Sunday, July 31, 2011

Launching a Successful Contest

Contests are a fun way to develop a company’s brand, create relationships with users or celebrate a company milestone. So, what do contests have to do with public relations and what does it take to garner publicity from your contest? Putting together a contest is one of the best ways to get your company publicity for little to no cost, though the contest must be clever enough for the media to cover it. Contests are also full of public relations activities such as writing press releases, pitching the contest to media (if it is unique), writing letters and website copy. Like many public relations campaigns, the best place to develop ideas is in a brainstorming session. Sit down with your department and discuss why your company or client should have a contest, outline the goal of the contest and brainstorm ideas for unique contests.

A warning—contests are not easy to put together. There are many things that a public relations practitioner must do for a contest to be successful. Here is a contest time-line that my internship supervisor gave to me:

1. Brainstorm with your department
-Have your colleagues bring in contest ideas. After the brainstorming session pick the best idea and create a presentation for corporate officers, or your client.

2. Make sure corporate officers or clients support the contest
-If you cannot gain their support, there is no way you are going to create a contest.

3. Discuss the contest with legal and decide how you are going to pick a winner
-There is no way of getting around it! You must have legal go through a copy of the contest and create terms and conditions, so that contest participants will not sue your client or company. Once you have addressed legal issues and discussed the contest with corporate officers, you are well on your way to launching the contest website.

4. Decide how you are going to pick a winner
-Will you do a random drawing for a sweepstakes-style contest, or will you read through entries for your story-style contest?
5. Create simple, engaging entry copy for the website, social media sites and email newsletters
-These are not the only outlets you have to promote the contest. There are other cost-effective alternatives such as creating contest entry fliers to hand out on college campuses.

6. Document entries
-A good way to do this is to set up a folder in your email. Also, for written contests, it is best to go through entries weekly and pick out potential winners.

7. Find a winner, announce the winner and evaluate the contest
-Write the winner to tell them they won your contest, announce the winner on the contest website, post their story, use social media to announce the winner and evaluate the contest. Finally, if the contest was successful, will you do it again?

An example of a creative, successful contest:

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

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Enhancing Your Brand with Online Reputation Management

The following post was written by Matt Polsky, the Senior Content and Reputation Manager of VA Mortgage Center.

Currently, business must have a web presence in order to grow and survive. However, that presence cannot simply be a single page on the web; it must be a multi-faceted, ever evolving campaign to promote the company’s brand. According to a Pew Internet and American Life study, 78 percent of all potential patrons with access to the internet review a business online prior to contacting the business, and if they do not find a clear and positive indication of what the business’ mission and products or services are, you can guarantee they will go elsewhere.

Brands are what drive many businesses, and unfortunately, many businesses end managing their brands at their websites or with simple search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Because of the numerous online review platforms available, reputation management is imperative as it can greatly increase a company’s brand power. Typical ways that proper online reputation management enhances a brand include:

Brand Protection

Forums, discussion boards, and social networking sites can easily be a breeding ground for negative comments about your brand, and if a potential patron comes across one of these comments while researching your business, they will most likely go to a competitor with a better image. To protect your brand from any potential naysayers, online reputation management must continuously be on the front of your agenda. Businesses should purchase all domain names related to their business and frequently perform keyword searches to determine what is being said about the company. More advanced SEO techniques should also be used so that only sites with positive reviews on your business see the first page of search results.

Increased Brand Visibility

Achieving the top positions in the search engines has historically been a great way for businesses to achieve greater visibility; however, it is no longer enough. With various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube that carry millions of users, companies must promote their brands on these channels as well. Tweeting and posting can be great ways to spur community involvement and build brand advocates; however, Twitter and Facebook are two different beasts, so be careful not to make social media mistakes. With Facebook, posting once a day is enough to keep from flooding a newsfeed and angering a customer into unliking your site. On the other hand, Twitter users are used to seeing 3-5 tweets a day and are less concerned about how many times you post.

Brand Image

Complaints will happen, so be prepared in advance. Whether it is a complaint on your Facebook wall or on a neutral reviews site, handle it with speed and care. Show good will to the customer and try to resolve the issue. Even if nothing can be done to please a specific customer, it is still in the best interest of the company and your brand to show other customers that you do care and are willing to resolve any problems. It is also a good practice to comment on positive reviews as well, thanking the customers for their patronage, which can build repeat customers and brand advocates.

Proper brand management is the first step in gaining positive national and global recognition. If potential clients are able to readily find you throughout the internet and read nothing but positive things about your company, you can guarantee that they will be eager to support your business.

Matt Polsky is the Senior Content Manager and Reputation Manager for VA Mortgage Center, managing VA Mortgage Center complaints and reviews, and providing insights learned from the nation’s leading provider of VA home loans.

Sharing Outside the Box

When discussing the strategy and use of social media it’s easy to focus on the big three: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. But sometimes when you want to reach a specific audience, it’s important to shake things up and look for something a little outside the box. That’s what Lotus Farm to Table, in Media, PA, has done by enlisting the help of the local Philadelphia Foodspotting group.

Foodspotting is a global network that allows people to share opinions and artistic viewpoints about food. It connects people to dishes, not just restaurants. Users in this network snap photos, usually with their mobile phones, and upload them onto the Foodspotting website in real time. There, anyone can peruse the latest dish and find inspiration for their next culinary adventure. Folks in Philadelphia have taken it one step further, creating a group that hosts monthly events called “eat-ups.”

That is where Lotus saw an opportunity. By contacting one of the groups leading members, the restaurant was able to work in conjunction with the group to host an eat-up in the restaurant. The eat-up, which was scheduled for July 28, encourages the group to come and taste the food and unique teas, and while they’re at it, snap a few photos of the restaurant. Lotus has nothing to lose, since the groups pay for their meals at these events.

Lotus is hoping to start a dialogue about their dishes through photos, attracting new dinners based on the visuals. By engaging with a lesser-known medium in a social exchange, the restaurant could spark something that has yet to be embraced on a mainstream level by other players in the restaurant industry.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Jacob DeChant.

Friday, July 29, 2011

How Thou Shalt Write An Excellent Press Release

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

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

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Leave My 140 Characters Alone!

Twitter just turned five years old this month, but some people are already asking for facelift.

Last week, Farhad Manjoo wrote an article in Slate imploring Twitter to rethink its 140 character limit on tweets. He writes that Jack Dorsey, the architect of Twitter, created the 140 character limit to be text message compatible. Since text messages have a limit of 160 characters, Dorsey allocated 20 for a user name and 140 for a message. Manjoo writes that Twitter was envisioned to broadcast short, personal status updates – not necessarily to be the news distribution, chatter facilitating, pop culture engine that it is today.

Since Twitter has evolved and no longer relies on the text message character limit, Manjoo is in favor of raising the limit to at least 280 characters. He writes that the 140 character restriction “prevents meaningful interaction between users, short-circuits conversations, and turns otherwise straightforward thoughts into a bewildering jumble of txtese.” As evidence, he points to the ever-so-eloquent Senator Chuck Grassley and his incoherent tweets about everything from windstorms to nails.

