Monday, November 30, 2009

Making Progress

It is hard to believe, but today marks the first day of the last full week of classes in the fall 2009 semester at Temple University. Although I have learned a lot this semester, I am looking forward to winter break and to starting with a fresh set of classes in the spring!

At the very beginning of this semester, I blogged about the goals I had set for myself going into the 2009-2010 school year. I thought that, with the first half of the school year coming to a close, it would only be appropriate to evaluate myself on the progress I have made so far. After all, it you do not monitor your progress, it becomes all too easy to lose sight of the goals you have set.

Here are some goals I have made progress towards achieving so far this year:
  • Staying on top of the news and current events: I have made a concentrated effort so far this year to stay abreast of what is going on in the world. The Wall Street Journal was a required text for one of my classes this semester, which meant that the news was delivered to my doorstep each day. I enjoy feeling plugged in to the news industry and the world around me.
  • Learning more about the research and planning side of PR: Thanks in large part to my Media Information Gathering & Evaluation class, I have learned a great deal about the research end of PR. I have learned a lot about the various methods most commonly employed in the industry, like conducting focus groups, in-depth interviews and surveys, and how to conduct them. I was also given an introduction to the statistical programs that are often used to attain tangible measurements of PR goals and progress. Going forward, I hope to focus more on the planning aspect of PR, as this is an area where I must admit I need more experience.
  • Choosing an area in which to specialize: As a result of several of the classes I took this semester and insight gained from others in the field, I have decided that the employee relations function of PR might be a great fit for my interests and skills. I look forward to learning more about that branch of PR in the coming weeks.
  • Updating my resume
  • Continuing to learn about social media
  • Looking into internships for the spring semester
Moving along, I still need to work on my goals of bringing more personality to my writing and becoming increasingly creative in my PR tactics. I also have created a new goal for myself: to get published!

I look forward to continuing toward these goals as the year moves along. What are some of your goals? Have you been keeping track of your progress as you move toward them?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Value of Soft Skills

It has been suggested that in a number of professions soft skills may prove to be more important over the long term than occupational skills. Public relations is one example where the ability to deal with people and effectively and appropriately communicate can determine the success of a public relations practitioner.

Possessing soft skills includes but is not limited to: being a good listener, persuasion and teamwork skills, decision making and problem solving skills, motivating others, knowing negotiation tactics, and being optimistic and friendly. Hard skills, on the other hand, include the occupational requirements of a job, such as computer protocols, safety standards, machine operation and sales administration. Hard skills are also easy to train because most of the time the skill sets are brand new to the learner and no unlearning is involved. Introducing new soft skills is more difficult because it means replacing old, well-known and comfortable skills.

Eric Davis, i4cp’s associate editor states that, “More often than not, it’s who we are, not what we know, that seals the deal.” He goes on to explain, “The most technically competent people will still flounder if they can’t communicate properly or play well with others in the business setting.” This goes to show that skills some may look past as being so simple, may actually be the most marketable.

The development of our soft skills is something that should be paid close attention, as they are highly valued in the workplace. It is also something to keep in mind during interviews because soft skills are increasingly sought out by employers in addition to standard qualifications.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations firm member, Trish Wyatt.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Ten Commandments of a Press Release

As a sophomore Public Relations major, I have been thrown into the world of writing for the media this semester. In my current class, News Writing and Media Relations, I have learned how to successfully write news advisories, broadcast releases, and letters to the editor. However, most importantly, I have learned how to write press releases. Every public relations class I have taken has always stressed the importance of constructing an effective and creative press release that will gain media coverage for the client. I found an article, The Ten Commandments of a Press Release written by Bill Stoller while looking for some extra writing tips. In the article, he outlines the ten “shalts” and “shalt nots” to help any press release get published.
  1. Thou Shalt Be Professional. No goofy fonts, rainbow paper or silly gimmicks. Even lighthearted press releases represent a communication between one professional and another.
  2. Thou Shalt Not Be Promotional. If you can't get enough objective distance from your company to write a press release that's not filled with hype and puffery, hire someone to write it for you.
  3. Thou Shalt Not Be Boring. Even the driest subject matter allows for some sparks of creativity. Journalists like knowing that there's a human being communicating with them, not some corporate robot.
  4. Thou Shalt Be Brief. Learn to cut out extraneous words. Keep your sentences short. Include only the points necessary to sell the story. The well-crafted one page press release is a thing of beauty.
  5. Thou Shalt Know Thy Recipient. A features or lifestyle editor is a very different creature from a city desk editor. If you're promoting the opening of a new winery, the food and wine editor may be interested in all the details about what kind of aging process and wine press you're using. The city desk editor just wants to know when the grand opening is and what's going to happen there.
  6. Thou Shalt Use The Proper Tense. When writing a hard news release (a contract signing, a stock split, a major announcement, etc.) use the past tense. When writing a soft news release (a trend story, a personal profile, etc.) use the present tense.
  7. Thou Shalt Think Visually. A press release is more than words -- it's a visual document that will first be assessed by how it looks. Whether received by mail, fax or e-mail, a journalist, the reader will (often unconsciously) make decisions about whether to read the release based on how the release is laid out. Big blocks of text and long paragraphs are daunting and uninviting. Short paragraphs and sentences make for a much more visually inviting look.
  8. Thou Shalt Tell A Story. How to arrange the facts of a hard news release is pretty much cut and dried. The old "who, what, when, where and how" lead and "inverted pyramid" concepts still hold.
  9. Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness. This may seem an obvious point, but it always bears repeating. Tell the truth. Don't inflate, don't confabulate, and don’t exaggerate. Don't twist facts, don't make up numbers, and don’t make unsubstantiated claims. Any decent journalist will be able to see right through this. If you're lucky, your release will just get tossed out. If you're unlucky, you'll be exposed.
  10. Thou Shalt Know Thy Limitations. Not everyone can write a press release. A good feature release, in particular, isn't an easy thing to craft. If you just don't feel like you have the chops to get the job done, hire a professional.

