Thursday, March 29, 2007

The squeaky wheel gets the grease...

Want to see what bad PR people are doing to the PR industry? Check this out:

The Bad Pitch Blog: The Center for Media & Democracy Puts the Spin on Spin

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I'm really trying to get more into the world of Web 2.0. I am slowly beginning to understand how this whole blogging thing really works. A former colleague of mine recommended I check out "nerd-in-residence," a blog on public relations and the impact of social media. The author, Dave Donohue has some really good insights on how public relations can work with social media. You can check out his blog here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Expert advice

During last year's PRSSA National Conference I had the opportunity to join several of my fellow PRSSA members in going to dinner with Richard Edelman, president and CEO at Edelman, the world's only independent global PR firm.

I was impressed with his breadth of knowledge and insight into PR, but more especially his understanding of the new communications tools (i.e. blogs, social media, etc.). He asked us alot of questions and gave us some great advice. Because of my interaction with him I started reading his blog. It is really informative and I highly recommend it to any PR professional. I realize, of course, that Edelman has had some recent ethical problems, but I do not believe, however, that these few incidents automatically indicate Edelman is an unethical company.

Anyway, check out Richard Edelman's blog. The blog is titled 6 a.m.

Monday, March 26, 2007

How I really feel about public relations

I was reading through some of my past postings and I realized that I sound like I have a negative view of public relations. Let me clearly state that I absolutely love public relations! It's a field I kind of stumbled on to, but I'm glad I did. I really am passionate about PR and hope to spend the rest of my professional career in this exciting field.

That said, there are some current trends in PR that are frightening to me. I really hope the entire profession does not morph into media relations alone. If an organization fails to build relationships with all of its publics and concentrates solely on media relations, public relations, I fear will slowly fade into the background. There is so much more to PR than just media relations: employee communications, crisis communications, advising management, etc. Let's learn to think outside of the press release and work to become strategic communicators for our clients or organizations.

Monday, March 19, 2007

PR Measurement

Check out this great white paper on aligning communications efforts with business objectives:

Let's talk about evaluation

“How to Measure PR’s Contribution to Corporate Objectives,” Presented by Donna Coletti, Texas Instruments

How do you determine the best measurement techniques for your specific campaign or objectives?

Coletti gives a few tips for how to determine which measurement technique is best. The first of these is matching the proposed measurement technique to the available resources (i.e., how much money you have to spend, how many people you can devote, etc.). This step, I believe, needs to be done before implementation of strategies and tactics. Evaluation should be figured into the budget, or else you might find yourself without the needed money to adequately conduct evaluation.

Second, measurement and evaluation does not necessarily have to be expensive. For example, small surveys or quantitative tracking of messages can be done for little or no money and with limited staff.

Finally, when trying to determine the best measurement techniques, you need to find something that will be important to management. You can have amazing success in evaluation, but if your evaluation doesn’t highlight something important to management, then your efforts are lost. The quote Coletti gives in this presentation sums this all up: “Providing Value Add to management will help build a case for a measurement and evaluation budget.”

“Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE),” Jeffries-Fox, Bruce. Institute for Public Relations, 2003

Is Advertising Value Equivalency really a viable way to measure media relations efforts?

Simply stated, Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) is a measurement effort to compare the effect of media relations efforts to the dollars spent on traditional advertising. This is done by “measuring the column inches (in the case of print), or seconds (in the case of broadcast media) and multiplying these figures by the respective medium’s advertising rates (per inch or per second). The resulting number is what it would have cost to place an advertisement of that size in the medium” (2).

I tend to view AVEs as being an unreliable way to measure media relations efforts. It just seems too quantifiable for me liking. My personal views aside, the author of this paper does cite some substantial problems in regards to AVEs.

First, there is no factual basis for assuming that a particular news story has the same (or greater) effect on an audience than an advertisement would. Like advertising, we cannot guarantee that people will see a media placement, much less act the way we desire them to simply because of the placement.

A second problem is that AVEs “only value what actually appears in the media” (3). As the author points out, there are many times when an organization would not want publicity. In cases such as these, AVEs do not provide an accurate measurement.

Third, an advertiser can run the same ad a number of times to persuade its audiences. News doesn’t work this way. The same story is not repeated verbatim. It may be told again with a slightly different take, but it is still different. Therefore, AVEs cannot be used here to effectively measure the effect of media hits.

There are other problems with AVEs, but these I’ve listed are enough for me to do some serious thinking before I employ AVEs in my measurement techniques.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Is creativity an intrinsic characteristic?

Something intrinsic is something "belonging to a thing by its very nature" ( With this in mind, I have never considered myself a creative person. One only need look at my grade school art projects to appreciate the validity of this statement! However, after reading the text's small blurb on creativity I have come to believe that creativity is not an intrinsic characteristic, rather, it something everyone can gain and enhance.

The text defines creativity as "the process of looking outside ourselves and our routine to discover new ideas and innovative solutions" (W&O, 139). The commonly used cliché, "think outside the box" may need to be reworked for public relations practitioners. Perhaps we need to learn to "think outside the press release." This is not to say that we should never think within the box (press release), but creativity pushes us to go beyond the bounds of our self-imposed comfort zone. As the text states, "creativity often means borrowing and adapting ideas" (W&O, 141). Being creative does not mean we have to come up with brand new ideas all the time. We would live in a very primitive world if no one ever built on the ideas of others.

Finally, "fear is probably the single greatest barrier to creative behavior" (W&O, 144). I often hesitate to voice my ideas and opinions for fear of rejection or ridicule. Doing so greatly stifles my creative capabilities. We are not born with or without creativity, but our fears can certainly limit it.

What I've learned about media relations

I hate media relations. I think it is used too much in current public relations practices. That being said, however, I do agree that media relations is an important part of public relations. What follows are some tips on working with the media that I've picked up along the way. Whether they are valid or not is open to interpretation!

1. Be a blessing, not a burden, to your media contacts. Understand and respect their needs and deadlines.

2. Pitch news, not free advertising. I once had the opportunity to talk with a reporter from The New York Times about her views on working with PR people. She told me that The New York Times gets thousands of press releases each day (about three e-mails per minute), but most are just trying to get publicity for their client. Reporters’ jobs are to report the news, not your client.

3. "Provide quality media contacts" (W&O, 159). Make sure you use the writing style of the particular media outlet and that there are no errors in what you submit to them. Make sure the people they interview from your organization are knowledgeable, personable and well prepared.

4. "If it can be handled in a news release, use a news release" (W&O, 159).

5. Proofread all e-mails sent from you to media contacts. I learned this the hard way when I failed to proofread an e-mail I sent to Walt Mossberg, a prominent Wall Street Journal reporter. Because of this, he misinterpreted my meaning and sent me a scathing e-mail. Needless to say, he wasn't interested in the pitch after that.