4 reasons why PR pitching is an art form

By Scott Signore   This Post can Originally Be Found Here

Editorial pitches are opportunities for expression.

Artists have paint, clay, marble, video, mosaics, and many other media with which to express themselves. PR pros have email, direct messages on Twitter, InMail on LinkedIn, and plenty of other communications channels. Editorial pitching provides us PR professionals with a creative channel for securing a story.

It’s an art form, too, and here are four reasons why:

First, a PR pitch offers the practitioner unlimited creativity. You know the charge at hand and can accomplish your goal—connecting with a key writer or editor and seeing that they give attention to your story idea—in any manner that is appropriate.

The words you use count so much. You might be succinct or detailed, punchy or rich with metaphor or vignettes. Each pitch is a clean canvas and every outreach an attempt to inspire a specific reaction. It’s exciting, as every communication is another opportunity for success.

Second, like an artist working on a commissioned piece, it’s crucial that you consider the audience before getting started.

That’s typically both the audience (reporters) and the audience’s audience (editors and readers). The better you capture the imagination of the reporter with your initial outreach, the better the chances he or she will be inspired to “sell” the idea to editors and, ultimately, disseminate the story to legions of your client’s preferred readers.

Third, just as when you see a painting and are moved by what it attempts to convey, you know right away if your PR pitch struck a chord when you hear back (immediately and positively) from your editorial target. It’s a thing of beauty when your creativity captured the interest of your intended subject and inspired action.

Fourth, the preceding point is particularly true if your pitch was highly personalized for and delivered to a priority writer or editor, whose coverage often results in a landslide of other writers covering the same topic. It’s valuable to create the pitch that keeps on giving, paying dividends long after the client’s last check has cleared.

Can you think of other ways that editorial pitching constitutes an art form? Please off your thoughts in the comments section.

Scott Signore is the principal and CEO of Matter Communications. A version of this story first appeared on the agency’s PR Whiteboard blog

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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.

Tips for PR pros planning a 2014 editorial calendar

By Carrie Morgan  This post can originally be found here

If you’re the kind of uber-efficient PR pro who organizes Outlook into client-specific folders, keeps client folders for years after they’ve evaporated, and alphabetizes books and CDs, this post is for you.

If you’re a new PR professional still learning the ropes, this might help.

It’s October. If you aren’t thinking about 2014 editorial calendars, it’s time to shift into gear.

I’m talking not about creating editorial calendars for your blog or social content, but about the traditional PR tactic of using editorial calendars created by magazines, trade publications, and other media for securing placement opportunities. Newspapers and broadcast media generally don’t provide editorial calendars.

Editorial calendar searches are a basic PR skill, but one that way too many pros gloss over, only do annually, or forget entirely. That’s a mistake, given how aligning your pitches to an editorial calendar bumps your success rate way up.

It’s time to kick off the process for next year. If you wait much longer, it will be too late to pitch January/February issues. You don’t want a client calling to ask, “Why am I not in this issue? It’s a perfect fit for what we do.”

For newbies

Magazines and many other media outlets, as well as the larger blogs, publish an annual calendar of upcoming articles or topics they’ll be covering. It’s a smorgasbord of opportunity and a foundational public relations skill. It’s also an opportunity for you to let your PR skills shine, because most agencies and PR pros don’t spend enough time with them to gain maximum benefit.

1. If a team is handling the client, ask whether editorial calendars have been collected, and what agency or department procedures typically are for handling this part of PR. You don’t want to re-invent the wheel if someone is already on top of it, but you do want to show everyone that you are getting the foundation in place for fantastic results, that you are covering the basics.

2. Assuming you’ve already built your client media list and/or a list of publications you’ll be targeting, check their website first to see if it is available for download, then contact every outlet on that list and ask for a media kit. Generally this includes the editorial calendar, demographic information about readership, ad sizes and specs, and ad due dates. Why is this better than asking for just the editorial calendar? Because the ad due dates tell you when the publication goes to press. It helps you plan the timing of your pitch so it isn’t too late to be considered.

3. Keep a spreadsheet so you can easily track whom you’ve spoken with, which ones you have, and which ones you are still waiting on. It also gives you a tickler file to get started on the next year.

4. Print out the editorial calendars, put them in a clearly labeled folder and keep it on your desk. Plan on referring to it often. Tuck a copy of your spreadsheet in the folder, too.

