Friday, July 30, 2010

Member Rediscovers River during Chapter Event

The history of the River Walk can be traced back to 1536, and has been the lifeblood of the area ever since…first with life sustaining water for both visitors and eventually inhabitants, and now as a tourist attraction that significantly impacts the economy of the area.

On June 30, the PRSA/SA Chapter and local IABC Chapter held a joint mixer with the San Antonio River Foundation at the oldest VFW Hall in Texas. The Southern-style plantation home was the perfect setting for us to get on a barge to float on the year-old Museum Reach of the River Walk.

The weather was perfect. The storms held off, the temperature cooled, and the evening was extremely relaxing and tranquil as we passed through lush landscaping and under some amazing artwork. Probably the most famous artwork are the 25, 7-feet long fish under the I-35 overpass adjacent to Camden Street. My favorite was the “sonic passage,” where world renowned sound artist Bill Fontana placed sequenced speakers under the bridge to emit a blend of recorded and live broadcasts from multiple locations along the river. It is eerily calming to the senses.

Another highlight for me was going through the lock and dam system. I’ve been through many of these across the U.S., but big or small, it is always amazing and a thrill for me. I don’t understand the engineering of it at all, and that mystery helps make it special.

As we glided along, we were told about the next phase for the River. It won’t be accessible by barge, but will form a unique park space throughout the Missions area with new hike and bike trails along the banks of the San Antonio River. Through the work of the San Antonio River Authority and the San Antonio River Foundation, this Mission Reach will be completed in 2014.

Those earlier explorers knew what an important gem the river flowing through this area was going to be to the survival and vitalization of the area. The San Antonio River Authority’s mission is to protect and preserve our shared water resources and pursue innovative solutions that will serve generations to come. I’m grateful for what our forefathers and our current leaders are doing to revitalize the river, while keeping its charm and even some mystery intact.

Guest Post by Monica Faulkenbery, APR, Assistant Communications Director for NISD and a board member for the PRSA San Antonio Chapter. This event was free to members. For more PRSA events, visit the chapter web site.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

And the Winner Is...The Million Bulb Challenge by CPS Energy

Next in a series on winning entries from the Del Oro Awards 2010
La Plata – Community Relations entry

As the nation’s largest municipally owned natural gas and electric utility with 707,000 electric customers and 322,000 natural gas customers, CPS Energy needed to lower the cost of operating their rebate program and increase community awareness of the value of saving money while saving energy through rebates.

The Million Bulb Challenge campaign improved an existing compact fluorescent light (CFL) rebate program and presented the community with a clear goal – to distribute and rebate 1 million CFLs in 2009. Partnering with HEB and Home Depot would lower rebate costs through providing customers instant rebates and also helped overcome price barriers to the bulbs. A successful campaign would save more than 30 million kilowatt-hours and eliminate 4.4 million pounds of carbon-dioxide emissions.

CPS Energy publicized the program through its Energy Connection newsletter and held community events throughout the year to educate consumers on the cost-saving benefits of CFLs. A press conference in May, beginning the time of highest energy-use, gave a big push for awareness. By October, CPS Energy met its goal of distributing one million CFL bulbs and by the end of 2009 had distributed 1.6 million. It also exceeded its energy demand reduction target by 3.87 MW (saving a total of 38+ million KWH of electricity).

CPS Energy team members saved campaign pieces throughout the year with the idea of submitting an award entry, making the award process very simple. Not only were they able to raise the awareness of CFLs and energy savings but they were also able to publicize and reinforce the campaign’s excellent results with the Del Oro La Plata award recognition!

By Paige Ramsey-Palmer, APR, Corporate Communications Officer for San Antonio Credit Union and a board member of PRSA San Antonio.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

PR News Round Up ~ July 21, 2010

via SmartBrief on Social Media
How to avoid a social-media lawsuit
Social-media marketing and customer service can be a legal minefield, and companies need to stay alert, writes Indra Gardiner. Sharing copyrighted materials or failing to adequately protect your users' privacy can lead to serious legal problems, Gardiner warns. Convince & Convert (7/21) Read story.

From MediaPost via PR Daily
21 social media tips for your next event
David Berkowitz, senior director of emerging media and innovation at 360i, provides excellent tips for attendees, speakers, and event organizers about the use of social media at events. His advice for speakers: Stats and tools are more likely to get tweeted. His suggestions for attendees: Mention on at least one social network that you are attending the upcoming event. And for event organizers, he recommends they create a Twitter list of the event speakers. — Matthew Royse Read story.

