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Is PR a Good Profession for Parents?

mom child Is PR a Good Profession for Parents?

This is a post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

Advances in communication technologies, increases in virtual offices and the prevalence of flexible (round-the-clock?) schedules make it possible to balance the work with personal demands in life.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since listening to Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk about why we have too few women leaders and also since I’ve been approached by more than a couple of younger female PR professionals who want to know how they can prepare for work life when they start a family. (Having just crossed a milestone birthday and with a child in double-digits I guess I’m now a Buddha of sorts when it comes to work-life balance. Yikes.)

Sheryl Sandberg’s argument is compelling, made more so by her delivery and her backstory. (She went from being Larry Summers’ research assistant at the World Bank to being his Chief of Staff at the U.S. Treasury, became vice president at Google and is now COO at Facebook.) In her version of Women’s Lib, our daughters will have a chance not only to succeed but to be admired for having done so. To get to that day, she urges women to “take a seat at the table, make their partner a real partner and to not leave before you leave.”

Her argument is being heard in other industries too. In a NY Times editorial Dr. Karen Sibert argued that women who “want to be doctors should be doctors [and not get enter the profession looking for work-life balance].” Conversely, a colleague, Dr. Suzanne Koven, argues in response that maternity leaves and part-time hours aren’t just women’s issues and believes that Sibert’s “just say yes” approach risks discouraging women from pursuing careers in medicine.

Public Relations is similar to the medical profession in some ways. Our work is service-driven and we often work in response to the needs of our clients, which can include internal corporate clients. PR opportunities and crises can arise at any time. For these reasons, PR work can involve long hours and lots of stress. (Of course, our actions don’t typically result in life or death consequences.) Scaling back on clients or type of projects can make for a friendlier work-life balance, but could harm future career opportunities.

Since roughly 70 percent of PR professionals are women, many of us will or have had to deal with the mommy question. Many moms go on to have very successful careers in PR. Some heed Sandberg’s and Sibert’s advice and go “all in.” Others shape their work around their personal needs and schedules.

The answer, of course, is that there’s no one way to do things. Honestly, there’s no single definition for success either. Personally there are days when I think the answer is to just keep trying.

In that vein, here are a few of my picks for career advice for anyone who is trying to balance a PR career with their role as a parent:

What do you think? Is PR a good profession for working parents? What’s your advice for making it work?

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.

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A Look at PR Internships

article internship 13 A Look at PR Internships

This is a post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

I’ll admit it’s been a long time since I was an intern, but frequently I talk to PR students who are starting their careers and the topic invariably comes up. In fact, these days it’s just about unheard of to work in PR without first having at least one internship. Internships provide real-world experience that can help candidates stand out in PR job interviews and help interns build their professional network.

Since internships are so common now, there are a lot more formal processes in place for them too — particularly at big PR agencies. For instance, if you’re planning on applying for an internship for the summer, you need to get to work now. Most agencies start accepting applications right after winter break, and by May they’ve selected and signed on their interns for the summer. A typical agency internship lasts 8 weeks, after which most interns either: a) go back to school; b) are offered a full-time position at the agency; or c) look for another internship or job.

One trend I’ve noticed is that more recent college graduates are applying for internships rather than full-time entry-level positions – even if they’ve already built up PR experience with other internships during college. I think that reasons for this trend could include:

  • The perception that the only way to be hired for an entry-level job at a big agency is to first work there as an intern.
  • Students who want to work in a new city, i.e. not the one their college is located in, feel that they need to make new connections in that area.
  • Studying PR in school exposes students to a broad range of practices and some still aren’t sure what they want to focus on in their careers by the time they graduate. Internships are a way to get practical experience that will also help them narrow or select their career path.
  • The economy is still in poor condition and the PR job market is still tight so new graduates are scaling back their expectations and aiming for intern-level positions instead of entry-level jobs

The economy may also have had a hand in the increase in unpaid internships in recent years. Some industries, such as the music and film industries, rely on unpaid interns and can offer valuable experience or connections in lieu of pay. While some unpaid internships can be categorized as educational and may even qualify the intern for school credit, if the work is menial it violates federal law not to pay the intern and several states are cracking down on this practice.

