PR Pros: Choosing Clients’ Causes Carefully

By: Toni L. Rousell                   Original Post can be found here

Your advice is not only valued, as a hired PR professional, wise counsel is required.

So, how do you help your clients choose the causes they support? Being driven by emotions or going with what’s popular, is sure to be a recipe for disaster.

Discouraging clients from seeking alliance with causes they really have no sincere desire to support, or no real understanding of, should be number one priority.  It can be hard to steer them in a more beneficial direction, avoiding self-destruction of their brand, but it’s responsible and necessary.  They’ll thank you later and you’ll sleep better at night.  Throwing support to a cause they don’t truly believe in, will only lead to their support waning, which will consequently reduce the value of their endorsements as they appear “flaky”, or even unstable, in the public-eye.

Local vs. National

It can seem convenient to offer support to the largest, most visible organization when it comes to “giving-back”, but could a local organization, requiring more hands on support, be more beneficial to your client’s long-term philanthropic goals and public image?  Analyzing the organization’s mission, do results support that mission?

Local organizations will allow for your client to see the lives their efforts effect. They will be able to look directly into the eyes of those benefiting from their donations and volunteering, and will also be more likely to give to those in their hometowns who directly affected their success, which makes for excellent public relations.  This encourages a more faithful, less “fair-weather”, connection.

Alternatively, national organizations offer the opportunity for clients to give-back to multiple communities at once.  If your client lives or their primary business is based outside of their hometown, this choice would allow them to give-back to their hometown community, as well as to the new community that has embraced them. There should be no lack of effort on the client’s part to make their presence known, even when the cameras are off or not around.  A national organization will also be more likely to have consistent PR representation, affording a better grasp on public support of the cause and offering more flexible events your client can join.

Making the Commitment 

Sometimes a client desires to support organizations with a focus that may require a little extra effort for educating the public or validating the connection. Is the client truly committed? This is where your client’s genuine beliefs will come into play. The work required will expose the true intent: is it pub or love?

One example of true commitment is that of Actress Ciera Payton. Being raised, until the age of 13, by her grandmother and drug addicted (now incarcerated) father, Ms. Payton wanted to align her brand with organizations that would allow her to connect with youth growing up in an environment similar to herself: children of incarcerated parents.

But how understood is this cause?

Most children of incarcerated parents are misunderstood and, in many cases, ignored.  Many can site statistics, and some can actually admit they’ve become a statistic, but Ms. Payton’s focus is clear: share the fact that she has overcome the statistics.

By welcoming audiences in, sharing some of her most painful moments growing up in a life-threatening environment, Ms. Payton reaches those who can relate, finding those in need. She credits the Arts for saving her life, and not only commits funding, but diligently focuses on giving-back to youth facing the same battles she’s faced by mentoring.  She has chosen a mix of both local and national organizations to support, allowing her to give back to her hometown of New Orleans as well as her new home of Los Angeles.

Maya Angelou quote (pic)

PR and Publicity vs “Puff and Fluff”

While announcing the partnership, be honest with the public.  Don’t puff up your client to be more than what they are or try to fluff up their support to be more than what it is.  Instead, once the choice has been made, be sure to connect with those who genuinely share in the cause.  Reach out to those who are long-term supporters, whether celebrity or not. This will not only increase the support base for the cause, but will also strengthen your client’s alliance.  Joining forces and sharing ideas for creative support, increases public awareness and makes the difference between superficial “puff and fluff” and careful PR and publicity.

Remember, it’s the man who has more that gives more and philanthropic efforts are what keeps many in need going and feeling encouraged.  Giving back for the cameras is bound to be exposed and never worth the backlash.


PR pro: Don’t call us marketers

By Kevin Allen The original post can be found here
Earlier this year, I published a piece that may have suggested that PR is a “fallback” career for journalists. The piece garnered 50+ comments; clearly, some PR folks are easily offended.

List Brian Kilgore among the easily offended. He recently penned a piece for The Huffington Posttitled, “Don’t Insult PR People by Calling Them Marketers.”

The offending part is the Globe and Mail, which called CBC’s new boss a former “marketing and public relations executive.”

Marketing and public relations are different, Kilgore asserts.

