Friday, December 31, 2010

PR Blogs Worth Reading (And More!)

"Top PR campaigns," "Top social media strategies," "Top crises," "Top people," "Top mistakes," "Top firms," etc. "Top, Top, Top" is seemingly all people like to write about in December. Although these "top" lists can be repetitive and frustrating when seeking new content, they are often very helpful in wrapping-up the end of the year and reminding readers about events and things to remember from the past 12 months.

One "top" list that gave me new information (the best kind of list...) was "The Best PR Blogs Out There" by Jeremy Porter on the Journalistics blog. Here are some of Porter's favorite blogs he recommends reading regularly:

In the post, Porter also expands into "Other PR blogs worth a look," "Non-PR blogs PR pros should read," and "PR blogs I need to explore further."

In addition to reading the article, I also highly recommend reading the comments - many PR pros comment in about other useful sites to explore!

Happy New Year's Eve!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Searching for New Clients

The new year is a great time to reorganize your business. At my job at a small public relations firm in Philadelphia, we are evaluating our current clients. Here are some tips to consider when evaluating whether to keep clients or not:

- Is the client missing payments?
- Are you doing more work than what is appropriate for your payments?
- Are there problems with communication between you and the client?
- Does the client have unrealistic expectations?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you may want to consider not continuing with the client in future. If you decide to terminate a client, you will need to replace it with a new client. How do you look for new clients to replace the previous ones?

- Read the local paper, especially the lifestyle sections. These sections may mention or profile new businesses that are opening or offering new services. These are perfect for new clients.
- Read local blogs and additional publications. The Philadelphia Business Journal highlights new businesses, for example. Blogs, like local papers, may list new businesses opening in the area.
- Explore your area. Simply walking around to see if anything new has opened is a simple way to locate opportunities for new clients.

There are many ways to look for new clients. These are just a few suggestions. Do you have a surefire way to find a new client? Share it with our readers!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Social Media PR Strategy Checklist

As a member of PRowl Public Relations, a large portion of the work I do for clients involves creating strategic social media campaigns that will result in the increase of an engaging online presence through fostering relationships with followers. Each client's social media campaign is unique to its own goals and objectives, however as this article points out from PR In Your Pajamas, there are 7 things to keep in mind when creating any effective social media campaign:

1. What do you want to achieve?
Always begin with the end goal in mind. What specific results and outcomes are you hoping to accomplish?

2. Who is your audience and where are they online?
It is incredibly important to understand who your target audience is and how to reach best reach them. Rather than trying to target every blog and networking site, choose the ones that are utilized by the audiences you are trying to reach.

3. Who are the influencers?
There are always specific groups or people that directly reach and influence your target audiences. These individuals and groups should be utilized as shortcuts to reaching those users.

4. What are they saying?
Be knowledgeable about what your audiences are saying about you, your product or your competition. It is important to know what people are saying so that you can more effectively participate in the conversation.

5. How will your value position align?
After researching what others are saying-- is what you are saying unique or relevant or simply echoing the masses?

6. How can you deliver and contribute?
This boils down to the tactics you are going to use. Are you going to create a well-developed blog? Or are you going to create an interactive Facebook Fan Page that offers unique resources and information to your fans? Consider your target audiences and make a decision based upon which route will be most effective and successful.

7. What resources are you willing to invest?
How much time, money and energy do you have to invest in your social media campaign? Make sure you are aware of your capabilities in order to construct a campaign that is well within your means.

All of these tips are incredibly useful when it comes to making a successful social media campaign and all have been an integral part when constructing my own campaigns for past clients.

Social media is an incredibly powerful tool when used properly and strategically. What are some tips that you would add to this list? Let us know!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Michael Vick's Endorsement Redemption

NFL quarterback Michael Vick once endorsed big name products such as Nike and Coca-Cola. After his arrest in 2007 for his involvement in dog fighting, he lost all endorsements. A few weeks ago, Vick appeared in an advertisement for the first time since his arrest and his return to the field as the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback.

Vick's first new client is Woodbury Nissan, a New Jersey car dealership. While certainly a lot smaller scale than his former clients, it's a start. The dealership's executive manager said the response from their customer base has been mostly positive, but still negative from animal activists.

Vick's recent performances on the football field and seemingly good behavior off the football field have helped improve his image with many people. However, many people still feel that his involvement in dog fighting is unforgivable and should not be overlooked.

The ice is now broken for Vick to begin endorsing products again. It is likely that more companies will now begin considering Vick for marketing deals. Do you think Vick has redeemed himself enough with the public to begin representing brands again or will his past have a negative impact on the brands' images?

To read more about Vick's endorsement deal, check out the article on Philly.com.

Monday, December 27, 2010

It's that time again...

Happy Holidays to all of our members and readers!

As a public relations major who plans to deal closely with the media--and someone who strives to be a responsible citizen, for that matter--I know how important it is to pay attention to current events and stay immersed in media culture.

This past semester, I was required to read the New York Times on a daily basis for one of my classes. I really enjoyed reading the news every day and was grateful for the chance to force myself to stay current on the news. After all, as much as I strive to read the news on my own, other things sometimes get in the way.

With this in mind and the start of the new year fast approaching, I have begun to put some thought into my new year's resolutions. Every year, I try to choose resolutions that are both practical and realistic. This year, one of my biggest resolutions is to continue to read the news daily.

I have even come up with a way to keep this resolution within reach: I have decided to set the home page of my Web browser to the New York Times homepage. This is a quick and simple step that will make it easy to peruse the news everyday; it brings the news to me! This way, every time I sign online to check my e-mail (which I do several times a day), shop or look something up, I will also be conscious of the headlines and will be able to read several news stories each time I am online.

I also plan to use this homepage as a "reminder" to read stories on other news sites. This will enable me to get a balanced perspective and will help keep me a responsible consumer of the news.

Try it with me and see what you think!

Best of luck in the new year.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thrash is Free!

The NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers, in hopes of drawing more attention to their team’s recent success, launched an over-the-top campaign to boost ticket sales. The team’s mascot, Thrash (after Georgia’s state bird “Thrasher”) stole a Zamboni, drove it along the Georgia interstate, was arrested for doing so and thrown in jail. His bail was put at 5,000 tickets being sold to upcoming Thrasher games.

The public relations stunt involved promotions on the team’s website, which included news videos and updates on Thrash’s fate. The stunt was also publicized on the team’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Thrash was behind bars for four days, from Dec. 15 to Dec. 18, until Thrasher fans came through and purchased the court-mandated 5,000 tickets necessary to free him from jail.

I thought this was a fun and creative publicity stunt to get Thrasher fans excited about their team and increase ticket sales. What did you think of it?

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

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Media Trend to Spot in 2011

In 2010, a heavy emphasis was placed on readily available mobile Internet. In 2011, location-based services are predicted to make more of a splash. With the addition of GPS availability on new smart phones, location-based services such as Foursquare and Places from Facebook, allow users to update friends on their activities by checking-in at different locations.

Establishments such as theaters and bars are now taking advantage of these applications. More local establishments are registering themselves with these applications, allowing users to check-in at their locations. Businesses can also publicize when they are having promotions according to where you are currently located and some are offering special discounts if you post that you are in their facility. This new tool may be PR’s new best friend and an easy way for businesses to create more foot-traffic. Businesses could create raise awareness of their services and locations by simply registering with applications such as Foursquare. An added bonus: there is little to no effort to this new trend, as opposed to managing a Facebook or Twitter account.


