Between You and MEdia… with HughE Dillon

As PR professionals, we all know the importance of building meaningful relationships with members of the media – reporters, producers, assignment editors, etc. But how does that happen, and where do you start? 

In this new section of the PPRA blog, PPRA members will share insight, tips and tricks, and fun facts learned from members of the media through informal interviews. You won’t have to wait for our “Media Mingle” or “Editors Panel” to get your tough questions answered and connect with the media. Our goal with this blog section is to continue engagement with our media counterparts in an informative and fun manner. So, between you and me – enjoy!


For more than 10 years, photographer HughE Dillon has made Philadelphians feel like celebrities with his event photos. From fundraisers to birthday parties to movie shoots, HughE has covered it all for his blog Philly Chit Chat and for outlets across the city as a contributor. Learn how HughE turned his passion for photography into a full-time job in this interview by PPRA member Alexa Johnson.

How did you get started as a “Society Photographer?”
I saw the publicity my blog generated in 2007 as I wrote about celebrities I photographed in Philly as well as in NYC, and various things I saw in Philadelphia while walking around. I thought ‘I bet this kind of media would be great to shine a light on charity events.’ At the time, magazines weren’t online yet, and only published once a month. The Inquirer published their society column every Sunday but it seemed to me they were only focusing on major society charity events with the same people. I wanted to create something that would highlight everyone, from the person who paid $10 to attend a charity event at a bar, to someone who paid $10,000, and as many folks from all walks of life as possible.

During the years 2007 through 2010, I covered the events for fun and content for my blog. Then I was laid off from my paralegal job in December 2010. With the support of my husband, I decided to try and monetize my blog. I announced to my readers that I had lost my job and now would become a party photographer, where people would hire me to shoot events and I would create content for my blog and place “one shots” from the parties in the newspaper as I had started to work with Michael Klein and Dan Gross by this time. It was an immediate success. People hired me, companies advertised on my blog and I didn’t have to look for another paralegal job. A few months after starting my business, Fox 29 and Philly Mag approached me to create content for their outlets in July 2011. A few years later, I got my own columns in Philly.com and Metro Philly where they paid me for the content.headshot1

Who/what inspired you to pursue a career in media/photography and what keeps you inspired?

I was a fan of longtime Inquirer society columnist Ruth Seltzer and then David Iams. Philly Daily News’ Stu Bykofsky, Harriet Lessey, Dan Gross. The NY Social Diary and NYC society photographer Patrick McMullen (I always tweet at him that he’s my mentor in my head. He never responds, LOL).

What’s your most favorite event you’ve photographed?
Every single Diner en Blanc event has been very special. All the Big Brother Big Sisters Fashion Touchdown fundraiser where the Eagles players and their wives walk the catwalk with the latest fashions. I also loved shooting Virgin America’s First Philadelphia flight party in 2012 at the Palamor Hotel with guests like DJ Jazzy Jeff who spun for guests like Glenn Howerton, Amber Rose, Penn Badgley, Zoe Kravitz, The Roots, M. Night Shyamalan and lots of fun people from Philly.

What advice would you give PR professionals looking to work with you? How do you work best together?

As for PR professionals, I need them to understand that I created a nontraditional media business model where I shoot party photos, but the PR/Event/Business pays me to do so, and not the media outlet. The media doesn’t pay me. Clients should also keep in mind: I only need 90 minutes to two hours to shoot an event; and I always suggest the client keep their own house photographer because my photos are not returned to the client for at least 90 days.  My media outlets want the “exclusive” content first and each of them gets their own set of photos. The media outlets have the final say on editorial an d what runs.

As of 2020 I have 8 daily columns: Philly Style Magazine, Philly Voice, Philly Business Journal, Mainline Media News, Philly Mag, CBS3Philly, Fox 29 and Philly Chit Chat; occasionally my photos are placed in NBC10, Mainline Today and Jewish Exponent.

How many pitches a week do you receive?
About 400. During the months of September to December, and March to June I have to be hired to guarantee I cover your event. The other months (Jan, Feb, July & Aug) I’m less busy now so I might cover an event that isn’t a client and will put in a media outlet. For most pitches I try to promote them on one of my social media outlets, even if they’re not clients.

