Monday, March 23, 2009

Flacks & Sacked Luncheon Lends Support to our Recently Laid-Off Journalists

More than 80 local advertising and PR folk hosted a lunch to lend moral support to at least 40 of our laid off journalist friends and to help them find new opportunities, hopefully in San Antonio. Many of the journalists were formerly at the San Antonio Express-News, which took a big hit a couple of weeks ago, despite being – as I was told – a profitable paper. A couple of folk at my table had been “copyboys” more than 35 years ago (though had left and returned since). There were many great minds in the room.

This creative and thoughtful event was organized by Michele Autenrieth Brown and Debi Aronson Pfitzenmaier. From what I can tell, they primarily used Facebook and e-mail to notify folk of the details. Alamo Café was gracious enough to agree to serve as the venue for this loud crowd.

It was great to see the faces of so many people who hadn’t seen each other in a long time. And many PR folk and journalists met each other for the first time after spending years working together via phone and e-mail.

The San Antonio PRSA Board just announced it is offering free job bank access to our journalist friends in the media affected by the economic downturn and subsequent layoffs. (There is never a charge for posting job openings.) Access to the job bank is also free to PRSA members. For more information go to our web site:

Kudos to Michele and Debi for giving us a forum to support our journalist colleagues!

And let me send a special thank you to our journalist friends for your years of dedication to truth and meaningful storytelling for the benefit of our community. Best of luck to you as you craft your next chapter.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

24 Top Social Media People You Should Know

One of the best things about being a member of PRSA is the generosity of spirit that all members seem to possess. I haven't met a member yet who wouldn't come to the aid of another member with a problem or issue. That must be why I gravitated to this group! It reminds me so much of the song I learned as a Girl Scout years ago, called "Pass it On."

This week, another group with a tremendous generosity of spirit were honored by the Austin American Statesman during the area's premier networking event, SxSW or South by Southwest. The Statesman took nominations for the Lone Star State's top social media figures and called it the Social Media Awards (though many of the honorees suggested jazzier names to the sponsors!).

To say that our state is big is silly -- just look at the real estate on any classroom globe. But to say that our state is big on social media is worth shouting about. Here's a complete list of the honorees and how you can find them. Some were surprising, like Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams' use of social media to keep constituents informed. Or David Guenthner, whose nomination was linked to his in-depth reporting on public policy issues.

It was good to see some familiar faces nominated as well. Kami Watson Huyse, former San Antonio chapter member, and Bryan Person, who recently spoke to the chapter in a professional development seminar were also lauded at the Sunday afternoon event.

Some new people that I will be watching as a result of attending the awards are Michelle Greer, who was the overall winner and was described as the geek's geek and who has also used social media to help raise money for causes. Also, J. R. Cohen, a coffeehouse owner in Houston, has a devoted customer following and a way for them to Tweet their orders in. He, too, has social causes in mind with his social media efforts.

One thread ran through the entire awards presentation: generosity is alive and well and living in social media (and PR!) in Texas. Take some time to learn about these 24 newly famous Texans.

Friday, March 06, 2009

TV News Directors Pack the House

Most everyone is troubled by the layoffs facing print journalists.
It’s a tough time in newsrooms everywhere including San Antonio.

The news directors from the ABC, CBS, and NBC San Antonio television affiliates discussed the impact the economy is having on local coverage. The PRSA San Antonio luncheon was a record-breaker with 96 people attending to hear the news.

I was surprised just how easy it was to get the news directors to agree to meet. However, one news executive did tell me before the luncheon that discussing the news before the May ratings book makes good business sense.

News directors (seated left to right in photo) included:

Jim Boyle, ABC Affiliate, KSAT 12 News
Kurt Davis, CBS Affiliate, KENS 5 Eyewitness News
Aaron Ramey, NBC Affiliate, News 4 WOAI

In a nutshell, these highly competitive news execs said emerging technologies are forcing them to change. Social media, especially Twitter and Facebook are powerful
influencers today, the news directors said.

TV stations have taken a big hit after their steady revenue source of car dealership ads dried up. However, the was no mention at all of possible job cuts.

So far, it seems, everything’s stable in TV land.