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Brazen Careerist Tips

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Nov 11, 2008 in Blogging, Branding, Career, National Conference, PRSSA, Public Relations

2008 PRSSA National Conference

PRSA General Session
Penelope Trunk, author of “Brazen Careerist: The New Rules For Success”

Trunk, a business advice columnist for the Boston Globe, gave some really interesting advice to PRSA and PRSSA members at the conference. Here’s the short list:

  • Money does not equal happiness
  • Focus on optimism
  • Mentoring is the new currency, so ask to be hooked up with a good mentor and be a mentor to others
  • Job-hopping is a good thing
  • Breaks are good too because they allow you to have time to think
  • Blogs are a tool for career stability

Right before going to the conference, I was accepted as a blogger for Penelope’s site. See my profile of Brazen Careerist!

What type of career success advice do you offer to others? Do you agree with Trunk’s advice?

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The Role of Public Relations in Driving Strategic Business

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Nov 10, 2008 in event planning, National Conference, PRSSA, Public Relations, Strategic Planning

2008 PRSSA National Conference

The Role of Public Relations in Driving Strategic Business
Kathryn Oldham, Director of Corporate Communications, Little Caesar’s Pizza

Kathryn Oldham spoke at the conference about strategy. She suggests using strategic documents to keep programs on track. These documents demonstrate thorough thinking and planning when you are presenting to company leaders. Strategic documents allow you to track the roles and responsibilities of others, helps keep people informed on program details and help measures results.

Ask the following questions to develop a strategic document:

  • What do you need to know?
  • What do company leaders need to know?
  • What does your extended team need to know?
  • What types of issues and challenges might the program face?
  • How do different aspects of the program fit together?
  • Who needs to be involved

A strategic document should contain the following:

  • Overview
  • Key messages
  • Event schedule
  • Media plan
  • Story angles
  • Internal communication
  • Identification of open issues
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Contacts
  • Budgets
  • Lessons learned (afterward)

The overview should contain the five W’s and the H: who, what, when, where, why and how

Key messages will be what you want the media focus on and broadcast.

The event schedule should contain names of who is in charge of certain duties and their deadlines.

The media plan should be strategically focused on how you will develop media interest, get on their calendars. You should prepare releases, b-roll and interviews.

Story angles need to be made interesting for a variety of segments of the media. What would local be interested in? National? Niche?

Internal communication is important in building pride within the organization. This might include working with internal newsletters, Web sites, voicemail, etc.

Open issues are issues that need to be addressed. For the Veteran’s program, open issues included reaching out to social media, materials, locations, rehearsals, weather, parking, travel, budget and contingency plans.

Roles and responsibilities are important in determining who is in charge of what, especially if you are working with agencies.

Oldham suggested you follow up with the media with thank you notes. As we all know, relationships are extremely important in PR. These relationships come in handy when you are trying to expand a story to get more coverage or if you are trying to get coverage of media opportunities such as anniversaries, grand openings or awards.

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Event Planning Advice with Dennis Gaschen

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Nov 9, 2008 in event planning, National Conference, PRSSA, Public Relations

2008 PRSSA National Conference

Event Planning
Dennis John Gaschen, APR, Public Relations Counselor, Professor, California State University, Fullerton

The event planning session at the conference was packed. I showed up a few minutes early and managed to find a seat, but several people who walked in after me sat in the back on the floor. Since I am planning an annual event for parents this semester, this was one of the most useful sessions I attended.

Start with a destination, Dennis Gaschen suggested. What is the goal? What do you want to achieve? The special event is the vehicle to get you there.

After you determine the purpose of your event and then determine your budget and time line. Start at the due date and work backwards.

Gaschen said to be sure to check the dates – check with the school or site, check religious dates, check for sporting events and check what happened on and around that date last year.

Next, don’t book the site before you visit. For newly opened venues, give them six months to work the kinks out before booking an event. Also find out what sort of extras are included with the venue, including parking, AV services, set ups, etc.

You can never have enough publicity, according to Gaschen. Every event has competition, so focus on the benefits you event has to offer and give people a reason to attend. “Make it sexy,” said Gaschen.

You can never start planning too soon, said Gaschen, and you should always build in contingencies and check references. You also need to get everything in writing as soon as it is decided. Store everything in a function book.

Never leave things to the last minute. Gaschen describes the event planner’s role as a firefighter. “You’ll be putting out fires,” he said. You need to be able to focus your attention on this rather than on finishing last minute details.

Although it’s good to save money, Gaschen warns against trying to save too much money. It is better to negotiate and know what you’re getting.

