Lindsay Olson

Just another WordPress weblog

Recap of 2nd Annual Solo PR Summit

 Recap of 2nd Annual Solo PR Summit

This is a post by PR Columnist, Alison Kenney.

If you think professional development is different for independent PR pros than it is for agency or in-house staff — think again!

Sure, independents aren’t likely to have access to corporate training and development. And their budgets for professional development might be smaller than other PR pros’. But solo PR pros have the same need for conferences and events that can help them stay on top of trends in the PR industry, learn from expert case studies and bring them together with other practitioners in their field.

Luckily, there’s now an established resource for independent PR pros: Solo PR Pro held its second annual conference last week in Atlanta. Approximately 80-100 solo PR practitioners attended to learn new skills, network with other independent PR pros and find inspiration.

What was it like to attend?

Speakers at the Solo PR Summit were selected for the expertise they could share. Conference attendees heard from PR measurement expertShonali Burke; SEO guru Jenny Munn; and former broadcaster and video expert Dan FarkasArik Hansen used client case studies to showcase his experience with Facebook Ads and David Griner underscored the changes in PR by encouraging and showing the audience how to incorporate paid media opportunities in our work. Lauren Vargas detailed the path she has taken to help Aetna become a social business.Mary Deming Barber, a PRSA Fellow and APR, shared best practices for strategic planning.

Other speakers covered topics unique to the life of an independent PR pro – such as Diane Rose’s session on sub-contracting; Jenny Schmitt’s and Kellye Crane’s joint session on managing difficult conversations; Daria Stegman’s talk on partnerships; and Kami Huyse’s andFran Stephenson’s session on how they worked together to make investments in their own practices.

Inspiration was everywhere, including Chris Craft’s talk about pursuing entrepreneurial excellence and Shelly Kramer’s butt-kicking talk about using content marketing to promote your brand. Jason Falls wrapped the conference up with pointers for optimizing solo PR practices.

Throughout the conference, solos had the opportunity to connect, share and build relationships. The community that Kellye Crane started six years ago with a blog and built up with a weekly chat on Twitter and an active private group on Facebook, was alive and thriving in real life in Atlanta.

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.comLearn more about Alison Kenney.


 

share save 171 16 Recap of 2nd Annual Solo PR Summit

PR Agencies in 2014

shutterstock 124525963 300x204 PR Agencies in 2014

This is a post from PR Columnist, Alison Kenney.

Last week I attended a Social Media Breakfast Boston event called “The Evolution of PR, Marketing & Digital: What’s Next for the Agency World?” It featured panel speakers from big PR agencies (FleishmanHillard and Racepoint Global), a small virtual PR agency (PerkettPR) and an ad agency (Mullen).

So just how have these firms “evolved”? Here’s what I took away from the discussion about what’s it like to work at a PR agency in 2014:

Agencies today offer a mix of disciplines

As FleishmanHillard’s Seth Bloom pointed out, it used to be that no matter what client they were pitching or what the business objective happened to be, agencies primarily offered some flavor of media relations as the solution. There was talk about integrated marketing campaigns, but those rarely came together unless you were working with a very large brand that had a budget large enough to grab the attention of multiple sister agencies and could afford the massive amount of coordination work. As an example of how this has changed, Bloom ended his presentation with a short video his team created to tease the launch of a new, waterproof Samsung phone. I couldn’t help but think how the launch would have been teed up ten years ago, most likely with a focus on media pre-briefings.

Now agencies offer lots of different services under one roof. A typical corporate CMO wants a mix of paid, owned and earned media and PR agencies are more and more frequently offering it, rather than just a piece of it. I wonder if this means the new business teams at PR firms find themselves going up against new types of competitors and having to position themselves against different types of agencies? Tom Foremski thinks now is the time for PR agencies to go after ad agency business.

What does this ‘new agency look’ mean for staff? Employees at PR firms are expected to understand the ins and outs of each discipline — as Racepoint’s Dan Carter said, “you need to know what a creative brief is.” Account teams need to know how to package and sell different program elements and also, importantly, how to report the results in a way that a CMO can appreciate and understand.