While Sen. Grassley is not the only one who writes in nonsensical twitter dialect, the vast majority of Twitter users know how to type coherent 140 character messages. In fact, I would argue that brevity is the best part of Twitter. I really don’t want to read a book filled with long, run-on sentences about some wayward soul’s personal problems. Nor do I really care to see any more emotional song lyrics than are already visible on my news feed. Besides, an increased character limit would be incompatible with mobile applications, which already struggle to show three or four tweets at once.

It is my firm belief that Twitter’s 140 character limit should stay untouched. Leave the diatribes, rants, song lyrics, epic poems, and whatever else to Xanga and Myspace. Better yet, contribute to a blog – that’s what I do!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hone in on Success

As I approach my junior year in college and really start to focus on how to prepare for a successful career in public relations a  recent article by, "Top 10 Ways to Succeed in PR" provides a good start.

10. Having it all at your finger tips
Keeping up with the latest trends from social media to breaking news is key when keeping pace with PR.

9. I can't hear you
If you have an idea/suggestion speak up during your account or client meetings. It let's your team know your mentally present but also makes them aware that you see an oppeetunity for your client.

8. Accept criticism
Public relations is one of the most competitive industries. Therefore, think of criticism as an opportunity to grow in the industry.

7. Keeping up with traditional news
We preach that pr professionals have to keep up with social media and its latest trends but we also need to remember and follow traditional news and especially news that applies to our clients. I find that Google alerts helps a lot with client news.

6. Don't be a pest
We all know how stressful and irritating pitching can be but to avoid being put a reporters "black list" be cognizant of how many follow up e-mails you send.

5. Let your boss know
If you are unhappy about subjects concerning compensation or account structuring, it's essential to make your boss aware of the situation. This may very well  lead to your boss wanting to know more of your opinions and thoughts about the workplace.

4. Two heads are better than one
Although we have all heard and come to experience  the saying, "if you want something done right do it yourself," it's important to be a team player when it comes to working in a group.

3. Try new things!
If a client asks you to put together a social media plan and it doesn't fall under your jurisdiction, speak to your supervisor and ask if you could take a stab at it. Feel free to make mistakes, your boss will love the enthusiasm.

2. Don't make your self comfortable
Comfort at a job leads to nostalgia, you are never "untouchable".  Keep on your toes.

...and the number one way to be successful

1. Make your goals
Making your goals is not only self rewarding but it shows management that your a vital member of the team.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Would You Pass a Social Media Background Check?

As we all are aware, when applying for a job they usually ask for a cover letter, resume, background check, and your...Facebook status?

As a college student, it is very important that we keep certain parts of our lives private from the very public World Wide Web. A recent CNN blog post shows an interview with Max Drucker, CEO of Social Intelligence, a company hired to screen the Internet for any red flags that a potential hire could have. They specifically look for language that is used on social media sites and only access public information. Drucker explains that things that employers will take into consideration when utilizing his company are any signs of racist remarks, illegal activity such as drug use, violence and sexually explicit pictures and videos.

While you may think it is cool to show your social media network pictures of what you did this weekend, employers will not look at it favorably when considering you for a job. If you think you are at risk of having inappropriate things on the Internet, here are some things you can do to control what can be searched.

  • If you have any page that has pictures that could be considered appropriate, delete them. Save them somewhere else so that they can't harm you when it really counts.
  • Create a blog. This will help you to avoid damaging search results since your posts will most likely land at the top of a search engine's results.
  • If you're not in touch with your creative side, consider making a personal web page displaying your resume, a portfolio, press mentions, awards, etc. It will get noticed over other sites that may be below it in a search.
Before you write off your social media sites as appropriate, just remember that while these sites do have privacy settings, more and more companies are finding ways around them, in order to screen the best possible candidates for their positions. Especially in the current economic state, it is important to take all things into consideration when making yourself the best potential hire possible. If you wouldn't want an employer to see it, it should not be on the Internet. Period.

To see the full CNN interview click here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

It Pays to Win

Everyone likes to win. Whether it's a stuffed animal at the carnival or an all expense paid vacation to Florida courtesy of a Hatfield ham (true story), it feels good to win. Many people are willing to chip in a few moments of their time, a buck or two, or some other sort of donation in hopes of winning the prize. In "4 Reasons Why Contests Should Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy" Ben Pickering highlights the positives in creating a contest for your campaign:

  1. Contests Are a Great Tool for Building Your Fan Base- Facebook is a great tool for running contests. How many times have you seen on your News Feed, 1,000th "Like" Gets a Free T-Shirt! Or something of that sort? People "like" things all the time, so conducting a contest is fast, cheap, and easy on your time and theirs and an excellent way to gain followers quickly.

  2. Contests Enable You To Engage Your Audience-Allowing your audience to be creative and get their time in the spotlight is never a bad idea. Photo and video submission contests are a testament to their willingness to be associated with your brand and thus they will encourage all of their friends to check out your product's website to show their support.

  3. Contests Are a Rich Source of Data-It's simple, give and take. Offer a prize for completing a survey or answering a couple questions. I have participated in these numerous times on campus, and as a sucker for anything free, I willing gave a few minutes of my time for a small gift. As a result of give and take, you will be able to get insider information on what reputation your product has and how you can improve or expand it.

  4. Contests Empower Consumers To Do Your Marketing For You-For the average Internet user, it's as simple as copying and pasting a link into a status, tweet, or e-mail, to share with hundreds of people world wide. By someone tweeting a link to their submission in your contest, their followers will go ahead and click that link to show their support while at the same time learning about your product.
Whether you are a small business trying to accumulate a large following or a well-established brand, contests will provide you with endless opportunities to learn more about your audience, get feedback on how you are doing, and, most importantly, get the word out there about your campaign.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lessons from the News Corp. Scandal: Avoiding Bad Brand Associations

As PR people, one of our major duties is to build beneficial relationships for our clients. In the wake of the News of the World phone hacking scandal, we've seen how some of these associations can turn into PR suicide.

However, a few charities saw it beneficial to place free ads in News of the World's final issue. According to PR Week's article, "Charities Insist News of the World Ads Were Great Opportunity Despite 'Toxic Brand'," nonprofits like St. John Ambulance, Pennies for Life and The Well Foundation placed ads.

Still, with the recent parliament hearings and the arrest of former exec. Rebekah Brooks, it's hard to imagine why any organization would jeopardize their image like this.

Here are some things to consider when evaluating whether this type of PR risk is really worth taking:

1. Your Audience: Would your target audience understand that the organization's misdeeds in no way reflect your client's beliefs or actions? If your audience would misinterpret your association as an endorsement for the organization's actions avoid the risk.

Children's Heart Federation Communications Manager Cecilia Yardley showed how she weighed her concerns as she states, "...we thought about...[it] carefully and we decided for our beneficiary group it was advantageous for them to reach a wider audience."

2. Your Image: If your client's image is already in danger this will be one more thing to disengage the audience. The charities placing ads knew their do-good image would help their audience pay attention to their message, instead of the endangered brand.

