Monday, November 29, 2010

Passing the torch of the chapter presidency

PRESIDENT’S COLUMN -- Tom Burke, APR, Greater Fort Worth PRSA

It’s great to return home after an incredible five weeks in Turkey.

Turkey is a hidden gem; at least it was to me. I’m glad I discovered this amazing country, full of the most genuine, happy, caring, proud and fun-loving people you will ever meet. If the opportunity to visit Turkey arises, seize it. Or just create the opportunity for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

[Note: Tom was in Turkey taking part in the IBM Corporate Service Corps.]

Not only is it good to be back in the U S of A, it’s good to be back during the holiday season, which is one of my favorite times of the year. Especially when the TCU football team is undefeated and all through the land there’s talk of the Horned Frogs perhaps playing in the national championship game! But the end of this year also means that my term as president of Greater Fort Worth PRSA is about over.

Passing the torch

When you’re president of an organization like the Fort Worth PRSA chapter, time can move very, very slowly, and your term can seem to go on and on. But time also flies. In many ways, it seems only yesterday that I was entrusted with the leadership of this incredible group. I am ready, however, to pass the torch to Carol Murray, APR. The chapter is in good hands.

[Photo by stevemoraco via Flickr Creative Commons]

Thank you to Carol, who presided over the board and chapter the nearly two months I was in Turkey, and who was as fine a president-elect as a president could hope for. Thanks, also, to the other officers and the board members, all of whom made this a successful and unforgettable year. A special thanks to Andra Bennett, APR; Laura Van Hoosier, APR; and Marc Flake, former presidents who accepted other officer roles this year and always were ready with feedback, guidance and recommendations. It says a lot about an organization when leaders step forward year after year to contribute their expertise. And thank you to the new members who assumed leadership roles. You are our future, and the trust and respect you earned this year will serve you well.

This has been one of the most energizing, fulfilling and amazing years of my 35-year career. I only hope that in some way I helped make 2010 as memorable for others as it has been for me.

Thank you.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Congratulations, Dr. Amiso George

Dr. Amiso George, APR, Fellow PRSA, was recently inducted into the PRSA College of Fellows at the 2010 International Conference. 

The Greater Ft. Worth Chapter of PRSA held a reception for Amiso at Dos Gringos on October 29. 

Dr. George with two of her TCU students.
Group shot of the PRSA Fellows from the Fort Worth chapter, including (from left) Mary Dulle, APR; Carolyn Bobo, APR; Dr. Doug Newsom, APR; Bill Lawrence, Dr. Amiso George, APR.

 Dr. George at her induction ceremony

 Dr. George at her induction ceremony

Dr. George with Dr. Julie O’Neil (left) and Carolyn Bobo, APR (right) 

Read the full release from PRSA on the 2010 College of Fellows Inductees. Amiso George, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, is an associate professor of strategic communication at Texas Christian University.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Translucency and the No Comment Debate in the Era of Transparency (September)

The following are notes provided by GFW PRSA chapter member and past president, Holly Ellman from the September luncheon:
Rob Wakefield, Ph.D. and Susan Walton - Brigham Young University

Two years ago Brad Rawlins was one of the first to get information on transparency into the public relations body of knowledge.
Three Concepts of Transparency
1.      Embrace open and honest communication of both successes and failures
2.      Engage with your publics, facilitate ongoing dialogue
3.      Relinquish the intent to hide things to make your organization look perfect
Sometimes there are limitations to what you can say. When and how should you be transparent?
No Comment
There are traditional reasons for not being transparent:
·         You don’t know the answer
·         You feel a different spokesperson, perhaps with more or specialized knowledge, should respond
·         Response involves a legal issue
·         The activity/event deals with personal or confidential information
Consider Translucency. It’s not a replacement for transparency, but is a necessary supplement, or corollary.
Translucency discerns the outline of an object, but does not completely reveal the object.
When should you be transparent?
  1. Is what you are disclosing the truth? (Not just a collection of facts – appropriate context is important.)
  2. Does it meet cultural norms and expectations? (For example, in the Toyota recalls, the Japanese people were insulted that the Toyota CEO addressed the company’s crisis. In this culture, it is sometimes more important to save face.)
  3. Is it authentic? Does it reflect who you are and who you say you are?
  4. Is it the best ethical and emotional choice? Could reputation be damaged?
  5. If releasing the information available at the time, when you know more information will be available at a later date, would you cause someone to act too early without all the facts?
Photo: dbl90 via Flickr Creative Commons
A complaint is lodged.
An investigation is launched.
Public is informed about investigation.
The complainant is absolved.
Reputation is potentially damaged.

A complaint is lodged.
An investigation is launched.
The complainant is absolved.
Public is informed.
Reputation is maintained.

Toward Translucent Transparency
Does not give permission to hide things.
  1. Most important thing is commitment to open communication with stakeholders to the highest extent possible.
  2.  Maintain open, transparent communication always – in good times and bad – ahead of a crisis as well as in the midst of one.
  3.  Recognize and freely acknowledge that you rarely have all the answers. Say this clearly and frequently, and explain why this is true.
  4. Hold both sides of the debate accountable for transparency. What are the motives on both sides? (i.e., the media)
Question and Answer Period
Translucency is becoming more acceptable to attorneys, who are beginning to realize the importance of the court of public opinion.
In the non-profit world, transparency is hugely important. A lot of the organization’s credibility depends on its past behavior. Carefully think through and explain why you can’t share some financial information, for example. (i.e., problems the Red Cross faced when it was discovered that some of the money donated for Katrina victims went instead to operating funds or to save for future needs)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Should PRSA Board Service be tied to Public Relations Accreditation?

