Photos from Media Day 2017. All images copyright Mark Bowen. http://markbowenmedia.com/photography/
By Shara Clark, APR
Remember going to your bookshelf at home as a child and finding your favorite story? Maybe it was a book that allowed you to immerse yourself in a magical world where you could be anything you wanted to be. Maybe it was a story that made you laugh. One that made you cry? One that gripped you with so much excitement that you couldn’t put it down, and you’d hide under your covers with a flashlight?
What about kids who don’t have that opportunity? Some children in our region have never had a book of their own. With 400,000 people in the Greater Cincinnati facing challenges with literacy, there are lots of empty bookshelves and kids with no bedtime stories.
Instilling a love of reading and books in young children can make a significant difference, and you can help! This October Cincinnati PRSA is hosting a book drive to get books in the hands of at-risk kids. We’ll be collecting new and gently-used children’s books that will go to Adopt a Book, a local charity that distributes books to kids in need.
How can you help?
1. Bring books to Media Day on October 17. You’ll get a raffle entry for each book you bring!
2. Can’t attend Media Day but want an excuse to clean out your kids’ bookshelf or stroll through your favorite local bookstore? Host a book drive at your office! If you collect at least 20 books, contact Shara Clark, our community services director, and we’ll find a time to come pick them up!
3. How about a little friendly competition? Do you think your agency or communication team has the biggest love of reading? For the team that collects the most books, you’ll get breakfast, bragging rights and a blog post! (You can bring them to Media Day or contact Shara for a pickup!)
Let’s #StuffTheShelf for local kids!
By: Carrie Phillippi, APR
When you enter a career in public relations, you pretty much resign yourself to being in the background. A behind-the-scenes player making your clients/bosses look prepared, professional and fabulous. It’s not about you. It shouldn’t be about you. It’s about the message/client/product/service.
But occasionally we find ourselves in the spotlight. Winning PRSA’s Werner Vonderhaar Bogart Award (WVB) was my moment and represented a high point of my career. To be honored in front of my husband, parents, peers and colleagues was indeed my Oscar/I’d like to thank the Academy moment.
As I said in my acceptance speech, When I think of the keys to my career, I think about how I take true enjoyment from my work. I love, love, love public relations. Second, is the relationships I’ve built along the way.
The WVB celebrates a career professional who has been dedicated to the Chapter, PRSA and the public relations profession. Candidates not only have a list of committees, events, volunteer activities to their name, but they likely have an extensive network and solid working relationships. The ideal candidate will also love, love, love public relations!
As much as I hate to relinquish my reign, it is an honor (and a nice piece of crystal) that I’ll maintain forever. Now it’s time to let someone else thank the Academy. I’ve assembled a small committee to review WVB nominations for the 2017 winner, to be honored at the Blacksmith Awards.
Who do you know that deserves the Chapter’s recognition? Which member has mentored and helped shape your career? Who has served the Chapter, the profession and PRSA tirelessly? We want to hear about these people!
The WVB nomination window is officially open. Please complete this nomination form by Friday, September 22, 2017 at 11:59 p.m.
So now I’d like to thank the Academy…for any and all nominations!
Although PR professionals work in a female dominated field, many also work in male dominated industries or for predominately male C-suites. According to Jennifer Risi of Ogilvy Public Relations, "Depending on who you ask, women hold anywhere from 61% to 85% of all PR jobs, and 59% of all PR managers are female. And yet, according to the 2014 World PR Report, only 30% of all global PR agencies are run by women." (http://bit.ly/2wQeMPo)
"Add to this ongoing discussions around work-life balance, a persistent gender pay gap, and contradictory advice to 'lean in' but not be too aggressive, and it is clear that being a woman in PR is far from simple."
To address both the complexities of being a woman in PR, Cincinnati PRSA recently convened a panel of local pros for a luncheon discussion. Over 30 local professionals gathered for a discussion led by the following panelists:
Linda Dektas, Creative Storm
Brandy Jones, Metro
Jackie Reau, Game Day Communications
Amy Vaughan, Possible and Women in Digital
Amy Vaughan gave attendees the advice to talk in terms of “we” and to intentionally grow allies, champions and networks. For her, being a team player and being collaborative are essential stepping stones to professional success.
Recently named to the Cincinnati Business Courier’s 2017 Top Forty under 40 class, Metro’s Brandy Jones encouraged participants to have both a mentor and a sponsor. While a mentor may coach and develop your professional skillset, a sponsor will vouch for you and speak up for you.
Referencing her career in (male dominated) sports communications, Jackie Reau advised: “In a booked field, create a niche.”
