Friday, April 24, 2009

Social Media ~ Green means go and now is the time to make plans for May 13


As PR practitioners and communicators, we must engage in social media.

It is a key component of our field of specialty, it is what we do and it will be a part of our future.

For those PR professionals who are still considering venturing out into it, a special workshop awaits you and it will provide you with the tools and the knowledge you need to jump start your efforts.

It is critical that PR pros be interested and willing to be immersed in social media and see the value in it. Sure there were people who shook their heads in 1803, when Thomas Jefferson first combined the words "public" and "relations" into "public relations," or those who thought Lee or Pultizer didn't know what they were talking about in the early 1900s when they introduced the concepts of press agentry, publicity, "muckracking" and PR campaigns, but that didn't stop them from doing it or others from learning from them. (SOURCE OF HISTORICAL NOTES: This is PR, Newsom, Turk, Kruckeberg.)

We are in the midst of the evolution of our field so if we don't own it and master the new technologies and tactics then there will be another professional field that will. (For additional reading on why "Social Media is the Responsibility of PR" follow Jason Falls on Twitter or read

If you are uncertain of how to begin a social media effort, I'd suggest you just get your feet wet and start small. You'll be glad you did.

How easy is it? Sign up for a Twitter, Facebook or Blogger account. Start listening, reading and monitoring what is happening in your fields of interest, then perhaps consider jotting down your thoughts in a blog.

What I so appreciate about social media is the sharing of knowledge and resources.

Pioneers in social media are more than happy to make available their best practices, missteps, and recommendations. Being involved with social media is like being in front of PR thought leaders all day and being in a super interesting grad school class with an engaging speaker each week. (I loved grad school at TCU so this is a real treat for me!)

Social media is also a chance to hear what your customers and community members think and believe about certain issues and where they are focusing their energies and resources all on a real-time basis.

By listening and engaging in social media, one has a golden opportunity to soak up knowledge and become a more skilled practitioner and strategic communications professional.

Want and need the how-to? Need the basics, only a refresher or just want to hear from the pros? Then please consider joining Greater Fort Worth PRSA on May 13, for our Professional Development Workshop with http:/ / and

Details here:

Don't wait, register today!

Then while you are at it, start listening and reading blogs, Wikipedia, or get a Twitter or Facebook account and get engaged. As our friend Geoff Livingston has said more than once "Now is Gone" and very simply the future is NOW! (NOTE: There is a book on genetics titled "The Future is now" by William, Kristol and Cohen but I'm just writing those words in general terms.)

Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!

Follow me on Twitter:

RESOURCES MENTIONED ABOVE: (Now offering a free 31-day effort on building a better blog.)

P.S. If you are unable to attend May 13, several GFW PRSA members will be blogging or Twittering live from the workshop.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Words Every PR Pro Should Know

This post is cross-posted from FW PRSA member, Lauren Fernandez's blog

There are many words that every public relations professional should know. Below are four that I think you should never leave home without - preferably in a cool Johnny Bravo lunch pail.



I've heard many say that a PR pro is only as good as their next pitch. But how do you get there? How do you make sure that your message is being heard; that the right outlets and correct beat reporters are receiving your pitch? You prepare and plan. Media plans are an effective tool when outlining your course of action. My media plans to detail this way.
  1. Date
  2. What type of outlets I'm pitching (National Radio, Local TV, blogs, etc)
  3. How I'm doing it (Pitch, Media Alert, etc.)
  4. Angle I'm taking
  5. 3 points I can touch on if I connect with a reporter
Media plans should also include your follow-up time, and if applicable, what you plan to do after the event occurs. Being prepared to pitch a press release is important as well. You will, at best, have 30 seconds to hook a reporter. If it is filled with 'uhms' and stammers, the likelyhood that a reporter will continue to listen to you is pretty non-existent. You don't sound prepared or knowledgeable, and a reporter views you as their first source and connection to a possible story. If they have a hard time with you, that will cast the first impression on your client. Even if it's a great story, if you can't get it out, it means nothing.


The best laid out plans need to be consistently evaluated throughout the process. You need to be able to demonstrate value by setting benchmarks and continuously measuring the impact. If it's not working, change it. A media plan is not set in stone. A reporter hates the idea? Maybe you are pitching the wrong beat. You aren't gaining any traction? It could be because you're not hitting the target audience appropriately. If you continiously evaluate your success and learn from the failures, your plan will go consistently smoother and shows that you can project manage efficiently.