This is cross-posted from a post by Ft. Worth PRSA member, Dan Keeney, APR.
The big debate in public relations circles these days has nothing to do with the outrageous efforts to sully the reputation of  Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange and its implications for the profession and journalism in general, BP’s ham handed response to the biggest manmade environmental disaster in U.S. history or even whether PR staffers caught posting phony reviews online should be tarred and feathered. Instead, the greatest minds of our profession are embroiled in a no-win argument about whether the Public Relations Society of America should require professional accreditation before being considered for service on the Society’s Board of Directors.

Established in 1964, the Accredited in Public Relations credential (APR) is awarded by the Universal Accreditation Board (disclosure: I earned my APR in 2000). It measures a public relations practitioner’s fundamental knowledge of communications theory and its application; establishes advanced capabilities in research, strategic planning, implementation and evaluation; and demonstrates a commitment to professional excellence and ethical conduct.

The APR credential has nothing to do with a person’s ability to govern effectively on the board of a national PR society. Zip. Zero. Nada.

Currently, PRSA requires that any prospective board member be accredited. When a ground-up rewrite of the PRSA bylaws was proposed last year, the organization’s General Assembly (the PRSA version of Congress) rejected the proposed language that would have stripped accreditation from board requirements. Despite voting a few years ago to drop the requirement that all Assembly Delegates be accredited, the Assembly balked at taking the next logical step.

The reason the PRSA general assembly voted to drop the requirement that Assembly Delegates be accredited (or “decouple” service from accreditation as we called it then) was that doing so eliminated so many highly qualified PRSA chapter leaders. How could a person serve as the president of a large chapter and not qualify to represent that chapter as a PRSA Assembly Delegate?

The rationale for keeping the accreditation requirement for Assembly Delegates then (as it is now for board service) is that it illustrates an organizational commitment to the credential. If PRSA’s leaders aren’t willing to pursue and achieve the credential, how can the organization suggest it has value for everyone else? What kind of PR practitioner would seek a leadership position but not consider it worthwhile to seek this profession’s credential?

That is a pretty good argument, but we aren’t in a world where everything makes sense. The fact is that only about 20 percent of PRSA members have achieved the APR credential. As a result, until the middle of the last decade, the organization basically had a class system of governance. Only 20 percent of the membership had the ability to serve on the PRSA General Assembly and/or Board of Directors. The other 80 percent, for which everything else was the same (including dues) could not participate in leadership.

Included in that 80 percent are highly capable PR practitioners, including accomplished leaders in corporate communications and agency management. Included in that 80 percent are people who have been leaders of the profession for 20 or more years and regularly shape thoughts about effective strategies, trends and ethics. And included in that 80 percent who, until the mid-00s, could not serve as an Assembly Delegate and STILL cannot serve as a PRSA Board Member are practitioners who have given countless hours of their time as leaders at the chapter and regional levels.

It didn’t make sense for the PRSA General Assembly and it does not make sense for the PRSA Board of Directors.

Last year when the general assembly passed an amendment to the proposed new bylaws that re-inserted the accreditation requirement for board service, I thought it was wrong. To make a point, I presented an amendment to re-insert the accreditation requirement for service as a General Assembly Delegate. I knew it would be defeated, but I wanted to make a point that their insistence on requiring an APR for board service made no sense given their vehement distaste for requiring APR for the assembly.

It was and is a blatant contradiction. If you believe accreditation should be a requirement for PRSA leadership, I respect that. But I can’t understand how you can require accreditation for one set of leaders but drop the same requirement for the other set of leaders.

I don’t think anyone really got the point I was trying to make. Turns out PR people are a very literal group and don’t really get irony.

Fast forward to today with forum posts and e-mails flying with semi-respectful insults pitting the leaders of our profession against each other. Each side is entrenched with very little likelihood that many will be influenced by the back and forth argument. But here’s the bottom line:
  • It makes no sense to require accreditation of the PRSA Board of Directors, especially since the PRSA General Assembly dropped the requirement for accreditation for itself and nearly all chapters have no APR requirements for leadership.
  • Given the fact that a majority of the leaders of PRSA chapters, regions and the PRSA General Assembly are not accredited, it is impossible to argue that accreditation has any impact on the ability to govern. The organization is already largely governed by unaccredited PR practitioners.
  • The inability of four out of five PRSA members to serve on the PRSA board regardless of their level of achievement, track record of service to the organization or interest in serving is patently unfair.
  • If the real goal is to illustrate the organization’s commitment to the credential, there must be better ways to accomplish that goal than coupling accreditation and board service.
That last point is where a meaningful and productive conversation really should start, but unfortunately year after year the PRSA General Assembly gets a glossed over report on the status of the organization’s accreditation promotion efforts. Let’s hope this year it is different.
This post was shared in the spirit of having a Point / Counterpoint discussion. What do you think? We are also open to posting a counter argument from membership.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not the Usual Suspects: Diversity in public relations work (August)

The following is a guest post provided by Bill Prickett, APR:
Photo by clevercupcakes via Creative Commons
The August program focused on “outsiders,” so I guess it’s appropriate that this post is written by someone from the Dallas chapter. I’ve been active in PRSA for many years, and served as the first co-chair of the Dallas Diversity Committee and was also involved in the diversity initiative with PRSA national. When I saw this topic, I knew I wanted to attend.

