Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Setting Professional Development Goals in 2013

PRESIDENT’S COLUMN - Chris Smith, Greater Fort Worth PRSA
If you aren’t constantly learning something new, you can lose your competitive advantage rather quickly in our fast-paced profession. So even if you don’t make New Year’s resolutions, you might consider at least setting some professional development goals in 2013.

Luckily, PRSA makes that easy. Each month except July, our Greater Fort Worth Chapter offers a luncheon program on a timely topic, including two half-day professional workshops planned this year. Already an expert on that topic? Go anyway. Members say they often get valuable tips simply from sharing a conversation at the table.

Can’t make a midday program? Try one of our evening mixers, primarily designed for networking but also to inform.

Senior-level practitioner? Go anyway. Giving back to your profession not only offers intrinsic rewards, but some senior members suddenly out of a job have learned the hard way that networking isn’t just something you do when you’re looking for work.

Feeling on the fringe? Get involved. With numerous chapter committees, there’s something for everyone to do. The important thing is to stay connected.

You can’t afford not to in 2013.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Why Media Cover the Sandy Hook Tragedy

Students from Sandy Hook Elementary School returned to school earlier this month after less than a month since Adam Lanza took the lives of 20 students and 7 adults in Newtown, Conn. Many people have asked why the media have covered the tragedy the way they have. In some cases the media has followed the debate over gun control, while other media have followed the intimate detail of what happened on that horrible day, including a real focus on the perpetrator – Adam Lanza. As I have learned over the past 15 years, the media covers what they believe is most relevant to their audience.

With a little help from a couple experts that I reached out to, I hope to help provide some perspective on why tragedies like this are covered in the way they are, though each may be covered differently.

The first story the media try to cover is perhaps too obvious, but the “Facts about the case,” is story number one according to Texas Christian University Associate Professor of Strategic Communication, Dr. Amiso George, APR, Fellow PRSA. In this case, one of the first things that were reported was the name of the suspect and a possible motive along with the number of people believed to be injured and killed. George says the public often want to know, “Why the perpetrator committed the crime, the motive for the crime, whether he was apprehended or not. If he is dead, how that happened. If not, from the time the culprit is arrested and brought to justice is of import to the public.”
While putting together the stories, whether broadcast, internet or print, the media consider the 5 Ws and H according to a retired Dallas / Fort Worth television news manager. The first objective is to tell the audience what has happened. She went on to say, no one person says during the daily news meetings, lets cover the killer, they ask what we know and what can we learn today, how does it relate to our local audience.

To help the local audience relate, George says the media, “Look for a similar local case for comparison.” In addition they will look to, “Interview local experts on gun control and related issues and access to mental health. Interviews with psychologists are also important as anxious parents would want to know how and when to talk to their children about the case; what teachers/school officials can do to make the classroom and school premises a safer place for students; what churches or synagogues (especially Sunday School classes) can do to minimize children’s anxiety about such danger.”

In the minutes after the incident and the ensuing hours and days, very specific information can be difficult to come by, so the first piece of information or the most relevant will make the headlines when the deadline is hit. As I read through news comment sections and other social media, I saw a lot of concern that the media was making a lot out of Lanza’s name and perhaps making him a hero to the next killer, but according to George, she believes that the preponderance of that coverage was from the tabloid press, which uses material to sensationalize the story and draw in a larger audience.


As the law enforcement starts to issue reports, heroes and heroines are discovered, but who will talk about their actions? Who will tell the story of those who lost their lives saving the children? Neighbors will be talked to? Friends, family and glory hounds will come forward and must be vetted before they can be quoted or put on air to tell their stories.

The media, by in large cover the incident without bias toward any one side, the simply try to tell a story with information that they have gathered. In some cases, the media have “only seen here” or “first reported here” when a resourceful reporter is able to break a new piece of information based on a quality interview or inquiry to a trusted source. In the end, the media are not trying to champion a cause or publicly convict a suspect. As you take in your news understand what you are reading or watching, is it tabloid – think TMZ, Access Hollywood or Extra; is it an opinion – think O’Reilly, Face the Nation or the editorial section of the newspaper; or is it a news program like the evening news or traditional newspaper.