Brandy Jones advised attendees: “Don’t apologize. Be assertive. Speak up!” On the tails of this advice, Amy Vaughan admitted that not everyone feels confident speaking up. Her advice was to create an environment of support, to watch out for unconscious bias, and to leverage HR training.
On the difficult question of creating work-life balance, Amy Vaughan quipped, “I’m not seeking balance. I’m seeking sanity.” She went on to advise each woman to define what her own “all” in the “having it all” equation might be. She also encouraged women to “embrace the crazy” and not allow themselves to feel guilty as they balance work and life. Linda Dektas added: “You do the best you can in each part of your life. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Women always go the extra mile.” She went on to describe how she does her best, but has learned to set up boundaries both at work and at home. Amy Vaughan agreed with the power of saying no, and of asking for help. Brandy Jones advised women to schedule time for themselves, if necessary. “And,” she added, “when you are home, be home!”
Reflecting on getting her agency certified by WBENC as a women’s business enterprise, Linda Dektas said that the certification process was daunting, but valuable. She emphasized, however, that thriving as an agency is more about delivering excellent work than about being a certified diversity supplier.
Discussing stereotypical gender differences in communication, Jackie Reau admitted that valuing one’s own work is challenging. She recommended PR professionals be bold in asking for a sale and be clear in asking for budget numbers. Amy Vaughan added: “No one is going to give it to you. You have to ask for it.” She also advised women to avoid false modesty, instead taking credit for their work.
Talking about the lack of women in leadership roles across the industry, the panelists agreed that Cincinnati is ahead of the curve. Where there are fewer women in top roles, however, a sense of competition can emerge. Amy Vaughan noted that the more women populate leadership roles, the less exclusivity and (negative) competitiveness there will be. For those who work in less than supportive environments, her advice was clear: “Rise above it. You don’t have to emulate the leadership above you.”
Thanks for all our participants and panelists for a great discussion!
The programming didn't stop for PRSA this summer. See images from recent events below!
In the long-since past age where business cards were stored in well-worn Rolodexes by the dozens, a first impression usually meant a face-to-face meeting accompanied by a firm handshake and an exchange of pleasantries and introductions. Today, with social media, Google, and an internet that never truly forgets a first impression is formed long before the handshake.
In PR, we know the importance of first impressions. Headshots—the ubiquitous portraits that accompany bylined articles, headline LinkedIn profiles and accompany bio pages—are an important part of establishing great impressions. That’s why when we hosted a happy hour in July with Cincinnati PRSA, we wanted to help our fellow PR pros out with new headshots to help them make great impressions and keep their face fresh on the minds of clients and colleagues. If you were at the happy hour you can download your headshots here.
For those that couldn’t make it, we wanted to provide a few tips and tricks we’ve heard from photographers over the year. Whether you use these for yourself or for your clients, we hope they help you get the best photo for the best impressions. Here are five tips.
Relax, Relax, Relax
Janine Spang, a local photographer (who provided the headshots at our happy hour), encourages her clients to relax. “Body language is everything,” she says. “If you are nervous or self-conscious, it will show.” According to Janine, it can help to practice your smile in the mirror at home so you know what look you want to portray as well as telling yourself to enjoy the process, even if it’s something you absolutely don’t want to do.
Use a Photographer that Makes You Comfortable
The photographer you use plays a huge role in the quality of your headshot. If you are uncomfortable, chances are that will reflect in the pictures. The face has 43 muscles that are largely controlled without you realizing it so it’s important that you feel at ease throughout the process.
Most headshots don’t take long—often five minutes or less—but it’s still enough time for a bad photographer to sour your mood. Talk to your photographer before making an appointment to get a feel for their personality. The best photographers understand that customer service skills are as important as good lighting.
Be Creative, Yet Appropriate for Your Audience
Headshots are an opportunity to reflect your personality (and personal brand), but you also should remember those that will be looking at the pictures and forming opinions that will shape your relationships. Wearing funky glasses and a loud tie, while holding a puppy and jumping on a trampoline might communicate that you’re a fun person—but it might also make an executive at a large organization decide that you aren’t professional or serious enough to work with their organization.
It’s a balancing act and the amount of leeway you have depends on the industry. If you work in the financial sector the expectation of dress and demeanor is a lot stricter than if you’re working for a zoo. To keep up with different audiences, you could choose to have different headshots for different situations.
Hydrate and Sleep Well
Like it or not, first impressions are often based on looks and even the nicest among us will unconsciously form opinions based on how you look. Because of this, it’s a good idea to look your best for professional photos. This by no means is an instruction to resort to drastic measures to change your appearance, but simple things can make you look your best.