Legal or not, unpaid internships exist. Kent State University professor Bill Sledzik offers this summary of the pros and cons of both paid and unpaid internships.

Lauren Berger, founder of InternQueen.com, has had positive experiences with her unpaid internships at organizations such as MTV, Fox, BWR Public Relations and NBC. She says, “Unpaid internships can be the best experiences of your life. They were the best experiences of my life. They should be just as valuable as paid opportunities. Remember, unpaid internships should be only 12-15 hours per week. You can manage a part-time job, internship and school at the same time.”

She also comments on virtual internships, “Virtual internships can be amazing opportunities as well. A virtual internship means you work from home instead of from an actual office. Normally, virtual interns communicate with employees via Skype, texting, phone and email. Try to look for a virtual internship with structured hours.”

Want to weigh in on your intern experience?

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.

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PR Ethics – an Oxymoron?

Got ethics2 PR Ethics – an Oxymoron?

This is a post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

On a special web page devoted to ethics, PRSA has this to say,

The practice of public relations can present unique and challenging ethical issues. At the same time, protecting integrity and the public trust are fundamental to the profession’s role and reputation. Bottom line, successful public relations hinges on the ethics of its practitioners.”

With that in mind, consider these situations:

PR professional and former Boston Globe editor Doug Bailey recently wrote an expose for Boston Magazine on working as the Boston Red Sox’s PR resource that revealed several behind-the-scenes and not-so-flattering vignettes about team members and owners. When questioned if he had abused one of PRSA’s recommendations that PR professionals should “safeguard the confidences and privacy rights of clients and employees,” Bailey responded, “A fair question. But there must be a statute of limitations plus these are cocktail party stories.”

When I first heard that Nancy Assuncao, the PR representative for Paula Deen, had talked to the New York Post about why, in good conscious, she could no longer serve as Deen’s representative, I was disturbed by her airing her work-related dirty laundry so publicly. In taking an ethical stand, Assuncao seemed to violate the PRSA ethical code guideline, to Act in the best interest of clients or employers.” I won’t argue with the questionable strategy and timing Deen displayed in announcing her diabetes and subsequent endorsement of the diabetes drug from Novo Nordisk. If Assuncao knew about Deen’s diabetes (which some sources say Deen knew about for the past three years) and continued to promote Deen’s unhealthy style of cooking, then she was violating the PRSA code guideline, “Decline representation of clients requiring actions contrary to the Code.”

Personally I think parody tweeters can be funny and entertaining, but when do they cross the line? Did the actions of @BPGlobalPR on Twitter violate PRSA’s transparency code of ethics? Usually it’s when they’re unmasked and found to be a competitor of the person or brand being skewered -  for instance it was revealed that a senior advisor for Senator Scott Brown (R, MA) was sending disparaging tweets under the handle @CrazyKhazei (Alan Khazei was Brown’s Democratic rival) and he was called out for those actions by PRSA.

Last month Elizabeth Filkin released a report on her investigation of the relationships between Britain’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World. Among her findings came recommendations for PR professionals not to flirt with the media. Hmm…uh…now you’ve got me. PRSA certainly doesn’t disagree with Filkin’s advice…

What do you think? Are there shades of gray when it comes to PR ethics?

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.

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Not All PR is Good PR

4449585823 c8893f33e8 Not All PR is Good PR
This is a post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

Want to know reporters’ pet peeves about working with PR people?

No?

Me neither!

But attend any panel session that includes members of the media and the question ALWAYS comes up.

At first the reporter will get a look on his or her face like, “oh, wow, where do I begin?” Then they’ll start off answering the question in a nice way, “well, it’s helpful if the PR person who is contacting me has a relationship with me, or has maybe even read my work and can reference that in the pitch.” But then they get warmed up and watch out! Soon you’ll all be chuckling over the crazy things PR people do when they are pitching stories.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Most reporters don’t start out spouting off about how annoying PR people are (notice I said “most”) – it’s the PR people who ask them this question. I suppose we ask it because we have an inner desire to do better, or maybe it’s to ingratiate ourselves to the media. I also suppose it’s a PR rite of passage of sorts in which every junior PR person must be exposed to hearing first-hand the rantings of the “other side” and have their blinders removed, so to speak.

