Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Philadelphia Housing Authority PR Crisis

Over the past few weeks, the Philadelphia news media has been flooded with headlines about a series of scandals involving Philadelphia Housing Authority Executive Director, Carl Greene. Greene has been under fire about the possible misuse of PHA funds and his failure to notify the PHA board about multiple sexual harassment lawsuits that were brought against him by former employees.

An article from philly.com features the accounts of many employees who worked for the PHA under Greene. The employees reported incidents of sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and what became known as the "Greene Mile:" the common practice of being demoted and eventually fired as a result of a clash with Greene.

The PHA has an annual budget of 345 million dollars, most of which comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. As Executive Director, Greene oversaw the budget, 1,150 employees, and a real estate network of 13,400 units that house 81,000 people. According to the philly.com article, Greene was paid $306,370 annually and the board gave him a $44,188 bonus last year.

Although Greene had previously received awards for his work as head of the fourth-largest public housing agency in the country, his morals and practices are now being questioned. Not only do the allegations give the PHA a bad name, but they also raise the issue of the misuse of taxpayers' dollars in the already struggling economy and tarnish the PHA's mission of helping people in need.

When the scandal broke, Greene was nowhere to be found. He failed to report to work for several days and is now suspended from his position for the duration of the investigation. Many questions remain about the fate of Greene and the future of the PHA.

The PHA clearly has a public relations crisis on its hands. However, the agency serves an important role and affects the lives of thousands of Philadelphia residents, so it must continue to function.

What do you think the Philadelphia Housing Authority should do to regain the public's trust amidst the scandal?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Internal Twitter

One company in Seoul recently harnessed the power of Twitter to facilitate its internal communications. Instead of using the public domain of Twitter for its messages, though, the company adapted the Twitter concept to create an internal Twitter-like network it has named BizTweet. Thanks to the network, employees can reach out to one another for information, or even to seek partners for lunch.

They're not alone. "Companies are using [the Twitter phenomenon] for internal communication and other purposes beyond the external marketing for which it has become well-known," said Evan Ramstad in an article for the Wall Street Journal.

"Twitter's creators laid the foundation for such development," Ramstad said, "by using open-source software to make the system and releasing features they've developed in a public form called an application programming interface, or API" he said.

Do you see "the Twitter phenomenon" as a useful tool for organizations? What uses could you find for an internal Twitter-like network in your workplace?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Where is Public Relations Headed?

There is no doubt that in the past few decades the internet has transformed the way public relations professionals do their jobs. Lately, social media has been leaving its footprint on the PR field as well. Mashable interviewed 14 PR pros on the future of public relations and how they see social media changing the industry. Here is a summary of what they had to say:

-The press release: There is an increasing shift towards the social media release. Experts agreed that press releases need a social element now so that viewers can comment or share them with their social networks. Many are also experimenting with distribution channels, including contacting journalists on Twitter and even directing them to YouTube clips. There are many alternatives to the traditional press release, which
may be beneficial for reaching out in certain situations or to certain audiences. Examples of alternatives can be seen here.

-Social platforms: The most important platforms will be the ones most targeted to clients, making Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn important, but niche, industry specific networks of greater value. Measuring and monitoring the effectiveness of these tools will become more critical in the future, especially in finding out what happens to your message once it gets out there.

-Networking: Social media is driving relationships in the independent PR community. Independent PR professionals can share and get advice from one another through social media networking.

-Saving money: Social media has the ability to save companies a lot of money by enhancing traditional and online campaigns. It can also save time for PR professionals by yielding higher response rates to pitches.

-The human factor: This is the most important factor because public relations and social media are both about creating and fostering relationships. It is essential to remain relevant and engage friends, fans and followers.

How do you think social media will affect the future of public relations?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Press Releases May Become Obsolete for US-Listed International Firms

Interested in financial communications? Check out this article by IR Web Report. The article, "41% of heavily traded US-listed international firms shun PR wires," discusses how new rules by the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ Stock Market minimize the need for international issuers to use paid PR wire services to meet their disclosure requirements.

