PR Case Study – moving towards better health

For those out there who think public relations professionals only spin the “real” news, or think that all are a bunch of flacks, I wish they could have attended yesterday’s SC PRSA meeting.

The luncheon focused on how a healthcare public relations campaign is invaluable when communicating to appropriate audiences upcoming changes in the hospital that directly affects them.

A panel of four healthcare communications professionals from Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center, discussed GHS’s use of integrated marketing communications for its Greer Memorial Hospital grand opening in August.

From existing hospital employees to the Greer community and from physicians to community leaders, there were a lot of key audiences to address. While each needed to receive a different message, the overlying factor – whether you are a patient, a family member visiting a patient, a receptionist or a physician – was that customer service is paramount to Greer Memorial.

GHS really focused on the importance of communicating the fact that the new hospital would be open and available to the public – and ready to be part of the community. This was achieved by advertising, billboards, community events, as well as media relations tactics for both feature stories and relevant health columns.

I was really proud to listen to the painstaking efforts GHS took this past summer when opening Greer Memorial, and I wish these kinds of stories would make headlines in industry publications, rather than focusing on those out there who simply churn out news releases and pitch irrelevant outlets non-newsworthy stories. There really are public relations professionals out there who work hard to implement strategic activities to serve their publics well while meeting the goals of the organizations they represent.

What is your “proud” moment in PR?

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Palmetto PR Diva Dish – Amy Bomar, president of Bomar Marketing Solutions

After reviewing Amy’s profile, I think there is one general traits professionals in the public relations and marketing industry seem to have in common. And that is the fact that we love to be busy, meet deadlines and have action-packed days. Read on to learn more about Amy Bomar, president of Bomar Marketing Solutions.

Also, we are looking for a few good professionals to profile each Friday for our Palmetto PR Diva Dish section. If you are interested in participating or would like to nominate someone, please let me know!

o Please provide title and a brief description of what you do:

I’m an independent public relations and marketing practitioner located in Greenville, South Carolina. Services include strategic public relations planning, copywriting, media relations, media training, issues management, collateral development and branding.

o How did you become interested in the public relations/advertising industry?

A love of writing first led me to this career. I studied communications and journalism in college. When I entered the business word, I discovered that my communication, writing and strategic skills made public relations a great fit for me.

o What changes have you seen in the industry that is the most interesting to you?

Constant access to new information is so exciting these days. It helps us all become better educated consumers and learners. The Internet is such a great learning tool, I use it constantly for research and professional development purposes. Of course the rapid access to information can also be a challenge if your organization or one of your client’s organizations is portrayed poorly online!

o Are you involved in any professional associations? If so, what are they and what do you learn by being involved?

I’ve been a member of various groups through the years. Currently, I’m a member of the South Carolina Chapter of PRSA (SCPRSA), a member of PRSA’s Independent Practitioner Alliance and I’m planning to join the Carolinas Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Society (I worked at a healthcare organization for 14 years and have several healthcare clients today). While being a member of a professional association is great, I believe you really get your value out of your membership through involvement – serving on a committee, regularly attending meetings etc. This year, I’m serving as chair of SCPRSA’s Communications Committee, which has given me the opportunity to work and make friends with PR professionals throughout the state.

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?

Keep reading! In order to be an outstanding advisor to your clients or employer, you need to be knowledgeable about all kinds of topics – from PR to politics to local business news. Read a variety of publications (online or print), blogs, books etc. Learn about the latest trends, interesting facts and keep up with what everyone is talking about. Become a life-long learner!

o What is the best thing about your job?

Okay – this probably says something about my personality, but I love to be busy. In one of my former positions, I loved crazy media days when we had some kind of crisis occurring – the media were camped out, the phones wouldn’t stop ringing, our pagers were going off and we had to be five places at the same time. I love making decisions in times of crisis. I actually enjoy deadlines (crazy, I know). Writing assignments are also one of the favorite parts of my job.

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

Downtime in between projects. Of course that never happens, because there is always something I should or could be doing (or learning)!

o Are there any exciting announcements you’d like to tell us about (either with your company or one of your clients)?

My business is doing very well and I’ve had several new client developments recently.
My family and I moved to Greenville a little more than 1 ½ years ago and I would like to say thank you to everyone who has been so welcoming to me. I’ve made many great friends in the local PR and marketing community. I’m also very grateful to the amazing group of independent public relations practitioners in the Upstate who are so supportive of one another, sharing resources, advice and opinions.

o How do you balance your professional career with your personal life?

