The Art of Honing your Craft

primgThe new year is underway and if you’re like me, you’ve been bogged down with roadmaps, SMART goals and KPIs that are on deck for the next 300 or so days. You’ve mapped out every PR campaign or event you’re going to execute from now until the end of the year and you’re ready to strike (if you haven’t already done so). But where does professional development fit into the picture? If it doesn’t, then it’s time to refocus.

As much as traditional PR tactics are still in play (press releases, media pitching, brand building), PR isn’t exempt from the rapidly changing world around us. This year, make time to nurture your craft, further develop and broaden your industry knowledge.

Brandi Smith-Gordon, Senior Manager of Integrated Marketing Communications, Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and PPRA member, says to stay relevant, she turns to influencers on social media and PR events. “I follow influencers on Twitter, attend as many industry events as possible and research best practices shared from my colleagues throughout the country,” she says.

Twitter is a great tool for tracking PR news and trends. Check out PR-focused accounts such as @PRNews, @PRDaily, @PRWeekUS and @RaganComms. Also, you can follow key influencers and PR pros right here in the Philly area. For a quick list of names and PR accounts to get you started, browse through my PR Pros list on Twitter (and feel free to subscribe!). I also find the list helpful for scouting industry events and conferences around the country that’ll help me enhance my knowledge base.

Are you already up-to-speed on PR news and trends? Don’t let your professional development stop there! As the lines between PR and marketing become more and more blurred, some PR pros are taking it as an opportunity to learn more about marketing.

Brandyn Bissinger, an Emmy award-winning journalist turned PR pro, is doing just that. The PR Manager at AWeber says, “Working on AWeber’s marketing team of 16–the majority of whom are marketers and digital marketing experts–has been extremely eye opening for me. This year, I joined the Philadelphia chapter of the American Marketing Association (PAMA) to continue to educate myself on new marketing strategies and tactics that will strengthen the PR team’s collaboration with content marketers, performance marketers, etc.”

Kent Holland, a Managing Director at ASGK Public Strategies in Washington, DC has a similar outlook. “The visual aspect of communications has gotten increasingly more important in the past two years. At ASGK Public Strategies, we hired an in-house designer to help us with infographics, listicles, proposals, creating brand logos and taglines, and online videos. Advertising and marketing firms have had this capacity for a while, but mid-sized and smaller firms may not. Being able to learn from our designer how to think visually has been incredibly important to my professional development — people don’t read as much as they used to, and an interesting visual display of information is now mission critical.”

By nature of our profession, it’s an unwritten part of our job descriptions that we stay up to speed on…well, everything! From current events and hashtags, to trending news and hot topics, we must multitask and have our finger on the pulse of our client’s or company’s industry. In this new year, don’t let PR industry trends and your professional growth fall by the wayside. Take advantage of professional development opportunities that’ll make you even more knowledgeable and marketable in your craft.

Andrea Carter is a Public Relations Specialist at AWeber, a certified news junkie and an aspiring world traveler. Check out Andrea’s back story here then follow her on Twitter @SheLuvsPR and connect on LinkedIn at

Social Media Landscape for 2015


Social media is ever-changing and you need to stay ahead of the curve in order to get the most out of it. It is crucial to include social media in public relations and marketing plans. Cass Bailey, CEO of Slice Communications, presented as the keynote speaker at the recent Philadelphia Chapter meeting of NACE (National Association for Catering and Events). She explained the value of social media for the event industry in particular but the same thoughtful concepts apply across all industries.

First things first, what are your goals?

  • Brand Awareness
  • Thought Leadership
  • Sales/Lead Generation
  • Community Relations
  • Market Research
  • Customer Service
  • Recruiting

Once you identify your goals and your key audiences you are ready to put together a strategic social media plan. As always, relevant content is key but enhancing the reach through paid advertising on Facebook and Twitter is an area that has grown a lot in 2014. Your efforts will not be as valuable if your target audiences are not carefully selected. Be mindful of who you want to  reach out to and what actions you would like them to take.

An example of targeting a specific audience on Facebook that Cass used was engaged women within 50 miles of Philadelphia. There are over 50,000 individuals with the potential of being customers.

Slice Communications is a successful integrated public relations and social media agency headquartered in Philly. Connect with Cass Bailey on Twitter at @Cassapedia and @SliceComm.

