Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Playing PR offense in a defensive economy

June 1, 2009

2005 Saturn Ion: Photo courtesy of lotpro.comI’ve happily owned my 2005 Storm Grey Saturn Ion 3 since 2006.  Her name is Gisele (named after her sleek, model-like looks), and as cheesy as it sounds: We’ve been through a lot together.

Gisele was there for me when I had the genius (sarcasm intended) idea to commute 50 miles to and from Kent every day of my sophomore year, and she was with me when I spent two years attempting to make a long distance relationship work.  She’s been there through shopping trips to Pittsburgh and Cleveland and random road trips to visit one of my best friends near Columbus.  Together, we’ve steered clear of numerous deer, squirrel and vermin that attempted suicide via pavement.

So when I read about GM filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today, my first concern was for workers at GM’s Lordstown plant, which is one of the most prominent employers in the Mahoning Valley.  Once I knew GM Lordstown was not included in the organization’s cuts, my second concern was GM’s choice to kick Saturn to the curb.

Like any irrational, passionate consumer, I immediately tweeted about my concerns and voiced my opinion about GM’s decision to give Saturn the boot.  To my surprise, @GMBlogs and @GCAGreg responded to my concerns via Twitter.

From a public relations standpoint, I was incredibly impressed with GM’s quick, tactful response.  I can’t imagine how swarmed GM’s PR Department is today as it works to disseminate information to journalists across the globe.  Yet the company still values its customers enough to respond through social media efforts.

Kudos to GM’s social media efforts, and the best of luck to the organization as it restructures itself with the federal government’s assistance.

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Planning a comeback

May 31, 2009

When I wrote my last blog post April 12, I knew my responsibilities as a blogger in my spring 2009 PR Online Tactics course were complete.  However, the seven posts I wrote as part of my class project cultivated my love for writing about public relations and my desire to express my thoughts and opinions.  I knew my blogging days weren’t over.

Becca and Ben

As I watched my brother graduate with his undergraduate degree in political science and criminal justice, I realized I’m only one year away from becoming a full-time public relations professional.  I know blogging will play an essential role as I transition from college to career, and I want to help others in their journey, too.

I’ve been planning a comeback for quite a while, but between finishing a hectic semester and adjusting to life as a full-time public relations intern, I’ve lost my train of thought.  It’s time to get back into the swing of things.

I’m looking forward to talking about trends in public relations and some things I’ve learned thus far in my internship.  I hope you’ll stop by to see what I have to say!

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Back to PR basics

April 12, 2009

As I flip through the pages of my daily planner and stare at the bulleted list of quickly approaching due dates, I cannot help but feel slightly overwhelmed.  I’m glad only four weeks of class and a week of finals are left in this semester, but the list of essays, group projects and tests coming up is daunting.

When that overwhelming feeling keeps me up at night, I know it’s time to get back to the basics.  It’s stressful times like these that remind me to find beauty in the simple things in life.  It’s important to never lose sight of who you are, where you’ve been and where you’re going.

Now that I’ve had my sentimental moment: Isn’t PR the same way?  As I read tweets on Twitter, browse my Google Reader and open my PRSA/PRSSA e-newsletters, I am surrounded by a vast range of information on how social media is revolutionizing PR.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy social media and can’t wait to apply the skills I’m learning to my future career.  But I also think PR professionals can get so caught up in tweets and blogging that we lose sight of why we’re tweeting and blogging in the first place.

So here’s a few quick links to bring you back to the “basics” of public relations:

  • Public relations takes time.

BadPitchBlog wrote a great post on why PR doesn’t happen overnight.  I know the best personal and professional relationships in my life developed over a length of time, and relationships in PR are similar.  Patience is a virtue, and it will pay off in PR.  Reporters will take you more seriously when you’ve delivered good stories to them time and time again.  Take the time to establish relationships with your audience, and they will bloom into something beautiful in time.

  • Personality counts.

