“A Smile, A Handshake and a Strategy” Event Recap


From left to right: The Franklin Institute’s Director of Institutional and Government Relations, Rachel M. Fournier, Wayne Rosenberger, Vice Chair of Marketing at SCORE and moderator Lucy MacNichol posing before the panel discussion begins. Lucy is the Senior Content Development Manager and Editor at the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Last Thursday, PPRA held its’ “A Smile, A Handshake and a Strategy” event. Over thirty PR pros came together, enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Sonesta Hotel in Philadelphia and learned some key strategies about becoming effective networkers. Networking is a long-term effort that requires both parties within the connection to continue to keep building and maintaining the existing relationship, on both a personal and professional level. The Franklin Institute’s Director of Institutional and Government Relations, Rachel M. Fournier, advised attendees to always remain energetic, empathetic and enthusiastic about the positions in which they hold. No one wants to meet someone who appears uninterested in their professional role. We must be mindful that we are brand ambassadors for our company wherever we go and always remain in a networking mindset. Keep these 7 tips in mind when networking.

1. Network with a purpose
Wayne Rosenberger, Vice Chair of Marketing for Score, told attendees to think about the prospective contacts they are interested in meeting and how this connection will benefit their professional goals. For example, if you are in charge of fundraising for a non-profit organization you may benefit most from seeking out prospective donors at industry events. Also, learn how to accept rejection because not everyone is a perfect fit for you and your company.

2. Target your prospective contacts
Consider what kind of events you can attend and where you can go locally in order to run into your desired connections. For example, if you are responsible for growing the business development division for your company perhaps happy hours near specific company locations and attending industry related conferences could direct you to a new group of helpful connections.

3. Plan ahead before a networking event
In some cases, lists are available to event attendees. These lists display the guests that are attending the event, the company in which they work for and their title within the company. Be strategic and make your own list of the top attendees you think you want to meet. Think about sending an email to some attendees prior to the event and introducing yourself.

4. Arrive early and be the go-to person
Arrive early and scope out the premises. Learn where the registration table, restrooms, food set-up and coat-check are located. Being knowledgeable about little details of the event is a good icebreaker for initiating start-up conversation. You may even run into some key connections such as the event coordinator or key-note speakers of the event.

5. Maintain a two-way street connection
Whether the relationship is personal or professional all people deserve respect. No one enjoys being in a relationship in which only one party is benefiting from the connection. Don’t just keep your goals in mind when networking; be helpful and valuable to your new connections.

6. Be visible
Nurture your new and existing relationships by following up frequently. If you haven’t spoke with someone in a while, shoot them a casual email explaining that you came across something during your day that reminded you of them and rekindle the relationship from there.

7. Evaluate your results
After taking these tips into consideration keep track of your new connections and how they fit into the overall improvements of your work-related efforts. Switch up your strategies based on what kind of events you are attending and your intended results. And remember, networking is a long-lasting effort.

This post was written by PPRA member Renee’ Velez. Velez currently serves on PPRA’s Communications Committee. She is also the Public Outreach Coordinator at Stokes Creative Group, Inc. Follow Renee’ on Twitter @rvelez88.

Seasoned Strategies

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As the summer winds down and the fall season begins to approach this is a great time for PR practitioners to ponder upon their past strategies and consider what they could do differently in the upcoming months. A recent PR Daily article, “How to craft your PR strategies for fall,” shares some insightful tips on how PR pros can creatively take advantage of the seasons in order to capture the public’s attention.

1. Take advantage of social media. The author strongly suggests seeking inspiration from themed boards on Pinterest. Why not take it a step further and see what’s trending on Instagram? Use the inspiring craft ideas to design campaigns, giveaways and photo contests. Keep the most popular holidays in mind but also consider the most popular events within your community to create strong tailor-made strategies.

2. Consider local PR strategies. When building up your group of brand ambassadors PR practitioners must keep in mind that it’s not all about the monetary gain. Creating brand disciples is a long-lasting effort that could take years to achieve. Tying an impressive story angle to a very specific event within your community is a great way to start forming consumer relationships. Send a clear message to your audience and emphasize that their community interests links up with your brand.

3. Get rid of the old, bring in the new. Spice up your strategies around the holidays. The author suggests keeping the “uncool” factor in mind and leaving cliché storylines at the door. Craft campaigns based around holidays that don’t receive too much attention such as Grandparent’s Day and Sweetest Day.

4. Embrace mobile trends. Web content is in high demand and users love accessing this content through their smartphones. Be sure to design your campaigns in an easily accessible manner that allows users to easily share your content via social media. An app could be just the thing to set you apart from your competitors.

Do you switch up your strategies based on the season? What kind of strategies have worked well and not so well in your experience? Share your ideas and comment below!


Top 5 Things I’ve Learned Moving From Nonprofit to Agency


A few months ago I made the leap from working in a small nonprofit to work in an agency. After almost two years in my first post-college position, I was ready to try new adventures and see how far I could stretch myself in a different environment. In midst of the excitement, I was terrified. I didn’t have a closet full of suits, I didn’t know how to keep time records, nor did I know how to juggle more than one client at a time. I only knew how to take care of one client, the nonprofit. However, underneath the nervousness, I couldn’t wait to begin working with a new team and learn more about my strengths and weaknesses.