In an attempt to distribute an earnings release as widely as possible for fair disclosure (meaning everyone has the same access to information, at the same time), many publicly traded companies use wire services (ex. PR Newswire). Now, it is being recognized that SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) filings, using the SEC EDGAR database, and simply posting the release on the company website is thorough enough.

Click here to read more about the new disclosure rules for US-listed international firms (I encourage you to read for yourself), how Investor Relations firms are impacted, and how companies are using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to provide information and establish closer ties to their US-based shareholders.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


They say "it's a small world," and rightfully so for Google employees and ex-employees. The technology and Internet industry seems to be an incestuous relationship, but in the best of ways. Check out this article about Xooglers (former employees of Google), as they are referred to, and their start-up ventures. As mentioned, there are about 10,000 Google employees worldwide and with that comes those that no longer work for the mega-company, who eventually embark on various projects with great potential for success. The most interesting thing about the programs and companies created is that many of them are purchased by Google. In fact, often times these Xooglers return to Google to further test and tweak what they created. Reading about these 15 Xooglers and their start-ups, its interesting to consider what influence these people have had on social media, the Internet and computer programming in general. They have already played such a transforming role and continue to do so with all the new ideas. Google certainly is on the forefront of technological advances.

I can't wait to know what we'll all be sinking our teeth into in the near future with all that Google has to offer. Any guesses on what's to come?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back-to-School Sucess with iPhone Apps

With only a few days of summer left to savor before pool parties and beach trips are replaced with textbooks and midterms, Mashable has made the transition a little easier by compiling a list of 10 iPhone Apps to help get organized before the semester starts.

1. Open Culture: Gives you mobile access to educational audio and video collections in addition to university lectures, foreign language lessons and scientific tutorials. A great tool for efficient multi-tasking.

2. Mental Case: This app allows you to create flashcards on your iPhone with the added bonus of recording audio and inserting images to make the task of memorizing customized for you.

7. Blackboard Mobile Learn: Most universities and professors utilize Blackboard as a means of communication between students for assignments, tests, announcements, etc. Having access to Blackboard from your iPhone can make completing assignments and staying organized a lot easier.

10. Free Books: Textbooks are ridiculously costly and Free Books is a great way to cut down your expenses (and save a few trees!) This $1.99 app gives you access to 23,469 classics that you are able to email to yourself instantly.

Be sure to check out the rest of the great apps featured in the article! What apps do you use to get ready for school? Let us know!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Luxury Handbag Designers Battle to Unbrand

Branding is an important part of creating and perpetuating any successful product or service. Using product placement and celebrities to endorse products or services is not a new part of the branding concept. However, a recent battle between luxury handbag designers to disaffiliate their brands with a certain reality television star has developed the term "unbranding."

Designers such as Coach and Gucci have allegedly been sending MTV's The Jersey Shore star Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi bags from their competitors' collections in attempts of deterring her from carrying bags from their own brand.

When the reality star emerged in the spotlight, she was rarely seen without a Coach bag on her arm. Recently, her Coach bags have been replaced by Coach's competitor Gucci's bags. The switch is said not to be the result of a change in taste on Snooki's part, but a strategy by Coach to stop their brand from being associated with the self-proclaimed "guidette."

Whether or not Coach is behind Snooki's switch to Gucci bags may not be something they will admit, but it has certainly stirred up some talk about a new twist on branding.

All successful brands have their own strategies for building and maintaining their image, but how ethical is the strategy of "unbranding?"

Monday, August 23, 2010

Beware: Don't Over-estimate E-mail

In today's day and age, many of us have become heavily reliant on--and perhaps overly-comfortable with-- text-messaging, social media, e-mail and other forms of "flat" communication. These modes of communication also make it easy to contact someone outside of regular business hours, a feature that makes them particularly convenient.