5. If you don’t already have a relationship going, contact each publication individually to discuss their print schedule. When do they typically close out their issue? How far in advance should you pitch them? What is too late? Do they prefer to be pitched via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or phone? Do they have special issues with different print schedules? If it’s a blog or e-zine and not a print publication, look at their website to see if they prefer post submissions that are ready to publish. (It’s usually an obvious page.) Note all this information on your spreadsheet.

Next steps for advanced PR pros and newbies alike

6. Spend time going over each editorial calendar and writing down story ideas to pitch. Match the ideas to the issue, and then schedule each individual pitch in Outlook. Don’t assume you’ll remember; schedule it as an appointment using the timing determined in No. 4.

7. You’re not an Outlook user, or you want a secondary tool to be sure important dates don’t slip your mind? Create your own calendar that flags specific dates and publications you should pitch, and look at it every Monday so you know what’s coming up in the next week or two.  Print it out and pop it in that folder with the printed editorial calendars; make it a habit to review it frequently.

8. Every time an Outlook alert goes off and it is time to pitch a specific issue of a publication, glance over the entire folder anew to see what opportunities you have for that month. This might seem too often, but it helps you get intimately familiar with these magazines and their upcoming topics. It also helps inspire creativity, because you’ll notice something new or gain fresh inspiration with every review. Many pros look at their editorial calendars once or twice a year, which isn’t nearly often enough. It also forces you to plan far in advance.

9. If you supervise a team, sit down and review the editorial calendars together. Brainstorm or review their story ideas that the editorial calendar stimulates, then don’t forget to look at the actual pitches. It seems like far too many agencies don’t supervise the team or work with them to improve their tactics—an epic failure for everyone involved. Pitches and the processes we all use are not a big secret; they should be continually improved and fine-tuned for optimal results. Don’t hesitate to get involved.

 

10. Start collecting next year’s editorial calendars in early fall. This helps you to avoid missing out on great opportunities early in the year simply because your timing is off and you start too late. Magazines, trade publications, large blogs, and e-zines—round ’em up and get those opportunities scheduled.

Time to share. What tactics do you use for editorial calendar searches? Any fabulous tips?

Carrie Morgan is a 20-plus year public relations veteran based in Phoenix, specializing in digital PR. A version of this story first appeared on the Rock The Status Quo blog.

Pros and Cons of Keeping Your Personal and Business Social Media Life Separately

Posted by  to Social Media

Somewhat recently I have been seeing a trend developing with professional accounts on social media sites. They have been becoming more personal, and that line that was once so clear between personal and professional life is being blurred. People are even inviting their clients, bosses, coworkers and professional contacts onto their personal social media profiles. Something that was extremely rare in the past.

Does this signal a change in how we view those two part of ourselves on the web? Is it becoming more natural to combine the professional and personal into a single world? Or is it just a coincidence?

For the most part, I believe it is a personal choice. So let’s look at some of the pros and cons of keeping your social media professional and person lives separate.

Duplicate Original

Pro – You can be open without fear of offending a professional contact.

We are all more open with our views, likes, dislikes and opinions on our social media profiles when they are only personal. Some are a little too open, as a matter of fact. But that is your right, as it is your own space where you are free to discuss anything you find appropriate. When you allow people from your professional life to take part in that space, you are more limited.

You have to watch what you are saying and posting, and have to keep in mind that what you would say to your buddy isn’t the same as you say to a client. It also leaves you unable to rant, which is a good way of occasionally blowing off steam. After all, do you really want your boss knowing he made you angry when he spoke to you about proper image for having a crooked tie with a booger hanging out of his nose? Probably not.

Con – You have to have two accounts.

Let’s be real: maintaining more than one social media account takes a lot of time. Which doesn’t stop us, of course. I will bet you have a profile on several different platforms that you use on a regular basis. But that doesn’t stop it from being a bit of a hassle, and with a professional and private account each? Well, that just adds a secondary account to every social media site you sign up for. That means you will be twice as busy trying to keep track, unless you use a program like a social media dashboard. In which case, you have to be careful not to confuse.

Double

Pro – You won’t be held professionally accountable for your personal views.