What do you think of these “commandments?” Can you think of any of your own to add to the list? Let us know what you think!

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations firm member, Niki Ianni.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cyber Monday 2009: The Predictions

Happy Black Friday! For the past three years I have braved the crowds and went out at midnight to shop my local outlet mall ("The Crossings" in Tannersville, PA). After getting home early in the morning, eating a turkey sandwich with leftover cranberry sauce and going to bed for a few hours, I got back up to shop the sales at the mall. Although I got some great deals, I noticed that this year the crowds were a little slimmer than in previous years. Could this be because of the unemployment rate and our still-looming uncertainty about the economy, or could it be because more and more consumers are getting more comfortable about shopping online?

"Cyber Monday" is the online equivalent to brick-and-mortar stores' "Black Friday." Cyber Monday is meant to target those who are shopping online while working the Monday after Thanksgiving with no prying eyes at home wondering what would be under the Christmas tree.

In an article from the LA Times, there are several sales predictions for this holiday:

", whose members tend to be bigger merchants, said a survey of 60 retailers showed 70% of respondents expected online sales to grow this holiday over last year."

"A Nielsen survey found that 63% of people are planning to buy online this holiday, compared with 71% last year. Of those planning to shop online, 31% said they planned to spend more than $300, down from 42% last year."

"Research firm ComScore, which tracks online spending, is projecting a paltry 3% growth in holiday spending online, to $28.8 billion from $28 billion last year. From Nov. 1 through Sunday, online sales ticked up just 2%, compared with a 4% decline in the same period last year."

Did you shop today to take advantage of the Black Friday sales or will you be cyber shopping this coming Monday?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Everyone at PRowl Public Relations wishes our readers
a delicious holiday. Thank you for reading our blog!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Support Center for Child Advocates Holiday Toy Drive: Get Involved!

On yet another Thanksgiving eve the 2009 holiday season is right around the corner. These tough economic times will certainly have an impact on the holidays, just like everything else in your life, but it has allowed us a chance to get back to the true spirit of the holidays. Spending time with family, giving back to others and sharing genuine joy and compassion are worth much more than any present, and no one knows this better than the Support Center for Child Advocates.

PRowl Public Relations is honored to work for the Support Center for Child Advocates this holiday season to further their mission of providing a protective, nurturing environment for abused and neglected Philadelphia area children. A large part of their mission is their annual Holiday Toy Drive, where businesses and individuals alike donate thousands of toys to these children and their siblings.

"I am a big believer in 'to whom much is given, much is required.' What an amazing feeling it is to know that because of Child Advocates, hundreds and hundreds of kids will wake up on Christmas morning with presents under the tree - many of whom would otherwise have none. This will be the 4th year I've been a part of the Toy Drive, and I can honestly say that I can't imagine a Christmas season without participating" says Adrienne Simmons, Child Advocates Volunteer Toy Drive Co-Chair and Founder of P.S. I Love You.

The Support Center for Child Advocates Holiday Toy Drive will be held this year on Saturday, December 19, 2009. For more information on how you can get involved and help change a child's story this holiday season please visit Also, look for the Child Advocates Facebook fan page and stay updated on toy drive details through Twitter at @advokidphilly. Have a happy holiday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Philebrity's "Readers Cameraphone"

I love reading Philebrity. I think the writers are the right mix of funny, sarcastic and blunt, and I love reading their take on everything Philadelphia. I especially like the "Readers Cameraphone" posts because anyone can send in a picture off of a cameraphone to Philebrity and hope their picture gets featured on the blog. Many times readers send in pictures of things around the city that make them mad. This post is a great example of that.

The picture that was sent in is of a SEPTA booth with a worker inside next to a half complete jigsaw puzzle on a table. This is the description the reader sent Philebrity that was posted on the blog above the picture:

"I did a double take when I saw this scene at the Market-Frankford EL stop at 8th and Market this morning. The handwritten sign that is cut off on the right of the photo says “window closed.” It appears that closing down that window has given this SEPTA employee plenty of time to work on the giant jigsaw puzzle (pictured)… amazing. “Jigsaw puzzle time” must be one of the new contract stipulations." Philebrity

I know that in many of my classes we have talked about a PR person's responsibility to respond to unfavorable comments made about their client on social media. Do you think that a SEPTA representative should respond to this post on Philebrity? Why or why not?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Good to Great

I began work at my new part-time job this weekend and began the challenging but exciting process of learning my new responsibilities and the ins and outs of the company.

