Preparing for the Pope: 1 million visitors, 7,000 members of the media


This fall, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the globe will flock to our city for the World Meeting of Families. It’s estimated that over 1 million visitors will make the journey to Philadelphia for the week-long celebration. The festivities will have a powerful effect on the area; hotels are already booked, businesses will be booming and the economic impact will be huge. At the latest PPRA luncheon, PR for a Mega Event: Preparing for the Pope, some of the public relations professionals who are helping to ensure the World Meeting of Families runs smoothly spoke on what they have been doing and the excitement and challenges they’ve faced.

Representatives from the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, Visit Philadelphia, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Brian Communications and the Mayor’s Office came together to address a crowd eager to learn about the process of planning for a series of events as large as the World Meeting of Families.

Big PR Challenges for the Papal Visit 

Social media
It is anticipated that social media for the World Meeting of Families will be up and running in 10 to 20 languages. This is a huge undertaking, but the communications partners working to set it all up are well prepared. A big social media center will be working at all hours of the day working to monitor, engage and keep things going smoothly.

24/7 deadlines
This exciting series of events is drawing an international crowd, which means international press. These members of the media will be working with deadlines far outside our time zone and it is important that they are able to meet those deadlines. In order to help facilitate this, there will be a 24/7 media center running from the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

There will be between five and seven thousand members of the media in Philadelphia for this week in September. It is realistically not possible to give every journalist, reporter and the like a credential for every event taking place. The professionals behind the media organization are hard at work to find a balance that makes everyone feel involved and keeps everyone informed. Part of this effort includes live streaming of events that can be viewed in the 24/7 media center.

Pope Francis giving a public mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is just one example of an event during the week that will need some serious security measures. The Mayor’s Office is in close contact with police from all over the world, coordinating and organizing the best possible ways to keep the Pope and all the attendees safe and secure. It’s a good thing that Philadelphia is exceptional at hosting large events and will have plenty of test events to try out new security tactics.

Controlling the message
The last time the Pope visited the United States social media was not nearly as prevalent as it is in today’s society. The communications professionals teaming up for the World Meeting of Families are working hard to craft great messaging to put out to all audiences. Social media makes it difficult for the messages to be controlled. Those pushing out information on social media can, in reality, say whatever they want and create their own (potentially false, potentially negative) messaging.  The social media center, set up in the Convention Center alongside the media center, will be crucial in monitoring posts and ensuring the proper messages are being shared on all channels.

The great debate in the realm of public relations is how to effectively measure the success of a story placement, event, campaign, etc. The World Meeting of Families team is ready to take on the task of measuring the success of individual events throughout the week and the celebration as a whole. It’s incredibly important to capture this data because it’s a once in a lifetime happening and the chance won’t come around again.

It’s clear that the folks handling the Papal visit to Philadelphia are leaving no stone unturned. Keep an eye out for more developments as the World Meeting of Families approaches and get ready for the execution of an amazing series of events.

London Faust is an Account Representative at Bellevue Communications Group, a public relations firm specializing in media relations, crisis communications and issue management. She is forever #TempleMade, class of 2014. Follow her personal ramblings on Twitter at @londonfaust or her professional doings at @BellevuePRPhl.

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

Political vs. Branding Campaigns: What Politicians are Doing Right

polsmSocial media has invariably changed communication. So far, nothing has been off limits from social promotion, including Mountain Dew’s Dewrito, a Doritos-flavored soft drink (yes it exists).

The growing trend in the social media atmosphere has shifted into the realm of politics, as politicians increasingly campaign on Twitter. A recent study by PEW Research has shown that 1/4 of registered voters now get political news through their cell phones, 16% of registered voters also follow political figures on Twitter.

Politicians seem to be enjoying this, as it allows them to connect with their constituency and opposition in a unique way. Politicians are now able to use live monitoring via social media in order to understand and inform voters about their stances on issues. They also use software to monitor their opposition, taking screenshots of their pages as soon as changes are made and often catching the opposition off guard.

So what can be taken from these campaigns for your next campaign?

Proofread, Proofread, and Proofread!
Remember to check and double-check every Tweet before it’s sent out. If you’re running a campaign, odds are that no one will notice if you mess up a Tweet and delete it quick enough. Politicians don’t have this luxury, as competition is constantly monitoring campaign handles for updates. A screw-up is liable to land you on the front page of PolitWoops, a website that takes screenshots of all updates, and uploads the botched Tweets. Please folks, don’t be like Senator Hatch; proofread as if all of your Tweets are monitored, even when they aren’t.

SenHMake Connections
As we all know (or should know) social media is all about sharing content and making valuable connections with others. So why should it be any different for your campaign? Politicians know and understand this. They use it to their advantage by interacting with their constituency and sharing important updates. The PEW study showed that 41%, up from 22% in 2010, of those polled said that finding out about political news before others is a “major reason” why they follow political figures on social media.

To put it simply, most politicians are doing it right. Some 78% of Americans who follow political figures on social media say that the content posted by those figures is mostly interesting and relevant. The 16% of registered voters that follow a political figure are more likely to participate in campaigning and are 11% more likely to volunteer their time toward that figure than a non-follower.

Any PR pro will tell you that social media isn’t just about the number of followers you have, it’s about the valuable connections you make. A balance must be struck between pushing your wants and what your audience wants. As such, there can be a variety of ways to be more than just a walking-talking-tweeting ad. The key to creating a dedicated following, is finding what your niche audience wants and giving it to them.