Most of us like to be able to freely express ourselves on other sites. Sites which are generally signed into using social media of some kind. By having two separate accounts you can freely comment without it being linked back automatically to your professional persona. Of course, this isn’t always the case. We have seen many examples of people who have made offensive comments on the web under personal accounts and had it traced back to their professional one. But hopefully you won’t be trolling sites or saying anything outrageous or cruel anyway. As long as you are a rational human being, you will probably be fine.

Con – You are splitting your target audience.

I can’t tell you how many times I have had a personal friend or family member share out my content to their massive lists, with a personal recommendation. Which ended up bringing me much more visibility and a surge in visitors for the day. When you have two accounts, the likelihood of this happening is slimmer. Which means you are effectively cleaving your audience in half, and missing out on the opportunity for sharing through people you know face to face.

Meeting In The Middle

In my opinion, the best thing to do is meet in the middle – which is to say, I think you should choose what side works best for you, while recognizing the difference between social media sites. For examples, LinkedIn is for professional use rather than personal as well as Facebook is rather for your personal life (yes, many people won’t agree with me here). So sometimes you won’t have to figure if you need two accounts. YouTube is likewise a good one for professional use, as you are unlikely to need a personal account for commenting. Or Pinterest, which is a fantastic place to merge both the professional and personal with little risk.

How do you handle the separation between those two parts of your life on social media? Let us know in the comments!

Fancy Yourself A Fashion PR Girl?

by   This post can originally be found here

 

Ah fashion PR. Ever since the the high brand fashion PR girls (you know…the fashion media goddesses, such as the almighty OscarPR girl/Erika Bearman…) decided to publicly tweet, blog and Facebook away about her job antics..with you know the “usual” 9 to 5 agenda,  the casual name dropping of celebs, the oodles of international trips and champagne swilling parties, a career in Fashion PR has never before looked so (in the worlds of the immortal Coco Chanel) “classy and fabulous.”

The success of popular reality TV shows like “Project Runway,” “Kell on Earth” and “The City,” have also inspired many public relations students and recent graduates to break into the world of fashion PR.  But one must remember that all these lavish ladies such as Whitney Port, Olivia Palermo, Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington… they are at the peaks of their careers. And before you can even think of sipping some martini’s at a high end Monte Carlo fashion bash or hailing that yellow cab in New York City, you may have a long and laborious ladder to climb first.

So what does a PR do exactly? Since publicity is free, a fashion PR company or executive would be responsible for; building relationships with the press (they basically have to make friends with fashion editors, writers and journalists so that these people will write about/feature the product); organising and managing guestlists for promotional events; gifting (sending free product to key editors or celebrities in the hope that they’ll use or write about it); writing, distributing and following up on press releases and press packs; dealing with requests from the press and celebrity PRs; and reporting back to clients on the publicity they’re getting for the brands. PR Reps also help maintain the public image of the brand. They may help with marketing initiatives, or photo shoots, or just maintain the overall perception of the brands mission and image to the market.

So like any other sector in the media (such as journalism for instance) fashion PR is becoming more and more competitive because of how popular culture is depicting is as one of the most charismatic and glamorous jobs in the fashion industry. All the fashion aesthetic and pleasure without the hardcore and challenging sewing/design work. And of course it can be all these stylish things, but only in good time. One must be be prepared to start from the bottom and become acquainted the pains, pressures and hard work that will in due course put you on the winding road towards PR success. So, still fancy becoming the next Gucci PR Gal or Lavin PR Lady? Darlings, go get yourself a notebook and please be ready to take note…

Here are some essential pointers that could assist you onto conquering the yellow brick road of a Fashion PR career:

1. University degree: If you are lucky enough to live in the metropolis of London you may be able to just study for a college diploma in Fashion or for your A-Levels and brave the world of fashion by falling straight into internships. However most Fashion PR wannabe’s will consider doing an undergraduate degree first just as educational insurance in case this becomes a requirement later on. Regarding the academic discipline of your degree it be anything you wish. Still most successful employees in the PR industry usually have an undergraduate degree in the following areas: Journalism, PR, Media studies, English, Fashion, Marketing, History etc. If you don’t have a degree in these disciplines it may still be possible for you to pursue a career as a PR associate however you may need to do some independent research/work to put you up to scratch with the others. I suppose if  you want it enough you will be determined to prove your worth!

