Contractor or Employee? Which is right for you?

Hi everyone! I apologize for being incognito lately – I was in Texas last week for a client planning meeting. My first time to Austin was a great one, and thanks to the crew at McGarrah-Jesse for planning such a great (and productive) time for us.

I’m catching up on all the news piled up in my RSS reader, and this article from Anne Holland at MarketingSherpa.com caught my eye: Should You Become an Independent Contractor – Part III?

This article really does a great job (I think) of summing up the pros and cons of being an independent practitioner versus an employee. If you’ve been toying around with the idea of going out on your own (or even if you already have!), this article is a great run down of what to expect and anticipate.

PS – I wholeheartedly agree with the section about paying quarterly and social security taxes as being my least favorite part of the IP gig.

Have a great week, everyone!

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Palmetto PR Diva Dish, Kara Dullea, president, Details Destination Management, Inc.

This week’s PR Diva Dish features Kara Dullea, president of Details Destination Management, Inc.  She recently introduced a national event management and public relations company right in Greenville’s own backyard!  I’m excited to hear updates as she lands great accounts and cool projects (see below for her hit in The New York Times, as well as details on her newest client).  And happy Friday!

 o        Please provide title and a brief description of what you do: Kara Dullea, President, Details Destination Management, Inc. We specialize in the planning and coordination of destination meetings and corporate events throughout the United States, and also provide public relations services.

 

o        How did you become interested in the public relations/advertising industry? My love of public relations began with a fascination with journalism. Public relations gave me the ability to write, work with journalists, and do event planning, which was another natural love. Over the years, the event planning part of my job sort of took over and eventually led me to opening a destination management company.

 

o        What changes have you seen in the industry that is the most interesting to you? Without a doubt, the astronomical increase in the number of communication outlets is something that provides so many new avenues of opportunity for public relations professionals. I find blogs and social networking sites as fascinating as they are challenging to keep up with.

 

o        Are you involved in any professional associations?  If so, what are they and what do you learn by being involved? Meeting Planners International and the Association of Destination Management Executives are the two that are most relevant to my business and bring the most value because of the global access to resources they provide. PRSA has also proven valuable to me in the past when I was solely focused on PR, but it’s proving valuable with my new business in respect to professional networking.

 

o        What is the one piece of advice you would give students that are interested in pursuing a career in the public relations/investor relations/marketing industry? 1) When you’re ready to intern and/or graduate, look for a job at one of the large, global firms in a major metro market; 2) Quality is far better than quantity; 3) Make the AP Stylebook your professional bible.

 

o        What is the best thing about your job? As owner, I am free to pursue any activity I wish.

 

o        What is the thing you like least about your job? Maintaining the books.

 

o        Are there any exciting announcements you’d like to tell us about (either with your company or one of your clients)? Yes! Details recently secured a major feature in The New York Times for its client Derbyshire, an Old English-themed residential community being developed in Tryon, N.C. We also picked up a new account last week: Staged 4 You, an extremely popular home staging business in upstate South Carolina.

 

o        How do you balance your professional career with your personal life? It may sound corny, but by paying attention to all the details I don’t waste time, which allows me to build a decent amount of “me” time into each week.

 

o        Anything else you would like to add? Details Destination Management, Inc. is building a website. If you would like to learn more information about Details now or receive a notice when our website goes live, please email me at kara@detailsdm.com. 

The business side of corporate community investment

This past Tuesday I attended a SCPRSA luncheon. The presentation was hosted by Bari Love, of Jackson Spalding Atlanta, and she addressed how – even in today’s economic climate – organizations must continue to deliver financial return, while also giving back to its communities.

According to Love, the business benefits to corporate community investment are significant, including increased consumer and employee loyalty.  And let’s face it, in these tough times, it’s smart to invest in activities that keep employees happy as they can be the best brand ambassadors (also, turnover can be costly!).  She also made a point to say that companies involved in their communities are able to create:

  • Brand differentiation
  • Build new and deeper community networks
  • Improve relations with regional/federal governments
  • Enhance credibility and education information
  • Access to knowledge and experience to aid in research and development

She also mentioned it’s crucial to partner with organizations and develop volunteer programs that make sense to your company’s core values, as well as conduct reserach before, during and after the programs so you are able to report back the return on investment.  After all, CEOs and CFOs are interested in how all programs affect the bottom line.

It was a great luncheon and we had an amazing turnout. 

I’d love to hear from some of you to learn how your clients are involved in their respective communities.  How did you identify partners?  How do you measure success?  What have the results been so far?

PR Diva Dish – Lyn Mettler, owner of Mettler PR and president of Step Ahead Web Strategies

All I can say is, “Wow!” Lyn Mettler is busy!

As a mother of two, owner of Mettler Public Relations and president of Step Ahead Web Strategies, she also has her own blog, a presence on Twitter and hosts a monthly podcast! 

Congratulations, Lyn, on all your success so far, and keep us posted on new developments with all your activities, especially any success stories you have with clients and Step Ahead Web Strategies. It’s always interesting to learn about how clients embrace social media and the results they’ve experienced because of it.