These modes of communication also have their downfalls. For some, they have made the idea of picking up the phone feel unusual and even uncomfortable. The folks at PR Fuel recently released a post reminding us that some circumstances call for more personal forms of communication--especially in the PR industry.

PR Fuel's post pointed out several problems that can occur when communicating with reporters via e-mail. I found all four of the issues they identified to be very important. However, I think the second issue they identified-- the fact that it is more difficult to build relationships through e-mail-- to be the most dangerous.

In the world of PR, it is very important to maintain relationships with reporters in order to keep the lines of communication and information open with them. When relying solely on e-mail to communicate with reporters, conversations are more brief, superficial and impersonal; these types of conversations can make it very difficult to establish any sort of relationship with a journalist, let alone a mutually-beneficial one. This can harm your objectives in the long run.

The lesson here? Remember that the telephone still has its place in today's communication environment. Don't underestimate its power! Face-to-face meetings are also ideal when time allows.

Be sure to read the post to get PR Fuel's other tips and to help streamline your communication practices!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

JetBlue Social Media Falls Short

Steven Slater. Some may consider him an admirable revolutionary; others might think he's insane. All opinions aside, Slater has become a household name after his dramatic resignation from JetBlue Airlines last week. As the story goes, Slater was a disgruntled flight attendant pushed over the edge by a passenger's complaints. Fed up, Slater yelled various profanities at the passenger and slid down an inflatable evacuation slide at JFK Airport.

Although JetBlue has been known for its proficiency with social media, they surprisingly did not give any follow-up about the event on their Facebook page and simply wrote "no comment" on their Twitter.

In an article from PRSA's Public Relations Tactics page, Greg Beaubien tries to decode the lack of response from JetBlue.
Beaubien quotes Lawyer Michael J. McSunas, who believes that silence is the best route for both traditional and social media. McSunas stresses that it is important for JetBlue to ensure they are taking the matter seriously, especially in the eyes of the Federal Aviation Authority. McSunas says, "I would advise a client to not necessarily address the matter on Twitter or Facebook,” he said, “but if people are posting about it, respond with something like, ‘Joking aside, this is a serious issue, and our passengers’ safety and security is the number one priority for us.’

JetBlue's lack of response was called "disappointing" by Conor Brady, the chief creative officer at Organic Inc., who believes that JetBlue should have reached out to the public via social media immediately after the incident. However, a recent poll by the Times discovered that 70 percent of the comments about JetBlue had a positive tone, and many believed they were "doing the right thing" when dealing with recent events.

While it may be difficult to find the right words when dealing with such a bizarre situation, from a PR perspective it is always important to address problems, dispute rumors and provide viable information as quickly as possible. When used strategically, social media can be a great tool for
immediately interacting with the public and solving problems in a crisis.

What do you think: was JetBlue's decision to remain quiet an oversight or strategic?

This blog was written by staff member Michele Reilley.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Break Through the Clutter on YouTube

In my two years as Firm Director of PRowl Public Relations I have seen a drastic increase in our focus on social media for our clients. While some of our first client work relied heavily on traditional media relations and hitting-the-streets community outreach, we quickly began adding blogger outreach, Twitter and Facebook development, and interactive e-mail campaigns to our PR plans.

Another promotional tool that has been successful in creating buzz around various clients has been the use of YouTube videos. Especially when there is a visual element to be told (for example, a moving dance piece about the genocide in Darfur by the Rebecca Davis Dance Company) we find videos to be especially impactful.

We create these great videos, but then how can we ensure people see them with all of the other video clutter on YouTube?

