Sunday, October 31, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Status Updates

As you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. In October 2009, Facebook was flooded with status updates by women disclosing their bra colors to raise breast cancer awareness. This year, a similar viral initiative was taken. A message was forwarded on Facebook giving females instructions to post a status stating, “I like it on the…” and then to finish the post with where they put their purse when they get home.

The provocative-sounding statuses gained a lot of attention, but not necessarily for breast cancer awareness. Many Facebook users were confused about how the statuses correlated with breast cancer awareness, unlike the previous year with the bra colors.

So one has to wonder, if no one knows what you are talking about or how it relates to the subject, is it still good press? Although the status updates had nothing initially to do with breast cancer, they did get Facebook users talking. Users inquired about the trend and how each status was unique. Men were particularly intrigued about what the statuses meant and why woman were being so vocal about where they “liked it.” In addition, women participating in this event were united on a common front, to raise breast cancer awareness.

From a PR standpoint, this campaign united women and got Facebook users talking. However, the lack of correlation between the statuses and breast cancer awareness may have made this initiative less effective than the previous year’s. Do you think this campaign was effective in raising breast cancer awareness?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Is The Media Glorifying Teen Pregnancy?

I’m sure many of you have watched, or at least heard of, the MTV reality show Teen Mom. The show’s ratings have skyrocketed and it is the #2 most watched television series in MTV history, second only to The Jersey Shore. The show is reaching a huge audience, but not without controversy.

The stars of the show (“typical teen moms”) have been made into celebrities overnight and are now featured on dozens of magazine covers. Many people think MTV and the media are being extremely irresponsible by glamorizing teen pregnancy. Others think that the show sets a good example, showing the consequences of premarital sex. The debate goes back and forth, but with teen pregnancy on the rise in the United States, many want a clear answer about the impact of the media.

According to Family First Aid, the United States has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and births in the western industrialized world. Teen pregnancy costs the United States at least $7 billion annually. Thirty-four percent of young women become pregnant at least once before they reach the age of 20, and eight in 10 of these pregnancies are unintended. The statistics are staggering, but with all of the sex displayed across televisions everywhere, why wouldn’t teenagers be influenced by it?

According to MTV’s website, “Each episode interweaves these stories revealing the wide variety of challenges young mothers can face: marriage, relationships, family support, adoption, finances, graduating high school, starting college, getting a job, and the daunting and exciting step of moving out to create their own families.” It is true that some of the teen mothers are shown dealing with struggles, but most teen viewers cannot relate to these girls. Many teen and pregnancy organizations are extremely concerned about the impact turning teen moms into celebrities could have on teenagers. “Putting the stars of these reality shows on a magazine cover puts them on the same plane as any actress, singer, or other celebrity,” The Parents Television Council Director of Communications and Public Education, Melissa Henson, said. “It is sending the message to girls that if you get pregnant as a result of being sexually active; you could end up on TV or a magazine cover.”

I must say, I agree. We shouldn’t forget that about a decade ago, the sexual content in the media today would be completely unacceptable. Is it a coincidence that teenage pregnancy rates are higher?

Although the profits for MTV’s hit show
Teen Mom are high, the image this show gives the network as a whole is controversial. Is the negative image that could result from this show worth the high ratings for MTV?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Social Media Costumes!

In light of this weekend's festivities, check out the top five entries in Mashable's technology and social media costume contest! The winners were posted earlier today. My favorite is the YouTube costume with the crying baby from "Team Social Media." What's yours?

Have a frighteningly fun and safe Halloween weekend!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Welcome Starbucks Digital Network

You know Starbucks has free Wi-Fi access, right? As of yesterday, customers enjoying the free wireless connection in Starbucks locations around the country will be greeted with the Starbucks Digital Network (SDN). What is the Starbucks Digital Network?

"The community cork board" network provides multiple resources to users. It allows for unlimited access to six channels: News, Wellness, Business and Careers, Entertainment, My Neighborhood and the Starbucks channel. For a breakdown of each channel, read the article here.

The Starbucks Digital Network has provided countless resources for what the company assumes its customers want to know- and you can find it all in one place. Starbucks has selected particular publications to provide specialized content for its various channels, including The Wall Street Journal and New York Times for News.

SDN is meant to enhance the customers experience at Starbucks. Do you think customers will enjoy the channels on Starbucks Digital Network or be overwhelmed with the mass of information located in one place?

Fighting the Dark Side of Social Media

In today's society, we frequently discuss the benefits of social media and how these sites are revolutionizing the way we communicate and connect with others. However, due to recent events, the topic of cyber-bullying has become a topic of conversation, revealing the darker side of social media that is often ignored. With sites such as Facebook and Twitter, it has become much easier to harass fellow peers, through the creation of "hate pages" and abusive wall posts. In an article from Mashable, according to an MTV-Associated Press study, 50% of 14-24-year-olds have claimed to be a victim of digital abuse.

In an effort to combat the increase in cyber-bullying, MTV has launched a new virtually interactive tool called "Draw Your Line," an interactive map that allows kids from across the country to post ways in which they are fighting abuse. The new tool is a part of MTV's larger campaign, "A Thin Line," which focuses on preventing harassment during the digital age. Those who use the interactive map are able to utilize resources and tips on bullying shared from fellow peers as well suggest their own resources. MTV also recently launched an iPhone app, "Over the Line?" that allows teens to submit their personal stories and experiences with harassment to share and discuss with their peers.

Other organizations are also participating in the fight against digital abuse. GLAAD has partnered with Facebook to fight abuse on the site and columnist Dan Savage has created a YouTube channel called "It Gets Better," to share messages supporting gay teens.

Although the benefits of social media are a constant part of daily discussion, it is equally important to consider the negative effects of these networking sites.