First, I want to report that the speaker, Jacquie Lambiase, Ph.D., was stellar, offering so much insight into a difficult and sometimes uncomfortable topic. She’s an associate professor in the strategic communication division of TCU's Schieffer School of Journalism and has co-edited and co-written two books on advertising's use of sexually oriented appeals, along with writing journal articles and books chapters on ethics, social media, and gendered images in mass media. Her content was informative and her style was casual, encouraging the interactive discussion that the audience obviously didn’t want to end.

She informed the group of her intentions to cover three basic areas on the topic of diversity: religion (specifically Islam) and disabilities, though her primary concentration would focus on gays, lesbian and transgendered in the workplace. At the very beginning, she shared that all three of these barriers would be helped by each of us adopting an attitude of hospitality—making people feel welcomed, valued and accepted.

I will attempt a brief (sigh) overview of some highlights from the presentation and discussion.

The day of the luncheon happened to be the first day of Ramadan, and it was brought out that neither of the DFW primary newspapers had carried any stories about the event or the religion. “Can you imagine Christmas without a front page story? Or Easter?” Jacquie asked the group.

On the subject of disabilities, Jacquie pointed out that most accommodations cost nothing. She said the best way to deal with people with disabilities is to “have the conversation”—talk about it and get it out in the open. Our differences keep us at a distance, but communication can bridge the gap.

When it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity, Jacquie encouraged companies to “come out of the closet” in their open, vocal support of GLBT employees. The group made numerous suggestions to help GLBT employees :
  • Provide domestic partnership benefits
  • Change the options on forms (Male and Female only; Single, Married, Divorced… Partnered?)
  • Use of offensive terminology: sexual preference, chosen lifestyle, etc.

I wish there was time and space to share all the insights I recorded in my notebook; they were helpful. (I learned the new term “Gay Vague Advertising” and how some companies are content with a casual ‘wink’ in the direction of the gay/lesbian market. That discussion was worth the price of the meal for me.) But it’s my hope that what I have shared here will give you an idea of what was discussed…and the incredible value of such programs.

As Jacquie pointed out, it’s not that we don’t need to continue our discussion on issues such as racial and gender diversity, but we must broaden our perspective and our hospitality. I applaud the Fort Worth chapter for addressing this topic in such a (pardon the pun) straight-forward and thoughtful approach.
Bill Prickett, APR works in Public Relations/Communications at Certified Payment Processing and is a Dallas PRSA chapter member.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

In the hot Texas sun, sweating and wondering...

The SunImage via Wikipedia
PRESIDENT’S COLUMN -- Tom Burke, APR, Greater Fort Worth PRSA 

Just sitting here in the hot Texas sun, sweating and wondering ...

... When is it okay to call a woman a fellow? Well, when that woman is Dr. Amiso M. George, APR. Amiso is a member of the Greater Fort Worth PRSA Chapter, and she's just been accepted by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) into its prestigious College of Fellows. The College of Fellows is an honorary organization within PRSA comprised of nearly 500 accredited practitioners and educators with at least 20 years of experience in the business. That's the top two percent of the profession who are members of PRSA.

Dr. George is an associate professor of strategic communication and advisor of the TCU-PRSSA/Bateman Team, Schieffer School of Journalism, Texas Christian University. Dr. George will be inducted into the College of Fellows at the PRSA International Conference in Washington, D.C., in October. She will be the fifth member of the Greater Fort Worth PRSA Chapter to become a Fellow. The four others are Dr. Doug Newsom, APR, Carolyn Bobo, APR, Bill Lawrence, APR and Mary Dulle, APR. It's a tribute to our Chapter that nearly four percent of our members are PRSA Fellows.

... What would we have done, and what would have happened, if the BP oil well in the Gulf couldn't be capped and the flow of oil stopped? What happens if we can't stop the flow of an underground oil well in the future?

... Was Neil Armstrong chewing gum when he walked on the moon 41 years ago, last month?

... How can millions of people daily be able to view a video being transmitted from a mile underwater, but the local cable company can't maintain service to my house during a thunderstorm?

... If there now are 400 billionaires in the world, why aren't we hearing about the many good things they are doing with their money to benefit the human race?

... If members of the millennial generation are supposed to be such collaborative communicators, why are they like so many other youngsters and do not talk to their parents?

... Shouldn't there be a national holiday for the original Anthora's inventor, who recently died?

... If we are supposed to be flying the friendly skies, why are so many pilots depressed? Just recently, the FAA changed a generations-old policy and began allowing pilots with mild to moderate depression to fly while taking antidepressants. The thought of having a depressed pilot in the cockpit depresses me.

