Temple’s Public Relations Student Society of America Celebrates 50 Years

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Temple’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is celebrating 50 years of dedication to mentorship, leadership and networking. To commemorate this occasion, the members of PRSSA implemented several projects throughout the semester, the largest and most extensive being the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference, “Being A Full Service PRo.”

On March 22 and 23, students and communications professionals from up and down the East Coast came to network, listen to industry experts and celebrate Temple PRSSA’s 50th. Jim Kenney, Mayor of Philadelphia, opened the conference and spoke on the importance of public relations. The lunchtime keynote panel, PR the Age of the #MeToo Movement, was a powerful discussion about public relations practioners’ role in the #MeToo Movement. During the conference, attendees donated more than 150 children’s books to Mighty Writers, a local Philadelphia non-profit supporting children’s literacy. The conference received media coverage from 6ABC, PR trade publication Bulldog Reporter and other notable outlets.

Outside of the regional conference, Temple PRSSA celebrated the 50th anniversary through mentorship and networking events aligning with PRSSA’s mission. Temple PRSSA’s mentorship program pairs mentors and mentees together to help students learn from each other. This semester, mentorship pairs took parts in several events such as a game night where mentorship pairs were able to learn more about each other.

Throughout the semester, students have networked with Temple PRSSA and PRowl PR alums by reaching out to them and writing a spotlight blog on their career path. Alumni have also participated in alumni takeovers on PRSSA’s Instagram account.

The organization also hosted several social events such as a behind-the-scenes session with the Philadelphia Union’s communications team followed by the game at Talen Energy Stadium; agency tours at SEER Interactive, Maven Communications, Tierney, Sage Communications and Garfield Group; and a speed networking event.

All Temple PRSSA members have the opportunity to join committees as part of their experience with Temple PRSSA and supporting the overall mission and efforts of the chapter. The fundraising committee planned several successful campaigns including a chocolate covered strawberry sale for Valentine’s Day and a t-shirt sale. The community service committee volunteered with the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission and partnered with Cradles to Crayons, a local non-profit, while the digital and public relations committees helped support the chapter’s efforts in celebrating the 50th anniversary. Each committee enhances member’s skills and develop their leadership knowledge.

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Where Journalists Are Marketing and Marketers are Selling Journalism

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By Adam Dvorin, Winning Strategies

You could say the tone of the day was set in the very first 10 minutes.

Here we were — a collection of communications professionals sitting in a conference room at CBS as part of a daylong tour of national media outlets organized by the Philadelphia Public Relations Association.

We were listening to Adam Sechrist, a booker at CBSN, describing his target market as young, technologically-savvy, news consumers.

“There were 3.8 million cord cutters in 2018 — and we want to be their national news provider of choice,” Sechrist said. “Our audience tends to skew a little younger — under 34. And they want their news a little more direct, without as much opinion as cable news stations.”

If you didn’t know — and many of us did not — CBSN is a streaming news channel that one can watch without needing a cable subscription. The news presentation is a bit more traditional — information without the bombastic tone that caused one Philadelphia TV anchor to remark that cable news had become a “Hollywood Squares of Hate” during a recent panel on which I served.

Mostly, CBSN isn’t trying to win audience share from a competitor. The network saw a whole new market — in this case, cord cutters — and raced to create a product that catered to this community.

Listening to Sechrist talk, I was struck by how much he sounded like a marketer — or at least a journalist with strong marketing sensibilities. And, as our group snapped photos and prepared to travel to our next stop, I couldn’t help but think that we, as as media relations professionals, need to strategize in a similar manner if we want our clients to earn as much coverage as possible.

Audience targeting increasingly matters in this post-mass media world. If you want to secure earned media coverage, then pitches need to be more customized and individualized than ever before. That much is crystal clear.

For example, later in the day, we paid a visit to Bloomberg and heard New York bureau chief Lauren Berry explain that she considers “business leaders in New York” to be her target reader. If a story resonates at Goldman Sachs, it likely has a home on one of Bloomberg’s platforms — TV, radio, traditional wire or the professional-based wire that few outside the financial industry ever get to see.