I have three school age children, which is one of the reasons I decided to become an independent practitioner when we moved to South Carolina. I love my schedule these days! I get the kids ready for school, put them on the bus at 7:20, exercise, and am ready for my work day! I work a full day but still have the flexibility of being around when the kids are home from school, which is great. I often put in work hours in the evening too.

o Anything else you would like to add?

Kudos to Kim and Liza for this blog, and their efforts in bringing together PR practitioners throughout the state! I especially admire how Liza and Kim are interested in reaching out/mentoring the younger generation of PR professionals in the region. There are a lot of professionals with great experience in this area, so we need to do all we can to share our knowledge with those entering the field!

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.

Palmetto PR Diva Dish – Dr. Mihaela Vorvoreanu, assistant professor, Dept. of Comm. Studies, Clemson University

I was lucky enough to hear Dr. Mihaela Vorvoreanu, assistant professor, Department of Communications Studies, Clemson University, speak at an SCPRSA Upstate meeting several months ago. Before then, I had heard rumblings of blogging, Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets designed to share information with others and create conversations with target audiences in ways that had never been available to us before.

But it took Dr. Vorvoreanu’s passion and knowledge for these relatively new tools (new to me at least – I am not an early adopter in most realms!) to actually inspire and motivate me to try them for myself.

She has a new book coming out on Website Public Relations (see below for more details) and also is a big advocate for Clemson’s PRSSA chapter. And we’re thrilled she has taken the time to tell us more about her experiences in getting where she is today. (Editor’s note: Dr. V., please keep us posted on details for Clemson’s PRSSA chapter. We’re happy to help in any way we can.)


o Please provide title and a brief description of what you do:

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies, Clemson University. I teach public relations and communication courses, and do research in the area of public relations and new technology.

o How did you become interested in the public relations/advertising industry?

I think what attracted me to public relations is the power of communication and persuasion. I remember hearing about this new major at the University of Bucharest (Romania) and becoming instantly excited about it. I also like the combination of business and creativity in public relations.

o What changes have you seen in the industry that is the most interesting to you?

The culture shift brought about by social media. Social media, through dynamics that redistribute power, is prompting PR practitioners to think differently. I finally see ideas that we’ve talked about in academia for a long time (honest, mutually beneficial relationships; authentic conversations; “nakedness”) become the standard in social media public relations. Blogging by PR practitioners is helping self-regulate the industry and moving it towards higher professional and ethical standards. The transparency and brutal honesty of social media, while scary, are the best things that have happened to the public relations industry so far. See my blog post New PR Hope for more ideas on this topic.

o Are you involved in any professional associations? If so, what are they and what do you learn by being involved?
I’m a member of PRSA, NCA (National Communication Association), and ICA (International Communication Association). But honestly, I learn more from online communities than from institutionalized ones. I read blogs (see my blog roll on http://www.prconnections.net for recommendations) and I’m active on twitter.

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?

Take charge of your own education. You need to be curious and entrepreneurial. The world is your classroom, to quote Paull Young (blog: http://youngie.prblogs.org/ twitter: http://twitter.com/paullyoung). Anything and everything and way more than your teachers can ever teach you is online. Your teacher is a guide, but not your only resource. You need to take charge and pursue your education on your own, while in college and after you graduate.

o What is the best thing about your job?

§ Lively, engaged conversations with students about ideas.
§ Seeing a twinkle in students’ eyes when they understand something new or think about something they haven’t thought about before.
§ The chance to touch their mind and souls, and hopefully to empower them to be better, happier people.
§ Recently, helping PR practitioners understand social media. It’s great to see that we academics can be a resource for PR practice. It’s the way it should be.

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

Grading assignments. I hate that education is based on fear.

o Are there any exciting announcements you’d like to tell us about (either with your company or one of your clients)?

Yes! I have a book on Website Public Relations coming out in a few days: http://www.cambriapress.com/cambriapress.cfm?template=4&bid=214

o How do you balance your professional career with your personal life?

I play it by ear. I’m lucky that as a professor, my schedule is very flexible. I try to give my full attention to one thing/task or person at a time. If you listen and you’re tuned it, the priorities are usually very clear.

o Anything else you would like to add?
I hope your readers will help us get the Clemson PRSSA chapter rolling! Look out for information about meetings and events and if at all possible, make some time for students.

