#PPRAMemberMonday: Dorin Elhadad

ppramembermonday_dorinLinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dorin-elhadad-42777b45

PPRA member since 2016

PPRA: Dorin, tell us about your background and your current job.

DE: After graduating from communication studies in college, and some traveling the world, I moved to Philly from Israel about three years ago. I immediately fell in love with the city. Looking to continue my career in public relations, I joined the super-team of Brownstone PR as an Account Executive. Before that I worked for an Israeli PR firm, “Shalmor Communication,” and that was when I realized this is my passion.

PPRA: What projects are you working on right now?

DE: I’m working on an exciting project alongside Sage Communications for the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual DisAbility Services (DBHIDS). We’re assisting DBHIDS with the implementation of a holistic approach to alleviate the stigma of behavioral health across Philadelphia. Bettering people’s lives while working in the industry I love so much is very satisfying – a definite perk.  In addition, we’re working with the PHLCVB as Philly prepares to host the NFL Draft this year. I’m really looking forward to seeing our city in the spotlight in April!

PPRA: What is your favorite part about your job?

DE: I enjoy all aspects of my job – creative writing, executing ideas and meeting people. My favorite part is brainstorming, devising strategies, and letting the creative beast loose. Transforming an idea to action is exhilarating!

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

DE: Find out what you need to get the creative juices going, be daring, and always try to look at things in new and different ways.

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

DE: Edward Scissorhands. Secret Window. Pulp Fiction. And anything with Dax Shepard 🙂

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

DE: There is no way I could choose just one place! I’m a walker so I guess my favorite route would be Boathouse Row, when it’s sunny.

PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?

DE: Peppers, onions, and no cheese! Jim’s Steaks is my jam!

Networking 101: Go for the Coffee, Stay for the Content

Network.

It’s a word that all communication majors are familiar with, spoken by professors and colleagues from the minute we step into a classroom.

We are told over and over again how critical networking is to securing internships and jobs. However, the actual task itself can seem daunting at times. How do we just walk up to a professional and start a meaningful conversation with him or her?

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Luckily, PPRA offered local Philly communication students some help. Last fall, the professional organization hosted “Networking 101” at the Saxbys Coffee office headquarters. The aim: Join professionals and students in one space where students could practice their networking skills. Students also were able to win door prizes, such as shadow days and informational interviews with PPRA members.

And because the event was hosted by Saxbys, attendees had access to free coffee. All. Night. Long. #DoubleWin

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While the free coffee was clutch (#ThanksSaxbys), students also learned a great deal of networking tips from Justin Pizzi, Saxbys Coffee’s vice president of Sales & Marketing and a former news reporter on NBC10.  

My personal favorite tip: Justin gave us is to ask memorable questions. His favorite question that he was ever asked is, “What is your biggest work failure, and what did you learn from it?” Questions like these are so much more impactful than the regular run-of-the-mill, “What do you like best about your job?” #Borrrrinngggg

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After Justin wrapped up his remarks, students tried out their newly-learned networking tips on the professionals in attendance. We were split into groups and rotated between public relations professionals in the tourism, non-profit, sports/entertainment, and agency sectors. We heard a little bit from the professionals first, and then were given some time to speak up and stand out a little bit. If we wanted to speak to a specific professional for more than the allotted networking time, we could approach him or her after the event was over with the ice already broken. Only now, some of the pressure was alleviated.

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This event was definitely the favorite networking event I ever have  attended. It was low-cost, we networked with numerous professionals from various industries, and we left fully caffeinated.

My biggest takeaway? That there is no set path for public relations practitioners. After networking with all of the professionals and learning how they fell into their current positions, I learned that all of their career journeys were different and there is no right or wrong career choice, as long as you learn from each position. Through networking, I was able to have meaningful conversations with industry professionals and these conversations helped me feel more ready to take on my last year in school and eventually, the “real” world.