The piece is actually more of a 101-level “This is what PR is and this is what marketing is—see, aren’t they different?”

I think Kilgore seriously mischaracterizes the approach of a modern brand. Social media has changed everything. The most successful brands don’t function within an old school model under which PR, marketing, and advertising function in their own silos and it’s up to PR to pitch journalists.
Sure, you can still function in that model, but a coordinated approach—with PR, marketing, and advertising functioning as fingers in a fist, with social media as the thumb—can spark much more influence than any department working on its own.

PR people shouldn’t be offended by being perceived as marketers any more than marketers should be offended by being seen as public relations pros. We should all recognize that the lines are blurred in the new paradigm—it’s only when the efforts are coordinated that the best things happen.

The Most Influential Personal Style Bloggers Right Now

This blog can be originally found here

By: Lauren Sherman

Some say the age of the personal style blogger is over.

Today, the girl needs more than an outfit, a boyfriend, and a camera. Bloggers need to think about production quality, editorial strategy, and affiliate programs to really gain a foothold on the web. They are more like editors, creating publications worthy of a million-person audience than a few thousand super-fans.

Yet it still comes down to that camera. Nine times out of 10, the bloggers who move merchandise, who get people talking, who attract repeat advertisers, love to strike a pose.

So we say the personal style blogger isn’t going anywhere—-in fact, she’s more powerful than ever.

Fashionista’s list of the most influential personal style bloggers was determined by a strict methodology: We factored in Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr followers, monthly pageviews, press mentions, affiliate marketing successes, and industry sentiment. (Affiliate marketing, in this case, means the act of using trackable links to get a commission on products sold because you wrote about a product/linked to them. There are a lot of affiliate marketing programs: The most popular include Reward Style, Skimlinks and ShopStyle.)

To ensure the numbers we crunched were accurate, we worked with individual bloggers, affiliate marketers and Fohr Card, the new database for brands to access legit stats and information on thousands of bloggers.

We also took into consideration audience feedback about 2010′s list. You’ll notice that this group is tighter—any site arguably more about lifestyle than fashion or beauty was eliminated.

Like any list you read on the internet, our ranking is up for debate. And we encourage it! Let us know what you think. And feel free to Tweet me if you have any more questions about the methodology.

Click here to see who made it

5 things not to expect from an unpaid intern

Don’t be surprised if they come in late or don’t give their all. Without being paid, they have less motivation to do either and can damage your business, argues this PR pro.

By Hannah Stacey



Ah, the PR internship.

That much-maligned rite of passage for anyone hoping to make their way in the communications world.

It’s a bit like that inevitable bin-dunking you get on your first day of junior school (just me, then?) or learning to drive: Painful and a bit degrading at the same time.

Hopefully you emerge from the whole sorry mess a better, more enlightened person (or, alternatively, a sniveling shadow of your former self).

Those bewildering weeks spent shackled to the photocopier, the tea-making, the media-list compiling, the general skivvying—and without being paid—that’s all a massive favor, isn’t it? No, not on the intern’s part, silly! It’s an act of kindness from PR agencies, giving career-thirsty 20-somethings extremely valuable lessons in the workings of the illustrious communications industry (and hot beverage-making too, of course).

If anything, these interns should pay PR agencies for such an enlightening induction into public relations, right?


My cheekiness aside, unpaid internships can potentially be harmful to your business. At the very least, you’re probably not going to get the very best. And they could prove detrimental to your business.

Unpaid interns can’t do it all

Here are five things you can’t expect from an unpaid intern.

1. They get out of bed on time. We aren’t all morning people. It takes a wildly irritating alarm clock and the comforting reassurance that Starbucks will be open to get me out of bed on time each morning—and I love my job. If you’re not paying someone to get to work on time every day, chances are they won’t.

While punctuality may seem nitpicky to some, rocking through the office door at 9:15 a.m. just isn’t cool; it massively de-motivates everyone on your team. Hitting the ground running at 9 a.m. sharp is crucial if you want to maintain a professional working environment.

2. They give it their all. Okay, so your new intern might start out all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but anyone who seriously expects them to arrive with a smile on their face, ready to bust a gut every morning when they’re not getting a dime in return, probably needs their head examined.

