Thursday, December 22, 2011

Editing by Ear

The year 2011 soon slips away so it’s worth a pause during the holidays to mark a celebration that occurred this year – the 400th anniversary of the Authorized, or King James Version of the Bible.

Regardless of religious persuasion, most agree the KJV marks one of the greatest writing achievements in English. National Geographic featured the KJV in a cover story for its December issue, which opines “You don't have to be a Christian to hear the power of those words – simple in vocabulary, cosmic in scale, stately in their rhythms, deeply emotional in their impact.” The article provides insights we forget:

First, the KJV represents one time a committee got it right. It is the product of 54 scholars, not of all of whom were particularly religious, nor were all with the Church of England. They produced their masterwork in a time of political upheaval with bitter divides over religious belief, and every faction already had a translation. But the “most high and mighty Prince James,” as the preface calls its sponsor, saw a new translation as one way to bring his squabbling subjects together.

How did the committee do it? Second, the KJV was intended to be read – aloud – in church and home. The committee’s goal was “that it may bee understood even of the very vulgar,” the preface adds. Yeah, they really talked that way back then. The committee divided into teams and read their draft translations of the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek aloud to each other, knowing the ear serves as an excellent editor and tends to find the perfect written phrase.

Modern writers and editors improve their product when they lean back in the chairs and speak the words just typed on a screen, as surely as reading words written with a quill on parchment.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Sic Transit: American Airlines in Chapter XI

My dad came home from World War II and took a job with American Airlines. It was opportune for him, the airlines boomed in the late 1940s as passengers flocked aboard the new four-engine piston planes that made flight both comfortable and fast. It was an exciting and romantic business, something ABC tries to capture, unsuccessfully, with its potboiler Pan Am.

This was a carriage trade back then. Fares were steep and coach class as we know it didn’t exist. That changed with deregulation. Fares fell off a cliff and airlines had to change. I recall gasps when Braniff announced a $299 roundtrip, DFW-London fare in 1980. That price stunned people, although in today’s money it would be a ho-hum $800. You can easily beat that. Some airlines, like American, adjusted. Some, like Braniff, didn’t.

Flying today is less romantic than riding the bus, although commercials by American and its competitors try to remind passengers of the glory days. Tiny seats so close together you can’t cross your legs prove more compelling.

My experience with American goes from vacations on my dad’s pass – getting up on my knees in the window seat to look at the big propellers on the wings – to enough business travel to earn gold-level AAdvantage status. That offered first-class upgrades, where there’s a whiff of romance left. At least I could cross my legs. And reading my dad’s copies of Flagship News years ago provided my introduction to internal communications.

This sea change naturally impacted airline public relations. I interviewed for a PR job with American several years ago. Romance tugged at my heart but reality pointed to the rows of cubicles emptied by multiple layoffs. I didn’t get the job. It might be just as well. PR becomes increasingly optional to a firm fighting to make a profit.

Having been through a corporate bankruptcy, I’m numb thinking about the challenge American’s PR staff faces. But the initial result seems good. I wish them well and every success in whatever the future may be.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


A new survey finds the public perceives low-level employees as more trustworthy within most organizations. I find these results interesting as they dovetail with what I’ve seen informally in my public relations work over the years.

If true, this trend has multiple implications for practitioners focused on a number of important roles – community relations, internal communications, media relations, etc. For example, it may be more effective in crisis situations to have a well-trained local employee handle the media questions or meet with the mayor than to jet the big guy out from headquarters. Or, perhaps a service project featuring a group of blue-collar employees may have a more positive impact than a vice president handing over a check while the TV cameras roll.

Deciding who delivers the message can be as important as deciding what the message is.

Why PR Practitioners Should Care About Content Marketing

Michael Pranikoff, global director of emerging media at PR Newswire was the featured speaker at the PRSA Luncheon and Professional Development seminar in October. His luncheon presentation addressed the alignment of PR and Social Media because they both focus on storytelling. His focus on content marketing came from this statistic: 27 million pieces of content are shared daily. Here’s a brief video interview with Michael. You can follow him on Twitter or see some of his many presentations on Slide Share.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Highlights of PRSA’s Recent Advocacy Work

Rosanna Fiske, APR, PRSA chair, presented the state of the society in the opening portion of the international PRSA Assembly. One of the highlights was the work PRSA has done this year in advocacy for the profession, including several actions related to U.S. regulatory affairs. Here are some examples.