Account teams touch lots of technology throughout the day

Without fail, these types of events always feature a question about what tools are most useful. I think everyone just wants to make sure they’re not missing anything. The panelists didn’t disappoint – they rattled off a laundry list of technology used by their firms to monitor, manage and report on work being done. The names included tools for tracking sentiment, cross-channel posting, listening, content creation, analytics, email marketing and social marketing. Skyword, Netbase and Hootsuite all got shout-outs, and the bigger agency representatives mentioned the proprietary platforms and software they use, such as FH’s Blackbox, as well as a social media task force (at Racepoint) that evaluates new technology as it comes along.

Employees are more diverse

Although one of the perks of working at a PR firm is being surrounded by co-workers who do the same type of work you do and understand what you’re going through, that may be starting to change. As agencies branch out with a wider array of service offerings, they’re hiring workers with different skill sets. Mullen’s Eric Fulwiler, who has worked previously at VaynerMedia, Forbes.com and the Clinton Foundation, advocates hiring the right talent, which you should identify by gut and then train internally.

The panelists settled on some core skills that remain important for agency hires, including writing skills, media savvy, judgment (empathy), an entrepreneurial spirit, the ability to learn and to work with others who have different perspectives. As always, PR agency pros are expected to dive deep into their clients’ cultures. Today they’re also expected to be savvy about indirect competition like pop culture.

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 PR Agencies in 2014

More Real-World Stories on Getting Hired in PR

 More Real World Stories on Getting Hired in PR

Last month I brought you several stories of folks who had unique ways of getting their jobs. Here are even more!

Telling a Story at Your Own Expense

When Brad Hobbs interviewed at Max Borges Agency, a tech PR firm (where he is now Account Director), he surprised the President with his answer to a question about what gadgets Hobbs used daily. Hobbs’ response was “Just my iPhone.” When Borges was confused how someone interested in tech PR could subsist on only one piece of technology, Hobbs dove into his story about how all his other gadgets burned in “a fantastic blaze of glory,”  as they were all in an RV that burned to the ground.

Naturally, Borges wanted to know the full story, and Hobbs told him:

“I went into the full story of how I came about owning a 1978 RV, how I drove it across country with a friend, broke down multiple times, went through 5 car batteries, slept at a gas station, a Cracker Barrel and across the street from a mobile home that was unrelatedly on fire, got 4.9 miles to the gallon, was pulled over in Alabama and accused of smuggling drugs…..and on and on…..just to get it to Florida, fix it up and take it on its inaugural camping trip where it proceeded to light on fire with me and five friends inside.”

Not to worry; Hobbs and his friends were fine, but the RV wasn’t. Borges enjoyed the story so much, he hired Hobbs within days.

Hobbs said what helped him get the job can help anyone: “Don’t be afraid to show some of yourself, of who you really are in an interview.

Being Open to Serendipity

Sometimes despite all the resumes you send out, your perfect job is waiting for you where you least expect it. When Boomer Beam attended his mother’s 25th high school reunion in her stead, he met many of his mother’s classmates. Among them was Elizabeth Nickol, whose family founded All American Clothing.

“The conversation led to an interview, then an internship and eventually a job that I absolutely love. Enjoying a little spontaneity throughout your lifetime can sometimes lead to good opportunities. Keep an eye out for your opportunity. You just never know.”

Beam is now the Director of Marketing and Communications for All American Clothing.

Sharing Your Personal Passions

It’s not always possible to work in a field you’re passionate about, but when your interests align with your job, you stand out to hiring managers.

Kateri Wozny, who has a background in journalism, was looking to break out of the field and move into public relations. She wanted to work for a company that she could identify with on a personal level. She applied with Consortium Media as a PR Specialist, which turned out to be the perfect fit. One of the company’s major clients was a foster service.

“Although I was never a foster child, I was adopted and understood the personal connection that all children deserve a loving family,” Wozny said, “I made sure I emphasized that in my cover letter and my then boss even mentioned in the interview that she was impressed that I could relate to one of their clients and had some ideas for it.”

Her advice to college grads applying for PR jobs is: “make sure you can in some shape or form actually relate to the client/brand and are passionate about it. If you can see yourself having a fun time pitching the brand/client to the press and can bring fresh ideas to the table, you’ll have a shot at getting hired.”

share save 171 16 More Real World Stories on Getting Hired in PR

20 Things You Should Have Done this Year to Make Yourself More Hireable

20things 20 Things You Should Have Done this Year to Make Yourself More Hireable

Are you lamenting over not scoring your dream job in 2013? It could be that you were guilty of not doing one or more of the following tips to position yourself as the ideal job candidate.