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Elise Corbett is a senior at La Salle University majoring in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Leadership and Global Understanding. She is the current President of La Salle University’s PRSSA chapter.

#PPRAMemberMonday: Christina Cassidy

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Twitter: @christinacass_

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christina-cassidy-39a93a54

 

PPRA: Christina, tell us about your background and your current job.

CC: I joined the PHLCVB team in 2012 after returning home to the Philadelphia area post graduation from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Having very little idea what I wanted to do with my career and having no idea what a Convention & Visitors Bureau or a Destination Marketing Organization was, I was fortunate to be mentored by some pretty incredible women in communications who saw the potential for me to thrive in the tourism/hospitality world. Since working at the PHLCVB, I’ve dabbled in marketing, public relations, social media, and international tourism, specifically working with international writers, hosting press and securing Philadelphia coverage in such international publications as National Geographic France, Le Figaro Magazine, Michelin Guide FR, Sunday Mail, the top Italian travel magazine, DOVE, and a top UK fashion blog, She Wears Fashion. I recently assumed the role of social media specialist at the PHLCVB where my efforts are focused on spreading Philadelphia’s story across the globe through managing our domestic B2B and international leisure social media programs, as well assisting in overall content development. I also serve as social media chair for PPRA. (PSA: interact with us on Twitter- @PPRA and on Facebook. Thanks! 🙂 )

PPRA: What projects are you working on right now?

CC: Establishing the PHLCVB social media presence in other countries, primarily the countries where we have international offices. Also interacting with incoming meetings/conventions who use social media to connect with attendees. Oh, and that NFL Draft thing is coming to Philadelphia in a few months…

PPRA: What is your favorite part about your job?

CC: (Hold for corny moment…) My favorite part is that it doesn’t feel like a job. I get to use social media to talk about why Philadelphia is the best city in the world and why it needs to be top of mind for international travel and meetings/conventions. I wouldn’t be able to do this job if I didn’t believe that with my whole heart. To be somewhat less corny, I’ve always loved photography and managing our Instagram account (@discover_PHL) and interacting with influencers is definitely my favorite part of the job. Have you ever just stopped and appreciated the city’s architecture, parks, murals and public art? It’s incredible. You don’t need translation for that, the visuals speak for themselves.

PPRA: What was your latest and greatest accomplishment at your job?

CC: Being front and center for the Papal visit to Philadelphia and the DNC were experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world.

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

CC: Find a support system. Whether it be a mentor, a colleague, family member or significant other, have someone that is there for you to bounce ideas off of, ground you, and especially remind you that you are a rockstar, you work your a** off and you do a great job every day. We all need support and reminding from time to time.

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

CC: Love Actually. The Notebook. The Fault in Our Stars. I can watch the same sappy movie back to back and still cry my eyes out. Give me anything that will hit me right in the feels.

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

CC: Seriously? I just got done saying how I’m in love with our city, there is no way I have just ONE spot. So I’ll just say I love our mural arts. Philadelphia is the mural capital of the world and our murals tell beautiful stories. Eastern State Penitentiary is another favorite – it’s so unique. Al Capone practically used it as a safe house and fun fact, Steve Buscemi narrates the audio tours. City Hall also amazes me, it’s a gorgeous piece of architecture.

PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?

CC: Wiz wit with mushrooms, baby! And a Diet Coke, of course. I’m not an animal.

6 PR Lessons We Learned in 2016

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By Kate Kanaby

2016 was a big year for public relations. From an unprecedented election, to corporate mishaps and brand successes, we learned a lot in terms of PR. As we settle into 2017, let’s take a look at six lessons learned from the biggest stories of the past year.

  1. Know your audience, know your message – 2016 Presidential Election

The list of PR lessons learned from the 2016 presidential election could go on for days, so it was tough to pick just one. But there was something that pervaded Donald Trump’s campaign from start to finish: The President-elect understood his audience and knew exactly what messages would appeal to them.  Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan certainly had its critics, but it struck the right cords within his audience and motivated them to rally behind him.

