The State of the Industry

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Public relations professionals from PPRA, PRSA Philly and PBPRS gathered April 19, 2016 for the third ever State of the Industry event. As attendees enjoyed a filling breakfast, PPRA President Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway welcomed the audience followed by PRSA Philly President Kimberley Ciesla and Philadelphia Black Public Relations President Vincent Thompson. Next, guests transitioned into the main part of the event which consisted of four interesting panel discussions about the state of public relations in Philadelphia organized into two breakout sessions.

During the first breakout session, “Staying Out of the News: Insight from Philly’s Top Crisis PR Experts” event attendees had the opportunity to learn more about crisis public relations from some of the top Crisis PR professionals. The panel consisted of Cathy Engel Menendez, Director of Communications for PECO, Joshua Peck, PR Head at international law firm Duane Morris, and Christopher Lukach, president and member of the ownership team at Anne Klein Communications Group. Neil Foote, president of Foote Communications LLC and the National Black Public Relations Society, moderated the conversation, introducing various challenges faced by professionals who perform crisis management. By the conclusion of the session, audience members learned the importance of getting the facts, identifying the ideal spokesperson, sharing a plan for dispensing information with stakeholders and setting the tone for a crisis during the first response. The panelists also explained the importance of preparing for crises before they occur, already having established relationships with C-suite executives and being able to communicate the values of your organization when in doubt.

555The other portion of the audience attended “The Influence Behind Philly Brands” during session one. This event was moderated by David Brown, Founder/Managing Director of the Marketing Collaborative and assistant professor of teaching at Temple University. Janeane Tolomeo of Di Bruno Bros., Trevor Prichett of the Yards Brewing Company and Paula Butler of Visit Philadelphia sat on the panel for this discussion.  Each professional discussed some of the unique challenges their brands face and the ways they leverage their brand’s Philly connection to meet their bottom lines. While Visit Philly tries to make cultural connections with Philadelphia and the outside world to engage their audiences, Yard Brewing Company competes with large companies on their small budget by appealing to Philly loyalty and using social media, traditional PR and multimedia content to develop campaigns like their “Brew onto Others.” Tolomeo explained that the Di Bruno Bros employs market research, high level connections and influential partnerships to keep their finger on the pulse of consumers.

The second breakout session focused on two different subjects: social media and changes in healthcare. In “We Snapped, Posted & Tweeted… What’s Next?,” Rakia Reynolds, CEO and Founder of Skai Blue Media, and Matthew Dickman, Executive Director of Digital Communications at Comcast Corporation, shared their expertise with the audience. After tweetgiving brief professional backgrounds, Boyd and Dickman dialogued about their recent shared experience in the Comcast lounge at SXSW. They reminisced about how Comcast spent 1/10th the amount as many other brands at SXSW but generated more engagement by providing great content, incorporating various forms of social media and creating an interactive and engaging space. Boyd and Dickman continued the discussion providing advice about strategically growing interaction on social media, organic posting versus paid search, determining the appropriate content according to platform, incorporating snapchat for large companies and more.

Other professionals who attended the event elected to attend “From Consumerism to the FDA—How Changes in Healthcare Impact Communications.” Rachel Schwartz, Vice President of Tonic Life Communications discussed the role that patient bloggers play in affecting policies in the healthcare industry. Leah Sheppard, Senior Director of Corporate Marketing and Communications, also spoke about the more active role patients are taking in healthcare consumerism. Rather than simply following doctor’s orders, patients have begun to take agency advice in seeking out physicians and institutions and it is shifting the conversation in this field. For Charlotte Sutton, Health and Science editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, she recognizes the rise in patient stories but what she looks for is the data underpinnings of these increasing patient stories.

 

After the breakout sessions, the audience heard from April Mellody, Deputy CEO of Communications of the 2016 Democratic National Convention Committee. The 2016 Democratic National Convention is coming to Philadelphia this July and Mellody is responsible for all aspects of official convention communications. A short Q&A session followed Mellody’s spiel that broached topics from communication challenges Mellody’s staff may face to volunteer opportunities. Attendees left the third State of the Industry event more informed about changes in the field of PR and with more insight about the state of Philadelphia in the near future.

