Thursday, December 15, 2011

Let's Talk Video

This is the digital age, which means we should be thinking visually more than ever before, according to Studios 121 Account Manager Dani Dufresne.

During her presentation to PRSA this week, Dufresne offered three basic tips to keep in mind when planning to tell your organization’s story via video:

1. Be Professional: Because visual storytelling leaves little room for distraction (vs. reading online text), poor video quality will be reflected without proper attention to audio, lighting and graphics. Therefore, beware of bargain packages, which may or may not offer excellence along those lines. Another sign of good video quality is the addition of other elements, which add interest and pace. No one wants to watch a talking-head-only video, so consider cutting away to B-roll footage and including graphics to add appeal.

2. Be Real: Coaching is highly recommended, and videos should be scripted, not read. Consider using what is “real” about your organization (e.g., featuring an employee, the campus, parts of the community, etc.), to convey authenticity.

3. Be Different: Dufresne likes the phrase, “be bold, not beige.” In other words, transform your dry content, be distinctive, and think outside the box.

When communications planning, consider using video in any way you can, such as for VNRs, brand awareness, community outreach, crisis management, and more. To contact Dufresne, send an email to:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Help Define Public Relations - #PRDefined

by Richie Escovedo (@vedo)

In 1982, a first-class stamp was 20 cents, Michael Jackson's Thriller was released, the world's population was 4.6 billion, and Johnson & Johnson had a PR nightmare on their hands that led to what is now a model crisis response case study. Ironically, 1982 was also the last time the Public Relations Society of America defined public relations.

Last week, PRSA launched a campaign to create a modern definition for PR with a dedicated site and a strategic Media & Advertising column placement in the New York Times.  I was thrilled to see this collaborative effort to get an updated (and hopefully better) answer to the question, "What is public relations?"

We've needed something new. Public relations takes a beating outside the industry from those who relegate it to only media relations or worse, spin. And honestly, we seldom do an adequate job within the ranks of PR pros of fighting these and other misconceptions. So it's time for a change. (Disclosure: I've been a member of PRSA since 2001.)

Out with the old, in with the new
In 1982, PRSA adopted a definition for PR as:
“Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”
Today, we have an opportunity to adapt this definition to better fit what it is that we do. Take some time to review the notes from the one-day summit of the Definition of Public Relations Task Force.

The group concluded that a modern definition of public relations should be limited to a single sentence: 
Public relations [DOES WHAT] with/for [WHOM] to [DO WHAT] for [WHAT PURPOSE].
The group also saw the need for the modern PR definition to explain two specific things:
  1. How public relations drives business success; and
  2. How public relations protects and/or promotes the organization or brand.
Submit your definition by Friday, December 2, 2011.

Only the beginning
The campaign is just a start to what could be something really fantastic for public relations. Will the final definition end the debate? No way. Consider it the start to a much greater conversation within our field. I can't wait to see what's next.

Follow the conversation on Twitter with the #PRDefined hastag.

(This is cross-posted from the Next Communications blog.)
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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Nowhere to Hide -- Transparency, Communication, Integrity Protect Reputation

By Joan Hunter

*My Summary, Plus Full Speech, of GFW PRSA Ethics Month Speaker John “Pat” Philbin, Crisis1 CEO and former FEMA official.

Unethical practices or actions “are going to come out,” said John “Pat” Philbin, president and CEO of Crisis1, in Washington D.C.

Speaking to one of the largest-attended GFW PRSA monthly programs during our chapter’s September Ethics month, the former director of external affairs of FEMA, offered his personal experience and professional expertise on how public relations professionals can help protect and defend their organizations against unethical conduct charges – whether unintended, true or publicly misperceived.

As an Accredited Public Relations (APR) professional and long-time member of PRSA, Philbin emphasized the importance of leading our organizations to adhere to PRSA’s national code of ethics.

Philbin graciously agreed to allow the Fort Worth Chapter to share the text of his remarks which can be accessed at the end of some of his major points I’ve summarized here:

*Philbin emphasized that PR professionals must match the speed of traditional news media in getting their organization’s own messages out simultaneously, not just to news media but to all their key audiences.

His observations about the environment in which our organizations operate today included:

*Today, speed is viewed as “more important than accuracy.”

*(As a result of this environment), “we also can observe the role of technology and influence of immediacy in watching reporters who monitor twitter accounts and broadcast reports live without so much as qualifying the veracity of the information.”