  1. Social media is news media – 2016 Presidential Election

Okay, so we actually couldn’t pick just one lesson from the presidential election. The second takeaway from 2016’s political showdown is the fact that social media is no longer just about #MCMs, #TBTs and photos of what you ate for brunch. Today, social media is news media, for better or for worse.  Throughout the election, Americans turned to sites like Facebook for (occasionally fake) election news, and Donald Trump spoke directly to the masses in 140 characters or less on Twitter.

  1. Embrace the art of authentic storytelling – Beyoncé’s “Lemonade”

Stories, videos and authenticity have long been staples of the PR industry, and Beyoncé masterfully combined all three with the release of her visual album, “Lemonade,” in April.  Beyoncé brought her audience on deeply personal journey of indignation and empowerment, while making powerful political statements along the way. Those authentic, raw emotions made Beyoncé exceptionally relatable, even though we can’t all say “I woke up like this” in quite the same way.

  1. Transparency is key – Samsung’s Exploding Galaxy Note 7

It had been just weeks since Samsung released the new Galaxy Note 7 when the bad news began to flow. By mid-September, the company was receiving reports that consumers’ smartphones were catching fire while charging. First, Samsung suggested owners return their phones to where they purchased them for an exchange or refund, which passed the issue onto carriers like Verizon and AT&T. When the fiery reports continued, the brand finally recalled all Galaxy Note 7s.  Unfortunately, Samsung’s initial notification started as an easy-to-miss tab on their website, and it took days for the company to send alerts to consumers via social media. Cue the struggle to salvage credibility. The bottom line? Be transparent and don’t downplay the severity of a situation.

  1. Acknowledge accountability & don’t make excuses – Ryan Lochte & Wells Fargo

Who would have thought Ryan Lochte and Wells Fargo would teach us the same PR lesson in 2016? Both Lochte and Wells Fargo faced scandals that were made worse by the way they handled them: Passing the blame and making excuses. When Lochte “exaggerated” the story of a robbery in Rio, which was actually vandalism on the part of the Olympian, he gave a long-winded excuse apology that ended up damaging his reputation even more. And when it was discovered that Wells Fargo opened more than 2 million banking and credit card accounts without customers’ approval, CEO John Stumpf’s apology shifted the blame. Strumpf implied it was all the fault of 5,100 low-level employees, who were fired, and didn’t acknowledge the role of the bank’s corporate policy and executive decision-making.

  1. Do the unexpected – “Hamilton”

Until this year, no one would have used “Alexander Hamilton” and “hip-hop” in the same sentence. Thank you, Lin-Manuel Miranda.  Reimagining history, Broadway’s “Hamilton” broke boundaries in a new and unique way and captured the hearts of audiences. Sweeping the Tony Awards in June, “Hamilton” proved that the unexpected is attractive, and the buzz will inevitably follow.

 

Kate Kanaby is an Assistant Account Executive at Brownstone PR, where she focuses on media relations, social and digital media efforts.

Stop Trying to Sound Smart When You’re Writing

By Liane Davey
When I read a piece of business writing, whether it’s a proposal, a report, or a simple email, I’m turned off by people who have invested more energy trying to sound smart than in trying to besmart. Ideally, I’d like to read communications where I don’t notice the writing at all. The best writing is so transparent that it doesn’t obscure the underlying message. You can achieve that in your writing by investing in great content and then stripping away anything that detracts from it.

How do you make your content great? Before crafting a single sentence, you determine the purpose and desired outcome of your communication. You go beyond the facts and information you’re transmitting and push yourself to clarify what you want your audience to think, to feel, and to do after they’ve read your message.

For example, saying that you’re 60% of the way to your annual target might leave one person thinking that you are progressing well and another thinking that the 40% gap is too large to close. If you want people drawing one conclusion rather than the other, you’ll either need to add facts (e.g., last year at this time, we were only 49% of the way there and we only came up 2% short) or commentary (e.g., I know from experience that 40% is well within our reach). Include what’s required to get your audience to interpret the message the way you want.

