When 40 public relations consultants get together, there’s bound to be some magic sparks. This year’s 11th Annual PRConsultants Group Conference in Orlando, Florida, was a great example of long-time peers collaborating on the latest in strategy, technology, valuation, community service, and creativity in the field of PR. Created this year by a fabulous duo, Susan Hamburg and Brendy Barr, along with their committee, here are some highlights of the Orlando Conference:
- Situated at the newly renovated B Resort in Lake Buena Vista, the group was treated to fabulous hospitality in recently remodeled rooms.
- The group’s annual “Tech Tools” session by PRCG members Toni Antonetti (also outgoing PRCG President) and Julie Dennehy announced a new Pinterest Board featuring the latest in tech tools . Many free and low-cost technology gems are posted there. Incoming PRCG President Bob Schiers, who was able to spout off the meaning of “url” (do you know?), won Social Media Engagement for Dummies; and member Heidi Langer shared another great book resource, Release Your Inner Nerd by Beth Ziesenis. I bought both before the conference ended, and they’re loaded with great tech tips.
The agenda was packed with high-profile speakers, who had way more creative ideas than I could list in just one blog post, but here are some of my favorites, including some really great quotes that illustrate each topic and really drive home the power of PR…
- Dollar General Sr. Director Corporate Communications, Dan MacDonald, presented “The Little PR Engine that Could.” He talked about PR as earned media; their brand’s laser focus on value and serving others; and about how highly valuable traditional tactics can be in PR including phone calls and relationships. MacDonald also talked about how social media marketing (i.e., Twitter parties) can catapult a brand in terms of quick, massive reach. An excellent point he made was that social media channels are also customer service/response channels.
- Cabot SVP of Marketing Roberta MacDonald said that “PR is a really good story.” Owned by dairy farmers, Cabot Creamery is a cooperative, and MacDonald talked about several PR “wins” including setting a Guinness World Record for the largest mac ‘n cheese; taking “true local celebrities” on a cruise; and more. My favorite quote from MacDonald: “If you’re measuring just on impressions, you’re missing it. It’s the depth of the heartbeat.”
- Co-Founder of B Corp Jay Coen Gilbert clarified, “Business exists to serve the community; community doesn’t exist to serve the business.” He shared the secret behind authenticity: “PR pros have a choice about what story to tell and how to tell it. And, 70% of customers care about the company behind the product.”
- Social Media Specialist, Communication & Outreach for Southwest Airlines, Adam Rucker started with a quote from Herb Kelleher, Chairman Emeritus Southwest Airlines: “The business of business is people.” With a Facebook fan following of 4 million plus, let’s just say Southwest is very much IN the social landscape. Rucker shared some great anecdotes that made social media headlines on their channels and that anyone could “luv.” For example, on National Dress up your Pet day, someone actually dressed their bulldog as a Southwest airplane. They fly kids for Make-a-Wish to wishes; one time, the passengers raised $500 to help the child buy souvenirs on the trip. He also shared some examples of how social media/Facebook posts during a crisis have quickly created a sense of calm and even made it to TV demonstrating a quick and responsible response.
- Social Media Managing Editor, Disney Parks Gary Buchanan presented “Innovation & Innovention (& a dash of Pixie Dust) #GetCre8ive.” He started with Jean-Luc Godard’s quote, “It’s not where you take things from. It’s where you take them to.” And a Disney quote, “If you’re coasting, you’re going downhill.” He shared a recent example of leveraging the news during NY Fashion Week where they had a red carpet preview of their new parade costumes and lots of magical anecdotes including eating a “kitchen sink” ice cream concoction and being an apprentice to the “move and dance and shake.” Could you eat an entire “kitchen sink”?
And that recaps our first full day together.
That night, the group had a private tour of Disney’s Animal Safari, which ended with a thunderstorm and running through puddles to dinner. But hey, PR people know how to make lemonade out of lemons, right?
Day Two kicked off with more great sessions…
- First, Dunkin’ Donuts Chief Communications Officer Karen Raskopf, whose early days at 7-Eleven were the catalyst for the founding of PRConsultants Group. Raskopf presented Dunkin’s blend of traditional and new media and how seasons and holidays drive creativity.
- And then we took off with “3.2.1 Launch! Branding Space” with Andrea Farmer from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Farmer shared stories of media success inviting reporters to share milestones and some of the process behind the historical events.
Thanks also to our sponsors Jungle Buzz and Cabot Creamery, it was a great conference, full of lots of creative brainpower. Plus, meeting live, the group of market-exclusive PR professionals is able to network and share business thoughts for the year ahead.