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Jameeda Rucker is a senior at Temple University majoring in Strategic Communication and minoring in Spanish. Jameeda has held five public relations internships and multiple leadership roles in pre-professional organizations including her current role as Vice President of Public Relations for Temple’s Chapter of PRSSA. You can connect with Jameeda on Twitter @_JRPR_ and on LinkedIn here.

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Hooked on Snapchat – Maybe You Will Be, Too

Hello, my name is Adam. And I am a middle-aged Snapchatter. Yes, I know what you are thinking. Snapchat is a social medium platform that skews young. More for the Selena Gomez crowd; not for a child of the ‘80s, like me. To that, I say “don’t judge me”!

After all, I became convinced that Snapchat was the ‘real deal’ after watching cheerleaders Snap with one another during a Temple University gymnastics meet. And I learned how to post my own Snaps from a college student, the patient Amber Hamlett of Stockton University, who was able to show me a few easy steps to take at PPRA’s Careers 101.

Check me out at AdamDvorin. Depending on the day, you can see my office, my view from the train, my prized collection of baseball-caps and my Siberian Husky, Deuce (DOOOOOCCCCCCEEEEE!)

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Better yet, get on board the Snapchat bandwagon yourself. You’ll enjoy the experience.

My friend, Ai Zhang, Hamlett’s public relations professor at Stockton, was also key in me embracing Snapchat as a storytelling platform. She made sure I followed some of the big national Snapchat influencers – Gary Vaynerchuk and Carlos Gil are two notables on my feed.

At the same time, I saw how Ai tells her own stories on Snapchat – I have since learned that she (like me) is a big proponent of mass transit, has adorable children, shops at Costco and likes to take walks in her South Philadelphia neighborhood.

And I saw how others were using it – one I really like is U.S. Senator Cory Booker singing in the car while campaigning for Hilary Clinton or praising interns and elevator operators when back in Washington, D.C. Or the NBA, taking me courtside during Golden State Warrior games.

Why do I like Snapchat – and why should professional brands consider it as a story telling platform?

Some reasons:

  • It is portable. If you have a cell phone, you can be a Snapchatter.
  • It is visual. Whether you are taking a picture or shooting a short video, you are showing the story to whomever is viewing.
  • It is authentic. Want to take followers behind the scenes of your restaurant, hospital, factor…whatever? Snapchat is a great vehicle to do so.
  • It is easy. Press a button. Write a captain. Add a filter. Volia. You have written the latest update to Your Story.

And maybe, that really is why Snapchat is such a great social media platform. Because we all have stories to tell – whether we are young or old; individual or sophisticated brand.

There is still room for you on this bandwagon. What are you waiting for? Snap to it!

Adam Dvorin is Media Director of Winning Strategies and Vice President of Membership at PPRA. And yes, he actually snapped a photo of himself writing this blog. He needs to stop, already.

Careers 101: The Headliner of Philly PR Student Networking

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Register for Careers 101 here.

Careers 101 is a networking and career advice event hosted by the Philadelphia Public Relations Association, aimed at helping public relations and communications students connect with professionals in their field. Maybe you are wondering: ‘so what?’ That could describe most networking events anywhere. What makes Careers 101 so special? Well, I could tell you that it is because of the hard work put on by the students and professionals that planned it, or the amazing quality of the panelists and networkers each year, or the amazing sponsors, such as The Creative Group, who make it all possible; but really it’s all that and more.

11 years ago, Careers 101 began as a small event at U Arts, and has since matured into a Philly PR staple for students and young professionals alike. This year, Careers 101 will be at the PECO Energy Hall on 23rd and Market Street, but in the past it has been held at Temple and Drexel Universities as well. At the event, students can look forward to meeting Philadelphia’s very best PR professionals, from the recently graduated to the not so recently graduated. This year, the panel will consist entirely of past PPRA Fast Track award winners. The Fast Track award is given to one individual each year who have made an impact on the profession early in their career and continues to be a trailblazer – so you can be firm in the belief that these panelists have only the very best to offer you. And if you’re feeling nervous – don’t.