By Paul Sutton via Ragan’s Daily Headlines
Not getting Twitter followers? Here are 10 key reasons why
Check out these all-too-common practices that almost beg people to unfollow or block you. Read story.

via SmartBrief on Social Media
10 strategies for promoting your brand on Facebook
Facebook has enormous potential for marketers, writes Kevin Gibbons, but it's easy to overlook the basic strategies needed for a successful campaign. Start with the obvious and build a brand page, he suggests, and focus on making it interesting and engaging for your fans. "If you're marketing a lively brand or product, don't make do with a dull standard Facebook page, make your landing page lively and interesting," he advises. (7/16) Read story.

via SmartBrief on Social Media
5 things every social-media policy should include
Every organization should have a written policy setting out its expectations of employees who use social media, says Wall Street Journal career columnist Alexandra Levit. The key is to be clear and not to take anything for granted, she says: define your terms, spell out precisely what you consider acceptable, and explicitly tell employees the kinds of information that should never be shared on social networks. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Social Media (7/14) Read story.

via SmartBrief on Social Media
5 steps to successful social-media customer research
When the National Sleep Foundation wanted to boost literature sales without breaking the bank, digital director Suzette Gardner turned to social media to figure out what her customers really wanted. She advises casting a wide net, then building groups and starting conversations focused around the key issues you want to explore. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Social Media (7/20) Read story.

From PR Daily
Attend the two-hour webinar that’s all about the Flip camera
Three speakers, two hours, tons of useful advice — and it will cost you only $99. Read more about this PR Daily webinar. Read story.

By Mickie Kennedy via Ragan’s Daily Headlines
7 PR do’s and don’ts for commenting on blogs
Commenting on other people's blogs—when done properly—has many upsides. Read story.

From YouTube via PR Daily
How to pitch the Associated Press
This two-minute video, produced by the AP and featuring two AP editors, explains in detail how to pitch a story to the Associated Press. The editors break down what makes for a good AP article and provide tips about the kind of art the AP wants. Although it appears this video was produced for reporters, it definitely applies to your next pitch. Consider this a must-watch.

From Mashable via PR Daily
6 tips for search optimizing your website
Making sure that your website is searchable is one of the most important parts of driving eyeballs to your site. Mashable co-editor Ben Parr highlights six best practices to make your website search-optimized. My favorite tip: Use the Hubspot tool, website grader, which gives you a report card on where your site stands. With a couple improvements, you are on your way to an “A” in search. — Matthew Royse Read story.

From PR Daily
17 social media sites to help you save time and money
A few months ago, PR Daily held a webinar that walked attendees through the most popular and powerful social media sites for communicators. The presenter, Pete Codella, is back with an updated version. Read more about it.
From Knowledge Enthusiast via PR Daily
7 ways to win friends and influence people on Facebook
Ever read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie? It’s one of PR Daily contributor Matthew Royse’s favorite books. “It recently occurred to me,” he blogged, “that a lot of what he writes in the book applies to interactions on Facebook.” Royse offered seven ways you can use Carnegie’s advice for your client or company's Facebook presence. Good advice. Read story.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

River Authority “reaches out” with a win!

Next in a Series on Award Winning Programs from the 2010 PRSA Del Oro Awards
El Bronce Award of Merit

How many cities have a river that runs right through it and has an impact to the local economy of millions, perhaps billions, each year?

We all know that San Antonio and its River Walk is a special place, and it’s the job of the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) to make sure it stays that way.

Recently the City and SARA expanded the River Walk with a 1.3 mile stretch of new walkways, landscaping, parks and public art. This also included a lock and dam system to be able to access the upper river area linking several downtown historic, commercial and cultural institutions.

The SARA created the Museum Reach Grand Opening Celebration brochure as a self-guided interpretive tour to be used during the weekend celebration. This award-winning brochure uniquely displayed the many different facets of the multi-million dollar project to the general public while demonstrating the ease of participating in all scheduled events. The design showcased the Museum Reach Grand Opening project’s facts, sponsors and event details.

The writing of the brochure was a group effort from the Intergovernmental and Community Relations Department (IGCR), and in-house graphic designer Clint Marzee. The result was a resounding success for both the grand opening, with 40,000 brochures being printed and distributed. It has since been updated and is now serving as a map of the area for future visitors.
Recently, the PRSA/San Antonio Chapter held a joint mixer with the local IABC Chapter to see first hand the Museum Reach end of the River Walk, plus find out more about the next phase—the Missions Reach.