*“PRSA’s Code of Ethics requires us to advance the free flow of accurate and truthful information that serves the public interest. It is one of the primary reasons that I entered this profession in the mid-1980s.”

*“…We as communicators must embrace and leverage the capability it (technology) provides by getting critical information to those who matter most to our organizations because we will be held to a much higher standard than the media if the information is inaccurate.”

*“I believe it is imperative to help organizations create trust with those who matter most. One way to accomplish this is to promote and enhance transparency throughout our organizations.”

*“The interesting thing about being transparent is that it can actually reduce risk.”

*“Doing the right thing and performing well is necessary but not sufficient. An organization that does the right thing well can be quickly dismissed, marginalized, bankrupted, you-name-it, if it does not communicate well.”

*“As a communications professional, there is little I can do to help a client if they aren’t doing what they say they are doing. Integrity is the only currency we have in public relations.”

*Philbin’s 25+ year career includes public and international affairs, business development, change management, crisis communication, media relations, reputation management and strategic planning with top-level senior governmental officials and company executives. He may be reached at or www.crisis1net.

Read the full text of Philbin’s remarks.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Grass Roots Media Relations and Social Media for the Small Non-Profit

The Greater Fort Worth PRSA took an opportunity to give back to the local community with our annual service project. This year's event was a free presentation and panel: "'Grass Roots' Media Relations and Social Media for the Small Non-Profit" and was held at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

Small non-profits, operating on limited budgets, need information, assistance and training to use media relations, social media and other public relations tools to help raise awareness of their important missions. The free workshop was the chapter's way of providing some insight in these areas for local non-profit organizations.

The event included panelists (L-R) Sandra Brodniki, APR, Gigi Westerman APR, moderated by Nancy Farrar and Richie Escovedo.

Attendees had a chance to address and question panelists and speak with them one on one.

The following is the presentation:
Special thanks to PRSA members Kendal Lake and Dustin Van Orne from the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth for organizing the community service event.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fort Worth #PRSA turns 25

Carol Murray, APR, Greater Fort Worth PRSA

Has Greater Fort Worth PRSA really been around 25 years?

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Fort Worth members of the Dallas-based North Texas chapter petitioned the National Assembly for a chapter of their own. But when I recall the events of 1986, it truly seems a lifetime away: Ronald Reagan was president. The space shuttle Challenger disintegrated in the sky. The national newspaper Today was launched. Prince Andrew wed Sarah Ferguson. Corazon Aquino became the first woman president of the Philippines. Pixar Studios opened. Ollie North and the Iran-Contra affair were household words. Bill Buckner became infamous for letting a baseball roll between his feet. “The Oprah Winfrey Show” premiered. And Geraldo Rivera made a big to-do over opening Al Capone’s secret vault, only to find … a bottle of moonshine.

In November we’ll celebrate the chapter’s 25th anniversary and look back at our successes and the many talented, dedicated practitioners who have nurtured our profession in Fort Worth. Following a nice dinner and program, we’ll poke a little fun at ourselves and laugh together with assistance from the improv group Four Day Weekend.

A “save the date” and more information are forthcoming. Meanwhile, mark your calendar for Thursday evening, November 10. Sorry, no moonshine on the menu.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What is your reputation worth? (#PRethics)

What is your reputation worth? It’s worth protecting if you expect to flourish in the field of public relations.

Yes, it’s your reputation at risk, always, on the job or not. Some of the most serious hazards are on the job.

Check out the values of the organization or client who is paying for your public relations efforts. You are not the conscience of top management, including its Board. You can’t be if management has no conscience.

If you are asked to do something that conflicts with your own personal code of ethics, your own values, you have three choices.
The first is to talk about the risks to the organization if it is taking, or plans to take, a wrong turn. If personal, professional counsel fails, you can turn to PRSA’s code for behavior for its members and simply say the plans are putting your career in jeopardy. When that doesn’t work, you can quit. I’ve done it. Only once. I had four small children, a husband out of work and was in a similar economic climate to what we are experiencing now. It worked. I was coaxed back, and listened to thereafter.

If you don’t do this, you hurt yourself and the practice of PR.

Once when teaching at TCU, I had the idea of asking a philosophy professor who taught ethics to teach a class for us. When I asked him, his first response was, “I didn’t know PR people had any ethics.” You are still up against that perception. Now it’s called “spin.”
Guest post by Dr. Doug Newsom, APR, Fellow PRSA, Professor Emerita Texas Christian University, for PRSA September Ethics Month.

