Friday, November 14, 2008

Insights for PR Firms in a Recession Environment

Tough economic times will affect many industries. Some will be hit hard, but experts predict others, like health care, will weather the storm just fine. I’ve come across several stories trying to anticipate the effect on the public relations profession. I’ve never worked for a PR firm, but if we just look at that sector of our profession, there are some interesting prospects. I want to share two with you.

First, a recent episode of the Inside PR podcast focused on actions agencies can take when confronted with an economic downturn. The three people in the conversation (Terry Fallis , Martin Waxman and Julie Rusciolelli) are all with agencies, and part of their conversation points to opportunities agencies can take advantage of when companies reduce their in-house PR staff (sigh) and turn to agencies to take on some of that workload.

By the way, Inside PR is a podcast that I have strongly recommended you listen to before. I still do. It’s insightful and entertaining.

Second, Joseph Thornley, CEO of Thornley Fallis, posted a story, “Managing through the coming recession,” from an agency exec’s point of view. It presents some strategies that those of you in similar positions might want to consider.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reflections on the PRSA International Conference in Detroit

Posted on behalf of Trisha Box, PRSA San Antonio's Vice President of Programs and Chair of Gift of Guidance Program

I recently had the honor of attending the PRSA International Conference in Detroit after winning the "Eat and Win" program hosted by our chapter. It was a privilege to be among 3,000 PR practitioners from around the world representing corporate America, independents, non-profits and many PRSSA students. Speakers like Craig Newmark founder of Craig’s List, Bob Lutz with GM, and an author and former sports anchor Mitch Albom were all engaging and educational. The many sessions to choose from offered to succeed in today’s economy and especially how to jump into social media.

I was also proud to represent San Antonio by serving as an assembly delegate. We discussed important trends and issues facing our profession. I attended our district meeting where I met members from Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

Next years’ conference is in sunny San Diego on November 7-10, 2009. With the ever changing economy, I highly encourage everyone to consider attending the 2009 conference to educate yourself on our ever changing profession and be a bigger value to your employer or client. Put in your '09 budgets, if you register by the end of the year you get this year’s price. See

Thanks again to the 2008 chapter board for hosting me and for voting me as an assembly delegate to represent our chapter.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Trust and Reputation in Public Relations

Today PRSA San Antonio members were treated to a presentation by Mike Cherenson, APR, Chair-Elect of PRSA and Executive Vice President of Success Communications Group. Mike is a second generation counselor, who grew up "doodling his ABC's on news release stationery."

Mike's lively presentation included numerous research examples about building and maintaining reputation, a particularly timely topic as our nation struggles with the effects of the federal bailout and an uncertain economy. Cherenson explained that public relations practitioners are the keepers of trust and repetition in a company and the CEO should be its chief trust officer. He offered a formula for the group: Reputation equals expectation plus credibility plus authenticity.

Cherenson advocates that social media is empowering more and more to join in on the conversation, but cautioned that in this age of "infodemics" it is difficult to sort out fact from fiction. Infodemics is defined as the combination of rumor, truth, fact, propaganda and interpretation. This presents new challenges for managing an organizations' reputation.

He offered a useful analogy called the Credibility Bank. Organizations make deposits each time they doing something good or well. Withdrawals, on the other hand, are made when wrongs go uncorrected. He sugggested all practitioners should develop a score card and share it periodically with their CEO. His advice to practitioners hoping to build trust among their many stakeholders is that the simpler the message, the easier it is to reach your audience. Mike's presentation will be available on the chapter web site.

Update: Kami Watson Huyse shares this video interview with Mike Cherenson on trust and reputation. Enjoy!

Photo of Mike Cherenson courtesy of PRSA Member Randy Escamilla

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Retrospective: The Power of Political Words

Like millions of Americans, I watched the election coverage last night. Beyond the sheer wonder of the computer interfaces, integration of social media, and the usual political speculation, one basic of our culture and our democracy stood tall. The power of words. The defining moment for me last evening was two moments, actually. First, John McCain's eloquent concession speech, delivered with humility and grace. You can read his speech or watch the video of his speech.

It made me recall the basics of what drew me to public relations in the first place, the writing part, and how cool it would have been to be someone's speech writer. Then, before too much more time passed, President-elect Obama took the stage more than half a country away and delivered another powerful speech, which you can read or watch .

Many social media folks and media watchers are referencing the words of the evening, including Michael Sebastian at

The power of words is evident all around us, and, thanks to Web 2.0, we can read, view, listen and comment on the words that will define our next four years.