3.Your future: Does it seem like the organization in crisis has other wrongdoings that will hit the fan soon? If you think there's going to be one misdeed after another uncovered, your client's image may not survive such a lengthy crisis.

The take away: In scandals like this the safest bet is to stay far away from the organization in crisis.

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

Saturday, July 23, 2011

How Students Can Be Better Leaders in PR

The following blog post was written by Jason Mollica, '97 Temple Alum.

I recently finished President George W. Bush’s book “Decision Points.” As someone who is a history buff and enjoys reading about how president’s think, I was eager to dive in. There have been 44 men that have led our country and each one was different from the other. All have had their own difficult decisions: war, economic uncertainty and political turmoil.

As I read “Decision Points,” two things continued to strike me: Leadership requires good listening skills and trust in those around you. Whether it’s the oval office or your PR firm, success can be determined by how good you are at trusting your instincts and having a team of solid, critical thinkers. It is also what should appeal to you when interviewing for a job as well.

How do you build up your own leadership skills? It’s simple. Never stop learning and listening. Presidents aren’t experts and neither are senior level PR pros. But, they choose employees and advisors that (hopefully) help strengthen the country or a firm. In turn, they add to a leader’s skill set.

Here are five ways you can become a better, stronger leader:

Open your mind- Don’t believe the first thing you hear. Research and understand both sides of a story or person.

Think, Think, Think- I firmly believe that you shouldn’t make snap decisions when it comes to life and career. Look at all your options.

Respect your competition- See what they do right and don’t criticize them in the process. Set the standard for doing it right… your way.

Make it happen- People want to respect you. Give them a reason to do so and follow-up on mails, phone calls, promptly. Receive a business card from someone? Drop an email to show you respected the time you chatted.

Be yourself- Don’t put on an act because people can see through a fake. Be the same person you are when presenting at a conference, in the classroom, or over the phone.

Leadership doesn’t happen overnight; it’s developed and nurtured. The only way to start on the path to being a good leader is starting right now.

Jason Mollica is a 1997 graduate of Temple University's School of Communication and Theater. Since then, he has worked in television and radio in Philadelphia and New York City. Upon leaving the industry in 2005, he began a career in public relations and marketing. He is currently the public relations manager for Carr Marketing Communications in Amherst, N.Y. You can follow him on Twitter, @JasMollica, and read his blog at

Team Work Makes the Dream Work

While studying abroad in Spain, I’ve come to understand how important it is to work effectively in small groups. I have been thrown into a foreign country with fourteen other students from Temple, who I didn’t know before. From coordinating plans to practicing a new language, working as a group has become a necessity.
While abroad, I read Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, a book written in the last years of his life. In one section, titled “Enabling the Dreams of Others,” Dr. Pausch discusses a few key points on how to effectively work within small groups:

1. Meet people properly: Pausch explains that a solid introduction with eye contact is important because it lays a good foundation for the relationship in the future.

2. Find things you have in common: By doing this, it’s much easier to address differences that may be discovered.

3. Try for optimal meeting conditions: People will function better if they aren’t tired, hungry, or standing in the rain.

4. Check egos at the door: Ideas should be written down and identified by a description, not the person who thought of the idea. Additionally, it is a level playing field, with opportunities for everyone to succeed.

5. Praise each other: Even the worst ideas have a silver lining! This also helps keep everyone’s morale up.

6. Phrase alternatives as questions: You should suggest doing plan A, instead of plan B. It’s never a good idea to tell someone that you’re changing the plan to your own.

Pausch’s tips are more practical than others I’ve heard before. They have become very helpful while working in my group in Spain. For example, when a decision needs to be made about which direction to walk, removing ourselves from the rain calmed everyone down and allowed for more rational thinking, like #3 suggests. While these tips seem simple, they can change group dynamics if applied correctly.

The incredible experiences I’ve had in Spain are only because of our group working effectively to achieve a common goal, with patience and respect. I want to take this lesson back to Temple with me, so that each group experience from now on is equally as positive. I highly recommend The Last Lecture and following the tips above for a successful outcome.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Alex Crispino.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Stand Up and Stand Out: Tips for Successful Internships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Politicians and Twitter: Who Makes the Most of the Microblog?

Politicians are a dime a dozen on Twitter but are any worth a buck?

The microblogging service is populated with candidates, ex-candidates, office holders, and political wannabes. Putting a political campaign on Twitter is a great strategy but many politicians do not effectively utilize the communication tool after the big election.

Many political candidates and office holders have Twitter accounts. Unfortunately, many of these individuals do not bother to personally tweet from them. Usually it’s a few reluctant staffers that are assigned that job. The result is generally a boring and uninspired string of updates involving random events that the politician is attending, vague details of legislative sessions, semi-noteworthy quotes or ideological talking points. On the rare chance that a politician tweets for himself, chances are that he doesn’t understand how to effectively use Twitter to foster communication and build a brand.

Another mistake that candidates often make is to abandon their Twitter accounts when they lose an election. This may be the one case where Christine O’Donnell, the totally not-a-witch former Senatorial candidate from Delaware, has done something right. @ChristineOD has continued to tweet consistently – albeit somewhat poorly –from her account after her defeat in last November’s election. Furthermore, I’m almost positive she tweets entirely herself. Her typographical errors are slightly endearing and besides, I doubt that O’Donnell has the money to hire third-party help. Remember, this was the candidate that was under investigation for using campaign contributions to pay her personal bills. She also got a bit of flack for living in her campaign office.

There is at least one shining star in the political Twitterverse. Newark Mayor Cory Book does almost everything right. @CoryBooker has over 1 million followers and tweets constantly from his BlackBerry. Booker is a twitter genius. He responds to almost everyone who mentions twitter handle, retweets like a pro, and even uses hashtags to motivate constituents to exercise and eat well. He immediately answers calls for help and is always pleasant and positive - even when responding to his detractors. Booker is making quite a name for himself on social media and definitely a politician to watch in the upcoming years.

How do your favorite politicians use Twitter? If you need help finding some good – or bad - office holders to follow check out Tweet Congress and Political Twits.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Re-thinking Engagement

A recent article in, "Are we killing them with engagement?” got me thinking about the approach PR professionals take when engaging with those using social media. Which leads me to share this new fact: Facebook users are beginning to "un-like" business pages.

I have been told by multiple professors and PR professionals that engaging and initiating conversation with your organizations publics is essential in developing and maintaining relationships. Well, there might be a problem with that, most people are not willing to talk or engage with the organization or its representatives.

People or public's want to engage in things that interest them, friends and hobbies. Being asked to give your opinion about a product or brand or even answering a question posed by the organization just clogs up their news feed. In turn, we are seeing resentment toward the organization or brand.

So, we need a new plan, a more "customer-centric" approach. A better approach would be specifically identifying needs and addressing them accordingly, going from general to specific, and individually targeting certain people based on their particular needs. This can and should go so far as writing on their Facebook page, personal blog, or mentioning them on Twitter.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Is the Internet Ruining our Memory?

A recent study from Columbia University has opened our eyes to how dependent society has become on search engines, especially Google. People seem to remember things differently now that there is such an abundance of information available to use on the Internet at a moment's notice.

