Thursday, April 26, 2007

PR Does It Best!

With the semester winding down, I feel that I have developed a clear understanding of PR and what it means to implement best practices in the industry. I cannot wait to start my new job this summer at a PR firm in Dallas with the confidence and knowledge learned from research, interviews, lessons and guest lecturers in class. As a blogger, I have picked up several tips about PR and here are the top 5 that seem to be constantly reiterated:

1. Communicate to be Understood, Not Simply to be Heard. This means investing a significant amount of time and energy in researching the reporter or journalist you are targeting. "Know the reporter and the publication before picking up the phone." Bad media relations comes from people who simply spout their message repeatedly and endlessly without regard for the interests or perspective of the journalist they are talking to. If you are looking to pitch a journalist, take the time to research the reporter, his predispositions, interests and past writing.

In a recent post, I noted my observation of a colleague at my internship. Per her instruction, she encouraged interns to build a relationship with a reporter by keeping up with what they are doing in the industry. If they have their own blog, read it regularly. If you like what they’re talking about, post comments. If you have some advice for them, pass it along. It is a great best practice to develop early a positive relationship with your local media. Don't hesitate to call an appropriate reporter and draft a press release for your website. You may not always get coverage, but you have nothing to lose by cultivating these relationships. Investing time in whom you are targeting will help all PR professionals to communicate their message better.

2. Read the Newspaper. A few months ago, I had the privilege of meeting with Joan Lufrano, a seasoned PR professional at DraftFCB in Chicago. One of the great pieces of advice she gave was to stay on top of the evolution of PR in the communications world. “Nothing is the way it used to be,” says Lufrano, “Everything has changed and the only way to understand the way people currently communicate is to read the newspaper.” It is imperative that PR professionals remain up to date with current events, changes in the business world, what is going on in their clients` industry. Lufrano advised me to read everything from the Business Week to The Wall Street Journal. She even pointed to PR Week as an essential reading aid to keep up as an insider. Immerse yourself in a variety of communication mediums, including the Internet, television, radio, newspapers, and news magazines. I can honestly give her advice partial credit for landing me my first job in the career world. I felt informed, confident and prepared in all of my interviews.

3. Stay Current, Follow Trends. With more than 52 million blogs and over 800,000 posts daily, staying on top of communication and media trends in our culture is crucial for PR practitioners. Need some examples of trends? Well how about blogs, wikis and podcasts, to name a few. No one could have predicted the recent development and significance of these trends. They not only help the world understand your company, but they help your company understand the world, your competition and your audience. As they change the face of public relations, it is essential for our industry to maximize their influence.

4. Know The Fundamentals of PR. This might seem like a simple idea, but one cannot excel in PR without a concrete understanding of what this industry is about. There are certain skills necessary to work in the world of PR. These include:

-A very high level of communication skills, written and verbal. This means an ability to craft pitch letters, press releases, fact sheet, backgrounder, etc. Don't know what these are? You're in the wrong industry.
-Know your client. Take the time to research their goals and objectives. Know their business sector and industry well. Invest a sufficient amount of time in a professional relationship that allows a mutual trust. If this is established, a door for communication, creativity and a flow of ideas will be opened.
-Be very adept at multitasking and time management. Definitely a best practice that is necessary in a rapidly evolving field of technology, news, deadlines and competition.
-Adopt a journalistic approach. Look carefully at how reputable publications such as The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal write a story. What is the lead? What type of quotes do they use? Study different types of stories -- features, executive changes and news articles. Say what you want, but say it simply and plainly. Get this sort of perspective and then you'll be sure to end up with a solid product that would appeal to any journalist.
-Return calls and respond quickly to emails. An essential in establishing relationships.