This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Samantha Wanner.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays from PRowl Public Relations!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas Eve from all of us at PRowl Public Relations! We wish you a happy and safe holiday season. Check back tomorrow for a normally scheduled guest post from Samantha Wanner, "A Media Trend to Spot in 2011."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Watch Retailer Fouls with Philly Sports Fans

Time After Time Inc., a local watch retailer, is taking heat from Philly sports fans over a poor choice of billboards. The retailer is behind two billboards on I-95 featuring New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

According to Derek Koss, the company's president and chief executive officer, their nine stores have been flooded with calls, emails and visits from unhappy local sports fans. The billboards are advertising designer watches carried by the retailer and the athletes are the brand ambassadors.


Koss claims his company does not necessarily support the brand ambassadors on the billboards, but also does not have the authority to change them. His company only endorses the products sold by those brands and pays to have those products advertised to bring business to his store.

While Koss' explanation is reasonable, his decision defies one of the most basic principles of advertising: know your audience. Philadelphia sports fans do not play around when it comes to their sports teams. Their feelings toward the New York teams are no secret. Displaying ads with New York players in Phillies and Eagles territory is like asking your audience not to buy your product. Koss probably would have been better off running no ads than running ads featuring Manning and Jeter in Philly.

To read more, check out the article on Philly.com.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Special Topics: Social Media

Attention Temple PR majors (or any Temple student who has taken Intro to PR): this spring, the Department of Strategic Communication is offering a special topics course on social media (STRC 4440-002). This course is a great opportunity to learn how to use social media in a strategic and measurable way that provides direct benefits to the company and/or client!

The class will be offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the 10:00- 10:50 a.m. time slot. If you are interested, stop in and see Diane Johnson in room 216 of Weiss hall (you must register in person). The only prerequisite is the completion of Intro to Public Relations(STRC 2552). For more information, e-mail professor Dale Wilcox at dwilcox@temple.edu.

The department is also offering a special topics course this spring in sports media (STRC 4440-001).

Take advantage of these great opportunities to diversify your skills!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Effective Communication in Teams

At one point or another, we’ve all worked in a group or team. Let’s face it—sometimes it’s not always the most pleasant experience. However, as students and as future communications professionals, interacting in small groups or teams is part of our job. Sometimes we may be in charge of the group, delegating who does what, deciding on deadlines or coming up with new ideas, which not everyone will always agree on. Sometimes our teammates may complain, argue or just downright ignore what needs to be done. If you are in charge of a group or a team, taking some effective communication skills into consideration will help things to run smoothly. Here are some tips:

• When starting a project, be sure everyone understands what the goals of the team are.
• When conveying an assignment, speak slowly and carefully to avoid error. Make your points in a logical manner.
• Provide logical explanations as to why you made the decisions you did; include accurate facts and details.
• Be sure to provide useful and reasonable feedback to all group members.
• Ask for input about upcoming plans and for feedback on previous projects from all group members. Be open-minded to new ideas.
• If you or someone in the group does not understand something, be sure to have it explained before moving on to a new idea or project.
• When answering a group member’s question, be sure to repeat the question when responding, to make sure you understood correctly.
• If there are any misunderstandings or arguments within the group, clear them up in a calm and professional manner.
• If you are angry, do not make rash decisions that will affect the entire group. Cool down before coming to a conclusion.
• Finally, stay conscious of your body language. Many times, it is more effective than what you say. By conveying negative body language, you are conveying a negative message to the team, which leads to mediocre work.

To learn more, visit http://www.buzzle.com/articles/team-leadership/.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Kaitlin Tully.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Event Planning in the Virtual World

In the field of PR, the Internet has not only changed the way professionals distribute messages, but also how they garner attention. The entertainment industry is one in which professionals continually utilize the Internet to better their image. One of the earliest and best examples of this operation was a unique event thrown by United Kingdom musician Sandi Thom.

In 2005, Thom was a little known musician on a small record label. She did not have the money to afford touring, nor did she have reliable transportation. In her quest to reach her fans, she developed a plan that would require little money.

Thom developed an idea to webcast live performances from her apartment to a worldwide audience. Using the internet, she broadcasted twenty-one different shows without ever leaving her home.

The beauty of the project was that it was a series of low budget events that garnered immense media exposure. During these performances, Thom’s PR manager was able to gain massive attention for her. British publications such as The Sunday Times and BBC News ran the story about Thom’s webcast tour. They considered the idea a revolution in the music world.

Using almost no money, Thom was able to gain a significant amount of publicity. Some of the attention Thom received was from record labels themselves, including a £1 million deal with Sony Records.

As PR professionals, we can learn from Thom’s experience. This event proved that the internet can be a creative resource for the world of PR. Many PR professionals are still relying on traditional methods, such as event planning in the physical world. Instead, those in the field should be looking to the future and thinking about event planning in the virtual world. The Internet has and will continue to alter the way we distribute information and gain attention. At some point, it will no longer be a resource but rather a necessity.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Nick Stackhouse.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Social Media for Financial Services

Being someone who is headed into communications for the financial services industry upon graduation, Bliss PR's blog post "A cheat sheet to social media for financial institutions" caught my eye this week.

The post compiled and written by Abby Carr, Catherine Sherwood and Socialware shows an easy-to-read graph about the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's (FINRA) Notice 10-06 that was issued early this year regarding social media communication. The industry is heavily regulated and it is essential that as a communicator you know your boundaries about what you can and cannot say, what to avoid, and the obligations you have.

FINRA's goal with Notice 10-06 was to discuss how firms and their registered representatives could use social media sites for legitimate business purposes in a manner that ensures investors are protected from false or misleading claims and representations. The "Notice" is intended to guide firms on how to apply communication rules to social media sites while staying within other regulations.

Topics covered in Notice 10-06 include: recordkeeping responsibilities, suitability responsibilities, types of interactive electronic forums, supervision of social media sites, and third-party posts.

A few of the things to avoid on social media? Testimonials, references to specific financial products, recommendations of specific investment ideas or styles, and endorsements.

Click Here to read Bliss PR's blog post.
Click Here to read the full Notice 10-06 (it's only 10 pages long!).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pick Up A PR Book for the Holidays

Now that finals are almost over, you can actually think about things to do over the holidays. I know the only chance I get to read something that isn't a textbook is over winter break. If you have the time, pick up a public relations book or two to add into your other holiday reading. Here are a few suggestions for books to read over the holidays or to add to your collection that I am thinking of picking up.

1. "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" by David Meerman Scott:
This book breaks down how to effectively communicate with audiences through the web. It doesn't just discuss social media, but also websites, blogs and online videos.

2. "Chase's Calendar of Events 2010"
Do you want to know when National Letter Writing Month or National Hot Dog Day is? Pick up a copy of Chase's Calendar of Events this Christmas for your library.

3. "Public Relations for Dummies"
You never know what you might learn in the book that breaks down public relations into simple terms that even a beginner can understand.

4. "Publicity & Media Relations Checklists" by David Yale
Checklists are an easy tool to make sure you have covered everything when you are pitching the media. Buy this book and keep it by your side to make sure you did everything on these 59 helpful checklists.

Do you have any books you are thinking of picking up for the holidays?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Zuckerberg named TIME's Person of the Year

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, has just been named TIME Magazine's 2010 Person of the Year.

After growing Facebook to 500 million users world-wide and pledging to give the majority of his wealth to charity, TIME explains Zuckerberg was the perfect choice:

"For connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them; for creating a new system of exchanging information; and for changing how we all live our lives, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is TIME’s 2010 Person of the Year."

According to Mashable, many disagree with the choice and believe the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange's accomplishments were much more important than Zuckerberg's.

Other runners-up included the Tea Party, Hamid Karzai and the Chilean Miners.

To read more on Zuckerberg being named 'Person of the Year,' click here.

Do you agree or disagree with TIME's choice? Who do you feel should have been 'Person of the Year?'