The skin on our face doesn’t lie, and if you’re dehydrated or exhausted, it can show, no matter how big you smile. A photographer once counseled me to drink an extra glass of water (or two) and try to get as much sleep as possible on the night before the photoshoot. Fine lines and pores in your face enlarge if your body isn’t adequately hydrated, and lack of sleep will darken circles under your eyes. Thankfully, there’s always the magic of Photoshop.
Your photographer is there to help you get photos you’ll love. It’s important that you outline your expectations to your photographer in an honest way. Discuss background and scenery choices and make sure you decide on something you truly love. During the shoot, speak up if you don’t understand a direction the photographer gives you or if a certain pose is uncomfortable.
… and repeat
Even if you follow every tip above and get a photo you absolutely love, don’t take that headshot and engrave it in stone. No matter how great your picture is (or how much you dislike being in front of a camera), you really should repeat the process every few years. As we age and change careers, it’s important to keep headshots up-to-date. The effort to represent yourself well and make great impressions never truly ends.
Ed Bernays. The name is synonymous with the birth of public relations. His work moved the profession from press agentry to a practice supported by science (science that came from the pioneering psychology research done by none other than Sigmund Freud, Bernays’ uncle). Digital communications and social media have changed the landscape of PR, and we wondered what Bernays would think about this new world. To get some insights, we spoke with Larry Tye, author of The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations, to get his thoughts.
What drew you to write about Bernays?
I was a journalist for 20 years for various newspapers, and, like many journalists, was dependent on and frustrated by PR professionals. I wanted to explore the profession, and couldn't imagine a better way to do this than to look at the father of PR, a man who thankfully left every piece of paper he generated -- 1,000 boxes of them -- to the Library of Congress.
What did you learn?
I learned what I suspected all along. When done right, PR has the potential to save the world by educating and enlightening the public. In the wrong hands, however, it can be a force of misinformation and misdirection.
Did Bernays’ career reflect this dichotomy?
Yes, he represented the very best and very worst of what PR can do. Consider his work for American Tobacco Company in the early 1900s, when roughly half of the U.S. population -- the male half -- were smokers. He helped convince women that cigarettes were a way to smash gender stereotypes, in this case the taboo that it was “unladylike” to smoke. He did this by staging a march of debutantes down 5th Avenue on Easter Sunday, lighting up what Bernays dubbed their “torches of freedom.” The ladies had no idea that Bernays and American Tobacco were behind the march, which received coverage in newspapers across the country and helped hook a generation of women on deadly cigarettes.
Bernays later said he wouldn’t have advocated smoking if he knew about the dangers, but the papers he left behind show he had known -- and his daughters confirm that, at home, he told them to flush their mother's cigarettes down the toilet.
But if that was an example of PR at its worst, half a century later Bernays showed us how comparable methods could be deployed on the side of the angels. His work for the American Lung Association helped convince American women (and men) that smoking was a deadly habit.
Other beneficiaries of his brilliant blend of PR as art and science included Procter and Gamble (his national soap-sculpting competition helped make Ivory the all-American soap), America's book publishers (he convinced builders to build in bookshelves in every home), and the Multiple Sclerosis Society (he shorted that hard-to-say disease to the easy-to-remember MS).
What would Bernays think about the new tools digital media give PR pros?
He would have loved them. He understood the potential of new technology -- and the nostalgia associated with old. He was an early adopter of everything from teletypes to faxes during his 103-year lifetime. He also was brilliant enough to know when not to rely on technology, sending telegrams when he knew that outmoded mode would stand out. Today, he'd likely pen a hand-written note to ensure it would stand out in an era of overflowing emails and texts.
And, what would he think about our current era of “fake news?”
He would have been dismayed by the way an inept White House is transforming what should be one-day stories into ones that last three or longer.
What can today’s PR pro learn from Bernays?
Done right, Eddie believed, PR starts with the science of psychology -- of understanding why people behave the way they do, as first clarified by Bernays' uncle, Sigmund Freud. Once that's known, he believed in using artistry -- think "Torches of Freedom" march -- to remake those behaviors into ones that benefit your clients. That simple creative approach -- making public relations fun as well as sophisticated -- resonates today at least as much as it did in Bernays' era.
There can be no doubt the November 2016 election changed a lot of things within a variety of fields. From political to business to community relations, the PR industry is finding itself in a rapidly changing environment. In the midst of all the drama and sound bites, community relations (CR) is increasingly important. Political and ideological views aside, let’s step into a community that has been pushed to center stage, even now, by political tensions, and has used these moments to increase awareness.
February 4, 2017: Following on the heels of the divisive 2017 election, of course, was the signing of an executive order restricting travel on persons from select Muslim majority nations. Here in Cincinnati, these events had a palpable impact on the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati.
