PR Diversity Education Summit in D.C. Oct. 10

Dating back more than a decade, the Public Relations Society of America has not shied away from the issue of diversity in the public relations field; committees and initiatives date back to the 1990s.

But in a recent issue of PR Journal, which focused on a wide range of diversity issues from race to age to sexual orientation, one point was clear: “Despite these important efforts to address diversity in public relations, more work remains to be done,” wrote guest editor Dr. Bey-Ling Sha, APR.

Public relations agencies have responded to criticism for their lack of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity at senior management levels by putting a greater focus on recruitment a more diverse pool of talent. But what role does and should higher education play in developing the talent that feeds into that pipeline?

This topic will be the focus of the Diversity Education Summit in Washington, D.C., Oct. 10, 1-5 p.m., at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, co-hosted by San Diego State University and the PRSA Foundation.

The event kicks-off with a keynote address by Dr. Rochelle Ford, APR, professor and chair of the Public Relations Department at Syracuse University. Then, the summit offers two panels featuring speakers who are experts in their respective fields.

The first panel, called Diversity in Education, addresses the standards of ACEJMC accreditation, strategies for preparing practitioners for a changing media market, and the value of dual-language competence in the recruitment of Hispanic professionals. Speakers are Judy Phair, APR, Fellow PRSA; Dr. Maria Elena Villar, and Dr. Bey-Ling Sha, APR.

The second panel, Diversity in the Workplace, looks at the impact of diversity on employee well-being and organizational performance, starting one’s own business and how internships play a role in diversifying the public relations field. Speakers include Dr. David Ballard of the American Psychological Association and Ms. Yolanda Caraway of The Caraway Group.

The summit cost is $12 (which includes coffee, tea and cookies), and summit attendees do not need to be registered for the PRSA/PRSSA conferences to attend. Practitioners in the DC area are particularly welcome to attend and share their insights on diversity in public relations.

Register today at http://pr-diversity-ed-summit.eventbrite.com.

 

Nicole Vargas, San Diego State University

PRSA-NCC Sponsor Spotlight: News Generation by Kelsey Pospisil

Tell us more about your company and your role there?

News Generation is an issue-driven media relations agency specializing in using broadcast media to earn coverage for associations, non-profits, government agencies, and clients of PR firms. My role on the team is client & media relations associate. I love getting to experience many different aspects of the business and work closely with all of my fellow team members.


How long has News Generation been involved with PRSA-NCC?

We have been involved with PRSA-NCC in one way or another for 12 years – and counting! Susan Matthews Apgood started News Generation in 1997, and has been very involved with the PRSA-NCC by sponsoring the chapter as well as chairing committees such as Thoth, Professional Development and Sponsorship.

News Generation Sponsor Spotlight

News Generation Team

Is there anything you want to tell our members about News Generation that we may not know?

We LOVE Georgetown Cupcakes….literally…love them. Any excuse to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or Tuesday…you can expect to see us carrying a pink box into the office. Don’t believe me? Just look how happy Susan is in the picture!


What do you like best about working with PRSA-NCC so far?

PRSA-NCC offers a wonderful opportunity to grow both professionally and personally. As a sponsor, we are able to help support the great programming of PRSA-NCC. As members, myself and my co-workers are able learn and gain professional development from that programming. It’s the best of both worlds.


How can our members learn more, get more information about what News Generation has to offer?

The best place to go for more about how you can earn broadcast coverage by partnering with us is www.newsgeneration.com. We also have a news site that reporters go to for great stories where we host all of our clients’ content. Check it out at www.broadcastnewsresource.com.

Finding a PR Firm Isn’t the Piece of Cake it Used to Be . . . and It Shouldn’t Be

Time was, searching for a PR firm meant jotting down a few requirements and shooting it to a few former colleagues or friends of friends at two or three familiar agencies.

Sorry. Like everything else in life, finding the firm that will best serve your needs is no longer that easy. And it shouldn’t be. In today’s bottom line-focused ROI environment can you really invest six digits into an agency that may or may not be able to move the needle for your organization? You need to be assured you’re getting smart thinking and measureable results — and agencies should be accountable for their commitments to their clients.

The agency landscape is wide, and wide open. Sometimes it feels like there are too many qualified agencies out there. But that shouldn’t guide you toward short cuts, or rushing the process. As we’ve pointed out many times to clients and prospects, if the money you have allocated to a PR agency budget were instead going toward the hiring of two or three full-time, professional staff, how much time and effort would you and your HR department spend investigating their backgrounds, capabilities, and knowledge?