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This Year's Most Innovative Viral Videos

Who doesn't love a good viral video? People spend hours watching funny and outrageous viral videos about just about anything you can think of. Advertisers are well aware of the ability of viral videos to attract eyeballs, which is why many have attempted to create viral video campaigns for their clients. Some have been hits and others were misses. Mashable.com has put together a list of the top 10 most innovative viral videos from 2010.

Number one on the list is an advertisement for Tipp-Ex white out pens titled "A Hunter Shoots a Bear." This video mixes the viral aspect with the Millenial Generation's need for interactivity. The video shows a hunter's camp ground being invaded by a bear. Crude words are uttered and the hunter grabs his gun. At the end of the video, viewers are given the option to click "shoot the bear" or "don't shoot the bear." The links take viewers to another video, in which the hunter grabs a white out pen and erases "shoots" from the title. Viewers are then instructed to type their own word in the title and click play. Doing so brings up more videos with the hunter acting out the viewer's title. There's no question as to why this video topped the list for most innovative!

Another viral ad shows a man walking across America in his Levi Strauss & Co. jeans. The video uses stop-motion filming to show the man walking through distinct landmarks across the country. The video is accompanied by a Google Map that tracks the route of the man and has photos from each destination.

The list certainly wouldn't be complete without mentioning the Old Spice video responses that took social media by storm this past summer. You can read a previous blog post about those personalized viral ads here.

To check out which viral ads made Mashable's list, click here. Which one is your favorite? Can you think of any other notably innovative viral ads from this year that didn't make the list?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Digital Donating

The holidays have gone digital!

The Salvation Army has been collecting money in its red kettles during the holiday season since 1891. This year, the Salvation Army is running an Online Red Kettle campaign.

Individuals, teams or companies can host their own online red kettles. People can go online and donate to the kettles, watch as the kettles get "filled," and keep track of progress toward fundraising goals. The site helps users build a profile and send e-mails to their friends and family to invite them to donate this holiday season.

In setting up the Online Kettle Program, the Salvation Army has found a way to merge tradition with modern technology and to leverage the power of new media to raise both awareness and funds. The campaign has also allowed the organization to personalize the fundraising process and generate buzz about their cause.

It will be interesting to see how much the Salvation Army raises this year and to see if other organizations adopt similar digital fundraising concepts.

Be sure to check out the Online Red Kettle campaign, and let us know what you think.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lessons in Digital Media

It is no secret that we live in a digital world. However, many times we don't consider the effects of digitalization in our everyday media. For a PR professional, reaching your audience is the basis and driving force of any campaign. So how can we adapt traditional media in our digital age?

Amy Jacques of PRSA Tactics interviewed Joshua Hatch, USA Today's Interactives Director, after a seminar in Washington D.C. about "saving traditional media." Hatch had some valuable insight and advice to follow when you are trying to adapt traditional media to today's digital demands.

Below are Hatch's main ideas about engaging your audience in the world of digital media:

Q: How can we best engage today’s on-the-go consumer?
A: "The best way to reach people is to go where they are — to make journalism and news and information available everywhere."

While some people may consider us to live in an information overload of a world, Hatch suggests that we make news more widely available to everyone. I agree with the overall concept, but if people feel smothered with information, they may begin to tune it out and then you would lose your audience completely. I think we could improve this idea by finding ways to target the news to your audience in the medium that is appropriate, so that your message is not lost.

Q: How has the rise of mobile and digital changed storytelling?
A: "There are two keys to what’s happening with mobile. One is the fact that news and information is now available all the time--to me, the more important part of mobile is the spatial component because now you have a device that can match up your location with the news and information of that area."

Hatch brings up some of the main ideas that traditionally make a "newsworthy" story: timing and proximity. Digital media can improve these factors because the information is much more quick and readily available. Hatch also said: "Some stories are best told through words. Some stories are best told through video or audio or photography or data." I completely agree with this because while sometimes the visual component is not necessary, there are some times when it is crucial.

Q: What are the challenges of smaller news holes and unfiltered public access — with 24/7 news and with a real-time news cycle?
A: "Misinformation can propagate much more quickly. Culturally, we need to do a better job of media literacy — of teaching people how to ask critical questions, how to evaluate news and information [and] not simply to just believe what you’re told, but to critically analyze it for yourself."

This is probably my favorite argument that Hatch makes; instead of just accepting the news for what it is, we now have the opportunity for interactivity. We can analyze and respond to what is being told to us.

Overall, I think Hatch makes good suggestions for enhancing traditional media through digital media.

To see the complete article and video, click here.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Michele Reilley.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

LeBron James: All-Star or Villain?

With the boom of social networking sites and different creative media outlets, being in the public eye does not hold the same appeal it once did. Our culture’s unhealthy fixation with stars and athletes creates a love-hate relationship. We love them when they do well and hate them when they don’t do what we expect from them.

Lately, All-Star NBA player LeBron James has not made himself as easy to love as before. Over this past summer he delivered a killing blow to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ fans with the announcement that he would not be returning to the franchise in which many could argue he made popular. On July 8, 2010 James shocked the nation on an ESPN special titled “The Decision.” The spectacle of a news conference not only announced that he would play the upcoming season with the Miami Heat but it also gained the Cleveland native much criticism and many disgruntled fans. Soon after the special, James was viewed and labeled by many as a “villain” or a “ring chaser” for abandoning his hometown in hopes of winning a championship.

As a defense, James used Twitter to get back at all his critics dubbing the day “Hater Day.” He addressed all criticisms and even made it a point to re-tweet several hateful, nasty and even racist tweets directed toward him. After “Hater Day,” James explained why he used Twitter as an outlet of his frustration. “I just want you guys to sometimes see it also, to see what type of words are said towards me and towards us as professional athletes,” he said. “Everybody thinks it's a bed of roses when it's really not. For me, I have enough motivation. But it's always good to have a little bit more.”

After receiving much backlash for all of these media stunts, James was scrutinized for his new team’s lack of competitiveness. However, he soon struck gold in the media with his new Nike Rise commercial. In the commercial, James repetitively asks the question “What should I do?” as to inquire about how he should move on with his career in an accepted manner. He tries to gain fans’ approval by taking suggestions about how to clean up his image. The commercial concludes with him dunking a ball, signaling the one thing he should do: play basketball.

James is one of many athletes who have faced issues with the media. It seems that if these athletes are able to perform well in their respected sport, we eventually forgive them because their talent supersedes their public faults. Whether you love him or hate him, think he’s right, wrong, or are indifferent, LeBron James’ efforts and attempts to be a positive role model have been honorable.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Kyle Smith.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Your Personal Brand: Just as Important as its Corporate Counterpart

Corporations and products are not the only ones with “brands;” each individual has their own personal brand whether they know it or not. This can be developed from language used, music listened to, what is posted on social media, what is worn, etc. For the most part, corporate brands (such as “innovative” for Apple, and “reliable” for IBM) are what we first think of when we say “brand,” because they know the positioning they want, and work to develop, maintain and communicate it in all of their messaging.

According to an article by Lindsay Hicks on Wetfeet.com, “Brand Thyself: How to Build Your Online Brand,” you should be just as cognizant of your personal brand as businesses are.
Hicks encourages you to shape your personal brand by doing the following:
  • Make four lists, each with a handful of answers to the following questions: Who am I? What motivates me? What adjectives describe me? What are my skills? Get to the core of who you are, and narrow down what words you choose. In addition, only use a few words for each description (ex. “artist,” “entrepreneur,” etc.
  • Focus on what motivates you. Many people pursue a certain career path because they are confident with a particular skill, but that one skill—such as number crunching—might bore you. Make a list of all your skills, and then identify whether each one is a skill that energizes you or burns you out.


