Monday, June 30, 2008

Subtle Political Messages

Today presidential candidate, Barack Obama made a speech about patriotism in Independence, Missouri.

Last week, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, in their first public appearance together since Obama clinched the nomination made a speech about unity in Unity, New Hampshire.

Coincidence? I think not.

It's interesting that the campaign chose these specific locations that clearly connected with the topics of the speeches.

This way, if a person sitting at home watching the evening news, but not really paying attention happened to hear the name of the location (since the where of a story is important and will definitely be said by the reporter) the speech may resonate with them, or the important word: independence and unity, might stick out in their minds.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Bad Survey

As I have mentioned before, I just returned last week from a 7- day Norwegian Cruise Line cruise to Bermuda.

A day or so after the cruise, I received an email in my inbox asking me to complete a survey about my cruising experience. I happily complied.

About 3 questions into it, I was a bit suspicious and then about 40 minutes into it, I was tired and glazing over.

One of the very first questions specifically asked if I was in a position dealing with PR or advertising. Hmmm...what are they trying to get at here?

Some errors I found with the survey:
  • Way too long. It must have had over 200 questions. After question 30 I was skimming and not really paying close attention to the questions. If they wanted to get an accurate answer, they should have been more conscious of people's time.
  • Many of the questions should have been open-ended or at least had an option of filling in a blank, but were forced into multiple-choice questions which were awkward to answer.
  • One of the questions actually made me laugh out loud at its ridiculousness: "If you were president of NCL, what is the one thing you would suggest to improve the cruise experience of guests like yourself?" What? What does this even mean? I opted out of answering this question.
It's very important when creating a survey to be conscious of your audience while still achieving the desired results. This survey, I think, did a terrible job at getting the results they needed to see because of its length and poor questions.

Friday, June 27, 2008

High-Fructose Corn Syrup’s Quest for Popularity

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which has been fighting some negative publicity these days, is set to begin their $20-$30 million PR and advertising campaign soon.

High-fructose corn syrup is a manufactured sweetener that has come under great scrutiny for being a large factor in America’s growing weight problem. HFCS is used in many products such as soda, salad dressing, ketchup and breakfast cereals, to name a few.

As we “go green” and become more healthy these days, we are shunning our old favorites that we wouldn’t have thought twice about 5 years ago. As the organic grocery giant Whole Foods takes over the world, so have “au naturel” products.

The Wall Street Journal published “High Fructose Corn Syrup Mixes It Up” this week about the sweetener’s quest for popularity. Hired by the Corn Refiners Association, and at the helm of this campaign, is the Chicago office of Omnicom Group's DDB, a global leader in advertising and marketing campaigns. An executive vice president at DDB says, "The sweetener has been getting a bad rap, and a big reason is there has been no other information in the marketplace to counter the mistruths." DDB plans to change this with their new campaign.

The 18-month campaign will include three newspaper ads, TV spots that begin in September and online ads. The target audience? Moms. Another tactic used - “the trade group will also have its PR firm conduct phone and in-person conversations with influential mommy bloggers.”

One of three ads, featuring a stalk of corn, “carries the headline: ‘And Now a Little Food for Thought.’ The ad goes on to tell readers that lots of foods and beverages are sweetened with ‘sugars made from corn, such as high-fructose corn syrup’ and that it has the ‘same natural sweeteners as table sugar and honey.’”

So, what do you think? Is HFCS really not as bad as it’s hyped up to be? Can DDB tackle these negative perceptions and influence America to start fueling themselves with this “natural” sweetener? And most importantly, is it unethical for them to even try?

Managing Conflicts

This week, in The Firm Voice, I came across an article that dealt with leading teams and managing conflicts. Since we did a conflict resolution meeting at PRSSA, I thought this article was applicable to us as firm members and young professionals.

