. Marilyn Potts to: The Isle of Springs Association, 21 Wildwood Circle, Portland, Maine 04103.

Monday, May 22, 2006

San Antonio PR Leader, Marilyn Potts, APR, Died Saturday

It is with great sadness that we announce the death on Saturday, May 20, of our friend and colleague, Marilyn Potts, APR, due to injuries from a car accident two weeks ago. We are forever grateful for the significant professional and personal contributions Marilyn made not only to the PRSA but to the public relations profession.

Since 2000, Marilyn was the PR/Marketing Specialist at Methodist Healthcare System. Previously, she worked with University Health System in San Antonio planning public relations, including special events and internal communications. Before coming to San Antonio, Marilyn worked with Catholic Charities in Wichita, Kansas, where her communications work resulted in a 69 percent increase in annual giving. She has also been a feature writer and development manager.

A member of the Public Relations Society of America for 25 years, Marilyn served in several board positions in chapters in San Antonio and previously in Wichita, Kansas. She was the San Antonio chapter president last year. Marilyn also was deeply devoted to supporting students and recent graduates into the profession of public relations.

Marilyn earned a bachelor of language arts from Wichita State University and several hours toward a master’s degree in marketing and management from the same university. She was accredited in public relations by PRSA.

Marilyn was married to fellow chapter member, Michael Potts, APR, and has a daughter and three grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. at Porter Loring (2102 N. Loop 1604 East, at Gold Canyon Road). Other details will be posted on this PRSA San Antonio chapter blog as they become available.

We invite you to share your own fond memories of Marilyn with us. Please leave your warm recollections as comments on this chapter blog.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Knowing Where Your Audience Is

I just read a story by Tech Web about a new report by Nielsen/NetRatings showing that, in April, half of all web users visited a social networking site. Such sites include MySpace (with 38.4 million unique users) and Blogger by Google (with 18.5 million visitors). MySpace has had a growth rate of 367 percent in the last year. Other social networking sites include Classmates Online, YouTube and Microsoft's MSN Groups.

TechWeb stated, “The number of visitors to the top 10 social-networking sites soared in April, attracting nearly half of all Web users.” You can view the list of the top 10 at the Nielsen/NetRatings press room.

So, I’m thinking, if I have a defined audience that has access to the Internet, there’s a 47 percent chance they are visiting or even actively participating in an online social network. What does that say about my printed newsletter?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Survey Shows PR $alaries on the Rise

According to the 2006 edition of "The Official PR Salary & Bonus Report," published by PR News, across-the-board salary percentage increases were up in 2005, but junior executive pay outpaced senior professional compensation by more than four percentage points.

Nationally, the salary for a Communications Specialist rose 11.7 percent to an annual average of $71,000. In agencies, junior level salaries increased 11.8 percent to an annual average salary of $47,000.

The report, shows that corporate public relations salaries increased 7.6 percent during 2005, while agency public relations salaries increased 8.9 percent. By comparison, in 2004, corporate public relations salaries increased 5.3 percent and agency public relations salaries increased only 3.6 percent.

In most instances, corporate and agency salaries and bonuses in second-tier cities and suburban markets were shown to be increasing at a faster rate than those in top metropolitan markets. In the report, top metropolitan markets are defined as New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles, while Boston, Dallas, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. are defined as second-tier metropolitan markets.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Three Ways for PR Folk to Use Blogs

From what I’ve seen, there are three basic ways to use blogs in PR. And they progress from low involvement to high involvement.

Listening (Monitoring)

The first way to dip your toe in the blog waters for the benefit of your organization or client, is to start monitoring blog conversations about them. At a minimum, it’s interesting to see what people are saying. But sometimes, you can get wind of a potential crisis before it hits big. You might even be able to avert a crisis, by “listening” to what your audiences are saying in the blogosphere. The Dan Rather/60 Minutes II case is one oft-cited example.