5. Create the Unexpected. Look for out-of-the ordinary perspectives and initiatives for spurring media interest. While it's easy to recycle press releases and fact sheet templates, infusing your media plans with some innovative thinking will produce stronger, more effective results. For instance, when the PR agency for Russell Stover Candies introduced Peanut Butter & Jelly Cups, they positioned the product as part of the growing retro trend and tied into adult nostalgia for childhood. They sent out "Wouldn't You Like to Be a Kid Again?" personalized purple lunch boxes filled with jacks, jump ropes and product to media nationwide along with compelling video footage. They reached more than 15 million consumers with the message that our new candy is fun for all ages. Media as diverse as The Rosie O'Donnell Show, Today, Seventeen and Time all covered the product.

Through the semester, I have concluded that these 5 best practices will lead to successful PR.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Blog to Heal

Cancer affects millions of people each year. Chances are high that you know a family member, family friend or friend of a friend directly affected by the fatal disease. Fortunately, there is hope and plenty of supporters like CURE Magazine dedicated to dealing with patients and survivors alike.

According to the American Cancer Society website, survivorship numbers continue to increase and media created to aid in healing are one of the many methods of help we can provide.

CURE Magazine, a quarterly magazine dedicated to dealing with cancer on a daily basis, is launching Heal, a magazine focused on cancer survivorship. It contains in-depth coverage of survivors and their life changing stories and personal testimonials. Heal is looking to establish an online community to help bring survivors together.

The concept of survivorship is often overlooked and a Heal blog is the perfect location for a place that survivors and family members alike can talk about cancer in a whole different way.

After recently losing my Grandma to lung cancer, I know that an essential for hope was for her to talk with others going through the same situation. Having a spot such as a blog, a place to hear and talk to "people like you," creates just that environment. To ensure success at Heal, the blog must be updated with current news and consist of bloggers who have cancer, are recovering from cancer or treat cancer.

The blog should also be a forum for discussion about inspiring stories of survivorship and hope. Readers of the blog should feel free to post their thoughts and ideas about life after cancer.

Blogs such as Glamour's Magazine, Life with Cancer, takes you through the journey of Glamour editor, Erin Zammett Rudy's struggle with Leukemia. ( The Cancer Blog ( provides news, resources and personal perspectives from cancer survivors and those passionate about health topics regarding cancer.

Heal's blog should also contain a variety of sidebar topics such as links to the various types of cancer, age, treatment, prevention, causes of cancer, news related articles, survivor stories and commemorations. The diverse selection will keep the site interesting and help develop it as a place of comfort for all readers. 

For an uplifting perspective, the blog should be continually updated with members of the cancer community interested in sharing their stories and thoughts of inspiration. Links to positive and enriching sites such as vacation spots should be included as well.

To visit Heal magazine, go to www.

Some Side Bar Possibilities:

American Cancer Society

Friday, April 13, 2007

Look-Look at Young Entrepreneurs!

Entrepreneurs are everywhere, including our very own college campuses! Look-Look, a Los Angeles-based company that reasearches and studies youth culture, remains fascinated by this new breed of young people. Detecting this entrepreneurial spirit, Look-Look posed a challenge for our class to observe the many embarking on these independent ventures.

Not surprisingly, I know my very own "new entrepreneur". I asked my former highschool classmate, Andrew Wiggins, a couple of questions about his experience.

Andrew Wiggins, along with a friend, Taylor Caby, founded a successful poker training website.

Taking his concept from the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Andrew gave the following conclusions about young entrepreneurship:
-A high degree of difficulty exists to get ahead on the standard path.
-It's easy to get into a “rat race” where as you move up the corporate ladder, buy more things and never truly get ahead. In a nutshell, people go to school, learn to make money, but never really learn how to make their money work for themselves. "Some people are realizing that if you go a different route and learn to make your money work for you rather than work for money, you can get ahead," he says.

He notes another probably motivation for this shift as the competitive work environment that has developed last 20 years or so. It's difficult to climb the ladder these days, and if you do, it requires much additional time and effort. Someone can do everything right in their career, but if they are unable to catch the right breaks, they will never make it to the top.