2. Work experience: This is a absolute must if you want to place a foot in the first rung of that PR career ladder. While employers aren’t so fussed on your degree discipline, nothing in the world beats hands on experience on the job. When you do your work experience however is entirely up to you. Many students who do a sandwich 4 year course at university will opt to do an industry placement as part of their course. Other students who follow through with more traditional degrees like English may have to do work experience alongside their studies and attempt to balance it out. The best advice is to gain some sort of work experience in the first or second year of your degree so you can concentrate getting the very best marks in your last year. And if you live outside of London where many of the placements and internships are, be prepared to plan ahead and email in advance to avoid nasty surprises of clashing dates and availability!

3. Finding work experience: Finding work experience has never been so easy in this day and age. Long gone are the days were we would have to write letters and deliver them by snail mail post, now we have the world wide web at out fingertips. Sit down with a brew and scour through job websites such as FashionMonitor.com and FashionJobs.com to keep up to date with the latest internship and work placements as and when they happen. And do not just limit yourself to search engine websites. The social media era has now become pervasive with everyone, in every country and with every age. Even your Grandma has probably got a Facebook account and is probably in more tagged pictures than you are. So instead of just using Facebook and Twitter for talking to your friends use it for tracking down companies and employers!

4. Twitter, the biggest social network of them all: Never before has Twitter been in demand so much. Many find it an unfamiliar social media to begin with but once they have sent a few dozen tweets and gained a few followers, it has never become so addictive. You find yourself hash-tagging everything in virtual sight. So if you find yourself on Twitter more times than you would like to admit, use that internet hovering to good use! Track down other who are in similar positions to you to ask for advice, tweet companies directly asking for work placements, follow important people in the industry who might be able to get you a job and reply to their tweets as friendly as you can, in order to show an interest…believe me in the end you will be rewarded for your research and friendliness!

Nonetheless even though Twitter may have its advantages, I’d advise also to be wary of what you voice on there. Unlike Facebook, Twitter has less privacy settings regarding your personal information so don’t write anything down on there you would not want a prospective employer to see.  But all in all, regarding PR placements and internships, Twitter is thee place where they are most regularly advertised. All day every day. You never know when Jonathan Saunders may need an assistant or if Henry Holland  requires a few dozen interns. You just have to be at the right virtual place at the right virtual time…

5. Blogging – As a PR student it might be an idea to show an interest in your area of work by writing a fashion blog. Fashion bloggers have really made their mark in recent years and because of their willingness to write fashion/beauty reviews, articles or whatever interests them they have ended up landing secure PR jobs and placements because of that blog. An employer for instance would gain a brilliant insight into your personality and a taster of how much you want a particular role or how you would fit into the philosophy of their company just through looking at your blog content. And never fear if it’s not as good as some of the other “big bloggers” blogs. Employers will be able to see through that facade of how many “followers” and “comments”  being tantamount to your “success.” It is sheer nonsense. Evidently if you have hundreds of followers then that by all means is fruitful. BUT they will appreciate content over the social factors of it. Blogging after all is not a popularity contest nor should it be enthused to be so.

6. Gaining work experience: Congratulations on getting a placement! But this is were the hard work begins. You must ensure you are punctual for your first day in order to set a good impression. Be friendly, appeasing, willing and approachable as the team you are working in will appreciate those qualities. As it’s fashion PR they won’t expect you to dress so corporal so feel free to dress to revel in your own normal attire. Nonetheless remember it is a fashion placement so be sure to adhere to particular style that will get you noticed for your creativity or wear certain trends you know to be in vogue to stress that you are indeed “style savvy.”

Sadly you may be making tea, photocopying, sitting at a desk, liasoning, answering the phone, on Excel etc on your first day but don’t feel disheartened by this. You must take it on the chin and continue to smile. What did you expect on your first day? That’d you be whisked away with a senior member of staff to eat danish pastry The Savoy or to go to an exhibition in Paris? Of course not. So remember to use your time to observe productively. See what other employees are doing. Ask them questions on how they got their role or to show you how to function particular software or operate different tasks. As a result you will be appear an interested and eager individual and more likely to be remembered for all the right reasons instead of sulking in the corner like a diva. This may be a job in the fashion industry but it gives you no right to appropriate “model behavior” akin to that of Naomi Campbell.