Sandra Fathi gives seven helpful tips in her article on PR Daily News:

1. Use of keywords - the video title should include keywords that you expect your target audience to search for
2. Video description - the text in the description should align with your title as well as the message(s) you wish to portray
3. Tagging - tag your video with searchable words that are related to your video/client
4. Link back - include the YouTube video link on other social media profiles and pages
5. Give feedback - use YouTube's Video Response tool to search for other videos related to the client/message and post a video in response
6. Gain insight - view detailed statistics about the videos you upload, such as demographic information about your viewers (click "Account" and then "Insight" once in your YouTube account)
7. Promoted videos - pay to promote your videos through keyword searches (if you have a little extra money)

Another simple way to help get your videos seen: include your YouTube account link on all correspondence (as well as your other social media profile links), even if it's just in your e-mail signature.

Any other ideas on how to create buzz around your videos?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Be Ready For Anything

As an entry level employee, I'm quickly learning how to be ready for anything. This sounds much more exciting than it really is, so let me explain.

As an entry level employee at my company, I don't work on a specific account or only on one manager's projects. Each day I work with different managers, different departments and different clients. This has allowed me to learn a great deal of information very quickly, which I love. However, it also means that I always need to keep an open mind and look at every project differently.

It's really hard to be ready for something unexpected or out of the ordinary. Here's what I do to try not to get frazzled when someone unexpected comes up.
  • Try to read information about my organization and members each day. By staying up to date on organization news I feel better talking in meetings.
  • Make an effort to remember other employee's names. I always get embarrassed when I can't remember someone's name!
  • Try my hardest to make things I write perfect the first time. When I try to make something perfect the first time (instead of writing what I think is right then having to edit more later) I save time on edits later.
  • Keep a pair of black heels under my desk. In the summer we are allowed to wear sandals that aren't flip flops. By keeping a pair of black heels under my desk I can change out of sandals and into heels before a last minute meeting!

Entry level employees have to deal with so many new things. Is there anything special you're doing at your first job or internship?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Facebook Hits the Big Screen with 'The Social Network'

With 500 million users in just six short years, Facebook has clearly become a global phenomenon. We rely on the social media site to not only connect with friends and family but to create and build brands and businesses by engaging everyday consumers. It is the birth of this incredible website that has sparked the creative minds of director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin to create The Social Network.

Based off of the book "The Accidental Billionaires" by Ben Mezrich, the new film set to debut October 1 follows the story of Harvard undergrad and computer programming genius, Mark Zuckerberg, and his creation of the biggest and most influential social media networking site. What begins in his dorm room as a jumbled project of blogging and programming soon evolves into a global sensation and revolution in the field of communication.

The movie follows Zuckerberg's journey to being the youngest billionaire in history within the short span of only six years. However, alongside his journey to fortune and fame we also witness the personal and legal complications of his creation, and as the film shows, "you don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies."

Check out the trailer of the upcoming film The Social Network and learn more about the movie by visiting the official website.

What do you think of the story of Facebook being turned into a feature film? We would love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Customer Service: Good PR at the Ground Level

While visiting my hometown of Lancaster recently, my boyfriend and I observed an excellent example of PR at the ground level.

My boyfriend purchased a watch in April from the Fossil outlet. At the time, we were thrilled with the customer service we received, particularly because the employees removed links to custom fit the watch--in just minutes and for free! After that trip, we were both quick to recommend Fossil to our friends and family members.

Since then, we have made several other purchases from that store. Recently, though, the watch we originally purchased in April stopped working. Disappointed that the battery stopped working after only four months, we returned to the store on Monday. Without any hassle, or even needing to verify our purchase history, the employees at Fossil replaced the battery for free! The employees were very friendly, attentive and apologetic, and they made it very simple and quick to repair the watch.

It was so refreshing to see a company so thoroughly stand by its products and its customers. Thanks to the excellent customer service we received, we have developed a deep level of loyalty to Fossil. In fact, my boyfriend has said that he will never buy a watch any place else! In addition, you can be sure that our recommendations to friends and family will be even stronger after this experience; the company has succeeded in unofficially enlisting us as its very own buzz marketers!

What changes can you make at your company to generate loyalty and to positively represent your brand at the ground level?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Would You Book Airline Tickets on Facebook?