Usually when PPRA members come to New York, we hear advice that doesn’t sound that much different than what we might hear at our regular media panels. Spell the contact’s name correctly. Know about the outlet you’re pitching — don’t offer a cooking segment to NBC Nightly News, for instance. Journalists venting a set of time-tested PR pet peeves.

But this time, I saw a noticeable shift in the tenor of our talks with media decision makers. We were going to a higher level! We heard about journalists making editorial decisions more strategically considering their outlet’s target reader, listener or viewer much more than before.

One of our hosts — The New York Times — even strategized an entire array of audio products to meet this shifting consumer demand.

Samantha Henig, the editorial director of audio at The Times, transitioned from printed word editorial positions to start a division that now boasts one of the most popular shows in all of podcasting, The Daily.

Henig wrote the business plan, hired a 25-person production team and began overseeing the team that puts out The Daily and other Times podcasts.

Indeed, in a world where new podcasts pop up seemingly overnight, The Daily stands apart because of its intricate production, concise show length of 25 minutes or less (“the time of most people’s commutes,” says Henig) and involvement of Times reporters.

The Daily, explained New York Times Chief Marketing Officer David Rubin, fits into the Times’ overall branding premise of “Truth.”

The “Truth” campaign, says the Medium, has helped the New York Times surpass two million digital subscriptions (and inspired a clothing products that have been worn by celebrities such as Justin Timberlake).

Rubin, who previously worked for Unilever and joked about “being the man who unleashed Axe body spray on the world,” felt an image-centric campaign would work effectively for a media company in a way that a price-based campaign would not (example: 12 weeks of news for $25!).

So far, of course, he is correct — something that underscores the irony of a marketer positioning journalism as a consumer commodity. Meanwhile, journalists themselves are analyzing their audiences and using marketing sensibilities to develop news products that resonate with their targets.

Journalists often speak of the division between church and state. And, while that still exists, PPRA’s day in New York might suggest that marketing pros and journalists are thinking more similarly these days — something that is not likely to change anytime soon.

Adam Dvorin is Media Relations Director of New Jersey-based Winning Strategies Communications and the immediate past president of the Philadelphia Public Relations Association.

Your Blog Could Easily Be an OpEd: Repurposing Strong Content Yields Additional Results

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David Griffith’s opinion article introduces Mindset, a highly-anticipated workforce development program.

By SPRYTE Communications

Doesn’t it seem like everyone has a Blog these days? If not, we should because by now we know that content rules. Content is also what drives thought leadership earned media strategies.

Many Blogs are well-written and present provocative, timely ideas. These Blogs can be repurposed as OpEds and placed in print media including newspapers, online
e-publications and trade magazines.

SPRYTE client David Griffith, Executive Director of Episcopal Community Services, regularly blogs on his LinkedIn Blog Site Muddy Boots.

A blog Griffith posted in January was repurposed and placed in a recent edition of the Philadelphia Business Journal.

It is the first OpEd in an ongoing series, “Poverty: Finding Solutions in The Business Community.” Griffith’s opinion article also introduces a highly-anticipated brand new Episcopal Community Services workforce development program, MindSet, “based on the most current brain science available that provides coaching and financial assistance to help individuals navigate the system and access opportunity that many of us take for granted.”

As the first cohort of MindSet reaches the mid-point of the first phase of the program, Griffith will continue to use his voice as a blogger and social services thought leader to encourage the business community to create the jobs that pull individuals out of poverty. The readers of the Philadelphia Business Journal are an excellent audience for his platform.

Note: PPRA is composed of many distinct organizations and individuals, each with different perspectives and specializations in diverse areas of public relations. Many of these members’ websites feature blogs with valuable insights and advice, and we would like to make this content available to you. Periodically, we will repost content from member blogs. If you would like to see your company’s blog considered, email Stephen Krasowski at skrasowski@rmahq.org.

Why You Need a Crisis PR Agency and How to Pick a Crisis PR Agency That’s Right For You

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By Maven Communications

Part I: Why You Need A Crisis PR Agency

Let’s take a moment to delve deep into the dark crevices of “what if.” Stay with me here. Take a moment to let your mind wander to worst case scenarios that could potentially happen at your place of business. Perhaps a rainmaker embroiled in a #MeToo accusation? A high profile employee takes to Twitter to trash a client? An unhappy donor threatening to expose shady bookkeeping practices to the media? It’s uncomfortable, I know. But if you take the time to really think about all of the potential crisis lurking just below the surface I bet you can come up with quite a list.