PR Diva Dish – Christina Helms, account manager for Walker Marketing

If all goes well, this should appear on Friday, July 4, so we can continue our weekly PR Diva Dish section. So here goes!

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Christina Helms, account manager for Walker Marketing, both while I was at PR Newswire, where she was a client, as well as at Walker Marketing, where we were both account managers. And now I’m really happy to share with everyone what she has been up to. Happy July 4!

o Please provide title and a brief description of what you do:

Account Manager

I develop and implement comprehensive public relations programs for clients. The implementation often involves media relations and executive media training, event planning, community relations, writing, internal communications, crisis planning and management and social/interactive PR iniatives.

o How did you become interested in the public relations/advertising industry?

I always liked writing and performed well in English and journalism classes in college, which eventually led me to enroll in public relations course work. I then sought out an internship with the top public relations agency in my market and became fascinated with branding and the important role public relations plays in building a brand.

o What changes have you seen in the industry that is the most interesting to you?

Definitely the advent of social media and the way it has facilitated more two-way dialogue between companies and their customers. It has also introduced bloggers into the media mix and we are learning that they must be pitched differently than traditional media.

o Are you involved in any professional associations? If so, what are they and what do you learn by being involved?

I have been involved with the Carolinas Chapter of the Business Marketing Association and I am a long-time member of PRSA. Both have provided valuable networking opportunities and programs. PRSA publications and seminars are especially good for industry information, practical learning and advice.

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?

I would suggest that they complete as many internships as possible to make connections and gain practical experience.

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

Calling a reporter I’ve never met. Call it a fear of rejection.

o Are there any exciting announcements you’d like to tell us about (either with your company or one of your clients)?
Our company, Walker Marketing (www.walker-marketing.com) has grown exponentially in the past year, expanding our creative department and adding our own full-service interactive department.

o How do you balance your professional career with your personal life?

I live in the country (50 minutes from work) so there is physical distance and the small town setting to bring me peace. I also try to do all my work in the office to keep personal and professional separate.

Palmetto PR Diva Dish – Jacque Riley, Riley Communications

I had the fortune of meeting Jacque Riley, CEO of Columbia-based Riley Communications, at the SCPRSA roundtable event with Vince Hazleton last month. Apparently, if you want to work with an award winning agency – or get your client on the front page – Jacque is the woman to see! 

Read on to learn more…Oh, and Jacque, let us know how the Asus Eee 900 works out for you…I am super jealous!

o Please provide title and a brief description of what you do: As the founder and CEO of Riley Communications, I’ve seen my job description encompass everything from chief coffee maker to writer, designer and strategist. Clients hire me because I really try to capture and convey the essence of the company – the subtlety of PR is a great way to do that.

o How did you become interested in the public relations/advertising industry? I think my interest in communication really hearkens back to high school debate. I have always loved the element of persuasion! We had to argue both sides of any given argument, which really helped me develop a sense of empathy.

o What changes have you seen in the industry that is the most interesting to you? In recent years, it seems like there has been an exodus of excellent reporters leaving the journalism field. There are both challenges and opportunities there, but I’d hate to lose that balance and sense of camaraderie that accompanies the best PR/journalist relationships.

o Are you involved in any professional associations? If so, what are they and what do you learn by being involved? I’m a member of PRSA and IABC, as well as my local chambers of commerce and the Midlands International Trade Association and World Affairs Council. I think PRSA and IABC in particular do a good job of connecting me to other professionals and highlighting the issues facing our industry.

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? Differentiate your resume! As internships and entry-level jobs become more competitive, a bland Word template will not be sufficient. Even putting your name in color or using a font other than Times New Roman can go a long way.

o What is the best thing about your job? I love being surrounded by creativity and big ideas. I also have to admit – it’s still a rush to see a client’s article in print!

o What is the thing you like least about your job? I hate making collection calls – I have to save them for when I’m having a bad day so I can channel my anger.

o Are there any exciting announcements you’d like to tell us about (either with your company or one of your clients)? I just got an Asus Eee 900! It’s a supercompact laptop that weighs literally 2.18 pounds. Since I take my laptop everywhere (and have the sore shoulders to prove it), I can’t wait to see how it works.

o How do you balance your professional career with your personal life? Even though I’m self-employed, I try to keep a very normal, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. That keeps me in sync with my husband and ensures that there are times of the day when work is just not an option.

o Anything else you would like to add? I really believe in the power of a good story. If you can ferret out the right angle and find a story that is truly engaging, people will be drawn to it.