Dr. Nanda, a professor at Harvard University, says the worst thing to do when faced with a conflict is to ignore it. He offers firm managers three tips for trying to resolve a conflict, but the tips can be applied to anyone:

1. Be open

2. Be inclusive

3. Ask questions

"Professor Nanda says professionals are seeking fulfillment in three ways: performance, learning and having a sense of well-being. Well-functioning teams are, in a way, like a "three car garage" that possesses all three. The job of the team leaders meanwhile, is to be a mentor, performance leader and an adviser" (Shaw, 2008).

Even though we have been very lucky and have had no major conflicts thus far in our young firm, it's inevitable that it will happen. Even though these tips may seem silly, it's important to remember them when resolving a conflict.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Getting a Jump on the Press Release

A press release is essential in the world of PR. You want your client to get noticed (in a good way), and you want them noticed quickly. Here are some tips to get your press release started, before the event actually happens, so you can get it to the media ASAP:

-Put together a structured draft. You know what the story is going to be about, so get started on the details you can get down before it happens. You can definitely get the lead paragraph started. Make sure you get the who, what, were and when in there. If it's already a complicated or detailed story, you may need to put the why in another paragraph.

-For your quotes, get a general idea of what you want them to be about and where you want them placed in the release. Make sure you go to the event prepared with the questions you want to ask, and who you want answering them.

-For the paragraphs that have the specifics about the event, wait to write that. But, have the general idea and layout of what you want to write.

-Have a boiler plate ready to go with any additional information the reader needs to know about your client.

-Have the release laid out in a press release format, with the words FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE at the top and include your contact information.

-Once the event happens, you can go back and fill in the blanks. Don't forget to proofread and edit!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Even though I have yet to finish packing...

I’m going to Paris, France tomorrow!

I’ll be in Paris for a week and then I’m off to London, where I will be this summer until August 17th!

And… I will be blogging from abroad!

I’m taking classes in British Mass Media and British Film and Arts, with Temple University’s London Study Abroad Program. I’m sure I’ll have lots of interesting things to share with you, so stay tuned!

Au Revoir!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Beautiful Bermuda

I just arrived home from the gorgeous island of Bermuda yesterday,and have decided that at some point in my life, I must live there.

After making that decision, I thought, "Hmmm, where will I work? Well, I'm sure Bermuda has PR firms or the need for public relations professionals."

After a google search, I was surprised to see that only one PR Firm seems to exist in Bermuda.

The firm is called Troncossi Public Relations. The firm was founded by Elizabeth Tee in 2000 in Hamilton, Bermuda (pictured) Their client list is not featured on their website, but is available upon request. However, the website states that, "We work for a variety of clients in the consumer, corporate, financial and non-profit sector, many of whom have a high media profile. We also represent several private clients."

I would be interested to learn more about this firm, if I ever fulfill my dream of living in Bermuda.

It's so interesting to me to think that PR is such a global profession and can be practiced anywhere in the world!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I love the internet but...

Have we really become so addicted to the internet and our emails that we can't even walk away from our computer on our own?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Help Stop the Gender-Based Violence in Darfur

A few months ago, PRowl Public Relations assisted The Rebecca Davis Dance Company in promoting their world-premier performance, "Darfur." "Darfur" was based off a young man's trip from the fast-paced city of New York to war-torn Darfur, Sudan as a relief worker. While in Darfur, this young man witnessed the struggles associated with this genocide.

The performance was incredibly moving, bringing many to tears. Twenty-five percent of all proceeds were donated to Global Grassroots, a non-profit organization working to aid disadvantaged communities worldwide and especially focused on supporting peace in Sudan. Global Grassroots also works especially to support the women of disadvantaged countries.

While reading yesterday, I came upon this article about gender-based violence still occurring in Darfur.

"United Nations peacekeepers say the biggest issue now affecting the region is the systematic rape of women and children. Thousands of women as young as 4 caught in the middle of the struggle between rebel forces and government-backed militias have become victims of rape, they say, with some aid groups claiming that it is being used as a weapon of ethnic cleansing."