It was concluded that we are less likely to remember certain information if we know that we are able to find it somewhere else. Columbia University Psychologist, Betsy Sparrow, performed the study and will be publishing her research in Science titled "Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequence of Having Information at Our Fingertips."

"Our brains rely on the Internet for memory in much the same way they rely on the memory of a friend, family member or co-worker. We remember less through knowing information itself than by knowing where the information can be found," says Sparrow.

Her research was carried out during four studies, in which different methods were used while asking participants trivia questions. Their memories were tested when they were informed that they would have the answer available for them to view later and when they would not.

While it may seem negative that we are no longer remembering simple information like we did a decade ago, Sparrow believes that with this research we will have the potential to change our teaching and learning methods in all fields to adapt to our altered ways of remembering. "Perhaps those who teach in any context, be they college professors, doctors or business leaders, will become increasingly focused on imparting greater understanding of ideas and ways of thinking, and less focused on information," said Sparrow.

How often do you rely on search engines? Read more about the study here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dear Netflix:

Since Netflix first launched, it has been the college students best friend. You can rent new releases on DVD while still watching endless episodes of The Office, all for one convenient price. That is, until this past Tuesday. Starting September 1st, Netflix users will no longer be able to bundle unlimited DVDs and streaming. Instead, Netflix is separating the two, and hiking the price. Understandably, this change of contract has not settled well with current Netflix users.

After the announcement on Tuesday, Netflix customers flocked to Twitter to voice their contempt. #DearNetflix became a trending topic where users tweeted their anger towards the new policy:

Seriously, WHO is running the show there? Monkeys?

Just waiting for Amazon Streaming to kick off. Then bye Netflix. You won't be missed.

So we now get LESS for MORE.

The complaints didn't stop there. On the Netflix blog, the comment capacity was far exceeded soon after the announcement. With the comment cap being 5,000, the majority of the comments were negative. The Netflix Facebook page has even fallen victim, to over 28,000 complaints.

So what did Netflix do wrong, besides the price hike? We all know that price increases happen, especially during the current economic situation. However, instead of admitting the reason for the increase, Netflix brushed it off as being a more convenient scenario than the previous. In our current environment, where social media is so prevalent, we don't like to be shuffled around the truth. That is why Facebook and Twitter are where they are, we like straightforward, clear messages with no nonsense. Instead, Netflix has beat around the bush using keywords such as "lowest prices ever" and alluding to the change being something Netflix users had elected for.

The best thing that Netflix could probably do at this point is to address its customers by updating their blog, as well as their Twitter and Facebook. All of which they have neglected since the announcement. Instead of keeping users in the dark and fuming, Netflix should quit the superficial jargon and be honest and considerate of its users, before they decide to take their business elsewhere.

To read more on Netflix's recent announcement, click here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

LinkedIn: It's Who You Know

While reading the New York Times last week, I stumbled upon an article in the Technology section that questioned the high stock value of popular Social Media website LinkedIn. According to the article, LinkedIn made a profit of $243 million in 2010 and the website has been expanding rapidly in 2011 with no stalls or crashes. For those of you who are not familiar with the website, LinkedIn is a social networking site that allows one to “link” together their collegiate network, co-workers, alumni associations and professional network into one. Companies can post job openings on the website and users can see how they professionally connect to others.

LinkedIn has become a widely-used social networking tool and has attained a positive reputation in the world of virtual networking. Universities and parents are often warning teenagers and young adults to “watch what you put on your Facebook page… you never know who will see it!” However, the point of creating a LinkedIn profile is putting one’s best “professional” face forward in the hope that potential employers will see it. With Twitter, one often hears that users “tweet too often” or spend too much time updating their page. Yet, with LinkedIn, one’s professional information will change very little from day to day so the site does not need constant maintenance. Although, do not be confused: this site is a social media tool. Many have the conception that LinkedIn is simply a portal for resumes, but there are other uses and features on the website. While it may not be as “social” as other social media networks, it definitely has its perks.

If you have a LinkedIn or are considering creating one, here are some helpful tips on how to maximize your profile, coming straight from the source (LinkedIn Blog):

1. Become an expert on the career you want to pursue

Read LinkedIn Today, do daily news searches on your chosen industry, or look into the new feature LinkedIn Signal

2. Optimize your LinkedIn Profile for your new career

Make a strong summary statement of your career goals, make sure your headline shows off your professional side, and post any/all “transferable” skills you have.

3. Join LinkedIn groups related to your desired career

Include professional organizations from your University or community and look at what groups others in your industry are a part of.

4. Alert your network to your career change plans

Send personalized messages to individuals in your network if looking for a job or opportunity and make sure your title is up to date.

5. Talk to anyone who works or has worked in the field you want to join

Ask your existing network for recommendations and don’t be afraid to ask questions! Ask for tips, publications and advice in attaining your desired career.

6. Sign up for LinkedIn job alerts

Customize your job alerts by location, function, keyword, etc. and know when a position opens up.

7. Make real world changes

Take advice from others profiles and see what areas of your professional skills need improvement.

From personal usage, I would advise uploading a professional photo for your profile to make it more personal, making sure that all of the information on your site is accurate, and getting recommendations from current or past employers. The more positive reinforcement and information you have available, the more it shows that you put time and effort into your profile. Everyone in the social media world knows that putting your best face forward counts! And, don’t be afraid to post updates about relevant topics. The connections you notice are the connections that make themselves known. Lastly, make use of your connections! Do not be afraid to message your friends parents or your neighbors to ask about their career paths. You never know what a little bit of initiative and networking can do! After all, LinkedIn has helped to show us that it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.

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

Saturday, July 16, 2011

PR Opportunities in London

Obtaining a degree in Public Relations is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into a six week study abroad program in London, England and it is here that I realized Public Relations is an occupation that one can practice outside of the United States, something that I definitely wouldn’t mind doing. Everywhere I look there are promoters for restaurants, clubs and any attractions you can think of. There are advertisements across the entirety of this amazing city, and every inch of space is utilized to market different companies, venues, markets and entertainment.

London is also one of the top places for jobs in PR. Companies like PHA Media, Taylor Herring, Flipside PR, Premier PR and many more are headquartered here. There are tons of opportunities for one to pursue with a degree in PR, in addition to many educational opportunities. For instance, The London School of Public Relations and Branding (, which was established in 1992, is now one of the leading educational institutions in PR, along with several other degrees. They offer a two-week full time PR course, along with an 8-week part-time PR course, making it easy for anyone to gain a diploma.

So for anyone thinking of visiting London—whether it is in search of education, job prospects or just a vacation, I would highly recommend it. London is one of the top cities in the world, filled with more than 8 million people from many different backgrounds. There are countless opportunities for anyone interested in PR, so come check it out!

What is your dream city to practice PR in? Let us know!

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

Friday, July 15, 2011

Going the Extra 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!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Politics as Usual: Playing Chicken with Economic Catastrophe for PR Bonus

Preserving the public perception of the Republican Party and its candidates seems to be the paramount objective of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s latest policy proposal.