This post first appeared on the Murnahan Public Relations Blog. Brian Murnahan, President of Murnahan Public Relations, brings more than 15 years of corporate communications experience in multiple different business sectors, including aviation, oil & gas, privacy, transportation and public policy. Murnahan specializes in media relations, crisis communications, public affairs, community / stakeholder relations, international outreach and media training.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Social Responsibility – Share Words of Your Kind Deeds

During this time of year, people often give of themselves more than they do during other parts of the year. Much the same, business needs to be human and give of itself throughout the year and during the holidays. Many businesses do so much for the community, but fail to make sure the key stakeholders know what they are up to.I have worked with some good businesses over the years and would like to highlight some of the good things that each have done.
  • First DFW International Airport, a government entity of all things actually holds an Aviation Career Expo each year in early December to bring in upwards of 4,000 local students to learn about aviation. American Airlines hosts the group with dozens of local businesses that are in the aviation sector from Tarrant County College to what looks to be a flying museum of older planes that are open for inspection.
  • If you ever get stuck at an airport, like DFW, and you need help, you should pick up that scary “white” service phone and ask that person for what you need. DFW has been known to give out diapers, formula, blankets, cots and so much more for those impacted by an unfortunate weather.
  • Chesapeake Energy gave thousands of bottles of water to local charities in 2011 during the 70 plus long streak of blistering heat here in Texas. Not only that, they actually loaded a case (1,700 or so bottles of water) in the back of a pickup and took it to the fire fighters working to extinguish the Parker County wildfires.
  • Then just last week, Epic Helicopters looking to do something to celebrate the holidays, reached out to the Ronald McDonald House to offer a holiday lights tour to one of their residents. Three weeks later 5-year-old Zachary McBride was given the sleigh ride of a life-time with his mom riding right behind him. Zachary's story as seen on CBSDFW - 11.

If your business does good things out of the goodness of its heart, then be sure that you are also telling your customers, business partners or potential clients so that they know what doing business with you is really like.While each of these examples earned mass media coverage, the outreach did not stop there. There was outreach to city councils, county judges, law enforcement, boards of directors and so much more to ensure that the good business was recognized for their good citizenship.

Originally posted on Murnahan Public Relations, Inc's blog.
Brian Murnahan, President of Murnahan Public Relations, brings more than 15 years of corporate communications experience in multiple different business sectors, including aviation, oil & gas, privacy, transportation and public policy. Murnahan specializes in media relations, crisis communications, public affairs, community / stakeholder relations, international outreach and media training.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Agency of the Future

by Margaret Ritsch, APR

What do the decades ahead hold for the Edelmans, Richards Groups, and other agencies of the world?

Four top agency CEOs shared their outlook at PRSA International Conference in San Francisco in October. Fred Cook, CEO and president of Golin Harris, completely overhauled his 700-employee global agency to adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace.

“As our world evolves, so do the needs of our clients,” said Cook, according to the Holmes Report from June of last year when the 55-year-old agency unveiled its restructuring plan. “Clients look to us for one: insights; two, ideas; and three, engagement,” Cook explained last week to a packed audience at the Marriott Marquis. “We’ve reorganized the entire company around that.”

Golin Harris abolished the traditional agency hierarchy and replaced it with four communities of specialists: Connectors, Creators, Catalysts, and Strategists, he said. Connectors handle traditional and media engagement; creators create; catalysts lead accounts; strategists plan, conduct research, forward big ideas. The agency of the future will have a much broader suite of services and new skill sets are needed, he said.