If you’re not offering your intern money or job stability for their efforts, you can’t really complain when they dedicate some of their working hours to finding someone else who will. When you pay interns, it’s not unreasonable to expect they’ll put a decent amount of effort in. The result? You’ve got someone who’s genuinely adding value to your business rather than sitting twiddling their thumbs.

3. They’re a team player. Your intern might be as altruistic as Robin Hood, but working day-in and day-out with people who are getting paid when they’re not earning a cent isn’t going to make them feel like part of the team. No matter how much they smile and laugh when you give them another media list to compile, chances are they’ll resent you. When everyone’s hard work is recognized and remunerated, they’ll feel more team-spirited and you’ll be free of office bad vibes.

4. They’ll hit the ground running. Having an “extra pair of hands” around the office sounds nice, but an intern is another person to manage (this is particularly true if they haven’t been through the company’s full selection process). I’ve said enough about how paying your interns will encourage them to work harder. It’s inevitable any intern will cost you in management time. Why not invest this time in someone who brings value to your business rather than someone who doesn’t feel like they owe you anything?

5. They’ll be the best of the best. Unpaid internships make the PR industry silly and elitist. Effectively they say: “You can only work for me if you (or your parents) are willing to fork out for food.” That’s nearly as absurd as saying: “You can only work for me if your surname begins with Q and your dad’s called Nigel.”

You’re shooting yourself and your business in the foot because, as we all know, being rich or influential doesn’t make one good at managing public reputation. Justin Bieber is walking proof of this. Give your interns enough to live off and you’ll likely attract the talented ones—not the ones whose mommy and daddy own a home in the countryside and let them crash at the penthouse in the city rent-free.

Not paying your interns is tempting, but will ultimately damage your business and prevent you from finding those hidden gems who could prove to be your best next hire. What are your thoughts? Are you pro or con paid internships?

Hannah Stacey is an account manager at integrated B2B marketing agency TopLine Communications. A version of this post first appeared on Spin Sucks.

15 Shakespearean quotes for PR pros

By Shonali Burke  This post can be found HERE

Last week, when you realized Friday was Mar. 15, did you think of “The Ides of March” and secretly decide to watch your back?

If you did, then like me, you’re a fan of Bill the Bard, except you probably know him by another name: William Shakespeare. It’s thanks to Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” that the phrase—and its most popular historical reference—live on well after the actual Caesar was assassinated back in 44 B.C.

I don’t know if we ever stop to think about just how much of our language, sayings and references we owe to Shakespeare. If you look at quotes from his plays, some are particularly relevant for public relations professionals, even today.

1. “This above all; to thine own self be true.” ~ Hamlet, Act III, Scene I.

In PR: This is one of the most important things we need to remember, as practitioners and advisers to our clients. What is important about what we do, and why should anyone care?

Accurately translating the “truth” of who we, or our organization, are at our core, is critical to good storytelling, which is what we do.

2. “Can one desire too much of a good thing?” ~ As You Like It, Act IV, Scene I.

In PR: Yes. Focusing on getting “millions of impressions” for our campaigns, initiatives, or clients comes to mind. Hello, measurable objectives, where did you go?

3. “An honest tale speeds best, being plainly told.” ~ King Richard III, Act IV, Scene IV.

In PR: It’s one thing to craft elegant messages, it’s quite another to create “facts” where none exist.

The best PR doesn’t make sh*t up .

4. “I cannot tell what the dickens his name is.” ~ The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act III, Scene II.

In PR: Branding crisis, anyone? What could be worse than being so generic in your messaging that people don’t even remember who you are?

5. “Out, damned spot! out, I say!” ~ Macbeth, Act V, Scene I.

In PR: What all measurement geeks want to do to Ad Value Equivalency. Be gone!

6. “Nothing will come of nothing.” ~ King Lear, Act I, Scene I.

In PR: You can’t build a solid program until you’ve done your research, and know what measurable objectives you’re trying to reach. Otherwise, you might as well say:

7. “Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” ~ Macbeth, Act V, Scene V.

In PR: Could anything be worse than your program, or company, being perceived as “signifying nothing”? Egad!

8. “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” ~ King Henry the Sixth, Part II, Act IV, Scene II.