There are several tools you can use for monitoring blogs: Technorati (is the Google of blogs), Bloglines, PubSub, etc. You just type in your keywords, like the organization name or product, and see what comes up. The key is to do this regularly. If you haven’t already, try it right now. What have you found out?

Blogger Relations

Another way to use blogs, is to pitch to bloggers asking them to discuss your organization or product or whatever. In some ways, this is similar to effective media relations. You target certain bloggers, get to know what they blog about, send them a pitch that is relevant to them, etc. You do not ever send a mass pitch to a bunch of bloggers. You have to develop relationships. I’ve haven’t done this myself. Shel Holtz is blogging about one of his recent blog-pitch campaigns. Another example is the 100 Geek Dinners in 100 Days event we’ve been blogging about during the last week. There are plenty of good resources out there to give you direction.

Blog Hosting

A third way to use blogs of course is to host one yourself. Your organization might want to host a CEO blog (like Jonathan Schwartz, president of Sun Microsystems, a customer service blog or a blog directly related to your core functions (like TV Guide’s blogs about TV shows. There are a lot of policy-type questions to deal with though before you start, like giving up your control of the message (as if you really had control to begin with), when and how to monitor comments other people make on your blog, who do you get to be your blogger, etc. This is one area where the PR blogs can be a great resource. By visiting them regularly and listening to some of their podcasts, you can learn about current cases where companies are doing things right and some that are doing things wrong with their blogs.

For example, the For Immediate Release podcast recently talked about Starwood Hotels’ launch of a blog, The Lobby, and how they initially “missed the mark” about allowing comments. (See The Hobson & Holtz Report - Podcast #129: April 17, 2006).

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Gathering of Blog Enthusiasts

As a novice blogger, I was excited about the prospect of attending the kickoff of 100 Geek Dinners in 100 Days at Central Market in San Antonio. This campaign was envisioned by Hugh MacLeod. It was interesting for me because as both a PR and blogging novice, I gained some insight into the technique of utilizing blogging for the purpose of promoting one's company or product. It was also a networking opportunity for me.

The co-hosts for the event were Kami Huyse of Communication Overtones and Allen Weinkrantz, of Wide Angle Blog.

I enjoyed the the wine that was provided by Jason Korman of Stromhoek. I mostly enjoyed the fellowship of others in the PR world that I can learn from. I was reminded because of our conversation that blogging can be a very creative and useful tool for promoting a business or product. At the same time, it can have negative effects. This is because, if a business or product has poor performance or reviews, they will show up faster on a blog than some of the other mediums out there. I hope to attend other get togethers like this in the future.

My thanks to all of the other attendees, as I enjoyed meeting each of them and hope to remain in contact in my never ending plan of networking.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Rewards and Risks of Blogger Campaigns

So, we had the first ever Alamo City Blogger Meetup as a part of Hugh McLeod’s 100 Geek Dinners in 100 Days.

A campaign they have dubbed in their brochures, “Wine Blogging as Marketing Disruption.” We were first dinner (lunch) in that campaign, which also launched May 1, 2006.

The attendees were bloggers, former bloggers and blog readers located in San Antonio that make their living in public relations, high-tech fields and one retired public affairs professional turned scrapbooker.

A special thanks to Jason Korman at Stromhoek for providing the wine and the very impressive prints from Hugh that were numbered and signed. Also thanks to Alan Weinkrantz, a fellow PR blogger and San Antonian for co-hosting the event.

I used this special occasion to produce my first podcast. I used the free Audacity software and it is hosted at Evoca. To record the conversation I used my Olympus Digital Voice Recorder (wave format), not the best thing to use, but it was what I had and the quality is pretty okay for an on-site environment I think.

The show is 28 minutes in length, and we try to identify ourselves as we go so that you can follow. We are geeks and public relations professionals, so we talk about blogging as a PR strategy, the risks and the rewards.

LIsten right here on the site or Download the Podcast, to listen later. Once there, click on the "Alamo City Lunch Meetup" title and you will see a download button or use the RSS Feed to download directly to your iPod or computer.