For a peak at the Museum Reach go to

By Monica Faulkenberry, APR, PRSA board member and assistant director of communications for the Northside Independent School District

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Class C: One PR Man’s Story

By Deborah Charnes, VP Director of Public Relations, Bromley Communications

In Mexico and Latin America, where class distinctions traditionally are very marked, demographics are segmented by socio-economic status. Class A and B are the top tiers, representing the most affluent. Mexico’s association for market research, AMAI, describes Class A/B households as those that live in six bedroom homes in exclusive neighborhoods with round-the-clock armed security guards. The head of household has a doctorate or master’s degree, and children attend private schools with tuition of $10,000 or more each year. These families typically have an exclusive country club membership, and they also own a vacation home or condo abroad.

Class C is a big jump down and therefore picks up a significant piece of the human pie. This population has, until recently, been largely ignored by marketers as working poor consumers not worthy of advertising dollars.

At the 2010 International Public Relations World Congress held in Lima in June, Laura Schoen, chair, Latin America, Weber Shandwick, a major PR multi-national, spoke to attendees about the evolution of Class C since the 1980s. She cited a multi-year McCann Latin American Emerging Consumer Study. There are more than 200 million people that fit in the Class C sector, Schoen explained, making this population the third largest economy in the world. Spurred by a solid economic spurt in many of the countries in this region, a significant percentage of Class C families now own cell phones, homes and cars even though the average household income is $500 to 800 per month. Their parents were likely raised in poverty and never able to receive an education. This generation, however, is hungry for upward mobility. They use credit cards wisely. “They are natural born fighters,” said the speaker, and achievements are very important to them and their families.

Nelson (not his real name) was at the three-day conference. He was the picture of professionalism. Dressed in handsome suits each day, a smooth networker, he was able to make friends with seasoned professionals from other countries. After a few pisco sours, he talked about his personal challenges and dreams.

Nelson acknowledged his family fit between Class C and Class D. He was committed to move up the ladder. His mother sold her jewelry and other items to pay for his first year at a private university. Public institutions don’t look good on a resume, are sub-par, and have staff on strike every year, delaying the students’ progress, he explained.

After Nelson’s first year at the university he had to drop out to work and save money. He returned, with a partial scholarship, but by the age of 29 he still had more than a year left to complete his degree in communications.

When he learned an international PR conference was taking place in his hometown, he felt it was an invaluable learning opportunity and stepping stone. However, the price of student registration was $800, which he equated to his annual food expenditures. He spoke to his older brother who had left Peru to work in Spain. Although there are still challenges for South Americans living in Spain, the older sibling agreed the cost of the conference registration would benefit him in the long run. Thus, Nelson received the registration money from Spain.

While this may sound like the start of a rags-to-riches story, the moral won’t be told for many more years. What we do know is that 3,000 Peruvians receive a degree in the field of communications each year, and only a small percentage finds work in the field. The dean of one of the leading universities school for communications affirms that in the last 16 years, the number of students choosing public relations as a field of study has increased 200 percent.

This is a common story in Latin America. The new thread may be that more and more people from historically disadvantaged households are getting a quality education. There is enlightenment among the lower middle class, but the light at the end of the tunnel may flicker out. There is a great struggle among the Class C Latin Americans to emerge as a strong middle class. The quest for advancement, however, often leads them out of their comfort zone to Europe or the United States. Few Latin Americans from the Class C segment want to leave, but with their improved educational status they are more aware of opportunities beyond their borders. If some Americans think building a wall or reinforcing our border patrol or sending troops to the Rio Grande will stop immigrants from leaving their families, their culture, their language and their lands, they are wrong. The only deterrent to the exodus is when peoples’ homelands are safe havens and lands of opportunities.

Monday, July 12, 2010

And the winner is… The Coronation of a King

Next in a Series on Award Winning Programs from the 2010 PRSA Del Oro Awards
El Bronce Award of Merit

Fiesta royalty events organized by The Order of Alamo and LULAC Council # 2 typically carry a hefty admission price. aMAEzing Marketing, Special Events, PR, Media Services and Entertainment found a way to allow ordinary people to witness the crowning of Rey FEO XLV Charlie Garza at a free public event during the 10-day San Antonio celebration in 2008 and increased attendance from 200 to 400 in 2009.

The Public Relations Society of America, San Antonio Chapter, recently awarded aMAEzing with El Bronce Award of Merit for the “Coronation of a King” media kit, which garnered front page coverage in the San Antonio Express-News.

Twenty-six year PR veteran and aMAEzing owner Mae Escobar assembled a stellar team consisting of Rudy Arispe, Torrie Bethany and Kendra Puente. Input from a committee of former kings and Cavaliers and hand delivering the regal media kit, a black folder with a gold embossed crest of the present and past Rey Feos, proved to be valuable tactics. The folder included a fiesta medal, press release, VIP access invitation, the Garza’s biography and a fact sheet on the El Rey Feo tradition.