Author Bio: Amy Kossoff Smith, who served on the 2014 Conference Committee, is President of Write Ideas, Inc., and Founder/Editor of PRCG Powerlines, is an award-winning publicist with 20+ years’ experience in retail PR & promotions. She also publishes an online parenting magazine, The MomTini Lounge. Featured on The Today Show and all local TV networks, she also publishes a national wire column.
It’s 2014. Name three meaningful pieces of information that you’ve learned this year that you didn’t know last year. If you have difficulty responding, then make your belated New Year’s resolution to learn something new every day.
As public relations practitioners, we are responsible for counseling clients and advising, if not implementing, tactics to help accomplish their business goals. If we’re not well versed in multiple subjects including business trends, consumer habits, updated research, global and domestic current news, hot political topics and more, then we’re a disservice to our clients and to ourselves.
So let’s go on a diet – a mental one. Let’s resolve to feed our minds with healthier fare. Get a library card if you don’t already have one as libraries need our support, and offer lots of free online and print resources. Read a book about an unfamiliar topic. Download a niche magazine. Subscribe to a classic novel app. Peruse a white paper. If you’re really looking for something challenging, become one of the few people to read the entire Affordable Care Act.
Reading has so many benefits to us as professionals. Readers make better writers. You can impressive others at cocktail parties. You become better qualified as a game show candidate. You’ll have more followers. Your respect rating will increase. You’ll have more time because watching TV will now bore you. You’ll be more informed and less stressed by polarizing pundits and less-than-objective newscasts (I prefer BBC).
Feeding our minds with substantive, provocative and useful information is a win-win. You benefit, your clients benefit, your family benefits, your peers benefit and your pets benefit (read to them!).
They say that knowledge is power. Let’s resolve to be more powerful.
Susan Hart, APR, Fellow PRSA, is president of Hart Public Relations in Nashville, TN, and a lifelong supporter and card-carrying member of public libraries.
Cousin Eddie will say and do the most outlandish things that leave you forcing a smile, scratching and shaking your head, and questioning the integrity of your family.
In marketing terms, Cousin Eddie is not relevant and does not succeed in connecting with his intended target markets.
More on Cousin Eddie in a moment.
This year, my “year end” mail started to arrive a few weeks before Thanksgiving. You know those stamped deliveries in the presorted envelopes with your name or organization misspelled (year in and year out).
Some of the messages share the “good” the organization is accomplishing in the community; others suggest ways for you to get involved. All include a return envelope for you to include a “year end gift.”
These abusers of trust, relying on a year-end “ask” to make budget, lack relevance and an accurate database. They are the “Cousin Eddies” of the nonprofit world.
Instead of providing memorable stories, they give us paper cuts and a quiet angst that we will never support an organization that resorts to these tactics.
My New Year resolution for the marketing associate at these nonprofits is to find a way to create a relevant connection to your donor base (target audience).
If you don’t have time, ask for a professional’s help. The Public Relations Consultants Group has a number of qualified professionals who can help you to be successful.
This blog post originally appeared in PRSAY, a blog published by the Public Relations Society of America.
Have you ever encountered a colleague or acquaintance you never thought was particularly bright and suddenly they’re churning out thought leadership pieces that position them as industry gurus? Ever wonder who flipped the switch in their brain to inspire them to produce those pieces that just don’t sound like anything they could say in person?
As social media continues to explode, so does the number of thought leaders and the number of posers, or those who aren’t really thought leaders at all. They’re just good at searching the Internet for others’ brilliant ideas and passing them off as their own. What gets me is that many of these successful executives really don’t need to do this to get attention. Those who don’t know better might not realize they’re just recycling information they read somewhere else and repurposing it under their own byline, claiming they’re a subject expert.
This, my friends, is called plagiarism, and it doesn’t just happen online. It occurs in the classroom, group presentations, meetings and anywhere ideas are shared.
A plagiarist can think they’re getting away with it as long as the original author or owner of the work doesn’t catch on that their work or ideas have been stolen. Eventually the one plagiarizing is going to get caught. It’s against the law. It’s fraud.
Our PRSA Code of Ethics says it’s just plain wrong and violates at least four Code provisions and three professional values.
According to the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS) Advisory PS-16, “Plagiarism is an all too frequent practice that involves the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work. The user fails to make any attempt to attribute the work. Plagiarism can be treated as fraud or theft of intellectual property.”
Think about it. We all know better than to violate someone’s copyright. But plagiarism? Do you really know what it is and do you really understand it?
There’s a plagiarism scenario on the new online ethics quiz that will give you a deeper understanding. Now that we’re starting a new year, it’s the perfect time to take the online ethics quiz and refresh your memory of our Code of Ethics. It’s fun, free, and completely confidential.