How do you step away from the 24-hour news cycle? What do you do outside of work?
I like to birdwatch, although I have no idea what the bird’s names are, I usually just tweet out “Oh, I saw a nice red one today, here’s a photo.”

Best way to contact: Hughe@phillychitchat.com

8 Reasons We’re Excited for #SMDay2020

Social Media Day Logo-09

In under ten days Slice Communications will present Social Media Day Philadelphia 2020. Here’s a guest post from Leo Manning, a digital marketing strategist with PPRA member Slice Communications, with all you need to know to get involved.

8 Reasons We’re Excited for #SMDay2020

This year, the conference world is looking a little different. With the COVID-19 outbreak changing plans for all in-person events, it’s a little harder to find relevant networking and professional learning opportunities. However, Social Media Day Philadelphia 2020 is set to be one of the most exciting, and for only $20 a ticket, it’s a deal you can’t beat!

We’ve Gone Virtual!

One of the most apparent changes for this year’s event is that it is virtual. However, going virtual has allowed us to extend our reach even further this year. With speakers from across the country, we’re able to bring more marketing knowledge right here to Philadelphia – and all without leaving our couch!

Staying Social!

Just because we won’t be in the same room building doesn’t mean networking is out! Aside from chatting and engaging through social media (follow us at @smdayphl and keep the conversation going with #SMDayPHL), this year, we will be running a Slack channel! That way, attendees can engage with not only each other, but also our expert speakers! And speaking of networking…

Co-Mentoring Connect

We’re proud to start our new Co-Mentoring Connect! This program will provide professional development and networking outside of our annual event. Marketing leaders and practitioners will be matched to learn from each other and develop their social media and marketing prowess.

Supporting Local Business

All net proceeds from this year’s event will go towards Fuel The Fight, a homegrown initiative that raises funds to buy meals from local restaurants who are reeling from the coronavirus. These meals are then donated to essential workers on the frontlines.

AMAs

Whether you have a question on the basics of social media or paid advertising, or a more specific topic like legal concerns on social media or digital accessibility, there will be experts you can talk to. The panels feature thought leaders from companies like Meltwater, Cisco, Accessibility Shield, Philly Mag, and more!

Flash Talks

For people who want bite-sized case studies, flash talks will be ideal! Instead of larger presentations, flash talks are presented in blocks of 3 and cover specific topics and campaigns, allowing you to learn three bite-sized, unique topics in only 45 minutes!

Workshops
While some people prefer to just listen, some people learn best by engaging! This year’s hands-on workshops feature experts in everything from YouTube marketing to using employees to develop social media content!

General Sessions
Featuring national brands like LEGO, Cisco, IBM, Kroger, and more, the general sessions are 45-minute blocks showcasing higher level strategy.

So, what are you waiting for?
Get tickets for you and your team – right now, you can Buy 4, Get 1 Free!

A Welcome from PPRA’s President-Elect

I’ll try to keep this short and sweet since many of you joined the Annual Meeting Happy Hour last week and heard my remarks. 

For anyone who doesn’t know me, I am a Digital Media Manager at Bellevue Communications Group working primarily in traditional PR and social media for clients in all industries. I live in South Philly, am a proud Temple Owl, also serve on the board of Families Forward Philadelphia, and spend my free time re-watching Gilmore Girls while trying not to kill my growing collection of houseplants. 

Being part of a community has been the driving force behind my experience with public relations from my time at Temple in PRSSA and PRowl to present-day when I sit here so humbled and excited (and of course a little nervous) to be the next PPRA president. Getting to know so many talented communications professionals over the past five years has been an absolute pleasure and inspiration. It’s an honor to be tasked with leading this organization and its nearly 300 members. 

My goals for this year are to:

  • Streamline internal PPRA processes
  • Expand the range of topics covered by our programming
  • Continue and build on Diversity and Inclusion practices 
  • Renew our focus on mentorship
  • Create a greater sense of collaboration between the board and PPRA membership

Written out that sounds like a lot, but I think it all goes hand in hand to help us continue serving our membership in the most meaningful and impactful ways. One thing I know for sure is that I can’t make all of this happen without your help so I have two requests: 

Get involved! We have 18 committees currently recruiting chairs and members. Join one that compliments skills you already have or one that will help you grow new ones. It’s great for your resume and you’ll meet some really wonderful people.

