Virtual Reality

By Skai Blue Media

It’s Saturday morning and you’re front row at New York Fashion Week. Not only are you front row, but you’ve settled into the best seat in the house right between Anna Wintour and Alexa Chung. The clamoring crowd quiets as the lights dim and a mellow beat fills the cavernous hall. The opening model glides out and there is an audible murmur of intrigue. Critics begin scribbling furiously and bloggers snap pics of the highlight outfits.

Then your phone rings. LOUDLY. No one moves.

 Anna hasn’t budged; her eyes are glued on the sleek black ensemble striding down the catwalk. The rest of the audience hasn’t moved either. Your phone continues to ring. You sigh and wish the person would just leave a voicemail. You take off your virtual reality headset to see who’s calling.

Once thought of as a fantasy of the distant future, virtual reality soon might be as common as a smartphone.

In 2014, TopShop hosted an event where visitors to its flagship store in London got to experience the front row through virtual reality headsets. Many other brands such as Coca-Cola, Merrell, Marriott and others have used this technology to create immersive experiences for their consumers. But virtual reality had been limited to the big companies who could afford it, until now.

With consumer products like Oculus Rift, Sony PlayStation VR and Samsung Gear VR gaining traction, virtual reality is heading in a promising direction for widespread accessibility and usage. The current models look like heavy-duty space goggles that wrap around your head; they range from $99-$3000. But if you don’t want to splurge, you can still get in on the action. Google released a low-tech version called Cardboard, which is literally a cardboard contraption that turns your smartphone into a virtual reality viewer; it sells for $30.

Virtual reality has suggested applications in many fields such as medicine, travel, education and more, but for brands, this is the next level of consumer interaction. It’s an opportunity for them to create tailored experiences that are reflective of the way they want the consumer to use their product or understand their brand. This tech could be the key to creating a more engaging and interactive brand, not to mention an easy ticket to a wild concert or tropical destination. With experiences available within reach to anyone, anywhere and at any time, the possibilities limited only by our imagination. What kind of virtual world would you like to see?

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



PPRA_membermonday_amybuckman 06_04_18Amy Buckman is the Director of School and Community Relations for the Lower Merion School District. She has been a PPRA member for two years.

Twitter   @AmyWBuckman


Facebook  @AmyWBuckman

After 25 years as a reporter and producer at 6abc Action News, Amy became the manager of public relations and special events for Philadelphia Media Network, publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and In March 2108, she joined Lower Merion School District as the Director of School and Community Relations. She is an alumna, resident and parent in the District. Amy and her husband, Terry, have three sons.

PPRA: Who are your clients and what projects are you working on right now?

AB: As Director of School and Community Relations for the 8,600-student District, I manage a team that produces content for the district website and social media accounts, and facilitates district communication with parents and the wider community lauding student achievements and informing them about issues within the district, including the challenges of increasing enrollment, weather emergencies, budgets and policy and personnel changes. I’m also responsible for the Community Engagement Pathway of the district’s strategic plan.

PPRA: What is the favorite part about your job?

AB: Anything where I get to interact with our students. They are so bright and talented. It’s easy to advocate on their behalf.

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

AB: I’ve only been in my current position for a couple of months, but so far, I’m excited about spearheading the implementation of an app that will allow our student journalists to contribute to our social media presence. It’s important for our community at large to see and hear directly from our students and get their view of the multiple experiences and opportunities afforded them by the District.

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

AB: Never forget your organization’s mission — and if you don’t believe in that mission, you probably shouldn’t be doing that job. In every PR job, there are messages and situations that you have to handle that some people aren’t going to like. But if you’re messaging for the right reasons, you can let some of that roll off your back by staying mission-focused.

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

AB: The movie that makes me laugh out loud no matter how many times I watch it is “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

AB: When I worked at the Inquirer, I loved walking around Independence Hall. The fact that our nation was born in that building is something that I think Philadelphians take for granted — but really is almost miraculous.

PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?

AB: Wiz Wit.

PPRA: Our PPRA 2017-18 PRoactive partnership is with Tree House Books. What was your favorite childhood book and why?

AB: I loved all the Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I didn’t think about it at the time, but they were books that featured strong women and showed what they could accomplish. I just knew I wanted to be those characters.