We need to do whatever we can to stop this. Women in Darfur are being tied up with their scarves and raped- multiple times- while doing such things as collecting firewood for their homes. They are innocent, and cannot help themselves- we need to.

From "Global Grassroots is embarking upon an extensive research and advocacy project to understand the underlying reasons and implications of sexual and gender-based violence during conflict in Africa. Spanning eleven countries and six major themes, Global Grassroots will launch its most ambitious advocacy campaign to date, endeavoring to protect and prevent such violence against women and to help survivors reclaim their lives. "

Click here to donate to this very worthy cause and do what you can to help these innocent victims of gender-based violence.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Another "green" post...

I found this article today in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the construction concerning the expansion of the Convention Center off Broad Street.

It brings up the controversial topic of “going green,” (yes, another post about “green” issues) and Philadelphia’s efforts towards sustainable construction practices.

The article highlights the Comcast Center and its new sustainable and energy saving wonders, while comparing plans for the Convention Center, and the noticeable lack of effort towards building an energy efficient building. The Convention Center, has argued going green is “too costly,” and it seems, “it will be the last non-sustainable government building to go up in Philadelphia,” according to Howard Neukrug of the Water Department.

Yet, the article also points out a few ironies, in that Mayor Michael Nutter, put forth efforts, campaigning for a greener Philadelphia this past year. But in 2005, when he was then serving as chairman, rejected the idea of a sustainable venue, as it was “costly and unnecessary.” However, he says he would never approve the same plans today.

Construction has not yet begun on the expansion of the new Convention Center, and the commission must approve a new roof design before. We will have to wait and see what the outcome will be.

So, with all things considered… Should the Convention Center be pardoned from sustainable requirements and an exception be made?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Congratulations Natalie!!

This past Saturday, June 14, PRowl Public Relations' founder Natalie Prazenica got married! She is now the wife of Nicholas Herr.

The wedding ceremony was at the Carpenter Chapel in Elizabethtown, Pa and was absolutely beautiful.

The wedding reception was at the Mulberry Art Studios in Lancaster, Pa and featured buffet-style mini comfort food (mini cheeseburgers, quesadillas, chicken fingers, mac & cheese and delicious milk shakes). Plates and utensils were made of eco-friendly materials and special bins for plastic bottles made the reception fun and eco-chic!

The newlyweds are currently honeymooning in Punta Cana!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Going Green in NYC

With all the talk and blogging about going green, it's no surprise that in this mornings New York Times there was an article that concerns going green. This time it wasn't about recycling or a "greener" lifestyle, it was about banning cars in Manhattan.

NYC's mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, announced this past Monday that on select days, during select times, select parts of the city will turn into "car-free zones". NYC is doing this as an experiment, and the mayor says if it works they will try it again. Not only are the streets going to be free of cars, there will be places for people to rent bikes along the closed streets and even take yoga classes.

This plan got mixed reactions from different types of New Yorkers. For example, cyclists were excited, while parking garage operators were displeased. Some others said they wouldn't even be around to enjoy it, because everyone in their neighborhood goes to the Hamptons on weekends.

I wonder how I would react if Mayor Nutter decided to close Broad St. on select days. Most of me would be enthusiastic to do something like this. Then I started to think about the drawbacks. What if I had an interview in South Philly that I needed to get to and I was late for the train? Would I ride a bike and risk looking messy when I got there? Or if I took a train back into the city, would I want to walk the distance from the 30th St. station with all of my luggage?

It's an interesting concept, but I'm not sure how realistic it is.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Philly PR Celebrities....Nicole Cashman

Today marks the second Philadelphia PR celebrity in our Philly PR Celebrity Series. The first celebrity featured was Melanie Johnson. Today, we will be featuring Nicole Cashman, a successful woman dominating the Philadelphia PR world with her lifestyle PR firm Cashman & Associates.