The recently released USC Annenberg biennial GAP Study assessing PR industry trends and practices expects more money to be spent in 2014 and beyond for communications. The study of 347 senior communicators says that PR-related recommendations are being taken more into consideration by senior management, who expect the function to be a contributor to organizations’ financial success. Your organization should be selecting firms with proven experience in supporting your internal managerial needs as well as your overall communications goals.

Today’s agency field includes seasoned veteran agencies, mid-sized niche players, and a crop of very competent rookies that have left some venerable firms to blaze their own paths. Whether they are local, large, full service, or specialty, there are probably dozens of agencies out there most suitable for you. But the right agency can only be discerned through the lens of a detailed and thorough search that is tailored to your organization’s needs.

When interviewing prospective agencies it is critical to include process and procedure as key topics. Too often, we find confusion when the client-agency relationship begins if staffing, structure, reporting, billing, and event contracts are not discussed in the early phases. And, we’ve even advised clients that repairing agency relationships that have gone sour may be a better use of time and resources than parting ways with that agency and starting over with a new search.

Even agreeing on your mutual definition of success is no small feat, and so often is overlooked or not addressed during the selection process. With projects the issue might be easier (one would hope) but with longer-term, multi-year contracts it is very important to establish measureable benchmarks even before searching for your agency, and then making it clear that is what the selected agency will be judged on. Believe it or not, it will more appreciated than you’d expect. Because any good PR firm will tell you that a good client knows what it wants and has, or develops with the agency, the metrics of success.
- Robert Udowitz

Robert Udowitz is a principal of RFP Associates, a PR agency search firm serving trade associations and corporations. This was originally published on the RFP Associates “Cart Before the Horse” blog, which can be found at rfpassociates.net.

Seeing Is Believing: How to Create Multimedia Content That Gets Seen // Take-aways from the Sept. 17 PRSA-NCC Professional Development Workshop

(Pictured from Left to Right) Justin Bank, Stephen Menick, Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga, John Walls, Drew Blais

(Panelists pictured from Left to Right) Justin Bank, Stephen Menick, Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga, John Walls, Drew Blais

Does your multimedia content have that “gotta see this!” factor? If not, then that’s just one thing you’re doing wrong when trying to get your multimedia content seen.   PRSA-NCC’s “Seeing Is Believing: How to Create Multimedia Content That Gets Seen” event gave valuable insight to attendees that was worth more than admission.

Panelists were:

  • Justin Bank, Director of Digital Audience, Washington Post
  • Stephen Menick, a producer and editor who also teaches Digital Storytelling at WVU’s Integrated Marketing Communications program
  • Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga, Office of Marine Corps Communications Digital Engagement Branch Chief at Headquarters Marine Corps
  • John Walls, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at CTIA, the Wireless Association
  • Drew Blais, Digital Communication Specialist, Van Eperen & Company
  • Moderator:  Meredith Williams, MPH, Principal Associate at Abt Associates

While he spoke last, Van Eperen & Company’s Digital Communications Specialist Drew Blais and his “six steps towards video success” finely encompasses much of what all the panelists advised.  You have to have a strategy in place. That includes knowing your objective, knowing your audience, defining your concept, making sure you have your “gotta see this!” factor, know how you’re going to deliver your content and, last but not least, you have to track your metrics.

(Pictured from Left to Right) Justin Bank, Drew Blais, Meredith Williams, Stephen Menick, Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga

(Pictured from Left to Right) Justin Bank, Drew Blais, Meredith Williams, Stephen Menick, Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga

When it comes to knowing your concept, both filmmaker and Professor Stephen Menek and Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga, gave real-life examples of the type of content people pay attention to and share. Menek shared with the audience that video is less it’s own multimedia content than it is really emotional content. And for Menek, having that “you gotta see this!” factor is big, real big. Take for example Staff Sgt. Fayloga’s short 30-second videos of Marines blowing up targets and military jets taking off from cruise ship carriers. Queuing up videos that get to the point and capture the attention are much more likely to get seen and shared than longer videos without attention-grabbing content.

But not all multimedia content has explosions. Menek’s example of Dove’s real beauty sketches videos (64 million views as of this writing) of a sketch artist capturing how women described themselves and then how others would describe them had nothing to do with selling soap, but had everything to do with connecting with the audience. Dove’s videos was a gift to audiences, sharing a story that captured their attention and earned their loyalty because it connected with viewers at an emotional level.

It’s something that the Washington Post’s Justin Bank, another expert panelist, would likely argue helps your content fight through the noise in a 21st century media environment.  These days there are multiple channels through which you can share your content. Organizations are being equipped with the tools they need to become their own publishers. And multimedia content “breaks the line of sight” according to the Post’s Bank, in a way that most other content won’t.

In general — besides having good content and good concept, whether your multimedia content gets seen or it doesn’t, learning by analyzing your results is key to helping to have your next multimedia content get seen. Don’t ignore Google Analytics or Facebook’s metrics reporting. Use these platforms to identify what works. Use both quantitative data and qualitative reporting to improve your future content and improve your results.