The Islamic Center holds monthly Know Your Neighbor open house events, opening its doors for anyone to come visit, learn, and share experiences. One of the goals of the open house event are to increase awareness and understanding. The Center asks for RSVPs to plan and organize logistics for the monthly event, which usually averages between 80 to 100 attendees. One day before the February 4 open house, undoubtedly due to elevated political tensions, open house RSVPs shot up to 550, with even more people coming the day of the event.
Shakila Ahmad, president of the board of the Islamic Center, stated she was “surprised, but not surprised” about the turnout. “I think there was a lot of concern and empathy realizing that stereotypes and false information about Muslims has quite often been determining mass public opinion.” (Journal-News, Feb. 6, 2017)
Having attended this event, I can attest to the positive energy at the event. For me, seeing so many people there made it feel like a holiday celebration.
Outreach, outreach, outreach
There is no doubt there are complex challenges facing the Islamic Center and other organizations such as the Clifton Mosque or the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The need to challenge hate, stereotypes, and divisive political rhetoric and actions has increased in recent months. However, these groups are also working hard, often with limited resources and talent, to implement ongoing outreach programs. Many of these programs are collaborations with other organizations and institutions (churches, synagogues, temples, educational institutions, businesses, etc.) to increase awareness, understanding, and goodwill across our community.
Partnerships and communications between groups such as Interfaith Cincy and Franciscans Network, help in the outreach and community relations efforts. CAIR’s Cincinnati Chapter partnerships to hold interfaith dialogue series over a 4-week period, or The Islamic Center’s co-hosting event with Unity Production Foundation (UPF) and the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue at Xavier University for the Cincinnati film screening of The Sultan and The Saint, are just a couple of many events helping to build community relations, all with similar goals of promoting understanding, increasing awareness, and educating to challenge negative images and stereotypes.
With ongoing political rhetoric and actions bringing the American-Muslim community into an unprecedented spotlight, there are also ongoing opportunities for more outreach and educational efforts to build a more understanding, and stronger community. If there was a time for the power of community relations to come front and center, it is now.
Millennials are often characterized as lazy, self-entitled and disrespectful of authority. We’re often seen as the “me” generation, but does that necessarily make us bad employees? I would argue that millennials are not less motivated to work than past generations. We just like to work in different ways, and this difference often leads to negative stereotypes. Gone are the days when sitting in an office full of cubicles, with a traditional hierarchy of managers, is seen as the norm. Here are three things to keep in mind when working with millennials.
1: Create a strong company culture.
Millennials are attracted to companies where employees are excited to be there. Surroundings with creative, like-minded people in an environment that encourages free discussion and sharing of ideas appeals to millennials more than the traditional office setting.
One way that I get a feel for a company’s culture is by looking at their social media and recruitment videos. When I see pictures and videos of employees dressed in business-casual, with open workspaces and doing other activities together (other than work) I am automatically more interested in the company. When you’re excited to go to work, you’ll often perform better.
2: Create a work-social life balance.
As a whole, millennials are less driven by money than previous generations. We are less worried about getting a job that will make the most money, and more focused on finding a career that we genuinely enjoy. As a result, we are less willing to spend all of our time at work or thinking about work. The ability to fully “clock-out” at the end of the day and enjoy life outside of work is an important part of finding, and staying, with a company.
3: Timely feedback matters.
Millennials are used to getting answers in seconds, with just a few clicks on the computer or a smartphone. One way to keep millennials motivated to work is to provide feedback and comments at a relatively fast pace. This keeps us constantly challenged and motivated to work hard. In addition, it lets us know that our work is acknowledged and recognized.
About the author: Marissa Alsip graduated from Miami University in May 2017 with a degree in strategic communications.
As millennials graduate from college and join the workforce, it is important to get to know the generation. A millennial was born between 1980 to 2000, grew up in an ever-expanding online and socially-networked world, and is often pinned as entitled. Falling into the category of a millennial and recent college graduate, I have insider insight for PR professionals about working with our generation.
1. Ditch the Stereotypes
First, ditch the stereotypes. Millennials are often lumped into a bucket of negative traits like laziness and entitlement. There are differences between every generation, and it is important to be open-minded. A key part of a successful work environment is acceptance. Without it, disconnect forms. Once people see beyond these stereotypes, a company will be able to better communicate and become more successful.
2. Embrace Change
For millennials, the increase in technological importance shifted many aspects of our lives, especially the way people interact and learn. Millennials can multitask like no other generation. Embracing this change involves learning new best practices for how this generation best communicates and works. For instance, realizing that just because someone is on their phone or device doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention. Many millennials take notes on their phones and portable devices. In addition, millennials thrive working in groups, as this was a common practice during their education.