But it seems to me that the answers are always astoundingly basic and are only exposing the mistakes of moronic individuals or of a few bad apples.

The two annoyances that come up most frequently when the media is asked this question have to do with follow up calls (either calling when reporters are on deadline or following up excessively) and receiving pitches that are completely off the mark. So do your homework, folks, and understand who you’re pitching and their position with the media outlet, as well as how they work, including their deadlines.

Are we that masochistic?

Are PR pros using their voyeuristic gene to focus on all the bad examples in the industry? How else to explain the popular and authoritative Bad Pitch Blog? Or the site’s efforts, as well as Gawker’s, to “improve the PR industry through ridicule”?  Or the viral path that PR screw-ups have taken recently, such as when a BrandLink VP failed miserably in pitching the Bloggess?

It’s gotten to the point that the industry has started debating the value of publicly outing bad pitches, like Arik Hanson does in his post, Are We Helping or Hurting by Blogging About PR Flameouts?

This doesn’t happen in other industries

Can you imagine a group of lawyers asking a judge about what courtroom behavior is the most vexing? Or scientists asking the FDA for tips on speeding up drug approvals?

Of course there’s a difference between “peeving” someone and royally mucking up a brand’s reputation. In any industry, the latter could cost you your job. But, in our industry, the consensus seems to be that there’s value in talking about what not to do.

Do you agree? Disagree?

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.

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My Ten Years and Two Cents

3013269844 f70cd70345 My Ten Years and Two Cents

This is a post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

It’s been ten years since I launched my own independent PR consultancy and I like to think I’ve learned a little along the way. When I look around, the view is certainly a little different now compared to what my life and job looked like ten years ago.

A decade ago I was leading sizable account teams for a top PR firm. I worked long hours at the office and spent weeks working on-site at a client’s office in another city. Today I work for myself and for my small and medium-sized clients – most of whom don’t have internal marketing resources of their own. My office is one room in my home and I sometimes put work projects on hold for an hour in the day to shuttle my two children to their activities or to help them with their homework after school. The one thing that hasn’t changed over the past decade is my excitement for public relations and the satisfaction I get from using my skills to make a difference in my clients’ businesses.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the past decade:

There’s no “right way” to have a career. Smart, senior PR professionals come in lots of different forms. Some are most productive working in a traditional environment with traditional supports, and others only work best when they’re free to be their own person. Some people thrive when they have exciting, award-worthy campaigns and products to lead. Others enjoy more consistent day to day work and relationship-building. Some like to be perceived as “big thinkers,” while other fear flying solo.

There’s also no “right time” – whether you’re trying to plan for a career change, starting a family or jumping into an exciting new project. Rather than basing opportunities on some subjective timing – e.g. “by the time I’m 30 I’ll have reached VP-level,” – it’s more important to find the opportunities that feel too great to pass up and then give them all you’ve got.

You won’t get far at anything without support. Whether you get your support in-person, after-hours or online, clients, co-workers, peers, mentors and friends play a role in so many parts of our day. I credit a former co-worker, who struck out on her own about a year ahead of me, for giving me the motivation to launch my solo career. She also pulled me into her own practice and literally showed me the ropes. (Thanks, Marian!)

Sometimes you have to go with “it” and see where it takes you. Best laid plans and all that — then suddenly you look back on a decade…or even just the past year…and, while inventorying your experiences and where you’ve wound up, realize you’ve developed a nice little niche in a market you would never have known to pick for yourself.

Working alone means you have one tough boss. We’ve all heard about how we are our own toughest critics and that’s true enough. Working for yourself also means you are responsible for motivating yourself, critiquing yourself and pushing yourself toward improvement.