1. Network more. It’s easy to say you’ll network, but when it comes down to it, did you regularly attend networking meetings and put yourself out there in the scary world of talking to people you don’t know?

2. Read your resume out loud. Simply tweaking a word here or there on your resume won’t help you really see it from an employer’s perspective. Reading it aloud can help you identify errors and awkward sentence structure.

3. Take someone to lunch. That could be a co-worker who’s higher up the ladder or someone else who works in your industry. This is your opportunity to get insider tips for succeeding in your field.

4. Blog. Blogging is especially useful if you don’t have a ton of job experience. Write posts about your take on your industry, interesting projects you’re working on, and other topics that display your intelligence and interest in your field.

5. Open your search parameters. Perhaps you really want to go in-house, and you declined the opportunity to take an interview with an interesting agency. Some agencies have much smaller account loads or you may even work onsite for one client. Opportunities like this could be a perfect bridge with what you are considering to do long term.

6. Invest in interview clothes. Hiring managers judge you the second you walk into an interview. If your clothes are worn down and cheap looking, it doesn’t say that you take yourself seriously as a professional. In 2014, invest in a few key basic pieces you can wear in multiple ways. This is always a good investment and can be used in many situations, not only interviewing.

7. Connect with a recruiter or two. Recruiters have the inside scoop on which companies are hiring, even if they’re not posting on job boards. A key relationship or two could open up a
new pipeline of interesting job prospects in the hidden job market.

8. Learn a new skill. Rather than waste time hating your current job, you could use it as a launchpad to your next career. Take any opportunity to diver deeper in the business or learn a practical skills that will hep with your career advancement.

9. Attend conferences and seminars. Another way you could have made yourself more hireable this year was to attend industry events where you could not only learn new things but also network with others in your field.

10. Read blogs. Read, read, read, and increase your awareness of what’s happening in your industry. You’ll also get ideas for your own blog.

11. Ask questions. Consider yourself a learning sponge and ask smart questions of the people you work with. You’d be surprised how much you can learn just through curiosity.

12. Update LinkedIn. Whether you’re currently looking for a job or not, your LinkedIn profile should accurately reflect your work experience. Continue to connect to people in your industry and follow conversations.

13. Join LinkedIn Groups. Find a few groups that focus on your industry so you can learn from those who have already taken the path you’re on. Also find groups locally so you can network with people at companies you’re interested in.

14. Freelance. Especially if you don’t have the experience to get the job you really want, freelancing can help you fatten up your portfolio and make some extra cash.

15. Volunteer. Another great way to expand your portfolio is to donate your PR skills to a nonprofit or other organization. Volunteering is a good resume builder and a chance to explore new areas of interest.

16. Go Back to School. You may not need a second Bachelor’s degree, but it never hurts to take some continuing education classes or workshops to bone up on new skills.

17. Ask for the Job. If you’ve met someone who makes the hiring decisions at another company, have you truly leveraged that relationship? While you don’t want to take advantage, there’s nothing wrong with expressing interest in working for the company. It can open doors for you.

18. Be Different. The next time you apply for a job, do something different like create a video explaining why you want to work at a company (if that approach fits the company culture). Be memorable in a good way.

19. Look Internally. Rather than seeking a job elsewhere, see what opportunities lie in the company you currently work for. You’ve already proven yourself in your current role, and many companies prefer to hire internal candidates.

20. Be Diligent. You can’t give up after your first 10 resumes don’t net anything. Look for ways to constantly improve yourself, but remember, the search for the right job doesn’t happen overnight. j

share save 171 16 20 Things You Should Have Done this Year to Make Yourself More Hireable

What’s the Best College Major for a Career in PR?

college degree What’s the Best College Major for a Career in PR?

This is a guest post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

Back-to-school season is in full swing and President Obama has finished up his tour to promote reforming the cost of college. Among other things, he is proposing a new college ranking system that includes schools’ track record in finding graduates jobs. Which got me wondering about how many of my colleagues in planned to work in PR while they were still university students? How many PR pros selected their major because they thought it would be the best choice for a career in PR?