7. After the work experience: YAY you have survived your first tests of PR Fashion girl work. Now what? Well the experience should have taught you whether you feel that PR would be the right career for you or not. If it is and you imagine yourself in your mind as the next Olivia P then you should be focused on securing your next placement. However that does not mean you should disregard the first company that took you under their wing. If you had a really productive time, perhaps suggest an opportunity for working for the employer again in the next few months? Perhaps write down the names of the contacts you have made and ask whether you can keep in touch? Remember networking is crucial to the fashion industry and by regularly tweeting, writing emails and referring to a previous colleague who knows what that person could do for your potential career prospects? One day you could work with someone who knows Kate Moss, Lily Cole or the editor of a big fashion magazine. What I’m saying is that without networking, if you never ask, you will never know! I’d particularly stress making a LinkedIn account to, a social networking site designed for professionals. (www.linkedin.com)

These tips then are just the basis to springboard your career into the fashion PR industry. These points would probably be the most traditional of avenues but don’t feel you have to completely adhere to it. Most PR employees have diverse and wide ranging backgrounds of how their secured their jobs in the industry which makes it all the more interesting, attainable and reassuring to us who may be apprehensive or nervous about whether we can succeed! Still, it would not hurt to take this advice on board to know what you are up against. As a person you need to be (like with any other career in the fashion industry) determined, hard working, willing to work long and unconventional hours, fashion conscious and knowledgeable, adaptable, passionate, calm under pressure, have a range of interpersonal skills and most significantly of all, be confident. Fashion is a industry full of strong willed characters therefore it is essential that you raise your voice high and proud to have it heard. There are no quiet or mousy plain Jane’s in this field of work. Oh no. Only a parade of colourful and loud characters that bring personality and essence to a brand. Candidates of the highest style calibre if you please…

So the question is…could you then be the next OscarPR girl or a Lagerfeld lass? Oh Reality TV watch your back or indeed watch your production budget…because slowly but surely they’ll be a new influx of PR girls swarming into town…

 

 

Building the perfect email ‘pitchwich’

By: By Ashley Halberstad This Post Can Originally be found here
Like anything worth knowing, PR is all about the fundamentals. There are building blocks, key pieces of knowledge that make the difference between being a PR practitioner and being a PR professional.

One of those fundamentals is the pitch. We hear a lot about bad pitches, especially via sites like Bad Pitch Blog and Pro PR Tips that were inspired by the sheer volume of off-topic pitches received. But, what about the relevant, timely pitch topics that still go unanswered?

After you’ve accurately identified what you’re pitching and to whom, you still run the risk of sending a bad pitch. Truth is, the structure and approach of the pitch itself are often overlooked, and they can make or break your chances of a response from a media representative—regardless of how well targeted and relevant your message is.

Enter the “pitchwich.” Like a delicious and satisfying sandwich, the pitchwich feeds the media you’re reaching out to by providing them with the information they need in a clear concise way. Check out the ingredients:

Bread slice

Say hello, but keep it short and get straight to the point. Greet the recipient of your email in a friendly—but not overly personal—way, and let them know right away why you’re sharing this information. Often this can be either a “problem statement” or a reference to a recent article by the person you’re emailing. Here’s an example bread slice: 

Hi, Ashley—

Hope your week is going well! I saw your recent article on cats, and I completely agree with your thoughts on shedding. 

Mayo (or condiment of choice)

This is where you should mention how you or your client would tie in to the introduction. Are you the solution to the problem introduced? Does your client have a connection to a recent article? Check out the use of mayo:

Are you familiar with the ShedBed (www.FakeShedBed.com)? It’s a new way to keep pets from shedding all over the house by containing it in one spot—the pet bed.

Meat (or veggies)

After you’ve connected the dots, provide relevant details that the person must know about you or your client. Keep it brief, but include key details such as what specifically separates you from the competition. Link to images and product pages if more information can be found on the site, rather than spelling it all out in a lengthy email. Meat/veg in action:

ShedBed is a pet bed with a purpose. Using a new proprietary technology to gently massage and groom cats and dogs while they lie on the bed. Unlike manual brushing, all the stray fur is collected and contained by the ShedBed so you can easily throw it away. You can see it in action here: http://www.FakeShedBed.com/videodemo.