3. Offer Mentorship
Millennials want to learn and succeed. Implementing a mentorship program in your company would not only foster stereotype reduction and acceptance of change, but would also create a more meaningful work atmosphere. Millennials want more from their professional atmospheres.
About the author: Annie Aldrich graduated from Miami University in May 2017 with a degree in strategic communications.
Drew BoehmkerRead More
Print is dead? Far from it; it’s not even dying, print is growing and a critical component to a successful marketing campaign. Print is the sensory, tactile complement to the, popular, digital-message world—and in some cases, acting as the driving force behind a digital experience through the use of personalized URLs, AKA - "purls." And when used correctly, the print component can even be the shining star in the marketing matrix. So let’s talk about how to bring your campaign to the next level.
How many ideas and solutions to your most complex marketing problems can be generated from ink and paper? You’d be surprised! As you’re assessing your next print campaign, remember to give your print partner the same level of background and preparation you would give your design team, your copywriter, your client. The right print partner should ask most – if not all – of the following questions:
· Who is the audience?
· What information/data might be available on this audience?
· What are the goals of this campaign?
· Is there a call to action?
· How can this message be transformed from ink and paper to a practical and effective marketing tool?
These are the questions that can lead to elevated ideas and solutions beyond the, “would you like to buy some printing” broken record.
What other qualities should you look for in a printer? Memorizing colors and brand guidelines should be a given. A next-level partnership will include knowing the target audience, and the ability to comprehend how to trigger a response.
Have you considered consulting with your printer before even developing your creative concept? Try it! When your print partner understands the marketing goals and is empowered to co-develop ideas or solutions to meet and exceed your goals, great things can happen. Print is marketing, and a great printer will be marketing focused and results driven.
One message, personalized for everyone on your mailing list. Three dimensional ink that creates tactile sensory overload. A solution that allows more data to be collected on a target in a single month versus an entire year. When you share all the info with your creative partners, you’ll have more time to market than manage. And that leads to better ROI, efficiency and peace of mind.
Print is far from dead, but rather reborn, and this is the revolution. Hopefully, I’ve given you a bit more to think about from this side of the ink cartridge. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And stay tuned for more of my best tips for printing success; a future blog post will dive into the importance of target data: collecting it, managing it and putting it to use.
-Drew Smith, Arnold Printing
Special thanks to Arnold Printing, which supplied the beautiful programs you enjoyed at the 2016 Blacksmith Awards.
By Shara Clark, APR
Did you know what PR was in high school? I personally had no idea of the opportunities available in the field until I was well into my college years.
With our PRSA Goes to School program, we are trying to interest the next generation of diverse individuals to enter our field. On Friday, April 21, the Miami University PRSSA will be hosting a group of students from Shroder High School to learn more about the opportunities in the field of public relations. These are students who have shown an interest in writing and are considering how they might use those skills for a future career. We'll be working with students in small groups to complete examples of PR activities as well as introducing them to the college experience.
How you can help: The Miami PRSSA chapter will be planning the activities, so all we need is some willing professionals to spend a few hours helping the groups brainstorm and create. Time commitment would be Friday, April 21, from 9-noon (option to stay for lunch and a campus tour if you're available). Please send me an email at email@example.com if you're interested in participating!
By Chris Holtman, Cincinnati PRSA President
January was here and gone in the blink of an eye – in no small part due to the excitement and prep for another productive year with Cincinnati PRSA.
Here are a few updates on some of the exciting things we’re focused on in 2017:
Strengthen ties between our local PRSSA chapters and Cincinnati PRSA
Cincinnati PRSA is lucky enough to have four PRSSA organizations in our service area. These schools – UC, Xavier, NKU and Miami University – are chock-full of talented, diverse, intelligent, driven, and passionate soon-to-be professionals, and we’d be fortunate to have them as part of our organization. We’re working towards building our visibility and strengthening the relationships we have with these local chapters in order to get students more involved and engaged with PRSA. As we all know, the public relations industry is constantly changing, and the game-changing ideas these students can bring to our trade is exciting. This is a mutually beneficial relationship that will pay dividends into the future.
Revamp our Blacksmith Awards categories, criteria and submission process
The Blacksmith Awards has served as the Super Bowl for Cincinnati-area public relations professionals for years. And since its inception, hundreds of awards have been given out to recognize our colleague’s outstanding work. This year we’re going to take a look at our award categories, criteria and submission process to assess any changes that need to be made to our annual event. Is a particular category still needed? How does our reciprocal judging chapter evaluate each entry? Can we update our submission process? These are questions our task force is going to ask to build upon this already fantastic event for Cincinnati PRSA and our local professionals.