How important do you think it is to emphasize and discuss the dangers of social media sites? Are campaigns such as these successful in the fight against cyber-bullying?

Let us know what you think!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

GQ's GLEE Cover Controversy

GQ is receiving mixed reviews about their November issue, which features provocative photos of GLEE cast members. The magazine is aimed at adult males, but the television show is geared toward a teenage crowd. The actresses in the questionable photos are in their twenties, but they play high school students on the show. They are shown in the magazine wearing provocative clothing and posing suggestively.

This situation may remind you of Miley Cyrus' magazine cover controversy in 2008. The 15-year-old posed for Vanity Fair wrapped in a bed sheet, appearing to be otherwise topless. While both Cyrus and the GLEE actresses appeal to a young fan base, the GLEE actresses are several years older than Cyrus and the characters they play on the show.

GQ included the photos of the actresses to sell magazines to their target audience, which is not the same as the audience for the show. The actresses are young adults, and old enough to make choices about the personal image they wish to portray. In similar incidents, it has been argued that such photos help actresses break away from their childish image and gain more adult acting roles.

Was GQ wrong for including provocative photos of the actresses because of their young fans or was the magazine just catering the photos to their target audience? Is it wrong for female actresses to express their sexuality if their fan base is mainly teenagers?

To form your own opinion, read more and see the photos here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Temple PRSSA Bake Sale to Fight Childhood Hunger

When: Tuesday, October 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Where: Student Center Atrium, Temple University Main Campus (13th & Montgomery)
What: Bake sale in partnership with Share Our Strength and the Food Network, featuring an array of baked goods such as cookies, brownies, cupcakes and more
Presented by: Temple University Public Relations Student Society of America

All proceeds will be donated to Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale.

Share Our Strength is an organization that is working to end childhood hunger in the United States by 2015. The organization holds its annual Great American Bake Sale through its partnership with the Food Network. The Great American Bake Sale, made up of individual bake sales around the country, has raised $6 million since 2003. A donation of just $200 is enough to supply 50 families with healthy groceries. Please come support Temple Public Relations Student Society of America’s bake sale on October 26, because every brownie counts!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Doing PR for CHOP

This semester, I am interning with the Public Relations Department at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Doing PR for the #1 children’s hospital in the nation has proved to be very demanding, but the hard work has its rewards. Like in all types of public relations, networking is key in healthcare PR. However, knowledge of the various medical diseases and ailments is also important.

Trisomy 21 (commonly known as Down Syndrome) is one of numerous diseases the hospital caters to. Recently, I was able to be a part of the 9th annual Buddy Walk and Family Fun Day, which benefits the Children’s Hospital Trisomy 21 Program and the National Down Syndrome Society. Being the primary PR person for the event gave insight on how proactive you must be when following-up with the media. Just sending a release on Friday for an event on Sunday is not enough if you want to have a good media turnout. I learned that it is necessary to make a follow-up call on both Friday about an hour after the release is sent and on Saturday during the afternoon to make sure the release did not get lost within the countless e-mails a news desk receives daily. On Sunday, I also followed-up with the stations to confirm whether or not they would be able to make it to the event. Although it took countless calls, the extra effort resulted in some good media coverage of the event.

The hospital also recently had a portrait unveiling of eight portraits of patients in the Craniofacial Program at the hospital. The project involved a group of artist, patients and medical experts using the intimate process of portrait painting to help the children with craniofacial problems see themselves in a different light. The event required a lot of picture taking and it was my responsibility to make sure the photographer took pictures of all the patients along with their families, craniofacial surgeons and the artist who painted their portraits. Although this was more of an exclusive event, it gave me insight about how private events operate from a PR perspective.

Although I have only been interning for a few weeks, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia PR Department has already given me great opportunities to learn about PR responsibilities. The plethora of medical knowledge I am learning is an experience like nothing else. It is also great to be able to work for children who have, in most circumstances, had their choice of a healthy childhood taken away. If you would like to learn more about the hospital’s events or medical research, please visit their website at

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

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Strategem and Social Media

It is almost impossible to discuss modern PR without addressing the issue of social networking. In today’s business world, agencies are hiring “social networking experts” and companies are looking for the best ways to utilize this new medium. The problem is, many companies are just barely scraping the surface of what is possible with these great tools. They have forgotten about the strategies they have at their fingertips. The technology is so new and unfamiliar that most companies solely use social networking to disperse information. For instance, a tweet from the computer giant Apple Computer, Inc. reads, “Apple plans dual graphics enhancements on future MacBook Pros.” There is no strategy to this type of use.

At the 2010 PRSSA National Conference in Washington, D.C., author and strategist, Allan Kelly, outlined strategies that PR professionals can utilize in any mediums, including social networking. Allan Kelly’s book, The Elements of Influence, divides these strategies in three divisions:

Assess: Strategies that Assess tend to be passive. These strategies usually allow a client to separate itself from a marketplace or test a market to determine the client’s needs.

Example: An example of a strategy used to Assess is a play known as Trial Balloon. In this play, a player will test preliminary ideas, often without attribution. A great example of this play was when Maryland’s Department of Education was trying to endorse their creative reading program. They recognized the rebirth of comic books and used that to their advantage by allowing students to read Batman. The idea was to sacrifice the goofiness of comic books in order to generate a love for reading.

Condition: Condition strategies are not direct and tend to be mild in activity. They are used to distract the audience, frame the discussion, or prevent the movement of the competitor.

Example: A strategy that deals with Condition is a play known as Disco. This strategy allows the player to sacrifice a piece of their image in order to advance. An example of this play was when Nike was accused of using terrible treatment with their laborers in Asia. In order to save their image, one of Nike’s founders, Phil Knight addressed the media stating, “So I figured that I’d just come out and let you journalists have a look at the great Satan up close.” He showed that his company was mistaken, but was set on improving the conditions of the laborers.