Links to the Show:

Stormhoek Blogging Campaign, here and here.
Sprint Ambassador Program


See more photos of the event at Flickr.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Stormhoek’s Geek Lunch Campaign Kicks Off in San Antonio

So there we were. Sitting in the “community room” of the Central Market near downtown San Antonio. Eating lunch with strangers and friends. There’s wine at the end of the table, ready to be opened. And we’re being handed other neat free stuff. There’s even a photographer from the San Antonio Express-News.

Wow. So this is what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a pitch.

Yesterday, in San Antonio, we held the first of 100 geek dinners sparked by Hugh Macleod. There were seven of us – all communicators, several from PRSA. We’d been invited by Hugh as part of a blogger relations campaign introducing Stormhoek wine into the United States. A similar campaign in the UK doubled the company’s wine sales.

I found it very interesting to witness such a campaign first-hand. Hugh had extended an open invitation to bloggers to hold geek dinners. There was no requirement to taste the wine, to talk about the wine or to blog about it. Then he sent us a box of stuff: three bottles of Stormhoek wine to sample; a cute little booklet describing the campaign for each of us, and a limited edition print of his cartoon for each of us. There was also one copy of the print for us to sign and send back to be displayed at the winery. So the next time you’re in South Africa…

We passed around a tape recorder to capture part of our conversation about blogger relations campaigns like this. There are several benefits that come from an activity that is so relevant to your audience. The “geek dinner” with a soft pitch idea is clearly jives with the subculture of bloggers.

We also talked about the risk of such campaigns. Like, what if the product stinks? Some of the group criticized other blogger relations campaigns that had been executed poorly, like one that didn’t target well and sent sample products to bloggers in the UK where their service isn’t provided. One of the diners, Alan Weinkrantz, has already posted about the event (including a photo of him receiving the print; I thought he was going to climb over the table to get one!).

So through this experience, I saw that before kicking off a blogger relations campaign (just like any other type of campaign), it is vitally important that you do your homework first. Find out who the key bloggers are in your niche market and review case studies of similar campaigns so you can learn from their mistakes. This is especially true when you are treading on new ground for your organization. Hugh Macleod gives us a good lesson on how to do it right. (I’m sure it helped that this product tasted good.)

I offer my thanks to Hugh and Stormhoek for bringing me to my first “geek dinner.” And thanks to Kami for setting it up. After a while, we turned off the tape recorder and talked about what each of us is doing in the realm of new media. And the whole time, part of me was wondering, why did that photographer have to take a picture of me when I was taking a bite of my turkey sandwich?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Alamo City Hosts Blogger Meetup Today

Today is the day that bloggers and blog readers in the Alamo City kick off Hugh McLeod's marketing disruption experiment for the Stormhoek wine launch in the U.S. As I mentioned in a post last week at Communication Overtones, they used this strategy for a successful launch of the wine in the UK.

I received a box late last week from Stormhoek and it is full of interesting stuff. As a communications professional I was VERY interested, to say the least, to see how it would be presented and it is pretty cool.

There are signed and numbered prints of a cartoon by Hugh (included in this post) to commemorate the event for the guests, a print that we all will sign to adorn the winery, three bottles of wine (which are still in the Styrofoam sleeves) and some cool "Wine Blogging as Marketing Disruption" booklets that describe the wine and a little about using the blogosphere as a marketing device.

The only other thing I would have included was disposable wine glasses. In fact, I, or someone I appoint, will bring them since I think it would be uncool to have a wine tasting in the giant red disposable plastic cups that I have on hand, or in whatever disposable cups they have at Central Market, where we will meet.

So far, I have 11 RSVPs and one reporter from the Express News who is working on a story about blogging, bloggers and readers of blogs will be there.

San Antonio Geek Lunch
12 noon to 1:30 p.m.
Central Market (directions)
San Antonio, TX
Community Room, second floor and to the left

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