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?

Advertisements

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!

Kim passed her APR!!

She was waiting to receive her official notification from PRSA, but now that she has, I want to be one of the first to tell you that Kim Simko Banks has passed her APR exam!! I know many of you have been following her journey through the APR process on our blog.

She studied really hard for the exam, and all of her hard work paid off. Congratulations, Kim!! I’m so proud of you!!!

I’m sure Kim will post something soon to give more insight about her exam experience, in case others are looking to possibly follow in her lead. Stay tuned for more details!

Palmetto PR Diva Dish – Bianca Crawford, Red Carpet Communications

I really want to first and foremost apologize to Bianca.  She completed the PR Diva questionairre seemingly eons ago and I told her a date that I would post her information and send her a link.  But this was right around when Liza and I went on a blogging vacation and it just got lost in the shuffle.

Liza and I completed a great Greenville media tour (right before she went on bedrest!) and we also spoke on a panel at the first Clemson PRSSA meeting (more to come in the future on that) and there are lots of exciting things going on with us that we would like to share.  Sorry for being absent and we hope we can get on track for the fall (well, me at least, since I’m not on bedrest!).

o        Please provide title and a brief description of what you do: Bianca Crawford, President Red Carpet Communications.  I run a full service Public Relations, Marketing, Event Management and Consulting Company.

 

o        How did you become interested in the public relations/advertising industry?  I have always loved the public relations industry.  When I was a little girl I wanted to be a publicist, then when I entered USC I was a Broadcasting major until I found out how much money they start out making and quickly changed majors to Public Relations.  I love everything thing from writing press releases, pitching stories to writers, media placement and event planning. 

 

o        What changes have you seen in the industry that is the most interesting to you? The infusion of integrating marketing into every marketing plan. I remember when most companies had static websites, no one used email as a primary means for communications and there was no facebook or myspace.

 

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 I am the IP chair for the Midlands.  PRSA has allowed me to connect with other independent practitioners.  I have gained so much knowledge from the training sessions and round table discussions.

 

I am also serve on numerous boards around the city: Columbia Development Corporation which oversees the development in the Vista area within the City of Columbia. Benedict Allen CDC which focuses on economic development in the communities surrounding Benedict College and provides training for small and minority businesses and the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

 

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? Network, Network, Network!!  You must let as many people as possible know what you do and its imperative that you know what line of work other people are in so you can use them as resources and send them business. 

 

o        What is the best thing about your job? The Flexibility! On Monday’s I pay bills, do paperwork and write proposals.  I meet with clients, attend meetings and network. Fridays are for me.  I usually get my hair and nails done and shop for myself and handle my personal business.

 

o        What is the thing you like least about your job? Nothing, I have focused on building a company that I love and enjoy.

 

o        Are there any exciting announcements you’d like to tell us about (either with your company or one of your clients)? I have just been named the 2008 Young Professional of the Year by the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

 

o        How do you balance your professional career with your personal life? By taking Friday’s off and never working on Sunday’s.

 

o        Anything else you would like to add? I love this industry!!  

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.

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.