One thing about this particular company that I thought was really cool was the fact that the company offers a lending library for its employees. These include books, recordings and DVDs that help convey industry-specific knowledge, as well as more general materials that can help employees and the company reach their full potential. The company also has a "book of the month" club, for which each employee must read a specific text and discuss ways that the book's ideas are - and can be- reflected in the company's operations.

The first book I'll be asked to read is entitled "Good to Great" by Jim Collins. According to, the author of this book (along with the help of his 21-person team) sorted through "1,435 companies, looking for those that made substantial improvements in their performance over time." The team chose 11 companies and "discovered common traits that challenged many of the conventional notions of corporate success."

I'm anxious to read this book and find out both what the 11 traits were and what implications they had within the companies that possess them! I'll be sure to blog about the book's lessons as I read it in the upcoming weeks.

Have you read this book? If so, what were your thoughts? Does your company offer a lending library and or a book club?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Helpful Blog Tips!

In today's technology-driven world, blogs must fight for attention and time against conventional media news outlets and the intensifying expansion of social media. With this in mind, many PR firms must consider electronic media when contemplating the best way to appeal to their audience.

Bloggers are not usually reporters and do not practice the same policies within fixed reporting. Yet, a single blogger can attract an audience just as easily as that of a small-scale news group. That being said, there are a few tips I’ve learned since I began reading numerous blogs.

First, be pertinent. This seems straightforward, but it can truly make or break a pitch to a blogger. Look at the categories and sub-categories if available of the blog, its’ tags and preceding posts. Is your pitch similar?

Next, you should always try to personalize when applicable. If a blogger gets a pitch with no personal consideration or a simple news release without a message, your message has a sure trip to the trash folder. Take the time to research, make comments and become interactive. Be honest but professional about the comments you post and provide attentive feedback that is of value to the topic. This will help build familiarity and establish a two-way relationship between you and the blogger.

These tips have been incredibly useful in my time as an avid blog subscriber, and I am eager to learn more as these times continue to change.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Stephanie Loiero.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Where Do We Go From Here?

Well, the day has come. Oprah Winfrey has officially announced that she is ending her show with a final broadcast on September 9, 2011.

It’s almost impossible to put into just a few words how Oprah has impacted not only talk TV, but this country and the world in her 25 years of being on air. Her personality and her ability to market that personality has been the benchmark for many over the years. She is one of the most powerful women in the world for a reason, and her impact has changed lives.

Oprah's astounding success has led PR professionals everywhere to try to get their client on Oprah. It may be a stretch for many, but there are always those with high hopes. Over the years, public relations professionals have analyzed this task down to the tee, including why Oprah would want them on the show and what one would physically have to do to catch her attention. For the past ten years or so, landing a client on Oprah has represented the apex in PR success for many public relations professionals.

I wonder what the new benchmark of PR success will be when the legend takes her final bow? Will a new personality take her place? Could anyone ever fill her shoes? Regardless, September 9, 2011 will be a sad day for many around the nation, especially for those who never made it onto that comfy seat next to the queen of daytime TV.

For those of you who still have the dream for the next year and a half, check out what Pierce Mattie PR has to say on how to begin the quest. Enjoy!

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member, Melissa Colelli.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Takeaways from 2009 National PRSSA Conference

Jessica Lawlor, president of Temple's PRSSA wrote an article about her three takeaways from the 2009 PRSSA National Conference in San Diego:

1. Read, read, read; write, write, write
2. Public relations is a 24/7 job
3. It's all about social media

Check out the full post here!

Follow-Up: Palin on Oprah

I wanted to follow up on the interview I mentioned previously about former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show. The show actually produced Oprah's best ratings since about two years ago. According to the show had a household rating of 8.7 and 13 share. The numbers haven't been that high since 2007 when the Osmond family made and appearance. Palin talked about her experiences on the campaign trail, dealing with the media, her interviews with Katie Couric, the father of her daughter's child Levi Johnson, as well as her new book, "Going Rouge: An American Life."

So did you watch the interview? What did you think?

Also, did anyone watch the Barbara Walters interview with Sarah Palin? I didn't but I'd be interested to see the differences in material discussed as well as the ratings too.