The article also describes why your personal brand is so important, how to further develop it by watching the “pros,” ways to get feedback, and how to commit to a list of actions. I recommend reading the full article here!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Celebrity Twitter Deaths Go Unnoticed

Buzz has been circulating about the major flop that resulted from this year's "Digital Death Buy Life AIDS Campaign" that involved the social media death of popular celebrities such as Alicia Keys, Kim Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest, Justin Timberlake, Usher and Lady Gaga. The campaign's mission was to raise $1 million for the charity Keep A Child Alive by refusing to tweet until the money was raised.

However, the campaign fell incredibly short of its goal and has only raised $200,573. This embarrassing failure is contributed to various reasons according to an article from International Business Times.

Although the participating celebrities are incredibly popular on sites such as Twitter and Facebook, each having millions of followers and fans, the campaign did not account for the thousands of other celebrities that still actively used their social media sites, making the impact of absence less profound.

Additionally, the timing of the campaign was poorly executed. Although the campaign was scheduled around World AIDS Day, it also conflicted with Black Friday and the upcoming holiday season. Throughout the end of November and the month of December, users are utilizing social networking sites less frequently and are spending more time with family. Not only did issues surface with the lack of impact from the few celebrities' absences, the users the campaign was targeting were also largely absent from the sites making it difficult for awareness and donations to be raised.

Lastly, the publicity for the campaign was ineffective. Many of the celebrities failed to mention on their sites that they were participating in the campaign and that they would no longer be tweeting, therefore little to no buzz was generated about topic. Many twitter users were unaware that a campaign was even in effect and if your target audiences are unaware, then there has been a clear failure in audience communication.

Although this social media campaign for charity was not successful, there have been several others have generated a large amount of press and donations.

What are some suggestions you would offer to improve this campaign for the future? Let us know!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Zuckerberg's 60 Minutes Interview

Mark Zuckerberg has not been known for his public relations skills. He has been shown as awkward and sweating under pressure during interviews. The Social Network portrays him as cold and power hungry. However, his 60 Minutes interview on Sunday night may have given his image a boost.

Zuckerberg appeared calm and collected during the interview. He answered questions about Facebook privacy issues and competition with Google. He even approached questions about The Social Network with some humor.

It's no coincidence that this interview accompanied the release of Facebook's new design. A team of experts worked to perfect the Facebook layout with this new design. Perhaps Zuckerberg also had some help from experts to improve his interview presence. A blog from Forbes.com describes the interview as the "Best Piece of Facebook PR Yet."

What did you think of Zuckerberg's interview? Did it help improve his image? Click here to watch it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The changing world of public speaking

"These days, speakers everywhere are facing crowds apparently more interested in what's going on in their own laps than in the talking head at a conference they forked out good money to hear," said Russell Working in a recent post for ragan.com.

The advent of social media and portable Internet technology has given people access to (1) information that they want, when they want it, and (2) the ability to share their opinions about what's going on in front of them in real time. Both of these realities have important implications for those speaking at meetings, conferences, and even those leading lectures in educational settings.

In his article, Working shares some insight for public speakers.

  1. "[Y]ou must adapt to the change with a sharper message," Working said. In many cases, the audience is simply using social media to process what you are saying and relay the main takeaways of your speech.
  2. Speakers can embrace new media and encourage their audiences to pass along their content via social media. Some communicators caution that this can result in the audience missing some of your content as they type. They can also misinterpret what you are saying because they aren't taking as much time to process your information before they post it.
  3. Research has shown that multitasking is counterproductive. At the same time, speakers must learn to succeed in this new reality. Speakers should "push themselves to become better storytellers."
Be sure to check out the article for yourself, as Working also provides a list of "ways to make it work for you."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Track Your Twitter Traffic!

Rumors have been buzzing around the social media world for quite some time, but wait no longer: Twitter Analytics has been released! Twitter started out as a network where friends could share thoughts, finds and current events, but it has blossomed into a thriving communication medium and has created revenue, customers and buzz across the world.

Now, not only can you tweet and re-tweet vital information, but you can also see how far your messages are spreading. With the new Twitter Analytics, you can identify which of your tweets have been successful and widespread and identify who within your network are the most active users. You can see who is un-following you and from what tweets, and keep track of which users are re-tweeting or reading your tweets the most. This vital information can help social media enthusiasts improve their tweeting in a short and long-term sense.

In an article from Mashable, you can see an example of how some of the information from the blog is analyzed, charted and recorded. On the actual website it is explained that “More Exposure = More Followers.” If Twitter users are able to understand how their feeds are working, they can strategize on how to capitalize and grow in the future.

Whether you are a casual Twitter user, a social media enthusiast, or a marketer using Twitter to increase your publicity, find out just how successful your Tweets can be with Twitter Analytics.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Meagan Prescott.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Crisis Management PR...Coming to a TV Near You!

I'm not sure if I've ever been so excited about a piece of gossip as this. If you haven't heard yet, there is rather credible information being leaked about a potential new TV drama inspired by the career of Judy Smith, a legendary public relations consultant who specializes in crisis communications and has a portfolio of scandalous clients including Bill Clinton and Michael Vick, among others. There are other "reality" shows that chronicle the lives of the rich and fabulous people of PR (ahem, Spin Crowd on the E! Network), but this is rumored to be a Law & Order-esque drama created by none other than the woman behind the popular Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes.

The show, which development trackers have been calling In Crisis, is being developed for the 2011-2012 TV season and should air on ABC.

What do you think? Would you watch a non-reality show based on the public relations industry??

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How Did Field Hockey Help My PR Career?

It is undoubtedly helpful to join organizations that are related to your desired career, such as PRSSA or PRowl Public Relations. Don't be deterred, however, from joining another organization or participating in an activity because you don't think it will help your career in communications.

I began playing field hockey when I was in fifth grade. When I learned Temple had a club field hockey team, I signed up to play as fast as I could. I became a dedicated player and involved myself with the running of the club. I was elected the president of the club team my sophomore year. What does playing a sport have to do with public relations? Plenty!

I was able to hone my organizational and leadership skills while enjoying the sport I love. Here are some of the tips I have gathered over the past two years as president of the Temple Club Field Hockey Team that I can now apply to my future career in public relations:

- Create a binder: Create a binder with any and all useful information for your position. I kept player contact information, the sports club handbook, our constitution, and other information that I may need on hand at any field hockey practice, game or tournament. I just passed this binder on to the new president of the team. Having a binder with useful information about the position is beneficial for transitioning other people into the position you just left.

- Create a "one sheet" for each event: Create a document for each event that has all useful information you may need for an individual event. For each game I created a document that listed game information, game location and directions, opponent's contact information, list of players attending and not attending the game, etc. Instead of trying to remember details at a moment's notice I had a document in front of me for each game with everything I needed.

- Delegate work: When I first became president as a sophomore, the president had little help from the other elected officers. I spent most of my sophomore year and part of my junior year doing everything for the club. This was partly because I wanted to do it all and partly because the other officers rarely helped. I realized that I cannot run a whole field hockey team myself, so I started to delegate work to the other officers. I created new positions, such as Recruitment Coordinator and Fundraising/Social Coordinator, in order to make sure everything was done for the club. I was constantly checking in with the other officers to make sure their work was being completed on time. This was the true position of the president, and I learned the club ran more smoothly with the diligent help of others.

These are just a few major tips I learned during my two years as president of the Temple Club Field Hockey team. Join another organization that piques your interest and get involved right away. The more effort you put in, the more experience you will get out of your participation that will help you in your communications career.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jumo-- The New Network for Charities

Through reading my previous entries on the blog, it's obvious that I have a passion and an interest for nonprofit and charity work, which is why I was incredibly excited when I read an article in The New York Times about the new online tool for charities-- Jumo.

