How do you stay strategic?

I came across this post from Todd Defren’s PR Squared blog: “I wish my PR firm was more strategic.”

What really struck me was how close to home the post’s message hit me. I have the pleasure of working with three really great clients right now, all of which afford me the opportunity to provide strategic and results-driven public relations counsel.

But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when I felt like I was simply going through the routine motions. I think we’re all guilty of this, especially if we’ve been working with a client, or even within an organization, for a long period of time.

This post reminded me why I love my clients, and it’s up to me to make sure I continue to provide them with the best, most strategic, most attentive PR service I can. I take Todd’s post as a great reminder to myself to continually challenge and exceed my clients’ expectations every day.

What about you? Now that summer’s over and we’re headed into fall – do you find yourself sometimes falling back on tried-and-true routines simply because you know how to do them and you know they’re ‘good enough’ to get by? Or are you constantly looking at ways you can show your expertise and prove your value to your clients or within your organization?

How do you get yourself out of a routine rut? I think we’d all love to learn some ways we can motivate our strategic sides!

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Successfully pitched a blogger – share your stories!

Even though Liza and I have been blogging since March, I haven’t had many opportunities to pitch a blogger myself. Well, I got the perfect chance last week when I was working on a project for the German American Chamber of Commerce South.

They are hosting the 11th annual Bierfest this Friday at Falls Park, and – in addition to conducting traditional media relations activities – I decided to send the information to Brian Cendrowski, blogger at Untamed Beer.

He recently sent me the post, and I hope that it encourages his readers – especially those who are beer lovers of the German variety – to attend and enjoy the event. (You should come, too, if you are in town and want to enjoy some authentic German cuisine, culture and music!!)

In the interest of total transparency, I think I should also mention that Brian is Nicole Cendrowski’s husband. But even though I wasn’t “cold pitching,” the information obviously had to be relevant to his target audience and timely enough to create interest and action.

Do you have success stories in pitching bloggers? Or do you have any “do not try this at home” tips to share from unsuccessful attempts? Join the conversation and let us know your thoughts!

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.

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.

Do ‘pay for performance’ pricing models work?

Recently, GSABusiness covered public relations and advertising in a down economy in their regular podcast, “What’s All the Hype?” Publisher Francis Allgood interviewed Marsha Friedman of Event Management Services in Tampa, Fla. about how companies can maximize publicity opportunities when the economy is in a funk.

You can listen to the podcast here (it’s not long): http://gsabusiness.com/images/podcasts/Podcast%2007_30_08.mp3

Here’s a question I wanted to pose to the group that arose after I listened to Marsha talk about the business model she’s used since she started her PR business in 1990: Does pay for performance pricing work?

Marsha claims traditional retainer models are outdated and don’t give clients what they really want, which is ROI. She states her ‘pay for performance’ model means she only receives payment for media coverage she helps generate for clients (she didn’t discuss if she implemented other PR tactics, such as speakers’ bureaus, event planning, etc. or how she’s paid for those projects).

I think it’s important to distinguish that Marsha never claims to guarantee media coverage, rather that she’s only paid for media coverage she helps to place for her clients.

I’ve always told clients to be wary of any PR person or firm who claims to guarantee media coverage, since ultimately it’s up to the editor or producer to decide what’s newsworthy and what’s not for their audience. And ‘pay for performance’ pricing models have always seemed a little foreign to me, since how do you account for the media outreach you do that doesn’t result in a bonafide media placement? What about all the media calls, e-mails, research, etc. you do that may not lead to a story (but you still did the work, nonetheless)?

But I’ve always challenged myself to be open to new ways of thinking and as a (relatively) new business owner, I’m always interested in learning about successful business models.

What do you think about pay for performance pricing plans? Does your firm implement one? How does it work?

Or, are you sticking with the traditional retainer-based agreement that Marsha claims 95% of PR agencies still use? Do you think retainers are outdated, or is there still a place for them in this changing business landscape?

Listen to the podcast when you get a chance, and weigh in here with your insight. I’d love to learn some new ideas from the group.