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!!  


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!

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):

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.

Education Never Ends

I came across this post today by Todd Defren, blogger at PR Squared, entitled Empower and Inspire with Content Marketing.

Great foreshadowing of not just what’s to come, but what’s already here. And it’s a good reminder to us all to never settle for the status quo, because just when you think you’ve got it down, something new comes along to keep you on your toes. It’s a constant learning curve, but that’s what keeps our job interesting….

Hope you are….sick?

I’ve seen posted on several journalists’ blogs lately about the disdain for the PR person’s e-mail pitch that begins with, “Hope you are well.” 

Listen, I get that media are inundated with hundreds, if not thousands of e-mails every week from PR practitioners – some of which contain content completely irrelavent to the journalist’s beat.  The optimistic side of me would like to think there are some e-mail pitches that actually demonstrate thought and insight, hoping to provide the reporter with a geniunely interesting story opportunity.

But really?  “Hope you are well” is now taboo?  What would you rather we say, “Hope you are sick?  Hope you fall off a cliff?”  It’s merely a consideration, much like saying hello or sticking our your hand to shake if you were to meet in person.  Don’t take it so personally. 

Palmetto PR Divas was meant to serve as a forum, not just for PR and marketing practitioners to compare notes and ideas, but also to engage in conversation with media representatives, so that hopefully we can bridge the gap between the misconceptions and realities out there.

So any journalists reading this right now, we’d love to hear from you.  What’s the problem with e-mail pitches?  Are you really that offended by the “Hope you are well” intro, or is it a symptom of a larger issue, like perhaps that the e-mail pitch itself is flawed?  Let’s talk about it – and hopefully come up with some ways we can all work better together.

Money back guarantee for WOM?

I’m definitely going to keep my eye on this story as it develops.  I’d be interested to learn the results on athis new “WOM impact guarantee program” which focuses on guaranteeing results – or your money back.

Interestingly enough, I hope this contest of sorts doesn’t influence others to pressure public relations professionals into guaranteeing results.  Liza and I just had lunch today with a colleague and we were discussing how – no matter who your client is – it’s impossible and unethical to guarantee results, simply because of the nature of public relations activities and its relationship to what the media chooses to report.

Feel free to weigh in.

Re-post from Bad Pitch

I came across this post today through my Twitter feeds, and thought you all would enjoy:
Fast Five Q&A with Adweek’s Digital Editor, Brian Morrissey

BTW, if you want to follow them on Twitter, too, and decide for yourself if Brian has it out for PR people (hint: he doesn’t), you can at @bmorrissey and @prblog.