The new network, created by Chris Hughes, one of the facebook founders and the chief digital organizer for the Barack Obama campaign, is aimed at connecting people with nonprofit and charitable organizations.

The site, designed similarly to Yelp, will index various charities as a search and evaluation tool. News articles, YouTube videos and Tweets will also be added to each organization's page where users will be able to leave feedback and comments about current projects and issues.

Although similar to the Facebook application, Causes and the Web site Global Giving, Jumo's inital primary goal will not be soliciting donations but rather connecting people across the world with their favorite organizations on a deeper and more meaningful level.

The site started with more than 3,000 groups and issues, however pages can be added by anyone with a social issue, allowing "smaller charities to have a simple way of establishing a social media presence."

As outlined in the article, there are also several potential issues that may arise with the new Web site. One of the concerns is the possibility of social network burnout and that Facebook users may not be willing to add an additional site to their current lineup.

However, Hughes is confident that the new network will "become a ubiquitous backbone for the social Web." If successful, the impact of Jumo could be incredible. As reported in the article, in 2009, of the $300 billion that was donated to charities, only 6% was submitted online, leaving room for a potentially large increase.

From my personal experience with nonprofit and charitable organizations throughout my internships, a strong social media presence is becoming increasingly more vital to the growth and success of these organizations. By being able to connect with a large and diverse audience through sharing relevant news and progress on projects and by obtaining feedback from supporters, nonprofits and charities will have a more open and transparent mode of communication that will allow for the cultivation of new donors and volunteers. I think Jumo is a great new tool for these organizations that will lead to raised awareness and increased support.

What are your thoughts on Jumo and other similar networking sites? Let us know!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cleaning Up the WikiLeaks

The Obama Administration is working to contain the damage incurred by a leak of 250,000 classified documents. The information released included "unflattering assessments" of world leaders, and may have a negative impact on foreign policy with both allies and foes.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke about the leaks and promised an aggressive response. Clinton stressed the importance of candid and confidential communications in every profession. While this is true, the confidential information at stake is not comparable to information leaked in a business setting. This breach of information could cause more than embarrassment for the United States.

There are many audiences which the United States must now respond to, including the countries mentioned in the documents and the U.S. citizens. Damage control is needed to both mend any severed relationships with the other countries and to address U.S. citizens' national security concerns.

What do you think about the U.S. response to the WikiLeaks? Click here to watch Clinton's press conference.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Creating a logo

Many of us take for granted the logos we see and recognize every day. What makes those logos significant? What are the characteristics of a good logo?

At PRowl Public Relations, we have been asked to design a logo for one of our clients. Although we are working on some good concepts, this task has proven more challenging than first expected.

1stwebdesigner.com offers some great tips to consider when developing a logo:

  1. Your logo should be versatile; it should lend itself well to a wide variety of media
  2. Your logo should be easy for anyone to understand and recognize. This also involves considerations of color and shape.
  3. Your logo should tell "'why? who?, what?'" As the creator, you must consider the purpose and target of the logo.
  4. Your logo should be timeless; avoid trendy, time-specific logos.
  5. You should design a logo that can be changed to black and white
  6. Create a logo that is "impressive and seductive." A company's logo is the first step to telling consumers what sets the company apart from its competitors. In this way, the site says, "[h]aving an impressive and seductive logo brings you closer to potential clients."
  7. Keep the logo simple
What have your experiences been with creating logos? What advice do you have?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Could Twitter Save Tiger?

“What’s up everyone? Finally decided to try out Twitter!” was Tiger Woods’ first tweet on his new twitter account. With only four tweets this month, his twitter account has reached over 250,000 followers and substantial media buzz. Of course we all remember the consequences of his scandal – losing million dollar endorsements, pulling out of tournaments, tainted public image, etc. – but it’s been a year. Has his bad publicity gone away? Will his re-emergence into social media help his image?

According to Mashable.com on Wednesday, November 17, “Tiger’s account — which is verified by Twitter — appears to be adding hundreds of new followers per minute since his first tweet was published at around 11:00 a.m. ET.”

One thing I’ve learned from my public relations classes and textbooks is that a high number of followers, hits, and views on social media means virtually nothing because what we really care about is who the followers are, not how many there are. In Tiger’s case, it may seem that his Twitter stats are impressive and helping his public image but we don’t know this for sure. It could simply mean that he has gained a surge of followers and attention because he was out of the media’s scope for months.

What’s interesting is that Tiger’s tweets have been fairly sociable and open: “Yep, it’s me. I think I like this twitter thing. You guys are awesome. Thanks for all the love” and “The best part about phone interviews is getting to wear shorts.” This is a major difference from his previous attitude towards the media. Following his scandal, it took nearly three months for him to speak to the public about it. Perhaps Tiger’s publicity team is looking towards Twitter to reach new audiences and re-build his image. To know if Twitter is helping Tiger, we, as fellow Twitter users and social media boomers should ask ourselves these questions:

• Who are the main audiences targeted by Tiger’s messages?
• What is his audience reach?
• How are the messages received: are they received in the way they are intended
to be received?
• Has overall opinion, attitude and behavior towards Tiger changed since he began tweeting?

What do you think about Tiger Woods emerging on the Twitter scene? Will this help his image? You can follow Tiger Woods at: Twitter.com/tigerwoods

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Jessica Lopez.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Provocative in Pink?

Victoria’s Secret is known for its sexy and provocative line of bras, panties, and other intimate apparel and primarily targeted an older audience. In 2004, it launched its new Pink collection for young college students ranging from 18-22 years old. This line was designed to be cute and playful but some of their recent sleepwear contains sayings filled with strong sexual innuendos.

According to Anthony Hebron, spokesman for Victoria's Secret parent Limited Brand, the collection is intended “…to capture the spirit of the young with Pink.” Sayings like “Let’s get Naked,” “Unwrap Me,” and “Sure Thing,” are not exactly the ideal ways to describe the spirit of the young.

Victoria’s Secret’s image as a whole is provocative, but its Pink collection was supposed to be less provocative and for a younger crowd. This raises the question of where to draw the line between the two collections. The Pink’s collection has a lot of youthful colors and prints but sayings such as “Noise Maker” and “Naughty Not Nice” put a different spin on the cute and playful image Victoria’s Secret claims to be marketing.

The majority of girls who buy from the Pink collection are in college, high school and even younger because of the girly image of the collection. Perhaps Victoria’s Secret should reformat which audience they really want to target with the Pink collection and design appropriately.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Jesenia Lepiz.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tips for Office Success

Whether in a full-time position or in an internship, there are a few things to keep in mind to keep your boss happy and be successful in the office.

In an article on WetFeet.com, William Speed Weed, Alex Lash and Constance Loizos discussed "30 Ways to Enrage the Boss."

Here are my five favorite tips from the article:

1. Whenever you enter your boss' office, always be prepared with a pen and paper to take note of any new assignments
2. Always read your e-mails again before clicking "send"
3. Hold your tongue in the elevator about business - you never know who may be listening
4. If you have to make a personal call, don't change your tone - it will call more attention to the fact that you're not doing work
5. Take a hint - if your boss doesn't look up when you walk in the door, he/she is busy - go back later

To read the other 25 points of advice, click here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!


On behalf of everyone at PRowl Public Relations, I would like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stand Out & Shine at Your Internship

When starting an internship, you want to make sure you establish yourself as more than just a student but as a valuable part of the company that can bring fresh ideas and skills to the table. Classroom to Cubicle gives four great steps to ensure success at your next internship:

Establish Goals
Set several goals for yourself in a variety of paths, such as: networking (online and offline), skills development, project management and soft skills.