In PR: Yes, this is something we might, or might not, secretly dream about. But when working on your social media policy, or crisis communications plan, getting buy-in from the legal department at the start is a smarter way to go.

9. “Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.” ~ Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene III.

In PR: Do you work as a community manager, or have a component of community management as part of your responsibilities? Build it slowly; that’s much more likely to scale well.

10. “Brevity is the soul of wit.” ~ Hamlet, Act II, Scene II.

In PR: Don’t “take the opportunity to say” or do something. Just say or do it.

11. “I like not fair terms and a villain’s mind.” ~ The Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene III.

In PR: Ethics is the one thing we can never, ever be without.

12. “Of all base passions, fear is the most accursed.” ~ King Henry the Sixth, Part I, Act V, Scene II.

In PR: Measurement is frightening, but it’s critical if you want to learn and work successfully.

13. “I’ll not budge an inch.” ~ The Taming of the Shrew, Induction, Scene I.

In PR: A recipe for disaster, since you must know how to adapt your messages for different audiences and platforms. It’s also a really bad attitude to have in general.

14. “Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” ~ Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene V.

In PR: There’s nothing wrong with starting your PR program modestly. Some of the best campaigns started out small. The main thing is to keep going.

15. “Why, then the world’s mine oyster.” ~ The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act II, Scene II.

In PR: We don’t always make a ton of money working in public relations. But we do sometimes get the opportunity to help effect real change. The world is our oyster if we choose to make it so.

And there you have it. Fifteen quotes from Shakespeare for PR pros (and I trust you know why I chose to share 15, as opposed to seven, or 23, or another arbitrary number). If you enjoy them, keep them handy to pull out at your next client or team meeting … or maybe even when you need a little levity!

Shonali Burke is president and CEO of a micro PR agency that successfully helps businesses take their communications from corporate codswallop to community cool. She founded and curates the popular #measurePR Twitter chat, and is an adjunct faculty member at The Johns Hopkins University’s M.A./Communication program. A version of this article first appeared on her blog, Waxing UnLyrical.


A Publicist Who Sees No Need to Duck Calls


LOS ANGELES — Not many years ago, the top players in Hollywood publicity called back when they were good and ready. It was all about access — or the refusal to give it.

Today, Kelly Bush smashes straight into the fray via videophone, social network, e-mail barrage and an all-in attitude. “We’re at the top of our game,” Ms. Bush says, “so bring it on.”

This could explain why her company, ID, which ranks with a handful of elite firms that protect and promote the biggest names in show business, counts as a prime client a children’s entertainer whose dazzling career had fizzled overnight after he was caught masturbating in a theatershowing pornographic films.

“I was told, ‘You might work again, but you’re never going to have a career,’ ” said Paul Reubens, who signed with Ms. Bush in 1999, years after the theater episode but before his 2002 arrest on charges, later dropped, of possessing child pornography.

When others might have counseled lying low, Ms. Bush pushed a reluctant Mr. Reubens to revive his Pee-wee Herman persona for a 2007 appearance on Spike TV. A rousing reception led to a Broadway run for “The Pee-wee Herman Show” late last year and a career revival that has him writing the script for a new Universal Pictures film, with Ms. Bush doing double duty as Mr. Reubens’s publicist and manager.

“She changed my life,” he said in an interview, acknowledging that he was “surfing on waves created by Kelly Bush.”

Ms. Bush, 44, is also helping change the business, playing into and sometimes tangling with a volatile, Web-driven, 24-hour media culture that has forced celebrity publicists to become less the cautious gatekeeper and more the frenetic multitasker. She’s in your face and sure of herself, and she has no filter.

Lately, she and her company have been rattling the clubby world of entertainment public relations with their agile efforts to stay in front of a culture that can chew up a client in an instant. Red carpets, photo shoots and tiffs with the tabloids are still the stuff of Hollywood publicity. But Ms. Bush has been pushing her company — which employs about 75 people in Los Angeles, New York and London — to use every tool in its kit.

That can mean playing the Internet fixer. Ms. Bush claimed in an interview that she knew how to get Google to make nasty, wrong headlines instantly disappear.

