Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Visit with Marilyn

I haven’t told anyone this, except my husband. A couple of months ago, I dreamed of Marilyn Potts. I was sitting at a luncheon table when she walked in and sat next to me. Someone was speaking at the podium, so she remained quiet. But there she was: tall, happy and kind.

I’ve never been one to take much stock in the meaning of dreams. I don’t even own a dream interpretation book. Still, this one struck me. In the dream, I kept looking around for someone else to notice that a ghost was at my table. But everyone nearby was new to our group and hadn’t known Marilyn. They weren’t aware of the legacy that follows her.

It’s fitting really. The whole reason we started the Marilyn Potts Endowment Fund after her death was to support young people as they transition from college to the professional world of public relations. It was something Marilyn did herself.

The reason I am bringing this up now is that our Del Oro Awards banquet is next week. There will be many things to celebrate, like our individual winners – Kelly G. Morris, APR, Kami Watson Huyse, APR, Adriana R. Garcia and Randy Escamilla – along with the great PR work of our campaigns and tactics winners. But we also will be raising funds for the Marilyn Potts Endowment Fund. We need to raise a few thousand more dollars in order to be able to start dispersing funds. And there is a class of seniors who could use our support right away.

So I hope that if you attend the banquet, you will either make a hefty donation or bid on several silent auction items. In fact, if you lose something you bid on, I hope you will write the check anyway. If you can’t be there, you can still make a donation.

How natural it will be someday, to see many more new and young faces at PR events unknowingly surrounding Marilyn’s spirit and fulfilling her dreams for them.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

PRSA Silver Anvil is Now on Facebook

PRSA has created a Facebook page focusing on the Silver Anvil Awards. Here is the text of the announcement:

Visit the PRSA Silver Anvil Awards Evening event page on Facebook to keep up with latest news about the industry's most recognized and prestigious award program. The icon of best public relations practices, the Silver Anvil Awards will be presented on Thursday, June 5, 2008, at the Equitable Center in midtown Manhattan. The Silver Anvil Awards Evening has been named the “#1 Public Relations Industry Event in New York” by BizBash in its annual “New York’s Top 100 Events,” and will feature special guest celebrities along with pre-eminent public relations professionals who have risen to the top of their game in a highly competitive contest.

Use the Silver Anvil Awards Evening event page to invite others to learn more about the event and post your photos from the 2007 Silver Anvil Awards Evening. As we get closer to June 5, we'll post more updates, including podcast links, webcast dates, video clips and post-event photos.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Get Well Soon Charlie!

Our dear friend and PRSA leader, Charlie Kenworthey, APR, Fellow PRSA, underwent surgery for an aortic aneurism on April 9. He is out of ICU and is now recovering. Many of our members have asked how to share their get-well wishes. Cards can be sent to 1103 River Vista West, San Antonio, Texas 78216.

Friday, April 04, 2008

I've got Social Media Block

Like a ton of other people who work in offices, I'm blocked from quite a few web sites, many of them social media-related, at work. I do public relations for a large hospital system and I understand security. I get it, we deal with a lot of sensitive information – almost none of which I have access to. I also understand when you have thousands of employees that there is potential for a lot of "lost" time if said employees are playing around on the Internet while at work.

My challenge with not having access is that I monitor media and do media relations for my system and I don't have access to the same information that the reporters do. I also have some employee relations duties and I don't have access to a lot of the sites that might tell me how our folk are feeling. If they post on Facebook, MySpace, or YouTube, I'm out of luck. I can't see what they might have said when I'm at the office. So I look when I'm home after my son's gone to sleep.

Since tracking employee feelings outside the workplace isn't my main function, it's not that big a deal to look while I'm at home. The real problem comes when a reporter asks for something related to a site that is blocked to me. Here's a recap of a recent conversation I had with a reporter:

Reporter: We've found some video on YouTube showing patients being transported by an ambulance service. Can you look at the video and tell me if it's a HIPAA violation?

Me: Um, I don't have access to YouTube and wouldn't comment on another organization; but, I'm happy to direct you to a good resource to help you understand HIPAA.

Reporter: You can't look at YouTube [I'm pretty sure I hear laughter in his voice]?

Me: No, it's a site that is blocked on our system.

Reporter: Wow. So anybody can say anything about your hospital and you won't even know it?

Me: Well, anyone can say anything about our hospital because it's their right to do that. But, no, if I wanted to check from work, I wouldn't know.

Reporter: Hey, if I ever come across anything, I'll let you know!

Me: Gosh. Thanks.

I follow a group of people on Twitter who are so incredibly smart, well informed, and sharing that I'm constantly learning from them via their Tweets. When I first came to this health system, I noticed that Twitter was one of the blocked sites. When I asked our IT guy to see if I could have it added to my "safe" list, he got back to me with this funny answer, "Sherry, Twitter is listed as a 'match making' site, so we can't okay it. I thought you were dating someone?"

Great. So not only was I blocked, the IT guy thinks I'm trying to hook up while at the office. So, now I post to Twitter through text on my personal phone and I read using my company BlackBerry (but can't post through BB because its Java function has been disabled). It's worth it to me to have access to the group I'm following – I learn something almost every day – but it's so convoluted!

If you want another take on the "Blocking" visit Shel Holtz's campaign against corporate blocking. For me, being blocked from sites is a pain but not really a huge hindrance to my work. For a lot of people though, it can be a real strain. Shel's got a great source of information about it on Stop Blocking!

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on blocking. Has blocking been a strain on your professional time? At what point can employees be trusted to not abuse the system by hours of shopping online or chatting with friends?

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

New Media, New Influencers & Implications for PR

The Society for New Communications Research has released the results of its study, "New Media, New Influencers & Implications for the Public Relations Profession." You can download the whitepaper online. Below is quoted from the executive summary:

Public relations professionals today are confronted with an astounding array of new communications channels. Internet-based social media tools like blogs, podcasts, online video and social networks are giving voice to the opinions of millions of consumers. While mainstream media continues to play a vital role in the dissemination of information, even these traditional channels are increasingly being influenced by online conversations.

The "new influencers" are beginning to tear at the fabric of corporate communications and marketing as they have existed for 100 years, giving rise to a new style characterized by conversation and community.

The Society for New Communications Research set out to conduct an examination of how influence patterns are changing and how communications professionals are addressing those changes by adopting social media. The goals were to discover how organizations:

  • Define new influencers;
  • Communicate and create relationships with them;
  • Use social media to create influence; and
  • Measure the effects of these efforts.

The larger goal of the study was to use these discoveries to offer a set of recommendations to professional communicators.

This is quite a thought-proving report. I urge you to read it and see how the findings compare to how your organization is approaching and measuring social media impacts.