Say What You Wanna Say…Sort Of

By Jessica Sharp, Maven Communications

My daughter loves the Sara Bareilles song “Brave.” The chorus goes like this: “Say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out. Honestly, I wanna see you be brave.”

As she was singing it at the top of her lungs this morning, it got me thinking that, as a communicator, it’s my job to work with clients to help them say what they wanna say…but in a way that their target audience will understand and react to.

“Say what you wanna say, but use terms your audience understands.” Doesn’t quite have that same empowering vibe as the Bareilles version.

So, how do you determine what your audience wants to hear?

The first step is understanding what their concerns and drivers are. What keeps them up at night? What motivates them to take action? It’s important to get into their head. Here are a few effective ways to do this:

Focus groups – pretty straight forward. Get together a group of folks who fall into your target audience category and have a conversation focused on them. It’s important not to focus on your company or services. You already know what you offer, what you’re looking to uncover is how you can best talk about what you offer in the context of how it fits into their lives.

Individual interviews – same concept as the above, but on an individual basis. Again, you want to ask direct questions about goals, apprehensions, and drivers and listen to the words and phrases that he or she is using. This is not the time to talk about your product or service or their experience with it.

Online group observations – almost as effective and less costly are “sitting in” on group chats that include members of your target audience. Here you’re specifically looking for questions they’re posing to the group that will reveal the challenges they face or concerns they have.

Social media influencer observations – figure out who your target audience identifies as an influencer and observe the terms and messages he or she uses. If members of your target audience are following this person, it’s likely they consider them a trusted resource. Using the same phrasing and terms that he or she uses will likely resonate.

Google search terms – research the most utilized search terms and phrases people use to come across your product or solution category. It’s easy to get caught up using industry lingo when you speak it every day, but it’s important to realize that your target audience may not be using those same terms to search for the solution you offer.

Once you’ve got a good list of frequently used terms and phrases, as well as a solid understanding of what the concerns and drivers are of your target audience, you can now craft your company’s messaging. You can still say what you wanna say, just make sure you’re staying it in a way that will catch the attention of your target audiences.

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



Meg Kane is Senior Vice President at Brian Communications. She’s been a PPRA member for 5 years.


Twitter: @margaretkane

Meg describes herself as a Proud Philadelphian … and more:  An Explorer first and always (B.A., La Salle University ’03 #NeverLost). But, I did rub Testudo’s nose for good luck before my Seminar Defense (M.A., University of Maryland ’05 #FearTheTurtle). Board of Trustees: La Salle University and La Salle Academy; Proud Supporter: Fred’s Footsteps. Unexpected Job Hazard: People tend to ask me how Pope Francis is before asking how I am. Passionate 4 for 4 Philadelphia fan but if you follow me on Twitter, you know the SUPER BOWL CHAMPION PHILADELPHIA EAGLES are my No. 1 (That will never get old…). Lover of “The Shore” but never without SPF 50. Daughter; Sister; Godmother to Avery Claire, Aunt to Gianna and Mark; “Fun Aunt Meg” to the 20+ children of my wonderfully supportive and hilarious friends from Philadelphia to Des Moines to Charleston.

PPRA: Who are your clients and/or what projects are you working on right now?

MK: I am lucky that I have an opportunity to work on different and dynamic clients at Brian Communications. From Independence Blue Cross and the East Market Development right here in Philadelphia to the Horatio Alger Association in Washington, DC, day-to-day is always different. As the agency of record for Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia three years ago, one of my most recent projects has taken me across the pond to Ireland to serve in a consulting role for the upcoming World Meeting of Families and Papal Visit to Dublin. Issues management is also a large part of my portfolio. For young PR pros, issues management is all-consuming but one of the best ways to learn how to prioritize. There is nothing like having multiple fires to put out to help you learn quickly what’s an inferno and what’s a burnt Pop-Tart.

PPRA: What is your favorite part about your job?