Connect with us! I want to hear what YOU want from our programs, networking opportunities, and mentorship options. Email me any time at lfaust@bellevuepr.com or connect with me on social @londonfaust. 

Thank you for trusting me with this organization that has done so much for me. I’m looking forward to working together to make this year another great one. 

Between You and MEdia… with Marc Narducci

As PR professionals, we all know the importance of building meaningful relationships with members of the media – reporters, producers, assignment editors, etc. But how does that happen, and where do you start? 

In this new section of the PPRA blog, PPRA members will share insight, tips and tricks, and fun facts learned from members of the media through informal interviews. You won’t have to wait for our “Media Mingle” or “Editors Panel” to get your tough questions answered and connect with the media. Our goal with this blog section is to continue engagement with our media counterparts in an informative and fun manner. So, between you and me – enjoy!


Marc Narducci has been a Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter since 1983, offering stories, videos, photos & commentary mainly on the 76ers & Temple football. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic he has shifted some of his reporting to news and The Upside – the Inquirer’s newest section which celebrates good news, good stories and the very best of the Greater Philadelphia region. Marc is a passionate storyteller whose love for his craft and this region shine through in his reporting. Learn from PPRA member Melissa Fordyce on how he got this start, how he likes to be pitched and the favorite story he’s covered. Photos courtesy of Marc Narducci.

Narducci_Marc

How did you get started as a journalist?
I first started out as a reporter for a local newscast in cable TV while I was still in college in 1979. I stayed there for five years, but while there, I realized that I better become a little more versatile so through contacts I was able to do some freelance sports stories for the Courier Post and a few for The Inquirer. When The Philadelphia Inquirer debuted a South Jersey section in 1984, I was hired. It wasn’t full-time but back then there was an unlimited freelance budget, so I was working full-time hours. I didn’t become full-time until 1997.

Who/what inspired you to pursue journalism and what keeps you inspired?
I just always had a love for sports and wanted to report on it whether electronically or for print. Over the years I have done a lot of small cable TV sports stuff such as covering games, sports shows, etc. I just always wanted to have a career where I was covering sports and for the most part that is how it has been. Now due to the coronavirus, I have been also writing news (until the games return) and that has also been interesting. It is not my comfort zone but have met a lot of good people and have done several different types of stories from straight news to features.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
The fact that I am covering something I love and get to tell the story. It’s always said that no two days are the same. I wouldn’t go that far, but there is so much different that occurs. Each story presents its own new challenge. I especially like covering a team on a day to day basis, because you become so familiar with the participants and the subject.
 

What’s your favorite story that you’ve worked?
I just finished a 12-part series on the 76ers 12 most memorable playoff games, which is still running now. The reason I enjoyed it was I went back and interviewed players and coaches and learned so much that I didn’t know about many of these famous games. Some of the information I had never read before and that is always good to uncover new information and it was fascinating to see how well people remembered events that in some cases were more than 50 years ago.

Take us through your story process – What elements do you look for?
Where do you start? You always look for a hook. The story we always ask is why should this story be published. What about it makes it worth pursuing. When you are covering a team on a day to day basis, you are often doing the news of the day, although you are always looking for a different slant to a story everybody else is covering. When doing a feature, then you want to really say, what makes this story worth publishing.

We get pitched on a lot of stories with similar themes, so we are always looking for what makes this story stand out. For instance, while working for The Inquirer’s Upside section, we get pitched on so many people doing good things for charity. That should never be discounted, but then we look at what makes this story so unique. Maybe it is something that they are doing different. Maybe it is the individual who has a good and unique story. But we always look beyond just the nuts and bolts of a story and look to see what will make it stand out.

How do you work with PR professionals?
I love working with PR professionals because for the most part, they know what we need. The really good ones know how to pitch a story, know our needs and can deliver us the people we need to talk to. That is the most important thing. Not only getting a good story but getting the people who can talk about it in an interesting way. You know within a few minutes of a phone call or even from reading an email if a PR professional is sharp.

What advice would you give PR professionals looking to pitch you?
Read the product you are pitching to. Don’t pitch me a story that ran in yesterday’s paper. Also have a little idea about the work the reporter you are pitching to does. The more effective pitches come from people who are not just cold calling but have a familiarity with what we do and possibly the type of stories we need.

