Tag Archives: communications

3 Ways to Apply Content Marketing Principles to your Lame Annual Report

We spend countless hours planning, writing, gathering information, proofing, working with designers and agencies (if we’re fortunate enough to have a budget for that), printers and mail houses, among others, to produce the classiest, content-driven piece possible to motivate your audiences to some sort of action.

You might then mail this annual report to your members, stakeholders, customers and other key publics, but then what? How do we keep the content and momentum steam engine tearing down the rails, helping move our organization forward?

Check out my video and get the inside track!

 

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SOPA and PIPA kill Freedom of Speech

Google's homepage during the 24-hour black out

We’ve been inundated in the media with the proposed legislation of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) acts, which were written by lawmakers to stop online piracy.

But as a PR professional, I find it ridiculous that the core thrust of this legislation arose from intensive lobbying efforts by Hollywood movie and music industry conglomerates.

Having worked in industries that heavily lobby and done a bit of lobbying myself for causes, I know how it works. To discuss important issues with our legislative delegates is important and needed, but to use the influence and funding this industry has for specific and self-serving purposes really ticks me off.

Hey, I love movies and music as much as the next person, but to black out sites because they just “might” be breaking this law is heinous. That’s why we created the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, according to Julianne Pepitone in a recent article from CNN Money. More importantly, websites that provide information and provide products and services among many others, would have no right to due process or to appeal.

A Potentially Illegal Video


*If I shared this video as an example, the Attorney General would have the power to shut this blog down even though I am attributing it to Editor-in Chief, Evan Hansen, from Wired.com!

Can you imagine YouTube just shutting down the moment this bill was passed? Businesses link to millions of their videos hosted on YouTube; bloggers use YouTube to upload and embed videos on their blogs; and let’s not forget that YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine! That’ll impact Web searching, as well as possibly end social search, or at least be a huge detractor.

Think about the sheer amount of invaluable information that would be reduced to rubble and how we, as a society, would react. We rely on the Internet like we rely on breathing. Well, stop breathing people if this bill is passed.

And the whole concept of content marketing, creation, distribution and aggregation would be almost impossible to achieve. Our country is founded on the First Amendment and freedom of speech; and we as PR pros and communicators base our existence on this as a guiding light to promote our messages, changes perceptions and educate the communities we serve.

A Final Thought
My final thought on this subject for the moment before Federal officials take down my blog (insert frown emoticon) is that we better fight this. If we don’t, we’ll be at the mercy of relentless Federal legislation restricting our use of content, in every form. PR pros, agencies and organizations like Shel HoltzOgilvy Public Relations Worldwide and the Public Relations Society of America as a united organization have opposed these bills. Follow their lead!

A News Flash
The only positive news recently released today was that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid indefinitely postponed the Congressional Hearing this coming Tuesday (Jan. 24).

Find your local representative and contact them

A Voice that Counts
There’s still time to voice your opinion though and join forces on opposing SOPA and PIPA before we join the company of China, Iran and other superpowers that have censored the Web to no end. Take action! Check out Wikipedia’s page to look up your local public officials and sign the petition.


Top 5 ways you know you work at an agency

In the cynical and crazy world of PR, advertising, marketing and social media, there are many areas and niches we work within.

These include the areas of municipal, non-profit, corporate, solo and – last but not least – agency. The agency person is a very auspicious, motivated individual who thrives on the strategic plan, but equally loves the unknown. I liken this person to a creature of the wild, hunting and foraging for its prey, awaiting the final strike.

Okay, that’s a bit much, but here are my top 5 ways you know you work at an agency (in no particular order):

    1. You live life one billable hour at a time
    2. You can sit back and roll around in your chair while completing a scenic tour of each department (or at least a few)
    3. You’re surrounded by a wall of industry awards when you walk in the office lobby
    4. You start accidentally using words like “deliverables” and “client expectations” with your friends and family!
    5. You tend to have a bunch of games strewn around the office like dart boards, bean bags, chess and the infamous pinball machine!

Let’s get it started!

I haven’t posted in a while, but there’s a good reason. I started a new digital PR and interactive strategies agency called Soda Prop LLC. with a great friend and business partner, Zach Linquist. We wanted to start something new and that’s why when you visit our site, you’ll see something a bit different… a blog, not a traditional static website.

We did this because we wanted to immediately create engagement and a great conversation among our audience. And what better way to have companies and organizations want to utilize our services than to lead by example – showing them how WE can successfully use social media and PR efforts for ourselves!

A Little About Soda Prop

With a fun, flavor-filled, strategically focused, forward thinking mindset, we’re refining and redefining the way companies and brands communicate with their audience.  Plus, our unique ability to integrate cause-infused ideas and strategy only adds the extra fizz needed to help elevate companies and brands to even higher levels of success.

On the Horizon
Soda Prop is just the beginning of the many other business and non-profit concepts we have in mind. We have some pretty sweet other business ideas being prepped for launch soon!

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet, making a quick announcement about my new venture. But check back to see my thoughts on PR, social media and communication, as well as my steps to try and make a significant impact on our profession.


Inclusion drives support for Treasury Department


Front of the Treasury Department Building

While I don’t typically discuss anything related to politics anymore (spent too many years in the political realm), I do want to discuss the recent Treasury Department meeting. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner held a meeting on Nov. 2 – which doesn’t seem out of the ordinary – except for the fact that he invited 20 key financial bloggers to attend in person.

Many of these bloggers had chastised the department and Geithner in the past, but have now changed their tune. Why? Because they were included in the real-world conversation – a first in the Treasury’s history. Of the 20 invited, eight showed up at their own expense. Not bad considering the economy; but fitting since it was at the Treasury Department.