Engage: Generally, Engage strategies are the most dynamic plays. These plays are used to force a player to take action, use authority to declare a position in the marketplace, and attack a competitor in order to allow for competition.

Example: The technique known as Peacock is a great example of an Engage strategy. This is when a player will make an outlandish display in order to garner attention. An example of this was when Sir Richard Branson’s displayed himself in a nude suit on top of a large model mobile phone in Times Square. The campaign was known as “Nothing to Hide” and was used to support the new mobile plan of Virgin Mobile that claimed to have no hidden fees in the fine print for their new phone service. His unique display helped garner a lot attention for the company’s new plan.

Mediums constantly transition, but strategies do not. Strategies are timeless and can be useful in any media. Our job as PR professionals is to figure out how to utilize these strategies in social networking. We must utilize the new medium in creative ways to make these strategies more accessible. In Virgin Mobile’s case, Branson’s Peacock display could be made more noticeable to an audience by utilizing YouTube videos and Twitter posts to project his “Nothing to Hide” display. Beyond just dispersing information, social networking can help us gain more viewers for our strategies.

Check out the following website to get a more in-depth look at Allan Kelly’s strategies and their utilization:

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

Friday, October 22, 2010

Networking Tips from PRSA

In addition to the chapter and professional development sessions offered at the PRSSA National Conference, this year’s conference also included a “speed networking” session to match student members of PRSSA with members of our affiliate professional organization, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

Many distinguished PR professionals from various industries rotated around the room approximately every 15 minutes to share their insight about essential networking skills. I was not able to interact with every professional, but the four men and women that I did meet provided us with useful tips that I believe are helpful to share.

Although many points may seem like common sense, it is important to be aware of your body language and nonverbal signals that you send when meeting new people, especially during internship or job interviews.


  • Do not wear anything too low cut or too short, and ladies – stick with simple jewelry. Keep earrings to studs, no more than one to two rings, and no noisy bracelets that attract more attention than what you are trying to say.
  • Do research on the company culture before deciding what to wear. Look at the company website and try to find images of employees to see what they are wearing. Although it is usually safe to dress more conservatively, a suit and white shirt may be completely inappropriate if you are going for a job interview at a company where ripped jeans and graphic tees are the office wardrobe.
  • Gentleman (and ladies, too) – ALWAYS iron your clothes. Wrinkles are never good.
  • Along the lines of the second point, use your judgment when deciding whether pantyhose is necessary to wear with your knee-length skirt (should not be shorter). If you feel uncomfortable, be safe and wear them, but they are not usually required anymore.

Eye Contact

  • This is the most important nonverbal message you can send to others. Make sure to be confident and look the other person in the eye when you are speaking and when they are speaking to you.
  • If you have to consciously think about making eye contact, do not forget to blink. Not only will you hurt your eyes, you will make the other person very uncomfortable and do the opposite of what you intended.
  • It is okay to look at a different feature of the other person or look at another place in the room, but for no more than a few seconds. By looking at other places for prolonged periods of time you send a message that you are disinterested in the conversation and would rather be somewhere else.
  • Do not look down at your hands (if sitting) or feet (if standing). Doing this signals that you do not have confidence in yourself or your message.


  • Make sure you have a firm handshake. If you do not feel like you have mastered this yet, practice with friends. This is essential in making a good first impression.
  • Before, during, or immediately after the handshake make sure you get the other person’s name and repeat it (ex. Nice to meet you, Roger) to help you remember.
  • Two to three “pumps” is normal.
  • Fun fact: the handshake originated in medieval times to show the other person you are not armed by extending the palm of your hand.


  • After you have networked or interviewed, it is essential to follow-up to continue the conversation.
  • If meeting another professional, get their business card and follow-up with an e-mail or via social media to reiterate how nice it was to meet them and touch on any key points or action items you discussed during your conversation.
  • If interviewing for a job, a follow-up can make a big difference. Both handwritten and e-mail thank you notes are fine. To go the extra mile, e-mail immediately after the interview and then send a letter.
  • If you do not get the job, don’t feel uncomfortable following-up to see what you could improve upon for the future.

Happy networking! We hope our recaps of conference sessions this week were helpful to you.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dragon Fire

PRSSA's National Conference in Washington, D.C. is comprised of both chapter and professional development sessions. Chapter development sessions are organized by PRSSA chapters from around the country that have demonstrated expertise in a certain area or have orchestrated a successful event, campaign, etc.

A fellow Philadelphia chapter at Drexel University presented "Dragon Fire", a session on using social media to promote your chapter and events. Even though I love social media, I was reminded that I could be doing a lot more to promote individual events and our chapter as a whole. Are you using all of these tactics? Check out Drexel's tactics and tips below to find out.

Utilize traditional marketing tactics. Post fliers for fundraising, recruitment and promotional events around campus and the surrounding areas. Make sure the events are listed or covered in your college newspaper or other local media outlets. You can even send letters to professors to make sure the professor and his or her students are aware of the event. These tactics will spread both awareness and gain attendance at your events.

In addition to utilizing these traditional promotion methods, use various social media sites to promote an event. These are the tips Drexel University had for using social media sites when raising awareness of an event.

1. Facebook
- Create a separate event that links to your fan page. This is an easy way to send out the event without sending people to your organization's site.
- Follow up with messages about the event. Be careful about sending too many messages, though. Only send a message to those who have been invited if you have additional information to provide them.

2. LinkedIn
- You can create an event page on LinkedIn. By creating this page you can invite your contacts and even companies to attend the event.
- Ask your connections to share your event information with their own network. It will spread the event out among more people.