In case you have been vacationing on an exotic island for the past month (if so - lucky you), the United States has hit its self-imposed debt ceiling – the $14.3 trillion limit on government borrowing. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has set August 2, 2011, as the deadline for congress to forge a deal to raise this limit and allow the government to spend more money. If congress does not raise the debt limit the U.S. will default on its loans, causing massive trauma to markets across the world and to the value of the U.S. dollar. A government default would - best case scenario - push the economy into a double dip recession.

You would think that forging a deal to avoid economic catastrophe would be a piece of cake. Then you realize the sad, divisive state that the American political system is in.

Talks between the Obama administration and congressional leaders to raise the debt ceiling have been akin to a roller coaster. Republicans came out swinging, saying they would only vote to raise the debt ceiling if legislation came paired with slashes to government spending (with focus on entitlements). Democrats first rejected any cuts to entitlements but then regrouped around Obama to offer Republicans a “grand compromise,” which paired entitlement cuts with tax raises - a deal that would save the government $4 trillion.

It was looking good for a while, democrats and republicans seemed to be climbing towards an agreement. The grand compromise included major selling points for both parties and avoiding a looming economic catastrophe.

But of course, the deal was too good to be true. Last weekend Republican leadership formally rejected the compromise and left the talks at a stalemate with only weeks until the government default. It was then that Senator McConnell threw a corkscrew into the roller coaster’s path. On Tuesday, July 12, McConnell proposed a last resort bill in which Congress would cede its power to raise the debt ceiling to the White House. This odd proposal would allow Obama to raise the debt limit in increments for the remainder of his first term. Congress could only block these elevations with a supermajority two-thirds vote.

Why would Republican leadership even propose a bill like this? Easy: to paint Obama as fiscally irresponsible for not tackling the deficit while being able to vote against a debt ceiling raise without jeopardizing the economy. It’s a purely political move to thwart Obama’s reelection attempts without creating any progress at all on managing the nation’s debt, progress which Obama and most reasonable politicians are advocating.

As more proof of McConnell’s dubious PR move, I offer his own words:

"If we go into default he will say Republicans are making the economy worse," said McConnell on Wednesday morning. "And all of a sudden we have co-ownership of a bad economy. That is a very bad position going into an election. My first choice was to do something important for the country. But my second obligation is to my party and my conference to prevent them from being sucked into a horrible position politically that would allow the president, probably, to get reelected because we didn't handle this difficult situation correctly."

In short: Republicans look bad if they cause the economy to crash. Democrats look good if Obama can forge a bipartisan compromise that will secure the economy and attack the deficit. Both of these are unacceptable end results for McConnell.

It is irresponsible to let public perception impede national progress. In fact, it’s a bad public relations move as well. Now Democrats can label McConnell’s proposal as preserving politics as usual, a phrase that tastes sour in the mouths of the American voters.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

10 Reasons why PR Needs More Video

Video can often be a tool that PR professionals over look when trying to connect to an audience and although video is time consuming and expensive, recently reported 10 reasons and benefits why PR professionals should start using more video.

Video press release- A video press release is significantly more interesting then the typical run-of-the-mill press release and can play a huge factor in whether your going to get coverage. It also gives bloggers, journalists, and publications more content to share with their audience.
Building trust- The ability to see a spokesperson talk or explain the product is unique to only video. Video helps the audience trust the featured product and its capabilities.
Raising brand awareness- A great way of raising brand awareness with video is show casing a lucky winner a chance of winning cash, a trip, or something or value.
Product launches- Product launches through video are the most effective way to introduce a product and its various features. Video can help establish a brand by putting graphics or catchy taglines to images.
Crisis management- Videos have the ability to reach a huge audience which significantly helps damage control quickly and effectively. A video of an apology or correction enables the audience to make the connection with the brand or organization better than a letter or note.
Around the office- We all can agree that company newsletter can get a little dry, so to spice things up companies like Google are using video to inform their employees of the newest happenings. Internal videos can also be extended to potential clients and the media.
Social media- While social media has its own place in the PR a video could make that important message even more memorable. Having a video integrated with social media makes the message easily accessible and sharable.
Personality- Video allows you to associate a personality with a brand. A video can do this by association, a celebrity or spokesperson or by the context of the video.
Events- A video can help those invited be captivated with an upcoming event, this would especially work well with a flash mob or even Relay For Life.
Political campaigns- Ever since candidates were able to be seen on TV a significant shift has taken place in the history of voting. People not only look at the issues being addressed but the person delivering the issue and opinion. Video is obviously a great way to showcase a candidate and their ability to connect with the masses.

A message is only as good as its delivery.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Home Run Derby Players Connect with Social Media

For the first time, players in Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby were able to interact with fans live via social media. MLB Advanced Media announced that the incorporation of Twitter and Facebook would be used to share video and picture content shot by the players during the event. Fans were encouraged to ask questions and cheer on their favorite players during the Derby.

Each player was able to tweet and post to their Facebook fan pages during the Derby on their personal handheld devices. If they didn't have a device, or a Twitter account, they were still able to interact from social media stations set up on the field. These stations included laptops, video cameras and tablets, as well as representatives encouraging players and fans to use the hashtag #HRDerby to be a part of the conversation.

During the game, the video board was showing tweets using this hashtag in between batters. Aside from Facebook and Twitter, fans were also able to check-in at the Home Run Derby through the Bat 11 application for iPhone and Android mobile phones. also provided a home run tracker as well as live video stream during the Derby.

How did you use social media during the Derby? To see a full list of MLB Twitter accounts to follow click here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Are you LinkedIn?

LinkedIn has proven to be a powerful tool in the workplace. It provides professionals the opportunity to showcase their credentials to future employers as well as interact and make connections with other professionals. Just as it is important to be thorough and consistent in your work, it is also important to portray yourself as such on you LinkedIn, as it is the primary medium that your colleagues will go to in order to find out more about you. In an article for, Pete Cordella touched upon a few basics on getting your LinkedIn profile noticed for all the right reasons:

  • Complete your personal profile-There's nothing more debilitating to your LinkedIn presence as having an incomplete profile. Filling out all of your information allows others to see where you have been as well as what your qualifications are for future reference.
  • Join groups- Great minds think alike. By joining groups you will be able to easily connect with people who are in the same boat as you and may be able to help you find your ideal job, as well as collect support for a non-profit.
  • Build connections-Be sure to share LinkedIn information after meetings, that way you will build a strong network to rely on when you are in need of a favor or an introduction. One way you can do this is by trading business cards and always entering in that person's information, because you never know when you may need that one connection to push you in the right direction.
  • List your company-By making a LinkedIn for your company, you will have the opportunity to provide job opportunitites, contact and social media information, as well as showcase your services for the public to see.
  • List your skills-Make it known that you have skills that set you apart from every John Doe in your field. By listing any languages you are fluent in, software that you are literate in, etc. you will create an instant resume for future employers to consult when deciding whether or not to pick you as a member of their team.
Consider these tips. Have you dusted off your LinkedIn lately? If not, try some of the pointers above, you may be surprised by the number of opportunities that come your way.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ditch the Magazines and Hikes to the Mall and Just Get a Blog Already!