Cashman got her start in PR when she attended Drexel University and did a co-op in NYC at Saks Fifth Avenue in PR and events. After she graduated, Nicole Cashman worked as the PR Director for Bloomingdales. Later, she got a job working for the May Company in Philadelphia. In 2001, Cashman opened her boutique PR firm, mostly doing freelance work with a few different clients. Seven years later, she has more than 12 employees and works with such clients as the Starr Restaurant Organization, Smith Brothers, Trump Entertainment Resorts, Philadelphia Magazine and many more.

Nicole Cashman has dominated in a world where mainly men succeed. Cashman proves to women that they can be successful if they set their mind to it, and never give up.

In April, Temple University's PRSSA chapter had the opportunity to meet and speak with Nicole Cashman as she came to talk to us about dressing professionally.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Going Green....or not....

Going green. Environmentally friendly. Pollution. Green, green, green.

I don't know about you, but I'm sick of hearing it.

Apparently, I'm not alone in my sentiments.

The NY Times article captures the issue beautifully: "information overload."

We hear such conflicting messages from the media. One day something is good for the environment, the next day its not. What are we supposed to do?

In recent focus groups, experts have found that the general public is sick of all the green hoopla. In fact, its even discouraging people from the so called task of 'going green.'

Maybe all (or too much) publicity is not always good publicity..

What do you think?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Pink Sands...Oh My

Everyday, I find a new item, place, company I think it would be fun to do PR for. Today, I have decided I want to do PR for a resort/hotel.

As i researched for my cruise to Bermuda this coming weekend, I came across a website for Nine Beaches Bermuda Resort. Nice hotel. Lots of activities, lots of things going on. After browsing the site, I decided to click on the press link. How fun, I decided; combining my passion PR with another passion traveling and the beach.

I learned that a woman named Priscilla Caldwell of Madigan Pratt & Associates is the resorts' PR representative. The firm calls itself 'Hospitality Marketing.' Hm, sounds interesting, right?

The site has a list of press releases about the resort, a fact sheet, and a photo gallery in the 'press' section.

I eagerly browsed through the site, thinking that maybe one day I can visit a resort in some tropical paradise and then use my strategic and creative skills to brand them and promote them to the general public.

Just another career opportunity in the wonderful world of public relations.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Uhma Style Photo Shoot

This past weekend I had the opportunity to help out at one of our client’s photo shoots in Delaware. It was so much fun and a really great experience; also I made some new friends!

Erik, the owner of Uhma was having the photo shoot for some of his new products. The pictures will be mainly used for his website.

I got there around 10:30 AM and the models had already finished getting their hair and makeup done. The wonderful photographer, Vera, was testing the lighting with some of the models behind a green screen. Things were just about to start, and the models took turns taking product shots of the clothing. After some other posed pictures, we took a break and had lunch. Once we finished our meal, we got back to business and took tons of different pictures with all of the models (Julie, Caitlin and Jason). I was also put in charge of using the wind blower for effects in some of the shots, which was entertaining. The shoot continued and wasn’t over until about 6:00 PM. Overall the day was a great learning experience and I had tons of fun.

Here are a few pictures I took during the photo shoot:

Here is Jason taking some photos behind the g
reen screen with Erik watching closely.

Here is Julie posing with Vera capturing her pose.

And here I am with Julie, giving our best model poses during a break in between takes.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pitch Letters

When working in PR, it can be difficult to get a journalist to accept your press release and print it verbatim. Often times the journalist would rather learn more about the story and write it themselves. This is where a pitch letter becomes helpful. Instead of sending out a random story (which the journalist is very likely to ignore), it is important to "pitch" the story instead. Here are some pointers:

-Personalize your pitch. A writer can easily tell if you have sent the same email to a list of writers. Personally greet them at the beginning. If they have written about the same kind of subject before, let them know that you have seen their work in this subject and that they would probably be interested in your story too.