... If after reading the August issue of Texas Monthly, you wondered, as I did, if John Graves found a back porch while he was at TCU.

Try to stay cool. Hopefully, August will fly by and give way to cooler weather and the 2010 college football season!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, July 26, 2010

Do you have 20/20 vision? Who will rule the business and political world in 2020

PRSA Monthly Luncheon, Wednesday, July 14, 2010
By Corey Lark, Open Channels Group

The Fort Worth PRSA July 2010 presentation was a little different than usual. The main focus was business and the International business environment. For those that missed it, here's a summary of lessons learned and take-aways from the program, Do you have 20/20 vision? Who will rule the business and political world in 2020, with Bill Moncrief, Ph.D., senior associate dean and professor of international business at the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University. (See the notes in Flashpaper below or get the PDF.)

Key PR Take-Aways:
  • The Internet is a blessing, has brought the world together
  • We always need to be looking 10 years out, change is always coming
  • In order to thrive in business, you need to be doing business in the world market
  • When the Obama administration took office, the world's perception of the U.S. became more positive and international business picked up
  • The world is constantly changing, we need to be prepared to work in the global marketplace; we need to be prepared for the rapid change that is constantly occurring
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The value of PR and driving fast

Old School NASCAR- Richard Petty 1992Image by James Marvin Phelps (mandj98) via Flickr
Tom Burke, APR, Greater Fort Worth PRSA

Thanks to a special gift received this past Christmas, I recently had the opportunity to "Be like Richard Petty" by driving a 600-horsepower NASCAR car eight laps around the 2.5-mile track at Texas Motor Speedway. My wife didn't understand why such an experience was a big deal. After all, she said, I drive along Interstate 35 everyday as if I am racing at the Speedway. Friends and colleagues figured I was checking off an item on my bucket list. Truth is, the only item on my bucket list is to not "kick the bucket" each and every day!

Traveling along at 130 mph like a pea crammed into an extra-small pod (how do pro racers drive 500 or so miles in such conditions?) certainly gives you a different perspective on things, especially when you have to navigate banked turns and zip alongside a daunting wall displaying black skid marks from earlier confrontations, all of which the wall easily won. It also makes you realize that this is what many of us in the fast-paced world of public relations profession do on a daily basis; we speed along, perhaps overlooking opportunities to display the art and science of our profession.

While many would argue that the deep value of public relations is exemplified during a crisis, such as the BP offshore drilling incident in the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps because we often are moving at the speed of sound we forget how powerful and beneficial public relations can be during the best of times. Take, for instance, corporate social responsibility. From Tom's Shoes to Kimberly-Clark to the Pepsi Refresh Project, the American Express Members Project and the IBM Corporate Service Corps, companies worldwide are becoming part of the corporate social responsibility trend. As Laura Moore, vice president, global communications, Kimberly-Clark, said during the June Greater Fort Worth PRSA luncheon, through its corporate social responsibility program, Kimberly-Clark and its employees contributed $21.6 million in cash and product donations and 60,000 hours of time to charitable causes worldwide last year. Kimberly-Clark highlighted these amazing accomplishments in its "2009 Sustainability Report Summary." It's a classic example of a classic definition of public relations: "Do good, then tell others."

When you've done good, and told others, it can make it a lot easier to pick up the pieces if you happen to crash into a wall going 130 mph or more.

That's the value of public relations.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Recap: Building a Corporate Social Responsibility Program

The following is a summary of lessons learned and take-aways from the Ft. Worth PRSA June 2010 program, Building a Corporate Social Responsibility Program, with Laura K. Moore, Vice President - Global Communications, Kimberly-Clark Corporation:

What is strategic Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
  • Aligning your corporate strategy with your business strategy
  • Defining the positive impact you aim to make based on what your company is good at
  • An understanding that doing good can be good for business
Why is CSR important?
  • Growing environmental concerns
  • Companies moving from seeing CSR as less of an obligation to more of a business opportunity
  • Internet enables people to scrutinize corporate behavior
  • Increased expectations of companies to contribute
  • Corporate reputations bruised post-recession
  • Millennial expectations (the connected generation)
CSR goes beyond philanthropy, this is about corporate citizenship.

How the company treats:
  • Community
  • Suppliers
  • Government
  • Employees
  • Customers
  • Environment
Your CSR strategy has to be lived from the inside out.
  • Be it. Do it. Say it.
A cohesive CSR strategy ensures all key elements of the organization work together.
  • Employee contributions + Brand Cause Marketing + Corporate Giving = Greater Impact, More Recognition
Corporate trust is a key driver of choice and is currently seriously challenged.

* When people trust a company they:
  • Will pay more
  • Will recommend it to others
Engagement increases when an employee is satisfied with the company's CSR initiatives. Employees need to be asking themselves, "What do we stand for?"

Laura Moore pulled the curtain back a little bit on Kimberly-Clark's CSR strategy and plans to move forward. She stated that Kimberly-Clark Corporate Goal: Be responsible stewards of the environment and positive contributors to our community.

