Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Headlines Must be Descriptive or You Lose Readers

My husband is stopping his subscription to Entrepreneur magazine. The main reason he gives is that when he reads the story headlines, he can’t tell what the story is going to be about. He’s a normal busy person. He doesn’t have time to solve mysteries just to read a magazine.

Here are some samples from the September 2007 issue:
• Tuned In
• Buh-Bye
• Come on, Defense!
• On the Rise
• All They Need
• So Long, Big Guys

Print magazines and newspapers can use images, photos and other design elements to draw readers into a story. But times have changed. In today’s world of RSS feeds and online news that link headlines to stories, cryptic and teaser headlines just don’t cut it.

I even find the puns in AdAge irritating. If I can’t tell in a few words what it’s going to be about, I’m gone.

You’d think Entrepreneur would have figured this out by now.

Here’s what the stories were about by the way:
• Tuned In: “alpha moms” (which I find is an offensive term)
• Buh-Bye: firing employees
• Come on, Defense!: securing your web site
• On the Rise: employment and salary growth
• All They Need: Blackberry users
• So Long, Big Guys: handbag designer

Thursday, September 20, 2007

PRSA Launches a Conference Blog: '5 Reasons to Launch a Blog'

Tuesday, the Public Relations Society of America published a blog post by Paul Gillan, Remind us again why you aren't blogging, to kick off its 2007 International Conference Blog, PR|Evolution.  The conference will be held October 20-23, 2007 in Philadelphia.  You can register by clicking here

In the first post, Gillan gives five reasons for launching a blog backed by examples of companies that have capitalized on each.

Influence policy: General Motors, Google and the National Association of Manufacturers

Reinforce an image: Southwest Airlines' frothy, fun Nuts about Southwest blog

Support customers: Intuit, Microsoft, Dell

Give advice: Kodak, Extended Stay Hotels and Owens Corning

Educate: English Cut custom-made suits and The Tinbasher sheet metal artistry

The blog will have two or three posts a week from conference presenters as we lead up to the conference and Paul Gillin, Katie Paine, Josh Hallett, Peter Himler, Eric Schwartzman, and myself will be live blogging during the conference. 

We plan to use Flickr, YouTube and Twitter to catalogue and communicate with those of you that are there and those that aren't.  We also plan to include a few podcasts.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Happy Birthday Smiley!

Whether you love them or hate them, emoticons are celebrating 25 years this week. Happy Birthday Smiley :-)

How does one person take credit for "inventing" such a pop-culture phenomenon? And how did he know it was important enough to remember when he sent the first smiley?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Looking for a job in a new city? Network, network, network! And also? Network!

After living in San Antonio for nearly a decade, I made the decision to move back to my hometown of Corpus Christi in February of this year. It was a hard decision to make personally (I love my friends and having access to more than one Target) and professionally (I loved my work, my colleagues, and an active PRSA chapter). Besides those very important reasons, I also wasn’t looking forward to the job hunt in a city where I didn’t have many professional contacts.

Most of the things about looking for a job in another city are very similar to looking for a job in the place you live in now. The things like looking at the city’s Chamber of Commerce, looking at the city’s economic development corporations, etc, those are the same. So, for the purposes of this post, I’ll talk about the most important part of looking for a job in a new city: making friends and influencing people.

I had exactly two professional contacts in Corpus Christi when I decided to make the move. Even though I grew up here, and had childhood friends, I had one friend in our area of work and one contact I had made 10 years before when I graduated college. So, I did a lot of calling friends and colleagues from around the state (and even one in California) to find leads on jobs; and I reconnected with people I only spoke to every few years to see if they knew of openings.

Until my current position, I’d never gotten a job in our field that didn’t have some connection with PRSA. Whether it was a PRSA friend making an introduction, or interviewing at a PRSA luncheon, or linking up with a PRSA colleague who told a friend of a friend about me, my PRSA connections have been invaluable. I think the PRSA folk in San Antonio are especially awesome. I’ve never seen a group of people more willing – and able – to help someone find a job or make a career change.

Network outside public relations. Especially in small communities, you’ve got to be flexible, so go to groups that aren’t strictly public relations. Visit with human resources groups, advertising groups, philanthropy professionals, etc. You cannot afford to have a close mind when you are moving to a new place. Time to put your creative skills to use!

Informational interviews, ask for them! I’ve had a couple of jobs now where there wasn’t really a position open, but one was created for me after talking with the person who became my boss. I went on informational interviews wanting to get to know the industry or area and ended up getting hired because a position was created for me. If nothing else, you’ll get some good networking from it and get your name out there.

Oh, and sometimes the most important part of looking for a job in a new city is plastering said city with your resume. If everyone in the city recognizes your name, you’re bound to find a position. Remember too, that the number one guarantee for finding a job is to quit looking for one. Give up. As soon as you do, you’ll get 18 offers and one of those will be perfect.

Happy hunting!

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Social Network Just for Communicators:

Learning About Social Media from Your Desk

By far, the online social network that I’ve found most useful is

Like other social networks, you sign up for free and create your own profile page. But it’s also easy to join topical forums to discuss common issues. (Facebook is so big, it’s really hard to find groups that you might be interested in. And there are a lot of creepy groups.)

In MyRagan, I’ve answered some folk’s questions and have had my own answered. It’s easy to navigate. There are also free downloads and links to useful resources.

Before this, I hadn’t used Ragan services, publications or conferences. They seemed targeted to really big corporations and were way too pricey for this non-profit employee. But doesn’t have those limitations.

I strongly suggest you try it out.