Other facts and tips offered by Gaschen include:

  • Facilities usually prepare 10% more than the guarantee.
  • Invitations need to be mailed seven weeks before the event.
  • Bathroom to person ratio should be 50 to 1.
  • Hors-d’vores per person, if dinner follows, should be eight.
  • Ratio of guests to wait staff at a formal dinner should be 10 to 1.
  • The seating availability for a fraction of guests at a cocktain party should be one-third.
  • Minimium square feet per person for a cocktail reception should be 8′.
  • Ratio of people who prefer white wine to red wine is 60/40.
  • The maximium number of people to be seated at a 72″ round table is 12.

Planning is important. Gaschen said nothing ever goes according to plan. Things take longer, cost more, don’t work, look different and other things come up. He attributes this not to Murphy’s Law, but the Gaschen’s Law: “Everything will go bad…and you will be blamed for it.”

Do you have any event planning or management advice, tips or comments?

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Six messages from PRSA’s Mike Cherenson

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Nov 4, 2008 in National Conference, PRSSA

2008 PRSSA National Conference

Guest post by: David Baker from St. John Fisher College, PRSSA Vice President, Vice President of Client Communications at PRIMA Connections (SJFC’s student-run firm).

Six messages from PRSA’s Mike Cherenson

Mike Cherenson, Chair-elect for PRSA, has spoken to our organization in San Diego at the National Assembly, Buffalo at the Northeast Regional Conference and in Detroit introducing the keynote speaker.

Cherenson often delivers the same messages to students, but they are very important messages:

1)    Love what you do
2)    Make your own luck
3)    Network–The more people you know, the more powerful you are
4)    You need the picture to put the puzzle together. Know where you want to be, imagine it and then you’ll be able to put the pieces together.
5)    You don’t build relationships sitting in an office
6)    If you don’t go and you don’t use it, then you will get nothing out of it

Mike says that the keys to his success are a passion for what he does and work balance.  As a second-generation PR practitioner, Mike’s stories about his dad and his family show how important they are in his success and his work visiting students across the country and the dedication to his industry he shows through his blog display his passion for making the world of PR a better place.

Read Mike’s blog.

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Guest post: Accreditation is where it’s at

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Nov 3, 2008 in APR, Guest Post, National Conference

2008 PRSSA National Conference

Guest post by: David Baker from St. John Fisher College, PRSSA Vice President, Vice President of Client Communications at PRIMA Connections (SJFC’s student-run firm).

Accreditation is where it’s at

One of the sessions from the PRSSA National Conference was a panel that discussed the importance of Accreditation in Public Relations. The panel included Gwyn Walcoff, APR, CCG Public Relations; Jennifer Flowers, APR, Senior Public Relations Officer, Henry Ford Health System; Lt. Commander Brook DeWalt, APR, New Media Directorate, United States Department of Defense and Ann Knabe, APR, Public Relations/Communications Instructor, University of Wisconsin Whitewater & U S Air Force Reserve.

Our panel taught us the following regarding accreditation:

1) The five years of experience rule is no more. Professionals should still have experience before they attempt to take the exam but there is no minimum required to earn the APR title.
2) The new professional should set earning their APR as a goal.
3) If you aren’t getting the strategic experience you need then volunteer.
4) Being an APR sets a professional apart as a strategic and ethical professional
5) Failing your first exam is not unusual; don’t be discouraged. Many professionals take more than one attempt to earn their APR.
6) Use the Web site and your local PRSA Chapter members.

I have met quite a few PR professionals in my short time in PRSSA and I have come to learn one thing about accreditation, there is something about the accredited professional. I think Holly Byars, APR; an assistant professor of Journalism at Arkansas State University has it right when she says, “accreditation assures that a certain standard of quality is met.” The accredited professionals that I have had the pleasure of meeting are some of the most impressive individuals I have met in the twenty years since I went out and got my first job.

Check out the Public Relations Society of America’s Web site for more information.

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Communication Tips From Bob Lutz of General Motors

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Oct 31, 2008 in Blogging, National Conference, PRSSA, Social Media

2008 PRSSA National Conference

PRSA General Session
Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of Global Products, General Motors

The PRSSA National Conference attendees were fortunate enough to be able to attend a PRSA session with Bob Lutz. During his presentation, Lutz gave several tips about communication:

  • Communication is about making a connection
  • Communications should say something
  • Communication has a value that paid advertising does not
  • Communications should view the media as an opportunity, not an obstacle
  • Communicators must evolve with communications

Lutz said communications should be done skillfully, directly, accurately, precisely and honestly. It should be effective and interesting. He also said writing should be balanced because self-praise can do a lot of damage.

I think one of the most important points he made was that communicators must evolve with communications. Lutz has demonstrated this himself with his own blog.