It can also mean writing Oscar skits and producing funny Web videos for clients like Ben Stiller, whose 2009 Academy Awards send-up of Joaquin Phoenix, a competitor’s client, was cooked up in collaboration with ID.

Or, it can mean actually managing an actor’s career, as Ms. Bush does not only for Mr. Reubens, but also for Ellen Page, star of “Juno” and “Inception” — a move that has been largely taboo for publicists in the past.

“A lot of publicists still see their job as blocking the press — when you call they either run for the hills or lie — and Kelly is smart enough, in the age of the Internet, to know that never works,” said Lisa Gregorisch, who runs the syndicated celebrity news program “Extra.”

Not that Ms. Bush is easy. “She’s a grizzly bear,” Ms. Gregorisch said.

Her manner is shockingly direct, though tempered by the occasional funny take-back. Asked about her ultimate goal for ID, Ms. Bush didn’t blink: “World domination.”

A beat later, she pointed to a reporter’s notebook and added, “she said sarcastically.”

Ms. Bush knows she’s a tough customer but prides herself on never resorting to one tool: the screaming phone call. “It’s O.K. to say no to someone, but you should do it with respect,” she said.

Her fans include Tobey Maguire, who credits Ms. Bush with helping persuade Sony to cast him as the lead in “Spider-Man” by lining up a sexy magazine spread.

“I like crystal clarity,” Mr. Maguire said, “and that is always what I get from her.”

Success inevitably brings detractors. One common criticism is that ID has grown by cutting fees.

Nonsense, Ms. Bush says. Everybody on the list — Amy AdamsJosh BrolinNatalie PortmanJavier Bardem — pays fees comparable with those charged by competitors. The most basic services start at $4,500 a month and escalate toward what she calls “the high six figures” annually for corporate clients, which recently have included Nintendo, Tiffany & Company, the Weinstein Company and Elle magazine.

Competitors also say ID has grown by being willing to take “problem” clients. While that is true to some degree, ID’s cluster of challenging clients might also reflect the company’s skill in handling trouble.

ID’s talent roster may not outshine that of, say, Slate PR. And 42West, based in New York, is especially strong among filmmakers and on the festival circuit. PMK/BNC, owned by the Interpublic Group, has said it is the largest Hollywood firm, at least by some measures, since it was formed in a merger in 2009.

But ID, like most large competitors, has been expanding its brand-related business, partly to stabilize income from sources more reliable than actors, who may pay a retainer only for a few months when they have a television show or a movie to promote. Growing departments now handle filmmakers like Zack Snyder and Jason Reitman; blockbuster movies like the “Twilight” series; and digital initiatives for Sean PennAlicia Keys and others. The company is owned exclusively by Ms. Bush, who said she financed its growth completely from cash flow. Mara Buxbaum, the president and chief operating officer, shares in profits.

The name, ID, is meant to connote “identity,” Ms. Bush said.

And the corporate identity is thoroughly entwined with her own out-of-nowhere story. As Ms. Bush tells it, she was born in San Francisco to a single mother who put her up for adoption, then decided to keep her. Growing up largely around military bases, she says she took up karate at age 8, getting a black belt as a teenager. “Now I’m a black belt of the mouth,” she said.

After high school, she found work selling memberships at a San Francisco fitness club, and in 1991, at 26, she moved to Los Angeles.

Her career in publicity was born with a referral to Susan Geller, who had handled some of the era’s biggest stars.

“She had this blind ambition, she’s fearless,” said Ms. Geller, who is now retired.

After less than two years, Ms. Bush left to start her own publicity firm, taking with her a prime client, Rosie O’Donnell. Within weeks, Ms. O’Donnell was back with Ms. Geller. But Ms. Bush forged ahead from her duplex in the Hollywood Hills.

Ms. Buxbaum left PMK to join ID 11 years ago. “It was a much scrappier feel,” Ms. Buxbaum said of the contrast between ID and established public relations companies of the time.

By 2007, when Starbucks signed on for help with its new music business, ID was big enough to need management schooling. Ms. Bush and Ms. Buxbaum ultimately formed a corporate culture that has lofty ideals — every publicist is supposed to carry a card with principles for dealing openly and fairly. (They also have fussy rules like no BlackBerrys in meetings, and pen-clicking is a pet peeve.)