Bread slice

The pitchwich should never be an open-face sandwich. Conclude your message with a clear call to action. What do you want the media person to do with this information? Offer an interview, product sample, additional information, or images, but be sure you’re asking them to take action. The capper to the perfect pitchwich:

I think this would be a great solution for Mr. Boots’ shedding issue. Are you interested in learning more or in receiving a review unit to try for yourself?

I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks!

[RELATED: Register for our PR Writers Summit by Aug. 1 to get an early-bird discount.]

The pitchwich is only a guide. Everyone is different, and it’s important to be familiar with who you’re pitching, personalizing your messages to him or her as much as you possibly can. PR is about building relationships, and the way you communicate with media will change as you develop those relationships.

In the meantime, the pitchwich can help keep your messaging simple and effective.

Ashley Halberstadt is the director of digital media relations for digitalrelevance, an online marketing agency in Indianapolis. A version of this story originally appeared on the agency’s blog

Lies Samantha Jones Told Me

This post can originally be found here

I have a bone to pick with Samantha Jones of Samantha Jones PR.

If we’re to believe this conniving liar [which, sadly, a lot of wide-eyed young publicists and publicists-to-be do], publicists are nothing more than glorified socialites, flitting from red carpet appearances to restaurant openings to the front row of New York Fashion Week.

This is why Samantha Jones is a liar:

Publicists do not get to have this much fun.

Samantha Jones Miley Cyrus

Public relations executives function almost entirely behind the scenes. If you think you’ll get to actually enjoy events you put together, you’ve got another thing coming. A publicist will be found in the background of a photo of an event, likely frantically trying to network with all the key media attendees in the room or scowling at a waiter for not being attentive enough to guests. Remember that time Samantha left her own restaurant opening event before it was over? Yeah. Not so much.

What the hell is with her schedule?

Film title: Sex and the City: The Movie

This is an overall problem with the Sex & the City story lines, but you will not find a publicist who has as much free time as Samantha. Lunch is eaten at your desk. Sometimes dinner, too. Sometimes on weekends.

About all that money…

Samantha Jones Money

Seriously, WHERE does this bitch get all her cash? Granted, an owner of a successful PR firm can make a lot of dough, she apparently has no employees, intermittent [and not that well-known] clients and doesn’t work realistic PR hours. Not exactly the recipe for her success.

This office [overlooking Times Square]:

Samantha Jones Office 1Nope. Just nope.

But, whatever. Work hard, play hard. You can pretend you’re this fabulous.

Samantha Jones gif

The best—and worst—times to post to social media

By Kristin Piombino- This post can be found here

t’s the million-dollar question for social media managers everywhere: What is the best time to post to social media?

 

While the optimal time to update your Facebook page or Pinterest boards may vary depending on your audience, Social Caffeine created an infographic that lists, in general, the best and worst times to post to the major social networks.

[RELATED: Master the can’t-ignore social media tools after Mark Ragan’s one day social media boot camp.]

Here’s a look at three of them:

Facebook: Traffic is highest between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET.

Best time: Between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET

Worst time: 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. ET

Pinterest: Saturday morning is the best time to post.

Best time: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET or 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET

Worst time: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET

LinkedIn: Post before or after business hours.

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Kristin Piombino is an editorial assistant for Ragan.com.

Should PR pros get accredited?

By Matt Wilson| This post can be found here

 

Of the Public Relations Society of America’s 21,000-plus members, only about 3,800, or 18 percent, hold the organization’s Accredited in Public Relations (APR) certification. The number of professionals seeking the accreditation is on the decline, too, according to PRWeek.

That’s likely why the PRSA is re-examining the APR. In a Monday night email to members, Mickey G. Nall, chairman and CEO of PRSA for 2013, announced plans to work with a consulting firm and the Universal Accreditation Board to “enhance the profile and prestige of the APR credential” for the 50th anniversary of the credential next year.

“Rest assured, abandoning accreditation is not an option that PRSA is considering,” he added.

Yet plenty of PR pros have clearly decided accreditation isn’t something they need. To find out why—and whether they’re mistaken in that assumption—PR Daily talked to a handful of accredited and non-accredited PR professionals.

The reasons why 

Brian Lee, president of Revelation PR, Advertising and Social Media, says he got his APR credential in 2011 for a very simple reason: It “helps distinguish the contenders from the pretenders, to put it bluntly.”

“You can only earn the designation after you have proven mastery of areas such as research, ethics, media relations, crisis communications, and management,” he says.

