What I Learned: Three Takeaways from Media Day 2018

Media Day 2018 is in the books. Once again, PRSA welcomed members of the local media and PR pros to share some best practices around media and influencer relations. Here are three takeaways:

Welcome to the Brave New (Media) World

Unless you’ve been in a cave the past 10 years, it’s no great surprise to learn that the media landscape has changed. Many of the “old timers” in PRSA can remember media days that were panel after panel of traditional print, broadcast and trade journalists telling us how they prefer to be pitched. One only needs to glance at this year’s program to see how times have changed – this year we welcomed influencers and spent a good portion of the day learning about new outlets and news ways of breaking through the clutter.

Keynote speaker Paul Fox framed PR’s role, talking about the threat of fake news and PR’s ability to help propel truth. 

Ever hear of Cheddar? No, not the stuff you slap between buns on a burger. As speaker Kevin Dugan shared with us, Cheddar represents an emerging category of “post cable” news outlets, providing on-demand content to a generation of viewers who want information on their terms. Knowing these outlets — and how to engage them — is critical for savvy PR pros.

Our influencer panelists helped show how the lines have blurred, making what used to be unpaid pitches to garner coverage look more like an advertising-PR mashup.

Social content is still king

Ever think of the scope of what’s put out on social media each day? Breakout Session speaker Matthew Dooley shared the following stats:

·       4.3 billion pieces of social content are produced each day.

·       You’ll receive, on average, 1500 pieces of content in your individual news feed.

·       There are 60 million Facebook pages for brands, yet only 4 million (6.5 %) advertise on the platform. 

The takeaway? Having good content is important, but it needs to be backed with dollars to be seen.

The basics still matter

Despite the proliferation of new outlets and ways of sharing news, traditional PR skills still matter. These include:

·       Building relationships. All our media/influencer panelists stressed

·       Give the list some love. It’s hard to build those productive relationships when PR practitioners continue to blanket-pitch reporters without taking the time to understand what they cover.

·       Crisis communication panelists Chris Kemper and Courtney O’Banion shared keys to navigating a crisis, emphasizing the importance of making sure you’re prepared with a robust plan and media training your spokespeople.

·       Jennifer Tan and Bo McMillan showed how creative collaboration helped their organizations earn more coverage.

If you attended media day, offer your takeaways online or in the comments section!

Check out the gallery below for photos from the event.

Spotlight on a Super Star: An Interview with WVB Award Winner, Jonathan Kissell, APR

Congratulations again to Jonathan Kissell, APR, the 2018 Werner-VonderHaar-Bogart Award winner. Often considered a lifetime achievement award, the WVB Award is the highest honor offered by the Cincinnati Chapter of PRSA. Click here to read more about the award and Jonathan’s contributions to the community, profession, chapter and PRSA.

Jonathan is a busy guy: he’s leading digital communications efforts for Rumpke Waste & Recycling, teaches future practitioners at Miami University, runs the EB Hope Foundation, guides Cincinnati PRSA and its members on the ethical practice of public relations, and still has time to enjoy his young and growing family with his wife, Diane. He was also gracious enough to answer a few questions about his career for PR Visions. We sat down with this PR Super Star to learn more about his career, thoughts on the profession and advice for future award-winning pros.

 WVB winner Jonathan Kissel

WVB winner Jonathan Kissel

Walk us through your early career; how did you get your start in public relations?

I learned many valuable lessons during my college internships.

During the summer after freshman year at the University of Dayton, I worked at a now-defunct small agency, where I wrote ad copy and assisted with video shoots. Most importantly, I began to understand the importance of good leadership.

Between junior and senior year, I worked a few days a week at a regional airline at CVG in technical publications. As an unpaid intern, I looked for value in other ways, always mindful of how this experience would affect me down the road. I taught myself the basics of Photoshop and Illustrator – skills that proved useful in landing my job at Rumpke.

That same summer, I interned at a small engineering and architecture firm in Dayton. I then realized I wanted to go into corporate communications.

Possibly the most important lessons were from my summer with Duke Energy. They had a summer job program for employees’ kids. My dad was a long-time engineer at Duke, and I landed a gig as a general laborer in the parts room at Duke’s power plant in North Bend, Ohio. On the first day, my boss gave me some rags and told me to “dust” the shelves, which presumably hadn’t been touched since the previous summer helper. I finished quicker than he expected, and he soon “promoted” me to inventory and warehouse restoration. That summer reaffirmed the importance of hard work and that every person’s contributions make a team, a department or a company successful.