3. Twitter
- Create a hashtag for each event. Use this hashtag whenever tweeting about the event. It allows you to track who is talking about the event and join the conversation about the event you are promoting.
- Don't be afraid to ask for a retweet. By asking for a retweet, you can send the information to more followers.
- Encourage tweeting during the actual events. You don't just want people to know about the event beforehand. You want to make sure others are aware of the event while it is going on, especially if they cannot be present.

These are just some of the tips Drexel University provided to PRSSA chapters from around the nation. What are social media tips do you have for promoting events?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

PRSSA National Conference: Building a Personal Brand

This past weekend, three members from PRowl: Jaime Scofield, Evan Nicholson and myself as well as Temple PRSSA president, Jade Barnes attended the 2010 PRSSA National Conference in Washington, D.C. Throughout the weekend we had the opportunity to grow as young public relations professionals and connect with fellow PR students across the country.

One of the presentations that I found most beneficial and thoughtful was Indiana State University's presentation, "Creating Your Campaign: Building a Personal Brand." Students presented on guidelines and suggestions for cover letters, resumes and portfolios, however I was most interested on their advice regarding interview preparation.

The presenters outlined a few great tips to ensure that everyone goes into an interview well-prepared:

1. Research the company: know the company's mission, values and goals. Be familiar with executives and their roles within the company and be aware of any current press coverage.

2. Study your responses: create a list of potential and popular interview questions and practice your responses to these questions. This allows you to develop well-crafted and formulated answers to even the most unexpected questions.

3. Do a mock interview: the more practice you have with interviews, the better. Mock interviews allow you to strengthen your verbal and nonverbal communication skills by practicing everything from your responses to your mannerisms.

4. Jot down "why hire me" points: you should always go into an interview with a list of key reasons why you are the best possible candidate for the position.

5. Study your resume: it is incredible embarrassing when an employer asks a question surrounding your resume and you are caught off guard. You should know your experiences and be able to elaborate upon the skills you have learned.

6. All answers to questions should discuss results: companies want to know how you are going to benefit their organization, therefore be prepared to discuss quantifiable results that you have yielded in previous experiences.

Great job, Indiana State University, on a fantastic and informative session, and congratulations to all the other universities that participated in the PRSSA National Conference Chapter Development Sessions for a job well done.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Takeaways from Interviewing a Communications Professional

As part of my Senior Seminar, I was required to interview a professional in Communications. I interviewed the Director of Communications in the Tourism department at the Philadelphia Conventions and Visitors Bureau. Her job is to direct and execute PR efforts for Philadelphia as a destination for tourism. Here are some of the things I learned from speaking with her:
  • Tourism PR is Not a 9-5 Job: Part of her job is to attend openings and accompany international representative to different attractions. Most of the time this happens after business hours, on nights or weekends.
  • You Can't Be Shy in PR: PR is about making connections. You have to be comfortable with picking up the phone and building relationships
  • Take on Responsibility to Gain Responsibility: If you are looking for opportunities to grow within your company, make your higher-ups aware of it. Be observant of needs beyond your responsibilities and put in the extra effort.
  • Volunteer as Much as You Can: Volunteering at events is a great way for students to make connections with important people and gain experience they can discuss with employers.
  • First Impressions Happen Before Your Interview: She told me one of her pet peeves is when people email her before an interview to ask where the office is located. The address is listed on their website, and Google Maps can help you figure out how to get there. Do your research, the small things count when making an impression!
  • Keep Cover Letters and Résumés Concise: Cover letters should be no more than one page, preferably three paragraphs. Résumés for recent graduates should also be no longer than one page.
  • List Skills that Make You Stand Out: Although skills such as knowledge of Photoshop may not seem exceptional to our generation, they are to older generations. Many companies spend money to hire contractors with these skills because no one in their office is familiar with the programs. Listing these skills on your résumé may show employers that hiring you could save them money.
  • Work on the Cheap: When you are first starting out, connections are more important than money. Jobs that don't pay as much as you want but allow you to grow and make connections are more valuable in the long run.
I hope you find these tips as helpful as I did. I also encourage all graduating seniors to participate in informational interviews- they are a great way to learn about different jobs within the industry and make connections with professionals!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Following Up

Since I graduate this May, I decided to start looking for jobs. Knowing the power of a resume and cover letter for making good firsts impressions, I've been spending a lot of time on both. Then I got to thinking about the rest of the job application process, and I was really excited when I came across this article by Lindsay Olson for U.S. News and World Report about tips for following up after sending a resume.

"Your follow-up should be concise, polite, and reiterate your interest in the position," Olson says. She also says offers some further advice:

  • keep your follow-up positive
  • be specific
  • emphasize the qualifications that make you a good candidate
  • assume the company recognizes your name or automatically knows what position you applied for.
  • re-send the same resume and cover letter several times. If you haven't heard back after three follow-ups, move on.

Be sure to read the article, and for valuable further reading, also check out some of the links Olson has provided.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Diversity and PR

It is not difficult to identify the importance of diversity-driven planning in today's business world. Since 2001, DiversityInc has published an annual list of the Top 50 Companies for Diversity. PRSA Tactics interviewed PR representatives from top-ranking companies Sodexo, Coca-Cola, Xerox, and American Express about their company's perspectives on diversity. The representatives also share how Public Relations plays a crucial role in developing diversity awareness to achieve their company's objectives. Below are some highlights from PRSA Tactics' interviews.

Jaya Bohlman, VP of PR for Sodexo, said that diversity is "primarily a business requirement- without it we couldn't cater to our client's needs." To me, this is important because the job of any good PR professional is to fully understand their client to achieve their client's overall objectives. Without recognizing diversity, the PR department could not do its job, because they would not fully understand their client's perspective. Sodexo attains diversity in their workplace by having a Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board. Bohlman describes this as a group of seven members who make sure they are attracting and maintaining widespread diversity in their workforce. PR works closely with this board to report their success in maintaining diversity.