The two most important skills (in my opinion) for a PR pro to have are writing and research. Writing should be concise and tight, and get straight to the point. Remember the 30 second rule? You need to be able to grab a reporter's attention in the first two sentences. I joke that PR pros have to be ADD because they are constantly switching projects or getting new ideas, and reporters are no different - I had a reporter friend that said unless they can see me sitting in front of them in a cute dress and smiling, they probably will have an image of me in their head as a robot talking/writing to them. If your writing doesn't follow the basic principles (yes, including AP Style) you will be viewed as incompetent by the reporter. It doesn't matter if you have the best hook in the world - if it isn't written well and tight, you might as well forget getting a placement.


It seems to be a no brainer, but you have to exude confidence in your professional role. You are the expert. You know the client well and should be passionate about the topic. If you are nervous, a reporter will pick up on that. They will probably ask you harder questions and try to find the "juicy juice" because they think you might slip. Before you pitch a reporter, practice. Write down a few sentences, or opening lines, on your computer to refer to when you're on the phone. Bullet some key points to hit on. Practice in front of the mirror. Pull a co-worker aside and have them fire questions at you. Send a news release to someone who has no link to the company and ask them if they would be interested in reading a story on it. This will give you the confidence that you can pitch a release and have a great story for a reporter to pick up on.

So, what words do you never leave home without?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Public Relations Roles explained through Baseball Positions

CJ Wilson of the Texas Rangers pitching
This post is cross-posted on the Next Communications blog.

In honor of the start of the 2009 Major League Baseball season, I thought it might be fun to create a listing of the roles and functions for public relations by baseball positions.

  1. Pitcher (P) - In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throws the baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter who attempts to either make contact with it or draw a walk. In PR, the pitching role is one where the professional attempts to garner publicity or attention through effective media relations.

  2. Catcher (C) - Positioned behind home plate, the catcher can see the whole field; therefore, he is in the best position to direct and lead the other players in a defensive play. In PR, this is role of strategy. Like a catcher, the PR professional sees the big picture where they understand that actions will lead to specific reactions.

  3. First baseman (1B) - A first baseman is the player on the team playing defense who fields the area nearest first base. In PR, this is the role of first response. The initial response to problems and/or crisis will make or break the situation.

  4. Second baseman (2B) - The second baseman often possesses quick hands and feet, the ability to get rid of the ball quickly, and must be able to make the pivot on a double play. In PR, this role is of measured quickness. A public relations professional helps to protect reputation and vital relationships when an organization is under attack.

  5. Third baseman (3B) - Third base is known as the "hot corner", because the third baseman is relatively close to the batter and most right-handed hitters tend to hit the ball hard in this direction. In PR, this is the role of coordination and quick reactions that comes with experience from having to catch hard line drives or difficult internal communication challenges.

  6. Shortstop (SS) - Shortstop is often regarded as the most dynamic defensive position in baseball so naturally the PR role is one of adaptability. The one constant is that things change, it is up to the public relations professional to be aware and keep up with the changing landscape of the profession, media, and organizational industry.

  7. Left fielder (LF) - Outfielders must cover large distances, so speed, instincts, and quickness in reacting to the ball are key. They must be able to learn to judge whether to attempt a difficult catch and risk letting the ball get past them, or to instead allow the ball to fall in order to guarantee a swift play and prevent the advance of runners. In PR, this role can be equated to good judgment. Professionals need to understand when not doing or saying something will provide the best benefit to the organization.

  8. Center fielder (CF) - The center fielder has the greatest responsibility among the three outfielders for coordinating their play to prevent collisions when converging on a fly ball, and on plays where he does not make the catch, he must position himself behind the corner outfielder in case the ball gets past him. In PR, this role is made up of the credibility a professional must possess in order to be an effective communicator to both internal and external audiences. Just like a center fielder, the PR professional needs excellent vision and depth perception.

  9. Right fielder (RF) - Of all outfield positions, the right fielder often has the strongest arm, because they are the farthest from third base. However, oftentimes, as in lower-levels of baseball, right field is the least likely to see much action because most hitters are right-handed and tend to pull the ball to the left field and center. In PR, this is the role of monitoring and measurement. Unfortunately, many professionals are not as up to speed in this area (me included) as we should do whatever it takes to learn how to measure. It requires additional work and research, but it is one of reward and justification for jobs well done.
Additional Positions
  • Designated Hitter (DH) - The designated hitter is the official position in the American League to bat in place of the pitcher. In PR, this is the role the understands the usefulness of social media for listening and engaging an organization's community. The professional needs to fully grasp various aspects of the social web to reach audiences including, at times, as a way to by-pass the mainstream media.

  • Manager - A manager controls matters of team strategy on the field and team leadership. In Pr, it's the same thing; coordination of play and tactical movements are integral for successful public relations.

Play Ball!