Is it best to get a degree in PR (if it’s offered)? Yes, argues Staci Harvatin in her PR Daily article. She makes the case based on the availability of PR programs today that have strong curriculum and offer solid foundations to prepare you to handle everything a PR job in the real world can throw at you.

For me, PR evolved as a career choice – there were no PR or communication courses at my alma mater (I guess I’m one of the “veterans” that Staci Harvatin refers to); it was after a couple of PR internships that I actively pursued it as a career.

Like me, many PR pros are English majors. It has typically been deemed a good major for PR. The emphasis on writing and clear communication is critical in public relations and having a broad, liberal arts education can help in strategic and creative PR program planning. As, this Princeton Review entry explains,

“Though some colleges offer a degree in public relations, most industry professionals agree it’s unnecessary. Since public relations requires familiarity with a wide variety of topics, a broad education is the best preparation. Any major that teaches you how to read and write intelligently will lay good foundation for a career in public relations. Or, as one PR person put it “if you can write a thesis on Dante, you should be able to write a press release.” Internships are a common way to get some practical experience and break into the field.”

But times are changing, and this NY Times opinion piece explains that that reverence for an education grounded in the humanities is declining, as its most obvious manifestation: the ability to write well. The media has been reporting on the decline in liberal arts educations, which can be expensive and are becoming viewed as a luxury that’s not viable. The New Yorker tries to put an end to the discussion by addressing each argument for and against majoring in English, and settling finally on “just because” as the answer.

What about other routes to a career in PR? Lots of PR pros got to their position after studying other aspects of marketing and business management. Others switch over to PR after a more technical role in a particular industry, e.g. practicing healthcare PR after working as a nurse. The HR director at my former agency used to say that he prefers to hire account coordinators who’ve worked as waiters, because they adapt easily to the service business aspect of PR.

What was your college major? How has it affected your career in PR?

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 What’s the Best College Major for a Career in PR?

Do PR Pros Need to be Moneyballers?

Merge Do PR Pros Need to be Moneyballers?

This is a post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

The mega merger announced by Publicis and Omnicom last month is a big deal for a number of reasons.

One of the key messages that arose from the merger chatter is that Big Data itself is a Big Deal.

Entrepreneur saw the move as a way for the two firms to “be better equipped to participate in an industry that’s quickly become dominated by data analysis and automated ad buying.”

While others might argue that this mega merger isn’t the best or only way to equip oneself, no one would disagree that

“Advertisers now have the ability to deliver highly targeted ads to individuals over the Internet, using a trove of data collected about that person’s location, likes, age, gender and shopping preferences.”

And, that, therefore, has established a new paradigm of players in marketing: “All of that means the new giants in the field – and a competitive threat to Omnicom and Publicis – are those with plenty of user data: Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and even Salesforce.com and Adobe Systems.”

Patrick Morrissey at DataSift, a big data platform for social businesses, sees the Publicis/Omnicom deal as recognition of Big Data’s importance and a harbinger of changes to come in the advertising world. He predicts that agencies will double down on social data, they will get into the software game and the analyst/engineer will become the new AE.

It seems everyone from the largest advertising firms in the world to niche independent players is trying to convince clients and shareholders that they can establish a winning business model around data and social platforms.

As Phil Johnson, CEO of PJA Advertising+Marketing said to AdAge:

“Clients want agile agencies with an entrepreneurial spirit that can move fast and respond to change in real time. Small agencies have been selling this point hard for years. On the other hand, large brands also want global agencies that can reach every corner of the world, harness the power of new digital technologies, create every imaginable form of content, ride the wave of mobile advertising and tame the black box of media-buying algorithms… To be effective, we all need to make peace with that contradiction between agility and global scale.”

What does this mean for PR firms? Do PR pros need to be moneyballers skilled in the use of sabermetrics?

Not so fast, says Todd Defren who wrote on SHIFT’s blog:

Make no mistake, this merger was about Advertising, Technology and Media Buying more so than Public Relations. Even though the workaday practice of being successful in Social Media (e.g., community management, social customer service) belongs squarely in the PR camp, the Big Money is still to be made in the Paid Media arena.  There are a great many superb PR pros in those conglomerates, but they will always play second fiddle to the paid media masters of the universe.

And, Marketo’s Jon Miller is adamant that Data needs Creative just as Creative needs Data.