Last year was my first time at Careers 101, and even though I’d helped to plan and host the event, I was still nervous as I walked in the doors of the building. Because I had helped to plan it, I was nervous that no one would show up or that people wouldn’t like it. And because I was (and still am) a student, I was nervous about mingling with professionals in the field that I want to become a professional in. But as it turned out, I had nothing to be nervous about. Why? Because all the older, super experienced PR professionals were once in yours and my own shoes: a PR student or newbie looking for some contacts to understand the industry. After the panel ended I picked out the first person I wanted to talk to, reminded myself that they were a student once too, and introduced myself. In fact, after about five seconds I blanked on the entire English language. Instead of any number of negative reactions I was envisioning, my conversation partner laughed, clapped me on the arm, and asked me what I thought of the panel. This opened up the dam, so to speak, and we had a great conversation and agreed to have lunch soon.

Attending Careers 101 helped me decide where I want to work after graduation, and gave me the resources to get there. I met some awesome people and created lasting connections, I heard some top-notch advice from PR’s best, and I even got free tips on my resume and a professional headshot! The Careers 101 of this year will afford you all of the same benefits, benefits that will only multiply as you attend more events, which is why you can expect to see me there again this year.

Faiz Mandviwalla is a senior at Temple University majoring in Strategic Communication with concentrations in Public Relations and International Communication. Faiz is an Assistant Firm Director for PRowl Public Relations, recently completed an internship with Bellevue Communications Group, and is an active member of PPRA’s College Relations Committee and the Temple PRSSA chapter. Follow Faiz on Twitter @faizmand and on LinkedIn here.

Following Up on Networking 101 Event

 

How often have you attended a networking event, career fair or social gathering only to encounter someone who immediately asks you about your job and upon your response, ends the conversation and walks away? UGH! This is such a frustrating occurrence and the 50+ students and professionals who attended our PPRA event – Networking 101 – on Tuesday, October 6, are grateful to keynote speaker Jennifer Robinson for alternative conversation starters. She emphasized the value of asking open-ended questions on topics such as pets, vacation plans, favorite sports teams or restaurants, hometown or current events. Conversations are more meaningful this way because you are more likely to remember your new friend’s story or response. These conversations also have a higher chance of expanding the conversation’s path.

Our open format PPRA event prompted guests to ask Jennifer typically hands-off networking questions such as, “How can I break free from someone that will not leave my side?” We learned that a trip to the restroom, beverage station or a walk across the room to greet a friend are all acceptable escape methods. However, it is important to be firm in your action by having a closing statement that reiterates you enjoyed speaking and mentions your next intended move, such as going to “x” across the room. Then you HAVE to go to “x” across the room to appear credible.

Before your next networking event, remember not to:
– Interrupt the conversation of a group you just joined
– Pitch your product, service or resume
– Ask for a meeting
– Attempt to give out 50 business cards
– Stay chained to your friends you arrived with

There will be time for pitching yourself or service and asking for a meeting after you know this new person better. Remember, the purpose of networking is to build value, show expertise, establish a referral base and increase your visibility factor.

To achieve your set purpose, revisit these “Do” items before your next networking opportunity:
– Arrive early
– Prepare ahead by reading about speakers, registered guests and company sponsors
– Bring business cards
– Connect with the event on social media prior, either by following a Twitter Hashtag or following the event posts or speakers
– Visualize your conversation starters and write them down to review beforehand

Post Event Follow Up
Your success at each event is directly related to your post-event follow up. We learned the best follow up happens when:
– You reach out within 24-72 hours
– You remind your target where you met
– You send something of value that they expressed interest in, related to a conversation you had (example, contact information for your freelance graphic designer)
– You include a personal touch in your note, such as commenting on a mutual interest

After our Networking 101 session, participants speed networked by rotating to seven different tables to meet 14 professionals from a broad cross section of the communications industry, including sports / entertainment, healthcare, hospitality, corporate, agency, nonprofit and academic / higher education.