Bad apples, such as the PR firm that helped Facebook plant negative news about Google back in 2011, can give the PR field a bad name, Lee adds. Accreditation can help separate those bad apples from the bunch.

“I’m hopeful that no APR-trained practitioner would ever agree to do something that unscrupulous, and that’s reason alone for the need for more accredited PR professionals,” he says.

Crystal Smith, director of integrated media for public relations at Strategic Communications and president of the Central New York chapter of PRSA, says it’s tough to explain to people outside the PR industry what PR professionals actually do.

“I relate the APR to a CPA for accountants,” she says. “You don’t need a CPA to do business as an accountant. But if a business or consumer has a choice, they’ll pick the CPA—especially for their more serious and significant accounting needs.”

Philip Chang, partner at the PR firm Carbon, says firms benefit from managers having APR credentials, as a shorthand way to prove the company means business and cares about PR and its history.

The reasons why not 

Chang says he can see the other side of the coin, though. To the untrained eye, one certification—APR—isn’t all that different from any other, such as the Business Marketing Association’s Certified Business Communicator credential.

“Where there are competing organizations, there are competing credentials and consequently, it diminishes the value of the credential,” he says.

Jenni Gritti of branding firm Wyatt Brand says she had every intention of gaining accreditation after graduating from college in 2009, but it’s become less and less important to her over time.

“APR at the end of my name doesn’t make anyone open my emails any faster, get back to me any quicker, or approach me with ideas and business any sooner,” she says. “My hard work makes a name for itself, and I personally don’t need the three letters at the end of my name to prove it.”

[RELATED: Hear how top companies adapted to the digital PR industry changes at this August event.

Josh Cline, president and CEO of The Cline Group, seems to confirm Gritti’s suspicions.

“I find no need for anyone to be accredited,” he says. “Anyone can pass a test, but work experience, accomplishments and understanding how PR is only a subset of marketing and marketing needs to map to business objectives.”

Is it worth it? 

PRSA hasn’t explicitly tied APR to higher earnings for professionals, though the organization has done surveys that found the accreditation has been beneficial to those that have earned it. Most, 91 percent, view their APR as a source of pride, and large majorities have used theirs to develop professional skills (78 percent) and resolve ethical dilemmas (58 percent).

Even so, Bob Birge, director of marketing at Blue Pillar, says accreditation seems to have simply gotten buried under other priorities in the past decade or so.

“Those in hiring positions often are looking for the best people available, with the right background and at the right price,” he says. “Whether or not APR appears after their name is somewhat irrelevant.”

Smith, who earned her APR as soon as she was eligible—which is after one gains five years of experience—says the roadblock she sees most PR pros encounter is the cost involved in becoming accredited. An application fee, an online course fee, and the cost of textbooks are all part of the deal.

For that reason, she’s starting a scholarship program for professionals in Central New York.

What do you think, PR pros? Is there significant value in having APR after your name?

Matt Wilson is a staff writer for Ragan.com.

20 pieces of advice every young professional should follow

After 30 years in the working world, a onetime ‘big-haired career rookie’ offers tips and tactics for surviving and succeeding in the workplace.

By Reba Hull Campbell This post can be found here

May 23 marked the 30th anniversary of my first day in the working world.  Photo  credited to PRSSA 2012-2013 National Committee

That day in 1983, I started my job as a receptionist on Capitol Hill after a local congressman hired me, sight unseen, over the phone three weeks earlier. I had a head full of big permed hair, big expectations, and little idea of what I was supposed to do as an employed and responsible adult.

Looking back, I didn’t have specific career goals in mind at that point, but I did know what I was good at and the type of work I wanted to pursue. Here, 30 years later, I’ve been fortunate to have a rewarding career that gave me 10 great years on Capitol Hill and took me back to my home state of South Carolina for jobs that combined my love of writing, communications, and politics with my curiosity about people and places.

In 1983, I never dreamed my work would give me the chance to travel with a congressional delegation to Taiwan; raise money for causes I believe in; lobby the legislature and Congress for millions of dollars; ride in a fire truck; bike the Golden Gate Bridge; get published in national magazines; pick tobacco; work with great South Carolina mayors; have my picture taken with famous people like Tip O’Neill and Mister Rogers; visit 38 states; work on national, state, and local campaigns; stand at the podium in the White House press room; or be in the State House dome the day the Confederate flag came down.