Letter to U.S. Senate Subcommittee regarding GSA’s use of PR firms – The Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight was investigating the use of PR and public affairs firms by government agencies. PRSA’s formal letter discussed the substantial public interest served by PR and PA on behalf of the federal government. As a result of the letter and other work, PRSA successfully discouraged the committee from restricting the U.S. government from using approved PR and PA counsel.

Comment on FTC’s ‘Dot Com Disclosure’ guidelines, ‘Green Guides’ for environmental marketing – The Federal Trade Commission invited comments about its planned overhaul of “Dot Com Disclosure” guidelines regarding advertising, marketing and sales on the Internet. The PRSA website describes: “PRSA submitted comments noting that its 32,000 members believe strongly in online consumer protections and are seeking clear guidance from the FTC regarding how businesses can appropriately communicate and market consumers online. PRSA also noted that disclosure of relationships, motivation, compensation and other pertinent factors should be the basis of all forms of marketing and communications, including emerging practices like social media and online contests. Finally, PRSA requested the FTC host a public workshop on online advertising disclosure to obtain the full input from all stakeholders.”

Letter to FDA urging publication of social media guidelines for pharma/health care – In April took action to urge the FDA to release its long-delayed guidelines for the health care industry’s use of social media. With strict regulation in place regarding patient privacy and other policies with implications for social media use.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

So what do you do?

I noticed a guy down the street had been home a lot lately so I struck up a conversation with him while walking the dog while he was in his yard. Yes, my neighbor confided, he was now unemployed and looking for work.

I asked the usual question: “So what do you do?” I received a simple answer: Auto parts. He was area manager for a firm that sells parts to car dealers’ service departments. These being hard times in the car biz, orders were way down and he was among those let go.

He asked me the same question and I gave him the wordy Cutlip/Center/Broom definition of PR, which furrowed his eyebrows. “So you’re a psychologist?” No, I replied, but that’s part of it. “You’re in advertising?” Well, I do some of that. He struggled on with my reply and finally hit on an answer: “Marketing! You’re in marketing!” I figured that was as good as it gets, nodded, wished him well and went on down the street with our dog.

This is not an unusual problem for our profession. The latest evidence might be the current discussion among LinkedIn’s APR group. An entertaining YouTube video of curbstone interviews, asking pedestrians to define PR, provoked the LinkedIn exchange.

Maybe I’ll just say “marketing” next time someone asks what I do. It’s no surprise the public doesn’t understand what public relations is when PR practitioners have a hard time explaining what we do.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

PRSA Holds National Polcymaking Assembly - 2 Delegates Represent San Antonio Area Chapter

Rebecca M. Villarreal (chapter president) and I represented the PRSA San Antonio area chapter at this year’s national assembly in Orlando (big sacrifice) this weekend. The big news was two-fold. With the passage of the dues increase comes free webinars for PRSA members. I don’t mean a handful of webinars. I mean all PRSA webinars, tons of them, that you’ll have access to from your desk beginning this January!

The passage of the dues measure was not a surprise given the volume of clear information provided by the board and others leading up to the event. Our chapter supported the increase because it makes sense for the future of the society. (See my upcoming Byline story or the national PRSAY blog story for more details.)

The surprising part was the fact that there was no debate about it from the floor. There were a couple of questions about the online membership form and the quarterly payment option. But that was it. In the five assembly sessions I’ve attended, never have I seen one without someone venting about something (often those rants were akin to ranting irrelevant comments at the end of newspaper articles online).

It was so refreshing this week to be a part of a roomful of 300 PRSA leaders who are truly committed to advancing the profession. Rosanna Fiske, APR, PRSA chair and CEO, deserves tremendous credit for her leadership this year. (In fact, she received an impromptu standing ovation from the assembly.) In upcoming posts, I will share news from Rosana’s state of the society as well as info I gleaned from the international conference that followed.

Friday, September 30, 2011

PRSA Chair Rosanna Fiske to Host Hispanic PR Chat

To honor Hispanic Heritage Month, PRSA Chair and CEO Rosanna M. Fiske, APR, will co-host Hispanic PR Chat (#hprchat) at 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Oct. 5. Fiske will lead a discussion on diversity in the public relations industry and steps public relations and marketing professionals can take to introduce greater diversity within their campaigns and outreach programs.

Topics of the Oct. 5 #hprchat include:
  • Talent diversity in public relations.
  • The state of the Hispanic PR sector.
  • The role of social media and SEO in diverse communities.
  • Blogger outreach and compensation.
  • PRSA’s 2011 and future initiatives.
To participate, it is recommended chatters use a Web application, such as, and enter the hashtag #hprchat.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Get Out of the Spiral

As I write this, a 6½-ton satellite 100 miles or so above my head orbits lower and lower. Its death spiral will end when the school bus-sized object encounters air thick enough to slow it below minimum orbital speed. It will be quite a show coming down, unless you stand where some red-hot surviving piece hits. NASA invested millions in what will become scrap.