Gorki De Los Santos, Communications Manager for Coca-Cola, said diversity, both in the marketplace and workplace, is critical to the company's sustainability. According to De Los Santos, diversity is crucial for a business' survival in today's competitive market. De Los Santos said Coca-Cola's PR strategy for attracting and retaining diversity includes diversity training programs and education to maintain an "ongoing dialogue" among their employees, suppliers and customers.

Ernest Hicks, Manager of the Corporate Diversity Office for Xerox said that a commitment to diversity is important because, "It creates more diverse work teams — facilitating diversity of thought and more innovative ideas — and it positions Xerox to attract a wider customer base and to address the needs of diverse customers." This is a great insight, because it covers the importance of diversity in both the inner-workings of the company and in meeting the needs of the customers. Hicks said PR has a role in the diversity of Xerox, by encouraging minority and female-based businesses as suppliers and by creating different diversity-driven programs.

American Express Chief Diversity Officer Kerrie Peraino said diversity is important because it "creates culture of inclusion" and "drives business success." Peraino said PR plays a major role in diversity by communicating the company initiatives through guest speakers, programs, and networks, both within and outside of the company.

Diversity inclusion is an important tool for maintaining a successful company. A PR department can help diversity initiatives by communicating both to their employees and to their customer base about how the company values diversity and what programs they have to maintain diversity. PR professionals need to recognize the importance of diversity not only when managing within the company, but also when catering to their clients needs.

To read the full interviews and to find out where these companies ranked in the DiversityInc listing, click here.

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

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Poor Candidate or Poor Public Relations?

As you may have seen in recent news, Alan Grayson, the Democratic representative for the state of Florida, has debuted a political commercial that implies his opponent, Daniel Webster, is a member of the Taliban. In the clip, Webster is portrayed as a sexist, controlling and misogynistic conservative who claims wives should “submit themselves to their husbands.” While Mr. Webster’s quote is taken directly out of a speech he delivered, Grayson pushed the code of Public Relations ethics by publicizing the small excerpt completely out of context.

In what Webster had intended the public to hear, he explained how he valued the unification of a family and making moral decisions, which may not necessarily be what is said in the Bible. He tells husbands to move past meaningless sexism and see their wives as equals. In the actual speech (clip available here), Webster said:

“So, write a journal. Second, find a verse. I have a verse for my wife, I have verses for my wife. Don't pick the ones that say, 'She should submit to me.' That's in the Bible, but pick the ones that you're supposed to do. So instead, 'love your wife, even as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it' as opposed to 'wives submit to your own husbands.' She can pray that, if she wants to, but don't you pray it.”

Any informed voter would have taken the time to cross reference the three-second phrase used in Grayson's ad with Webster's original speech. The speech had intended to show Webster's family values, but instead it gained him the unjustified nickname of “Taliban Dan.” The creators of this commercial believed they could tear down their opponent by misrepresenting him and trying to persuade the public he would control the senate in the same way he “controls” his wife.

One would like to believe all voters take the time to research the validity of each campaign before casting their votes. However, this is not always the case. For the sake of public affairs, and specifically the upcoming Florida election, we are lucky this commercial has received the attention it has. Had this commercial not made the nightly news, many voters may have believed what they were told and cast a vote based off of ignorance and misguidance.

As a Public Relations fan, do you think the creators of this commercial were successful? Do you think they have done well by Grayon, or will the backlash from the commercial negatively affect his campaign?

Perhaps this article touches upon a commonly asked question in the world of PR: Is it better to get negative press than to get no press at all?

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

Friday, October 15, 2010

PRSSA National Conference starts... TODAY!

The 2010 Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Conference in Washington, DC is finally here! Every year, many PR students (including myself) count down the days until they get to travel to another city, meet their peers from different schools, learn more about the field and specific industries, and much more.
This year we are fortunate to have three PRowl members attending the conference. Joining me is Niki Ianni, Assistant Firm Director, and Evan Nicholson, Director of Finance. Also in attendance from Temple is PRSSA President Jade Barnes.

Look out for blogs from us next week about what we learned. Please take a look at the link below, review the program, and let us know if there are any specific sessions you would like us to try and cover!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When They Ask for an Inch, Give Them a Mile

As a young and upcoming professional, I am always seeking advice from fellow students, colleagues and professionals about how to be successful in everything that I do. However, after reflecting upon my own experiences and successes, I thought it would only be fair to share my own personal piece of advice that has really allowed me to flourish and grow within my internships, within the classroom and even within the PRowl PR Firm. It may sound obvious, but its valuable regardless of how many times and how many ways you say it:
When they ask for an inch, give them a mile.

Whether it is the classroom, at your job or at your internship, your supervisors are always paying attention to those individuals who go beyond the "call of duty" and take the extra initiative to distinguish themselves from their peers. There are various ways you can demonstrate your value to your superiors, however here are three basic tips:

1. Always be the first to volunteer.
Whether you are volunteering to help fellow colleagues who need assistance or volunteering to tackle a difficult assignment or project, this shows to your supervisors that you are a team player and that you not afraid of challenges. This is a great way to establish yourself as the "go-to" person when problems or questions arise.

2. Always look for ways to improve.
There is always room for improvement, so make sure that you are developing and sharing innovative ideas and suggestions with your colleagues and superiors. This shows that you are attentive to the needs and concerns of your group and that you have the ability to develop the solution.

3. Always be enthusiastic.
I know it sounds obvious, but that's because it is. When you are passionate about the work that you are doing and show constant dedication to the group or organization, it always gets noticed. Show that you are dedicated to the success of the organization and a valuable asset to the team through volunteering your efforts and striving for improvement. So, even if the task-at-hand isn't ideal, do it well and have fun doing it.

