PR Students, Teachers, Pros Step Up to the PROpenMic

April 15, 2008 at 7:56 am (PR 101) (, , , , )

I just joined PROpenMic yesterday, a community for PR students, educators, and pros to convene and share information, questions, and wisdom on the industry. It was created by famed PR educator and blogger Robert French of Auburn University, and from my experience so far is a great resource for PRs across the board to meet others and collectively share information. I wish I had this when I was in college getting my PR degree!

The community is a helpful training ground for students and young PR pros, and is also a great way for seasoned PR practitioners to mentor the newbies. I’m a huge fan of the site already from the little I’ve tinkered with it. I look forward to getting involved and meeting new people in the industry, as well as hopefully contributing some worthwhile info to the community.

Check it out for yourself and get signed up! And while you’re on there, go ahead and add me as a friend. ūüėČ

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Why (Good) PR Will Never Die

April 10, 2008 at 8:04 am (PR 101, PR Musings) (, , , )

I’ve been reading a book on media relations that‚Äôs been a great resource for me: Media Training 101 by Sally Stewart. It‚Äôs a good primer on smart PR tactics when working with press.

The interesting thing about the book is that it’s primarily geared toward executives and business people. Not PR pros.

Why is that funny? Having worked with quite a few execs throughout my career, I can’t imagine them having the time to read a book on media relations strategy.

Many of my clients can’t find time for a good night’s sleep, let alone the 4-6 hours it takes to read a 300-page book. You understand this when you get e-mail responses from your CTO after 10 p.m. at night and realize they‚Äôre still hard at work.

Which is what led them to hire a PR firm or consultant in the first place. The reality is it takes quite a bit of training to develop smart communication strategies for your brand.

That doesn’t even take into account the man hours needed to implement the plan once you put it together.

Reading through those pages is a reminder of how much training good PR pros need in order to prove their worth as true experts in communication. This now includes knowledge of traditional media outlets, key audiences, social media platforms, and any other new communication tools pop up along the way.

PR is a lot of hard work and the bar of excellence is high. If you’re a PR pro, you know how tough it is, and if you’re a journalist or blogger, you value the good PR people that are out there.

If it wasn‚Äôt challenging for companies to communicate effectively to their various audiences, the need for PR wouldn‚Äôt exist. And that’s why good PR, the kind that uses communication tools intelligently and gets results, will never die.

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Me, myself and I have a pep talk about blogging

March 13, 2008 at 10:55 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

My friend Larry Chiang from duck9 mentioned me today in a post he wrote for Found|READ, linking to this blog. I read it, realized that people might actually be visiting my blog as a result, and scurried to put together this post. ūüôā

Clearly, flackette has become woefully out-of-date. While I’ve been posting semi-regularly at my friend Chris Lynn’s blog, socialTNT, I’m sad that flackette isn’t getting any attention.

Sometimes it gets so hard to blog regularly, especially if you’re blogging professionally. Many of us are still trying to focus on honing our 9to5 career skills so that we actually HAVE the insight to speak from a position of experience about our professions. One thing I definitely don’t want to be is a lotta talk without anything to back it up.

How does the young professional balance blogging with career growth and maintaining that critical work/life balance? It’s no easy feat, as evidenced by the many young PR bloggers who started out strong and then leveled off in activity when the cubicle came a-callin’.

So I’m giving myself a pep talk, because I do think blogging’s important and I need to get on the ball. Here goes:

Remember that you started blogging because it’s fun! For most of us, blogging is a labor of love. Don’t forget it. If you let blogging become a chore, you’re that less likely to expend your energy doing it.

Don’t overthink. I admit it, I’m a perfectionist. I’ve got so many half-baked posts in my pipeline but finalizing them? A whole ‘nother story. I’m working on it because I know it holds me back. Penelope has some great tips on this.

Yes, you might get burned, but it’s worth the risk. It’s scary to put your ideas out there, but the odds are you’ll find more allies than critics.

Get inspired. Read blogs by the people that you admire, and use them as a fount of inspiration. Some of my favorite blog “mentors”? Shel Holtz, Penelope Trunk, Jeremy Pepper, Chris Lynn, Kami Huyse, Todd Defren, and of course, you too Larry.

    Now wasn’t that cathartic? I think so. Now time to learn it, love it, live it.