Never put off your life for your career. As I’m fond of telling people these days, “we have our whole lives to work.” While I sometimes create more stress for myself by shortening my workdays a bit, I’ll never regret making time to meet a friend for lunch or a walk.

Keep an eye on the competition. What I mean is this: by following others in the PR world, you can see how they are talking about themselves and their work, see where they’re going and what they’re doing. It’s inspiring to me to follow industry leaders or people who are in the thick of dynamic PR projects. Sales teams do this all the time, for more competitive reasons.

In PR, you are the sum of your work experiences. I feel this more acutely as a solo practitioner, but it’s true whether you work in a big agency, corporate setting or small office. Most of us get hired based on the work we’ve done in the past and the experiences we’ve accumulated. Knowing this has helped me realize that it’s important to be proactive about the type of work I say yes to. It’s not easy saying no, but I consider the industry, the type of work and who I’ll be working with very carefully.

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.

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Working with Friends and Family

This is a guest post by Alison Kenney.

It’s that time of year…when families gather for the holidays lots of things can happen. Those of us in the PR profession have more than likely experienced at least a couple awkward conversations about our work with family members who don’t quite understand PR. Since I’ve already blogged about my family’s inability to understand what it means when I say I work in PR, I’ll focus this blog on the other awkward work-related conversation that inevitably comes up at this time of year: what happens when family members, or friends, ask for your PR help.

Now, don’t get me wrong — I know we all have family and friends who we’d do anything for, and many of us have benefited from the help and advice of family members. Yet sometimes these situations can get sticky.

Take, for example, situations like these:

  • A family member is excited to work with you and promises to pay you for your time and expertise…but they have no idea what the cost of your service will be.
  • A relative outlines an “opportunity” or “project” that you would never consider taking on if it came from someone who was not a family member.
  • Friends dangle in-kind payback that is not at all enticing to you: “I’ll introduce you to all my poker buddies entrepreneur friends so they can call you when they need advertising PR advice.”
  • No matter how expert you are, or how respected you are in your industry, when your great Aunt Ruth or your older brother need you, they know how to reach you and they know your personal soft spots and what to say to get you to do their bidding.
  • You’re asked to get on board and help with publicity for a product or company that doesn’t exist yet. Maybe it’s more fun to talk about publicity than other business infrastructure issues, but these prospects are nowhere near the RFP stage. They don’t need PR right now; they need to find a manufacturer first.
  • After you take on a project with an old friend (even though you knew better) and it ended up going way over the anticipated scope of work, they have the nerve to criticize the (pro bono) work you did. For years to come, they will continue to mutter about your inability to get them results.
  • And the #1, most common request from friends and family: asking for your PR help for a product or company in an industry that is not related in any way to the career experience you’ve built over the years.
  • Remember, there’s a big difference between doing business with your friends and becoming friends with the people you work with.

If you have any remaining doubt, I leave you with this funny org chart that can help you decide whether it makes sense to work with a family member: http://shouldiworkforfree.com/

.Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.

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Six Things You Didn’t Know About Solo PR Practitioners

3199813700 97f9599f2c Six Things You Didn’t Know About Solo PR Practitioners
This is a post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

In the world of PR, solo practitioners have a bit of mystery about them. Without an affiliation to an organization they can be hard to place. And while each individual PR professional has their own unique qualities, here are a few universal truths about solo PR pros that you may not have known:

Solo PR pros are self-motivated – working independently means they come up with their own program ideas and strategies and put it all into action themselves. While there is give-and-take with clients, solo PR pros have to be their own boss when it comes to staying motivated and delivering results. Consider also that solos take on the risk of finding work and keeping their income flowing steadily.

They can become your most dedicated partners – depending on the nature of their PR work (i.e. short projects versus long-term programs), most solo PR pros work with a small circle of clients at one time. Each client is therefore important to them and their workload. They also may be able to accommodate certain needs or workstyles in a way that a larger PR agency can’t do.