Cincinnati PRSA Committee Growth
Want to get the most out of your PRSA membership? Is there a skill that you’d like to work on outside of your 9 to 5? Joining one of PRSA’s various committees is a great way to do just that. I wanted insight into event planning, so I joined the Programming committee to help plan, execute and evaluate monthly events. I know of others who sought to brush up on their blog writing skills, so they joined the Content committee. Our committees are truly the heart and soul of Cincinnati PRSA, and getting our members plugged in to areas that will be most impactful for them is a win-win. Committee work is also a fantastic opportunity to network with other professionals – another reason why so many people join PRSA.
Our energetic leadership team and volunteers are already well on their way to helping us achieve these goals, as well as those of each of our various committees.
To say that I’m excited about what our year has in store would be an understatement. We’ve hit our stride and I hope you’ll join us along the way.
By Kathleen Williams, APR
At our last event of the year, the Presidents Award luncheon, Thane Maynard, Director of the Cincinnati Zoo, was presented the 2016 Presidents Award.
This prestigious award is the highest honor PRSA Cincinnati can bestow on a non-public relations professional. It honors a Cincinnatian who doesn’t work in the public relations profession, but who uses PR essentials like strategy, storytelling and brand building to bring positive awareness and build the positive reputation of the City of Cincinnati. It is called the Presidents Award because it is decided upon by past presidents of PRSA.
Thane Maynard is indeed a worthy recipient. He is one of the most respected zoo leaders in the country, but the past year truly let his ambassadorial light shine. As the chief spokesman of the zoo during a protracted crisis, he was called upon again and again to represent the zoo in the sometimes unforgiving glare of the public spotlight. He did that with clarity and empathy for all those involved, from the family to the zoo team to the public itself.
“The committee showed overwhelming support for this decision based not only on his grace and artful communication as the spokesperson for the zoo this year in the midst of the tragedy that struck. But, also because he has been a positive ambassador for the Cincinnati community and our world-class zoo. His personal initiative and exemplary use of honest and authentic communication have been remarkable during his tenure at the zoo both on a local and national level,” said Shara Clark, APR, Immediate Past President of PRSA.
Congratulations, Thane, on this well-deserved award and thank you for all your work on behalf of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Zoo.
By Rob Pasquinucci
This isn’t the blog post I thought I’d be writing a few days following the election. If the widely-predicted results of the voting happened, I’d share a few post-mortem notes about how Trump (or Clinton, for that matter) didn’t handle crisis communication well. But the surprising result offers some valuable lessons for PR pros. Here are some that come to mind:
Whether you like or loathe the president-elect, he had a consistent theme that resonated deeply with the electorate. “Make America Great Again,” emblazoned on countless red ball caps, is easy to understand and remember. He also was authentic – Trump was Trump, whether firing off ill-advised tweets at 3 a.m. or making incendiary comments at a rally.
Meanwhile, the ever-wonky, glued-to-talking-points Hillary Clinton’s message was a collection of unmemorable phrases designed to offer a pat on the back to every Democratic special interest group, as Boston Globe reporter Matt Viser’s article points out. Even her tagline – “I’m With Her,” is focused on the candidate, not the country.
So, the takeaway here? Politicians are brands. And, just as corporate brands, they need to have a story and true character that connects with the audience and builds trust. Once that’s achieved, the candidate can enjoy the power of brand loyalty, as we saw during this election cycle. Trump’s people stayed with him through every scandal, controversy and kerfuffle.
There are several election cycles that represent the “firsts” for using a new medium to connect with voters. FDR was the first to use radio. John F. Kennedy used TV. Obama was the first to truly maximize social media to raise money. I’d argue that Trump used social media – particularly Twitter – as a conduit to speak directly to his supporters, many of whom were clearly overlooked by the mainstream media.
This piece from Cision outlines how social media conversations and engagement shaped the election. I note that Donald Trump dominated those conversations by a nearly 3-1 margin. My friend Dave Almacy’s D.C.-based digital agency put together a scorecard on the candidates’ social following. Not surprising, Trump’s numbers on Twitter and Facebook are the highest.
Crisis? What crisis?
Both campaigns were rocked by crises, and both responded in ways no public relations pro would likely recommend.
Let’s start with Trump. Every time he had an “open-mouth-insert-wingtip” moment, he would double down, seemingly digging a deeper hole for himself. But, being Trump means never (or at least rarely) having to say you’re sorry (or offer an apology), and that played out throughout the campaign.
Meanwhile, Clinton dealt with the lingering story about her email server, along with questions about the Clinton Foundation. She and her campaign never fully addressed these issues, causing them to linger, fester and proved to be a millstone.