Kimberly-Clark has the global assets and framework, however Moore explained that she doesn't have the Ta-Da example from the corporation yet since it is still a work in progress.
(Photo: Kimberly-Clark Sustainability Report)

A CSR Enterprise Signature Project needs to:
  • be based in research;
  • have a defined focus to be successful;
  • leverage brands for focus in relevant areas and expertise from with organization; and
  • be supported and endorsed by whole organization.
What would you add? What do you see as necessary components, objectives, or concepts for a successful CSR program? The comments are yours.
Special thanks to Corey Lark, AE at Open Channels Group for providing feedback and notes on the June program for the chapter.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, June 14, 2010

BP: A disaster on all fronts

By Margaret Ritsch, APR (cross-posted from the Balcom Agency blog)

As PR professionals watch the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history unfold, we just shake our heads in wonder. Are there any seasoned public relations people at BP's executive table?

It is clear that BP's mistakes not only have damaged untold species, livelihoods, and local economies. Its problems are compounded by the apparent disregard for some of the key principles of crisis communications. Granted, lawyers are now in control because of the likelihood of criminal charges. But early in a crisis is when a company's behavior and communications matter most. Failure to respond quickly and communicate openly in ways that meet the public's needs and expectations will always make matters worse.

1. Accessibility and openness. When a company has a big problem that causes public harm, that company should communicate both internally and externally just as aggressively as it works to fix the problem.

This is one of many principles taught by James Lukaszewski, APR, a leading national figure in crisis communications and public relations. (I've learned a lot from Jim Lukaszewski. His company's website is worth a visit:

A public crisis of this dimension demands that a company's top executive step up, communicate, and answer the hard questions. CEO Tony Hayward should be much more visible and accessible to press and to the many publics affected by this disaster. Sorry Tony, you can't have your life back, not for a while.

I believe BP would benefit from allowing TV cameras on its rigs to talk with the workers who are laboring around the clock to repair the leak, drill relief wells and perform other demanding tasks. Workers cleaning up beaches also say they can't speak with press. Now controlling the message is important to a company in a crisis, but within reason. There ought to be a way for the company to demonstrate and describe its cleanup and repair efforts at the ground level.

It would go a long way to rebuild confidence that BP is working tirelessly to try to ameliorate the damage caused by the oil rig blowout and continuing oil flow. It would humanize the company.

2. Responsiveness. Companies have a responsibility to talk about problems affecting the public and to provide important, relevant information as quickly and completely as they can -- especially when health and safety are at risk.

Only this week has BP provided the HD video footage that shows the oil gushing out of the well hole. Scientists and others have been asking for this video for weeks in order to accurately gauge the amount of leakage.

3. Ethics. If a company is at fault, it should admit its mistake, apologize, and explain as quickly as possible. With an absolute commitment to telling the truth. Granted, this was a complex operation involving multiple companies besides BP. Still, BP owes its employees, shareholders, and all affected parties a huge apology, an acknowledgment of its role in this disaster, and an assurance -- grounded in reality -- that this kind of problem will never happen again.

4. Engagement. It is important in a crisis to answer the public's questions and volunteer information that may be of interest -- to use a two-way communications model so that the company is not just talking, but it is also listening and responding.

Instead, BP is engaged in an elaborate, costly, one-way advertising campaign. It is talking at its publics through full-page color ads in the New York Times and likely other news vehicles and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars purchasing Google and Yahoo search terms. More direct engagement with the publics affected by the disaster would cost a lot less and be more effective in rebuilding trust in the company.

5. Commitment. Companies need to learn from their mistakes, talk publicly about what they learned, and commit publicly to fixing whatever needs to be fixed internally to prevent big mistakes from happening again.

BP pleaded guilty in the 2005 explosion at its Texas City refinery to violating the Clean Air Act. It pled guilty again to another federal violation for its role in causing oil spills in Alaska in 2006. One has to wonder if BP has learned from its mistakes and examined the business practices that have now led to an enormous environmental disaster. In my humble opinion, from this small agency in Fort Worth, this should be BP's first priority.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, May 23, 2010

PR people can measure social media - May 2010 Professional Development Recap

This is cross-posted from the Next Communications blog.

I want to be perfectly clear about something, I don't have a complete grasp of social media measurement. But I want to learn. Thankfully, the May 2010 Fort Worth PRSA professional development program was there to help. Katie Paine was our featured speaker and billed to provide morning and lunch sessions focused on key elements of measurement: engagement, including quantitative, qualitative, and new relationship metrics.

If we are going to be any good at using measurement, we must conquer fears. PR people spend too much time being afraid metrics will reveal that their program isn't working; afraid of what they'll hear; afraid they can't justify their program (or existence); and/or are afraid to admit that they don't know how to measure.
"The main reason to measure objectives is not so much to reward or punish individual communications managers for success or failure as it is to learn from the research whether a program should be continued as is, revised, or dropped in favor of another approach."
- Dr. James Grunig of the University of Maryland
Bottom-line, PR people spend too much time trying to justify our existence instead of showing business impact.