The expansion led Ms. Bush to Warner, which hired her in late 2007 for a very specific job: to contain Nikki Finke, the Hollywood blogger known for cutthroat tactics. Ms. Finke’s had written bitingly of Jeff Robinov, president of the Warner Brothers Picture Group.

As Ms. Bush came on board, however, the tenor of Ms. Finke’s coverage started to change. Ms. Bush insisted that the studio work harder to engage Ms. Finke. Warner news started to show up on Deadline first. At Warner, which has since deployed Ms. Bush on multiple fires (including Charlie Sheen), the publicist has become known by a nickname: the Nikki Whisperer.

There have been collisions. One occurred in Oscar season, when ID was part of the team behind “The King’s Speech.” The company also represented several actors in “The Social Network,” a chief rival in the awards race, as well as Sean Parker, an Internet mogul who was portrayed unflatteringly in the movie.

When ID, at Mr. Parker’s behest, according to Ms. Bush, began circulating copies of a book that was being used to question the veracity of “The Social Network” — Scott Rudin, the film’s producer, confronted Ms. Bush. He accused ID, Ms. Bush said, of working to undermine his movie on behalf of “The King’s Speech.” (Mr. Rudin said, “I have nothing to say about Kelly Bush.”)

“The King’s Speech,” of course, won the best picture Oscar. Ms. Bush ended the run-in, she said, by sending Mr. Rudin a dartboard. “My note said I was glad not to be his target anymore.”

A version of this article appeared in print on April 7, 2011, on page B1 of the New York edition.

How to Write a Sponsor Letter for an Event

A sponsor can benefit your organization’s programs and events by providing financial support or donating supplies or other goods. When you request sponsorship from a corporation or a business, it is important to write a letter clearly asking for what your organization needs. It is also key for organizations to consider how they can publicly acknowledge sponsors prior to writing a formal request.

Make a list of all potential sponsors, and determine to which of those you want to submit a sponsorship letter.

Find out who the sponsorship letter should be addressed to by finding the name of the general manager or owner of the company. Some companies have a specific person who reviews all donation requests.

Outline the needs of your organization’s event by making a clear outline of the supplies you will need to complete the event and the financial needs to help make your event successful.

Type the date that you will be sending your letter. In other words, if you are writing the letter in advance, use the date that you plan to actually mail the letter.

Type the title of the person you wish to address as well as that person’s mailing address.

Write a description of your organization, including when it was founded and the company’s mission. Describe the event for which you are requesting funding, including why the event is of importance to your company. Include the date and time of the event. Describe who will be in attendance and what publicity you are expecting.

Request the company’s sponsorship by making it clear how grateful your organization would be if they could sponsor the event in any capacity.

Provide details of what you can offer the company in exchange for their sponsorship. This should include publicizing the company’s contribution in annual reports and/or newsletters as well as publicity for them on your organization’s Web site. Maybe it would include some signage or recognition at the actual event.

Close the letter by thanking them for taking the time to review your request for sponsorship.

Type your name, address, and phone number.

Sign your full name, and include your position within your organization.

Prepare the letter by sending it in a business-size envelope, and ensure there is proper postage. If you have a brochure for the event, you may choose to include a copy for the potential sponsor’s review.

sponsorship newsletter

For the Latest sponsorship newsletter Visit IEG Sponsorship Report

9 must-have resources for PR newbies

Want to break into the industry? Here is the ultimate online guide to kick-starting a successful career.

J Dietderich, of PR Breakfast Club fame, recently posed a simple question to me:

“I get a lot of questions from friends looking to switch to PR as a career. What are the best online resources to send them to?”

Good question, right?

A number of blogs and Web sites came to mind immediately, but then I thought more about the term TJ used—resources. We’re talking about more than blogs here. What would really help someone looking to break into PR to learn more about our profession, who we are, and where we’re going in the next 10-15 years?