For the record, there is another online social network for communicators that launched a few weeks after MyRagan. It’s Melcrum's Communicators' Network. But I’ve not tried it out yet. If you have, let us know what you think of it!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Some Social Networks Are Bad for Your Reputation

Learning about Social Media from Your Desk

During this lesson about online social networks, I’ve listed several that I think are worth trying out, depending on the type of network you are looking for. But there are some that are best avoided.

The latest new one is called Quechup. And it is apparently a front for a spam service, at your contacts’ expense. Read more at “WARNING: Do NOT load Quechup” by Robert Scoble and stay away.

One great thing about social media is that you and I are finding this out through our online networks mostly made up of people we’ve never met.

Remember when your favorite teacher finally said that it’s not about knowing all the answers; it’s about knowing where to look? We’ll never know all the technology, not even the types used most in our industry. We just won’t ever catch up. What matters today is having networks (online and in person) to draw upon and to share with.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Redesigned San Antonio PRSA Web Site Launched

I am happy to say that our chapter was finally able to launch our redesigned web site last week. I was in charge of the site last year (and previously), and one of my goals was to upgrade its look and functionality. But I just didn’t get to it.

We first went online in about 2000 I believe. We used a free Yahoo account and Front Page software. It was not attractive and not easy to update. But at least we were online. The world was different then.

Then we got a new volunteer to create a real design and set up a real domain for us. That’s when we moved from Yahoo to We used a web-based editing software for updating called Web Edit Pro. It was a bit cluncky and limiting. But it worked for us.

That is, until it died this past December. Had I done my job and gotten us upgraded like I was supposed to, the fate of Web Edit Pro would not have affected us. But I didn’t, and it did.

I set up a Google web page to get us by while we looked for a professional designer. (There’s more to this part of the story that I will share later.)

That’s when we found Gray Graphics, who was happy to set up a partnership agreement with us. Gray Graphics specializes in web site design, web site development and content management.

They listened to our needs and developed several options for us that were all consistent with PRSA’s branding requirements. When we picked a design and provided the content, they went to town.

The other part of the picture though is the system we will use to update the site. At the suggestion of Gray Graphics, we are using a CMS (content management system) called SiteFinity. It’s easy to learn and will help us keep the site looking professional and up to date.

So at our luncheon, we had a little celebration. We finally have a web site that accurately reflects the professionalism of our membership.

But the best part is: I’m done!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Business Use of Online Social Networks

Learning About Social Media from Your Desk

The eMarketer Daily newsletter reported in June that “nearly two-thirds of U.S. business professionals use personal and professional social networking web sites, according to the Social Network Practitioner Consensus Survey from the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), conducted in conjunction with”

The survey found that social networks are used in large proportions to:
• keep internal staff and remote employees connected,
• connect with potential clients and showcase skills,
• job-hunt,
• share best practices with colleagues, and
• get answers to issues they were currently facing.

eMarketer quotes Jay Jamrog of i4cp: "We expected to see a number of respondents utilizing social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook for personal reasons, but we were intrigued at the high percentage of business professionals that use social networking for professional purposes."

New pic for Christie

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Great things happening with the PRSSA Steven R. Levitt Chapter at UTSA

When I was asked to be a student contributor, I was excited. I hoped to be able to post at least twice a month, maybe more. That has not happened. Last week I began my final semester of undergraduate studies at UTSA as well as my final semester as the Chapter President of the newly named PRSSA Steven R. Levitt Chapter. Our Chapter is well on its way to a greater semester than it has ever seen. Below is a list of upcoming events that we are planning:
  • On September 5, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. we are hosting the Annual Fall Pizza for Poverty Fundraiser at the UTSA 1604 campus under the Sombrilla. The spring event raised enough cash and food to provide 750 meals for the needy serviced by the San Antonio Food Bank. This was done with the generous donations of CiCi's Pizza, Dominos Pizza and Wal-Mart.
  • September 24 and 25 we will be taking nominations for the executive board positions being vacated due to upcoming graduations.
  • October 5; 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m we will be hosting the 10th Anniversary of the UTSA PRSSA Chapter and Roast of Dr. Steven R. Levitt at the UTSA 1604 Campus' Laurel Room (UC2.01.28). The evening is shaping up to be a great networking opportunity for our members. The night kicks off with a non-alcoholic mixer for the students and PRSA professionals. Will include a look back at the Chapter with raffle drawings throughout the evening. Dinner will include herb crusted chicken, roasted rosemary potatoes and a house salad. It ends with a Roast of Dr. Steven R. Levitt and the official announcement of the new name.
  • October 9 we will elect the 2007-08 Executive Board and begin the transition period.
  • October 14 - 18 and 21 - 26 in a joint collaboration with the San Antonio PRSA Chapter we will be enjoying the Fall '07 PRSSA/PRSA Shadow Days. This is an opportunity for our student memebers to be mentored by a public relations specialist at their place of business. If you would like to host one or more students or have further questions, please contact PRSSA Liaison, Robert E. Sheldon, APR at (210) 828-1880 or (210) 241-5139 (mobile); fax (210) 826-9974; email:
  • October 19 -23 a delegation will be attending the 2007 PRSSA National Conference in Philadelphia.

As you can see We will be very busy over the next couple of months. I want to mention that over the summer I was picked to serve on the 2007-08 PRSSA National Subcommittee for Internships/Job Services. I have been assigned the states of Alabama. Kentucky and Nevada. My responsibilities include contacting public relations businesses in these states and providing them detailed information on PRSSA JobCenter, a FREE tool for employers seeking public relations interns or PRSSA recent graduates. I am asking that if you know specialists in these three states that would benefit form utilizing PRSSA JobCenter, please have them contact me at (210) 639-8800 or by e-mail at They can also contact our subcommittee chair Denise Kreft at