To view Cass’s complete presentation click here.

This post was written by Nina Scimenes. Nina is PPRA’s VP of Communications and Marketing Manager at Brûlée Catering. She positions the catering brand as a premier event company in the Philadelphia region by being the voice of Brûlée on social media and maintains the website content while fostering relationships with the community and the press. Nina graduated from Cabrini College with a degree in Communications and minor in Graphic Design. Follow her on Twitter: @NinaScim and @Brulee_Catering.

Photo Credit: Phillip Gabriel Photography

The 2014 Gold Medal Luncheon Is Upon Us


The 2014 Gold Medal luncheon is upon us! Have you registered yet?

It’s time for PPRA to give a big “shart out” to WMMR’s Preston and Steve Show. Please mark your calendars for the Gold Medal Luncheon on Wednesday, November 12, 2014. This honor recognizes individuals and organizations whose accomplishments have left a lasting impact on our community and brought national recognition to Philadelphia.

Preston, Steve, Kathy, Casey, Nick, and Marisa are responsible for not only raising awareness for the city’s Philabundance program with their yearly Camp Out for Hunger, but also shedding light on the dire need for blood donations in S.E.P.A. with their annual blood drive. And aside from their huge hearts, they also make our weekday mornings bearable with their hilarious and unique style of talk radio.

This event includes an impressive lineup of speakers. Speakers for the event include Marc Summers, who many of you may remember as the host of “Double Dare,” “Family Double Dare,” and “What Would You Do?” As well as the captain of our beloved Philadelphia Flyers, Calude Giroux, celebrity chef and author, Robert Irvine and WMMR’s very own legendary DJ, Pierre Robert. This is one event you don’t want to miss out on as it presents the opportunity to network with over 200 influential marketing and public relations professionals in the region.  We hope to see you there!


Rebecca Cicione Tells Us What’s Trending


1. Grassroots Campaigns It’s 2014, where we have access to almost everything and everyone. Unlimited data plans, music streaming services, direct lines of communication with celebrities and more. I’m pretty sure that the possibilities really are endless. Because of this communication, users want to feel like they “own” product. Grassroots campaigns, like crowd funding, have taken off with flying colors. Fans and consumers feel more connected to a brand when they participate in the foundational process. Because of this, they take to the streets to talk about their new favorite artist or product and word of mouth promotion quickly spreads. Grassroots promotions have always existed. The only difference is that right now, it’s trendier than ever because the public wants to feel a sense of ownership. Consumers want to feel important in the marketing process. They want items for free so they can blog about them, Instagram them and write viral posts about them. So we might as well jump on the bandwagon and give them the tools they need to do so.

2. Storytelling Right now, our world is full of stories. With the exponential growth of Brandon Stanton’s   “Humans of New York” blog, we’ve all realized the potential that stories have to connect on an emotional and personal level. Think about 5 Hour Energy’s “2:30 Horror” video. It won an award for “most shared” at the 2014 Viral Video Awards. It’s fiction, but it’s a story that consumers can comically identify with. According to Leo Widrich of Buffer, storytelling actually activates more areas of our brain than traditional fact consumption. Storytelling has always been an integral part of public relations – but right now, there are more stories to compete with and no better time to increase those skills.

3. Charity Partnerships As a PR practitioner, you know how important it is to position your client as credible and reputable. What better way to do this, than by partnering with a charity? We’re living in an age where Millennials are forging ahead on the social justice front. Whether it’s bringing down the LRA in the Congo (Invisible Children) or only purchasing eyewear that provides a pair for a child in need (Warby Parker), they’re that much more willing to endorse your client if they are embracing the idea of corporate social responsibility. In fact, four out of five Millennials said they are most likely to purchase from a company that supports a good cause, according to a 2011 study.

Have you noticed any upcoming trends within the public relations industry? If so, comment below and share them with us.

Rebecca graduated from Rowan’s PR department in 2011, where she was PRSSA VP of Ethics and Advocacy. She left New Jersey and journeyed to Nashville, Tennessee to start her career in both the nonprofit and music industries. She worked as the Media Manager at Soles4Souls, Inc. for three years and recently transitioned to Content Strategy Manager at Nashville Rescue Mission. In addition, she is a freelance music journalist and publicist. 


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 —