Be sure to write these goals down and share them with your supervisor/mentor so that they can assign projects accordingly and be sure to keep them informed of your progress.

Don't be afraid to let your supervisor know where you can be the teacher and can create a plan for educating employees about unique skills you have.

Establish a Relationship with a Like-Minded Mentor
Create and maintain a relationship with someone within your organization who possesses the skills that match your goals and learn from them. Those individuals are very enthusiastic to share their knowledge and skills with eager to learn students.

Be Prepared to Manage Up
Some organizations have a small team environment and do not have an already established "intern program." This may result in not always having constant supervision. Instead of fearing away from the challenge, embrace it by remaining efficient with your time management and organization in order to help the company get to the next level while earning a reputation for being a strong independent thinker.

Track Learning and Accomplishments
Whenever possible, track quantifiable results that you have contributed to, for example: "Helped increase the company's Twitter followers from 10,000 to 30,000 during my three month internship."

Additionally, track anecdotal measures of progress and performance by receiving testimonials from team members and supervisors.


What other tips do you have for being a stand-out intern? Let us know!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Do You Follow the Cheese?

Last night, my professor showed a short animated video to my class. The video seemed a bit silly at first, but the message behind it is a pertinent one. The video is based on Spencer Johnson's book Who Moved My Cheese? The story follows two mice and two little people on their search for "cheese." The cheese is meant to represent anything you want in life. Throughout the video, the cheese moves and the characters have to choose whether to follow the cheese. Ultimately, the characters learn the importance of following the cheese when it moves. In other words, the video conveys the message that it is important to anticipate change and adapt to change. I think this message is not only important for attaining what we want in life, but for success in careers such as public relations, which depend on keeping up with the trends. What do you think about this message?

Here is a preview of the video:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tools of the trade: 'credibility, trust and authority'

"In PR, the primary goal has always been to tell a story using influential channels so that ideas, products and services are brought to light in a way that moves the needle for those involved," said Hugh Burnham of Gutenberg Communications in a recent post for the PRSA blog ComPRehension. "This means engaging with influencers and becoming part of the conversation in a meaningful way," he said.

Today, social media is an important part of public relations. Burnham points out that, while social media has changed the game in some respects, in other respects, the game is still the same. He explains: "the way that PR professionals can create influence in the social media sphere is the same as it has always been for years in traditional media — by establishing credibility, trust and authority."

This is an important reminder for both young and seasoned PR practitioners. No matter your communication channel, make sure conversations are two-sided and strive to provide content that will interest and engage your audience. Only by actively engaging your audience and members of the media are you going to establish the credibility and trust it takes to get your message heard.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Ultimate PAID Internship: Starting Your Own PR Business

Who says you can’t be your own boss in college? Recent advice from a guest speaker in class made me think long and hard about this question. This speaker, who has had jobs all over the PR spectrum, informed us of what she did in college to build her portfolio and take a break from typical internships.

By making a few business cards and handing them out to small companies around her campus, she gained a handful of clients who she did press and advertising for. She charged for the work she was doing, all while gaining important experience. Aside from getting practice on writing press releases and contacting the media, she learned how to manage finances and run her own business.

As a college student, I know finding a paid internship is like finding gold. They are rare and highly competitive, so when the time comes to start searching for one, I just may consider following this brilliant and innovative plan. Who wouldn’t want to gain experience, be their own boss, and make a few extra bucks in college?

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Mackenzie Krott.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Big Brother is Watching; or at Least, His Father is

I'd like to share a recent blogging mini-disaster that happened in one of my classes two weeks ago. The course is concerned with the laws and regulations governing advertising communications as defined by the Federal Trade Commission. As a class, we keep a blog where we post weekly responses to cases where promotion went legally wrong.

For a recent assignment, the class commented on a 2006 incident where 17-year-old Colin Braun, a motor-sports racer, was prohibited from racing in an event due to another driver's sponsorship by a tobacco company. The FTC policy on tobacco sponsorship around minors is pretty strict, for obvious reasons.

Most of my classmates completed their posts within an hour of the deadline. To say the posts were 100% accurate would be 100% inaccurate. To the students in the class, this blog post was homework, and who really gives a hoot about homework? Well, Colin Braun's father does.

We tend to forget blogs are public. People remind us about posting information on public forums all the time, almost as much as people say, for example, smoking tobacco is bad for you. Sometimes, when a deadlines approaching, we click the "post" button before we dot our i’s and check our facts. One of the responsibilities of a great PR professional is to keep an eye (and ear) out for what people are saying about your company, product, or client. Colin Braun's father is the PR professional in this situation, since he read one of the student's posts and commented on the blog correcting the student's statements.

The situation was handled well. No one threw any punches. No one called anyone names. It was surprisingly drama free (major kudos to Mr. Braun for being professional). Nevertheless, in a different situation it could have been worse, and this is always important to keep in mind. So keep your blogging clean, ladies and gentleman. Part of being professional is being responsible. Everyone armed with a keyboard and a WordPress account needs to keep his or her safety on by double checking (if not triple checking) their work.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Keith Flanagan.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Target's Social Media Holiday Strategy

A recent PRowl alum, Brianna Fisher, brought a Mashable.com article to my attention yesterday about Target and one of its holiday advertising initiatives: promoted Twitter ads that carry the #BlackFriday hashtag.


The retailer is using this promoted trend to build hype about a daily gift card sweepstakes that will take place until Saturday, November 27. The link in the promoted tweets brings visitors to a page of the company's website that has a countdown to the shopping extravaganza, gives ways to enter the sweepstakes and "join the conversation," two-day shopping strategies and tips, and much more.

The #BlackFriday hashtag is spreading quickly as people weigh in on the promotion, their plans for Black Friday shopping, as well as their complaints (who does like those crowds, anyways??).

Target is not shy about getting involved in social media. In addition to taking advantage of advertising possibilities on Twitter, the company just launched a partnership with location startup ShopKick to offer rewards for checkins, and even offers Facebook credits in stores.

Check out the article here to learn more!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quantcast

Evaluating the effectiveness of your campaign is an essential part in the public relations process. Analyzing the success of each tactic shows whether or not each was useful in achieving a goal or objective. Not only do you want to evaluate each tactic, but you want to provide value for what you were successful with. Collecting the articles and mentions about a client is one way to measure the success of your campaign. However, it is also important to attach a value to each medium where the client was mentioned.
For internet hits, use Quantcast to measure the value of each site. This free toll allows a user to type in a website and find out the number of viewers nationally and globally per month, while also breaking down the viewer's demographics. The site continues to break down information, which is useful when attaching a value to the media coverage that has been obtained.
Not only can you use this site for evaluation, but you should also keep this site in mind when you are planning the outlets to pitch to. Check out the site to see what else it can do for you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Questions to Impress

People often forget that interviews are a two-way street. Not only should you impress your potential employer with well-articulated and thoughtful answers, you should also be prepared to tackle the second part of the interview process. At the end of every interview, potential employees are all asked..."Do you have any questions?" Instead of replying with the overused and careless "no," here are some great questions from Classroom to Cubicle that are sure to impress:

About the company:
  • Where do you see the company five years from now?
  • What can you tell me about the company’s plans for growth?
  • What is the company’s management style?
The position's history:
  • What is the potential for growth and advancement?
  • Are there any immediate challenges that will need to be addressed by the person in this position?
Next Steps:
  • Would you like a list of references?
  • If I am extended a job offer, how soon would you like me to start?
  • Are there any other questions I can answer for you?

From personal experience with interviews for part-time jobs and internships, having well-articulated questions leaves a great last impression for your potential employer to reflect upon. It shows that you are enthusiastic about the company and position and have invested time into adequately preparing for the interview. So be sure to put as much thought into your questions as you put into your answers!