As a public relations student, the idea of getting a client on the Oprah Winfrey Show or being interviewed by Barbara Walters is a HUGE deal. Of course, Palin's appearances were more important than just promoting her book, getting placement for your client with these media moguls is a PR person's dream come true.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Twitter to the Rescue

I came across an article today that immediately caught my attention with the headline of, 'Texas Hospital finds Blood Donors Through Twitter'. I was shocked that social media has come this far. The article went on to describe how, after the tragic Ft. Hood shootings of November 5, a PR person for Scott & White Hospital utilized Twitter to reach out to an active audience following news about Ft. Hood, which had quickly become a trending topic. He kept the audience and media abreast of the condition of the soldiers at the hospital and asked if people could donate blood to the shooting victims. His tweet was retweeted 400 times and he recieved a whopping 1,000 units of blood that day. His tweets generated such a buzz that he had to turn 600 donors away due to the overwhelming response. This is a great example of the power of Twitter in accessing people on a personal level and shows why social media has become such an important phenomenon in the PR world. Please link to the original article here and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Guest Speaker: Joanna Hawkins

Today in my Advanced Public Relations Writing class we had a guest speaker named Joanna Hawkins from the U.S. Department of Labor. She gave us tips on how to become great PR professionals by making sure we have the basics down. Some of her tips were:
  • Learn the AP Stylebook backwards and forwards. Having a working knowledge of the rules of the AP Stylebook will set you apart from other writers.
  • Research doesn't end after college, so become the best you can be at it. She said that she does research constantly at her job, so learn to love it!
  • Be a great communicator. Have the ability to speak to everyone, from cold calling to reporters you've developed a relationship with.

Another great piece of advice she gave us was to not worry about knowing everything about the industry you get a job in by your first day. Have the basics of public relations down, and learn new information as you go!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Informational Interviewing

Today in my public health class, our teacher used the class period to discuss good practices for those seeking internships and, ultimately, a full-time job. Although I am not a public health major, I found a lot of her advice to be relevant for everyone and anyone, regardless of specific interest. One element of her talk that really stood out for me was her enthusiasm about informational interviewing.

My teacher explained to us that she kicked off her career by conducting informational interviews during her college years. She would ask teachers and others from her professional network for the contact information of people who were already working in the field in which my teacher wanted to become involved. She would then call these contacts, ask for ten minutes of their time, and proceed to ask them, "how did you get to where you are?" and "what steps can I take that will put me on the path to a career like yours?"

My teacher explained that information and advice she was given during these informational interviews helped her secure her first job in public health. They also helped her foster some new professional connections that she has had ever since.

Here are two things that she explained should be the goal of informational interviews:
  1. Emerge from the interview with an established and meaningful connection with the person you interviewed. This person can serve as a valuable resource and contact for you in the future.
  2. Emerge from the interview with the contact information for five of that person's contacts (with their permission to use their name as a reference with those contacts). These people can provide you with further information and may know of opportunities they could pass along to you. This will help grow your professional network.
Informational interviewing could be a great practice for those of us in the field of public relations, as it represents a form of personalized networking. In addition, it could facilitate a sort of informal mentoring, which could help give us an edge over others in our field.

Do you have any experience with informational interviewing? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Having a “Roaring” Time: Interning at the Philadelphia Zoo

Most of my friends have been interning since sophomore year, so when the fall of my senior year rolled around and I hadn’t had any internships, I felt it was time for me to catch up. I searched for an internship using resources from Temple’s Career Center, and through the OwlNetwork I found a bunch of openings for communications interns. I applied for two positions, one with a small marketing agency in Plymouth Meeting and the other with the Philadelphia Zoo. Working for the Zoo seemed like a fabulous opportunity but I didn’t think I’d really get the job.

As it turns out, I did get the job and have enjoyed it ever since my first day. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t know what to do or I would disappoint my bosses, but they have been willing to help and answer all of my questions. They also understand that I want to gain as much knowledge and experience as I can while doing meaningful work, not just running to get coffee or making copies. I have had the chance to write multiple press releases and media advisories so I can practice the most important skill in PR, writing. Right now I am also learning how to work with metrics and understand ad value equivalency and audience numbers. Another beneficial aspect of this internship is that I have met some great people, including valuable contacts in the media.

My favorite thing so far has been the PR surrounding the birth of our baby orangutan. Not only is it cool to see the new baby, but it’s been a great experience being involved in the process of announcing the birth to the media and holding press conferences. Mother and baby are doing well and made their public debut this past Thursday. Our efforts at media outreach were also successful.

Because I have enjoyed myself so far, I plan to intern with the Zoo again this spring before I graduate. Although I regret not searching for an internship earlier in my college career, I feel that things happen for a reason. If I had been interning earlier I may not have been able to have this wonderful experience while working with the Zoo.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member, Laura Macenka.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lobbying in Public Relations

Before I officially became a Public Relations major, I was back and forth between a bunch of different possible majors and career paths. At one point, I was set on becoming a lawyer. Now that I'm studying public relations, I've been looking into the different career routes I can take after graduation, and one of my recent findings, lobbying, particularly stuck out in my mind. For me, it seems like the best of both worlds--it's a combination of my interest in law and my major in public relations!

Lobbying is a fast-growing field that is closely connected to public relations, for the role of a lobbyist is to influence legislators, using the art of persuasion, on behalf of an organization’s point of view on various issues. Lobbyists aim to influence the policy making of the institutions to produce policies and legislation that are beneficial to their employers.