What impact do you think this merger will have on the PR industry? Will Big Data play a role in PR? What would it look like if you merged a traditional PR program with data analytics?

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 Do PR Pros Need to be Moneyballers?

Top 7 PR Grad Programs in the U.S.

masters program admissions Top 7 PR Grad Programs in the U.S.

This is a guest post by Sam Peters, a blogger who enjoys writing about career development and education.

Public Relations has seen a recent explosion of new jobs within both the private and public sector. Whether you’ve trained to be a publicist, investor relations professional or public affairs officer, more companies are now seeing the importance of PR within their company, and have thus, opened positions to thousands of communications professionals in the workforce.

Although opportunities in this field are rapidly increasing, many employers still require its potential employees to have some form of specialized training through post-graduate studies.

If you’ve often thought about going back to school to earn your Master’s in order to move up on the corporate ladder or even to qualify for a coveted position, you should definitely only consider attending one of the best programs in the nation. To better help you research graduate programs, here’s a list of the top 7 nationally-ranked programs in PR.

Ball State University

Located in Munice, Indiana, Ball State University’s undergraduate PR program is one of the most popular PR programs in the country. The past few years, the graduate program at BSU has received an increasing number of applicants that wish to further their understanding of PR through a PRSA-certified program. BSU offers both campus and online classes, making it easy to attend classes remotely.

Columbia University

Looking to expand your understanding in strategic communications? Columbia University offers a program made specifically for potential-PR executives. Located in New York, the hub for all PR in the east coast, this Master’s of Science degree program takes about 40 students per year, which makes it one of the most competitive, and highly-sought after programs in the nation. Because Columbia University is one of the most expensive private universities in the U.S., you may need to consider a combination of loans, financial aid and college credit cards from NerdWallet to pay for tuition. It’s definitely worth having a name like Columbia University on your degree.

Emerson College

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the strategic communications program in Emerson College is considered one of the best PR colleges because of its award-winning, professional faculty. Instead of learning from PR researchers and college professors, the classes at Emerson College are taught by actual, PR executives, making one of the PR practice-oriented colleges in the U.S.

Georgetown University

One of the oldest universities in the country, Georgetown University has been known to produce industry leaders, including pioneers in the PR field. The college offers a Master’s degree in public relations and corporate relations, ideal for those who want to advance within their current position. The program emphasizes strategic thinking, leadership and the use of ethics in the profession.

John Hopkins University

If research and theory in communications is your forte, then the Master’s of Arts in Communications could be ideal for you. Located in Washington D.C., the PR program at John Hopkin’s uses research-based tools to make strategic decisions in PR in order to certify desired results, skills that could be put to great use in consumer relations and public affairs. This amazing program is accessible online and on-campus, making it easily accessible to anyone who’s admitted.

New York University

Like Emerson College, the Master’s of Science in PR and Corporate Communications program revolves around executive PR-practices. In fact, the faculty at NYU’s PR program is also made up of industry professionals. This program combines theory and practice, which makes it unique among other PR programs in the nation.

University of Southern California

The Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC offers professionals a Master’s Degree in Strategic Public Relations, ideal for those who want to gain intimate knowledge in specific fields of PR. The program is centered around PR trends and practices. The school also offers an international degree, where grad students can apply what they’ve learned in PR in countries like the UK, China or South Africa. Did I mention they have amazing financial aid coverage for tuition?

There’s no better investment than education. Education will never decrease in value, especially if they have the teachings of one of these amazing schools behind them. By continuing your education in public relations, you’ll learn what it means to be an industry professional.

share save 171 16 Top 7 PR Grad Programs in the U.S.

11 Habits of Highly Effective PR Relationships

puzzle 11 Habits of Highly Effective PR Relationships

This is a post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

It takes more than tactics and knowledge to succeed in public relations. Your career needs more than the ability to land clients in feature coverage in top media outlets. You also have to be a skilled salesperson, able to convince others that your communication strategy is the right way to go.

Think about it:

What good are your pitches if client doesn’t sign off on them so you can send them?

Your brilliant strategies won’t be worth anything if you don’t have “a seat at the table” and the ability to pitch your ideas to management and get them on board.

In other words, your role as a trusted strategic partner will be a bust if you can’t get your client or boss interested in what you have to say.

How do you do that?