Unfortunately, many in PR become locked in death spirals of technique that go around and around until careers flame out. We do the same ol’ – same ol’ over and over. The problem confronts communicators in other fields, as Matt Hermann, vice president and director of strategy at BBDO’s San Francisco office observed in a recent blog.

“I know I might sound like a curmudgeon who doesn't understand the post-modern culture of remixing and appropriation, but I would submit that (ad) agencies have become far too comfortable making excuses for each other's lack of genuinely new ideas,” Hermann writes. I agree. Watch a few minutes of TV and the commercials blur together – smart, hip, twentysomethings banter some cute quips, there’s a flash of the product logo, then back to the program. Or more likely, several more spots just like it. What creativity? I’m glad my remote has a mute button.

I suggest PR faces the same problem. I pitched a prospective client awhile back, a financial institution, that proudly announced in our meeting that 900 of its 9,000 customers had friended the institution’s Facebook page! That’s great, I replied, but how do you reach the 90% of your customers who haven’t been to Facebook? Silence. I went on to propose such ideas as focus groups, open houses, mailing stuffers, etc., that could broaden customer dialogue. I didn’t get the job. I think the slightly wounded PR director hadn’t put a lot of thought into the problem until then.

This is a creative profession… so we must create. What makes this client different? How do the publics we want to influence gather information? What’s the real message, and what will make it memorable and bring change? Every project will be unique and each will require a unique strategy for success. We always should strive to find it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

TEDx Coming (Back) to San Antonio

Saturday, October 15 could be just another ordinary day. Or, you could:

· Escape from the killing fields of Cambodia.
· Feel the beat of Tejano music and understand the soul of Xicano.
· Fuel your entrepreneurial fires by hearing how one man started a company, that became San Antonio's largest homegrown defense contractor, from his garage.
· Be inspired by how one woman is changing the lives of disadvantaged women, one suit at a time.
· Scam your way to the top of iTunes or master the ultimate card cheat.

And so much more.

These are just a few of the innovative topics that will be featured at TEDxSanAntonio 2011 with speakers: Sichan Siv, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; Juan Tejeda, instructor of Music & Mexican Studies at Palo Alto College; Guvinder P. “G.P.” Singh, CEO, Paras Capital Management; Pamela Taylor, co-founder and executive director of Dress for Success San Antonio; and Brian Brushwood, award-winning magician and star of Scam School.

TEDxSanAntonio currently is accepting applications for those who want to participate. The goal of the event is to spur the kind of discussions that lead to action. Visit the TEDxSanAntonio website to apply today. The application closes on September 15, 2011, so don’t delay.

At its core, TED brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers who are challenged to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. The goal is to inspire people to change the world. Past speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Sir Richard Branson, Isabel Allende and many other thought leaders, and idea pioneers. TEDx was created so communities could create their own localized versions of TED events. At TEDxSanAntonio, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.

It's not often we have an opportunity to participate in an event like this one, so don't miss this opportunity!

(Full disclosure: Jennifer Milikien serves as the public relations committee chair for TEDxSanAntonio 2011. This is a volunteer/unpaid position.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Right Answer

Anyone who’s been abroad knows the problems of bribes, cheating, favoritism and kickbacks – baksheesh – that go with local cultures and officials. Airport customs agents grumble about something in your suitcase until the tourist places, say, a $20 bill on the counter. Suddenly, the problem disappears along with the bill. Traveler and luggage get waived through. A friend who lived in Mexico City for years says the police department routinely assigns cops to beats according to their ability to separate money from the public.

We often gloss over this sort of thing as just “part of the local culture.” But often we forget how stressful and disheartening all of this must be to the locals who deal with it every day. Things can reach a boiling point and people finally take action, as we see currently in India. Social activist Anna Hazare began a hunger strike that caught the imagination of the fed-up masses. The backlash has been big and many Indians now realize something must be done if India wants to become the First World power it could be. Successful nations, businesses and organizations usually attain high rank because of squeaky clean reputations.

Thus it’s disheartening when Americans dismiss ethical problems as just part of our culture. They aren’t – and should not be. Public relations faces the problem as surely as any profession and we must all work to assure practitioners aren’t dismissed as less than honest.