Since lobbying is about communicating with policy-makers, it is always beneficial to familiarize oneself with the political scene. Many of the lobbying career opportunities are concentrated in the political sphere of Washington, D.C., where graduates can gain experience working as congressional aides or with government agencies prior to beginning a career as a lobbyist. Many prospective lobbyists begin by working for environmental and advocacy organizations, where they can promote their agendas by meeting with members of Congress, legislative aides, and leaders of governmental agencies.

The primary skill of a lobbyist is to construct and communicate messages to legislators. If you're like me and have an interest in the legislative scene, maybe a lobbyist is the perfect career to pursue with your public relations degree!

Some statistics, according to the Princeton Review:
  • There are approximately 106,000 people in the profession
    • 35% are female; 65% are male
  • The average starting salary is $20,000
  • The average salary after 5 years is $50,000
  • The average salary after 10 to 15 years is $80,000
  • Major employers include Greenpeace, AARP, and Sacramento Advocates
This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member, Marissa Sudol.

Friday, November 13, 2009

San Diego Zoo Pictures!

I can't believe it's almost been a week since I was in San Diego attending the PRSSA National Conference with Temple PRSSA's president, Jess Lawlor!

Here are some pictures of us at the zoo!

Jess (left) and I on our tour bus!

Jess loves giraffes!

Hyenas are by far one of the scariest and creepiest looking animals...

So cute! Momma gorilla carrying around her baby gorilla!

Jess and I were obsessed with this orangutan!

Behind dogs, an orangutan is my favorite animal!
Has anyone ever seen Orangutan Island on the Animal Planet? It was probably my favorite "reality" television show, following the lives of an orangutan village!
To bring it local - a baby Orangutan was born five weeks ago at the Philadelphia Zoo and now they're asking the public to help name her! The choices are Batu, Kadoa or Anoano. You have until November 26 to vote on the name you like best.
Click here to vote now! Can anyone guess my choice?

Burberry Meets Social Media

Burberry founder, Thomas Burberry, first designed the famous trench coat for British army officers in 1914. This 95-year-old fashion icon is Burberry’s top selling product and now has a social networking site dedicated to “the art of the trench.”

On Monday Burberry launched a social networking site, This site encourages viewers to submit pictures displaying them in their trench. They ask for participants to share their “trench coat” stories. The site features trenches all over the world on cyclists, children, in the rain and in Paris.

A majority of luxury good companies have been skeptical about getting on the web. They have been afraid that this non-traditional marketing tool would hurt their credibility. In the past, most believed that the web was for bargain buyers and counterfeit items. Now they are realizing that in order to reach their younger publics they are going to have to enter their turf, the Web.

During the current recession the $226 billion market for luxury goods saw an 8 percent drop. The market is expected to begin to grow once baby boomers retire and younger workers take their place.

Social media has made an impact on our lives and is now moving into our closets. It has become an ideal branding tool and has become another business strategy that we, as public relations practitioners, have to utilize better than anyone else out there.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member, Josie Fox.

Thursday, November 12, 2009's Twitter Directory

I always like sharing when I find something interesting, so for you Philadelphia folks out there... Check out this page!
(It's's Twitter Directory)

The page has streaming tweets from everyone including the word "philly" in them, while there is also a list of all the Twitter accounts of staff members from, Daily News, Philadelphia Inquirer and

Sarah Palin goes on Oprah

For you Oprah followers out there you probably already know that Sarah Palin will be appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show soon. The episode will air on Monday, November 16th and sizzle reels have already been previewing the highly anticipated show. Last night Oprah tweeted breaking news after finishing the taping of the former Alaskan governor's interview, sending Tweeters to a YouTube video. (Check it out!)

It is no secret Oprah was an avid Obama supporter during the 2008 presidential campaign, while she remains a supporter of the now president. Both Palin and Winfrey have encountered criticism alike for doing the interview together. So what do you think, will you tune in to watch the interview?

*Interesting Fact: Michelle Obama was the first person to appear on the cover of O Magazine alongside Oprah Winfrey for the April 2009 issue.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Always Remember Your Strategy

This week, while preparing a public relations campaign for a new client, I learned the importance of always thinking strategically. It is easy, especially when you're working with a small team, to get caught up in the small details of your plan. I've learned that details are extremely important, but only if they accomplish your goals and further your PR campaign strategy.

During the plan writing process you must always think about what you're writing and ask yourself, 'how does this accomplish my goal?' If the detail that you're writing doesn't fit perfectly into the puzzle that is your strategic campaign then you have to get rid of it, or rethink your entire strategy.

I've learned that a campaign strategy is like a container, and your tactics are what you will use to fill your container, but you have to make sure that those tactics will fit inside.

The most important piece of the strategy puzzle is research. Without researching your client, the environment in which you'll be working and the audience that you'll be reaching out to, you can't have a sensible strategic campaign. Research is the backbone to your business goals, and you can't just make them up.