For this event, unveiling some of the secrets on how to get your multimedia content seen may have been the easy part.  The hard part? Putting this panel’s great advice to work and challenging yourself to get your multimedia content seen.

 

-Written by David Ward, American Wind Energy Association

Study: The Press Release Is Not Dead

Despite the glut of information available to almost anyone, many journalists still rely on the press release and PR professionals for story leads. One communications pro shares some tips on crafting an effective release and the art of media pitching.

No news is not always good news, especially when you’re trying to generate some much-needed publicity for your association. But getting reporters to cover your event, study, or new CEO may not be easy, especially as newsroom staff and other resources dwindle.

A new survey of journalists by Business Wire sheds some light on how reporters, editors, columnists, and bloggers prefer to be pitched or informed of news in order to effectively cover a story.

For example, the wire service’s “2014 Media Survey” found a heavy reliance on press releases. Almost 90 percent of respondents had referenced a release in the previous week, and 62 percent had used one in the last 24 hours.

When evaluating a press release, the most important information journalists look for is:

  • breaking news (77 percent)
  • supporting facts (70 percent)
  • interesting story angles (66 percent)
  • quotable sources (52 percent)
  • company background (50 percent)
  • trending industry topics (49 percent)
  • supporting multimedia (29 percent).

“The first question you need to ask is why would reporters care about this,” Sheri Singer, president and CEO of Singer Communications, said of writing press releases. “Is it newsworthy?”

While journalists at major consumer publications may not always care about your news, smaller trade publications may pick it up. This is an important consideration when directly pitching media regarding news about your organization, Singer added.

“Should it go to all reporters? Or is it inside news that you’ve got a new CEO, which, unless you’re a big trade association, that’s probably most important to trade press and press in the CEO’s hometown,” she said.

When contacting journalists directly, you may want to forgo a standard press release in favor of an email alert, which is preferred by 69 percent of survey respondents, as opposed to 22 percent who prefer a standard press release.

Given the fact that journalists receive hundreds of emails in any given day, one way to cut through that clutter is to personalize your outreach and include contact information, Singer said.

“Don’t make the reporter work. Don’t make them go back to your website to find out how to get in touch with you,” she said. “You need someone’s name and phone number in the email, and that phone number needs to be a cell number because reporters work 24/7 now. You can’t rely on the fact that you’re going to be in the office when they call.”

- Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now

September Sponsor Spotlight: Phil Rabin, Editor of the Capitol Communicator

Every month or so, we are going to highlight a chapter sponsor so you can learn more about them, and possibly connect with them as they have done so much to support our chapter. We want to thank Phil Rabin, Editor of the Capitol Communicator, for participating in the second spotlight. Here are the details:

Question: Tell us more about the Capitol Communicator and your role there.

Answer: I’m editor of Capitol Communicator, which is an online resource for communicators in the D.C-area and the Mid-Atlantic that’s working to bring together the spectrum of communications professionals by providing news; trends; education; profiles; and opportunities for networking, career enhancement, business exchange and showcasing great work. We focus on building a community that encompasses public relations, advertising, marketing, media, creative, video, photography, printing, digital and the multitude of other professions that support this region’s multi-billion-dollar communications industry.

Question: How long has Capitol Communicator been involved with PRSA-NCC?

Answer: We’ve been involved for years, officially and unofficially, providing coverage of PRSA-NCC events in Capitol Communicator, and working on events that include PRSA-NCC and other organizations – such as The One Party, a holiday party that is held in December. And, for a number of years, I was a member of PRSA-NCC.

Question: Is there anything you want to tell our members about the Capitol Communicator that we may not know?

Answer: There are two things I think that are really interesting from a communications standpoint: First, our still photos have had more than 1.1 million views and the head of the D.C. office of a national PR firm regularly viewed our photos. When I asked why, the individual said it provided a good sense of what was going on outside that person’s agency. Second, we’re seeing significant spikes in views of our still pictures every time we post an “up close and personal” profile of a communicator in the mid-Atlantic. In fact, we had more than 14,500 views of our photos in a single day because, apparently, as the head of that PR firm told me, people want to see other people and what they are doing. BTW, the picture with the fourth-highest number of views is Pam Jenkins, president of Powell Tate and president of Weber Shandwick Mid-Atlantic (Washington, Baltimore and Atlanta).

Question: What do you like best about working with PRSA-NCC so far?

Answer: I’m impressed by the commitment that the leadership and members make to the organization and, as a result, the scope of activities that PRSA-NCC offers its members and the larger communications community. It’s really quite impressive.