The PR fashion industry is always changing with the latest trends and yes, social media, of course. With the rise of instablogging sites such as Tumblr and Instagram, the publics' demand for instant user-friendly fashion is growing every day. Before, fashionistas and aspiring designers would turn to hard copy magazines to get their daily fix on the industry but now the content is free and shareable on blogging platforms, which have become a favorite of fashion PR agencies to see the ongoing atmosphere of their audiences. Top designers and industry gurus such as Rachel Roy, DKNY, Vogue, and Urban Outfitters have official Tumblr blogs where they not only share products and company news, but also draw out inspiration from other fashion bloggers and followers globally.

This has turned the fashion industry from an "insider only" view, when in order to be in on the latest trends, you had to either work in the industry and be connected to someone, to a more friendly and personal one where literally anyone with a unique style and love for fashion can share and be updated on content. According to, fashion is no longer exclusive to only a privileged few but has "established a new way of experiencing and connecting to like-minded readers through style, outfit photos and DIY, carving out places online that made fashion personal and discoverable through weekly posts."

This surge of fashion blogs does not necessarily mean that print editorial, photography and the runway show aspect of the industry are dying, that will always be there, but it does mean that fashion is becoming more disseminated to the masses and that diversity and accessibility is a key measurement of business and success. The industry has simply figured out where a new untapped public of fashion inspiration lies and is not wasting time looking over its market and creative potential. More importantly, social media sites have started a new wave of jobs for fashion companies that are highly in need of bloggers and trendsetters to manage their social media accounts and update them on the latest street culture and style of everyone else - and what better way to hire these people than from your own pool of followers? The industry has overall become less exclusive and all together more inclusive of everyone.

So if you're in need of your daily fashion fix or just want to share your diverse style then get a blog, follow your favorite designers and get inspired! Remember, you never know what designer could be using your style as an inspiration for their new Fall/Winter 2012 line someday!

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

Saturday, July 9, 2011

SkillShare: A New Way for Philadelphia to Learn

When most of us hear the word ‘learn’, we tend to think paper, pencil, professor, and so on and so forth. We usually don’t think of words like networking, socializing, and sharing. However, this is exactly the mission of a unique new organization that is preparing to launch within the next two weeks in Philadelphia. SkillShare is a community marketplace to learn anything from anyone. By combining the thoughts of people who are eager to learn with those who are eager to educate, the result is a connected and well-informed community of people.

I had the chance to talk with recent Temple grad, Brendan Lowry, who currently plays a huge role in the development of SkillShare Philly, and found out a lot of great information about the organization. A key idea he expressed to me was that everyone, no matter their industry or background has at least one valuable skill to contribute to their community. When you combine that idea with the thought that we all share an innate thirst for knowledge, the possibilities are endless.

Brendan said, “Skillshare’s website is a platform for individuals to seamlessly list classes and encourage interaction”. For example, a PR professional in the city who has experience with social media could post a ‘Social Media 101’ class on SkillShare. Students, professors, and any other SkillShare users interested in social media could sign up for the class. In addition to learning about social media, they would have the chance to network and interact with people from Philadelphia who share similar interests. Check out examples of some SkillShare classes here.

SkillShare Philly is very close to launching, but still needs to be ‘unlocked’ by those in the Philadelphia community. Once this happens, classes will be posted and the learning can begin!

To help launch SkillShare Philly, visit their website here to unlock the city. Also, if you are interested in joining the SkillShare team as a volunteer Community Ambassador, contact Brendan Lowry at

For the latest updates on SkillShare, follow them on Twitter @SkillSharePHI and be sure to follow Brendan @Brelow.

What are some classes you would be interested in attending or teaching?

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

Friday, July 8, 2011

PR Lessons Learned from Paris

This summer I am studying abroad in Paris and Tuesday marked one week since my arrival. Within a week, I have learned a lot, made countless mistakes, have enjoyed many adventures and have stuffed myself full of more bread and butter than one should be allowed to eat in a lifetime. Throughout the highs and the lows of my trip thus far, it occurred to me that several of the lessons I have learned can be applied to the field of PR because believe it or not, the Paris metro can teach you a few things about social media and crepes, besides being sinfully delicious, can offer some insight to innovation in the workplace.

4 Lessons on PR from a Parisian Perspective:

1. Clear and concise communication is key when communicating with your audiences (or the French waiter who doesn't speak a lick of English). All too often, we pollute the messages we send with overcomplicated words and terminology that are not always accessible to the publics we are communicating with. Put away your thesaurus with the fancy synonyms, throw your technical jargon out of the window and stick to the basics. The same rule is applied to ordering in a French restaurant... don't even bother asking for additions, substitutions or for "free" tap water, because most likely you will confuse the waiter and wind up with duck instead of chicken and a 35€ tab for all the delicious "free" tap water you just drank.

2. Social media has several available channels, however not all of them may reach your targeted destination (much like the Metro and its 9 multicolored, intersecting lines that will take you to the Chinese district instead of the Eiffel Tower if you aren't careful). Just because all of these channels exist does not mean that all of them should be utilized when communicating with your publics. Certain channels are frequented by specific demographics more than others, therefore construct your message in the channel that is most appropriate for your audiences. If you are trying to reach a young professional demographic, Twitter or LinkedIn might be more appropriate than using Myspace or Facebook, just as taking line 7 might on the Metro might be a better option the next time you want to visit the Eiffel Tower, although I'm not complaining about accidentially wandering through Chinatown in Paris by any means.

3. Innovation and creativity is essential when constructing and executing campaigns, however realize when certain ideas aren't as successful as you had hoped (such as a Kirsch soaked crepe with passion fruit icecream and a fresh fruit medley... sounds good in theory but is terrible in reality). As PR professionals, it is our job to ensure that we are on top of the latest trends and that we continue to push the envelope in terms of creativity and innovation, always searching for the next great idea. However, every new idea isn't necessarily always a good one and it is our jobs to realize when to continue to push the envelope and when its best to seal it up and move onto another one. When you continue to force something that isn't meant to work, it can often leave a sour taste with your clients and/or audiences, much like the Kirsch-soaked crepe that left my tastebuds confused and in despair. But when you find an idea that works, run with it, because every so often you come across an ingenious idea, much like the nutella, raspberry, strawberry and vanilla icecream gastronomic invention that must have descended directly from crepe heaven.

4. Lastly, when you make a mistake, acknowledge your error and apologize (just as Je suis désolé has become one of the phrases I use most frequently over here). We all make mistakes. Rather than trying to avoid them, cover them up or pretend they never happened, it is always best to admit any faults, errors or mistakes while vowing not to make the same mistake again. This is how credibility and trust is created and earned with your publics (and the Parisians). So the next time you tweet something inappropriate (or stand on the wrong side of the escalator designated specifically for those who are running because they are in a hurry), apologize, move on and most importantly... never do it again.

For those who have spent time abroad, are there any PR lessons you have learned from your travels? Let us know!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Create a Social Media Policy Before it’s Too Late

If your company or organization does not have a set of social media guidelines by now, it may be too late.