Old School vs. New School metrics
Old School Metrics:
  • AVEs (Katie Paine wants to destroy Ad Value Equivalencies.) 
  • Eyeballs
  • HITS (How Idiots Track Success)
  • Couch potatoes (I didn't quite understand this one)
  • # of Twitter followers (unless you're a celebrity)
  • # of Facebook Friends/"Likes" (unless they donate money)
New School Metrics:
  • Influence = The power or ability to effect someone's actions
  • Engagement = Some action beyond zero
  • Advocacy = Engagement driven by an agenda
  • Sentiment = contextual expression of opinion - regardless of tone
  • ROI = Return on Investment - no more, no less. End of discussion.
Starting to sink in
Goals drive metrics, metrics drive results:
Goal - Reputation/Relationship
Metrics - Relationship scores, recommendations, positioning, engagement

Goal - Get the word out on mission/safety/civic engagement
Metrics - % hearing, % believing, % acting

Goal - Marketing/leads/sales
Metrics - Engagement Index, cost per customer acquisition, web analytics, sales leads, marketing mix modeling
One of the great things about Katie Paine's program is that she provided attendees with other excellent resources such as Don Bartholomew (MetricsMan) and Eric Peterson (Web Analytics Demystified.) It says something positive to me when speakers point people to other resources.

The graphic below is from Bartholomew's blog on the topic of the digitization of research and measurement and it helps us visually see what we need to measure:
Here's some thoughts from our speaker on the importance for PR people to measure:
Much more to learn
Katie provided the link to her presentation slides "Are we engaged yet? How to develop your engagement metric." She has opened up a wealth of information for attendees and those who could not make the sessions or carve out some time on her blog. I hope you will take some time to mine such treasures as the 27 conversation types, the seven steps to the perfect 21st Century Measurement Program, engagement on places over which you have no control, why you need a Kick Butt Index and much more.

Finally, I'd like to personally thank Katie for her gracious attitude and thoughtful demeanor while imparting some fantastic information. My seven pages of notes requires some time for reflection and application. (Oh and thanks for explaining Maine coon cats, talking politics and of course, geeking out a bit on NCIS.)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Grow your social media measurement skills

President's Column: Tom Burke, APR, Greater Fort Worth PRSA
(This post appeared in the May 2010 issue of the eChaser)

It’s continual learning for me at IBM. Every day. It’s that way when you’re on a team of 400,000 people helping to build a smarter planet and 399,999 of those people are smarter than you!

Thankfully, in today’s intensely competitive and dynamic global marketplace, IBM continues to invest in employee development. Through various avenues, the company provides resources necessary to grow your skills, gain new experiences and build a high-impact career. A career differentiated by expertise. In fact, IBM’s achievements in learning and development recently earned Fortune magazine recognition as the No. 1 company for leaders.

This focus on skills and career development is also true of the Public Relations Society of America. Professional development is one of the most cherished benefits of PRSA membership. At Greater Fort Worth PRSA we continually strive to exceed this expectation of our members through relevant monthly programs and engaging events.

One of our most exciting professional development meetings is set for Wednesday, May 19, at Colonial Country Club. Katie Delahaye Paine, CEO and founder of KDPaine & Partners and author of “Measuring Public Relationships: The Data-Driven Communicator’s Guide to Success,” will lead a three-hour morning workshop focusing on key elements of engagement, including quantitative, qualitative and new relationship metrics. Over lunch she will review measurement principles and how they apply to the new, wild world of social media. It promises to be four hours of exceptional expertise building that you won’t want to miss.

In this crazy world we live in, it is more true than ever that if you’re not learning and growing, you are slowly fading away. And that doesn’t sound like too much fun, does it?

(Photo credit: Sarah Scissors)
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, March 11, 2010

5 Ways to Save Money on a Viral Video Project

This is cross-posted from chapter member and March luncheon speaker, Jamie Brown's PR blog:

Most public relations practitioners think of corporate video has high-dollar productions. However, the rules in today's world of social media are such that creating a video for your organization doesn't have to be expensive, and it can be just as valuable as a big budget corporate blockbuster. Click here and check out this rapping flight attendant from Southwest Airlines. Southwest put it on their blog and not long after they were fielding phone calls from CNN and The Jay Leno Show! You can't buy that kind of press.

My opportunity to create a viral video came while working at JPS. We wanted to launch a new customer service initiative and roll it out to all 4,500 employees who were geographically separated. We decided creating a series of videos that used humor and was attention grabbing would be far more effective than sending out an e-mail telling everyone to be nice and smile more often. Check out how we created elevator heroes and reminded everyone to provide better communication to patients by clicking here.

You too can create heroes or promote your company's fun atmosphere without breaking the bank by using the following guidelines:
  • Write it yourself
  • Use your own people as talent
  • Keep it short 1:30 - 2 min
  • Shoot multiple videos at one time
  • Use limited:
    • audio
    • graphics
    • 1ighting
Use these tactics and you should be able to produce a series of viral videos for $6,000-$10,000.
(Photo credit: Scott Kinmartin)
Do you have any additional ideas or tips on creating potentially viral videos on a budget? The comments are yours.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Change is Good

President's Column: Tom Burke, APR, Greater Fort Worth PRSA

Never mind that historic foot of snow on the ground, I still hit the neighborhood convenience store to pay my weekly state income tax by buying a lottery ticket. The clerk was all too perky. Must have been the weather. As he handed me the potential winning numbers, he said, “Get lucky. Change our lives.”

Not sure I want to change my life. Enhance it, maybe, but changing it at this stage of the game would be a bit drastic.