Now, in each of these scenarios, imagine what your next steps might be. Who are you calling? What are you saying? What are you not saying? How do you respond on social media? What’s your plan of action?

If at this point you’re sweating slightly, you’re not alone. Most organization don’t have a formal crisis response plan, precisely because it’s uncomfortable to think about. It requires planning for something that will hopefully never happen. It takes time that is not billable and planning involves immersing yourself in a dark place.

But here’s another thought to consider. The moment a crisis hits is not the time to start calling around to PR firms asking about their services and pricing. It’s not the time to reach out to your sister’s best friend’s husband who you think is in PR to see if he can help. It’s too late.

The time to prepare is now.

Once you have an identified agency partner on call, you can proceed with the confidence of knowing that the crisis team is already up to speed on your company, its executives, and other relevant players and details. It’s not necessary to take time to get anyone up to speed because it’s already happened. In this scenario the agency can immediately get to work on responding to the situation at hand.

Different crisis agencies work in different ways, but it most cases, if you’ve already contracted with an agency, you will likely have a response plan developed that can immediately begin to be implemented. In addition, it’s likely that your executives have had some version of response training such as media interview training. At this point it’s just a matter of reviewing and refining messages based on the situation.

Companies who have taken the time to arrange for crisis counsel in advance of a situation tend to fair much better in a crisis situation than those who have not. If you’re ready to discuss crisis preparation services for your company, get in touch with us here.

Part II: How To Pick A Crisis PR Agency That’s Right For You

If you’re in the market for a crisis PR firm, here are a few tips to take into consideration when making your selection:

In crisis, comfort with the team is king. Your agency partner must be a group of folks that you trust and are completely comfortable with. These are the folks who you will be sharing scenarios you hope never see the light of day, so you must feel confident they can manage and contain the situation, should it ever arise.

Meet the team members. Many times senior executives or dedicated new business development team members will sell the business and then step out of the picture once the deal is closed. During the selection process, make sure you meet the actual team members who will be assigned to your account. Find out how involved senior leadership will be and who your day-to-day contact is.

Ask about their experience. Find out what clients they’ve worked with who are in similar industries or have had similar situations. Ask how the situations were resolved and what the outcomes were. Ask how long the relationship with the clients lasted, and if it ended, why.

Understand how they bill. Crisis agencies generally bill in one of three ways: by the hour, on a monthly retainer basis (whether you use their services that month or not), or with one flat fee that covers a certain amount of hours. Decide what you’re comfortable with and ensure the agency is as well.

Be clear on the terms of service up front. Be sure you fully understand what the agency’s scope of work is before signing the contract. If you sign a crisis-only contract and another PR-related item pops up, is it covered? If your crisis takes you over the allotted amount of hours, how does billing change? Make sure you understand the full scope.

Hiring the right crisis PR agency can be a challenge, but successful outcomes are based on thoughtful preparation. Being as prepared as possible in the agency identification phase will set your company up for success in the long run. If you’re ready to discuss crisis preparation services for your company, get in touch with us here.

Note: PPRA is composed of many distinct organizations and individuals, each with different perspectives and specializations in diverse areas of public relations. Many of these members’ websites feature blogs with valuable insights and advice, and we would like to make this content available to you. Periodically, we will repost content from member blogs. If you would like to see your company’s blog considered, email Stephen Krasowski at skrasowski@rmahq.org.

Five Tips for Your Organization’s Reputation Management Strategy

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By Kate Wilhelm

“Reputation management” is a buzz phrase we use a lot in our industry. It can assume different meanings at different times, and take all forms and fashions.

But what it boils down to, simply, is, “What do people think of me? What do they think of my company?”

At its core, reputation management is about developing a brand profile that reaches your audience at the right time with the right message. It’s about getting people to notice you in a positive way.