After giving it some thought, I came up with the following list. I really think the blogs, sites, podcasts, lists and other resources below would give someone thinking of making the switch to PR a pretty good glimpse into our industry:

1. Journalistics

Follow the heart of PR by subscribing to Journalistics, where Jeremy Porter and crew talk about all things at the intersection of PR and journalism. What I like most about Journalistics is that it doesn’t tend to cover the trendy, social media based topics of the day. Sure, there are posts that discuss Twitter, Facebook and social media tools du jour, but for the most part the blog sticks to topics that PR pros and journalists would care about. Here are some good ones:

2. #pr20chat

#pr20chat is a fantastic weekly Twitter chat hosted by Heather Whaling and Justin Goldsboroughthat focuses on the PR “2.0″ world. Topics range from social analytics to educating the next generation of PR pros to writing and consulting basics. I can’t think of a better way for someone looking to break into PR to get up to speed on what’s happening in PR right now.

3. For Immediate Release podcast

This is one of the longest (if not the longest) PR podcast on record since April 2008. Shel Holtz andNeville Hobson typically record two podcasts a week, taking on various topics in the PR and corporate communications industries. They usually use one podcast as the “report” for the week—think of it as a 45-minute CNN-type newscast for PR. The other podcast is dedicated to an interview or panel discussion of sorts. They recently featured a great discussion around social media analytics.

4. Follow Help A Reporter Out (HARO) for a week

Like it or not, media relations is a big part of PR. And, contrary to popular belief, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. What better way to learn more about what reporters are looking for and how they frame stories than to follow HARO for a week? I mean really follow it. Read the inquiries. Try to understand what they’re looking for and what kind of story they’re developing. Reading HARO for a week will definitely help you get a sense of the kinds of stories and angles reporters take—and what they want, need and expect from PR pros.

5. Help A PR Pro Out (HAPPO)

(Disclosure: I’m a co-founder of HAPPO.) If you’re looking to make the move to PR, this may be where you find your first job. That’s the hope at least, and it’s a part of the reason HAPPO exists. However, HAPPO isn’t all about jobs—it’s about helping other PR pros. That can mean providing news and information, connecting others with potential mentors, and meeting new pros from across the world-via Twitter. All of these features would be hugely beneficial to someone looking to start a career in PR.

6. Bad Pitch Blog

Sometimes as much as it makes sense to learn how to do a job well, it also pays to learn from others’ mistakes. This is exactly why I encourage newbies to read the Bad Pitch Blog regularly.

What I’ve enjoyed most about Kevin Dugan and Richard Laermer over the years is that they’re not afraid to take on tough issues and “A-listers.” Case in point: this post which was fairly critical of Peter Shankman and his Klout-based holiday party last year. Of course, they also talk about everyday issues and lessons that impact us all, like the recent post on typos and proofreading. For either reason, I’d suggest it as a must-read for those considering a career in PR.

7. PR Breakfast Club

(Disclosure: I’m a contributor to PR Breakfast Club.) Founded by Nathan Burgess, Keith Trivitt, Marie Baker and CT Michaels, the Breakfast Club is a great place to get all things PR on a daily basis.

Here’s why I would recommend the Breakfast Club to PR newbies: You can get a sampling of a number of PR voices in one daily email. Since April 1, the Breakfast Club has featured a whopping 20 different authors and bloggers from across the Web and the U.S. You won’t get just one person’s perspective on PR, you will get a number of different views. And, many of them are young professionals (30 or younger), so you get a glimpse into what it’s like to start out in PR. This is one of the better group PR blogs on the Web.

8. Start following some great PR blogs

I mentioned a few already, but start a list of 10-15 PR blogs and follow them religiously for two months. I guarantee that in those two months you’ll learn a ton about the industry.

Start by pulling blogs from lists that already exist—JournalisticsPaul Roberts and Jeff Domansky’slists are good places to start. If that doesn’t do the trick, check out Alltop for a more comprehensive list of potential PR blogs.

9. PR books

While the online resources I’ve listed here are great, I’d still recommend picking up a good, old-fashioned hardcover book every once in a while (or download one to your Kindle, if you prefer). Obviously, there are hundreds of books to read about PR.

Where to start? I compiled a list a couple of years ago based on PR pros’ recommendations, which is still a good starting point. I particularly like Kellye Crane’s suggestion of “Elements of Style” and Lauren Vargas’ recommendation of “Never Eat Alone,” which is not a PR book technically, but a wonderfully useful read. If that’s not enough, you can see what I’m reading this year.