Not all types of solo PR pros are the same – I like to categorize independent PR practitioners as either a freelancer or consultant. Freelancers will take on projects or pieces of projects, such as writing, researching, etc., or may fill in as a PR team member for a temporary period, while a consultant will play a more strategic role and take on the development, as well as the execution, of a PR program.

Their work is personal – many choose to go solo for lifestyle reasons, e.g. to balance work with other needs such as child care, a serious hobby or relationship, or perhaps just because they like the freedom of working for themselves. Being the one who calls the shots also means they typically can pick work that interests them personally.

They have a niche – unlike big PR agencies that can serve a wide range of client types in different industries because they have a large staff to draw upon, a solo PR pro’s niche is defined by their actual experiences. This might be obvious, but with those solo practitioners who don’t call out their specialty, potential clients will have to ask questions and find out more about the person, their experiences and how they work. Most PR pros wouldn’t have the guts to go solo if they didn’t possess a solid command of all the PR basics, and they may say they can apply their expertise to any type of program, but a look at their experience and current roster of work will tell you what their area of expertise is.

The name “solo” is misleading – independent practitioners wouldn’t survive without networks that include connections from pre-solo days, professional associations, partners and other supporters.

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.

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Q&A with Corporate Reporter Jesse Noyes: Developing PR Skills for Decade Ahead

This is a post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

As the media around us continues to change and evolve, PR practitioners are adapting: we’re participating in social media, creating new content to appeal to many different audiences and using various new media formats in our efforts.  So, is what we’re doing still “P.R.”?  Or do we need a new name for this enhanced role we play?

Arik Hansen blogged recently that we PR pros are evolving into media producers and that “companies will be looking more and more for a professional with storytelling skills. And photography skills. And video producing and editing skills.”

Last year Eloqua was one of the companies that hired its own media producer. It brought Jesse Noyes (@noyesjesse) on board as a corporate reporter.  I decided to follow up with Jesse on his experience over the past year and ask him if he has any advice to help PR pros develop skills for this new type of role.  He was kind enough to take the time to answer my questions:

How is being a corporate reporter unique?  How does it differ from traditional reporting?  How does it differ from PR or other marketing functions?

Well, first, the role of an in-house reporter for any brand is not journalism in the traditional sense. Your role is not necessarily to break news, and I don’t think I’ll be hearing from the Pulitzer committee any time soon. You’re there to create editorial content, whether it’s articles, podcasts, videos, etc, that educate or inform or even entertain your audience. While many of the topics I explore might be pertinent to my company or my industry, I’m not here to tout a product or service specifically. Eloqua has charged me with creating stuff that will delight and engage people working at the cross roads of marketing, sales, social media, cloud computing and tech in general – not to sell.

In terms of PR, I have many former newsroom colleagues that have gone on to this field, with great success. But it was never for me. I don’t communicate with the media, pitch stories to news outlets or blogs, or work with analysts. I have great co-workers who do that. Honestly, if you’re calling me to arrange an interview or get a quote, you have the wrong guy.

That said, how does corporate reporting incorporate aspects of traditional journalism and aspects of marketing/PR?

There’s a new mantra within marketing: “Think like a publisher.” That’s all well and good, but I think brands need to take an even bigger step and think like an editor. The publisher at most outlets is supposed to have little involvement with the actual editorial content. In this day and age where publishing tools are cheap and easy, you need the professional skills of an editor and reporter to differentiate yourself. This requires some very basic, but hard-learned, lessons from journalism. Interviewing skills, research skills, proofreading, an ability to jump from subject to subject, even industry to industry, on any given day – these are the purview of the corporate reporter. My purpose is not only to produce great work, but to elevate the content of those working at every level of the company. Those skills are hard to come by, and why I think more brands will be pilfering from newsrooms in the future.

What skills do you think are most important to the corporate reporting role?

As I noted above, the ability to switch from subject to subject, solid editing chops, and expert interview skills are probably the most fundamental. When I started out in the newsroom, I had great editors who made me feel great about my work, even as they ripped it apart and showed me how to do it right. That kind of editing finesse is critical within organizations that want to act as publishers. I’d add an ability to tell a story, is something that can only be learned with time and a lot of tapping on the keyboard. It doesn’t come naturally all that often.