Our event at the CBS Broadcast Center was full of energy and participants left enthused and optimistic about future networking occasions.

Networking Resources

Jennifer Robinson Book Recommendations
Give and Take by Adam Grant
Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

LinkedIn Relationship Tools
15 Ways to Keep In Touch (top right on home page)
Relationship Tool (your connection’s profile has a Relationship Tab under their name with space to save a note about them)

Business Cards
Low Price Business Cards Through Vistaprint

Karen Toner is a PPRA member and marketing manager at KPMG.

Photo credit: Philip Gabriel Photography
For more event photos check out the Facebook album.

The Do’s of Corporate Blogging

CB imageIf your company has decided to cut corporate blogging out of its content marketing strategy, you might want to reconsider. Allowing companies to reveal a bit more about the brains and personalities behind the brand, blogging offers businesses the advantage to initiate unique conversations with customers, unlike traditional marketing channels.

“A company blog is a venue for clients and lovers of the brand to feel personally connected to the company. It’s an opportunity for consumers to be heard by a company or brand and to be kept in the loop on their own terms – ultimately forming a two-way, insider relationship that benefits both parties,” said Digital Strategy and Marketing Director, Clara Swanson of GillespieHall.

The “2014 Hubspot State of Inbound” report mentions, “companies that blog are 13x more likely to generate a positive marketing ROI.” So what are you waiting for? Follow these corporate blogging do’s and start reaping all of the benefits that blogging has to offer to your business.

The Do’s

Establish your brand’s voice and personality
Before a company moves forward with posting on any social media outlet, they must first establish their brand voice. Choosing your brand’s voice is a very critical step because it goes hand-in-hand with your brand’s personality, and how you will execute the content you plan to share. First, think about the type of business and industry you are in and the most commonly used lingo within this market. Ask yourself, how does your audience interact with one another and how do they like to be approached and spoken to?

Perform keyword research
Just as bees seek quality pollen, your readers seek superior content. Tagging your blog posts with the most effective keywords helps to guide readers to useful and relevant information. “Corporate blogging is an opportunity to connect with your target market on a personal level and establish a place in the market. Blogs are also critical for search – keeping your company fresh in search results, and appearing in a wider range of search results relevant to your product or service,” said Swanson. A definite way to ensure that your content is reaching your desired target audience is to create effective search engine optimized content. Try using Keyword Tool, it helps you generate over 750 keywords from Google autocomplete. Also, embed links into your blog posts that steers readers to previously published content. If you’re looking to maximize your PR efforts through search engine optimized content, check out this previously published post on PPRA’s blog, “How Search Engine Optimization Benefits the Field of Public Relations.”

Update regularly.
It has happened to us all. We surf the web and come across blogs that are completely outdated or are not regularly updated. What kind of impression does this blog leave you with? Think of your content as a store’s inventory. Don’t just offer your readers last season’s trends, fill them in on what’s hip now and keep them in-the-know with consistent blog content. “Not investing in regular blogging is a major lost opportunity in any industry. Blogging, approached strategically, can bring amazing benefits to any company willing to invest in the process. The key, though, is the quality of the blog content and the commitment to producing valuable content on a regular basis,” said Swanson. The first step to corporate blogging strategically is to create an editorial calendar that includes your blogging and posting schedule, as well as brainstormed topics and special events you can incorporate your content around.

Feature guest posts from all staff members
Allowing staff of all levels to regularly contribute to the company’s blog acquaints your customers with the thought leaders that are the force that drives the brand they love. It provides diversity to the reader because they can now receive insights from employees of different departments. Each employee has something valuable to offer to the blog. Make sure to answer consumer questions or leave them with thought-provoking conclusions.

This post was written by PPRA member Renee’ Velez. Renee’ currently serves on PPRA’s Communications Committee as the Blog Chair. She loves all things social media and is currently seeking opportunities in the PR industry. Follow Renee’ on Twitter @rvelez88. Special thanks to the GillespieHall team for the insightful feedback on corporate blogging.