-Give it a local angle. In Philadelphia there are a lot of general newspapers that are circulated throughout the city and the suburbs. There are also local papers which are found in different sections in the city. If your story has ties to a certain area, let them know! (For example: the story may be about a group of students bettering the Philadelphia community. If there is a kid involved from a certain area, let them know that a local kid is doing this as well!)

-Proofread, proofread, proofread!!!

-Follow-up! A day or two after you send out your pitch, call the people you sent it to and see if they would like more information. (See yesterday's post for follow-up tips!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tips for Follow Up Calls

This morning I had to do the first set of follow up calls for our summer work with Rebecca Davis. Before I started calling all of the editors, I had to remind myself of some important things to do to ensure that it would go smoothly. Here is what I came up with:
  • Make sure you have all of your information in front of you - Since you're calling to answer any remaining questions they have after the initial contact, it's important to know the answers to their questions.
  • If they are not there, leave a message! - It seems like common sense, but sometimes it's easy to forget. If a secretary answers and doesn't ask you for your name and number, ask them if you could leave a short message with the person you're trying to get in contact with.
  • Speak clearly - This is especially important when leaving voicemails. Remember to speak clearly and slowly, so that the person can understand your phone number and call you back!

Even though these seem like silly things to concentrate on, it's easy to forget them when you're trying to get in touch with a number of people. Remember that these follow up calls could determine if that media outlet covers your story or not!

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Blogging Milestone

Congratulations to the Board of Directors of PRowl Public Relations! This blog has surpassed 100 posts in its 5 short months and has gotten over 120 hits in the month of June!

The Tables Have Turned

With Hillary Clinton out of the presidential race, all eyes turn to John McCain and Barack Obama. We have already seen a great deal of negative press about Obama, but not so much about McCain.

Well, his time has come. This article outlines John McCain's treatment and neglect of his first wife. I'm not sure how credible this article is, but one thing is for sure. I am positive that John McCain's camp is not happy about this!

Social Networking Wars

This is a funny video that has been circulating on other blogs that I caught wind of. It's pretty telling of the time we live in and the usage of the many different social networking sites that new media has brought us.

Check it out, and let us know what you think! Which networks do you use, and why?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

She lost the campaign but...

Check out this interesting op/ed piece about what Hillary Clinton won during the primaries.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Keeping on the Same Page

Many firms and organizations have a large number of people working for them. It can be very difficult to make sure that everyone is on the same page. It is important in a firm, including in PRowl, to make sure that everyone working on the account all knows the same information. Struggling with some members' absences from meetings, PRowl has begun using Client Contact Reports. Since we initiated this procedure a few weeks ago there has been far less confusion and questions about the internal and external workings of the firm.

A Client Contact Report isn't just helpful to keep your members together, it is also helpful for the client to be copied on it.

This report is used every time the account team comes into contact with their client. The reason for the contact could be a brainstorm, proposal, general meeting, etc. No matter what the importance, a written document of the meeting should be created. This will also help when looking back to the meeting in the future.

Some things in a Client Contact Report include all, but not limited to:
-Client Name
-Date, Time and Location of Contact
-Account Members present and Title
-Reason for Client Contact

The notes section of the report is the most important. This is where you will write everything that was discussed during the meeting, and is most helpful to those who were not present. The notes do not have to be formally written, bullets will do as long as all of the information is clear and concise.

After creating the client contact report, attach to an email, include all account members and the client, spell check (always a must), press SEND and be on your way to the same page!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Just a helpful hint concerning e-mails...

A useful tip is to send yourself the e-mail before sending it to your prospective receiver. This way you can see what your e-mail will look like, especially the layout. This is generally handy if you include an image, or have formatted your message in a particular way. Bullets, numbered lists or outlines tend to get rearranged or unorganized. Also, be careful of copying and pasting content, which can also become shuffled when converted into e-mail form.

Of course you do not need send yourself a copy of every e-mail you are about to send, but for the important ones, this is a great tip to consider!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Where are all the good guys?

