Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Power of Free Tools

The soft economy the last few years have made free tools more important than ever for public relations practitioners who are trying to stretch their budgets.  Three speakers at the April Professional Development Luncheon demonstrated the power of free tools and explained how to do more with less. 

Debi Pfitzenmaier, blogger and chief bottle washer at Pfitz PR, looked at tools in several categories, including some for organization, online business and PR and some photo tools, too.   

You can see her presentation here.   
In true social media fashion, Pfitzenmaier curated an online list of favorites from the assembled group.  Review and bookmark the list from here.  

Ronee Andersen, reference librarian, gave a live demo to the group on using some of the free databases at the San Antonio Public Library.  Two are worth noting.  

Business Decision is a consumer market database which offers users competitive intelligence, including something called tapestry segmentation, which is similar to developing buyer personas.  

Reference USA is another market research tool which can reveal competitors’ strength, credit ratings, home ownership, home building trends and more for zip codes in Bexar County.

“The old days of having to visit a library are gone,” says Anderson. “You can visit the library from the comfort of your home.”  Both databases are available to all San Antonio Public Library cardholders.   

The library also offers a Jobs and Small Business Center, according to Beth Graham, public relations manager for the San Antonio Public Library. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Agency vs. Corporate PR? Which is Better?

Both, according to a presentation given to the PRSSA chapter at UTSA by two local PR professionals.

Kathy Hill, principal of KHILL PR and me, Fran Stephenson, Principal of Step In Communication, offered students a different look at these two areas of public relations practice. While both of us have worked in agency and corporate communication settings, Hill’s experience is rich with local agencies, while my focus has been corporate communications.

We focused on three key areas to share with a dozen students from the student chapter.

The Way We Work

Corporate communicators often work with longer time lines and create strategic plans for more continuity. They have established teams, goals and ways of working together.

Agencies have more fluid teams as groups are convened and disbanded based on the immediate client workload. They are often called in to help with short term planning and project management and serve on more than one team at a time.

The Relationships We Build

On the agency side, PR practitioners often have excellent external relationships, particularly with members of the media. Their corporate counterparts, on the other hand, have deeper internal relationships and a deeper knowledge of their company “subject.”

The Lifestyle We Lead

Corporate communicators have a more stable income, but can be resource challenged in their company. They usually have benefits including the standard stuff like health, 401K, etc, but also a predictable work environment.

Agencies, on the other hand, often turn over projects quickly, so you have to get up to speed on a client’s business quickly, help solve their problem and move onto the next project. Longevity in an agency can be less predictable because it’s client driven, but the rewards are learning about multiple industries and clients.

The students who attended the presentation were surprised at the similarities and differences to these two types of public relations careers and got a glimpse of what they might do in the future.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Hello, I Must Be Going

There’s been a lot recently within the PR business about the
impact of social media on crisis communications. Mostly, this speculation
projects social media as a bad thing. Companies and organizations can be
blind-sided by crises that tend to come out of nowhere, mounted by strangers.
Control becomes hard when sources are unknown or unexpected.

Perhaps there might be some good to dealing with a social
media-driven crisis situation, as Wall Street Journal editor Francesco Guerrera
noted this week in an opinion
. “In a socially-networked world where investors, customers and
employees are judge, jury and news editors, companies may be able to survive
foul-ups better than in the old days of ‘traditional’ news and corporate spin,”
he notes.

This could be due to a couple of things: First, social media-related
incidents tend to be much shorter in duration and reach a comparatively smaller
audience than when the traditional media become involved. Second, the
traditional media often tend to become “obsessive-compulsive,” as one
commentator put it, and linger over an incident far longer than the story
merits. My hunch is that with shrinking news budgets, it’s easier for an editor
to just squeeze one more story out of a reporter, rather than moving on to
something else.

So what does all this mean to public relations
practitioners? Speed is of the essence, Guerrera reports. Also, reputation
management remains key, as it does with any crisis. Loyal customers, employees and
a supportive public will move on quicker than when there are thousands who will
gladly add their own tales of woe to a troubling post.