How many pitches do you get a day from PR folks? Since working for the Upside section, it has increased to probably several a day, but that is fine. The hardest thing is to say no to somebody. One thing I do is I will pitch every story idea I get unless I think it has no chance to succeed. For instance, if we have done a story or even several on a topic I pitch, I will tell the PR person that it isn’t likely that it will be used.  

How do you prefer to be pitched? What is the best way to make a pitch stand out?
I like email. Everything is outlined there and plus you have a record of it. I keep a file of all the stories I am pitched and it is easy to do it that way. Also, I like the people who even if I turn them down, that they come back with more ideas.

Favorite local sports hero – past or present?
Always loved Hank Aaron. I thought he is the most underrated sports superstar and love the way he still carries himself today with so much dignity.

Favorite game or sports story you’ve covered?
IMG_5140The Eagles 41-33 win over New England in Super Bowl LII. I was in Minnesota the entire week doing pre-game stories and it was exciting to be part of our coverage. I normally don’t do this, but after the game and long after I had filed my story, I went down on the field and had my photo taken there. Normally I remain neutral. I don’t root for teams, I root for no injuries and a good storyline, but the fact that it was the Eagles first Super Bowl title and to be part of it was pretty special.

Favorite spot to think through a story?
My kitchen. That is where I do most of my work. I take phone calls, write the stories right here. The only problem is when my wife runs the microwave, then it gets a little hard to hear, but other than that, it’s my spot.

The best way to reach Marc: mnarducci@inquirer.com

Discussing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Public Relations and Beyond

PPRA DEI Event

PHOTO: Queen Muse during PPRA’s DE&I webinar on June 30.

 

On Tuesday, June 30, David W. Brown, Diversity Advisor to the Office of the Dean at Temple University, led a discussion with Queen Muse, Digital Contributor for Philadelphia Magazine, and Sabrina Ram, Founder and President of Blu Lotus, about the meaning of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DE&I) in the workplace.

The discussion builds on ongoing conversations around companies’ responsibility to be advocates for diverse communities. Queen and Sabrina emphasized the undeniable value of diversity and offered the following actionable tips to help PR professionals integrate DE&I into their lives, corporate culture, and counsel.

Be authentic and actionable, not performative.

When crafting statements, leaders should strive for authenticity by speaking about what they know to avoid hollow messaging. The statement should be transparent, noting any past missteps or shortcomings the company may have had—even if they make them look bad—as reflecting on the past is necessary to mapping out the path forward. Calling out injustice or inequity should become second nature for companies that are truly looking to evolve.

Educate yourself.

It’s impossible for white individuals to truly understand what people of color have withstood, but it is possible for them to educate themselves on their plights, interests, opinions, and more by reading their stories, listening to Ted Talks, and studying history. Queen stressed that education is key to understanding diversity, and it will inherently guide authentic messaging.

Make sacrifices to make room.

Organizations must invite diverse talent into the room and offer them a seat at the executives’ table. Majority leaders should willingly step aside and invite a person of color to fill their position to broaden the company’s perspective and deliver impactful messages to their diverse audiences—especially in a city as diverse as Philadelphia. Hiring managers should look outside of their immediate circle by consulting organizations that cultivate pools of brilliant, diverse talent, and those without hiring power should be willing to speak up and ask what the company is doing to increase diversity.                                

Amplify diverse voices.

Hiring people of color to positions of power fosters diversity, but diversity is not enough. They should be empowered to speak and drive decision making so that their voices, perspectives, and creativity can be heard and can trickle down throughout the company. Sabrina noted that to keep the momentum going, we should highlight companies that are doing DE&I right so that others can learn from them.

Hold yourself accountable.

The conversation surrounding DE&I has been bubbling to the surface for decades, but 2020 is the time for change. Ambiguous statements are no longer acceptable. All of us need to set goals to foster DE&I however we are able, and we need to hold ourselves, and our companies, accountable by pairing each goal with a deadline, routinely evaluating progress, and seeing each goal to the finish line.

Look out for more PPRA programming around these important issues as the discussion continues to evolve, because this is not the end of the conversation, but rather the beginning of long-lasting change.

-By PPRA member Jamie Shore