Sponsored post by Zignal Labs
Every large enterprise is challenged to monitor and know exactly what is being said about their brand. Petabytes of data are generated daily about companies in the form of media mentions, social shares and publicly expressed sentiment. This chatter takes place across the entire media spectrum, including traditional print and broadcast, online and social channels.
A significant portion of this data originates from the mobile-connected consumer, who now exerts significant control over brands with the power to influence buyer behavior, spread news quickly and drive public sentiment.
Unfortunately, most enterprises today are ill-equipped to intelligently leverage this data to counter a digitally-fueled crisis, engage social influencers or grasp the issues driving public opinion. At the same time, companies are not leveraging this treasure trove of media intelligence data for strategic benefit.
To compound this challenge, most companies have also created silos across data, systems and workflows. Within a single marketing organization, a crisis communications team will use a media monitoring tool to track negative stories before they go viral, a social media marketing team uses engagement software to communicate with customers, and a PR team has a clipping service to connect with media partners.
These tasks are performed in distinct silos, with no central entity overseeing the end to end process. These different segments of the overall data mean that no department is making a decision based on the full media spectrum.
When a crisis erupts or a new product launch is announced to the public, this fragmented model creates confusion across the organization and leads to a substandard decision-making process. In the same way, companies and organizations are planning strategy based upon an incomplete picture. Research has shown that the most powerful story originates on social media, is picked up by local news, and finally elevates to national syndication. By the time the story reaches national TV, the narrative has already been set.
Brands need to be able to identify stories early on in the cycle so they can take the appropriate action to make sure that their voice is leading the discussion. This can only be done by looking at the media spectrum as a whole.
Fortunately, many large enterprise brands are starting to break down data, system and operational silos in favor of a centralized approach to media intelligence across the enterprise. By consolidating media intelligence data across departments and aligning workflows and strategies, enterprises will be empowered in day-to-day and strategic decisions impacting their brands. Seeing the entirety of the media spectrum will provide enterprises with the resources to make the most informed decisions possible.
If you would like to learn how to centralize your company’s media intelligence across the enterprise, please download our white paper “Establishing a Mission Control Mindset for Media Intelligence."
By Christine Hall
As communication professionals, we operate in a globally linked information society where the rate of change continues to grow exponentially. Public relations principles have evolved and each brand we work with seems to look at the world through its own hand-crafted lens.
In this ever-changing, multi-channel, no-rules communication environment, the role of PR has also evolved from earning publicity to content creation and curation, social dialogue, thought leadership, influencer relations, and much more.
As communication experts, writers and relationship builders, we must find ways to stay true to our brand’s voice so it can be successful in the fight to gain relevant share of the conversation in this environment.
One way to help our brands do this is to root them in communication fundamentals. A set of brand beliefs – rather than rules – define who the brand is and what they believe in. Of the communication fundamentals brands can choose to develop, the one every PR professional should understand is brand voice, often called tone of voice. Voice is the verbal style brands use to communicate with their audiences. Developing a clear and ownable brand voice will help establish equity across multiple channels.
Here are a few tips to consider:
Understand what a brand voice is and is not.
While messaging guides WHAT you say, audience guides WHO you say it to and WHERE you engage, voice guides HOW you say it. Voice consists of a set of attributes to guide word choice for writing and speech. Voice is no longer just for written copy only; it should be considered for everything from speaking engagements, social media content and dialogue, to owned content and earned media pitches.
Understand your audiences to determine if modulation is appropriate.
Today, brands are rarely just B2B or B2C; many speak to professionals and consumers each day. Modulating your voice, or ‘dialing-up’ one attribute over another, may be required. For example, you may have two very different voice attributes, one more credible and relevant to professionals and one more casual to humanize the brand for relevance with consumers.
Understand the role of vocabulary.
Voice attributes guide the rhythm and flow of language, the pacing, as well as the words you choose. For each attribute, write examples for what it is, and what it is not, as well as examples for how the voice should come across. Provide vocabulary lists to express each attribute. This is important so each individual doesn’t translate the attribute based on his or her own beliefs.
Understand how to apply voice to different types of content.
Depending on the channel and type of copy, voice has a different fit. For example, if you are pitching an idea to an editor via a tweet, it’s more important that they understand how clever your story idea is than to recognize the brand voice. Voice fits best in owned media, like marketing, advertising and sales materials, blogs, social media, trade shows, recruiting, and speaking engagements. It doesn’t fit as well into contracts, pricing or spec sheets, and research summaries.
Keep it simple.