As I checked my email this morning, I noticed that The Council of PR Firms' new edition of The FIRM VOICE was out. As I scanned through the articles, I came across one that was all too familiar to me. This article talked about a CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen's decision to trash- talk PR professionals on air last Sunday. He did so during his book review of Scott McClellan's new book "What Happened?"

The article goes on to question why the analyst decided to make this generalization about PR professionals, based on one man's actions. It also says that since we are advocates for the organizations we represent, we communicate our organization's values and opinions to the public through the free press. As we do this, we adhere to many codes of ethics, whether they be our own or the ones set forth by another professional organization.

After reading this article I was reminded of a certain professor I had for a journalism class that called PR people "evil." He said that our purpose was to con journalists into accepting junkets so that they would do our bidding. All through the semester I thought of the people I worked with at PRowl and the valuable lessons we were learning about our future careers. What gave him the right to call my profession an evil one?

I think that when things like this happen, the best thing you can do is to do BETTER. Do your job so well that no one can point fingers at you. Remember that when you are doing your job, you're representing your client, your employer, AND your profession. Be proud of what you do!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Summer Client Feature Story

The Philadelphia Sports Training Center (PSTC) is one of PRowl's new summer clients. PSTC is a local family owned business in North Philadelphia that prides itself in being the first and only academic and athletic training center in the nation. The training center focuses on elementary through college-age students, giving both academic and athletic support to student-athletes. The main goals of PSTC are: "to have all student-athletes attend a college or university, participate in intercollegiate athletics, earn a scholarship in their respective sport and learn teamwork, dedication, time management and responsibility."

PSTC hosts a seven-on-seven Passing Football League (PFL) on Saturdays during the summer months and allows student-athletes to perfect their football skills without the risk of injury to ensure they remain eligible for recruitment.

PRowl PR will be writing three monthly feature stories during the summer months for PSTC. They will be about PSTC's events and programs. Our first feature story, "Big Men on Campus," was added to PSTC's website yesterday. Check us out here.
Be sure to check back at the beginning of July and August for the next stories!

Monday, June 2, 2008

What Sex and the City did for the City

If you haven't been living under a rock, you know that the much-awaited Sex and the City movie premiered this weekend. The film brought in $55.7 million this weekend.

Here's what I have been thinking though. Can you imagine what the show and the movie have done for tourism in the big apple? Increased it, that's for sure.

According to this article, women come to NYC from all over the country to see the landmarks that the four fabulous woman of SATC made famous. Forget seeing the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty..those are merely...historical. Fans of the show flock to the city to see Carrie's stoop, the stores the girls shopped at, and different restaurants made famous by the show.

A Sex and the City "Hotspots" tour even exists that takes women on a tour of all of the aforementioned placed. According to the article, the city has even launched a website to help travelers plan a Sex and the City themed trip.

The city must be thrilled that they have gotten all of this free publicity just from a simple HBO series, that turned into a phenomenon.

I wonder when someone will come up with a TV show or movie that captures the fabulousness of the city of brotherly love...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Oh, Politics...

Half-votes? People are reduced to having half a vote? Half a say in our government's crucial decisions?

This decision was made yesterday at a meeting held by the rules committee of the Democratic National Committee, as reported by The New York Times in this article.

I just don't understand. It's not the people of Florida and Michigan's faults that their party leaders made a pretty dumb decision. The funny thing is the joke is on Florida and Michigan's party leaders because by moving themselves up, they made themselves less important, because this primary year, many of the major contests like Pennsylvania did not occur until April and the election which is usually decided by that point, was not.

I watched some of the CNN coverage yesterday, and was just floored by the things that were said. It seemed that everyone wanted one thing: for the people of Michigan and Florida's voices to be heard. So how did we come to this strange decision?

I was also floored by the divisiveness of the Democratic Party. At the meeting, both Clinton and Obama supporters stood and rallied for their candidate, forgetting that we are all part of the same party.

This campaign is getting to be a little too much for me to handle...anyone else feel the same way?