When you're up to your eyeballs in campaign details and it starts to feel overwhelming, just take a step back and think, 'does this fit into my strategy?' This simple advice has given me a tool to create an effective campaign that can actually get results. I hope it helps you as well!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

4 Types of Writers

This video from describes four categories that many writers fit into. The four categories are:
  • Mr. Know it All
  • Mr. Sensitivity
  • Mr. Suck Up
  • Mr. Lazy Bones

The men in the video role play to show viewers these four different types of writers, and it's a funny video. Even though it's a funny video, I'm sure a lot of people can think of coworkers and peers that fit into these four categories. This is a good reminder to all of us always try our best or else we may end up in one of these categories!

Monday, November 9, 2009

SEPTA is Back!

The Transportation Workers' Union, Local 234, reached a deal with the Southeastern Transportation Authority (SEPTA) early this morning, effectively ending the strike that had discontinued Philadelphia's subway, bus and trolley transportation for six days.

Luckily, this strike didn't even last week, in comparison to a similar strike four years ago that lasted for four months. Although this conflict was resolved relatively quickly, as we discussed in one of my PR classes today, there are several things that the Transportation Workers' Union failed to do during the strike that could have rallied more public support for their cause and possibly pressured SEPTA to strike a deal sooner.

Here are three things we came up with, with the help of our teacher:
  1. The Transportation Workers' Union did not effectively keep the media in the loop about what was going on. The union did not proliferate a cohesive or consistent message to the media, nor did they effectively convey their side of the conflict. As my teacher explained, the strike began on Tuesday and it wasn't until Friday that the union's national leaders stepped in, brought their own PR people, and were finally able to articulate to the public a specific reason as to why they were striking. Particularly in a strike situation, it is crucial that an organization make clear its goals and demands.
  2. The Transportation Workers' Union failed to keep its own workers in the loop. As my teacher explained, workers can be important vehicles through which the organization can get its message out. Keeping workers informed as to the state of negotiations and the ideas driving the strike would have been really helpful in securing public support for the strike because these workers could help spread the word and raise awareness for the union's cause. In contrast, many Local 234 workers were not kept abreast on the union's actions. Ironically, the morning the strike was begun, several workers showed up at their job posts to start their workday because they weren't even informed they were on strike.
  3. The Transportation Workers' Union did not use new media to get their message out. Until Friday, when the national union heads stepped in with their own PR team, the union was not using the web or Twitter to spread its message. This would have been important for several reasons. For one, the use of new media would have helped the union keep the public informed about their progress and demands in real time. Secondly, as my teacher explained, messages spread through new media outlets like Twitter have a higher rate of retention and spread. This means that new media would have been particularly effective in helping the organization get its word out. Lastly, the use of new media would have helped tap into the demographic of teens and young adults, a group that has the capability to exert a lot of power and influence. Successfully engaging this demographic could have given the union's cause a real boost.
Ultimately, the union could have done a much better job of communicating with the public and raising awareness and support for its causes during this strike. Situations like these are great opportunities for aspiring PR professionals, like myself, to learn valuable lessons about crisis communications.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Creating an Internal Newsletter

Public relations is about more than efficiently and effectively reaching the media. Internal public relations is an integral part of the field. As Public Relations Committee Head of Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity here on Temple's campus, I decided to start a newsletter for our chapter. A newsletter should boost morale and provide useful information to those receiving the newsletter.

The first decision to make is who the audience of the newsletter will be. The Phi Sigma Pi newsletter that I am creating will be sent to Brothers of the fraternity, alumni, and maybe even parents.

Another decision to make is the layout of the newsletter. If you have graphic design skills, creating a layout on a computer program should be easy. For those who do not have these design skills, there are other options. I will be using Microsoft Program Manager, which has pre-made layouts.

The last thing to consider is the content of the layout. What will be beneficial to the audience? Make sure the information is relevant to the readers but also interesting. Some of the features that I would like to include in the Phi Sigma Pi newsletter are profiles on alumni and Brothers, as well as information on upcoming events. Not every member can attend all of the events, so members may be interested in having a recap of past events from a Brother's perspective. Also, a letter from the president is a good opening to the newsletter.

It is important to keep in mind that a newsletter must be relevant to the audience. Newsletters can include anything you want, so be creative!

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member, Evan Nicholson.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Multitasking: A Growing Necessity in the Workplace

Tara Ballenger, a writing correspondent for The Boston Globe, recently reported on the rising need of the ability to multitask in today's technology-driven world. But does multitasking hinder our ability to perform tasks successfully and proficiently?

Ballenger describes the hectic lifestyle of Lillian Dunlap, a 25-year-old working woman at a Boston public relations firm. Dunlap's days are consumed with fielding emergency emails for one business, while writing press releases for another and juggling phone calls from everyone. The ability to multitask is imperative in order for her to get her job done and keep her clients happy. Dunlap says that "in today's corporate culture and competitive job market, the person willing to take on the most jobs gets ahead. Every client has 10,000 things they need done, and with all the new technology, we're expected to always be on call."