Companies without guidelines to outline proper employee usage of social media are behind the times. Your employees are most likely already using social media at work; they may update their Facebook statuses, tweet on Twitter, link up on LinkedIn, or even check in with FourSquare. If you do not set up a clear policy outlining acceptable use of social media, a simple line of text could damage the reputation of your company in a second.

To begin creating a set of social media guidelines for your organization, start with a solid introduction to outline the goals and reasons for the policy. Also, make sure your guidelines are as short as possible and written in simple language that everyone can understand.

It is imperative to distinguish between using personal social media accounts and representing the company on a social media channel. Define who can speak on behalf of your company and create a separate protocol outlining best practices and restrictions for them. For everyone else, stress that personal social media use during work hours should not negatively affect productivity, break any codes of conduct or divulge sensitive information.

A good social media policy will highlight the fact that anything posted on the internet is both public and permanent. For instance, a lewd photograph of former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner that was momentarily posted on Twitter ruined his entire career.

Employees need to know that anything they post can and will reflect back on your company or organization. If an individual is associated to your company anywhere within his or her digital footprint, your organization needs to outline standards of disclosure and professionalism to ensure its reputation does not suffer.

A social media policy should have real consequences for those who violate it. Furthermore, these consequences should not exist inside of a vacuum; create links to existing policies in your organization’s code of conduct, security guidelines and media relations protocol.

Creating a good and encompassing social media policy is not easy to do. Keep in mind that guidelines should not restrict the culture or growth of social media. Make sure you do your research, check existing corporate guidelines and consult your legal department before starting work on a policy. Crafting guidelines may be tough, but a clear policy will boost employee productivity and morale while protecting your organization’s reputation.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Watch out Facebook a New Social Media Giant is in Town

As of recently, Google has officially gone social with its new product Google+. Although this is not Google's first attempt to go social (remember Google Buzz or even Google Wave? Neither do we) this highly anticipated product is getting a lot of press and expected to give Facebook a run for its social media money.

We see a few similarities between Google+ and Facebook including "the stream" practically Facebook's news feed, but "the stream" will be tailored to the users particular interest. Google+ hopes that "the stream" will be the users daily update conquering Twitter and Facebook for the most recent news.

A new feature Google+ has introduced is the circles app. The circle can be tailored to a specific organization or group such as "family", "co-workers", or even a general friends circle. The circle app is also a way to recruit new Google+ members.

In addition to "the stream" and Google's circles app, they have developed the Huddle, a in which to set up talk with multiple friends or individual circles that one has created. The Hangout, includes video up to ten people who can drop in and out of the conversation once invited. Also Google+ has mobile uploading and something called Sparks, allows one to share links with those belonging to a particular group or an individual.

The recent release of Google's upcoming plans about their new product was only a very small piece of the large social picture. Google has recently spent lengthy time and an endless amount of funds to be a giant in an ever expanding social world. Vic Gundotra, Google's social media leader states, “We’re transforming Google itself into a social destination at a level and scale that we’ve never attempted — orders of magnitude more investment, in terms of people, than any previous project".

What makes this new product a threat to Facebook is its ability to individualize post to a certain group or individuals without having all of your thousands of friends see the post. Unlike many other social media providers, Google+'s design is centered around the user and the social world they individually create.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tips for a Successful Interview

With the fall internship application window rapidly approaching, it will be helpful to go over some ground rules for interviewing that you may have lost touch with over the summer months.

In order to be successful in an interview, there are things you have to do before, during and after. They may be interviewing multiple applicants, so it is important to do all that you can to make the best impression that gets you the offer! Below are some tips I have outlined to keep in mind.

  • Research the company. Check out their website before the interview and look at any recent news article that they may be mentioned in. If the employer asks why you picked their company and you don't have an answer, it makes you look as if you don't really care if you get the job with them or not.
  • Bring your resume and writing samples. While not all employers ask for a copy of your resume or writing samples, they will notice if you are prepared with them for the interview. They should be freshly printed, not crumbled or dirty in any way.
  • Get directions! While this may be obvious, if you are traveling to a part of town that you are not familiar with, make sure to look up the easiest way for you to get there ahead of time. It will look unprofessional if you show up disheveled from rushing there, or worse if you show up late.
  • Stay calm. You wouldn't be interviewing for the position if you weren't qualified. Be confident with a smile, strong handshake, good posture and eye contact.
  • Look professional. Make sure you are dressed appropriately and choose dark colors that give the feeling of authority. Ladies, leave the perfume and flashy jewelry at home!
  • Ask questions. If they don't already specify, it will be helpful to inquire about the types of projects you will be working on, how many interns they have, how you are supposed to dress, how many hours you will be working and if you will be compensated for your work. It could also be useful to ask when you will be hearing from them about the position.
  • Follow up. It is completely acceptable to call or email the employer a couple of days after your interview thanking them for the opportunity and to express that you are looking forward to hearing from them. Don't get carried away, if they give you a time frame make sure that you are within boundaries. Also, if you have any additional questions, this would be the time to ask.
What helpful tips do you think about when interviewing?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Location is Key

One of the primary goals of marketing a brand is to make it easily recognizable and attainable to everyone. When the average American goes out during the day, they pass hundreds of advertisements posted on billboards, in windows, on street poles, and even bus stops. This is because location is key. It is nearly impossible to avoid one of these everyday installments, and that is the goal, to make sure consumers remember your brand. In "HOW TO: Leverage Location for Better Ad Campaigns", David Staas highlights several ways to locationize your brand:

  • Local messaging: When leading a national campaign, it is important to instill a local element into your advertisements to give your audience a sense of familiarity and personal attachment. According to Staas, one particular brand, placed advertisements in New York and incorporated the Statue of Liberty, and the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles. Doing this gave a more local, trustworthy feel to the brand rather than an inapproachable and consumerist one.
  • Let consumers engage with a specific location: With the introduction of GPS capabilities in most mobile phones, location based apps have boomed. Foursquare, for instance, allows its users to "check-in" to locations for their friends to see. This idea of checking in to locations broadcasts that place across the web and sparks the idea that this location is the place to be. Another location based app, Shopkick, partners with specific brands so that when you step into their shop and check-in via your phone, you will earn points towards major discounts, attracting all the bargain hunters out there.
  • Consider proximity: Most consumers will not trek too far for a 10% discount. But when faced with a larger discount of 40-50%, customers become much more willing to go the extra mile and buy a larger quantity of items. This allows marketers to gauge farther than just the immediate area of the store in order to attract new and returning customers.
What do you think? Do you have any location based apps on your phone? Can you think of any brands that have been using location to encourage consumers? Let us know!

To read more on taking advantage of location when promoting your brand, click here.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Takeaways from 'Social Media Engagement'

The amount of information out there always amazes me. With that said, in a recent search for information about how organizations should be using social media, I found a website that compiles Keynote and PowerPoint presentations. Presentations range from web design to social media topics. A particularly good PowerPoint on the site is called Social Media Engagement. Some interesting takeaways:

“On the right day, with the right story anyone can command a bigger,
more attentive audience than any TV network.”
• Social media will eventually be called just plain “media.”
Basically, the world will acknowledge that the power to publish
information to large audiences is no longer in the hands of the
organization, but the audience.