    [The above photo, ‚Äúpep talk‚ÄĚ by .suzanne, is used under Creative Commons]

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    Beyond the Beacon post: Why Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg should blog more often

    December 6, 2007 at 6:00 am (When Companies Blog) (, , , , , )

    BUF207I’ve fallen out of love with Facebook as of late, for personal reasons that occurred previous to the Beacon fiasco and are not connected to its privacy issues. At one point I didn’t even log in for over a week! Perhaps that’s why I missed out on all the drama and infringements on personal privacy? That said, I haven’t been able to ignore the blogstorm that’s been brewing for the past two to three weeks due to consumer outrage at the ramifications of the new advertising platform.

    After numerous incendiary blog posts and media commentary on the issue, yesterday marked a turning point as we finally saw a personal response to users from the man himself on Facebook’s official blog: founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It was great to see Mark finally addressing the issues through a medium that really speaks to the Facebook community. And then I noticed his painfully obvious lack of involvement in Facebook’s blog…

    On the Facebook blog, Mark has only written 4 posts in the past year plus. Yup, that’s right. Just shy of one per quarter. And all but the first post (which describes the change in the social network’s name thefacebook.com to just Facebook, in addition to forward looking thoughts on the future of the site) are reactive responses to negative rumblings from the community.

    It makes me uneasy to see that nearly all of Mark’s blog posts have disagreeable associations attached to them. It would be great to see more positive posts that demonstrate his ability to communicate with users via the Facebook blog beyond using it as a personal apology page. Granted, there are a ton of other Facebook employees blogging regularly about exciting new developments in the platform, but Mark is the most publicly visible spokesperson for the company which makes his blogging presence on the site that much more important.

    We’ve got to give Mark at least a few Brownie points for attempting to be transparent about Facebook’s problems with the few posts he has written. However, it would be a wise PR move on his part to communicate more frequently about Facebook’s journey as a company. Like it or not, Mark is the most public "face" in Facebook, and given Facebook’s role at the center of the social media spectrum, his active participation in the conversation isn’t just advisable, it’s essential–and not just when a crisis brings the heat.

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    John Biggs of CrunchGear Tells Us His PR Christmas Wish

    December 4, 2007 at 3:47 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

     This morning, John Biggs of CrunchGear posted on what PR people can do this Christmas to make him happy. A lot of these tips are just plain common sense that can never be over-repeated, such as:

    • Don’t lie
    • Don’t waste time
    • Know who you’re pitching

    The other tips that John includes are just great fodder for how to approach CrunchGear intelligently. This is a must read for all PRs. Let’s give John what he’s wishing for, and hope that his perception of the profession can change from viewing us as largely underhanded Grinches to gracious Santas bearing gifts of interesting products and gadgets he can actually write about. ūüôā¬†Hat tip to Peter Himler at The Flack.

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    Important Words for the Young Workforce from Brazen Careerist’s Penelope Trunk

    December 3, 2007 at 12:54 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

    Yesterday while on my nightly run, I tried giving up my usual jogging tunes and replacing them with the Forward podcast, managed by my longtime friend and fellow PR blogger Paull Young. I have to say, tunes were not missed and I thoroughly enjoyed the mental stimulation of the podcast coupled with the energy of the run.

    For this edition Paull interviewed¬†Penelope Trunk, author of Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success¬†and a career columnist at Boston Globe and Yahoo Finance. The interview¬†was an incredibly¬†inspirational listen, and provided a great deal of encouragement to us 20-somethings trying to make a living and change the world while we’re at it.

    I suggest you listen to the interview for yourself, but Penelope made two particularly important points that I want to highlight:

    1. Today’s workplace allows you to prove your worth¬†through your performance and industry insight, not just how many years you’ve been in your business

    2. The above is a gift not afforded to our parents or any other past generation

    I thought this was important because too few of us realize the power we have in our hands to really showcase our talents in a new and exciting way. We should cherish this privelege. We no longer have to¬†drudge through a career for X number of years trying to catch a break.¬†Now more than ever, we have the ability to become thought leaders by contributing to the knowledge base for our respective professions. How can we do this? It’s as easy as expressing our opinions intelligently and respectfully, whether it be through blogging, internal discussions with our managers and team members, or conversations with others in our profession.