PRSA San Antonio will hear an excellent presentation on ethics at its Sept. 1 luncheon by Dr. Linda Specht from Trinity University. Her topic – Going Beyond Codes of Ethics: What do you really stand for? – will approach ethics in the big picture: Who are you? What are your institutional values and how do you communicate them to others? What do your relationship with employees, clients and competitors say about you? Is a commitment to “social responsibility” part of your organizational identity?

Ethics and honesty cannot be simply some oft-ignored policy that can be changed as needed. You and your organization are either ethical, or you are not. It’s a problem mankind faces everywhere and the right answer, wherever and whoever you are, is always the same.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Free Webinars on Social Media for Communications by Netbase

Wow, here’s a great resource for staying up to date with using social media for communications. Netbase, a social media insight and analysis firm, is hosting a series of free monthly webinars: “11 for '11 Webinar Series: Social Media Tips from the Gurus.” You know it’s going to be good when the speakers include the likes of Jason Falls (a contributor to the awesome, must-read-every-day blog, Social Media Explorer) and Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group, just to name a couple.

Don’t worry that you may just now be hearing about this in the middle of the year. The episodes from earlier in the year are archived to be viewed at any time.

I’m always so impressed by the generosity of people to offer such useful resources to help their peers!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Seven Questions with Melissa C. Sorola, Regional Director of Communications, Time Warner Cable

Feature article from the PRSA San Antonio Byline, July 2011 issue

If you were at the July PRSA mixer, you probably enjoyed crunchy chips, creamy queso and tangy sangria courtesy of Melissa Sorola. Melissa secured a sponsorship for the event and combined food with our fun and fellowship. It’s not surprising the mixer was a success, considering Melissa’s history with planning successful events and building strategic partnerships. Learn more about Melissa, and how, in addition to being regional communications director for Time Warner Cable, she’s also a mom, an Aggie, a runner and a travel aficionado.

How long have you worked in public relations/communications?
I started my career in public relations/communications as a student at Texas A & M University in College Station. I had my first experiences in PR during my last semester at A&M in 2001 with an internship in the Office of University Relations; I assisted with press conferences and wrote for email communications piece that were distributed to all faculty and staff. I also wrote for The Battalion, the university student newspaper, which taught me how to see things from a journalist’s perspective. I graduated in December of 2001 with my B.A. in Journalism and began my official public relations career in San Antonio in January 2002.

How did you find the industry?
I initially entered Texas A&M University as an education major thinking I was going to become a teacher. After talking with a university counselor, I realized a career in public relations was the better path for me. I had been involved in journalism in high school and loved news, reading magazines and newspapers, and current events but never realized I could have a career in public relations and help create that news. It was the counselor who suggested I switch majors, and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

What is your favorite part of the job?
I really enjoy the planning aspect of developing public relations campaigns and seeing these plans come to life through skillful execution. Developing these plans and seeing them implemented to successfully create positive results for Time Warner Cable gives me great satisfaction. I’m fortunate to work for an innovative and exciting company, and I have the best coworkers who make coming to work every day a complete delight.

What are your hobbies?
I love to spend time with my family and friends and to read – even running is a nice escape for me lately. Traveling for fun is a new hobby, too, and my daughter is at a great age where she’s really able to appreciate exploring new cities. We’re going to New York City this week!

Tell us about your family.
I am the mother of an amazing daughter Carolina, 15, who is going to be a sophomore at Holy Cross High School, and I am a member of a remarkably supportive family led by my mom and dad who live in Del Rio. I have a brother, Rene, who lives in Houston with his wife, Marissa, and their family, and I’m truly enjoying being an aunt to my niece, Stella, 2, and nephew, Sebastian Rene, 4 months. The majority of my extended family lives here in San Antonio, including my extraordinary grandmother and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins who have been inspirational and instrumental in the development of my career and the person I am today.

Have you had a PR mentor? How has that mentor helped you succeed?
I have a couple of PR professionals who I call mentors. Kelly Morris, who was my boss when I worked at Taylor West Advertising & PR in 2005, is one of the most respected public relations practitioners in the city for a reason. She’s the best, and I continue to learn from her. When I came to work for Kelly, I had the tactical event and media relations skills down and she really taught me to develop strategic public relations campaigns. Kelly would also tell me to come to her with “solutions, not problems.” That’s a lesson I use every day and it has made me a problem solver. My current boss, Jon Gary Herrera, is also a key mentor. Jon Gary has taught me valuable lessons in crisis management and message development and also supports me in my growth as a Time Warner Cable employee and public relations professional.