Driven by a love for gambling, Andrew actually stumbled into a self-employed career after discovering a talent at online gambling in college. He launched a website for members to enjoy instructional videos, a private poker forum, strategy articles and guest pro instruction focused on improving one's poker game.

Considering the amount of boys who gamble, it sounds like a lucrative concept to me.

Andrew originally saw the website as an opportunity to gain business experience. He realized he didn't want to do accounting for the rest of his life and considered running the poker website as a business after college. Though risky, he has much more freedom in his life by owning his own website.

Andrew pointed at American culture for influencing the proliferation of young entrepreneurs. Those who are glorified in the media are people like Jay-Z, who run multiple businesses and have made it big on their own.

Although we will probably see more entrepreneurs in the future, Andrew believes there are still plenty of people wanting to play the corporate ladder game. Thus, it might be a while until the shift towards entrepreneurship has a full effect on businesses in America.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Have A Great Weekend

I apologize for not leaving you with a blog update, but I will be away from a computer this weekend due to the holiday. Stay tuned as there are more blogs on their way!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Witnessing Impressive Strategies

At my current internship at a well-known Dallas PR agency, I have had the ability to witness a number of excellent public relations practices unfold. I am continually impressed by the agency’s ability to stay on top of trends, as well as keep up with recent technology that has become a huge player in professional communication. In the past month, I have attended two conferences where I have been given PowerPoint slides that teach me how to pitch to blogs and take advantage of radio media relations. It has been unbelievable to see my company taking an active step toward understanding the complexity of our culture and the channels that best reach audiences.

In one conference, I learned that 93% of all consumers over the age of 12 listen to radio. Additionally, the average consumer spends more than 19 hours/week listening to radio. This is HUGE.

So logically, it makes sense to target radio stations across the country to pitch ideas and products. If picked up, you can imagine the value and positive impact this coverage will have on a particular company. It was especially interesting to talk in class about Podcasts, and then see my agency emphasize their importance. I also learned tips for pitching to radio stations, such as what to be aware of and how to develop partnerships. A girl I work for impressed me as she explained that she maintains relationships with radio personnel by keeping up with their station and frequently emailing to comment or agree on something discussed that day on the station. It was also mentioned that she follows their blogs and will post on their site as another attempt to maintain and grow the relationship. This is an incredibly intelligent and clever PR practice that is often overlooked, as it requires additional time and energy spent outside the office. I find it impressively strategic.

It is good to know that I am gaining experience from an agency with excellent PR practices!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Hewlett Packard(China)-IPG Case Study: An "Out of this World" Launch

Based on my analysis, Burson-Marsteller did an excellent job, in opinion, with the Hewlett-Packard China and IPG collaboration on an integrated launch. In 2003, HPC and IPG introduced a completely new range of digital imaging products designed for every Chinese household. A key element of the announcement included a breakthrough pricing strategy that would enable HPC to offer top quality products at competitive price points. As an IT brand better known for its commercial printers, this would be one of the most significant assignments globally and strategically for HPC to penetrate the consumer home market in China.

Burson-Marsteller (B-M)-Beijing was appointed to lead the six-month PR-led launch campaign that served as a platform to start establishing Hewlett-Packard as one of the leading consumer IT brands in China. BM worked on all elements of the campaign including ideation, strategy, planning, media relations and event management.

Strategy: To start shifting consumer perceptions, B-M designed an excellent strategy focusing on creating an emotional impact with Chinese consumers through an "experience-based" approach, which leveraged key findings from the market research. The strategy was comprised of three main pillars:

1. To demonstrate how Chinese consumers can be "at home with HP" by showing real people using HP.
2. To focus on HP's value by combining affordability message with innovation message.
3. To show the unexpected side of HP through an intimate understanding of consumers based on the affordability and experience of using HP's products.