What about you? What online resources would you suggest to someone considering jumping into the PR industry?

Arik Hanson is the principal of ACH Communications, and co-founder of HAPPO. He blogs atCommunications Conversations, where this article originally ran.

How to Read an Editorial Calendar

By Rebecca Bredholt

When a magazine plans their upcoming year, they put a consolidated version of the topics they will cover into an editorial calendar. Then their advertising and sales departments use this calendar to sell ad space to companies that would be a good fit for those issues. For example, if a bridal magazine is going to feature honeymoons in their August issue, travel agents and visitor’s guides might want to purchase ad space next to those articles. A fringe benefit is that people planning their public relations efforts can use this same calendar to pitch stories to that magazine’s editorial team. They’re basically telling you exactly what content they are looking for!

However, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind when reading these calendars. Think of this as your secret decoder ring for those mysterious tablets of information.

  1. 1.       What do the dates mean?

Ad Close Date(aka Space Close): this is final day on which advertisers can reserve a space/page in that issue. This date tells you the editorial staff has already decided where their articles are going to go and has already acquired the photos and images it needs to go along with those articles. PR people should have already pitched before this date. If they haven’t heard back, now would be a good date to follow up. Otherwise, you’re probably not going to make it into this issue.  PR peeps shouldn’t give up at this point! Much of the content from this print issue will go on their web site or into their apps where there might be more room for more information.

Materials Due:  This is the date on which the advertising department needs to give the electronic file of the display ad to the graphic design department. This date is relevant to PR people because the same graphic designers who place the ads in the magazine are the ones laying out the editorial content as well. The editors can’t have them redesigning editorial to get your PR material in the magazine if they are already placing the ads. (hint: if you’re supplying artwork to go along with your pitch, send them the same type of files they need for ads, aka read the ad specifications for file size and type. They will love you for it.)

On Sale: The magazine is hitting newsstands, subscribers get their issues afterwards since they are all mailed out at the same time and residential mail tends to be the slowest (see USPS fail).  By now, the editors have already selected their content for the next issue.

  1. 2.       What’s a Feature*?

Editorial Theme: Some magazines have regular departments in each issue, then they choose a story or topic from outside those to feature on their cover. Other magazines choose from their regularly occurring departments and expand it to include more content and get the cover. You won’t know unless you read the magazine on a regular basis. The editorial calendar does not always provide this information.

Focus: This could mean that the editors are going incorporate this theme into every single department for this issue. For example, if Real Simple magazine decided to focus on green living for their March issue, everything from their cover to their Problem Solvers of the Month would mention sustainability.

Special Sections/Reports: I could get skewered for letting this secret out, but if I were in PR I would be careful about spending my time pitching around these sections. Oftentimes, and I do not speak for every magazine, but usually, these sections/bonus issues are not pitchable because they cater the content to the advertisers and conventions.

The asterisk here is because when I planned out the articles as editor, I knew there was always a chance that we would scrape that cover feature for something more timely and relevant. Ultimately, the publisher had to approve our request to change the content and the sales team had to let their clients know. If we already had good editorial content, we didn’t want to lose it, so we would just save it for another issue. The PR take-away here is to always let the editor know you are available to update the content if they choose to run the story at a later date.

A Word about Newspaper and Websites Editorial Calendars

Do not assume they have editorial calendars. Newspaper editors generally don’t create editorial calendars every year. Clearly, they cannot predict what will break in the future (that’s why they’re called news-papers), but some will do a special section on weddings every summer. The same goes for websites: they generally do not plan their editorial content in advance. As I steer the collection of thousands of editorial calendars each year for Vocus, I notice that more and more digital publications are starting to create calendars.  This year on Twitter I saw the words “editorial calendar” get thrown around more than I have in the last two years among bloggers. This doesn’t mean that they will share it with you, it just means they are starting to get better about planning topics out in advance – and if you ask nicely, they might even tell you what some of those are IF they have them.

A Good Example

If you work in the insurance industry, get a hold of the Best’s Review media kit. Take advantage of the fact that they created a stellar diagram of what each department covers. They explain what articles they need in every issue, right there in black and white. PR people would be fools to not take advantage of someone handing them the blueprints.