According to an article in The New York Times yesterday, Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University, who writes for the Marginal Revolution blog and contributes to The Times, said:

The meeting shows that the Obama administration is working very hard on outreach to a lot of different media sources… I think we were much better informed than the groups they’re used to talking to.

Andrew Williams, a spokesman for the Treasury who helped plan the event, stated that Geithner has “long valued the blogosphere.” Geithner had also commented that while serving as the president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, he requested relevant daily blog posts.

Williams said another reason for the outreach is that the “blogs are influential, especially because they are read by reporters at more traditional outlets.”

How did PR impact this?
Geithner and his team made a smart decision to include financial bloggers in an ordinary, run-of-the-mill meeting. It made the bloggers, who usually feel disconnected, part of the conversation and decision-making process. They were able to ask questions in person, rather than make assumptions after hearing about it via a blog post.

Social Media is all about inclusion and developing strong conversations that resonate with your target audiences. I applaud the Treasury Department for its desire to take a step in the right direction – creating transparency, trust and advocates among their once weary target audience.

This is a great example of how a PR professional can influence the dissemination of information among target publics by being forward-thinking and proactive.

Steve Randy Waldman, blogger for the blog Interfluidity sums it up perfectly when he said:

I’d like to thank the “senior Treasury officials” for taking the time to meet with us, and for being very gracious hosts. Whatever disagreements one might have… It was an extreme privilege to sit across a conference table and have a chance to speak with these people… The mere invitation made me more favorably disposed to policy makers…


The state of the PR industry has changed

The PRSA International Conference was held this past week in San Diego, Calif. It’s a time that many PR professionals look forward to because of the pre-conference seminars, keynote speakers, networking and general sessions. By the way, the weather, food and entertainment only add to the excitement.

Of the nearly 25,000 PRSA members, a select group of us (about 325) have the opportunity to represent our local chapters as Assembly Delegates in the National Assembly – a day-long event akin to a session of congress. This marathon day typically entails review of PRSA bylaws, including amendments and resolutions to enhance the structure of our society.

Ralph J. Davila, Tom Duke, APR, Fellow PRSA at Assembly

Akron Area Chapter Delegates: Ralph J. Davila and Tom Duke, APR, Fellow PRSA at Assembly

But this year was different. We were tasked with reviewing and finalizing a complete rewrite of the society bylaws, which would constitute the most significant change in the PRSA since its inception in 1947.

Many thought it would be impossible to achieve such a feat. But after about 10 hours of laboring, conversing, amending, compromising and sometimes arguing, we made it happen.

At about 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, a majority vote of two-thirds was reached.

What changes were made to the bylaws?
The Assembly made vast changes, but  a few major ones should be mentioned. I will touch on them without going into too much detail since they are still in legal review.

APR Accreditation
The first major change that was debated for quite some time was the APR accreditation among membership and the National Board of Directors. According to a 2009 Membership Satisfaction Survey, 63 percent of the respondents stated that the APR was one of the most important programs offered by PRSA. With that said, the Assembly moved to require that any candidate for National Board have an APR to be eligible.

APR_Logo_smThis amendment makes a critical statement to the profession. It says that we, as PR pros, must work to achieve a higher standard of excellence by attaining an APR status.  The APR sends a strong message that PR is a true profession, and that we hold a stake in all levels of communication and at the management table.

I’d like to add that it’s not all about using your APR accreditation as a sales tool or getting a job. It’s about grounding yourself in the theory and practice of public relations, as well as the confidence you gain.

Membership Criteria
The other main issue discussed at length was how we, as a society, can increase PRSA’s value among the profession. There are approximately 250,000 people practicing PR in the United States, and only about 10 percent, or 25,000 of them, are PRSA members. Additional terminology was added within the language of the criteria that would have allowed other related professions to become members. After much debate, we as an Assembly voted to keep the language focused on public relations professionals as the membership target.

PRSA LogoWe have worked, since the start of the PRSA, to make our society the pre-eminent organization for PR pros. And to make sure that PR is taken seriously among others, we agreed that targeting our efforts on the other 90 percent of practicing PR practitioners would be best, and only strengthen our society and profession.

So, many members and PR pros asked why bylaw changes were made and how it would benefit them. Dave Rickey, APR, chair of the Bylaws Rewrite Task Force said:

The primary objective of the bylaws rewrite is to enable a flexible, nimble governance structure to support the best possible PRSA for members, leaders and the profession.

Final Thoughts
I believe that the rewrite will allow all of us to have a greater voice in decision-making and the direction we take PR and the society. It’s about inclusion, and we are in an age of both traditional and non-traditional communication, which makes this change both critical and timely.

We all have a voice in our society and profession, and need to come together to enhance PR’s reputation and understanding among the masses. Only then will we be appreciated and valued like we should be.


How can content be king without great writing?

As PR professionals, we all know (or should) that content in any medium is king. It’s what entices the reader and keeps them coming back. But I believe we have failed to ensure our recent college graduates have the necessary writing skills to enter the workforce. Many college programs now heavily focus on Social Media without reinforcing the need to be concise, factual and strong writers. The best Social Media platforms will always fail without extremely well-written content that engages and intrigues the reader.

What’s the profession think?
Richard Cole
, professor and chairperson of the Department of Advertising, Public Relations and Retailing at Michigan State University, wrote about a survey he conducted with Andy Corner, APR, and Larry Hembroff in the October 2009 edition of PRSA Tactics regarding the writing skills of entry-level PR practitioners. Continue reading


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