Know your Limits
Remember that social media isn’t the king of all platforms yet. It’s still growing and professionals are still learning.  The story of social media is still being written and we are the authors of its’ early chapters. Social media campaigning is a great way to target select demographics, but not all. I think Gregg Peppin, spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson, said it best in an article for the Minnesota Post, “You have to be able to differentiate from what’s feel good and what’s effective,” he said. “There are plenty of people who want to tell you that you will hit this demographic and that demographic if you are on social media,” he said. “It almost gets down to a subliminal hit rather than an overall effective message. It’s a rifle versus a shotgun.”

Though there are some drawbacks to social media campaigns. For instance, a politician must be able to differentiate effective messages to target their audience. Just as well, something buzz worthy is usually just short-lived attention toward the campaign. Keep these tips in mind the next time a campaign idea floats around the office.

Fred Lunt IV is a recent graduate of Temple University. Fred is also a Social Media Analyst and consultant at Mobile First Media, a healthcare public relations and marketing agency specializing in digital and mobile technology.


Be Part of LinkedIn’s “In” Crowd


Although I hesitate to admit, I think up until last week, I had fallen outside of LinkedIn’s “in” crowd. About seven years ago, it appeared that if you had a presence on LinkedIn, you were connected, hip, current and “in.” But just as keeping up your status as cool in elementary school required some self-reflections every once in a while, such as assessing who were your current recess buddies, LinkedIn does as well.

Toward the end of this summer, LinkedIn launched its open publishing platform. Although I knew about this program to some extent, I didn’t realize how powerful or strategic this tool could be. In just two months, it has taken off, averaging 5,000 new posts a day.

As LinkedIn’s “influencer” program is limited to only 500 professionals at one time (usually reserved for well-known names such as Arianna Huffington or President Obama), the new publishing platform is more likely to be your starting point for posting content on your profile and building followers.

What does this mean for communications / PR professionals?

Free exposure for your client, of course.

A great opportunity is sitting in your hands to create LinkedIn content schedules for your company’s top executives (consider how many LinkedIn members, company employees and prospective buyers may be connected with your company’s lead) and to utilize every chance to encourage the rest of the company to post relevant content as well.

Let’s say you’re charged with creating hype for a tax company.This will only take two meetings to launch your chief’s regular content on LinkedIn.Meet with him or her in January to create six proposed topics (such as tax tips for single filers, homeowners or married filers; using TurboTax effectively; or properly requesting a filing extension). Spend time to thoroughly review each topic and take notes so that you can take the burden off your chief by writing the content for him or her. Now you are equipped with content to share on their LinkedIn profile for the first six months of the year.

Then meet again in the summer. Discuss six new topics and follow the same procedure.Although this same type of content may appear on your company’s website or blog, consider how many people intentionally visit those sites each day. Probably not nearly as many as those who check the posts and updates of their own LinkedIn networks every day.

Consider the benefits to creating a publishing schedule that adequately showcases your company’s services or products:

  • Your original content becomes part of your professional profile. It is displayed on the posts section of your LinkedIn profile.
  • It is shared with your connections and followers.
  • Members not in your network can now follow you from your long-form post to receive updates when you publish next.
  • Your long-form post is searchable both on and off of LinkedIn.

If you’re ready to help your company or client utilize LinkedIn’s publishing feature, wait no longer! You may already be losing admiration with the “in” crowd.

Realize that staying part of LinkedIn’s “in” crowd is more than simply posting content on the publishing platform. It’s about being an expert on the professional site’s newest features so that you can educate others on their value.

More here on LinkedIn’s publishing platform, open to any member with a willingness to write and share.

PPRA Member Karen Toner is communications manager at Baker Tilly, a full-service accounting and advisory firm.

Protecting Your Personal Brand on Twitter

Today, more and more people are focused on building and maintaining their personal brands. This is especially true for those of us working in the communications field. When it comes to your personal brand, there isn’t much that is more telling than your social media presence.

We know that current and future employers will check our social accounts, but these platforms are also where we express personal opinions, connect with friends, and more. With our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest pulling double duty, it can be very difficult to strike the right balance between personal and professional. For many people, the platform that seems to give them the most trouble is Twitter.

One of my favorite PR pros (and fellow Temple Alum), Jason Mollica, recently had a post published on PR Daily that tackled the tricky question of whether people should have two Twitter accounts — one professional and one personal. In the post, Jason gives several reasons why one account is enough, and I have to say, I’m inclined to agree.

In addition to the points made by Jason in his post, for me it comes down to something simple — if you don’t want people to see it, it shouldn’t be online in the first place. If you take care to ensure that you’re never posting anything inappropriate, then you won’t have to worry about setting up two separate Twitter accounts. The same logic goes for retweeting — just because you didn’t type the words yourself doesn’t mean you can’t be held accountable for them once they are on your feed.

My boss is something of a social media guru and we follow each other on Twitter, so I always use her as my barometer when tweeting. If I think she’d have a problem with my words (or pictures), then I don’t press send.

Your boss may not be Twitter-savy, or maybe you are the boss, but you should always have someone in mind when you are about to send a tweet. Taking that extra moment to reflect on your post before you hit send can save you in the long run.

No one is saying you can’t have fun on Twitter. In fact, inserting your personality and opinions only adds to the authenticity of your personal brand, but they key is to always be mindful of your content.

What guidelines do you use to protect your personal brand on Twitter? Do you have two accounts or have you managed to balance everything using one account?

This post was written by PPRA Blog Chair Lauren Cox. Lauren is a Public Relations Specialist in the Office of the CIty Representative, where she works on the City’s major events like the Wawa Welcome America! Festival and the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.