You’ve already accomplished a lot in what many would consider a relatively short career. What stands out as a highlight or two?

Easy: helping to establish Rumpke’s creative design team and co-founding the EB Hope Foundation with my family.

For a few years, I managed Rumpke’s communications internship program. One summer, a graphic design student (Maria Perkins) applied. At the time, we didn’t have a professional graphic designer on staff. I almost tossed the resume aside until I noticed her work samples. We needed to interview her. I ultimately hired her as an intern, and soon pitched a full-time designer for Rumpke. We brought Maria onto our team in an entry level role, and she has elevated Rumpke’s brand beyond imagination. I always take great pride in seeing Maria’s personal and professional growth, as she has earned several promotions and now manages that team.

My nephews Carson, 11, and Kolbe, 3, were born with a rare skin disease called Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). They’re covered from head-to-toe in blisters. There’s no cure for EB. When Carson was born, our family rallied around my brother David and sister-in-law Kristy. We started the Walk for EB, a small community event to raise funds and awareness. A few years later, we formalized the EB Hope Foundation, an official 501(c)(3). It’s my tremendous honor to have served as president since its inception. We have raised more than $230,000, primarily through the Walk which occurs annually on the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend.  

How do you stay passionate and up-to-date on the profession?

I’m fortunate to teach a capstone strategic communication course at Miami University. The students always have fresh perspectives and new ideas, and they help me stay on top of the latest trends.

I also love PRSA’s Strategies & Tactics. My co-workers joke with me because I bring copies on vacation. 

What impact has the Public Relations Society of America had on your career? And, on the other side of the coin, what kind of impact or legacy do you hope to leave on the Society, either locally or nationally?

PRSA has meant more for me and my career than I’ll ever realize.

In college, I served as president of UD’s PRSSA chapter and attended several national assemblies. This gave me an early glimpse into leadership and management.

I found my job at Rumpke on Cincinnati PRSA’s Job Bank as a senior at UD. On day one, my manager, Amanda Pratt, APR, told me to join PRSA and make the most of it.

It has truly been an honor to serve Cincinnati PRSA in many capacities, especially as chapter president in 2012. It’s helped me establish a strong network of colleagues and friends throughout the region and the country.

I have PRSA to thank for my role at Miami. In a random conversation a few years prior to getting an invitation to teach, I mentioned to Shara Clark, APR, how I admired her for working full-time and teaching. When an opportunity became available, she thought of me, and I now get to fulfill a lifelong dream of teaching at the university level.

There are so many wonderful stories about PRSA impacting lives. I hope students, new professionals and employers continue recognizing the value of membership and leadership involvement.

Obviously, PR has served you well! But what would you be doing if you weren’t in PR?

I would be an engineer. I love math.

What advice would you give to those professionals who are just getting their start?

Someone is always paying attention. Your response to tedious and menial tasks tells a lot about how you will handle greater responsibility. Also, look for ways to step-up into leadership roles, even if it doesn’t come with an official title. Finally, learn the financial side of business.

You’re a “lifetime achievement award winner” now. What’s next?

This award is only possible because of wonderful people in my life. My wife Diane has always supported my passions. My kids (Josie, Julia and Dominic) make me laugh and give me pure joy. My family at Rumpke inspires and challenges me every day. My colleagues at PRSA are some of the most dedicated and talented individuals in our industry. I’m fortunate to teach at a highly-regarded university and to foster the growth of a young nonprofit. I’m the luckiest person in the room, and I can only hope this is the beginning of future possibilities. Thank you for this hono

 The Kissel File:

·       What’s your favorite book? How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen

·       What’s your go-to podcast? “HBR Ideacast” or “Intelligence for Your Life”

·       How do you take your coffee? From Starbucks, usually a blonde roast with almond milk or a mocha on special occasions.

·       What was your first job? Youth baseball umpire and teen dance club bouncer

·       Who do you look up to? My parents and my two older brothers.

·       What character are you from The Office at your office? Dwight

·       What are you binge watching? Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood with my kids or Suits with Diane.

