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Resolve to be More Powerful

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.


A New Year Resolution for Non Profit Organizations

Cousin Eddie, the infamous befuddled relative from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, is someone who makes the hair on the back of neck stand on end.

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.

Submitted by Tom Garrity, President of The Garrity Group Public Relations based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA


Come on, Can’t You Be Original?

By Marisa Vallbona, APR, Fellow PRSA, president of CIM Incorporated,

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.


One Tweet, One Leap

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


Even When It’s Global, It’s Local


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.


First Annual Snark Free Day Takes Flight

An idea that blossomed at last year’s National PRConsultants Group Conference takes flight today.  Snark Free Day, already generating national attention, has an ambitious goal:  to eliminate negativity, cynicism and #snark in person and online.  This group of national PR pro’s has a simple objective:  to clean up communication one nice word at a time.  The statistics support it; we don’t tolerate it in schools; we cringe at headlines about verbal bashing; so let’s all take the challenge today.  Try it at work and at home.  Censor the #Snark, and see how you feel at the end of the day.

Add a comment to this post — How can #SnarkFree make your day better?

Full press release follows, along with a video about the campaign’s notorious celeb, Jonathan Snark.

For more information or additional images, please contact

News Release

Public Relations Professionals Declare October 22 “Snark Free Day”

To Clean Up Communication One Nice Word at a Time

October 21, 2013 (Nationwide) A group of public relations professionals aim to make a single day in October one that is free of harsh comments, rude social media posts or sinister sarcasm. Declaring October 22 as Snark Free Day, the nationwide affiliates of PR Consultants Group (PRCG) are committing to a kinder way of communication and encouraging others to participate. The group often coaches clients on communication styles for messaging, media releases, web content, blogs, social media and more. Through October 22, they share these same principles with anyone who communicates face-to-face, pen to paper or screen-to-screen.

“We know that alienating the audience is never a good thing. And, with all of the focus on cyber-bullying, we have noticed that people aren’t held as accountable as we should be for what we say online. We’re asking others to commit to taking just a moment before we speak, send or post to think about the effect our words have on those who receive them,” said Snark Free Day Co-Director Nicole Candler of Nic Creative.

To promote participation in Snark Free Day, the group has developed a sketch video featuring a “World Class Jerk” named Jonathan Snark. More information about Snark Free Day can also be found on Follow the discussion at #snarkfreeday.
“We’re asking our friends, colleagues, family and others to share Snark Free Day on October 22 as one day in which we don’t say or write anything snide, sarcastic or mean,” said Snark Free Day Co-Director Melissa Libby of Melissa Libby PR.

The statistics support the importance of going “snark free”…

  • The Healthy Workplace Bill, a movement to define “an abusive work environment” and to provide resources and protection by law, is slowly gaining momentum.  Some 25 states have introduced the bill, but no laws have been enacted.
  • Some 49% of adult Americans have been bullied or witnessed it, according to the Healthy Workplace Campaign.
  • A study on workplace bullying called it “a global health and safety issue” (Ellen Pinkos Cobb, Esq., The Isosceles Group, Boston).
  • Some “48 states have passed some form of anti-bullying legislation in schools, (yet) there has been no serious effort to enact legislation prohibiting bullying in the workplace” (

With less snark in the world, PRCG hopes many great things happen. Snark-attacked victims won’t be grumpy or lash out at others, people feel better about themselves and their relationships with others, and that other adults – and children – may follow the lead and be kinder to their co-workers, customers, family and friends.

About PRConsultants Group

PRConsultants Group (PRCG) is a nationwide group of public relations consultants, each an expert in their respective geographic areas and media markets. Clients who access PRCG, get personalized and targeted service in each local market with the broad reach of a national agency. The group was founded in 1992 and has grown to include 48 affiliates across the U.S. with the ability to form global partnerships.

# # #

Author Bio:  Amy Kossoff Smith, Founder/Editor of PRCG Powerlines and Founder/President of Write Ideas, Inc., has 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.  And, for the purposes of this #SnarkFree post, she believes 100% in the wise and true advice, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!”


The Snark Free Day Challenge – Can you do it?

By Melanie McCraney, Founder of McCraney Communications

Snark Free Day, a day devoted to kindness, civility and verbal restraint sounds like a good idea – easy and even fun.  A day devoted to eliminating rude, harsh or sinister sarcasm.  Do you have what it takes?  Who’s not up for that?  Piece of cake, count me in!

On October 22nd, folks are being asked to put their snarky ways aside and just be nice. It’s Snark Free Day, and coast-to-coast, people are taking the pledge to go Snark Free.  Others are asking, “What is snark and is it really so bad we need to be free of it?”  Stealing a line from, the brainchild of Snark Free Day creators PRConsultants Group, “Basically, snarky behavior is rather commonplace and can otherwise be identified as sarcastic, snide, cranky, snappish, mocking, conveying contempt, snippy, grumpy, rude, seemingly morally or intellectually superior, and other dwarves that aren’t sleepy or happy.”

So why can’t we all just be nice? For one thing, snark can be irresistable, and it sells. Grumpy Cat has built a $3 million brand around snark; tweeting zinging memes that I frankly wish I had thought of first, “If you need to cry, use a tissue, not your Facebook status.” 

Is your Twitter trail a string of meanie memes? Does your Facebook feed come off like a snarky walk of shame? In private messages do you try to mask your snark with hash tags, smiley faces or, if you live in the south, “bless her heart”?

  • “Ran into Lillybet in Whole Foods. Huge, needs her own zip code, bless her heart.”
  • “They’re spinning the divorce as friendly, but I saw her at Fon Fon with her trainer #workouttime.”

We could go on and on, and that’s the problem, we do. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Toss the snark free concept into conversation, and see where that gets you. Tonight my daughter asked me if I was listening to her. “No, I’m writing, so I’m not really listening,”  I said.  “Oh, like when you’re playing Ruzzle,” she snarked. Learned from the master, bless her heart.  #createdamonster

On October 22nd we can come together and smack down snark for one gloriously kind (if not dull) day where if one doesn’t have something nice to say, one says nothing at all. Can you think of anything worse? Me neither, but I’m going to give it my best. I’m gonna tackle it like Kanye campaigning for Kim to get a star on the walk of fame #dreamon. I’m all over it like Miley on Robin Thicke.

Kidding aside, and good thoughts prevailing, please join us on Tuesday, October 22 to celebrate Snark Free Day and find out what all the kindness is about. Melissa Libby said it best on her blog, “‘Snippy, snappy or snide need not show up.”  Watch this YouTube video and see for yourself. Ouch. Convicting, right? Have no fear, fellow snarksters; we’re joining forces to eliminate the snark from the start of the day ’til its finish. If you think you can’t go an entire day without backfiring on your co-worker or leaking sarcasm into every conversation, visit or follow @jonathansnark on Twitter for help.  Take the challenge…see you there!

Author Bio:

Melanie McCraney is a media strategist and founder of McCraney Communications, a Birmingham public relations and brand development firm that helps people shape their messages and tell their stories. McCraney also serves as the Alabama affiliate of PR ConsultantsGroup, a nationwide network of public relations specialists serving the needs of national accounts in local markets.


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