Both Kelly and Jon Gary have always pushed me to be the best public relations practitioner I can be. I’m very grateful for their continued support and mentoring.

What advice would you give to young professionals or others entering the field?
Don’t burn bridges. I can create an interesting diagram of the people I’ve worked with in San Antonio and how they’re all connected. I worked on the Time Warner Cable public relations account at two different agencies and Jon Gary Herrera, my current boss, was the client both times. If I hadn’t done a good job and built a good relationship with the client during that time, then I wouldn’t be at Time Warner Cable today.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Great Source for PR Book Reviews

If you’re thinking of buying a book focused on public relations, marketing, communications, social media, etc., be sure to check out the For Immediate Release Book Review podcast. Bob LeDrew is the FIR book review editor who provides brief and comprehensive reviews of the newest books on the market. Some reviews are also provided by some others in the FIR community.

Recent titles that have been reviewed include the following. Links are to the book websites. For the reviews, go to:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Power of the Twitter Chat

In doing some research for my own use of Twitter at work, I was a bit surprised to find that 60 percent of educators use social media for professional development, including use of Twitter. A colleague asked, “How can you possibly learn anything in 140 characters?” (Obviously, not a Twitter user.)

Well one effective tool is the “Tweet Chat.” This is a scheduled conversation where participants use a common hashtag (#) so that all the related tweets will show up in a search. This is how you can hold a news conference on Twitter or have a Q&A session on your new product.

To test it out, see this list of chats, topics and the times they run at Twitter Chat Schedule. There are topics ranging from architecture, to dogs, from baking and business intelligence to Beattlemania.

Then see Sam Fiorella’s “12 Most Helpful Tips for Conversing in a Twitter Chat,” for some great ideas on participating in a chat.

And Lee Odden has suggestions for hosting your own chat, “Twitter Marketing Tips: Twitter Chats & 8 Marketing & PR Chats to Follow.”

And remember the first rule for PR and related folk when using social media: Don’t drop in and start selling. Be a contributing member first. Then, when it’s appropriate and relevant, you can share information about things you’re working on.

Friday, July 08, 2011

School PR Association holds National Conference in San Antonio

The National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) is heading to San Antonio for their 58th annual seminar. Themed “Creating Confidence in Our Schools,” the organization offers attendees a packed program from July 10-13. More than 500 educators from throughout the US are expected to attend.

Keynote speakers include Dr. Jackie Freiberg, recognized as one of the "Top 30 Best Minds on Leadership" by Leadership Excellence Magazine, and one of the most sought-after female business speakers in the nation. Her keynote topic for her July 11 session: "Gutsy PR! Timeless Choices for Building a Brand of Leadership & Accountability" is intriguing whether you are in education or not.

Another treat on the agenda is Dr. John Draper, currently CEO of the Educational Research Service, who has developed what he calls "Crucial Conversations About America's Schools. " His July 12 presentation will help educators step back from the rhetoric and pervading myth about "failing public schools" and look at the reality of what is happening in education.

More than 70 sessions cover a wide range of topics for school communicators including managing social media, creating your own newsrooms, new professional preparation , brand building for school districts, transparency and much more.

Nonmembers are welcome to register for the event here.

Local school public relations professionals have been working more than a year to help the national organization make the conference happen. Monica Faulkenbery, APR, Northside ISD; Patti Pawlik-Perales, Alamo Heights ISD; Sharon Woldhagen, Southwest ISD; Rebecca Villarreal, Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD have planned some fun evening activities for our out-of-town guests to enjoy. Check out the website for the local activities.

This is yet another way to showcase our great city and all it has to offer.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

PR News Round-Up ~ July 3, 2011

From Ragan's Daily Headlines
The Pope sends first tweet, launches Vatican website
Benedict XVI tweets from an iPad to announce the birth of a site that aggregates content from YouTube and Vatican media sites. Read story.

From Ragan's Daily Headlines
PR pros: Stop making these 5 social media blunders
Celebrate World Social Media Day by learning to quit making these classic goofs. Read story.

From Ragan's Daily Headlines
Turn your forgettable ‘About Us’ page into a memorable one
Can bloggers, journalists and readers figure out what your organization does from your boilerplate? Read story.

From Ragan's Daily Headlines
8 tactics for developing social content for your clients
Need to feed the beast (blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages) and running short of content? Here are some ideas. Read story.

From Ragan's Daily Headlines
Study: 78 percent of executives think social media is essential for success
The study found that more than half of business executives believe they need to adopt social media or risk falling behind. Read story.