    I’m also very interested in updates on Penelope’s upcoming business venture with young career bloggers Ryan Paugh and Ryan Healy, BrazenCareerist.com, which will be a network of bloggers writing about the intersection of work and life. This will be a great resource for those just entering the workforce, and I can’t wait to check it out (the Web site¬†says it is “coming soon”).

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    Lessons Learned from Amazon PR

    November 16, 2007 at 11:37 am (socialTNT)

    Yesterday while following Snitter, I noticed some particularly interesting tweets from Marshall Kirkpatrick of Read/Write Web that had an edge of foreboding for Amazon’s PR team. When I read his post this morning on some Amazon news that was given out under embargo¬†and then taken back at the last minute,¬†I was flabbergasted at the¬†route Amazon PR chose to take.

    Not only did Amazon go back on an originally agreed upon embargo for some news they had in the pipeline within minutes of the embargo time, but to add insult to injury, they also drafted a¬†statement for Marshall to clarify the situation that was…wait for it…written in the FIRST person. Yes, that’s right, Amazon tried to put words into a blogger’s mouth. Dangerous to say the least. Marshall’s post completely detailed the exchange, even down to providing the exact text that Amazon PR hoped he would plagiarize as his own.

    We don’t really¬†know what was going on behind-the-scenes here. Maybe Amazon PR really didn’t know the news was postponed/canceled until the 11th hour and as such weren’t able to notify journos in a timely manner. All too often these types of situations get thrown at the PR team and although it’s not¬†their fault,¬†they’re the ones left to pick up the pieces and salvage the damaged relationships as best they can. We, as PR people, have to remember to be flexible. When stuff like this happens, you have to take a deep breath and move forward. Be honest about the situation¬†and realize that you can’t strong-arm people into handling things the way you want. And as we see in this example, if you try to do so, you’ll just end up making your team and the company behind you look bad. Really bad. Not to mention add to the already loud complaints about the¬†PR industry as a whole.

    I think we need to get over the desire to always “control the message” and realize that setting up the relationship for¬†success¬†is far more important. In the age of Web 2.0, you can’t expect to be able to have a one-way dialogue anymore. Two-way communication is key. Setting up the relationship is key. Promoting open, honest dialogue whenever possible is¬†essential. As Marshall pointedly notes, Amazon PR’s actions in this situation really prove that they are neither open nor social. The “gatekeeper” role of PR, while still important in certain situations, is no longer as important as our expertise in facilitating communication. There is a point at which attempting to “control” the situation is no longer practical or advisable and all we can do is help our clients participate¬†strategically¬†in the conversation, sit back, and let the rest unfold organically.

    Chris over at SocialTNT also wrote a great post on this issue that is a good read.

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    Blogging is fun again! Thanks, WordPress.

    November 14, 2007 at 6:07 pm (SHIFT, socialTNT)

    That was easy!

    One of my favorite colleagues from SHIFT (and fellow PR blogger) Chris Lynn just showed me how to switch Flackette from Blogger over to WordPress. What an awesome transition. I think one of the big reasons I fell off the face of the blogging world was the fact that Blogger is incredibly cumbersome and I would have to spend close to 45 minutes per post just formatting the dang thing in the proper HTML code. It was annoying, and I didn’t have time to deal with it.

    Already I can tell WordPress and I are going to have a beautiful friendship. I can’t wait to start blogging again in full force. And now that it’s fun again (thanks, WordPress, really!) I have no excuse. ūüôā

    This post took me two minutes to write. And one second to post. That was easy!

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    Um…what’s relaxation?

    February 16, 2007 at 6:58 pm (Uncategorized)

    Once again, my blogging challenge with adorkable grrl sets the wheels in motion so that Flackette continues to blog, even despite her busy schedule (I know, I know, no excuses!).

    This week, the topic is relaxation. I know from reading books on time management and performance that relaxation is extremely important, both to mental health and work performance. In fact, in one my favorite books of that sort, The Now Habit by Neil Fiore, it was said that in contrast to procrastinators, good performers work less hours, take more vacations, and are less stressed than those who work ungodly hours and skip vacation time to keep working. How’s that for incentive to take regular doses of relaxation!

