Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hard times hit our friends in the press

Everyone probably knows by now that the Express-News staff suffered major layoffs yesterday.

We pitched stories to them and their work often helped make us look good to our bosses and clients, so a bunch of PR professionals, led by Debi Pfitzenmaier and Michelle Autenreith Brown, wants to do something to help the reporters transition to the next step, whatever it may be.

Here's how it will work:
Much like what was done in NYC when Wall Street started the massive lay-offs, a small group of people led by Debi Pfitzenmaier are trying to coordinate a Flacks and Sacked lunch.

A PR person reaches out to a victim of the lay-offs who they know or pitched, invites them to lunch and covers the cost of the lunch along with their own. In turn, the reporter has a chance to network.
The event has been tentatively scheduled for Monday, March 23, at 11:30 a.m., place TBA. If you are interested, e-mail Michelle at to RSVP. If you have already invited a reporter, please let her know at that time. If you would like to help but don't feel you know anyone well enough to invite him or her, let Michelle know that too and she will match you with someone.

I've been on both sides of this fence - the laid off and the left behind. In either case, you are left wondering if (or when) the next shoe will drop, and just how big it will be. If you are one of the laid-off, it really helps to know that your friends are thinking of you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What's in an Embargo?

This was the topic of discussion today at our chapter's quarterly breakfast for senior practitioners. I absolutely love the chance to meet with my counterparts as it offers us a chance to take each other's pulse on professional matters.

Today's topic was no exception. And was provided by our breakfast ninja, Christie Goodman, APR. Christie got the idea from discussion featured on several PR blogs after Tech Crunch reported they would no longer honor PR practitioners' embargo stamps on press releases.

There's a fabulous explanation here in Shel Holtz's blog about the entire issue and what it means to the PR community.

For the uninitiated, an "Embargo" stamp on a press release is used to limit the reporter's first use of the information. Shel's post details their history, so I won't rehash it here.

Our discussion today turned to who's using it in San Antonio? Our group of 10 had widely diverging uses of the practice. One seasoned health care professional said that they were absolutely necessary when submitting research project results to the major medical journals. This need evolved from the desire to get complicated information into the pipeline and respect the long lead time of many magazines. A trade industry professional said the same thing, but that he hardly used them anymore. An agency PR director shared his former financial public relations experience in which large volumes of information for year-end reporting would need an embargo just for reporters to digest it all. One association professional had obsserved others using them just to get people to press conferences. The "breakfast gang" agreed that this was an abuse of the system. Others at the table had rarely used them.

The common thread in this discussion among all this morning focused on the importance of building trust and relationships with the reporters who cover your "beat" or industry and the clear need to define what the embargo was designed to achieve for your organization. All in all, it was a lively discussion, but we'd like to hear more. What's the practice in your PR world?

Twitter Users Demonstrate the Power of Interpersonal Networking with Worldwide Twestivals

Something amazing happened two weeks ago. Volunteers around the world organized a massive fundraiser using Twitter as their primary communication tool. As a result, 202 cities across the globe held Twestivals, bringing together the Twitter community for an evening of fun and to raise money. The money is still being counted, but so far they’ve counted – are you sitting down? – a quarter of a million dollars raised for charity: water.

It started in London as an idea to tie a “tweet-up” where local Twitter users get together informally to meet face to face to a larger cause. They chose charity: water, a non-profit organization that brings clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations by funding sustainable clean water solutions in areas of greatest need.

The majority of the cities’ events were planned in less than two weeks, with no brochures, no television spots, no billboards, no Superbowl ads.

Visit the Twestival web site to see the list of cities, learn more about the charity, and keep tabs on similar events.

You can also hear a great interview with the founder on the For Immediate Release podcast, episode #420.

But tell me this, if volunteers directed by no organization can raise a quarter of a million dollars in a few weeks with no seed money by merely using Twitter, what creative things can you be using Twitter for?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Media in Transition - Social Media Breakfast San Antonio

Traditional media such as newspapers, radio and television are expanding their online audience engagement. Participating in social networks is just one of the new strategies being implemented by savvy publications and television. Join us Wednesday morning as we hear from some innovative members of the San Antonio media who are spearheading the charge into the social networks.


• Donna Tuttle (@writeontime) of the San Antonio Business Journal

• Laura Lorek (@lalorek) of the San Antonio Express News

• Elaine Wolff (@emwolff) of the San Antonio Current

• Joe Ruiz (@joeruiz) of KSAT Channel 12

Social Media Breakfast San Antonio

  • Date: Wednesday, February 18, 2009
  • Time: 7:30-9am
  • Place: The Magnolia Pancake Haus (210-496-0828)
  • Address: 606 Embassy Oak, Suite 100 San Antonio, Texas 78216 [map]
  • Registration: Register on Eventbrite, as tickets are limited

Questions about this event? Contact Jennifer Milikien or Jennifer Navarrete.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Demo Today Presented about Jott

At today’s PRSA chapter luncheon, I presented a brief look at Jott, a voice-to-text service that records your voice message and sends it to you in a text e-mail. This was the first in a series of mini-demonstrations PRSA will be offering free prior to our luncheons. Following is a recap of what we looked at today.

Why use Jott?
Send reminders to yourself.
Dictate things you want to write.
Send text messages.
Send e-mail messages to others.
Send messages to lists of people.

How to sign up
Fill out the registration form.
Use the cell phone you will be calling from.
Use the e-mail where you want the emails to go.

You can view and listen to your messages at the Jott web site.
E-mails come with the text version and a link for the recipient to listen.
Build a contact list.
Get ok first before adding their cell phone numbers.
There are Jott feeds that you can get to listen to news and updates from certain web sites.
There are aps for your Blackberry or iPhone.
Create tasks in Outlook.

This service is no longer free, now that Jott is out of beta. But there are three payment options, so you can choose the best for you. Go to the Jott web site for details.

Next month, we’ll see how to set up a Google homepage and how to set up news feeds