Switching around from task to task may be what the job requires, but what effect does this "toggling" of tasks have on our ability to perform at our best? In a 2001 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, David Meyer and his colleagues discovered that valuable time is lost in transitioning from task to task. "The brain must refocus each time it switches activities, and the more complicated the task, the more time it takes to refocus." These little increments of time add up and soon one might be losing hours out of his or her day.

Performing multiple tasks at one time is inevitable, but there are ways to go about completing your work that save on "brain drain."

Here are some tips:
  • Choose easy tasks: Combining activities such as sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office and answering e-mails on your hand-held is fine because one of the tasks is so easy.
  • The fewer the switches, the better: Time and attention are lost each time you toggle between activities. If you're working on an important project, checking your e-mail every half hour instead of every 10 minutes will cut down on inefficiency.
  • Know yourself: Everyone multitasks differently. Experiment with watching TV, listening to music or texting while completing other tasks, and pay attention to which ones affect your work.
  • Know others: If you're successfully multitasking with the TV or radio playing, make sure that others in the room aren't being hindered by it.
  • Practice paying attention: Constant multitasking may cause your brain to "forget" how to concentrate intensely on just one activity, which is a useful skill.

Ultimately, the lesson to be learned here is that although some jobs, like public relations, require that you have the ability to multitask, it is still important to give your brain a healthy rest. Becoming overloaded may result in major errors or inability to retain important information.

To read the full article by Tara Ballenger, click here.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member, Amanda Kaster.

Friday, November 6, 2009

PRSSA National Conference: Day 1!

Jessica Lawlor (President of Temple PRSSA) and I arrived in San Diego, CA last night at around 8:30 p.m. (11:30 p.m. time in Philadelphia) for the Public Relations Student Society of America 2009 National Conference! We quickly went to bed since we weren't on west coast time yet, and then got up bright and early today (we woke up at 4:30 a.m. PT, but then realized our internal clocks hadn't rewound yet and went back to bed).

On Day 1 of National Conference there were no workshops until 3 p.m. so we got to take a field trip to the San Diego Zoo! My high-speed Internet at the Holiday Inn isn't so "high-speed" so I will post some pictures of all the cool animals we got to see later.

One of the interesting workshops we attended this afternoon was entitled "Portfolios and E-Portfolios: Creating Connections During This Wave of Change," presented by the PRSSA chapter at Indiana State University.

As the chapter said in their presentation, a portfolio is a compilation of all the quality work you have done (either at school or during internships) that contains concrete examples to showcase your talents and abilities to potential employers. A portfolio is a great interview supplement; it can give you talking points and allows you to back up your answers with specific examples.

Some things to include in your portfolio: Your resume; examples of public relations materials, such as press releases, media kits, biographical portfolios, professional blog and Web site material, feature stores, Public Service Announcements, and more; research examples, such as media tracking projects; examples of creativity; additional writing samples that may not be related to PR but showcase your writing skills; and awards, achievements and recommendations.

The "new wave" of portfolios are "E-portfolios." E-portfolios are generally the same thing as a printed portfolio, but are located on the Internet. An E-portfolio is a great way to build your professional brand.

Always remember: You have to get the interview to get the job. An E-portfolio is a great and easy way to set yourself apart and help secure the interview of your dreams. Not to mention, it's cost effective and is environmentally-friendly!

Here is a list of 10 E-portfolio sites you can use:
Thanks to Indiana State University PRSSA for providing us with these helpful portfolio and E-portfolio tips!

Check back for more PRSSA National Conference updates coming soon!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dreamweaver: Your Personal Promotional Tool?

Technology and digital media have become a huge part of the public relations field. This is precisely the reason that I decided to take a 'cyberspace and society' class this semester. This class has touched on everything from ethical computer dilemmas to video editing and web design. Recently, I developed my own website as a class project, and had an awesome time doing it!

Temple University hosts space for each of its students to build their own website in something called their 'astro' account. The project consisted of setting up my personal 'astro' account, learning how to use Adobe Dreamweaver software and then designing and publishing my own working webpage. The entire process only took me about fifteen hours from start to finish (not bad for a tech newbie) and I really enjoyed learning the structure of websites that I use everyday. I designed my website to act as a sort of extended business card. It includes my resume as well as a synopsis of my bio, education, extracurriculars and internship. I plan on ordering business cards in the next month to help with my search for a job in the spring and I definitely feel like adding my website to the card is a great way to promote myself to prospective employers. I even have a form on the website where people can contact me directly.

I feel like my new knowledge of Adobe Dreamweaver will also help me in getting my first job. I browsed a list of PR job postings on recently and three of them mentioned Dreamweaver skills as a plus. Next semester I plan on expanding my digital media skills by taking a 'technology in media' course to get as much technical experience as possible. You should think about doing the same!

Check out my website at

25 Most Powerful Women in Social Media

I've recently become a fan of Ragan's Daily Headlines. Naturally, after I started reading this daily e-mail and other posts from their website I looked Ragan up on Twitter. Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications, is an active Twitter user and his tweets are always interesting. I saw one this morning about the 25 Most Powerful Women in Social Media, and I had to see the list.