I’ve figured out a few things along the way that I wish someone had told that 22-year-old with big hair walking into her first day on the job. Maybe the thoughts below will help others just starting out. I write this with huge thanks to all the bosses, mentors, friends, family, and colleagues I have had the privilege to work with and learn from over these 30 years.

1. Establish your personal brand. Decide what you want your reputation in the workplace to be, and let your actions define you. Keep promises, and make deadlines. Under-promise and over-deliver. Avoid behavior in your personal life that could hurt your professional life (even more true today with all the risks of social media in the mix). Remember that details count, especially when getting the details right sets you apart from others. 

2. Seek out a mentor. I’m guessing many busy professionals may say, “I don’t have time to be a mentor,” but most mentor relationships happen naturally rather than being established formally. Be on the lookout for them. I bet my best mentors probably don’t know they even served in that role.

3. Keep up with the news every day. Read the paper, check news websites and blogs, listen to NPR on the way to work. Know what’s in the news about your organization or industry before your boss or client asks.

4. Get away from your desk, and walk outside. Even if it’s just to walk around the block or grab a sandwich, at some point during the day your brain needs natural light and a whiff of fresh air, and your body needs to stretch.

5. Plan the work before you work the plan. Having no plan gets you nowhere. Plans will change either by force or circumstance. Be flexible, but have a plan regardless of whether it’s a work project, a trip, a major purchase, or an important life decision.

6. Don’t pass up a chance to learn. Find out what your boss or leaders in your profession are reading (books, professional publications, websites, etc). Seek out professional development opportunities; pay for them yourself, if necessary. Join professional organizations, and get involved.

7. Go to your boss with a solution, not a problem. Your boss is solving problems all day. Make her life easier by presenting a solution when you present a problem. Even if it’s not the solution that ultimately solves the problem, it keeps your boss from dreading the sight of you at the door.

8.Write thank-you and follow-up notes (handwritten, not emailed). Collect cards from people you meet at events, in meetings, or just out and about. A handwritten “nice to meet you” note will set you apart and help the people you meet remember you. Technology is good, but the personal touch still matters.

9. Travel any chance you get. Travel to small towns and big cities across the country and around the world. Don’t put off travel. You’ll never tell your grandchildren about that great trip you didn’t take because you were too busy at work.

10. Be interested and inquisitive. Ask good questions, and ask them often. Young professionals have a great deal to offer a work environment. Speak up when you have something to offer, but remember to balance your enthusiasm with senior-level colleagues’ experience.

11. Remember that everyone carries their own sack of rocks. You never know what type of personal issues the co-worker who missed a deadline is dealing with at home or with his family.

12. Create your own personal style. That doesn’t mean wearing flip-flops in a formal corporate environment. However, you can set yourself apart from the pack with a twist on the ordinary. To each his own, but just find your own.

13. Stay in the loop, but avoid the gossip. Be a “boundary spanner”—someone who is respected and trusted by people in all parts and at all levels of the organization.

14. Look for “reverse mentoring” opportunities. You can be a resource to your older colleagues. Seasoned professionals can learn a great deal from their younger peers.

15. Looking busy doesn’t equal being productive. The co-worker who crows about his heavy workload and long hours is probably much less productive than the one who is organized and prioritizes his days.

16. A good editor will make you shine. Don’t look at having your writing edited as you would look at a teacher correcting a paper. Editing is a collaborative process, and there’s always room for improvement in your writing.

17. Don’t come to work sick. No one appreciates the stuffy-nosed martyr. That’s why you’re afforded sick days.

18. Cultivate contacts outside work.
 Your next job will probably come from someone you know through church, nonprofits, alumni groups, friends, and professional organizations.

19. Take risks. It’s OK to mess up occasionally. No one can expect perfection. You can often learn more from mistakes than successes. Yes, really, you can.

20. Strive for work/life balance. The “balance” will probably fluctuate daily, but creative outlets, exercise, and hobbies make you a more valuable (and saner) employee.

Reba Hull Campbell promotes the interests of South Carolina cities and towns as deputy executive director of the Municipal Association of South Carolina. She can be reached a rebahcampbell@gmail.com.

Photo  credited to PRSSA 2012-2013 National Committee.