Communicate regularly – As Jenny Schmitt tweeted in a recent chat about bringing team members together, “calendars…so simple, so often overlooked.” Do you have a regular, standing meeting to discuss PR updates and ideas? If not, get one on the calendar stat!

Don’t be afraid to mix it up – Call, email, text to get through to your contacts when you need to. Most of us find a preferred method for communicating and stick with that…unless you’re not getting the response you need. Tailor the communication method to the message – really important ideas that are more complex may be best explained in person or over the phone, while straight-forward status updates can be left to email.

Think before you speak – Before you jump into that great idea, think for a minute about what your counsel will sound like on the other end. Put yourself in the recipient’s position and consider how they’re likely to react to what you plan to say.

Ask questions – Open the door whenever possible to discussions that can reveal interesting background stories and help you learn more about the company, your client, their co-workers, their hobbies and interests outside of work. You never know when this information can inform a PR strategy!

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes – You know what it’s like to do your job, but how does your boss perceive your work? What does your manager or client need most from you? What do they do with the updates and status reports you send? If you don’t know the answers to these questions – ask!

Make sure you’re starting on the same page – Do your contacts understand PR? if so, what does PR mean for them? Who did they work with in the past and how has that shaped their understanding of what PR is and what it can do? What type of return do they expect from their PR investment?

Build a relationship – Take the time to get to know your client or boss and make an effort to develop a relationship that goes beyond that of a client and vendor.  This could mean sharing personal information (but not too personal) or it could simply mean getting to know their schedules and their assistants better so that you can get in touch faster and easier when you need to.

Set expectations – Everyone knows that getting buy-in on goals, measurement and timeframes is a PR “must,” but sometimes we get busy, people come and go, and priorities shift. Re-setting can be as easy as checking in again.

Offer counsel – You were hired for your experience and with the expectation that you’d apply that experience to your current job. Offer your perspective and illustrate it with examples of situations (your own or famous case studies) to make your point or underscore your recommendations.

Listen – Chances are you’ll work with non-communications professionals at some point in your career. If they’re not good at communicating their needs, you’ll have to listen for cues. Repeat what you hear, draw out deliverables and discuss them.

Be clear when budgets are concerned – It may feel awkward to bring up the question of budget, but it’s much worse to have to talk about surprises when dollars are concerned.

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 11 Habits of Highly Effective PR Relationships

Will Email Pitches Become Obsolete?

not on email Will Email Pitches Become Obsolete?

This is a post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

David Gerzof Richard created some buzz last month when he spoke with several media outlets, including Fox, NPR and the Boston Globe, about the decreasing interest in email as a communication tool.

People gave multiple reasons for steering away from email: it’s full of spam, they favor real-time communications, younger people think it’s old-fashioned, it’s “one-to-one” in a time of “one-to-many” communication.

The discussions made me wonder what this means for PR professionals. As younger generations enter the PR workplace will they change the way we pitch and communicate? Will their preference for short, immediate communications – such as texting and tweeting – force us to accommodate those styles?

On the one hand, I can see it. We’ve witnessed the demise of pitching via fax (some readers may never have sent a pitch via fax in the first place) and one could argue that pitching via phone has become taboo. It’s become almost impossible to find a publicly listed phone number for some members of the media. Is email the next likely candidate for extinction?

When Vocus asked media for tips on pitching them , at least one writer suggested avoiding email. Freelance journalist Pam Baker responded, “My tip is to pitch me via Twitter or G+ and wait for invite to email me more. That way, pitch doesn’t get lost in email swamp.”

Freelance writer Menachem Wecker makes the point even clearer. In this Vocus article on reporter’s pet peeves about PR pitches, he says, If someone ever tracks down a reporter who prefers phone pitches to emails, it’d be worth creating a low-budget film documenting that person’s biography. (Perhaps she or he is based in a very small town somewhere, with poor Internet access? Or in a different century?) I happen to prefer Twitter, Google+, or Facebook pitches to email ones (my social media ‘boxes’ are less clogged than my email), and I never understand why spokespeople in training are taught it’s a good idea to send an email pitch and then follow up by phone immediately thereafter.”

On the other hand, the pragmatist in me feels that while email may be becoming obsolete for personal communications, it still plays an important role in business communication. Others have also made the case for email as a business communication vehicle citing its ability to convey and document complex thoughts, lists, action items, etc.