Lutz said blogs give the opportunity to have a real dialogue, to put out an unfiltered message and to have the message out immediately. Executives should write their own blogs, Lutz said, because blogs written by PR people come off as very corporate. People will feel like they are actually being talked to if it is written by the executive. But, Lutz said, an executive should submit their post to PR to make sure facts are confirmed and it is not off message.

Find out more, read his entire speech or read a recent article in PR Tactics and The Strategist Online about his speech.

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Crisis Communications

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Oct 30, 2008 in Crisis Communication, National Conference, PRSSA

2008 PRSSA National Conference – Detroit

Crisis Communications
Jeffrey Douglas, APR, Fellow PRSA, Director of Public Relations, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine

The epic tragedy at Virginia Tech was also an epic challenge in crisis communication, said Jeffrey Douglas. There were more than 1000 reporters and 150 satellite trucks on location after the campus shooting.

Douglas gave several the conference attendees a lesson in crisis communication 101:

  • Have a plan and drill it
  • Establish a command center
  • Designate a spokesperson and work with them so there is one clear voice to the media
  • Keep the CEO visible and engaged
  • Communicate as much as you can, as early as you can
  • Stay on message with relevant, confirmed facts
  • Share additional information as possible after it has been confirmed

Douglas said there were three phases of the Virginia Tech crisis:

  1. Managing the emergency
  2. Stabilizing the wounded community
  3. Resurrecting the image of the university

Douglas said you must feed the media something, or else they will find something. Aside from press conferences, messages were immediately posted to the school’s Web site. The messages were immediate and transparent.

The web is a powerful tool, Douglas said. Using integrated marketing, Virginia Tech’s Web site was redesigned. The new design includes an insert box for announcements.

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Crossing Borders Through Communication: Global PR

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Oct 29, 2008 in Global Communication, National Conference, PRSSA, Public Relations, Social Media

2008 PRSSA National Conference – Detroit

Crossing Borders Through Communication: Global PR
Janet Tabor, Senior Vice President, Weber Shandwick Worldwide

With six billion people and more than 6500 different languages, global campaigns are very complex, according to Janet Tabor, senior vice president of Weber Shandwick Worldwide.

Tabor offered the following advice on global communication at the PRSSA National Conference:

  • Know your audience. Understand cultures and backgrounds are essential to a successful campaign.
  • The key to a successful campaign is having people on the ground in the location of the campaign who understand the mindset of the people, the market and know where people get their information from.
  • Campaigns must be tailored to apply to specific audiences.
  • Digital media has become very important  because of the consumer’s lifestyle–it is where people are getting their information from. Therefore, companies need to expand to reach social media to have a dialogue and build relationships with their customers. They need to be engaging.
  • It’s about relationships, not transactions. It’s about listening, enabling discussions and communication back. Social media works best for listening, not selling.
  • Brand monitoring is important. You need to know what is being said. This will help you identify potential issues quickly before they become a crisis.
  • Advocacy has become the most powerful source of influence and communication.
  • Fan sites, watch blogs and detractor sites shape brands and affect reputations.
  • You need to be working across traditional media, niche media and social media, monitoring and acting in online conversations and exploring new communication platforms.
  • Remember the media is now multimedia. For example, Business Week now has a blog, debate area, podcast center and much more.

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2008 PRSSA National Conference

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Oct 29, 2008 in National Conference, PRSSA, Public Relations

For the past several days, I’ve been at the PRSSA National Conference. Overall, it was an amazing experience. I plan to have a series of posts about the sessions I attended and the experiences I had. I also hope to get several guest posts from my fellow PRSSA friends.

I plan to write posts on the following conference experiences:

  • One-on-one advice with Ofield Dukes, one of the top five effective communicators of 2005, at the Dine Around
  • Information of communicating globally from the session with Janet Tabor, senior vice president of Weber Shandwick Worldwide
  • Crisis communication 101 with Jeffrey Douglas, APR, who handled the tragedy at Virginia Tech
  • Public relations strategies with Kathryn Oldham, director of corporate communications at Little Caesar’s Pizza
  • Discussions and ideas on chapter improvement for PR liaisons
  • Advice from a panel of PR legends, including Steve Harris, vice president of global communications for General Motors; John Felton, APR, founder of the Institute for Public Relations; Thomas Hoog, president and CEO (ret.) of Hill and Knowlton; and Dr. Debra Miller, APR, senior director of marketing-communications at Clark Atlanta University
  • Event planning tips from Dennis John Caschen, APR, public relations counselor and professor of California State University, Fullerton
  • Advice on integrating innovative ideas for internal communications with Jennifer Brown, Christa Sackett and Christy Tostevin
  • Communication tips with Bob Lutz, vice chairman of global products for General Motors
  • Information on getting your APR
  • Tips from Penelope Trunk, author of “Brazen Careerists: The New Rules for Success
  • Guest posts on other sessions from other conference attendees

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