What tips do you have for taking initiative? Let us know!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Guerrilla Marketing: Breaking Through the Ad Clutter

Advertisements are everywhere. They have become such a common part of our daily lives that we usually don't think twice about them, let alone notice the sponsoring brands. How can companies break through the ad clutter to get their brand noticed? Two words: guerrilla marketing.

You probably first heard the term "guerrilla" in history class, referring to guerrilla warfare: the military tactic involving the use of civilians to carry out a surprise attack. Guerrilla marketing uses similar tactics, operating on the elements of surprise and the unusual. Guerrilla marketing is not a new term- it was actually introduced by author Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book "Guerrilla Marketing." However, I believe the creativity involved in guerrilla marketing campaigns is becoming more necessary today due to the extent of ad clutter in our lives.

Mashable has compiled a list titled "10 Excellent Examples of Guerrilla Marketing Campaigns." Some highlights of the videos that made the list include displaying IKEA furniture in public places, super-gluing coins to the street to demonstrate the effectiveness of Loctite superglue, and installing wireless networks in airports named after the special airport offers from SIXT car rental agency. These campaigns undoubtedly made more of an impression than the arrays of print ads did on passersby. To enjoy the entertainment and creativity of these guerrilla marketing campaigns, click here.

Have you ever witnessed a guerrilla marketing campaign first-hand? Share your experience with us!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Is There More to PR than "WOWing" Customers?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I just finished reading "Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose," a book by Zappos founder Tony Hsieh, for work. In the book, under a section titled "PR and Public Speaking," Hsieh explains that the company did not believe it was necessary to step up its PR efforts with its growth.

Contrarily, he says on page 203 that "if you just focus on making sure that your product or service continually WOWs people, eventually the press will find out about it" and come to you.

Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thinking Outside the Box for Events

As public relations professionals, it is our job to be creative and to think outside of the box for our clients. Creativity is essential when planning events for clients. When a new product is launched, an event to celebrate the occasion will peak people’s interest in the company and the new product.

Destination Management Companies (DMC) are very useful when planning events. These companies have the experience and connections needed to make an event that could seem overwhelming into a seamless professional production. They help manage the event from start to finish, by handling everything from finding the best venue for the event to arranging transportation for the guests of the event. DMCs work with an array of vendors to accommodate all catering and entertainment needs. Utilizing their services will save time and money for you and your clients.

Global Events Partners (
GEP Philly) is one of many DMCs that provides services to many well-known corporations. They have the professional experience needed to provide impressive events. Some of their past themed receptions included Mardi Gras nights, casino nights, and indoor carnivals.

DMCs are great references for public relations professionals, especially when your clients would like a little extra to impress their audience and gain attention from the media.

This blog post was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Janice Poleon.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Want to Get Noticed? Set a Record.

The next time you check out the Guinness World Records look past the glass eaters, world’s largest pizza, tallest people, and other weird acknowledgments and you may be surprised at what you find. In a new marketing and publicity initiative, some prominent companies are taking “getting noticed” to a whole new level.

Recently, Estée Lauder found their way into the record books by setting a record for the “most landmarks illuminated for a cause in 24 hours.” Estée Lauder’s Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign illuminated over 40 worldwide landmarks in pink lights for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Another bold publicity move was seen with luxury hotel company Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., who set a record for the “largest-ever resistance-band strength-training class.” The Jim Pattison Group, who owns the Guinness World Records, brought on these publicity stunts by creating a new marketing records division as well as a PR division in order to help companies market their brands and gain media attention.

These bold marketing tactics certainly catch people’s attention and are entertaining, but are they effective in building awareness of the company? That all depends on what the company wants and what the company actually gets from the stunt.

In Estée Lauder’s case, their pink illumination record certainly gained attention from the media but was probably not needed to bring attention to an already widely recognized health campaign. The company had already made its mark by being behind one of the most recognizable symbols for breast cancer, the pink ribbon. They co-created the symbol with SELF magazine, and it appears on many of their make-up products.

As for Starwood Sheraton, their world record helped in promoting their new upgraded fitness programs at the hotel, where about 270 people participated in a fitness class in the rain. This type of record-breaking publicity stunt can be beneficial to the company because it not only gains immediate attention for being out of the ordinary, but it is also a relatively inexpensive marketing tactic. According to the Wall Street Journal, Starwood Sheraton spent $120 million on their fitness upgrade at the hotels but only spent about $4,739 on the Guinness Records process.

This trend of record breaking seems to be a cheaper and more creative marketing alternative for companies who wish to gain media attention without going through traditional marketing methods, which can be very expensive and require a lot of outside employment and time.

What do you think about these stunts? Are they effective? Would a Guinness World Record make you more aware of a brand or product? Let us know!

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

Friday, October 8, 2010

New Gap logo - PR ploy or bad rebranding?

If you haven't seen or heard yet, the Gap brand has changed its logo (see picture above) to the dismay of seemingly everyone who has taken a look.

Now Gap is supposedly backtracking and accepting new designs from the public.

The clothing company posted the following on their Facebook page after allowing the fire of comments to blaze for just enough time: "Thanks for everyone's input on the new logo! We've had the same logo for 20+ years, and this is just one of the things we're changing. We know this logo created a lot of buzz and we're thrilled to see passionate debates unfolding! So much so we're asking you to share your designs. We love out version, but we'd like to...see other ideas. Stayed turned for details in the next few days on this crowd sourcing project."

Now the question is about whether this was an intentional PR ploy to get people talking about the retailer since sales have been slow in recent months. It is clear that people are not happy though and if it was for PR, it was not a smart move in my opinion. Gap is such an iconic American brand that they could have easily started a campaign for the redesign of the logo and had the public's input from day one with a similar amount of frenzy. The difference is that it would not seem misleading and backhanded. If the new "crowd sourcing project" turns out to be intentional, many people will have a sour taste in their mouth for the once wholesome retailer.