Once you’re clear on what you want people to think, go one layer deeper and consider how you want them to feel. If you want your audience to act, you need to stir something in them that goes well beyond intellect; you need to evoke the emotions that will fuel action. What are you trying to tap into? Be clear about what feelings you’re trying to create because written communication leaves room for very different emotional reactions. In the example above, do you want people to feel excited by the chance to close the 40% gap? If so, how are you reducing the likelihood that they will go straight to fear of failure? The tone of your message comes out in the words you choose. Choose wisely.

If your message has a purpose, you are communicating because you want people to do something differently. What is it that you want them to do? Does closing the gap mean phoning one customer each morning before opening their email? Are you asking them to recommend one complementary product each time someone makes a purchase? Don’t forget to make the ask.

Now, you’ve worked through what you want your audience to know, think, feel, and do and you might think you’re done. You’re not. Take one more pass through your message to see if the knowledge, perceptions, and emotions set up the action you were looking for. If not, add to or modify your message.

If you’ve crafted a message with a clear outcome in mind and baked in all the components to support that outcome, you’re way ahead of most people. Now, go back over your language and grammar and look for opportunities to simplify, tighten, and remove speed bumps from your writing. You want to fix anything that detracts from the core message. As Elmore Leonard said, “If it sounds like writing…rewrite it.” Here are a few things to check:

Eliminate fancy-pants words. If you communicate effectively, you reduce the distance between you and your reader. Unfortunately, many people use language in a way that increases that distance and weakens the connection. There’s no faster way to distance your audience than by using highfalutin words to try to impress them (you know, highfalutin words like, “highfalutin”).

Beware of using words incorrectly. My personal pet peeve is “methodology,” which like every other –ology in the English language, should refer to the study or system of something. If you’re just using a method, say method. While you’re at it, strike utilize, leverage, and paradigm too! (Business jargon is not a “value-add.”) Any time you are inclined to use a word that makes you feel smarter than the person you’re communicating with, choose again. Choose words that strengthen the connection between you and your readers.

Make bulleted lists flow. Using bullet points can help you be succinct and help your reader key-in on the most important information. A bulleted list should create a rhythm for the reader almost like reading the lines of a poem. Unfortunately, it’s common to read lists where the parts of speech don’t match. For example, three of the four bullets might start with verbs but one starts with an adjective. This interrupts the flow and makes it difficult for the reader. Imagine a bulleted list that includes: reduce absences; increase motivation; disengaged employees; identify concerns. If you’re using a bulleted list, make sure each bullet has the same grammatical form.

Use an active voice. The one sure-fire way to make your writing more pompous is to use a passive voice; where the object of an action becomes the subject of the sentence. There’s a great web resource from the University of North Carolina, which gives the example, “Why was the road crossed by the chicken” to demonstrate the impact of leaving the actor in the sentence (the chicken) to the end.

The easiest way to spot the passive voice in your writing is to look for sentences with is, am, are, were, be, being, or been. See if you can rewrite these sentences with a verb other than to be. “Complaints were lodged by customers,” becomes, “Customers lodged complaints.” “The contract will be issued Friday,” becomes, “I will issue the contract Friday.” If you use an active voice, you’ll be more interesting to your reader. You’ll also give your reader more information and leave them feeling that you understand your accountability — all good things in business writing.

Great writing for the sake of great writing is best left to poets and novelists. Great business writing should deliver its content without getting in the way. Invest your energy in choosing words that will inspire the actions you’re looking for and strip away anything that will detract from your core message.

 

Liane Davey is the cofounder of 3COze Inc. She is the author of You First: Inspire Your Team to Grow Up, Get Along, and Get Stuff Done and a coauthor of Leadership Solutions: The Pathway to Bridge the Leadership Gap. Follow her on Twitter at @LianeDavey.

This article originally appeared in Harvard Business Review.