    In another sense of the word relaxation, I think that it is important that every PR person have a relaxed outlook when it comes to their job. By relaxed I don’t mean lax, shoddy, or unstructured, but rather I am referring to one’s general attitude about life and PR. The best PR people I’ve ever met are cool-headed, always kind, slow to anger, and hard to fluster. If you are a high strung person, PR is probably not be for you. The best of the best have a way of rolling with the punches and being flexible in almost any situation, in other words: relaxed.

    In the personal sense of the word, there are many things I find to be extremely relaxing:

    • Spending time with my dearest friends
    • Lazing around, watching TV, and napping
    • Pedicures, manicures, and any other form of pampering
    • A hot cup of herbal tea
    • Watching a beautiful sunset

    Since this is a holiday weekend for some of us (myself included) I plan on doing at least a few of the above to recoup and relax from what has been a crazy week.

    Happy Friday to all!

    Cheers,

    Flackette

    P.S. Can I just say I am having way too much fun with Blogger’s new tagging widget?

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    Multitasking is my hero

    February 9, 2007 at 8:00 pm (Uncategorized)

    As a result of my blogging challenge with adorkable grrl, I have been given the ultimate motivation to keep up the blogging momentum: competition. I can’t promise that this will be a great post, as I cranked it out last night while somewhat sleep-deprived, but it’s nice to have that fire under the arse to make sure I keep it up (thanks, adorkable grrl!).

    Multitasking has become a requisite function of the business world. In job interview prep, it’s a must-have. Unless you can demonstrate your ability to multitask effectively, you may as well be chopped liver to the average employer.

    It is humorous to note that despite the high demand for multitasking as a barometer of success, debate abounds on whether or not multitasking is more or less effective than focusing in full force on a single task. Whatever the case, multitasking is a necessary evil for successful business practice, and essential to every PR professional.

    There are a number of variables (particularly in agency life) that demand sophisticated multitasking skills in the PR world:

    • The number of clients you represent (which can range from one if you are in-house to two to five in an agency)
    • Depending on the diversity of your client base, the number of industries you must monitor and keep abreast of on a consistent basis
    • The innumerable amount of journalists, bloggers, events, speaking and awards contacts you must maintain consistent relationships with on behalf of your clients
    • The necessary reporting tasks that justify your existence to clients, which can range from basic bread and butter coverage reports to metrics such as share of voice to AVE reports
    • The need to craft written materials at the drop of a hat that pack a punch, hit all of your clients’ key messages satisfactorily, and are entirely devoid of any grammatical, typographical, and spelling errors

    With all that, is it any wonder that PR has been termed one of the most stressful jobs in the US? Here’s some helpful tips that I know have helped me multitask to work smarter, not harder:

    • Instant message or use the phone rather than e-mail. The less superfluous junk you can keep out of your inbox, the better! Plus, it is so much easier to quickly explain something in realtime than it is to reply to an e-mail. This definitely helps.
    • Try not to touch anything more than once before filing it away. Whether it’s a new client document or notes from your last meeting, it helps to just find a place to file it away immediately so you can a) easily find it again and b) avoid the paper trap. This works great for e-mail too, since an overcrowded inbox makes it very time consuming to locate information quickly.
    • Don’t be afraid to use technology to help you keep track of everything that you brain can’t. While all of us would love to believe that our brains have perfect little mental boxes that help us intuitively remember everything we have on our plate, this is delusional thinking at best. Outlook is a wonderful tool for multitasking and time management. I use the task function religiously, which is a great way to keep tabs on both urgent and long-term tasks I need to direct my attention to.
    • Spend 15 minutes at the start of your day planning out your tasks and arranging your priorities so you can easily move from one item to the next. This helps gives me direction for the day and once you have a task order set up, it is easy to move from one task to the next fairly seamlessly.
    • Most importantly: Be flexible! Don’t get flustered when you are interrupted by other small items that are bound to get wedged into the course of your already perfectly planned out work day. Just take a deep breath, try to stay focused, and above all, don’t panic!

    One of the most difficult parts of the PR industry is that a person’s task list is divided up into so many small parts. Switching from pitching various clients to different journalists, focusing on short-term and long-term goals for PR campaigns, and fielding any of the other small requests that filter in through the day is difficult to do seamlessly. The ability to do so is one of the many qualities that mark a truly great PR professional.

    If anyone else has some great tips on multitasking, please speak up! I’d love to hear them. I haven’t looked at adorkable grrl’s post yet, but I’m sure she has some great advice to share as well.

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