A parody Twitter has been launched (@gaplogo) and many are making references to other failed attempts at rebranding - see article on Tropicana's branding blunder here.

What do you think? Intentional or not? Smart or bad decision? Either way, will people stop shopping there? Probably not.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Staying Where You Are

My philosophy used to be "get as many internships as I can." I thought this would be the pathway to landing a job after graduation. So, I spent the summer after my sophomore year in Los Angeles interning at two public relations firms. This past summer, I interned for two non-profit organizations and a small public relations firm in Philadelphia.

I used to think the more places I worked for, the more experience I would get. I will not say this is incorrect. By working in an agency setting as well as doing non-profit work this past summer, I learned about the different fields within public relations. I decided I did not like non-profit work, which I would not have been able to know without working in various fields throughout my time in college.

I enjoyed my agency experience at Skai Blue Media this past summer so much I decided to stay longer. I have come to understand that maybe staying where you are may lead to amazing opportunities as well. It is not necessary to obtain as many internships as possible. There are other pathways to being hired after graduation.

I began with typical intern tasks early in the summer, such as updating media lists, researching for our clients, and writing bi-weekly newsletters. As time progressed at my firm, however, I had amazing opportunities presented to me. I wrote an article published in City Paper. I was able to plan and manage a photo shoot for a city district. A piece I wrote was published in Uptown Magazine.

Since I decided to stay at Skai Blue Media, I have been given more responsibilities. I have been promoted to my boss' personal assistant. I have managed several accounts, as well as written various press releases and pieces for our clients. I partly supervise new interns, and I am even getting paid now. By staying for more than the typical internship period, I have begun to understand how a business is run. I work on a project from start to finish, and I am learning about the small pieces of the business as a whole.

All this would not have been possible had I not decided to stay longer at the firm. What is the moral of this story? Do not feel pressure to obtain as many internships as possible. Staying where you are for a longer period of time is another way to gain experience. You may encounter opportunities you would not otherwise have had by jumping through internships.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Social Media Lessons Learned from H&M

H&M, the well-known European fashion retailer, has become a master of social media with an incredible 3,826,114 fans on Facebook and 56,053 followers on Twitter. As Sara Hansson points out in her post on Mindjumpers, there are four basic pieces of advice that can be learned from H&M's social media success:

Amuse Your Customers:
When visiting H&M's Facebook site, visitors are presented with a number of links and applications for their viewing entertainment, including the "Style Guide" and "H&M TV." The site is easy to navigate and provides visitors with multiple tools for inspiration and amusement. Additionally, H&M keeps their customers and fans informed by updating them on the latest trends, news and updates in fashion, distinguishing them as more than just a clothing retailer.

Any business wants visitors to view and visit their Facebook page more than once. In order to develop a loyal customer fan base, it is important to ask yourself: what value do you bring to the customers and for what reason do they visit the page?

Involve Your Customers:
H&M does an excellent job at involving their fans not only through contests and events, but also by importing blog posts and and customers' outfits that mention H&M into their "Social Media Room." By showcasing the fashion choices and opinions of their millions of fans, H&M is doing a great job at showing how creative and unique their customers are. By allowing consumers around the world to see what real women look like in their clothes, they are bringing transparency to the H&M brand while still showing appreciation for their fans.

For any business, it is important to make the customer feel involved and valued. This helps create a loyal customer fan base which is a great tool for word-of-mouth marketing and recommendations.

Help Your Customers:
H&M uses social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter as another means of customer service. Representatives answer questions, solve issues and help out when needed. Social media sites are an incredibly speedy and efficient way to answer customers' questions and respond to customer feedback.

Make it Easy for Your Customers:
Make your social media site more accessible by making it easy to navigate through clearly labeled pages and links. Additionally, once you have gained their attention through Facebook and Twitter, make sure you provide them with a link to your website so that you are able to take advantage of new site visitors.

I think that these are four incredibly valuable pieces of advice for all brands and businesses to follow when trying to attract and engage customers. By listening to your customers, involving them with the brand and being respectful and attentive to questions and feedback, you are sending a clear message to your fans that they are an integral part of the brand's success and more than just customers.

What businesses and brands are you a 'fan' of? What practices have they done to gain your loyalty and interest?

Let us know!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Verizon Wireless: Doing the Right Thing or Making Settlement?

Verizon Wireless has announced that they will be refunding 15 million customers who were wrongly charged for data use. Current customers will receive the refunds on their next bills and former customers will receive refund checks in the mail. Most customers will receive amounts between $2 and $6.

Verizon Wireless began their press release about the issue with "Verizon Wireless values our customer relationships and we always want to do the right thing for our customers." Of course Verizon wants people to interpret their action as a decision to "do the right thing," but is it the truth? According to a New York Times article, the FCC has been receiving complaints from Verizon Wireless customers about the overcharging since 2007. Three years later, Verizon is finally paying up as part of a settlement.

Every company wants to appear ethical and make their customers feel valued, but actions speak louder than words. I have a feeling the customers who have been waiting on refunds since 2007 would not agree that Verizon valued their relationship and wanted to do the right thing for them.

Do you think the statement Verizon made in their press release helped to promote an image of integrity or did the opposite?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tackling tough interview questions

With my college graduation approaching in May, I have been thinking a lot about job searching. An article was published on August 29, 2010 in a special insert in my hometown newspaper (The Lancaster Intelligencer/New Era) about answering tricky interview questions. My mom shared the article with me, and I was glad she did because I found many of the tips very helpful.

Whether you are interviewing for a part time job or a full-time career job, you may find these tips helpful too.