As the landscape evolves, you need to be prepared for attacks you don’t even see coming. These days, an anonymous Twitter troll can ruin in five minutes a reputation you spent years building up. You need to be prepared for the unseen and unexpected.

This means you may have to change both where and how you show up. Here are some steps we take at Ceisler Media to help our clients build, manage and maintain their reputations:

Define Your Brand

What do you want to be when you grow up? We were all asked that question as children. It still applies to companies and causes. In this case it means, what to you want to be known for? Often, it is the story that goes beyond the product or service you offer – it is the factor that gives you the edge.

Unicorns or widgets, financial services or technology – whatever your company focuses on, others are doing it. So what distinguishes you from the field? Your goal is to promote what’s special about your business. Perhaps it’s a holistic approach to employee wellness. Maybe it is a commitment to philanthropic causes that support our civic ecosystem.

Defining your brand requires moving outside your natural boundaries so people know more about you than your logo or their one-time experience. You never know when you may need to remind them, just in case a crisis arises (more on that later).

Authenticity is Key

You have filled in the blanks and defined your story. But who’s your narrator and what’s their voice? One of my clients explained this perfectly in a planning meeting for a visibility campaign. “We gotta use our swagger,” he said, “that Philly swagger no one else has.” (h/t B.P.).

Any time you want to engage people in your story, you need to be authentic. Our team helps you curate that voice – from tweets to blogs, from media announcements to event sponsorships. We design integrated campaigns that resonate with the people you’re targeting. And we make sure they know it’s the real you – not spin or jargon.

Perhaps the best way to deliver that is an op-ed in a local business journal explaining how to help nonprofits plan during the recent government shutdown. Perhaps you’re Walmart and want connect with the community by organizing an annual electric fan giveaway for seniors every summer. We make sure your message is authentic to who you have set out to be.

Connect and Create

Communities. Constituents. Customers. Ambassadors. Influencers. Each word represents people you need to connect with – people who care about what you’re doing and have to say.

Changing times require new ways to reach those people. As newsrooms trim staff, you must be more creative to share your content and message. Our team provides clients with video services that provide more than the traditional press release or pitch to news desks.

We help you develop lists of influencers – the people best able to spread your message – and then create personalized communications and invitations for them to enjoy exclusive experiences. Those influencers then help share your positive story with their networks.

Perhaps most importantly, we work with you on internal communications – because there is no more important ambassador of your brand than your employees. It’s critically important to keep your employees informed, and we’ll help through newsletters, emails and other internal communications.

Face Lift

Remember that esoteric question – who do you want to be when you grow up? It conjured an image of a person doing something. When you develop a reputation campaign, it focuses on the people – not the places or things. Who is that man or woman behind the CEO title? Whose lives were impacted because of your volunteer days and corporate giving? Let’s hear about them first, before weaving in the stats and metrics. The most-interesting stories always center on real people.

Crisis Afoot, Don’t Panic

@&#% happens. Things don’t always go according to plan. Those unicorns don’t always have rainbows around them; sometimes the widget doesn’t fit.

Crises are best managed when there is a plan. But, let’s be honest, we often receive panicked calls when there is no time to plan. At Ceisler Media, we immerse ourselves immediately, examining the client’s issue from all sides and letting our expert judgment guide the next steps.

It always starts with two core principles: Own it, and be honest. Most clients we work in crisis situations are rightfully nervous about every syllable of every sentence. We partner with legal counsel, business partners and investors to quickly create the appropriate game plan to move forward. We make sure everyone is speaking with one voice; that employees and partners understand the details of what is happening, and who they can contact with questions. When the dust settles, we help our clients move forward – reminding everyone they deal with why they want to stay connected.

The campaigns we create are fully integrated; not just with digital media to mainstream media, but inside the organization and with outside partners. Today, a reputation can be tarnished with a tweet. Our work makes sure you have the army behind you that can share your good works to help combat any trolls who might come your way.

Note: PPRA is composed of many distinct organizations and individuals, each with different perspectives and specializations in diverse areas of public relations. Many of these members’ websites feature blogs with valuable insights and advice, and we would like to make this content available to you. Periodically, we will repost content from member blogs. If you would like to see your company’s blog considered, email Stephen Krasowski at skrasowski@rmahq.org.