Photo credit: nylffn via Flickr Creative Commons
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Know thy objective

Guest post by Linda Jacobson, APR

I recently judged communication campaigns and tactics, and was struck by the lack of planning involved in nearly every entry.  Particularly absent was the lack of specific communications objectives. If you’re in public relations, marketing or corporate communications, you need to know how to craft a solid strategic communication objective because that is the single most important focal point of any communications campaign. If you don’t know what you're aiming for, you’ll never know if you reached it.

Below are components of a communication objective, but ultimately, you’ll want to ensure this is part of a strategic communication plan that aligns with your organizational or departmental business objectives.
  • Expect your outcome. Are you trying to raise awareness of a new widget or new process? Or do you need to move the needle by changing employee or customer attitudes? Perhaps you need a target audience to adopt a specific behavior. Before you can craft an objective, know what you expect the outcome to look like.
  • Use verbs! Once you know the expected outcome of your objective, select an appropriate verb. Do you want customers to buy, ban or endorse? Are you looking for employees to adopt, support or change?
  • Be specific. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at communications plans that aren’t tied to specific objectives. If you can’t articulate the objective specifically, then you are already missing the goal.
    • Who is the audience?
    • What is the timeframe?
    • What is the attainment level?
  • Measure the objective.  Know how to accurately measure your objective, and know your baseline. This is your starting point. What is the current status quo? You need to know this before you initiate your strategy; otherwise, you won’t know whether you moved the needle or not.
Below is an example of a specific communication objective that anticipates an increase in audience awareness:
Within the next 60 days, 70 percent of our organization’s customers will see or hear about our new widget.

Starting with these basics, you’ll add a solid, measurable component to your strategic planning. What other components help you achieve your goals?

Monday, August 15, 2011

What PR Pros Should Know About the GLBT Community - August Recap

The August 2011 speaker shared some stats that all public relations professionals should know, but may have surprised many in the room:
  • 75.4% of all Texas voters support prohibiting employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation.
  • 68% of all Texas voters support gays/lesbians having the same legal rights with respect to their children.
  • 79.2% of all Texas voters support uniform anti-bullying legislation to prohibit harassment in schools. [Note: Texas legislature passed an anti-bullying law in May.]

“Texas has come a long way,” said Fairness Fort Worth President Thomas Anable, who grew up in the state, and marvels at how perceptions have changed over the years. After the Rainbow Lounge Raid just two years ago, “Fort Worth now has the most progressive and inclusive policies and ordinances of any other city in the United States.”

Anable said that unlike other cities, Fort Worth residents and officials swiftly acknowledged perception issues associated with the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) community – with the Raid as a catalyst – and earnestly sought to find peaceful, workable solutions.

To show how far we’ve come, he said all City of Fort Worth employees are now required to take four hours of GLBT diversity training. Other organizations are following suit, including public and corporate entities. Also, Fort Worth’s newly elected Mayor Betsy Price is lending political support, having agreed to Grand
Marshal this year’s Fort Worth Gay Pride Parade.

PR Professionals wanting more information about GLBT issues, including the political and economic power they now wield, were directed to the following resources:
  1. Human Rights Campaign
  2. Equality Texas
  3. Lambda Legal
  4. North Texas GLBT Chamber
Diversity Committee Chair Mary Gugliuzza said that part of PRSA’s mission is to be more inclusive and welcoming and thus, each year, the chapter dedicates its August program to diversity issues. This includes reaching out to industry professionals of diverse racial backgrounds, ethnicity and sexual orientations, for improved multicultural understanding so that we’re better prepared to address the nation’s diverse audiences.
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

PRSA Southwest District Quick Start 2011 - #prsasw

Monday, June 13, 2011

#Fail: Social Media #PR Disasters - recap

(Cross-posted from the Next Communications blog)

Thanks to Stephanie Scott and Corey Lark for sharing their 10 Lessons from Social Media PR Disasters for the June Ft. Worth PRSA luncheon: (Get their presentation slide deck.)
  1. You are not in a vacuum
  2. Err on the side of caution; Respond swiftly
  3. Be prudent; Accept responsibility
  4. Update your tactics
  5. Context matters
  6. If you apologize, mean it
  7. Mocking your customers = bad
  8. Be transparent
  9. Manage your social media presence (or someone may manage it for you)
  10. Sometimes you are the problem
Below is a recap built on Storify from last week's Fort Worth PRSA luncheon. Aside: This was the first time for me to use Storify. (Way cool tool.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our chapter blog went to the dogs

(Photo credit: readinginpublic via Flickr Creative Commons)

Ok, I suppose it's not fair to blame Lucy for not coming up with anything good for our chapter's blog. She tried her best, it was just too much to ask this furry friend to write posts for us with any consistent frequency for this blog. Of course, most canines can't understand the in's and out's of public relations, corporate and nonprofit communications trends or thoughts on the profession. Plus, her spelling was atrocious.