Make sure to read the rest of the questions found in the article. What are some great interview questions that you have used in the past? Let us know!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Has Breast Cancer Awareness Become a Trend?

My aunt, a two-time breast cancer survivor, sent me an interesting New York Times article titled Think About Pink. The article offers one breast cancer survivor's perspective on the trend of sexualizing breast cancer awareness.

You have probably seen the bracelets, t-shirts and other items displaying slogans such as "I Heart Boobies," "Save Second Base" and "Save the Ta-Tas." These have become particularly popular among teens and young adults. The aim of these campaigns is to continue to break the silence and the stigma that surrounded breast cancer just decades ago. The growing popularity of these items has made breast cancer a more positive and popular discussion among young people. However, this new image of breast cancer does not accurately reflect the experiences of most women who have dealt with breast cancer. The author of the article offers an interesting insight about these campaigns when she says, "Forget Save the Ta-Tas: how about save the woman?"

Although these campaigns create a buzz about breast cancer, they may not be doing so in the most effective and sensitive way. The campaigns are not encouraging action or understanding about the disease itself, but rather creating a false image that some breast cancer survivors may find offensive.

Do you think these breast cancer awareness slogans bring something positive to the issue, or have they become a pop culture trend with little meaning behind them?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Worst-Case Scenario

As many of you are aware, following an engine compartment fire, the Carnival Cruise Lines "Splendor" ship was disabled at sea last week--one day into its seven-day journey. Thanks to support from two tug boats, the ship arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Luckily, while stranded on the ship, passengers "reported long lines for food and a feeling of boredom and frustration but no major problems," a Los Angeles Times article said. At the same time, passengers "signed up for a great cruise vacation, and that’s obviously not what happened,” acknowledged Carnival Chief Executive Gerry Cahill.

To alleviate the situation, the company worked to arrange hotel accommodations and travel arrangements for the passengers as they returned from the cruise ship. Despite the safe outcome of this potentially disastrous problem, Carnival is in need of some serious PR help. Now that the passengers have been returned safely to land, what steps can Carnival take to restore public confidence in their company? What would you do if in their position?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Using Social Media for Social Good

The other day I was perusing one of my favorite sites, Mashable.com, when I saw something of interest on the main page. The page featured a story about a non-profit organization using Foursquare to raise awareness about homelessness. The North Carolina non-profit organization, Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD) provides food, shelter and clothing to the city’s homeless. The organization recently launched a Foursquare initiative “designed to unsettle application users and raise awareness around homelessness in Durham. “ Basically, UMD wants to inspire Foursquare users to check into unusual locations, such as abandoned warehouses, to raise awareness about homelessness prevention.

After reading this article, I realized Mashable.com features non-profit organizations on a regular basis in its Social Good section. This section is dedicated to discussing organizations’ social works projects. It allows readers to see how organizations are using social networking sites to promote their causes and it allows readers to track the success of these projects.

Social media is a great way to raise awareness and many organizations are finding unique ways to promote their cause. Check out how some organizations are using social media to promote non-profit campaigns at http://mashable.com/social-good/.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Kurie Fitzgerald.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Public Relations for Potentially Dangerous Products

For public relations practitioners, positioning their client’s product or service to the public as a must-have is often challenging. This is particularly true if the client is offering a service or product that is potentially harmful. The New York Times recently published an article, A Safety Kink in Hair Relaxing, which examined whether the popular Brazilian Blowout treatment was dangerous because it contains low levels of formaldehyde, a cancer-causing agent if present in high levels. The article made me wonder how PR practitioners develop a communications plans to promote a client’s potentially hazardous product. From the article, it seems that convincing the public to purchase a potentially hazardous product, like the Brazilian Blowout, requires a public relations plan centered on image rather than down-playing the dangers of the product.

As PR practitioners in training, we are constantly reminded that our job is not to spin, but to present an honest image of our client’s product or service, in hopes that honesty translates to customer loyalty. While journalist Terry Pristin cited in his article that one stylist stopped offering the treatment because of its potential dangers, other stylists claimed that the demand and profits from the service was too great to lose. What is surprising is not that the stylists offered the service after reports surfaced that it contained the carcinogen formaldehyde, but that their clients still requested the treatment. Why would people knowingly put themselves at risk? In one word: image.

Perhaps looking at the way PR practitioners present other harmful products will better illustrate this point. Take cigarette companies, for example. Although any media promoting the product must legally let the public know the product is harmful, cigarette companies still earn millions each year. How are they able to do so, even after numerous studies on the dangers of tobacco? They present smoking as a cool thing that independent people do. By presenting the product as representative of a type of lifestyle or image (i.e. an independent person or in the Brazilian Blowout case an attractive person) some people will overlook the dangers of the product, just to attain an image society deems attractive.

While it is up to the individual to decide whether they will use a potentially harmful product, is it ethical for public relations practitioners to advocate the use of such products? Would you represent a client with a potentially dangerous product?

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Shari DaCosta.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Trends from PRSA International Conference

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has an International Conference that coincides with the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) every year, always overlapping for a few days and in the same city. If you read the PRowl blog regularly, you know that this year's PRSSA and PRSA conferences were held in Washington D.C. in mid-October. Linda Welter Cohen, APR, had the opportunity to attend the PRSA conference and wrote a great wrap-up of the top ten trends she learned on her blog, CaliberPlus.com.

1. New media have created new opportunities and challenges for communicators.
2. Self-proclaimed experts are the new influencers.
3. Print media should still be taken seriously.
4. Good content and storytelling is paramount to breaking through the clutter.
5. The competition has a new face.
6. Keeping up with new technologies can derail strategy.
7. Maintaining ethics and intellectual property rights has become more challenging.
8. Tracking and communicating ROI is imperative.
9. Stakeholders expect an immediate response following a crisis.
10. Reputations are at a greater risk today.

Linda provides details about each trend in her blog post "New media is redefining the way we build brand reputations: Top 10 trends from the 2010 PRSA International Conference." Make sure to read the full article!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Be Careful What You Tweet

Be careful what you write on Facebook. Don't post anything you wouldn't want your mother to see. Don't tweet anything inappropriate. This is all advice you should take to heart. Here is another example of why.

In January, a man from South Yorkshire tweeted about bombing an airport. Although this tweet was a joke, the police showed up at his door step a week later. The judge ruling over the case claimed the man's tweet contained menace, and was, therefore, taken seriously. He was convicted. Read the full article here.

Although this is an extreme instance of an inappropriate tweet, the lesson in this story is to be careful what you tweet. Obviously joking threats should not be tweeted, but even tweeting about typical college activities should be avoided.

Please remember, be careful what you write on the internet.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

5 Things to Check Before Hitting Send

We can never be cautious enough when it comes to writing a perfectly-crafted press release. PRFuel offers five things to check before hitting 'send' to boost your chances of obtaining coverage:

1. Newsworthiness: If your story is uninteresting and irrelevant, then you are wasting everyone's time. Make sure there is substance and newsworthiness to your story because press releases without news value will ultimately damage the credibility and reputation of your company or organization. For tips on determining newsworthiness, click here.

2. Double-check claims & statistics: Although you want to present an interesting story and angle, avoid hype and unsubstantiated claims that are misleading. Always be sure to check every claim and fact mentioned in your press release to avoid issues of liability.

3. Optimize!: Because most press releases wind up online, it is incredibly important to optimize your story. Be sure to target key words in the release and the headline and provide relevant backlinks. For some do's and don'ts on SEO, click here.

4. Back to basics: All of the following basics should be included in every single press release:
  • Headline and subtitle
  • Release date
  • Answers to the who, what, when, where, and why questions
  • Contact information
  • Brief bio about your company
5. Find the fluff: Tighten up your press release as much as possible by eliminated unnecessary excess information in order to entice reporters into asking for more information. Remove any jargon and make sure that your story and angle are clear and concise.