Honestly, I didn't even know half the names from the list. That wasn't the reason I was so excited to read it though. The list intrigued me so much because it had two relatively new concepts in the headline. A list of 25 of the "most powerful" women was inspiring to see as a young, professional female. Also, it was great to see that there are people out there who are getting recognized for being leaders in the social media world.

What are your thoughts on this list? Click here to view it!

Also, follow @MarkRaganCEO on Twitter. You won't be sorry!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Septa Strike!

Transport Workers Union, Local 234, announced that it would strike today in response to faltering negotiations with the Southeastern Transportation Authority (SEPTA). This strike interrupts or completely discontinues most subway, trolley and bus routes, and poses delays and congestion on regional rail service.

Many people living in and around Philadelphia depend on SEPTA to get to work and from work to home. This strike thus represents a huge disruption in the daily lives of these thousands of people. I had an interview this morning, only a few miles from Temple's campus; ordinarily this commute could be taken care of with a simple subway ride costing under $2 one way. Instead, the strike forced me to take a taxi, which cost $12 to get me only a little over half way to my destination (I walked the rest of the way). This situation was extremely frustrating, and as a college student with an very limited income, I couldn't afford to make this trip more than on a one-time basis. I can only imagine the stress this strike causes to the average person who risks losing his or her job if they are not able to get to work. Making matters worse, many of these people do not have access to other forms of transportation, as most do not own cars and cannot afford taking taxis.

For which party, SEPTA or the Union, does this situation represent a bigger PR dilemma? One one hand, SEPTA has refused (or is unable) to meet workers' demands. On the other hand, it is the workers who have chosen to walk off the job and literally leave thousands of people stranded.

To SEPTA's credit, it has been communicating to the public in this tough situation by promptly posting alternate routes on its website and keeping its followers on Twitter up-to-date on delays and route changes.

At any rate, it will be interesting to see how this situation pans out, and to see how each side portrays itself in the media. Hopefully the situation will be resolved soon.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Breaking Learned Writing Habits

As students, we go to college and attend classes because we think it will help us attain a better career and be more productive in our futures. While that may be true, Copyblogger's Jonathan Morrow reveals that we also learn bad habits in school.

"I think most good writers listen to the way English teachers want them to write and think, 'This isn't real. It has no feeling, no distinctiveness, no oomph. You're the only person in the world who would willingly read it. Everyone else would rather chew off their own eyelids than read more than three pages of this boring crap.' And they're right," he says. "Personally, I think good writing...[has] to be interesting enough that other people want to read it. Much of what comes out of our high school and universities fails this test, not because our students are capable of saying anything interesting, but because a well-meaning but flawed academic system has taught them bad habits," he adds.

Morrow shares seven bad writing habits learned in school:
  1. Trying to sound like dead people: while Morrow refers to the classics as "great," "if you want to make a connection, you're much better off studying the hot writers of today," he explains.
  2. Expecting someone to hand you a writing prompt: in the real world, "no one besides you makes the final decision of what to put on the page," he says, "the act of deciding is what writing is all about.
  3. Writing long paragraphs: "nowadays, most paragraphs should be a maximum of three sentences. It's also a good idea to include some shorter paragraphs with only one or two sentences to punctuate powerful ideas," Morrow explains.
  4. Avoiding profanity at all costs: it's best to be "'plain and direct,'" even if that means using profanity where you see fit.
  5. Leaning on sources: "what [people] want to hear is a new perspective on a favorite topic."
  6. Staying detached: "if you're a scientist, engineer, or a doctor, then maintaining your role as a detached observer is a great idea," Morrow says. "For everyone else, though, it's a disaster."
  7. Listening to the authorities more than yourself: "no one but you is an authority on your writing."
I really recommend reading this article for yourself. I found it really refreshing, and many of Morrow's ideas really resonated with me. After all, at my internship this past summer, I can't tell you how many times I sat down to write a release and found myself thinking, "okay, what's the prompt?," or reading over a finished document and thinking "wow, this is well-written but there is no life in these words." I feel that breaking a lot of these habits is the key to my future success as a writer and a future PR practitioner.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Power of Shoes

The power of shoes and giving. That is what TOMS Shoes’ Blake Mycoskie’s new business model- one-for-one is based on. While visiting Argentina in 2006, Blake discovered that some of the children living there did not own shoes. Many of them were unable to attend school simply because they would have to go barefoot. When he got back to the United States he decided to start TOMS Shoes which follows the simple idea to give one pair of shoes to a child every time TOMS sells a pair of shoes- one for one.

His shoes are designed after the Argentinean-style canvas shoe, the alpargatas. They are featured in plaid, neon-fades and some even contain glitter. TOMS has sold over 150,000 shoes since its start and hopes to give over 300,000 shoes to children this year. For every shoe drop Blake and a team of friends and family personally present the children with their new pairs of shoes.

So what can we learn from Blake and TOMS? He has created a sustainable business model that is based around making the world a better place. TOMS Shoes is making the change that is needed within the business world. Now business is not only about how much money you can make, but how you can impact world.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member, Josie Fox.