“The upside is infinite”
• For organizations that utilize it correctly, it is obvious that
social media is great news. As the presentation states “The power of a
good story will be multiplied many times over by the voices of the
brand’s fans and advocates, the cost of media will plummet for most
brands because distribution costs on social media are close to zero.”

“Up until a year ago, saying ‘no’ to social media was a safe course…”
• Organizational silence tells the web community you do not care about
them, or that you are hiding something. “You cannot hold the moral
high ground if everyone knows that you never fire.”

The most important thing I learned from this PowerPoint is that before
starting any type of social media effort, the organization must make
sure they know their brand, and their brand’s story. Essentially, a
brand must know who they are before trying to tell its audience a
story about itself. Starting with the brand, one must determine the
brand’s core narrative. Next, the audience must be determined.
Organizations must figure out the media habits of its audience, their
passions, expectations, etc. Finally, an organization must figure out
what their competition is doing with social media so they can
determine what they can offer that their audience cannot find

Check out for more interesting slides and continue
your search for new innovative idea of how to utilize social media!

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

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Politics and PR: Don't Stop Using Social Media!

The following post was written by Jason Mollica, '97 Temple Alum.

Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-NY) social scandal garnered plenty of headlines in June. You remember the story: Weiner tweeted lewd pictures to a 21-year old college student. Then it was found out he did the same to a few other Twitter followers. Weiner resigned under the pressure of first lying about sending the photos.

Now this isn’t going to be a blog on what Rep. Weiner did wrong or how some need a re-education with social media. What I would like this to be is a call for politicians nationwide to continue to use social media.

Yes, do NOT stop your tweeting and posting to Facebook because of this, or a few other missteps by your political brethren. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube can be powerful tools in your arsenal. But, they also need to understand that social media can build you up and in one tweet, take you down.

Meghan McCain, the daughter of Arizona Sen. John McCain (also an avid tweeter), wrote a column on “The Daily Beast” in June. In it, she wondered if politicians should be on Twitter period. She said:

So I have to ask: What do politicians really gain by using Twitter? There are only a handful of politicians who are truly great on Twitter—the rest rely on their account to release press releases. But even the entertaining Tweeters stumble because the only way to succeed in the medium is to be unscripted.

I believe politicians have a ton to gain on Twitter. Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker has been doing outstanding things with his social media efforts. Philly’s own Mayor Michael Nutter is also a great example that if politicians understand what social media can do, it can affect change.

Ms. McCain is right when she says during the election cycle that tweets will be more powerful and dangerous. It’s up to the politicians to be smart and savvy, though.

Jason Mollica is a 1997 graduate of Temple University's School of Communication and Theater. Since then, he has worked in television and radio in Philadelphia and New York City. Upon leaving the industry in 2005, he began a career in public relations and marketing. He is currently the public relations manager for Carr Marketing Communications in Amherst, N.Y. You can follow him on Twitter, @JasMollica, and read his blog at

Perception Matters

Establishing the proper message and creating the right perception of your organization is crucial to developing and maintaining a positive relationship with a community. Joey’s Mini Mart, a small corner store located in a quiet, pleasant neighborhood in Scottsville, New York, a couple miles away from the Rochester Institute of Technology, opened for business less than three years ago. Joey’s Mini Mart is submerged in the middle of a neighborhood, prohibiting the store from being able to put in gas pumps. Additionally, the store faced heavy competition from well-established covenant stores in the area that have gas pumps. These two facts concerned the young owner, Joe Valvano, but did not deter him from opening. The mini mart was just the beginning of his plan. The ultimate goal was to open up a liquor store. Considering the close proximity of a university, the idea of a liquor store seemed to be a very profitable entity, but being located in a family neighborhood presented an obstacle.

Joe needed to create an image that would allow him to maintain a steady flow of business as well as promote the opening of his liquor store with little backlash or resistance from the surrounding community, a venture that often leads to negative reactions. To accomplish this, Valvano decided to embed himself in the neighborhood and become a part of the people of Scottsville’s everyday lives. His main objective became to create a welcoming experience for customers, greeting them with a smile and engaging them in conversations about their lives and their families. He created the perception that he cared, and he really did. In fact, he knew more about his customers than just their names and what they bought, he knew about their lives because they felt comfortable sharing with him. Valvano also gave back to the community, sponsoring children’s soccer and hockey teams. Joe had effectively painted himself as a prominent member of the town of Scottsville, granting him regular business and notoriety among the neighborhood.

When it came time to open the liquor store, Father and Son Wine and Spirits, Joe was already a staple within the community. Inhabitants of the neighborhood wanted to see him succeed because they felt like he was one of them. Because of this, no one minded a liquor store in their backyard. After all that Joe had done for the community, how could they?

The identity that Joe was able to create for his mini mart directly lead to his ability to construct a business that can sometimes be perceived as deviant or sinful, without any negative reaction from those who live nearby. His simple plan of involving himself in the community has allowed Joe to maintain a strong relationship with his customers and expand his business into the future.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Evan Galusha

Friday, July 1, 2011

Socially Stupid with Social Media

With all of the self-proclaimed social media "experts" and "gurus" floating around Facebook and the Twitterverse, you'd think more people would know what they were doing. I see countless people abusing the sites that have so much potential to be beneficial to the individual and/or company using them. I'm not claiming that I always know what I'm doing. Social media is constantly shifting, changing, growing and improving and I try my best to keep up with changing times. However, to help you be less socially stupid, here are 5 mistakes to avoid when using social media courtesy of the PR Meets Marketing blog:

1. Self-serving comments: It’s a fine line between being helpful and being self-promotional. I think this is the most common mistake you’ll see. Companies or individuals will research blogs and post comments only as way to promote their content. As a rule of thumb, it’s better to leave out any promotional stuff and add comments that contribute to the overall discussion.

2. All About Me: Many marketers and people still subscribe to the notion of broadcast media, just sending out updates about themselves. Social Media is about conversations and engagement. Listen to the conversations and participate when appropriate (see point 1).

3. Follow You, Follow Me: I call these folks the “pied pipers of social media.” You know who I mean. They’re the folks with hundreds and thousands of friends and followers on Twitter or Facebook with no discrimination. Unless you’re a top personality, be selective on who you follow.

4. Hit & Run: I’ve been noticing this trend recently. It’s very similar to point 1 but in a different way. These are individuals who join communities, liked LinkedIn Groups, and only post discussions or responses that are only related to their company. I call these folks hit & runners as they run in, post, and run out again.

5. Hot to Trot to Not: When individuals or companies begin participating on social media, they tend to be very excited. They join different networks, jump in on tweetchats and comments everywhere. But after the luster wears off, their participation begins to wane, until eventually they disappear. For corporate brands, it’s important to have a calendar of content and several individuals contributing to your social media channels.

So... how many of the mistakes are you guilty of? What other mistakes do you see people making on various social media sites? Let us know!