Independent Practitioner event with Vince Hazleton

As Upstate co-chair of SCPRSA‘s Independent Practitioner committee, I’m excited to announce that PRSA National Board Member Vince Hazleton will attend a special roundtable discussion and networking event with South Carolina’s independent public relations practitioners on Tuesday, May 13, from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.

Vincent Hazleton, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA is a Professor in the Communication Department at Radford University in Virginia. Hazleton has been active in the field of Public Relations since 1978 and has published numerous book chapters and journal articles on communication and public relations. His two books on public relations theory, Public Relations Theory and PR Theory II, were both recognized as “Book of the Year” by the public relations division of the National Communication Association. His current research and writing is focused on public relations competence, public relations strategies, independent public relations practitioners and social capital as a product of public relations.

Along with his colleague, Florida State University Professor Jay Rayburn, Hazleton conducts extensive annual research on the independent sector of public relations. Hazleton and Rayburn present their data each year at PRSA’s International Conference.

During our 90-minute session with Dr. Hazleton, we will learn about his research on the independent sector and identify the characteristics of successful independent practitioners. Our group also will serve as a focus group to help him learn more about the independent sector in South Carolina.

The event is FREE and will include coffee and light breakfast items. To RSVP for the roundtable, please email me at kim@simkocomm.com and I will send the names to Kelly Davis, APR. Also, if you’d like to be added to a list of area IPs so you can receive e-mail updates on other Independent Practioner-related events and announcements, please let me know.

The roundtable will be followed at 11:45 a.m. by SCPRSA’s Midlands Luncheon, which also will feature Dr. Hazleton speaking on the topic of public relations as social capital. The cost for the luncheon is $15 for SCPRSA members and $20 for nonmembers. If you plan to stay for the luncheon, please RSVP to Julie Culbreath at JCulbreath@edensandavant.com. The deadline to register for both events is Friday, May 9.

DATE: Tuesday, May 13, 2008

TIME: 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. Independent Practitioner Roundtable
11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Midlands Luncheon

PLACE: Yates Conference Center at the South Carolina Hospital Association
1000 Center Point Road, Columbia, SC 29210
For directions, visit http://www.scha.org.
Just a short drive from downtown Columbia with free, convenient parking.

COST: NO COST for Independent Practitioner Roundtable
Luncheon Cost is $15 for SCPRSA members or $20 for nonmembers.
Walk-Ups/No RSVPs are an additional $5. No shows will be billed.

Vince is one of the leading researchers into the independent public relations sector, so this will be a unique opportunity to learn how to be successful as well as to do some great networking with IP’s around the state. Hope to see you there!

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APR Readiness Review recap

So many people have e-mailed me asking how the Readiness Review was on Thursday – thanks so much for your support! All in all – and despite the fact that I was pretty nervous – I think it went well.

I met the APR Readiness Review panel, which consisted of three APR professionals, and came prepared with my readiness presentation. (According to PRSA, the Readiness Review is the point-of-entry for Accreditation candidates and sets the tone for the process to ensure individuals are sufficiently experienced and prepared as possible for the exam).

A major element of the Readiness Review Presentation was my portfolio, which outlined a public relations plan I created for a client, as well as provided supporting documents, examples of accompanying activities and also media coverage received. I also fielded questions on my thoughts about a variety of issues in the public relations industry – this part was more of a casual conversation.

It took about two hours. At the end, the panel discussed areas in which I should concentrate in order to prepare for the exam. While I think I passed to go on to the next step (which is the exam) I just want to wait for an official letter from PRSA that will tell me if I passed or not. Call me a skeptic, but I like to see written documentation before I start singing anything from the rooftops!! I will let everyone know as soon as I get the final word.

Just to get a head start on the exam part, I met with a local PR practitioner last week, Beth Thomason of Thomason PR, and she gave me flash cards that she used when she studied for the APR. Thanks, Beth! (I hope she participates in the PR Diva Dish section soon to let everyone know what is going on with her, because she has a lot of great insights to share.)

And, I also ordered the most recent edition of “Effective Public Relations” from Amazon.com today. It’s pretty much the standard text book from which I will study to prepare for the exam.