You may be planting imaginary crops or fighting imaginary mafias on Facebook, but did you know you can now buy airline tickets through Facebook? Real airline tickets, not imaginary ones.

On August 12, Delta Air Lines posted an update on their Facebook page that read: "Breaking news! We just launched Delta Ticket Window in Facebook. You can now search, book flights, and share them with friends without ever leaving this page!!" Facebook fans will find the new "Book a Trip" tab on the top of Delta's Facebook page.

Delta's status update received over 300 "likes" and 100 comments. The comments ranged from excitement to some early complaints about the new service. Either way, the Delta Ticket Window has at least gained the attention of many Facebook users.

The possibilities for what companies can do with their Facebook pages are growing by the day. Do you trust Facebook enough to use it for important real-life tasks, such as purchasing airline tickets?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Know Your Facebook Friends

I recently had five friends visit me at my vacation home and during the course of the week they tried to access their Facebook accounts from my laptop. I was rather shocked to see that of the five friends, three of them were denied access due to Facebook’s extreme security measures. Facebook has implemented a random security check if any user logs in from an unfamiliar computer and location. While this is an understandable security measure for a social media that is as widespread, easily accessible and highly influential as Facebook, it seemed slightly ridiculous that my friends could not check their messages because they could not identify friends that they had played middle school tennis with.

As a social media publicist, I am constantly reminded of the restrictions of Facebook and other social medias. The typical user is not looking to be bombarded by advertisements and marketing strategies, which admittedly happens often. This random check is tough for a robot to fake, but it is also irritating to those who are innocently subjected to identifying someone on the outer layer of their onion of networks. Upon failing the test, the user's Facebook account becomes inaccessible for at least an hour.

For those of you who are using Facebook for work or promotion BEWARE! It is more important than ever to remember that you are building relationships and not just increasing fans and friendships. Take the time to get to know your audience or you may lose Facebook as a marketing tool altogether.

Friday, August 13, 2010

PRowl Public Relations Fall 2010 Initiatives

With almost two weeks left until the fall semester, PRowl Public Relations' Board of Directors met last night to discuss different initiatives we'd like to focus on internally in the year ahead.

A few (but not all!) of them include:
-Relaunching our website
-Fundraising to help send members to the 2010 PRSSA National Conference in Washington, DC
-Creating a valuable evaluation system that allows members to gain professional feedback about their strengths as well as areas they should look to improve
-Developing our Facebook page to better engage current members and PRowl alumni
-Gathering client testimonials about their work with our student-run firm

We're looking forward to the year ahead. We have some great clients and new members that I can't wait to share with all of you! Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Managing Twitter On the Go!

The fast pace and flexibility of this field usually leaves us changing location at the drop of a hat between client meetings, press events and business trips. As Twitter is no longer a new frontier, thoroughness is key when managing a client's account. Missing a consumer @reply or direct message (DM) can do unbelievable damage in a matter of minutes. Fortunately, a bevy of Twitter applications have been developed to help make the monumental task of tracking @replies, followers, mentions and DMs a bit easier on the go.

Mashable.com has published a list of five new applications aimed monitoring Twitter via email. This is a great option for users who can't be chained to a desk all day (most of us!). These applications automatically send a notification to your email as soon as you receive an @reply, DM or mention allowing you to use your smartphone to keep track of who's chatting from any location. This feature also allows users to organize @replies into email folders making them easier to manage. Mashable named Twitstra as the best of these applications for its simplicity.

Check out the rest of the list in this Mashable.com article. Which is your favorite Twitter application?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mastering "The Meal Interview"

I have heard several horror stories from fellow colleagues about their embarrassing experiences during 'meal interviews.' There are a million different ways these interviews can crash and burn-- talking with your mouth full, ordering the most expensive meal on the menu and overall poor table etiquette, just to name a few. All of these simple mistakes can easily ruin an interview by indicating a lack of professionalism and respect.