·       What were you like in high school? I was class president for three years and school president as a senior.

Five Lessons Jonathan Mildenhall Taught Me About Trust as a Marketer

By Ashley Walters, APR

"If I had my wish for the industry it would be (to) get back to work that shapes culture for the better," said Jonathan Mildenhall, internationally renowned marketing expert and former Airbnb CMO.

 Ashley Walters, APR

Ashley Walters, APR

You could feel the goose bumps on the arms of the thousands of people who witnessed Jonathan Mildenhall's keynote speech at PRSA's 2018 International conference.  After sitting down with Jonathan to reflect on his career and our ever-changing industry, I walked away with five lessons in trust, for us marketers, to use to improve ourselves, our teams and our results.

1.) I've Got Your Back.  A common four-word phrase improv comedians use before getting on stage, means something even greater to Jonathan. As leaders, we have to build trust with our teams and one way Jonathan does that is by being the protector of his people and their ideas.

"If the creative idea works, they get the glory. If it fails, I take the bullet. Creativity is a scary and chaotic process and it just takes one person at the table to show confidence and enhance the confidence of the group," said Jonathan.

Executive Tip - Say these four simple words the next time you brief your teams. When you eliminate the fear of failing, revolutionary ideas emerge.

 2018 PRSA International Conference keynote

2018 PRSA International Conference keynote

2.) Have a clear purpose. It's a known fact that purpose-driven companies attract and retain talent at a much higher rate than those who haven't clearly articulated their purpose. Particularly with millennials, which is the largest generation in the US labor force today. (More than one-in-three American labor force participants are Millennials according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.) Brand purpose drives performance and ensures the right kind of growth. For example, Coca-Cola's brand purpose is to be, "the antidote to modern day woes." When your purpose is so personal, like Coca-Cola's, it gives you permission to address the hard issues facing our society and to be a driving force in shaping culture.

"If the ad industry would just understand you can create hugely valuable brands by doing your part to shape culture rather than just flog the next transaction. The advertising industry has lost its confidence. It's lost the thing it can do better than anyone else which is insert  brands at the heart of the cultural zeitgeist."

Executive Tip - Set a purpose for yourself, one that's deeply personal. A personal purpose is what you build your legacy on. It's the way you show up as a human and guide your key decisions. 

3.) Dig into your brand archives. That's where brand truth lies. Jonathan spent a portion of his onboarding at Coca-Cola combing through the archives to understand how the brand has communicated and evolved over time. His vision for the brand came into crystal clear focus when he came across this single piece of creative from the late 1960's titled, "Boys on a Bench." Yes, it features African-Americans and whites together in Coca-Cola advertising for the first time. But hidden in this message is the fact that the boys are sitting shoulder to shoulder, with their arms touching on a segregation bench. This, "work with purpose," became Jonathan's rallying cry. That mindset is responsible for culturally relevant campaigns like "America the Beautiful and an effort to bring Pakistan and India together." 

While tackling some of our world's deepest issues works for Coca-Cola, it doesn't work for every brand. Jonathan offers advice for brands who aren't sure if they should insert themselves into politically or socially charged issues.

Executive Tip - Jonathan said it best, "Unless the issue is an existing part of the company's narrative, you shouldn't lean into it."

4.) Trust disruption when it offers value. Not only is Airbnb disrupting the hotel and travel industry, but it's also disrupting marketing. When faced with a challenge or roadblock, don't turn around. Trust that there's an alternate route. That's exactly what Jonathan's Airbnb team did when they were shut out of Hollywood's biggest night, the Oscar's. Between big budgets they didn't have and a competing sponsor raising red flags, Airbnb had to find a different way into the Oscars conversation without stepping foot into the actual event. #LiveInTheMovies is a case study for those who have all odds stacked against them, minuscule budgets, and the ability to succeed without permission or access to the very thing you need. Because Airbnb had cultural relevance and consumer trust, it found its voice within the Oscar's conversation and become the most talked about brand of the night.

Executive Tip - Trust your gut.  When faced with a No, turn it into a Yes, And. Another improv principle, Yes, And is about embracing the power of positivity and building on possibilities.