From Ragan's Daily Headlines
14 tips for a successful Facebook page
How to attract more fans, comments and likes on the popular social network. Read story.

From Ragan's Daily Headlines
Infographic: Lunch time, end of work day best times to tweet
Wondering when the most people will see your tweet or Facebook post? This infographic has the stats you need to expand your message's reach. Read story.

From Ragan's Daily Headlines
Interview prep: 6 types of questions the media always asks
Are you preparing for an interview with a reporter? You don’t need to prepare for every possible question, but instead the types of questions they ask. Read story.

From Ragan's Daily Headlines
10 reasons PR pros should use video
Its immediacy and personal feel make it a go-to tool for branding, product launches, crisis response and consumer engagement. Read story.

From Ragan's Daily Headlines
The PR industry ‘has not gotten around to explaining what return on investment is’
How do you measure publicity? A Wall Street Journal column debunks ad value equivalency, but says ‘no simple alternative has emerged.’ Read story.

From Ragan's Daily Headlines
8 social media SlideShare presentations to bookmark now
One communications pro sifts through the piles of SlideShare presentations to find the treasures worth your time (and your client’s time). Read story.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

PR News RoundUp ~ June 14, 2011

From PR Daily News Fee
Webinar alert: Get your news release noticed on social media
Communications expert Shel Holtz will show you the core elements of a social media news release, and how to get started on yours. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
A PR pro’s guide to choosing keywords for your Web content
You can use a free tool from Google to determine which words people are using to find your product or service. It’s easy. You just need a little guidance. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
HP takes malaria fight mobile
HP is equipping health-care officials in Africa with cell phones that help them spot outbreaks and exchange information. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
Study: Most online users are affluent, college educated
Popular belief says anyone can publish content on the Internet and become an influencer, but a new study shows that those without higher education are left out. Read story.

From PRSA Issues & Trends
FCC Report Finds Major Shortage of In-Depth Local Journalism
An explosion of online news sources in recent years has not produced a corresponding increase in reporting, particularly quality local reporting, a federal study of the media has found. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
Dow PR campaign backfires: Author rips company in YouTube video
Don’t ask someone to record a video touting your sustainability project if that person thinks the project is worthless. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
4 interview nightmares that drive PR pros nuts
Ever find yourself in one of these scenarios with a client? Here are some ways to make sure it never happens again. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
7 video mistakes that communicators should avoid
Video pros explain ways to steer clear of these common gaffes when shooting, editing and posting video content. Read story.

From PRSA Issues & Trends
Study: Use of Social Media in Public Relations Campaigns Growing
The results of the Social Media Reality Check 2.0 survey are clear: public relations practitioners continue to find value in using social media, as consumer use of social networking tools grows. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
9 ways to land a PR job after graduation
The job market may seem grim. (A recent study says 85 percent of this year’s grads will return home.) But, don’t fret; here are some tips to help you find that first job. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
8 overlooked ways to manage successful Facebook pages
Many companies have Facebook pages, yet most don’t use them to their full potential. These tips offer new ways to make the most of your page. Read story.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Desperate Measures by Facebook / Burson-Marsteller Raise All Kinds of Red Flags

One of the most exasperating phases new parents experience happens when their kids hit 3 or 4 years old and the parents get the dreaded call from the daycare or babysitter reporting that their precious child has bitten another. It happens when the little ones are angry or feel powerless, and they don’t have the tools or maturity to know how to respond. Eventually, children grow out of this stage pretty quickly. They begin to understand right from wrong and that they shouldn’t hurt someone else when they themselves are upset or are feeling threatened. Parents get to stop saying, “No biting” and “Play fair.”

Apparently, someone at Facebook and Burson-Marsteller never learned that lesson.

Here’s a rundown on recent events.
  • Facebook hires Burson-Marsteller for a particular job and says not to reveal their name (Red flag #1).
  • Burson-Marsteller launches a “whisper campaign” to get news stories and editorials about Google’s Social Circle feature in Gmail claiming privacy infractions (Facebook pot calling Google kettle…).
  • Burson-Marsteller offers to ghost write stories for bloggers (Red flag #2).
  • One FTC blogger asks who the client is, Burson-Marsteller replies: Nope, can’t tell (Red flag #3).
  • Blogger publishes email exchange (na na na na boo boo).
  • USA Today investigates the stealth claims about Social Circle and finds them false.
  • The you-know-what hits the fan.
  • Burson-Marsteller releases a statement blaming Facebook, admitting the actions were against Burson’s own policies and they should have “declined” the assignment. (Note the policy about not undertaking work “intended or designed to mislead”).
  • Facebook releases a statement Burson-Marsteller, claiming “No 'smear' campaign was authorized or intended.” (It’s not me, it’s you.)
  • Burson-Marsteller deletes negative comments from its own Facebook page (Seriously?).
A firestorm of stories and commentary has erupted online and in the mainstream media. Here are some highlights.
Ironically, the same week Burson-Marsteller won the Holmes Report award for U.S. Agency of the Year. And it doesn’t even look like the two Burson-Marsteller employees involved in this mess will even get a time-out.