This summer I had the opportunity to experience my very first meal interview and I was determined to avoid the same mistakes my colleagues had made. In order to be prepared for the interview, I scoured the web for a guideline on acceptable and expected behavior and etiquette.

To make your next meal interview a success, here are a few great fundamental rules to guide you, thanks to Nathan Newberger at WorkTree.

1. Mind Your Manners:
  • BE POLITE. In addition to evaluating your answers, the interviewer is also paying close attention to your personality. Being courteous and respectful and minding your "please" and "thank you's" will speak volumes about your character.
  • BE AWARE. These are the basics or the building blocks of table etiquette. Keep your elbows off the table, chew with your mouth closed and avoid talking with your mouth full. Make sure you are aware of even the smallest actions.
  • BE PREPARED. If you are like me, and unsure about rules on proper table manners, do your research like I did to learn great advice from etiquette experts.
2. The Dish Dilemma:
  • KEEP IT QUIET. Avoid foods that are loud and noisy to eat. In an interview you want to be sure that you hear the questions that are being asked and are remaining attentive to what the interviewer is saying. You are already in a public setting, therefore do your best to avoid adding further noise and distraction.
  • FOLLOW THE LEADER. This was one of the most important pieces of advice for me. If you are unsure if a menu item is priced too high or whether or not it is appropriate to order an appetizer first, make sure you wait to follow the interviewer's lead. Base your decisions off of the price range and number of courses that are being ordered by the person in charge.
3. Consume and Converse:
  • YOU ARE IN CONTROL. This is a very common mistake that many people make during meal interviews. Do not feel so pressured to talk that you do not wind up eating at all. This can easily be interpreted as nervousness when you should be exuding confidence.
  • ASK QUESTIONS. By coming prepared with questions to ask, it shows that you have done your homework on the company and allows you to learn more about the position you are interviewing for. It is also a great opportunity to eat while the interviewer is responding.
4. Finish with a Bang:
  • DON'T OFFER TO PAY. It isn't expected of you, therefore don't do it.
  • NEVER ASK FOR A TAKE-HOME. Even if your meal was delicious and you didn't have the chance to finish it, never ask to take the leftovers home. It is inappropriate for the current situation.
  • GRACIOUS HANDSHAKE. Do not forget to thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. Be sure to be gracious and say that you enjoyed the meal. Follow this with a handshake and a follow up thank you letter in the morning.

With these great tips and tricks, you'll be sure to take a big bite of success out of your next meal interview!

Do you have any additional advice to add? Let us know!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Twitter Tells Users Who to Follow

If you are a Twitter user, you have probably noticed the new "Who to Follow" feature on the sidebar. According to Twitter, the purpose of the feature is to suggest people that you don't currently follow and may find interesting. The suggestions are based on several factors, including the people you follow and the people they follow.

This feature is similar to Facebook's "People You May Know" and "Recommended Pages" features, which recommend people and pages based on mutual friends and interests. Some find these features useful in connecting with people and interests through social media, while others find these features annoying.

From the PR perspective, the "Who to Follow" feature may be helpful to people or companies looking to gain followers from a particular demographic. In theory, once they begin following users with similar interests, Twitter will suggest more users for them to follow and also suggest their page to users who may find them interesting. This could be particularly useful to those who are new to Twitter and unsure about who to follow and how to gain relevant followers.

What do you think about Twitter's new feature? Do you find it useful or annoying?

Monday, August 9, 2010

I HATE Steven Singer!

Those of you who are from or are familiar with the Philadelphia area have likely seen a series of billboards on I-95. The billboards are characterized by a simple black background and the words "I Hate Steven Singer" in bold white lettering. At the bottom of the billboards reads the URL for a website: "www.ihatestevensinger.com."