Over the last three months, I learned a great deal about what it is to survive the “agency life.” I am still learning and am continually eager to stretch myself and see where my skills can grow. Listed below are the top five things I’ve learned moving from in-house to agency:

1. Be Flexible. Moving from one work environment to another can be a tough transition. From learning new office policies to figuring out how your new coworkers operate, you may become mentally drained in the beginning. However, you should absorb as much as possible from your new environment and remain flexible. If you allow yourself to be open-minded and mentally flexible, you will learn how to efficiently use your time and work alongside of others.

2. Practice Good Time Management. Time management is important in any professional position. Prioritizing work and ensuring all tasks are done in an appropriate timeline is an ideal responsibility for any employee. In an agency setting, I learned that my time is extremely valuable and I need to manage it well to be as effective as possible.

3. Keep Good Time Records. One of the things I was most nervous about was learning how to keep time records. Since I came from a nonprofit, I had no clue how to record my time because I never had to do that before. All I kept thinking was, “How am I going to remember what I did every 15 minutes?” After a week or two, I started to understand how to log my time and keep good records. I learned, very quickly, to write down when I begin and finish each project. That way, I am fairly billing a client for my work, and I can see what I did instead of going off my memory.

4. Be Adaptable. I cannot stress how important it is to understand that your day in an agency is not cookie-cutter. For the first half hour you may be writing a news release for a client, then two minutes later you get an email from another client and you have to drop what you are doing to work on something for them. In the beginning, I would feel pressure when I would be forced to put something I was already working on on-hold, but that went away. In that moment, you have to judge what task is more time sensitive and then manage your time accordingly.

5. Have Fun! I have enjoyed this transition experience. I went from one fun work environment to another. I learned so much about myself already, and I want to keep the momentum going. Transitioning from one position to another can be scary, but you can also allow yourself to have fun at the same time. Get to know your coworkers and laugh every now and then. After all, what good is the new experience if you can’t share it with your coworkers, who are also going through the same transition?

The leap from nonprofit to agency, in hindsight, wasn’t what I thought it would be. I had enough clothes, I learned how to log my time and I have managed several clients at once. Although I have made some mistakes and learned a lot on how to work more efficiently, this experience has been worth every minute.

This post was written by PPRA Recruitment & Retention Chair, Darrah Foster. Darrah is a Senior Associate at Anne Klein Communications Group, where she is a member of account teams serving clients in several industries including healthcare, utilities and financial services. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Tips for Launching a New Product in an International Market


Jeff Beckman, Director of Corporate Communications for The Hershey Company, recently spoke to PPRA members during the organization’s “Crafting a Sweet Launch” event. Beckman educated members about the challenges The Hershey Company faced when launching Lancaster candy in the Chinese market. Some of our most loved products and services did not originate in the United States. However, we share the same strong personal connection with our favorite brands globally. Here are 5 key points PR practitioners must keep in mind when launching a new product into an international market.


Every country possesses a uniqueness of its very own. After careful research, The Hershey Company learned that the preference of sugar content varies from country to country. The Chinese prefer a much lower sugar content in their candy than Americans. Once The Hershey Company pinpointed a major preference of the Chinese, they were able to adjust accordingly and create a tailor-made candy that would best suit their palates.

Culture and Heritage 

Before deciding to pursue an international PR strategy, it is vital to research the markets and trends within a country. Is there a strong need for a specific product? Who are your competitors? How can you position your product differently? The Hershey Company recognized China as a key growth market and noticed the opportunity for a new treat to be introduced into China’s thriving premium milk candy segment. The Hershey Company also found that Chinese consumers are strongly inclined to purchase products that are endorsed by their favorite celebrities. This small piece of information played a major role in the product launch.

What is Newsworthy 

PR practitioners must identify their key messages. Can you tie an impressive story angle to your product that resonates with your foreign audience? The Hershey Company wanted to emphasize the brand’s commitment to its roots. By linking its new innovation center, which opened in Shanghai, with Lancaster candy, Hershey was able to position the brand as an innovation leader.

Media Relations 

Recognize the most well respected media outlets and publications within a country.
Avoid jargon when expressing key messages and get straight to the point. Translate press releases, announcements and presentations into the local language. Hire an on-site interpreter if necessary. The Hershey Company established relationships with government officials and improved relationships with key retail consumers through memorable customer activities.

This post was written by PPRA member Renee’ Velez, a public relations graduate from Rowan University. Velez is a social media enthusiast and she also enjoys blogging. Connect with Renee’ on Twitter (@rvelez88) or follow her blog — www.latteslipstickandgrammar.wordpress.com.

Don’t Get Stuck In A Pitching Rut

No matter how long we’ve been in the industry or how many placements we land, all PR pros suffer the occasional pitching standstill. You have what you think is the greatest story idea, and you are working day and night to grab a reporter’s interest, but for whatever reason it just isn’t working out.

Before you decide to throw in the towel, consider some of the following tips from InkHouse, a bi-coastal PR agency, to help you get out of your pitching rut.

  1. Take a hard and close look at the pitch. What changes can you make? Could it be shorter? Include a visual element?
  2. Turn to a friend. Have a fresh pair of eyes look over your pitch for any red flags or even minor tweaks.
  3. Pick up the phone. We’re used to calling reporters to follow-up after sending them an email pitch, but sometimes calling a member of the media before sending the email pitch can help. Never underestimate the power of conversation.

For more of InkHouse’s tips, visit their blog.

What do you normally do when your pitch is struggling to gain traction?