Colleges and universities are turning out thousands of generalists every year and there are not enough jobs for them, said Rob Flaherty, APR, Ketchum’s CEO and president. He encourages students to specialize in an area such as research, media relations, video, digital or writing. His agency no longer hires generalists, but instead looks for new college graduates who already have specialized skills.

At Ketchum, new jobs and titles reflect the rapidly changing needs to the marketplace. Community and conversation manager is one example. “Storyteller” is another, he said.

Flaherty said the availability of so much consumer data augurs a sea change in how the agency advises its clients. “Big data allows us to market to the individual,” he said. “There are a huge wave of new jobs at Ketchum around this.” The employee of the future, Flaherty said at the conference, “understands the power of data, is a connector, digitally nimble, and believes in the power of community.”

One way the agency is tapping the boundless creativity of digital natives is Ketchum’s new crowd-sourcing idea site, MindFire. Originally envisioned as a tool to solicit creative ideas from college students for Ketchum’s clients, Mindfire has now become a talent recruitment site, he said.

Hill & Knowlton’s Jack Martin said his agency is investing heavily in research and digital. Measurement is very important – one of the most critical things in the business, he said.

The client of the future will unleash the power of big data, desire transparency, appreciate smart risk-taking, and be willing to turn over its brand to the community, Flaherty asserted.

The good news for our students is that public relations is one of the top 10 careers with a future, Flaherty said. “The most valuable media in the world is something you can’t buy: earned conversation, word-of-mouth, face-to-face,” he said.

Margaret Ritsch, APR is director of Roxo, TCU’s new student-driven agency for strategic communication. Formerly director of public relations at the Balcom Agency, then owner of her own firm, Perception, Ritsch joined the TCU faculty in January 2012. She and five Roxo interns traveled to San Francisco for the PRSA and PRSSA annual conferences.

Friday, November 16, 2012

PR lessons from 'Kate' and Tarrant Area Food Bank's hunger campaign

The billboard asks a compelling question: What does hunger feel like? 

It strikes me that putting a (cartoon) face to hunger with a compelling narrative is a creative way to generate curiosity and hopefully leads to awareness, donations, volunteers, etc. The video component is simple but effective:

I reached out to Andrea Helms, Director of Communications for the Tarrant Area Food Bank and a Ft. Worth PRSA member for some insight into the campaign. I'm so thankful that she was wiling to share since I believe there are some interesting lessons and processes from this effort for PR and communication professionals:

Why did TAFB implement the 'Kate' concept campaign? 
Akron Canton Regional Food Bank in Ohio shared the Kate video concept with the Feeding America network of regional food banks, to which Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) belongs. TAFB decided to customize this video for the organization not only because of the impact of Kate’s message, but to also join in creating a sense of unity across the network.

What are some of the strategic objectives you hope to achieve?
AWARENESS. We would like Kate’s message to be shared all over our community, through our Partner Agencies, donors and volunteers, and the general public. As part of our annual awareness initiative, we hope the community learns that hunger and food insecurity exist right here in our own neighborhood and we, together, can do something about it.

Through various print ads, billboards, and social media, we seek to increase awareness about hunger and direct people to the Kate video. We hope the Kate video and her message goes viral. The more that people share the video with their networks, the bigger the awareness of hunger we can create within our community. The video not only educates the public about the face of hunger--for example, Kate could be your next door neighbor, a co-worker or friend--but it also educates them about Tarrant Area Food Bank’s role in fighting local hunger.

When did it start and how long will the campaign run? 
The campaign started mid-October and will run through December. We will do another flight of the campaign in the Spring of 2013. The Kate video will remain active on our website and on and through social media when the campaign is not active.

How would you say your version of the campaign differs from the original version?
We are the first Feeding America food bank to launch a traditional marketing campaign around the video. Up until now, the Kate video has been used as a tool in food banks for educating volunteers and donors and has been used through social media and word of mouth.