What are other things you should check before sending out a press release? Let us know!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Resume Refresher: Passing the Initial Scan

In my Senior Seminar class and among my fellow Seniors, there has been discussion about the ever-important initial resume scan: the few seconds hiring managers take to scan your resume before deciding if you are an immediate no or if you have potential. Here are some tips I found on CAREEREALISM for making it past the initial resume scan:

1. Professional Formatting: A resume with an organized, easy-to-read layout is more likely to be read than a resume with an unorganized layout. My professor told us our resumes should look like something you could frame and hang on the wall. If the layout doesn't look appealing to you, chances are it won't look appealing to hiring managers either.

2. Easy-to-Find Requirements: Most job listings include required or preferred qualifications. Hiring managers spend time writing these for a reason, and resumes that don't include any of the qualifications are not likely to make it past the initial scan. To increase your chances of catching the hiring manager's attention, make these qualifications easy for them to find on your resume.

3. Compelling, Easy-to-Read Content: Keep your content concise and highlight your accomplishments. No one wants to read a whole paragraph to figure out what you have done. Don't overuse bold, italics and underline, but use them to highlight the most important information.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Media tips: 'exploit every opportunity'

I recently found this great post by Steve Earl via Ragan's Daily Newsfeed. In it, Earl shares some great tips--30 to be exact-- about succeeding in various aspects of the PR world. I really enjoyed his tips, and think many of them are very practical and helpful. Here are a few from his "Media: exploiting every opportunity" section you don't hear everyday:
  • Listen to a radio program while you're getting ready in the morning
  • know at least three major news stories from each day
  • Learn to pitch your content in 25 words or less
  • Know what journalists want, and learn to write like one
  • Stay involved with what's going on in the media--even on weekends!
  • Learn "techniques for evaluating publicity"
Be sure to check out his post for more great tips! What tips do you see as most novel or most valuable? Do you have any to add?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Can John Stewart and Stephen Colbert Make You Vote?

On October 30, Comedy Central comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert decided to try to make a difference. Their Rally to Restore Sanity, held in Washington D.C., was aimed at people who think the loudest voices aren’t the only ones that should be heard. According to CBS News, the rally had a turnout of 215,000 people. This great turnout could be attributed to Stewart and Colbert’s use of social media.

One may think the 2008 election boosted the voter turnout of the country’s youth. However, despite Obama’s Facebook page personally designed by the founders of Facebook, his campaign only boosted youth turnout by a meager 2.1 percent. These statistics may raise doubts about whether two Comedy Central comedian-hosts will be able to use social media to raise numbers.

Stewart and Colbert may be able to increase youth voting through their presence on Facebook and Twitter. Colbert has already raised an abundance of funds online, and both his and Stewart’s late-night shows appeal to the demographic in which they are trying to encourage voting.

Attendees of the Rally to Restore Sanity were encouraged to RSVP to the Facebook event “Election Day.” On Election Day, voters also got to display an “I Voted” badge on their Facebook page for their friends to see. As more people clicked that they voted, the numbers continued to increase throughout the day, showing the amount of Facebook users who were headed to the polls.

Stewart and Colbert encouraged attendees to sign in to the rally using Foursquare or Gowalla, which display location checkpoints on users’ friends’ news feeds. Voters could also use these sites to check into their polling locations. If that wasn’t enough to spread the word, there is a Rally for Sanity iPhone application and a #RallyForSanity hashtag, which Twitter users could include in their posts to make the rally a trending topic.

What do you think about Stewart and Colbert’s social media outreach?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Why Traditional Media Will Never Die

There has been a pronounced debate as to whether traditional media is threatened by internet-based communications, or whether it can stand its ground and endure in a digital world. Public relations practitioners have been challenged by the explosion of the internet and social media sites.

Traditional media continues to reach large audiences for public relations practitioners. Network television stations, like ABC, reach millions of viewers at a time during
just one prime-time hour. It is unlikely to ever get that many visitors to a website on a given day, or even week. According to Editor & Publisher magazine, daily newspaper readership, although declining, maintains a circulation of about 55 million during the week and 58 million on Sunday. Consumer magazines total a monthly circulation of almost 300 million copies, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation. Radio is not going anywhere either, reaching 95 percent of the public every day of the week, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Established media are also filtered by the press and gatekeepers, who help interpret and sort the excessive amount of information we are constantly bombarded with for what is most important. This process involves a lot of fact checking and creates more trustworthy, familiar news, which some internet-based sources may not. In addition, traditional media have more influence with older populations, who are better reached through television and newspapers than websites, blogs and social networks. The opposite may be true for younger populations who have different news and media habits. For this reason, it is important to know how your audience gets their information.

With the popularity of social media sites and blogs and their increasing numbers, it is easy to get caught up in all the hype about them. While they may act as mass distribution channels for news, they are still merely one of many tools public relations practitioners should consider when communicating their messages.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Philly Ad Club

Countless communications professionals have advised students to become involved in their professional fields after graduation. I have been told multiple times to join professional communications organizations. I plan to become a part of several organizations for public relations professionals after I graduate in May. However, I did not know there were groups I could become a member of while still in college.
I attended the "Personal Branding Boot Camp", presented by Philly Ad Club, last week. In addition to learning some of the most useful tips about personal branding, resumes, cover letters and social media, I was made aware of the opportunity for students to join while still in college. For $10, I immediately became a member of the Philly Ad Club.
What are the benefits of becoming a member of a professional organization while still in school? Read below!

Build Your Resume
- Participate in events and workshops for free or at a reduced cost
- Receive opportunities to visit advertising agencies, career seminars and panel discussions
- Leadership opportunities among many of the committees available to join

Expand Your Network
- Participate in the mentoring program where you are paired with a professional in the area you want to pursue
- Network with professionals in the industry

Opportunities To Get a Job
- Internship and job postings on www.phillyadclub.com

All of these benefits are amazing for a student to have while still in college. The Philly Ad Club stands out among other professional organizations because it allows students to join before they graduate. As a public relations practitioner, I am a huge believer of networking with professionals in other industries. By joining an advertising professional organization, I will have the opportunity to meet people I will work closely with in the future.

Join today! Check out Philly Ad Club's website for more information.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Temple Cookie Selection Day 2010

Yesterday, millions of Americans fulfilled their civic duty by visiting their local polling places and making sure their voice was heard for the 2010 midterm primary election. In order to raise school spirit and remind students to vote, Temple University Dining Services held their own mock election yesterday, known as Temple Cookie Selection Day 2010.

Throughout election day, students were able to vote on an official poll in the Student Center, Johnson & Hardwick cafeteria or the Learning Center on Ambler Campus to select the first official Temple cookie. Voters had four delicious candidates to choose from: Cherry and White, Red Hot Temple Berry Smash, Coconut Cherry Champ and MY-T Red Velvet Chunk. All four candidates were available for sample tastings and students were then able to fill out a ballot voting for their favorite sweet treat. After the ballots have been counted, the newly elected cookie will be available for purchase at the Student Center and retail satellite locations, such as Lucky Cups and Fresh Bytes.

I think Temple Dining Services did a great job with their Cookie Selection Day campaign because not only were they effective in involving and engaging the student body in a fun and creative way, they were also able to remind and encourage students to participate in the primary midterm elections. Although all of the candidates were delicious, I made sure I voted for Coconut Cherry Champ and enjoyed the rest of my samples while waiting in line at the polls.

Do you think Temple Dining Services' campaign was effective and successful at engaging the student body? Let us know what you think!

Check out the rest of the article and the Temple News exclusive here.