Question: How can our members learn more, get more information about what Capitol Communicator has to offer?

Answer: PRSA-NCC members and all communicators should go to our website, www.capitolcommunicator.com, to check out what’s happening in the mid-Atlantic that impacts communicators – and to check out our popular “up close and personal” profiles. And, they can also sign up to get our free weekly email updates at http://www.capitolcommunicator.com/signup.aspx?email. Finally, if they have news they think would be of interest to other communicators, let me know. I can be reached at phil.rabin@capitolcommunicator.com.

Reporters Urge White House Transparency: The challenge is access to experts

By Tracy Schario, originally posted at PRSAY

Tension with the media is sometimes an unfortunate and unintentional aspect of public relations. PR and public affairs practitioners often face a delicate balancing act between providing accurate information in a timely manner to reporters and bloggers while managing confidential employer/client information. When a PR contact doesn’t return a call or email, however, it can look like stonewalling or withholding information.

When it comes to covering the White House and federal policy and regulations, the stakes for media and public affairs are high. President George W. Bush’s administration was often criticized for being the most secretive administration in history. With this background, President Barack Obama took office in 2009 promising to lead the most transparent administration in history.

But, transparency is not the same as access to information, government officials and scientific experts who can help interpret presidential decisions and administrative actions. To this end, President Obama has been criticized by the media for a myriad of offenses:

  • Limited access for photographers in favor of releasing official White House photos.
  • Justice Department reviewed private communications of Fox News reporter James Rosen to find a national security leak.
  • Justice Department secretly obtained AP phone records in an effort to find a government leak.
  • Administration denied or censored more Freedom of Information Act requests than it approved.
  • Politically-driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies (e.g. the Affordable Care Act, food stamps, Fukushima).

This last protestation was codified in a July 8 letter signed by 39 individuals representing media associations including the Society of Professional Journalists, Associated Collegiate Press, Association of Opinion Journalists, Radio Television Digital News Association, National Press Photographers Association, and The Poytner Institute. They argue that the Obama administration’s restrictions on press access to public affairs offices and government sources are a form of censorship.

Politico Magazine recently surveyed members of the White House press corps regarding their opinions on transparency. The resulting infographic narrative is an instructive take on the fourth estate’s view. For example:

When President Obama calls this the “most transparent administration in history,” my reaction is… “To groan. Depends on what your definition of ‘transparent’ is. This WH means it is putting its own version of pictures, video and readouts on its own website.” —Ann Compton, ABC News 

The primary take away from the letter and survey is two-fold.  First, journalists want – and need – access to experts to fulfill the role of media watchdog, the hallmark of a democratic government.  Government officials, both on the record and “leaked” information, deliver the news and provide analysis for interpreting complex policy issues. Public affairs officers are the facilitator between the media and sources – and sometimes are the source.  Like it or not, reporters need the public relations function.

Even when the news is bad, government has a responsibility to be accessible, factual and transparent.  In 2010, I had the good fortune of teaching a master class in political communications with former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino. She was fond of telling students to “own your bad facts.” In other words, don’t try to bury the news but acknowledge the facts, and do your best to present a positive and compelling narrative.

Second, journalists want to be treated with respect. For five years, I taught a graduate course in media relations at the George Washington University and hosted reporters throughout the semester. I was dismayed that most all commented on the amount of profanity used by public affairs officers in the Obama administration.  Even my PR colleagues in the administration admit that cursing is common place and sometimes encouraged. A “pro tip” in the Politico survey states: “Come on. If you can’t deal with a White House official swearing at you, it’s probably time to head for the exits of the profession.”

I must admit that when working in the tech sector, casual cursing was permissible – and a boss once told me profanity was an acceptable way to prove I had authority and knowledge. However, this is unprofessional behavior. It may be cliché, but I’ve found that a little honey goes a lot further to getting what you need – be it photo placement, a correction to a news story, or a follow up interview.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest responded to the most recent criticisms in the journalists’ letter on CNN’s Reliable Sources defending the administration’s record of transparency. He also acknowledged the sometimes testy relationship with the press saying that if the press corps didn’t push for more access, that “is the day that they’re no longer doing their jobs.”

The media need sources and report on conflict. These are the realities of their link with public relations. The responsibility of a practitioner is to be responsive, truthful and facilitate access to expert sources. For PRSA members, that also means adhering to our code of ethics. Among its values and provisions are honesty, free flow of information, and enhancing the profession through respect. If we make a concerted effort every day to balance the sometimes competing needs of the press and business goals, we can take a step toward building stronger relationships with the media.

 

Tracy Schario, APR, is a member of PRSA’s Board of Directors and a past president of the National Capital Chapter. She has taught media relations at The George Washington University and speaks on media and PR strategy.