 

o Please provide title and a brief description of what you do: Owner, Mettler Public Relations; President, Step Ahead Web Strategies – I run a traditional public relations firm specializing in media relations, as well as a company that helps clients leverage the latest social media and Web 2.0 technologies as PR and marketing tools.

o How did you become interested in the public relations/advertising industry? I started out my career working in television news and quickly discovered it was not for me. The natural next step, which I could never have imagined in college, was to flip to “the other side”. I found I truly enjoyed reaching out to journalists; I just did not want to be one.

o What changes have you seen in the industry that is the most interesting to you? I am fascinated with the evolution of the Web and how it has become a crucial medium in any public relations campaign. I think we are witnessing one of the most dramatic changes in social dynamics in history and I’m excited to help my clients navigate these new waters.

o Are you involved in any professional associations? If so, what are they and what do you learn by being involved?
I am a member of the Public Relations Society of America and have found the independent practitioners group, as well as their publications and Web tools, to be very helpful as I grow my businesses.

o What is the one piece of advice you would give students that are interested in pursuing a career in the public relations/investor relations/marketing industry? Start using and learning about social media now in all its forms. This is going to be required knowledge for public relations jobs in the future and the better positioned you are in this area, the better chance that you will land a desirable job.

o What is the best thing about your job? My clients. They are all so interesting in different ways. I don’t limit myself to one industry, so one day I may be running a contest for the new ice cream flavor of Charleston for Circa 1886 restaurant and the next I may be out at a park working with journalists on a nonprofit to improve local parks. It never gets boring.

o What is the thing you like least about your job? I hate it when I’ve got a good story that gets preempted by breaking news. That’s always disappointing, of course to the client, but to me as well, and it’s frustrating because it’s out of our control. There’s nothing better than landing a spot in a big media outlet.

o Are there any exciting announcements you’d like to tell us about (either with your company or one of your clients)? My Step Ahead Web Strategies company is inviting people to submit a video of themselves describing their favorite Web 2.0 (blog, podcast, myspace, twitter, etc.) tool as something fun for the summer. Visit our site at www.stepaheadwebstrategies.com/favorite-web-2.0.shtml for all the details and to see others’ videos.

o How do you balance your professional career with your personal life? I have two young children and so I have chosen to work from home to be with them as much as I can. It’s a juggle working around naps and mother’s morning out, but it’s extremely rewarding and I feel very grateful to be able to run two businesses and be with my kids, too.

o Anything else you would like to add? Feel free to check out my blog at www.newworldpr.blogspot.com where I discuss the impact of social media on PR and how to use these technologies as PR tools, and my Brand Bandits podcast at www.brandbandits.blogspot.com, where my colleague and graphic designer Ginny Carson and I monthly chat about branding topics from both a verbal and visual perspective.

Share your AP style book stories!

Yesterday, I sung the praises of my AP Style book on Twitter. When it comes to writing and abiding by journalistic style, the style book is pretty much THE reference guide for PR practitioners.

My edition is from 2005 and I joked that it has coffee stains, red pen marks and probably some tears on it, too.

In this day and age, I’m sure my 2005 copy is way out of date.

How long have you had your style book? How often to you get a new one? If you have the most recent one, does it address Twitter, RSS feeds, social media, etc.? Do you refer to the AP style book often?

Oh yeah, I’m totally digging Twitter, too. I’ve already had conversations with people where I would never have the opportunity otherwise. You can follow me at www.twitter.com/palmettoprdiva and Liza at www.twitter.com/paynejonespr.

Giving props to the ‘rents today – today is their 36th anniversary!

Over the years, the opinions and views I’ve had on a boat load of issues have changed. But as a an Army brat and a daughter of a Master Warrant Officer in the United States Army, who moved around quite a bit, I vowed never to date a man in the military.

The sacrifices are unbelievable and I watched my mother hold it together while my dad went to Germany for years at a time, only to see him during holidays. And I also watched my mom pack up the old house and get us settled into a new house each time we moved – sometimes to a different country! From New Jersey to Maryland to Alabama to Germany and then to California, they have been through it all.

And today they are celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary! They finally settled in Charlotte, N.C. and I don’t think they are going anywhere soon.

Just wanted to give a big shout out to them! As I approach my own first wedding anniversary, it’s nice to have an example to follow…Labor Day is also coming up – a weird August date. So hug a friend or family member who has served their country. They sacrifice way more than you think…

A little customer service goes a long way – update

To everyone who followed my customer service saga yesterday with the local hospital system, I wanted to provide you an update.

After I blogged about my experience, I looked up the customer service contact number at the hospital. I called, and the nice lady on the phone gave me her e-mail address to send in details about my experience. She was very friendly and sounded sincere in her efforts to help. That was about 2 p.m.

At 4:30 p.m., I received a phone call. It was the doctor in charge of the pediatric sleep lab, who ultimately oversees that entire department. My e-mail had made its way to him, and he personally wanted to call and apologize for our experience and to let me know the technician’s supervisor was looking into the matter further.

He explained that while the technician was the newest member of the staff, his behavior was no excuse, since he had been through the same training as everyone else. The doctor went on to say they pride themselves in catering to children, so being able to recognize signs of fear, discomfort, etc. and knowing how to help kids feel more comfortable are very important to them. He said he would have the supervisor call me today and give me an update.

He was actually really nice and seemed geniune in wanting to rectify the situation. I was impressed with how quickly he called (in fact, I think he’d called my phone earlier in the afternoon, but I missed the call). He answered all of my questions about the test my son had done, and assured me they want to do everything they can to make our experience a positive one. He said he couldn’t change what happened for us, but he wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again.

So, long story short, I feel better about the conclusion of the situation. I think this department handled the matter well in quickly addressing the issue and having someone at the top contact me to let me know the matter was under investigation.

There will always be people who are having a bad day, just don’t like their job or something else that prevents them from carrying out a company’s mission. But to err is human, and I like when companies stand up and recognize their fault, and try to do something about it. Well done, Greenville Hospital System.