PR and communications professionals deal with change daily. Often we initiate it. Other times, someone else does, and we’re the ones to make it work. Well, the winds of change are blowing at Greater Fort Worth PRSA. The recession has caused us some minor headaches, one result being that the chapter will no longer pay the parking for luncheon attendees (although we did negotiate a garage rate of $2.50). But after this month that won’t be an issue, because the Petroleum Club is renovating, and we’re shifting to Colonial Country Club. Fore!

So come enjoy our last meeting at the Petroleum Club on Wednesday, March 10, and then recalibrate for Colonial, where the parking is free. The luncheon meetings will stay the second Wednesday of the month except in April for our annual Pro-Am Day. To be more convenient for TCU, UTA and Abilene Christian University students, that meeting will be Friday, April 9.

Whew! That’s enough change for even the most seasoned public relations/communications professional. By the way, the clerk didn’t give me any winning numbers. At least that’s one change I don’t have to worry about.

(Photo credit: TW Collins)
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, February 1, 2010

Helping hands and thoughts on crisis response

President's Column: Tom Burke, APR, Greater Fort Worth PRSA
It was morning. Early Monday morning. A pre-coffee, pre-newspaper, very early Monday morning. The boss was on the phone. She had just been told to be in an 8 a.m. meeting, and she needed a presentation. A presentation I had to put together, and fast. I thought this was a crisis. The next day I learned what a crisis really is.

An earthquake is a crisis. Especially an earthquake that pummels an already reeling country, delivering a cruel sucker punch to hundreds of thousands of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. Was this young boy’s mother or father alive? Any of his family members? What would these people eat or drink? Who would tend to their broken bones? Where would they live? One huge crisis after another. Minute by minute. Hour by hour.

As the situation unfolded before me on CNN, I was heartened that millions of us would do what we could to assist. I also was filled with pride that many local public relations and communications professionals are associated with organizations that assist in times of need — the American Red Cross, United Way, the Salvation Army, food banks, hospitals, emergency responders, women’s shelters, shelters for the homeless. What would we do without these groups and the public relations and communications professionals who help them fulfill their mission? 

Think, too, about the dedicated communications professionals who staff critical positions at local corporations and organizations, school districts and government entities. They handle the crisis message on a regular basis, to the benefit of us all. Think H1N1 or the swine flu, and recall the superb job done recently by the Fort Worth Independent School District and Tarrant County. And be thankful for the media people who partner at times with PR departments to inform, educate and protect our community. It’s a partnership that lets us know that no matter what happens, day or night, helping hands are near.

Helping hands. Comfort. Hope. These things, and so much more, are needed by the people of Haiti. For they are the ones who experienced the real crisis.
-- from the February 2010 eChaser newsletter

(Photo credit: JMaz Photo)

School PR response to the H1N1 Crisis

In January, the Greater Fort Worth Chapter of PRSA kicked off 2010 with a program that featured the Fort Worth ISD's Communications Department and their presentation H1N1: Six Days in May and Beyond.

The presentation was in essence the school district's communications/PR response to the H1N1/Swine Flu outbreak that hit our area and the controversy they had to tackle. Below is the video the team presented:

What struck me about that District's response was that it had to be an integrated effort by all areas in order to be successful. This was no time for silos and worrying about stepping on toes. The administration, operations, campuses, technology, transportation, etc. in addition to the communications efforts all had to coordinate and cooperate. From a PR stand-point, they wanted to position the District as doing the right thing for kids. FWISD Senior Communications Officer, Barbara Griffith, pointed out that the actions and decisions were made in a way to show that the district was "going to protect our children."

Communications Carry-out:
  • Plan, plan, plan - "We thought we had a crisis can never plan enough," said Griffith.
  • Trust your communication channels - Think through response mechanism and all of its forms, i.e. dedicated web presence for issue, phone tree, phone hot-line for Q&A, in-house video options, press conferences and media relations, social media tools, etc. 
  • Be flexible - They were shooting at a moving target during the crisis because of internal/external influences such as national, state, and local health agencies mandates. During their meetings, no idea was a bad idea.
  • Pay attention to media needs - Think of things from the media's perspective and plan (or adapt) accordingly.
  • A united front - This was a huge team effort and exemplified the "Ft. Worth way."
From my perspective as school PR professional, I believe the overall operationally integrated effort and approach for continued learning, and a swift return to normal through the H1N1 crisis by the Ft. Worth ISD last year was highly commendable and impressive. Were their decisions popular? Not for everyone inside and outside the organization. But then, that's the line schools districts and leaders have to walk in times of fear in order to meet the needs, trust and expectations of our communities.

If you attended this program, what were some things that applied to you and your work? The comments are yours.

Note: This post was delayed in anticipation of the video presentation being uploaded to the FWISD YouTube channel. Special thanks to Barbara Griffith, Clint Bond, and Scott Juvette and their communications/PR team. The post is also cross-posted on the Next Communications blog.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

PR pros thrive and learn @FortWorthPRSA

This is cross-posted on the Next Communications blog:

I am a member of and hold a board position with the Greater Ft. Worth Chapter of PRSA. At the January Board meeting, we were given the local results from the PRSA's all-chapters survey that was launched in March of last year.