The more complicated you make your communication fundamentals, the less likely people are to embody them and use them. And if you have multiple writers, agencies and employees, keeping it simple is key to keeping voice attributes in use. For voice, 2-3 attributes are ideal. Perhaps if it really adds value, you can have four attributes, but beyond that, we just can’t recall them. And if we can’t, how do we expect our audiences to?
By Mike Boehmer, APR
Wow! What an experience. The 2016 PRSA International Conference in Indianapolis served up an endless flow of interesting breakout sessions, thought-provoking keynote talks, and opportunities for connecting with public relations professionals from around the country.
I’ve been mulling over the almost overwhelming abundance of information presented at the conference. Here are some thoughts that bubble up:
- Don’t get too distracted from the fundamentals. The basics we learned in college and at the outset of our careers still ring true. We’re here to help build mutually beneficial relationships. We need to provide value to key audiences. We need to help them solve problems. We need to listen carefully to their needs and plan accordingly. They will reward us with loyalty, referrals and/or repeat business.
- We can make great strides by identifying the key influencers in various communities and working with them.
- Enlightened leadership counts on our counsel, especially when it comes to reputation management. One stupid employee action can sink a company, but organizations can build great credibility by handling crisis situations properly.
- Tie your communication goals to business goals. Your communication dashboard should reflect how you are helping achieve these overarching goals.
- Don’t stereotype, especially when it comes to millennials. Not everything is generational.
- Pay for play is growing and will continue to do so. Earned media and media relations remain vital, but paid content continues to play a larger part in our world.
- New technology, demand for content, an explosion of communication channels, and rising need for reputation management are fueling a time of growth in our field.
To the last point, Fred Cook, CEO at Chicago-based agency Golin and a faculty at member at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, offered findings from a recent survey of 1,000 industry leaders.
The survey points to time of growth in next five years: $14.4 billion to $19.3 billion. Agencies expect their head counts to grow 26 percent, and in-house 11 percent.
Cook said that PR needs to tap creativity and courage to grab its share from marketing and advertising. But we’re in a bit of an identity crisis. In this time of convergence and rapid change, only 27 percent believe the name “PR” even describes what we do. (By the way, more than one person mentioned during the conference that we need to collaborate and partner with marketing and advertising, and not see this as adversarial.)
According to the survey, the most important skills in next five years: writing (89 percent), strategic planning, verbal, content, social media, media relations, business literacy, analytics (62 percent). How to instill these skills? Hiring or retraining.
Most important traits: teamwork (90 percent), problem solving, critical thinking, curiosity, creativity, adaptability, hard work (79 percent).
Cook said the survey points to more complex, strategic, challenging and important work ahead for us.
Whew! I’m sure glad we have PRSA to help us along the way with great educational and networking opportunities like the annual conference.
Mike Boehmer, APR, is the Media Manager for Mercy Health.
By Sara Cullin, APR
In October, I had the opportunity to attend my first DMA conference. I spent three days in Los Angeles talking with and learning from top brands in the direct marketing space. Here’s what I learned.
1. Data is everything (or, everything is data)
In fact, DMA (formerly the Direct Marketing Association) announced at the conference it is now the Data and Marketing Association. Almost every session I attended was centered around data collection and how to put it to work. And for good reason.
We have more data at our fingertips than ever before. It’s an exciting time to be a communicator. We have the ability to customize messages to meet the needs of each of our audiences. In fact, millennials expect it.
Data can also be used to guide our creativity as we look for ways to uniquely touch our audience. Digital agency Wunderman shared some great examples of campaigns driven by data. One airline has 125,000 versions of a single email that is targeted based on travel patterns, weather and other factors. Another airline used a digital billboard to call out flight numbers and destinations as they physically flew overhead.
2. Young generations need effective leadership.
Author and popular TED Talk speaker Simon Sinek shared how company leaders must be aware of the abilities, needs and shortcomings of our youngest working generations. As he explained, millennials are afflicted with addiction to social media and instant gratification. This is coupled with, maybe even contributing to, a lack of self-esteem. To lead them effectively, we must understand this. He hits on some of the main points of this discussion in this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMEqLzWrMIo
To paraphrase, Sinek said, You don’t give an adolescent keys to the liquor cabinet. We should—as parents and leaders—seize the keys and protect the young, not contribute to their problems.
3. We must adopt agile workflows.
In my department, we already consider ourselves fairly agile in terms of our ability to “pivot” and adjust our designs, copy and projects. Flexibility is increasingly important as new data is gained, so strategies can be fine-tuned for maximum results. One business-to-business service provider shared the key to its success in a testimonial campaign was agile content creation. As the campaign progressed, it constantly improved results by generating more of what its audience wanted.
Sara Cullin, APR, is a social media specialist and copywriter for the Hubert Co.