CONTACT:
Jacque Riley
Riley Communications
500 Taylor St., Ste. 102
803-227-0914
jriley@rileycommunications.com
http://www.rileycommunications.com

Palmetto PR Diva Dish – Amanda Brasier, APR, PR manager for CBM-US

Liza returns from the beach next week. Yay! I have missed our e-mails and phone calls throughout the week. Also, we might have the opportunity to work on a project together and I’m super excited about that – so I can’t wait to get an update from her when she returns!

This week’s Palmetto PR Diva Dish focuses on Amanda Brasier, APR, public relations manager for Christian Blind Mission – which is dedicated to improving the quality of life for the blind and disabled. Beth Thomason (who was featured last week) nominated Amanda Brasier, and we are happy to share her thoughts. I love that she gives props to her mentor and how that helped shape her professional path.

Read on to find about how she got started and her goals for the CBM’s future.

o Please provide title and a brief description of what you do:
I’m Public Relations Manager for CBM-US www.cbmus.org (an international humanitarian organization formerly known as Christian Blind Mission International).

CBM-US works in the poorest countries of the world helping to prevent disabilities and to treat them. My role is to begin to generate awareness for the organization, which is based in Greenville, S.C., and to create marketing tools that tell our story.

o How did you become interested in the public relations/advertising industry?
Like a lot of folks, I started out in journalism, newspapers specifically. I loved to talk with people and then turn it into a story. I really couldn’t believe I was getting paid to do it!

About 12 years ago, I moved to the coastal region of South Carolina (Myrtle Beach, to be exact) and landed a job at an advertising and public relations agency, LHWH Advertising and PR.

There, I met my mentor, Lei Gainer, who really took me under her wing and showed me how strategic communication can be. It really allowed me to take something I loved doing and focus my efforts. I felt as though I had found my niche. I got to the Upstate about eight years ago, after a brief pit stop at an agency in Knoxville.

o What changes have you seen in the industry that is the most interesting to you?
Well, the conversion from public relations from being seen as “media relations/publicity” to more of a total communication strategy. Many of the clients I worked with various agencies only engaged our services to generate press coverage.

Today, I think the line between marketing, advertising and public relations is less defined and more blended than it was when I started out. And, that’s a good thing.

o Are you involved in any professional associations? If so, what are they and what do you learn by being involved?
I’ve been a member of PRSA for a long time. I was involved when I lived in Knoxville and worked as the PR Manager for David Newman Payne Advertising and I got involved in the SC chapter when I moved to the Upstate eight years ago. I was one of the last groups to take the “paper” accreditation test (it’s since gone online), and got my APR in 2002.
I’ve also been a member of CHPRMS (Carolinas Healthcare and Marketing Society) during the five years I worked in healthcare marketing.

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?
Find a mentor. Get as many internships as possible. And surround yourself with talent. I’ve learned so much from the people I’ve worked with over the years (Beth Thomason, Jo Halmes, Adriana DiFranco, Amanda Dow, Bridgette Johnson, the aforementioned Lei Gainer, just to name a few.)

Also—sometimes what can seem like failure in the moment (downsizing or loss of a job) can be a blessing. I’ve learned through personal experience and through watching some of my friends that there is a huge demand for talented marketing and public relations professionals, so if you’re in that category, have confidence that you’ll find something else. And it will probably be better than what you were doing before.

o What is the best thing about your job?

I love the fact that I work for an organization that is helping society’s most disadvantaged people regain dignity and establish a quality of life. It’s hard for anyone who lives in the United States to imagine just how horrible living conditions are in a developing country. Add the burden of coping with life in a developing country with having a disability and you have the focus of CBM’s efforts.

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

There’s only one of me, and it’s not really enough to go around.

o Are there any exciting announcements you’d like to tell us about (either with your company or one of your clients)?

I believe that CBM-US is an organization that will blossom in the next 5 years. If you’re reading this column, you probably hadn’t heard of us before, but I believe that we will soon run in the same humanitarian circles as some other very credible NGOs, like World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse. I’m proud to be part of that effort.

o How do you balance your professional career with your personal life?
A lot better than I used to. Now that I have two small munchkins (16 months and 4), my work/life balance has to be saner than when I started out. The ankle-biters demand it, as does my husband. (And my neurotic cat.)

o Anything else you would like to add?
No—it’s been a pleasure. It’s always great to take a moment and reflect on why you do what you do and where you’ve been and your company along the way. Now I better get back to work!