According to William Murray, the President and COO of PRSA, the purpose of the survey was "to identify, in a methodical, statistically sound way, which Chapters represent best practices in the area of service delivery, and who can serve as models for other Chapters to learn from and emulate."

The Results
Here are some of the interesting and in some cases, surprising, data points from the Ft. Worth chapter report:

Chapter Satisfaction was listed at 82% compared to a 53% all chapter average and 58% peer chapter by size.

Quotes from the open-ended questions included Positives
  • “Good for networking.”
  • “Necessary.”
  • “Can't think of anything that it is not doing. Very busy bunch.”
...and Negatives
  • “We need more of the higher level training experiences like they provide at PRSA New York.”
  • “Sometimes not substantive.”
  • “The same basic formula for monthly meetings gets boring after awhile.”
 The respondents wanted to see our chapter Do More
  • Programs delivered by thought-leaders
  • Ethics programs
  • Newsletter
...Do Less
  • Award programs
  • Mentoring programs (This was actually surprising since mentoring should be a fundamental aspect in my opinion.)
  • e-Group or listserv
...and Maintain

Chapter events were rated very well including highest remarks in the categories of Professional, Beneficial, Relevant, a Learning Experience, and Welcoming. (I attribute the last one as being in part because we are in Ft. Worth.)

There are some great take-aways for the chapter leadership and members to assess moving forward. I really appreciate PRSA National taking this on for the chapters as a way to help us grow as an organization and on our local levels. As a PR professional, I think it is a great investment of my time to be a member of PRSA and look forward to another enlightening and challenging year.

If you have attended any of the Ft. Worth PRSA chapter events/meetings (or other PRSA chapter meetings) I would appreciate any feedback on your experiences. As always, the comments are yours.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Make every second count this year

150 pxImage via Wikipedia

President's Column: Tom Burke, APR, Greater Fort Worth PRSA

As hard as it is to believe, a decade has come and gone. As they say, time really does fly. Then again, even a second can seem like an eternity and be life-changing. Just ask the Nebraska Cornhuskers. And the Texas Longhorns. And the TCU Horned Frogs. In the Big 12 Championship game last month, one second was the difference between Nebraska losing, Texas winning and TCU being in the Fiesta Bowl on January 4 instead of playing for the national championship January 7 in Pasadena. In other words, every second counts.

I hope to make every second count this year for the magnificent public relations professionals in Greater Fort Worth PRSA. It is humbling to lead such a dynamic crowd in my hometown, and an honor as president to follow in the footsteps of some of the titans of our industry — Andra Bennett, APR; Laura Van Hoosier, APR; Marc Flake; Holly Ellman; Heather Senter, APR. I am surrounded by an amazing group of accomplished and dedicated people, including the chapter’s 2010 officers and committee chairs. Thanks to all of them for agreeing to lead with me in the New Year.

The year begins with uncertainty swirling about, but I am encouraged by the continued vitality of the Fort Worth-Dallas Metroplex and the resiliency of not only our local public relations professionals but the entire workforce. Hopefully we will not see worse economic times or more unsettling changes than what we just survived and that better days are ahead as we build on the personal and professional relationships that sustain us.

I wish you unbridled success and happiness in 2010. And let’s all resolve to make every second count.

Tom C. Burke, APR
(TCU '76)
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, January 7, 2010

PR Dreams for 2010

This is cross-posted from Linda Jacobson's blog, The Saltlick.

Googling 2010 predictions shows that it’s the 36th-most searched subject on the final day of the decade. I’ve read some predictions, like these, with an enthusiastic nod. Still, I think there’s some of the “daring to dream” aspect that’s missing. That’s what I crave most, the idea that as a PR professional, I can do something in a new and unique way. So, without any prediction whatsoever, here’s my wish list for PR in 2010:
  1. I want to see my elected PRSA leadership affirm accreditation with one voice and promote it. The APR conversation will continue to be circular without a strong, united voice coming from the association’s elected leadership. My wish would result in more knowledgeable PR professionals coming up through the profession and agreement on best PR practices permeating down from the top. I’m tired of hearing the same old arguments about why senior PR pros who don’t possess APR think it’s a bad idea. Get over yourselves already, and together, let’s build up the profession with professional standards and expectations.

  2. I’m wishing for technology that allows PR to deliver green. Instead of just talking about how green an industry is, I’d like to practice green and add in the WOW factor. I can’t wait to deliver a PR communiqué using holographic displays from smart phones and e-mails. Or how about replacing Powerpoint with this type of presentation? Steve Jobs, can you hear me?

  3. Quality content. Repeat that three times please. And then do it. Don’t put something out there that isn’t relevant, fresh and timely. That means PR professionals will need to hone their strategic skills and nurture their journalistic relationships. Spend time doing this instead of putting out a news release every single day. We’ll all reap the benefit of that practice.

  4. Play nice with others. Marketers, advertisers and PR professionals need to be on the same team. Playing to each strength usually gets targeted results. When one of the three legs decides not to do this, the result skews and doesn’t deliver full strength.

I’m sure you have dreams for the PR profession, too. Please share those, so we can all toast them together, and here’s hoping your PR dreams come true in 2010.