Can any size/type organization benefit from having a corporate reporter on staff?

Absolutely. Large companies benefit by having someone who can oversee the editorial quality of their content, and to push back when it sounds too much like marketing speak. Small companies benefit from someone who can help position them as market leaders, cutting through the noise without a huge budget on their side.

Do you employ different types of media in your reporting, e.g. video, audio, photos?

All of the above.

Who is your primary audience?

People who want to elevate their sales and marketing. This can range from those just starting out in their careers to those at the highest level within an organization. I have written about and interviewed people working at professional sports team to software-makers to business thought leaders.

What kind of response/feedback have you received from Eloqua’s customers/prospects?

By far, the feedback I get from our regular readers is the most encouraging. Often I meet people at conferences or other events, and when I say I work for Eloqua I hear, “I love the content you’re producing!” That’s the best feeling.

What is the hardest part of making a career change for those “old school” journalists who are adapting to market changes and leaving traditional journalism for corporate PR or marketing positions?

Honestly, I think it’s just wrapping your head around it. You work for a company that sells something to someone. Many journalists would struggle with that. But it’s not really that different. I worked for newspapers and ultimately those papers were a business with skin in the game. At the same time, if the company wants to keep a reporter on a short leash, they probably shouldn’t even make the hire. The relationship won’t work if some brand manager wants to control every period and comma.

For PR and marketing types, I think it’s realizing that writing, editing and narrative skills aren’t just polish. They’re critical to your success. And you can’t just take a night class and say you have “reporting skills now.” You have to find the right people and build a relationship with them internally. Luckily, at Eloqua I work with smart people who see the value in a sharp editorial product.

What lessons can PR and marketing types take from traditional journalism folk in this new world?

Interview people. Write everyday. Understand that people care about a good story, not your product. I was always baffled by PR people who would call me and expect me to just write an article about their company. My readers cared about wider trends and changes in the market, not just about some brand’s CEO. Do the work to find the bigger story, and you’ll have more success getting your brand’s own story told.

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.

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Staying Motivated

5217748702 8038c3f2f9 Staying Motivated

A post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

It’s summer…the mind wanders…and all of a sudden you don’t have the same energy for your PR efforts.   Those new media pitches aren’t rolling off the keyboard anymore; you aren’t spending time on networking occasions; or you haven’t, ahem, blogged in awhile.

Fear not, here are a few tips to stay get that motivational juice flowing again:

Hit re-start – take a fresh look at your work and go back to original proposals and/or plans to see if you’re meeting objectives or to gather ideas for other efforts you could be doing

Give yourself permission to roam – some of my best ideas come from surfing the web, clicking through to links that others have shared, and reading whatever catches my interest

Take advice from those who’ve gone before you – you’re not alone and co-workers, colleagues and others in your network or online have plenty of advice to offer about breaking through writer’s block or ideas for generating content

Check out the competition – sometimes nothing gets you motivated faster than the idea of being left behind; looking at your firm’s or client’s competitors and their PR efforts, or checking out what other PR professionals are up to, could be the motivation you seek

This topic came up in a recent #soloPR chat on Twitter and the group had this advice:

Take some time off:

@dariasteigman “When was your last vacation? Just a few days off did wonders for me”

@karenswim “Take some time away, even a day to recharge & assess if you need to change direction”

Look outside yourself for inspiration:

@CommAMMO “Learn something new, talk to someone new, go to a new conference or meeting, have a new martini…”

@BlueprintCG_PR “I get my mojo back by picking up a good business book on what I need insight on”

@REDMEDIAPR “find what your passionate about and start dabbling ex I love wine but have no wine pr exp so cut my rate to get feet wet”

@dconconi “learn a new skill (eg. sm), take a mini break (or a long one), bring in a sub who you can teach (and learn from)”

@BlueprintCG_PR “Always keep reading…it feeds the brain, gives insight, & points u to new directions”

@BlueprintCG_PR “A good workout helps me clear my lungs & recharge my mind”

@sophie180 “Brainstorm! New biz opps or that new BIG idea”

@mdbarber “Meet with another pro and exchange ideas about each other’s job, or another business problem”

Change things up:

The creator and moderator of the SoloPR chat, Kellye Crane says, “Sometimes working from a different location can jump start the mojo.”  She added, “Also, is it time to raise your rates? Sometimes we feel defeated when not being paid our worth.”