Monday, May 09, 2011

New Pew study looks at online behavior on news sites

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has released results from an in-depth study of the top 25 U.S. news websites to examine audience behavior, specifically how users get to the top news sites, how long they stay during each visit, how deep they go into a site, and where they go when they leave.

Jim Romenesko summarized a few highlights that I found interesting from the Navigating News Online report:
* While Google search, Google news, and other aggregators are the top way into news sites, “social media is rapidly becoming a competing driver of traffic.” Facebook drives almost 8 percent of the traffic to the Huffington Post and between 1 and 7 percent to the other 24 studied.

* Eight of the top 25 sites attracted more women than men, including the Huffington Post, which also had the greatest proportion of young adults.

* At all the sites, casual users who come only a few times a month account for most of the visitors. “On average, 77 percent of the traffic to the top 25 news sites came from users who visited just one or two times.” At, for instance, 85 percent of visitors came one to three times in a month; three quarters only once or twice.
For more information, you can read Jim’s post, “New Pew report confirms truisms about online behavior, has surprises too.” Read "The 5 must-knows about how readers navigate news online, drawn from new Pew study,” by Rick Edmonds. Or go directly to the PEW report, Navigating News Online.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

PR News Round Up ~ May 5, 2011

From PR Daily News Feed
The 5 most widely circulated newspapers in America
The Audit Bureau of Circulation released its newly revised audit, and it includes a significant change in the way circulation is measured. Read more.

From PR Daily News Feed
Is NPR unclear about the definition of public relations?
The network is airing a monthlong series on PR. So, why is its latest installment about ad campaigns that are directed at Asian-American audiences? Read story.

From Ragan's Daily Headlines
Can you really measure a speech?
By Angela Sinickas
Did your speech impact your audience? Three ways to find out. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
Students: The 9 things that matter more than GPA
Sure, your grades are important, but once you graduate and hit the office, these skills far outweigh your grade from stats class. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
6 alternatives to sending a press release
Instead of blasting a release to the media, trying winning coverage with one of these techniques. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
10 useful and inspiring websites for writers
You know about Grammar Girl and Copyblogger, but are you checking out these lesser-known destinations for wordsmiths? Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
The 8 reasons I love #Twitterchats—and why you should, too
Three benefits, four tips, and one indispensible chart about Twitter chats. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
The 10 hottest magazines, according to Adweek
How many editors and contributors do you know at each publication? Read story.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fascinating TED Talk: Jane McGonigal on How Gaming Can Make a Better World

NPR’s On the Media podcast recently focused it’s weekly episode on the World of Gaming. Now I’ve never considered myself a gamer, so I almost skipped it. But I always learn something when I listen to On the Media, so I stuck it out. And I’m so glad I did.

One of the stories played an excerpt of a TED Talk by Jane McGonigal. She talks about her research into the game-world. She says, “In the best-designed games, our human experience is optimized: We have important work to do, we're surrounded by potential collaborators, and we learn quickly and in a low-risk environment.” She concludes that if we could harness this gamer power, we could improve the way we learn, work, solve problems, and lead our real lives. And she’s talking about solving big real-world problems.

She lists four “super powers” of gamers, meaning what these games are making people virtuosos at:

Urgent Optimism – Gamers have extreme self motivation. The have the desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle combined with the belief that we have a reasonable hope of success

Tight Social Fabric – Gaming builds strong bonds, trust and cooperation

Blissful Productivity – Gamers are happier working hard than by just hanging out

Epic Meaning – Gamers love be attached to awe-inspiring missions

Jane says that gamers are “super-empowered hopeful individuals.” They believe they are capable of changing the world. Right now, they mean the virtual world. Jane wants to transfer that to the real-world.

After her talk, I may be a believer.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

PR News Round-Up ~ April 6

From PR Daily News Feed
Presentation tools: 9 ways Prezi will refresh your next speech
This social media tool is a digital canvas that knows no bounds. So, how much do you know about it? Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
7 common pitfalls of PR campaigns
Don’t spoil all your hard work by making these mistakes. Read story.