  • "Tell me about yourself.": This question is not asking for your life's story. Rather, for a "thumbnail sketch of you professionally," the article said.
  • "What is your greatest weakness?": "This is not the time to bare your soul and reveal your deepest insecurities," the author warns. In this situation, you should "either choose a weakness that is really a strength to an employer (you become so engrossed in your work that you find it hard to take a break until the project is completed), or choose something that you had to master at the beginning of your career that would be an expected learning curve for a recent college grad (you didn't really grasp project management in your first job and you had to make a deliberate effort to learn about time lines and time management)."
  • "What salary are you seeking?": The author recommends doing your homework in this case, coming to the interview with an understanding of what similar positions pay in your area. "Be sure to compare apples to apples on this one," the author cautions.
  • "Why did you leave your last position?": If you left because of a better opportunity, this question is a no-brainer. On the other hand, if you were let go, "do not say anything bad about your last employer," the article advises. "If you were let go because of something you did," the author says, "try to take responsibility while making it clear that you would handle things differently today and that you learned a valuable lesson."
Do you have any tips to share? What are some examples of situations in which you responded to these questions well and situations in which you responded poorly?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Elle magazine celebrated its 25-year anniversary this month with four covers, each featuring a popular Hollywood actress. While three of the covers were graced by full-length profiles of Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, and Lauren Conrad, the fourth one was a cropped, mid-chest shot of a lightened Gabourey Sidibe. It was apparent that Sidibe’s cover was somewhat lightened to match her fellow cover mates. Sibide’s cover brought up questions about whether the cropping and lightening was done on purpose due to her differences from the other actresses.

Elle’s editor-in-chief, Robbie Myers, is speaking out on behalf of the magazine and the photographers, Joe Zee and Carter Smith, who shot the pictures.

As for dealing with the negative feedback from the public, Myers is denying that the magazine lightened Sidibe’s skin by claiming the lighting in photos taken on the street looks different from the lighting in those taken in a studio. Myers is standing by the magazine’s decisions about the photos and their choice of artists. Defending the magazine is one thing, but defending the artists as well is a step further.

Although the magazine is adequately speaking out in defense of the covers, the situation could have been avoided altogether. The photos could have all been shot in the same formats or in equally different formats to keep the public from making any snap judgments.

Click here to check out the covers and decide for yourself whether Elle was right or wrong in this situation.

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

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What I Learned from Kelly Cutrone

“When you’re following your inner voice, doors tend to eventually open for you, even if they mostly slam shut at first.”

No, these aren’t the words of an inspirational talk-show host or lines from a sappy self-help book. They are wise words from sharp-tongued PR maven Kelly Cutrone’s book, “If You Have to Cry, Go Outside.” After reading the book, I learned that there is more to her than her scenes on shows like The Hills and Kell On Earth, her all black outfits, and her brutally honest comments.

I was pleasantly surprised by the encouraging and maternal tone of the book. Cutrone offers some great advice for all Public Relations hopefuls, not just those working in Fashion PR. My PR focus is non-profit, with a strong interest in museums and art. I never thought a Fashion PR book could relate to me and motivate me to step out of my comfort zone to get what I truly want in life, but I was wrong!

Here are the best things I learned from Cutrone’s book:

Surround Yourself with the Right People
Cutrone talks a lot about surrounding yourself with people who will guide you in the right direction and help you figure out what you want to do with your life. She says, “Start by identifying people in your community you look up to and then, graciously and with their blessing, use their hard work and experience to your advantage. Pick their brains.”

Treat Internships and Early Jobs Like Gold
Cutrone treats her interns like family and expects hard work and complete dedication from them in return. She explains just how important internships and entry-level jobs are, no matter what the tasks include. Picking up dry-cleaning and going on coffee runs may not be so glamorous, but those jobs will lead to bigger and better things in the future, she says.

“Give Good Phone”
One of the most beneficial things I learned from reading Cutrone’s book is to always rely on the phone to get things done. Forget the Blackberry, Twitter, or even standard emails. In PR, communication is key, and the best and most successful communication comes from actually speaking to someone, not having them read it off a screen.

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

Friday, October 1, 2010

Starbucks "Gold Card" Loyalty Program

Companies are always trying to attract new customers, but marketers should know that it is also essential to retain existing ones. Not only is it important, but it is often easier and less expensive. One effective way to keep patrons coming back is through a loyalty program.

With the "My Starbucks Rewards" program, all you have to do is purchase a drink card that works similar to a debit card. Once your card is purchased and you have loaded money into your account, use the card every time you purchase a drink from the coffee house. With each purchase you are given one "star." There are several level of rewards based on the number of stars you are given, but the highest level is Gold.

As an avid latte drinker I have been anxiously awaiting my Starbucks Gold card engraved with my name for months. The thought of it practically motivated me to drink more and more caffeine even when I got enough sleep the night before (way to go, Starbucks).

Just this week, it finally arrived!

The first thing I noticed was the single postage stamp that appeared to be put on by an actual human. Call me crazy, but getting a personally stamped letter from Starbucks was enough to make me rip open the envelope anxiously before I could even get to my apartment.

"Dear Jaime...Welcome to the Gold Level of My Starbucks Rewards. You've earned it..."
Some of the benefits: A free drink "just for being Gold," a free drink on my birthday, two continuous hours of Wi-Fi daily, free refills on brewed coffee and tea, free flavored syrups, free soymilk, exclusive coupons, and more.
Not only does my name on the card make me feel special, it will also allow the Starbucks employees to greet me by name and help foster a more friendly environment. Although I don't get a free pass to the front of the always-long line, at least I will get a warm greeting and hot latte, a great way to start my day.

In this case, the Rewards program has not only kept me as a loyal customer, but has inspired me to write this blog and promote Starbucks through word-of-mouth.
Is anyone else in a loyalty program? If so, what are some of the benefits that keep you coming back and did the program prompt you to tell others?