Efforts paid off when the next day the San Antonio Express-New ran a front page story with the headline,”Fiesta fit for a king.” CBS affiliate KENS-5, Univision, local talk radio KTSA, Telemundo and local FOX affiliate KABB-TV were among the media outlets that covered the event.

By Irma Orozco, PRSA board member and community relations coordinator for CPS Energy

Friday, July 09, 2010

CPS Energy Magazine Hits Home Run With its Employees

Third in a Series on Award Winning Programs from the 2010 PRSA Del Oro Awards
El Bronce Award of Excellence – Magazine category

The Broadcaster, published continuously since 1922, captures the accomplishments and monumental moments in CPS Energy’s history. Beyond this, the magazine showcases individual employees, their achievements and their personal stories. It is an “employee” magazine, so we make employees the focus of the publication. We have a
saying that The Broadcaster is the “CPS Energy family in print.”

At the end of 2008, our Corporate Communications Department conducted a survey of all employees to help measure how well we communicate with them. Asked “In general, how satisfied are you with the contents in The Broadcaster?” more than 40 percent of the respondents selected “Very Satisfied,” the highest-rated choice.

In 2009, even knowing the contents received an A+ CPS felt the cluttered, outdated look needed a make-over and could be more reader-friendly. The designer used a refined font and three-column grid, plus incorporated more white space. Additionally, a better balance between photography and illustrations was achieved. It’s apparent that the new look was a success.

“What an amazing facelift. You guys really hit it out of the park!” is what one CPS Energy employee wrote upon receiving upgraded version of “The Broadcaster”. With this kind of rave reviews it wasn’t surprising that the historical magazine received an El Bronce Award of Excellence at the 2010 PRSA Del Oro Awards.

By Trisha Box, PRSA Board Member and Director of Development at the Winston School San Antonio

PR News Round-Up, July 9, 2010

From MediaPost via Ragan’s PR Daily
Survey reveals why moms follow your business on Twitter
According to a new study by marketing firm Lucid and freelance analyst Lisa Finn, 68 percent of moms follow businesses on Twitter to receive useful information, 67 percent follow a business to learn more about products or services, and 60 percent are looking for deals. Meanwhile, the top two reasons moms use Twitter are networking/meeting new people (77 percent) and keeping up with news (60 percent), the study said. Bottom line: The study highlights that moms want info, connection with others, and to follow a Twitter account with personality. — Matthew Royse. Read story.

From Social Media Explorer via Ragan’s PR Daily
6 tips for dealing with the haters
Does this sound familiar? You suggest a social media initiative at your company — a new blog, for example — and the boss immediately asks, “What happens if someone writes a nasty comment about us?” Instead of calling your boss an old sissy and questioning how he ever got rich acting like such a wimp, refer to social media consultant Jason Falls’ suggestions for dealing with detractors. Good tips. Read story.

From Mashable
The eye candy of social media: 10 info-graphics that pop
Visually appealing social media graphics that engage people and share important stats can make or break your presentation or pitch. Gone are the days of dull pie charts and bar graphs. Web designer Grace Smith provided a colorful array of 10 sharp info-graphics. “Naturally, info-graphics have proven an excellent aid in expressing high volumes of social web information in a clear, visually appealing manner.” My favorites are the compass and prism. Yours? — Susan Young. Read story.

From Ragan’s PR Headlines By Lindsey Miller
4 techniques for spicing up corporate photos
Photographers and newsletter editors share how they stay away from hackneyed images. Read story.

From Ragan’s PR Headlines By Andrew Hennigan
Three essentials for recording a video interview
Less-than-obvious guidelines for making your on-camera exchange valuable. Read story.

From The PR Roast by Hugh Burnham
History is One Big PR Lesson
Independence Day has been a nationwide celebration of patriotism and pride since the “Declaration of Independence” was debated, revised, and approved by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776… This is the day that brings me to pause and contemplate the singing of the anthem that highlights the annual spectacular, “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Read story.

Twitter hopes "@earlybird" will catch users' attention
Twitter is rolling out @earlybird, a service promoting deals from selected advertising partners. The account will be run by Twitter, but it will retweet Twitter-specific time-sensitive deals from participating brands. Read story.

From Convince & Convert
Finding the social-monitoring tool that's right for you
To find the right social-monitoring tool for your business' needs, it's important to have a clear sense of exactly what you're planning to do with it, writes Katie Van Domelen. Identify not just the area you'll be monitoring, but also the kinds of data you need, the specific users who'll be handling the tool and the operational and budgetary constraints you're facing. Only once you've figured out your real priorities can you get a sense of which tools would work for you, Van Domelen writes. Read story.