We should have tried to get the PR professionals to handle the writing process. Unfortunately, we've not had a major push within the chapter to offer up this blog as a place for members to write posts. And thus, we haven't had anything new since January. (Face in palms)

But, things are about to change. We've let Lucy run free in the backyard and have now opened the blog up to posts from our fellow PRSA members. 

Here's how you can help: Use the online submission form for your guest post. Blog writing is a great way for PR pros to hone writing skills. If you don't have your own blog, feel free to use our chapter blog submission opportunity to share your thoughts. If you do blog elsewhere, be sure to note where you blog so we can include it.

We're looking for posts that cover public relations trends, tools, topics and more. What's happening in your industry or area of expertise? Be creative and share.

What do you think? Is this a good way to add writers to our chapter blog? Have you wanted to write for the blog but didn't know how? We can't wait to see our members' posts.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fort Worth Media Panel - Learn from the Locals

The first program of the year did not disappoint.

Those hoping to get insight from the Fort Worth 2011 Media Panel heard from editors about imminent publication changes, social media trends, and tips plus preferences for the local PR professional-journalist working relationship.

Below are highlights from each speaker:

Maricar Estrella, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Social Media Editor:
  • The Star-Telegram is placing more emphasis on the key role social media plays in news production with the creation of her position last year.
  • Mari shared examples of how Facebook or Twitter postings have led to breaking news, albeit, after a thorough journalistic follow-up.
  • Mari also shared that she is a blogger on the site.
  • When sending photos or other attachments, be aware that there’s a 10mb size limit.
  • The following addresses help those wishing to connect with the paper through social media: Facebook:; Twitter: @startelegram; @dfwsuperbowl @maricare (use hashtag #sbst to tweet your Super Bowl experience; best tweet will be featured); Gowalla Super Bowl Trip:; FourSquare: @maricar estrella
  • Email Mari at:

Robert Francis, Fort Worth Business Press Editor
  • Robert let everyone know to watch for changes soon on the Business Press website.
  • There’s a new owner and perhaps you’ve heard of him before: Rich Connor.
  • Be sure to sign up for Business Press e-mail alerts, which offer local, breaking business news.
  • Keep in mind their weekly deadlines. No need to send notices for events happening after publication.
  • Email Robert at:

Lois Norder, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Managing Editor
  • While newspaper print circulation numbers have gone down, the paper is more widely read – even globally – than ever before.
  • Consider always copying the newsroom ( when sending a release or story idea. Chances are that the reporter who used to cover your beat topic has changed positions.
  • Stay away from attachments for news delivery when possible – editors like the convenience of cutting and pasting pertinent facts from an email text vs. a PDF.
  • Email Lois at:
  • BONUS: For those who didn’t get the handout from Lois Norder, she was kind enough to share that information for us to post here. Thanks Lois!

How to get your press release noticed by the Star-Telegram:
  1. Put the local angle in the subject line. We look for those that highlight local people or places or issues.
  2. Contact the right people. That’s plural, because we have a family of publications, including community newspapers, magazines such as Panache and Indulge and our websites. Call to ask who covers a topic if you haven’t touched base in a while. Be sure to also copy your release to Except for breaking news, we prefer information via email.
  3. Include a contact name, phone number, and address. We require that for photos and story assignments. 
  4. Make sure we can cut and paste key details. Don’t use read-only pdfs or other web-based forms that will only pick up an entire block of information. 
  5. Time your release. Friday is too late to send information on long-planned weekend events. A month in advance is too soon, except for the biggest events when we want to save a date. For breaking news, send the release immediately and follow up.

Key contacts: — For all press releases — Lois Norder, managing editor for news — Celeste Williams, managing editor for sports and features — Catherine Mallette, features editor — Jim Fuquay, business editor — Gene Trainor, editor for Grapevine, Colleyville and Southlake weekly — Alice Murray, editor of the Keller Citizen — Nancy Matocha, editor for Roanoke, Westlake, Trophy Club and Haslet weekly — Amanda Rogers, editor of the Mansfield News-Mirror — Max Baker, editor of the Arlington Citizen-Journal — Lance Winter, editor of the Weatherford Telegram