5.) Consumer trust is the only KPI. Airbnb learned this lesson early on. When the brand realized some customers were being discriminated against, they immediately took a zero tolerance stance and had to rebuild consumer and community trust. This meant removing the bad characters, managing growth expectations, and telling the world about the true values of the company. As a result, Airbnb launched this deeply personal "We Accept" message during the Superbowl.

"Trust is something you only have once with consumers and once with a community. If you do not bake a clear trust narrative into your business then you can end up making decisions that completely compromise the company purpose. It's expensive to repair trust and it's hard to survive when trust has been compromised," said Jonathan.

Executive Tip - Start measuring trust. In fact, Jonathan would add, "Invest heavily in measuring it." We have to hold trust measures like conversations, loyalty and transparency at the same weight we hold awareness, conversions and sales.

So what's your responsibility as a modern day marketer to build and maintain trust? I'll leave you with these three core tenants:

1.    Be transparent in all your communication, inside and outside of your organization. Honest communication is the only communication.

2.    Bring in external stakeholders to hold you accountable. They can be objective and remove emotion from the equation.

3.    Have the confidence in your team and the confidence to be creative in your response.


NOV 15 - The 2018 Blacksmith Awards

Eventbrite - 2018 Blacksmith Awards

The Blacksmith finalists have been announced and now it's time to celebrate the best public relations work in Greater Cincinnati in the past year!

And as if that wasn't enough, we'll also be toasting:

  • Jonathan Kissell, APR, Communications Manager at Rumpke Waste & Recycling, the 2018 Werner-Vonderhaar-Bogart Award recipient for his outstanding leadership in the field of public relations, and his dedication to Cincinnati PRSA. 

  • The 2018 President's Award Recipient

Register today for the 2018 Blacksmith Awards ceremony and dinner.

This year, we are celebrating at the brand new Summit, a Dolce Hotel. The Summit, located on the Medpace campus at Interstate 71 and Red Bank Road, is a stunning space with commissioned works of contemporary artists throughout the hotel.

In concert with Kroger, a Blacksmiths platinum sponsor, we will be holding a canned food drive for the Freestore Foodbank. Bring a can of food -- or better yet, several -- and enter your business card into a drawing for one free night at the Summit! We are grateful to the Summit for their generosity.

So, no excuses! Join us as we toast our friends and colleagues in style at the Summit, and help the Freestore Foodbank as well!

Tickets are now on sale through Monday, Nov. 5 at 5:00 p.m. Get yours today!  

Event Details:

Eventbrite - 2018 Blacksmith Awards

Thursday, November 15
The Summit - 5345 Medpace Way, Cincinnati
6:00 p.m. - Doors open for check-in; Mix and mingle
6:30 p.m. - Dinner and program begins
Regular Pricing
$80.00 - PRSA Cincinnati Chapter Members 
$80.00 - PRSSA Members
$90.00 - Non-members
$300.00 - VIP Half Table of 4 ($75.00 per person)
$580.00 - VIP Table of 8 ($72.50 per person)  
Finalist Pricing
Note to Finalists: please see your finalist notification for a link to access the special pricing below.
$70.00 - PRSA Cincinnati Chapter Members 
$70.00 - PRSSA Members
$80.00 - Non-members
$260.00 - VIP Half Table of 4 ($65.00 per person)
$500.00 - VIP Table of 8 ($62.50 per person)
Deadline to register is Monday, November 5 at 5:00 p.m. (this is also the deadline to cancel and receive a refund).
Parking Information:
Free parking is available in the hotel parking lost - just across from the main entrance.

Eventbrite - 2018 Blacksmith Awards

Award Entrants: All Blacksmith entrants were sent a message with updates on the status of your entries. Finalists should use the link included in their email to purchase tickets at finalist rates. If you submitted an entry and have not received a message, please first check your spam folder. If you cannot find it, please respond to this message or email cincyprsa@gmail.com, and we can forward a copy of your message.

2018 Blacksmiths Sponsors

If you are interested in being a 2018 Blacksmith Awards sponsor, please visit Cincinnati PRSA's sponsorship page, or contact Barbara Grimsley, APR, for information on packages and opportunities.

Thank you to our 2018 Blacksmith Awards sponsors: 

Presenting Sponsor

Platinum Sponsors

Scooter Media Logo

Gold Sponsor

Vehr Logo

Design Sponsor

In-Kind Sponsor