B-M developed a creative core concept ("At Home with HP. Out of this World.") which anchored the campaign and was used as the event theme and in all communications collateral. The big idea was to recruit 99 real families across China and demonstrate first-hand how they can be "at home with HP" and receive a digital imaging experience that is "out of this world." Families had to submit their family portraits and stories, each standing the chance to be selected as one of the 99 families who will receive HP's newest home products.

The launch event kicked off on June 5, 2003 at the beautiful Soong Qingling Residence in Beijing, which was lined with poster-sized portraits of the families. Digital imaging and digital entertainment solution booths, designed around the idea of a home, provided journalists and families with a hands-on experience and a strong photo opportunity. The event was replicated on a smaller scale in Shanghai and Guangzhou. To sustain the momentum post-launch, B-M worked with key media to pitch and place family stories that demonstrated how real families in China have benefited from using HP's new products.

Results: 113 media across three cities attended the event, resulting in US$850,000 worth of print and broadcast coverage in over 215 outlets nationwide, including key consumer, IT and business media. This included several extensive high-profile feature stories and TV interviews in top tier media such as CCTV, BTV, People's Daily, Beijing Daily, Guangzhou Daily, China ComputerWorld and China InfoWorld. HP's consumer launch became a key talking point in the industry and media interest post-launch has been strong with additional stories generated focusing on the market impact HP has made in China.

The coverage has also resulted in three media awards, including PC Magazine's Editors Choice, China Computer World's Readers Choice and Chip Magazine's Editors Choice.

Consumer response in the six launch cities has also exceeded original expectations and sales targets. In a month since its launch, HPC managed to increase its PC market share from 0% in May to 4% by the end of June, placing it on par with the top six players in the market and the number one foreign home PC brand. In terms of brand share in units, HP managed to move from 0 to 5 units across seven cities, ahead of all the foreign brands.

What I think worked so well in this case study was the attention paid to details, research and strategy. B-M excelled at paying attention to what would appeal to the local audience in China, thus creating a campaign that was a success in the end. The results of the launch are a testiment to how well the event was executed and what a great job B-M did in their PR practices.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Blogs Matter!

I was browsing Edelman's blog, 6 A.M., when I ran across an interesting post regarding the importance of blogs to the media. What I found most interesting, however, was that Edelman has data proving that the blogosphere isn't only expanding as a means of mainstream media in the U.S., but in plenty of other countries as well, including Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Poland, and the UK.

Edelman drew the following conclusions from their data:

• Blogs are the new on-ramp for mainstream media. They found that leading political blogs are increasingly quoted in stories in mainstream media. The same is true of technology blogs, where stories such as the Google acquisition of YouTube broke first on Techcrunch.
• Blog readership levels vary significantly by market, but influencers are more likely to read blogs. Influencers are those who actively attempt to impact the public discourse (this survey group is different from our Trust Barometer population of opinion leaders who make over $75,000 and are media attentive). Blog readers are willing to spread the word, both good and bad.
• Blogs do spur readers to take action. For example, 78% of German readers of blogs have attended a public meeting on a local issue covered in a blog.
• The composition of the “short head” of the blogosphere in most markets is technology blogs, followed by politics, personal journals or entertainment.
• Multinational companies such as McDonalds, Microsoft or Samsung (disclosure—last two are Edelman clients) draw more attention from local bloggers than major companies headquartered in a market (VW in Germany)
• The survey respondents in the Asian countries surveyed, China, Japan and South Korea, all read blogs with significantly more frequency than their counterparts in the US or Europe.

A number of readers shared comments below the post and seemed to have a similar reaction as me: Surprised.

One of the great things about people using blogs universally is that it allows PR professionals to conduct excellent research if looking to expand globally or market a product overseas. Without knowing the culture and trends of the people living there, it is difficult to generate appropriate PR that will appeal to them or appear tasteful. It is a best practice in PR to "think global, act local," and blogs assist in doing so.

I think it is truly exciting how quickly blogs have caught on around the world. Can you imagine what mainstream media will look like in 10 years? Communications is certainly evolving rapidly.