Increase your Facebook following 1,000% in 4 days
When BlitzLocal took over the Facebook account of Weekly World News, the brand had 3,244 fans; within four days, they'd boosted that number to more than 40,000. Here, BlitzLocal chief Dennis Yu reveals the eight strategies he used to boost the brand's following, including creating a landing page that explicitly asks users to "like" your brand and gives them incentives to do so. Read story.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

And the winner is… Sombrilla

Second in a Series on Award Winning Programs from the 2010 PRSA Del Oro Awards
Award Recipient of El Bronce Award of Excellence (2010) – Publications

Sombrilla is the official magazine of The University of Texas at San Antonio. It is published by UTSA’s Office of University Communications and is mailed without charge three times each year to more than 60,000 UTSA alumni, donors, lawmakers and friends of the university. Through carefully crafted storytelling, Sombrilla aims to keep its readers connected and informed.

The key to Sombrilla lies in its execution.

Naturally, UTSA’s publications team conducts a significant amount of research and extensively plans each issue. However, Sombrilla doesn’t come to life until its stories and images are paired in a beautiful design that invites the reader to learn more about the university.

Sombrilla seeks high standards of reporting, writing, editing, photography and graphic design, resulting in a publication that is attractive, substantial and engaging. Each 9” x 12” issue of Sombrilla boasts 36-pages and four-color processing.

Captivating stories with a welcoming tone invite readers to become reacquainted with UTSA.

Gorgeous photos, illustrations and designs take readers into university research laboratories, into classrooms and into the homes of the people whose lives have been permanently changed by their connection with UTSA. Historical images from the university’s archives are also a common component of each issue, reminding readers of the university’s steady growth toward Tier One.

“Whenever someone asks me what my goals for the magazine were, I’d say I wanted people to read it,” says Rebecca Luther, former editor of Sombrilla. “They’d usually scoff and say there must be something more to it, and there is. But it all starts with getting people to read it and if the magazine is no good, they won’t.”

View Sombrilla online.

By Christi Fish, a PRSA San Antonio Board Member and a Public Affairs Specialist at The University of Texas at San Antonio

Friday, July 02, 2010

PR News Round-Up, July 2, 2010

From Bulldog Daily, By Terri Thornton, Owner, Thornton Communications
PR 101: How to Tick Off a Journalist in Four Easy Steps
It was three in the afternoon—an odd time to be asleep on a weekday—unless you're working overnights as a TV and radio reporter and producer, which I was. I answered, fearing an emergency. The caller said yes, it was an emergency! She insisted that the newsroom give her my home number because Jesus told her I needed to put an amateur gospel group on my morning show. While a God-fearing music-loving suburbanite wouldn't necessarily know better, it's surprising that otherwise great PR and marketing people put almost as much energy into making themselves ineffective. Here's how to do it wrong.

The Washington Post via Ragan PR Daily Newsfeed
10 mistakes organizations make with social media
Business reporter Steven Overly, of The Washington Post, says one of the top mistakes organizations make with social media is, “Doing too much at once.” He writes that simply creating a Facebook or Twitter account does not mean you are “plugged in.” Check out the other mistakes organizations make with social media, according to Overly. — Matthew Royse via Ragan PR Daily Newsfeed
The 75 most overused buzzwords and marketing cliches in press releases
PR pro Adam Sherk scoured a multitude of press releases to determine how often certain buzzwords and clich├ęs are used. Here are the top five, starting with No. 1: leader, leading, best, unique, and solution — and the list goes on and on. Read more.

Poynter Online via Ragan PR Daily Newsfeed
Speak IT: A handy glossary of tech terms
Not sure what the folks in your IT department are talking about? This story could help clear that up. The Poynter Institute published a glossary of tech terms. “They relate to Web standards, programming, online tools, social networking, online advertising, and basic technology. If you're particularly challenged, this thing called an iPhone is even defined for you.” (h/t Allan Schoenberg) Read more.

From iMedia Connection via SmartBrief on Social Media
How to engage the 1% of your fans who really matter
As many as a third of social sales are spurred by just 1% of a brand's online fan base, writes Jon Siegal, so identifying and targeting those influencers can pay big dividends. Forget splashy broad-gauge promotions, Siegal suggests, and focus instead on highly targeted campaigns designed to reach and reward your power-users. "Your key influencers are incredibly important, so make sure to treat them that way. By rewarding their loyalty, you'll reap more sales across the entire social web," he explains. Read more.