Marisa Vallbona, APR, Fellow PRSA, president of CIM Incorporated, is a co-founder of PRConsultants Group, serving as its Southern California member. She serves on the PRSA Board of Directors and the San Diego Ad Club Board of Directors.
Marjorie Scardino has only posted one tweet (@marjscar on Dec 5) and though it is only one small step for a woman, it is one giant leap for womankind…make that all kind! That’s because her tweet thanked the Twitter board of directors for making her their first female board member.
As her 4786th follower, I’m curious to watch how this “education, technology & journalism dilettante; mother of 3; wife of Albert Scardino for many yrs; recovering CEO; recovering Texan; still just Twitter follower from London, England” will move forward in the Twitter world.
Last week, Diane Brady of the San Francisco Chronicle noted that “For any company—never mind one in social media—to woo shareholders by presenting a cast of white men to protect their interest seems clueless.” For a fascinating update on gender in the boardroom, here are a few excerpts from Brady’s analysis inspired by Scardino’s appointment:
“…Did Twitter’s board tap Scardino Thursday because of her gender? Probably. And that’s OK. She’ll bring a lot more to the boardroom than girly anatomy and a woman’s perspective. But all this fuss about women on boards – Germany being the latest to move on mandating quotas to get them there – reflects the fact that it matters.
…Look behind many corporate scandals and business failures, and fingers quickly point to the board. They didn’t ask enough questions, rein in the CEO’s ego, pick the right leader, get nervous about risky bets, or shoot down a stupid strategy. In short, they fall prey to group think.
Bringing a woman on board isn’t the only remedy; the best boards have diversity in areas like talent, age and geography, too. But time and time again, the stats show companies with women directors do better. Maybe they ask more questions. Maybe they prompt more diverse leadership (and vice versa, as a new study finds companies with women leaders also have much more diverse boards.)
Whatever the reason, companies discover that having women on their boards tends to be a win-win. Investors like it. Regulators like it. Consumers like it, or at least they can’t be offended by the fact that you have none. All the more reason why it’s so perplexing that almost 40 percent of tech companies in the S&P 1500 still have no women on their boards.”
Public relations professionals should pass this wisdom up the ladder and through the glass ceiling!
By Dawn Stranne
Dawn Stranne & Associates
PR for Non-Profits Aiding in Relief Efforts Halfway Around the World
by Barb Harris and Sharon Kreher, teamworks communication management
Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Yolanda), slammed through several Filipino islands recently, leaving behind it mass destruction, death, and people without food, shelter and water. Government agencies and nonprofit organizations all over the world began mobilizing to help.
One of these nonprofits is our client Feed My Starving Children (FMSC). This organization provides meals for starving and malnourished people all over the world. In the Philippines, we work with mission partners that have a great reach over the 7,500 islands of the Philippines. Due to FMSC’s ongoing relationship with these partners, we already had food on the ground and they were able to start distributing food to those in need.
On Monday, November 11, FMSC began a coordinated communication effort. As soon as they had heard from several of their mission partners about what the initial need would be for more meals, an e-blast was sent to FMSC’s strong base of thousands of donors and volunteers. They also posted information, requests for donations, and requests for volunteers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels.
In the three markets where FMSC has packing sites – Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicagoland and metro Phoenix, the PR team set to work making the global story local. We outreached to the local media to share how local residents could help people half a world away. We asked them to share our website to donate, stressing that FMSC, through our mission partners, were already on the ground helping people. We invited them to our packing sites so they could see first-hand the volunteers packing meals that could be headed to the Philippines.
In Phoenix, the media was quick to respond. Given that many of the meals volunteers pack at the local site go to the Philippines (12 million last year alone), this story “brought it home” for them. TV crews came (all at the same time!) to film a room full of fourth graders and senior citizens packing meals that would be headed to the storm-ravaged areas. The FOX-affiliate story ended up running not only in Phoenix, but in Greensboro, North Carolina and Philadelphia as well.
What was the impact? Donations came in at record numbers, and volunteer sign-ups increased quickly. But the story of a local Phoenix couple really illustrated how local media can bring a global story home:
Carlo and his wife saw the FOX broadcast and drove to the Phoenix packing site the next morning to see if they could volunteer. You see, their families are in Tacloban, the city hardest hit by the typhoon, and this was the most direct way they could see to help feed their family and friends who are facing an enormous crisis.
Natural disasters and crises happen all the time, all over the world. When working with nonprofits, a skilled PR person must know well what the organization does and recognize how a global story could be local. They must be able to react quickly and reach the media with a solid story full of facts and visuals. They must help fulfill the media’s need to tell the global story in a manner that allows local audiences a way to relate and respond to it. Having the ability to tap experienced PR people in key local markets (like our national network of PR veterans in markets across the country) allows our clients to quickly and effectively make their story, even if it’s a global story, local.