So, that’s all for now. Stay tuned.

Palmetto PR Profile – Brett Turner with Jackson-Dawson

It’s Friday, and you know what that means! We are featuring a public relations practitioner to share thoughts about the industry, as well as provide firsthand suggestions to those just starting out. To be fair, Liza and I agreed to call the “dudes” PR Profiles. So here we go!

(Next week, we will feature Allison Skipper, public relations associate for the S.C. State Ports Authority in Charleston, S.C.)

Brett Turner is Manager of Public Relations for Jackson-Dawson Marketing Solutions. His responsibilities include strategic planning and daily oversight of all of JD’s PR clients, including BMW, Michelin, Milliken, the BMW Charity Pro-Am golf tournament and Piaggio America.

Turner has extensive experience in sports journalism and public relations, having covered the North Carolina men’s basketball team and the NFL’s Carolina Panthers from 1994-1997. He then managed public relations accounts for NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series teams from 1997 through the end of the 2000 season, before being named Director of Public Relations for SailNet.com in Charleston, S.C. Turner joined JD in 2001.

Turner is a 1993 graduate of Clemson University and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a minor in Communications/Journalism. He is married to the former Suzanne Spaulding of Charleston and has a son, William, and Truxton, the family Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Please provide title and a brief description of what you do:
o Manger of Public Relations for Jackson-Dawson Marketing Solutions. I oversee a five-person department that represents clients such as BMW Manufacturing Co., The BMW Charity Pro-Am golf tournament, Bloom and Food Lion Grocery stores, The Palmetto Bank, Milliken Napery and one of the world’s largest tire manufacturers.

How did you become interested in the public relations industry?
o I was a sports journalist in Charlotte covering the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and North Carolina’s men’s basketball team. I enjoyed writing, but met a lot of people on the PR side of the business and knew that was what I wanted to do. I started working for a NASCAR-specific agency in Charlotte before settling in Greenville at Jackson-Dawson.

What changes have you seen in the industry that are the most interesting to you?
o The speed in which news flows, is sent and is received. I can still remember reporters that brought typewriters into the media center and dictated stories back to news rooms. I also remember when the fax machine was the greatest invention of its time.

Are you involved in any professional associations? If so, what are they and what do you learn by being involved?
o Yes. I’m a big believer in getting involved. I am very passionate about PRSA and our profession. I serve as the state’s Accreditation chair and am currently the chapter’s President-Elect. I also am involved in my church’s marketing/PR efforts, work with Anderson and Clemson Universities, and volunteer with A Child’s Haven, Meals on Wheels and Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

What is the one piece of advice you would give students that are interested in pursuing a career in the public relations/investor relations industry?
o Learn to write correctly and use proper grammar! I can’t stress this enough. I see a lot of talented young people that graduate from college that can’t write and don’t speak correctly. What’s worse is that they’ve been allowed to get away with it for so long that it has become a bad habit. All the good that you will do in the profession – great ideas, building relationships, etc. – will be forgotten the minute you send out a poorly written press release or stand up to speak in front of an audience and use improper grammar/English.

Please describe your experience in obtaining your APR. Was it different than you thought? How has it made a difference in your professional career?
o Obtaining accreditation in public relations has been the greatest professional decision that I have ever made. I use what I’ve learned every day. To pass the test, it takes discipline. You have to set goals and work to achieve those goals. The experience was great, too. It was like taking a graduate-level course at your local college/university. It was a lot harder than I thought, but also a lot more rewarding, too. It is the number one greatest business decision that I’ve made. It has helped me advance, has gained me publicity when I speak to new clients and others in the profession, and has provided me with many tools that I use every day.

What is the best thing about your job?
o The people that I work with.

What is the thing you like least about your job?
o I hate sitting behind a desk. I like to be outside and running around.

Are there any exciting announcements you’d like to tell us about (either with your own practice or one of your clients)?
o We are continuing to grow, which is always good news.