It turns out that the billboards are part of a campaign for a Philadelphia jeweler who has become "hated" by men all over the city because his cheap prices and excellent selection both make women love him and make it hard for men to find an excuse not to buy. Besides being intriguing, as pointed out in a blog post by Rohit Bhargava, this series of ads is demonstrative of some important marketing lessons:

  1. Use a long-running campaign
  2. Fuel-- and play off of-- human curiosity
  3. Own your region
  4. Focus on a different audience from your competitors
  5. Show personality
  6. Hold a signature event
I found all of these to be valuable tips. I was particularly interested in tip #4, though, because I feel that this technique is one in which PR practitioners have a unique opportunity to add a lot of value to a campaign. As PR practitioners, we are taught to reach out to various publics by strategically researching, analyzing and targeting audiences. This campaign really highlights the fact that in addition to analyzing target audiences for our own client, we must also take into consideration the audiences targeted by our client's competitors and be careful to differentiate our client in that respect. As this campaign demonstrates, doing so can make all the difference between a successful and an average campaign.

Be sure to read Bhargava's blog post to learn more about utilizing these techniques and check out Steven Singer's website to learn more about this unique campaign!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rebirth of the Passenger Rail in the U.S.

The Obama Administration is pursuing a high speed rail in the U. S. so that Americans can ride sleek 220 mph bullet trains, like the ones already popular in Europe and Asia. The Administration wants to improve Amtrak trains as well so that they too will move faster. The new network will cost billions, meaning it may take a good public relations campaign to gain the support of our car-crazed nation.

Realizing how accustomed Americans are to their vehicles, the Obama Administration hopes a new network of faster trains will create attractive alternatives to long drives and short flights, which would also relieve road and air congestion. In an effort to further persuade the public, the Obama Administration has pointed out numerous other benefits that will stem from a new and improved rail system including saving gas, reducing carbon emissions, not having to find parking, no traffic, no long lines and security hassles, and the chance to relax and enjoy the ride. A new network of trains would create jobs, jump start a new domestic manufacturing industry, and keep our railroads up to speed with Europe and Asia, who currently have the fastest trains.

America’s rails have been in need of repair and renovation for a while, as the focus has primarily been on aviation and highways. Do you think a good public relations campaign can convince Americans to embrace the shift from cars to trains?

This guest blog was written by staff member Trish Wyatt.

Friday, August 6, 2010

"Best of Philly" Client Winners

Every year, Philadelphia Magazine releases their "Best of Philly" edition, the region's guide to the best places to eat, things to do, people to hire, places to spend, ways to save, and more. Earning the "Best of Philly" title is a great honor that is given to well-established businesses as well as those that are up-and-coming and show great promise. As you walk down the street, many businesses who have earned this recognition proudly display the "Best of Philly" decal on their window.

PRowl Public Relations is thrilled to congratulate two of our past clients on their recently announced "Best of Philly" titles!
  • Casa Papel (client from fall 2009 to spring 2010) has been announced as Philly's Best Stationary.
  • Ursula's About PHace (client during spring 2009) has been announced as Philly's Best Completely Over-The-Top Specialty Beauty Treatment.
Philadelphia Magazine's "Best of Philly" edition is on newsstands now! Congratulations to all the winners.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

For those on the job search...

After pondering what I should blog about for this addition of the "Alumni Thursday" Series, it wasn't necessarily a public relations related topic that crossed my mind. Instead, I have been thinking recently about my job search and potential career paths. Coincidentally enough, week's Time Out New York's cover story is about the "Best Jobs in NYC." Included are success stories, career/company profiles, tips on networking and more. Learning about all the different career opportunities out there is always exciting, so even though the jobs highlighted aren't exactly what I might have had in mind for my personal future, its just a reminder that we should all keep an open mind!

Here are some of my favorite picks from the feature story:

-Startup company Pixable (pixable.com) aggregates and prints photos from social media sites like Facebook and Flickr. Their site has generated over a million visitors and they've really found a niche that no one had thought to tap into sooner. Plus they're also hiring! Send your resume and cover letter to jobs@pixable.com

-Learnvest (learnvest.com) is a site offering financial advice for women. They've assisted over 500,000 women since launching in January 2009.