Consider the big picture:

@dariasteigman “Assess the problem: is it burn out, boring work, uninspired projects, etc.?”

@jenzings “first, step away and identify the problem–what’s boring? The client, the approach, etc. Can’t fix until examine critically”

@KellyeCrane “When in a funk, I start thinking about what it is I *want* to be doing. Then figure out how to do it!”

@jgombita “Is it really the work you are bored with? Or is it other aspects of your life you are unhappy about?  (Transferring emotions.)”

[You can read the full #soloPR chat transcript here or at the solopr.com web site.]

Do you have other tips for staying motivated? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.

Photo credit: Personal Development Blog
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Are Fake Tweets Part of Your PR Program?

A post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

As a free service that lets its users set up an account in just a few seconds, Twitter has made it easy for people to take advantage of its system.  Plenty of tweets come from assumed aliases or posers.  Why would anyone do this?  And what role do fake tweets play in PR?

First, fake tweets can be really entertaining. Many of the fake Twitter aliases dispense pretty hilarious and well-thought out tweets.  Everyone from Forbes to Mashable has published a list of the best fake Twitter accounts. They range from crime bosses (there are about a dozen Whitey Bulgers on Twitter and even @Catherine_Greig is tweeting now) to celebrities(@FakeJeter) and from the cast of Star Wars to memes like @FakeAPStyleBook and@shitmydadsays, which seems to have spawned @oldmansearch. Often the entertainment value is in extending the life of a popular news topic, such as the creation of@Bronxzooscobra.

Faux tweets can also help brands engage with audiences in a new way and/or add a new dimension to the brand.  For example, the Mad Men TV show characters who tweet in their fictional voices would seem to be a brilliant branding move on behalf of AMC, the show’s creators, and a smart way to extend the brand and keep audiences engaged even when the season is not airing on TV. (The real story is more complicated.)

Another benign reason for skirting total transparency on Twitter is to establish and build authority.  For instance, Lindsay’s Twitter handle, @PRjobs, is an easy-to-remember and authoritative name for someone whose job is recruiting PR professionals.  Similar to the practice of grabbing up popular web domain names, some Twitter names become sought-after. @Massachusetts isn’t a government agency; it’s the Twitter handle for Trazzler, a travel deal site co-founded by Biz Stone, one of Twitter’s founders.

Twitter is also used strategically to influence audiences or perhaps attack an opponent.  This seems to be happening more and more in politics, with opponents creating fake Twitter names to tweet offensive comments about a candidate, as was the case for California State Senator and leading candidate for mayor of San Francisco Leland Yee says the New York Times.  In an unusual example of Twitter impersonation, a faux Rahm Emanuel, who presumably sought to entertain when he began tweeting under the handle @MayorEmanuelduring Emanuel’s run for mayor of Chicago, identified himself to the real Rahm Emanuel in exchange for a donation to a local charity.

In typical fashion, campaign managers and PR strategists simultaneously deny involvement with fake Twitter accounts and discount any influence the fake tweets have.

Of course the most infamous fake tweeter so far is @BPGlobalPR, which took advantage of BP’s slow reaction and lack of communication in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to generate negative attention for the BP brand.  The creator of @BPGlobalPR shares his thoughts with PRSA in this interview.

Twitter doesn’t endorse phweeters (phony tweeters) or parodies but openly accepts their existence and attempts to help its users identify real versus phony accounts by verifying certain accounts and publishing these guidelines.

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.

share save 171 16 Are Fake Tweets Part of Your PR Program?


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