How do you balance your professional career with your personal life?
o It’s very tough and I’m not very good at it. I typically refuse to take work home with me, but that means that there are many nights and weekends that I spend in the office. I’m just not wired to be able to “shut things down,” when things aren’t completed. Like most of us in the professional, I’m also a perfectionist and very detailed oriented. As a 36-year-old husband and father, my day consists of work and family, with an average work day being 11-12 hours. But I’m happy and love what I do. I’m very fortunate to have a loving and understanding wife.

Anything else you would like to add?
o I really like this blog. Keep it up.  (editor’s note:  Thanks, Brett!)

One-minute coaching session – be prepared for the tough questions

O.K. So, a colleague forwarded me a link to a blog yesterday, and I thought the “One-minute coaching session” post was pretty interesting.

She’s right – you do have to be prepared to answer the akward questions. One of the golden rules of media relations is you better be prepared, because if there is a question you don’t want someone to ask, they are going to ask it!

What can you do to help your key spokesperson stay on message?
– Anticipate tough questions and rehearse responses beforehand.

My APR Readiness Review is in two hours! I’m pretty nervous, but I’ve spent most of my waking hours this week preparing my portfolio (Thanks go out to friends, family and colleagues who have been patient with me this week. I haven’t been as responsive as I normally am!).

It reminds me of when I first trained for a half-marathon, I was about three weeks out from the actual race. I was in a group class and the coach offered to go for one more long run, but she said, “It doesn’t matter – at this point – if you run this last long run or not. Either you are prepared or you aren’t, and you can’t do anything about it now because we’re too late in the game.” That’s sort of how I feel now. I feel prepared and somewhat confident, but really can’t do anything more to prepare at this point!

I’ll keep you posted.

Marketing Coordinator position with New South Construction Supply

UPDATE – this position has been filled.

The lost art of vacationism

God willing, this time tomorrow I will be en route to sunny Cancun, Mexico, for four whole days of beach, good food and relaxation. It’s been almost a year since I’ve taken a vacation – a real vacation – and that’s more than most Americans take.

We’re a work-obsessed culture and I’ll admit, I’m a follower. With my “Crackberry” glued to my hip, checking e-mails at all hours of the day has become second nature (much to my husband’s dismay). I feel guilty if I’m away from the office just for a little bit, if I don’t respond to someone’s call or e-mail instantly or if, heaven forbid, I miss a deadline (which hardly ever, ever happens!).

All the experts wil tell you taking some time for yourself is good both for you and your employer. You come back refreshed and more productive (in theory). But the thought of the 5,000 e-mails waiting to be answered is enough to make some people not want to leave their desk at all.

This time, though, I’m going to take a stand. I make this pledge, and I hope you all will hold me accountable. I will NOT take my computer on vacation with me. I will have my Blackberry, but I will turn off the wireless function and vow only to check e-mail once a day, in the morning, so that I may fully dedicate my attentions to my sun tan. I will turn my “out of office” e-mail on to let people know that no, I will not have periodic access to e-mail – (gasp) I won’t have ANY access to e-mail! Hallelujah! I’m breaking the chains!

Ok, a little melodramatic, yes, but as you can see, I’m in dire need of a vacation! I feel confident the world will continue to revolve in my absence, and everything will still be waiting for me when I return next Monday. And I hope I come back to the office relaxed, tanned and ready to think up even more stellar PR strategies for my clients.

Happy blogging this week, folks. I know Kim will have some great commentary for you to ponder and weigh in on. (And make sure to wish her luck in her APR readiness review taking place this Thursday! Knock ’em dead, Kim!).

Adios, amigos.

Newsflash: Local newspapers are not obselete!

I recently read a post by Richard Edelman of Edelman PR about the fact that local newspapers are still relevant. I’m not shocked. I still love to read my local daily, The Greenville News. One of my luxuries in life is sitting down on a Sunday morning with a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper cover to cover.

I think it’s important to remember how relevant local news media still is, because it’s easy to forget in the midst of the social media influx. People will still pick and choose what they want to read and watch, but my guess is they still care about what goes on in their own communities.

Thanks for the reminder, Richard, to make sure local media is a consideration inclients’ strategic media plans.