A few email alternatives have sprung up in the business world. As the Boston Globe reports, “the new generation of networking tools from IBM, Salesforce.com Inc., Yammer, and others (like @prsaraevans’ Tracky), go way beyond basic communication. They are, in essence, virtual workplaces that combine the functionality of multiple programs, from e-mail to logistics to content production. In these closed networks, employees can share files, show work in progress, and have personal and group conversations or communications using text, pictures, or live video, without switching back and forth among multiple programs. If users still can’t do without traditional e-mail, those programs can pipe in outside services such as Gmail.” In the PR world,  PitchEngine devotees swear by the power of this next generation press release distribution tool.

What do you think? Is pitching via email about to become extinct?

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 Will Email Pitches Become Obsolete?

If Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg Worked in PR…

 If Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg Worked in PR...

This is a guest post by PR Columnist, Alison Kenney.

If you’re reading this you’re probably aware of the PR ups and downs experienced recently by Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg, two very prominent businesswomen. Sandberg is step-by-stepping her way through a case study on successful book launches, while Mayer ignited backlash and was perceived as setting family/work balance issues back a generation for ending Yahoo!’s policy of allowing some workers to telecommute.

I won’t get into the mixed messages that the media is communicating over whether Mayer and Sandberg are worthy role models for modern feminists or examples of how to ‘have it all.’ What they both are is terrific examples of how to be successful at work and in your career. And their examples translate well in the PR industry.

Picture Marissa Mayer as the new head of a PR agency, one that’s suffered in recent years due to the recession and needs an injection of fresh leadership to reinvigorate its client relationships and to amp up its bottom line to satisfy the bigwigs in its holding company.

PR agencies are in the service business, which means they must be accessible and responsive to clients and their needs. Agencies that are experiencing contractions in business and greater competition are more likely to call ‘all hands on deck’ meetings and stress personal accountability to meet these business challenges. In tight markets, firms may search for ways to combine or consolidate resources or they may try to establish new service offerings and revenue streams. The process innovations they come up with are most likely going to be geared toward helping each employee reach ultimate productivity levels and drive business results. (I realize not all PR agencies are the same; independent firms and virtual agencies, among other types of PR firms, may have different guiding values and different ways to achieve their desired results.)

Mayer gets it. She can talk the talk because she’s walked the walk. She was Google’s first female engineer and the 20th employee for the startup. During her career at Google, Mayer was an engineer, designer, product manager, and executive, and launched more than 100 well-known features and products. She was also in charge of some of Google’s acquisitions. She’s a Wal-Mart board member and angel investor. If anyone can right the ship, it’s her (we think).

Now picture Sheryl Sandberg as a senior vice president of corporate communications. She’s a great boss who brings a broad perspective to the role from her varied and impressive background of experiences. She knows what it takes to get PR a ‘seat at the table,’ too. Even better, Sandberg enjoys mentoring the next generation of internal communications directors with great advice on how to navigate the corporate career ladder.

I’ve written before about how the lines between PR and other functions in an organization can get blurred with PR increasing being measured for its ability to impact sales, customer service and other marketing functions. Sheryl’s experience as COO at Facebook is a good example of how to build inter-organizational bridges among various departments. At Facebook, Sandberg oversees sales, marketing, business development, HR, public policy and communications. She was a driver in uniting these functions to make Facebook profitable, one of her first major accomplishments at the company. Sheryl also understands the importance of transparency and authentic communications, which are essential to corporate communications and brand development.

And who better than Sheryl to shepherd PR through a period of massive change? Technology and social media are changing the PR role, complicating the way we work and measure our results. If anyone can teach us the importance of staying open-minded and encourage us to learn and adopt new methods, it’s the woman who is launching a cultural movement to get women to be better represented in corporate leadership roles.

Like the many places Mayer and Sandberg have worked in their careers, PR can be both hospitable and tough on working parents. I don’t think most working mothers are in a position to follow Mayer’s and Sandberg’s examples of balancing work and family, but both women offer lessons in how to succeed in the workplace.

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 If Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg Worked in PR...


WordPressCreative Commons

© Lindsay Olson 2014 | RSS Contents | RSS Comments. Proudly powered by Wordpress. Web development by SocialSnack.