What communication channels are you using to share Kate? 
Facebook and Twitter posts, Facebook ads, billboards, print ads in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Fort Worth Business Press, the Just Ask Kate web page, the TAFB website, YouTube, e-blasts, email signatures, volunteer training and exclusive showings at TAFB related events.

We also have several collateral pieces our staff use for various audiences, such as children’s activities and giveaways, including Kate as a fan with suggestions on the backside for taking action to build awareness about hunger.  Our life-sized Kate cut-out is being used for photo opportunities with key people in our community for posting on social media.

How will you determine the success of this campaign?
Because this is an awareness campaign, we are most interested in how viral the campaign becomes. The more video views, shares and likes we get from the Kate video, the more we know the word is being spread around our community. We have been using Facebook and Google analytics to track where our viewers are coming from and what actions they are taking after they view the video, such as visiting our website or liking our Facebook page.
What do you think? Is this a compelling campaign to help generate awareness for the food bank's fight against local hunger? As always, the comments are yours.
The post is from the Next Communications blog.

Friday, November 2, 2012

PRSA Assembly Highlights 2012 #prsaicon

PRSA Assembly Highlights 2012 
Submitted by Andra Bennett House, APR

National Board 
Even though the PRSA Southwest District does not have a district rep on the board (because no one ran), Blake Lewis, APR of Dallas was elected as National Treasurer. Blake will be an excellent “go-to” person for our district, if the need arises.

PRServing America PRServing America is a competition for the best pro-bono community service project by a chapter. PRSSA can participate as well. For 1st place, the prize is $2,500 and the prize amounts go down from there. Our Chapter could think about a pro bono project that would be a possible submission for this recognition and reward.

PRSA submitted an op-ed to Roll Call re: Senate inquiry into federal agencies and contractors payments to PR firms.

PRSA advocated on behalf of PR pros being able to edit Wikipedia for clients. The owner of Wikipedia apparently was against this. The name of the Facebook group in favor of it is called Corporate Representatives for Ethical Wiki Engagement (CREWE).

Get more PRSA advocacy news.

Business Case of PR 
PRSA wrote Forbes op-ed for business schools including reputation management in MBA programs. (MBA Initiative)

Commission on Public Relations Education gave a lengthy presentation on the disparity of what colleges require for PR degrees.

Currently PRSA National has 21,378 members. This is down from 2008 highs, but steadily climbing back up.

Free webinars this year – 63 have been offered, with 6,500 participants, exponentially up from any previous time.

Chapter resources – document sharing platform is being developed for online. No more chapters keeping stuff in shoeboxes!

Next year, ALL Members will be able to pay dues quarterly for a $15 processing fee. This will be optional for chapters to allow members to do this or not. It may allow more members to join, but could affect chapter cash flow.

Issues & Trends emails have been upgraded to be more user friendly and quickly read.

Priorities for 2013 are Ethics, Diversity, Advocacy and the Brand: One PRSA.

Value of Districts – upshot of discussion was that National should look at possibly re-drawing the Districts into smaller territories, separating it from board representation, or subsidizing districts to help pay for regional conferences. There are members who do not belong to Chapters, yet chapters fund the Districts, so some members are benefiting without contributing.

Member Benefits – Districts could help aggregate benefit information for the Districts and provide it in a canned fashion for the chapters for newsletters, luncheon announcements, etc. Districts could help pen op-eds and localize the advocacy efforts of National for chapters to submit to their local publications.

Many topics discussed and videotaped – National to condense and make available soon.

Town Hall
Many delegates expressed concern that the Assembly did not vote on anything except the board slate. We listened to reports and gave feedback, but some did not feel the expense of the travel was worth being there in person, and did not feel the Assembly “accomplished” much.

I predict if there is no “beefy” agenda next year, and only voting on board nominees, many chapters will send proxies vs. delegates unless they are staying for the conference.

Thank you to Andra Bennett House, APR and Holly Ellman for representing the Greater Ft. Worth Chapter of PRSA as delegates to the Assembly during the 2012 PRSA International Conference.