MK: Well, I love a big idea (Ask me about “The Mosaic”) and I’ve never met a press event I didn’t like (That’s a joke). But my favorite part of my job is watching our team grow in their own careers. Every week, our agency has a meeting to highlight the team’s “Wins of the Week” and nothing makes me happier than to hear about their journeys to success. And those wins aren’t always a splashy placement… sometimes it’s in advocating for a key correction, nailing a 3 sentence statement or helping an intern build a media list. Whatever the “win” is, each one is critical to our team members delivering great client work as well as growing in their individual roles.

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

MK: We recently helped a long-term client through a comprehensive communications audit and brand refresh that ultimately extended to the full scripting of the organization’s annual three-day awards events. It was a near year-long process that culminated in a 100+ hour week. But it was a “Wow!” and the client was just delighted with the outcome. Clearly, this is a shared accomplishment but to be part of that team is something I’m very proud of.

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

MK: I’d love to give one, but there are two pieces of advice that Team Brian has heard me share time and again – and equally. First, you don’t get what you don’t ask for. If you want to work on something or have a passion for a client or new business prospect, go for it. Find a way to be part of the team, contribute an idea and make yourself known. Second, know when to “flag it up.” Don’t wait until it’s too late to address a concern. That’s how small, solvable issues become crises.

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

MK: “Goodfellas.” If it’s on, it’s never turned off. Great story. Sharp writing. Sharper characters. And gorgeous, rich scenes that we take for granted today. That scene when Henry and Karen walk into the Copa through the kitchen is just a masterpiece.

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly (museum, park, store, etc.)?

MK: Villa di Roma on 9th Street in the heart of the Italian Market (Ravioli, Meatball and a glass of House Red) or Citizens Bank Park, which is just a great place to catch a game and a beer.

PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?

MK: Not at Pat’s or Geno’s. I prefer chopped steak with American cheese melted throughout and fried onions. And the roll is critical. A terrible roll can ruin a cheesesteak. So, when asked, that typically leads to a Dalessandro’s recommendation.

PPRA: Our PPRA 2017-18 PRoactive partnership is with Tree House Books. What was your favorite childhood book and why?

MK: I was a voracious reader as a child and I was always drawn to stories with young women heroines. I loved “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” as well as Nancy Drew, but only the classic hard covers such as “The Hidden Staircase” and “The Secret of the Old Clock.”

Museum of the American Revolution Hosts Monthly History Series

Image result for american revolution museum

By Elena Bras, Museum of the American Revolution

The Museum of the American Revolution hosted “History After Hours: Power of the Press” on Tuesday, May 15, from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

This event is part of the Museum of the American Revolution’s monthly History After Hours series, which features extended evening hours until 8 p.m., special themed programs, happy hour food and drink specials in Cross Keys Café from 5 – 7 p.m., and full access to the exhibits. The Museum highlighted the theme of press and printing and its impact during the American Revolution in several ways.

Ben Bartgis, a book historian and bookbinder demonstrated the process of printed sheets becoming pamphlets and books. Visitors could make their own pamphlet, featuring poetry by Phillis Wheatley or a mini booklet of The American Crisis by Thomas Paine.


Stamps featuring historical letters and symbols were also available as printing tools for guests as they made their own political pamphlet or broadside. Also offered in the lobby was a re-created Liberty Tree. Guests could write down answers in response to the prompt “How will they carry on the Revolution?” and add them to the life-size tree vinyl placed on one of the lobby walls. The Museum café also offered special happy hour-priced food and drinks, with a signature cocktail made for the event. Guests could enjoy these in either the café or in the lobby with the activities.


Museum Registrar Michelle Moskal gave a tour during the event that examined the challenges of displaying paper collection items. Some of the objects featured included a signed book of poems by the first published female African American poet, Phillis Wheatley. In the featured gallery, a costumed educator stood under the replica of the Boston Liberty Tree as they told stories of the Sons and Daughters of Liberty who would post broadsides to revolt against the British tyranny. In the same gallery, the touch-screen interactive “Posters of Protest” was also called out. Guests could interact with original broadsides on the digital platform by expanding on original text and translate era-specific language.

Finally, guests and staff were invited to donate a book to Tree House Books, a Giving Library and Literacy Center in North Philadelphia. The organization provides free books to the community as well as programs that increase literacy skills to promote a lifelong love of reading and writing in children. At each History After Hours event, the Museum partners with a specific organization that ties to the theme of the night.