BadPitchBlog seems to be my blog of the week.  Savvy & Energetic: Keys to Real PR reminded me that skills are incredibly important, but your attitude as a PR professional will also affect your career.  As The Strategist Online says: You are a brand worth building.  And according to the New York Times, branding yourself in the workplace can also increase job security.

You can also set yourself apart from your peers through professional development opportunities.  PRSA will host a free webinar, “Proving and Improving PR’s Value and ROI: Why So Many People Get it Wrong and How You Can Get it Right” 3 to 4 p.m. EDT Tuesday, May 5.

  • Social media is a tool.

Student and blogger Paul Matson said in a tweet:

LinkedIn is my Rolodex. Facebook is my scrapbook. Twitter is my idea generator/networking source.

ToolbeltIt’s important for PR students and professionals to view social media as a resource.  Although it’s revoluntionizing public relations, it’s just one of the many tools we carry in our belt.

What do you consider to be some of the “basics” of public relations?  If you are a PR professional, what simple practices do you follow to stay on track?

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Mastering the E-mail Pitch

March 28, 2009

For many Kent State students, spring break is an opportunity to escape Ohio’s bipolar weather and the stress of the semester by heading to the southern states.

Isle of Palms, SC

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to dig out my flip flops and bask in the sunshine on a trip to sunny South Carolina.  Instead of flocking to the beaches during this spring break, I found myself at work, drinking coffee while glaring at my computer screen.  (Note: I am not complaining.  I love my internship, and I love my cubicle!  But I have to admit: Looking at the dreary Akron sky made me long for some precious beach time.)

One of my internship assignments this week was to interview sources for a Mother’s Day story and create a pitch letter to target local newspapers.  Although I was excited for an opportunity to pitch to a reporter, I knew I had to do my homework.

As I chomped on my spinach salad and browsed my Google Reader during a lunch break, I started to wonder how I should create the pitch letter.

I wondered: How do journalists really want to be pitched these days?  Is the formal, snail-mail letter dead?  Do journalists actually read e-mail pitches, or will my hard work be thrown down the drain?

I knew the last thing I wanted was to end up like an example on BadPitchBlog, so I did some research on e-mail pitches.

Believe it or not, the days of journalists calling PR specialists for stories and sources are coming to an end.  According to PR Daily, Free Web services, including Peter Shankman’s Help a Reporter Out (HARO), connect reporters will access to more than 50,000 PR pros at one time.  Journalists can post e-mail inquiries on HARO and wait for PR reps to offer their information and experts.  Therefore, the PR pro needs to pitch his or her information and/or client as the best option for the reporter.

As Rob Jewell said in his post “Life After Newspapers,” the newspaper industry is changing. As journalists adapt to changes in the industry, public relations professionals will have to change the way they interact with each journalist to ensure lasting, quality relationships.

Business Wired offers the following tips for creating e-mail pitches:

  • Think like a reporter.

Know how to work on the deadline.  Scope out the sources you need.  Be sensitive to newsworthy topics in industry.

  • Use eye-catching, concise subject lines.

When I open my full e-mail box in the morning, my mouse gravitates toward an eye-catching subject.  It’s the same for journalists, too.  Make your subject clear!

  • Develop a relationship before pitching.

If you’re pitching a specific reporter, read some of his or her work before pitching.  Find out his or her niches and interests.  Connect the reporter with other stories he or she may enjoy reading.

  • Don’t call a reporter to ask if he/she received your email.

I was actually surprised by this advice, but it makes sense.  E-mail could be overlooked, sent to the spam box or deleted automatically, so feel free to send a follow-up e-mail a few days later.

  • Contact the correct reporter.

This one’s pretty common sense, but it’s easy to overlook.  Newspaper staffs are shrinking, and turnover can be high.  It’s important to make sure you’re contacting the correct reporter.

  • Get to the point.

Don’t bury your story!  Get your point across in the first few sentences of your pitch.

I’ll be keeping these points in consideration as I prepare to write my pitch letter.  It looks like I’ll have to do some homework on my reporter and establish a relationship with him or her before I pitch the story.  Do you have any stories about e-mail pitches gone marvelously good or terribly bad?  If so, please share!