-You can't hear it enough-the importance of networking. Meeting people by networking, through something such as Ed2010's Speednetworking event (visit ed2010.com for more details) or sign up for invite-only happy hour mixers with the Connectors NYC (theconnectorsnyc.com).

-Also be sure to check out company profiles of Gawker (gawker.com) and Elle magazine on the site, which were also interesting.

I hope you to head to your nearest news stand, Barnes & Noble or bookstore to pick up this week's issue of Time Out New York or click here to read more online!

Happy Job Hunting!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Shark Week: The Ultimate PR Campaign for Sharks

This week is the 23rd annual Shark Week and people all over the world are celebrating by tuning into the Discovery Channel for a myriad of television specials highlighting the sheer awe that is demanded by one of our world's most powerful and feared creatures.

Although many tune in for blood and gore, Shark Week's main focus has always been to educate the population about sharks in an incredible attempt to save them from their impending extinction.

Let's face it- sharks are a tough creature to create a PR campaign for. Animals such as the panda bear or the polar bear are much easier to generate sympathy and compassion for. However, the Discovery Channel has successfully cultivated a popularity for sharks that did not exist, lets say, back when Jaws first came to theaters.

With nearly one-fifth of all sharks critically close to extinction, and over 70 percent of the world's oceans shark free, humans have been destroying the world's shark population through pollution, fear-fueled killing, habitat destruction and human induced global warming.

With over 30 million viewers and counting, Shark Week is creating quite a buzz. With so many people tuned into this week long special, different conservation groups across the world are receiving support from viewers everywhere. With the increase in support, these groups are able to further strengthen their efforts in saving sharks from extinction.

What is your opinion on Shark Week? Is it a great media campaign to raise awareness or just another television fad? Let us know!

Be sure to check out all that Shark Week has to offer by visiting their website!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Check Your Email Etiquette

Although e-mail exchanges are a major means of communication between people in the professional world, some people could still use a reminder about email etiquette. An article from CNN.com describes three common e-mail mistakes and how to avoid them. Here are the highlights:

1. Be careful of recklessly BCC'ing and forwarding e-mails: BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) should be used when you are sending a mass e-mail and you don't need everyone to see everyone else on the recipient list. BCC should not be used to secretly let someone know about an e-mail exchange. If the BCC'd person doesn't realize they were BCC'd, they may hit reply-all and blow your cover. A better way to clue someone in is to forward them the exchange. However, remember when forwarding that the whole chain of emails up until that point will be read by your recipient.

2. Be courteous: Most email exchanges involve asking for or supplying information, so it is important to remember your manners. Some people think sending a "thank you" once they receive the information they requested will just clutter the sender's inbox. However, when sent back right away, it should not interfere with their e-mail checking. If more than 20 minutes has elapsed, you may want to include your "thank you" in the next email exchange with the person.

When you are the one providing the information, avoid pasting and sending without a salutation or a sign-off. This makes it sound like you are annoyed that you had to help. A short reply with the information such as "here you go, thanks" sets a better tone.

3. Have some tact and avoid playing fascist dictator: Address your employees the same way you would address your boss. Hitting the question mark three times is not the most sensitive way to reply to someone's email when you are unclear about their message. Think about the tone of your emails before you send them. For those who have difficulty judging how your e-mails come across, there's a plug-in called ToneCheck that flags harsh phrases in your emails.

Can you think of any other common e-mail blunders that need to be addressed?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Who do you write like?

As PR practitioners, many of us are avid readers and writers. Ragan.com's daily PR newsletter recently made me aware of a fun tool available for writers. A site called "I Write Like" allows you to copy and paste your own writing into a form. The site then compares your writing with that of established authors and tells you which author out there your writing is most like.

Pretty cool! Be sure to check it out to see which famous author you write like!