From Ragan's Daily Headlines
How to minimize gender bias in your writing
by Deborah Gaines
These gender-neutral terms will lessen the likelihood of offending your audience. Read story.

From Ragan's Daily Headlines
7 speechwriting techniques to grab audiences—and call them to action
By Russell Working
A speechwriting pro offers tips to open and close with: Look to the Cowardly Lion and Malcolm X. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
PR industry exposé lands major literary award
Former health-care PR exec Wendell Potter’s book Deadly Spin captured the 2011 Ridenhour Book Prize. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
3 blogger relation blunders to avoid
Reaching out to bloggers for coverage? Better avoid these gaffes. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
Scoring coverage: Anatomy of a successful email pitch
A PR Daily contributor, who slammed a PR pro for a lousy email pitch, highlights one that worked well, including lessons that you can apply to your job. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
FTC issues $250,000 fine for fake online review
The Federal Trade Commission took decisive action against a company that paid affiliate marketers to write positive reviews of its product. Read story.

Monday, March 21, 2011

PR New Round-Up ~ March 21, 2011

From PR Daily News Feed
Big change in AP style announced: E-mail is now email
The Associated Press hasn’t seen a change like this since it changed ‘Web site’ to ‘website.’ It’s huge—for reporters, AP style-abiding PR pros, and language nerds. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
10 writings tips from the Associated Press
The AP Stylebook on Twitter offers a steady stream of advice for writers of all stripes. Here are 10 of the best to help improve your craft. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
10 incredibly useful Facebook search tips and tools for PR pros
You never knew your social networking life could be so easy. PR Daily contributor Adam Vincenzini shares a plethora of tools you need to check out—today. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
10 everyday decisions that will lead to social media success
Looking for a little inspiration on a Tuesday? Who isn’t? Here’s some advice to help motivate your social media efforts. Read story.

From PR Daily News Feed
Consulting firm paid college profs to write positive op-eds about Libya
Scandal rocks prestigious universities after reports surface that professors were involved in a PR scheme on behalf of Muammar Qaddafi. Read story.

From Ragan's Daily Headlines
10 things to include in your company’s social media policy
By Priya Ramesh
Inflammatory online updates can land your employees—and your organization—in hot water, so set a clear protocol. Read story.

From Ragan's Daily Headlines
Infographic: The next 25 years of emerging technology
What’s the tech industry going to look like in 2036? Here’s a sneak preview. Read story.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Communicating the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Don’t miss this interview of Gerald Baron, founder and director of PIER, and Neil Chapman, a BP communicator. In a conversation by the For Immediate Release podcast, they discuss the communication efforts since the event and consider the lessons for crisis communication. It’s a fascinating conversation where you’ll hear what really happened in communications.

The For Immediate Release podcast is hosted by Neville Hobson, ABC, and Shel Holtz, ABC. Here is a little more about their guests (as posted on the FIR website for the show).

Gerald R. Baron is the president and founder of Baron & Company, a marketing and public relations firm in Northwest Washington, USA, and authors the Crisisblogger blog. He created the PIER System, the only completely integrated Internet-based communication management system for crisis communications, issue management, and ongoing press and public information management. A frequent speaker at conferences, he has served as a strategic and marketing consultant, corporate communications director, publisher, college professor, and entrepreneur.

Gerald is the author of three books on business and marketing, including Now is Too Late 2, one of the best books available on crisis communication in the digital era. More recently, he wrote the white paper, "Unending Flow: Case Study on Communications in the Gulf Oil Spill," available for download as a PDF (free) or as a Kindle ebook ($6.99).

Neil Chapman has worked on high profile public affairs issues in different parts of the world for more than 25 years. He has responded to major crises in the US and UK including the Deepwater Horizon event, legal cases, helicopter crashes, trading scandals, hostage taking and natural disasters. From January 2011 he will run his own communications consultancy, Alpha Voice Communications, focused on crisis communications readiness and presentation/media training.

Neil has been on the communications front line for controversial industrial projects, company takeovers, restructuring and lobbying campaigns. He also has experience working on developments for growing business in Latin America, Africa and Asia. As an oil company executive, he was PR chair for three energy associations - the US Natural Gas Supply Association, Center for LNG and the UK Offshore Operators Association - when they each faced some of their most difficult communications challenges. He has trained and counseled scores of business people at all levels on honing their communication skills, particularly when delivering hard messages or facing hostile audiences.

Neil was a journalist in the UK, working for newspapers, TV and radio.