On Public Relations and Taking Out the Garbage

Sometimes in public relations, you have to take out the garbage. I recently had a “talk ’em off the ledge” conversation with a young friend who has just passed the half-year mark with a big-city PR firm. She had targeted this particular firm because its focus and client mix mirrored what she had been passionate about in college, and she dove in with enthusiasm. Image: Nehama Verter via Flickr, CC 2.0 But, as those of us who have “been around the block” a few times know so well, nothing’s perfect, especially when it comes to working for a living, which I’ve talked about before. It was 10 o’clock on a Friday night. She was holed up in her cubicle putting the finishing touches on some press kit materials for a client, and her phone kept up its insistent buzzing with messages from friends out on the town wondering where she was. This wasn’t the first time that she had been “stuck in the office” late at night. All of a sudden, it wasn’t fun anymore. When I saw her initial tweet of frustration, I responded and we traded several notes with my wrapping up around 11-ish assuring her that situations like this are neither unusual in the public relations world, nor are they an indication that her higher-ups don’t value her as an employee. This incident reminded me, though, of the numerous conversations I’ve had with students at Curry College, where I oversee the Public Relations Concentration. They express an interest in public relations, but when the question is put to them,“What is it about PR that interests you?” more often than not the response is
“I like working with people. And I like planning and running events.”

To which I usually respond, “Do you like taking out the garbage?” Then comes the quizzical “What do you mean?” look. That’s one of the eternal challenges for those of us who work in or teach public relations. Our profession is viewed by many as a glamorous, rub-shoulders-with-the stars, party-every-night kind of business. And I’ll grant that… sometimes… it can be kind of cool. But there’s a lot of grunt work that goes on in the background to make sure that the party goes off as planned, or that the VIP gets the attention he or she expects. There are any number of pieces of collateral material that have to be created. There is painstaking research to be conducted to ensure that no surprises pop up. And sometimes you’re the only breathing soul there at 10 p.m. In today’s instant gratification world, public relations can be perceived as a glacially-slow process. Yes, occasionally things happen quickly, and that’s fun. You do something, and you see results soon after. But, more often than not, it’s a process…a lengthy, evolutionary process. And the results may not be seen for weeks, or months, or years.
But the reward is still there, the feeling of satisfaction for having been a part of an initiative that resulted in good things happening for a client or employer.

So, as I assured my friend, there will be good stuff that she’ll be a part of as she progresses in her career. But sometimes, she’s just going to have to take out the garbage. (Note in closing: I spoke with my friend at the end of the following day. She was cheerful and excitedly talking about a new project that she had been asked to work on. She also thanked me for listening. We do that in PR, too… a lot.)

On Public Relations and Taking Out the Garbage is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Kirk Hazlett
Kirk Hazlett
Professor at Curry College
Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, holds the position of Associate Professor, Communication/Public Relations, at Curry College; he is also Lecturer in Communications, at Regis College. Kirk has 35+ years’ federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience, followed by nearly 10 years’ undergraduate- and graduate-level college teaching experience. Some of the organizations he has counseled include the Blood Bank of Hawaii, Medical Area Service Corporation and Boston Harborfest. He blogs at A Professor’s Thoughts.
On Public Relations and Taking Out the Garbage

It’s About “Time”

About TimeI’m hanging out in a local mall writing this while my wife has a session with her acupuncturist a couple of miles away. I’m fascinated as I sit here watching folks mosey by with no apparent purpose other than to mosey. “How do they do that?” Image: Alan via Flickr, CC 2.0 I’m also reminded of a somewhat terrifying, ultimately rewarding, experience I had as a college sophomore. I had transferred to a junior college closer to home after a less-than-stellar year at Auburn University to which I had ventured fully intending to become the world’s greatest civil engineer. Instead, I: *Set a new personal low in grade achievement
*Partied my brains out
*Fine-tuned my pool shooting skills
*Not so much on the academic side of the river, however Needless to say, my parents were less than thrilled. I dutifully decamped to Middle Georgia College to do some grade-repair and try to figure out just exactly what I wanted to accomplish in college…and life. So, I’m hanging in the hallway one day in between classes with, as I describe to my Public Relations Concentration disciples at Curry College, “my finger stuck in my ear, doing nothing.” Along comes my English Lit professor who promptly (and literally) grabs me by the nape of my neck, drags me into his office, and slams a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” into my hands with these words: “I don’t ever want to see you standing around wasting time again.”
Wow! First off, someone actually cared about my educational development! And I also found that I actually felt more productive when I was doing something.

I know that sounds awfully “Duh,” but… Flash forward 50 years as I sit here today writing this post with life bustling all around me. I don’t feel pressured to be doing this. And I’m getting doggoned good at “multitasking”…writing, watching, and listening simultaneously! Plus, I am very relaxed and at ease.
The lesson here, grasshopper, is that you can enjoy life and still accomplish a lot without making yourself crazy.

I’m not suggesting creating major overload here, and I’ve talked about this in previous posts. You start by getting a handle on your work-life saturation point. Pay attention to things like feelings of “I can’t deal with this anymore,” and recognize that however much you’re doing at that point in time is probably the upper level of your comfort zone. It takes some practice. I’ve had some spectacular flame-outs in my time when I added “just one more thing” to my backpack…seriously missed some important deadlines…and spent some “quality time” in my president’s office. The end result is that you will find yourself able to accomplish more than before with less stress and aggravation. You’ll be happy with yourself. And, no surprise, your superiors as well as your co-workers will develop a greater respect for your capabilities as a professional and as a human being. To those of you who already have grabbed your iPads and are feverishly banging out a “Kirk, you idiot. You’re suggesting that we totally give up on fun and relaxation.” Nope, quite the contrary. I’m advocating for a lifestyle balance that enables you to check things off your “to-do” list while allowing yourself to relax, brew a nice cup of tea, and enjoy life for what it is… “life.” It’s about “time,” don’t you think?!? (In closing, a tip of the hat to Professor Bob Hill Anderson, who took the time to show a budding lay about how to truly enjoy life…and Kahlil Gibran!)

It’s About “Time” is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Kirk Hazlett
Kirk Hazlett
Professor at Curry College
Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, holds the position of Associate Professor, Communication/Public Relations, at Curry College; he is also Lecturer in Communications, at Regis College. Kirk has 35+ years’ federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience, followed by nearly 10 years’ undergraduate- and graduate-level college teaching experience. Some of the organizations he has counseled include the Blood Bank of Hawaii, Medical Area Service Corporation and Boston Harborfest. He blogs at A Professor’s Thoughts.
It’s About “Time”

Is the NFL Digging Its Own Grave?

A guest post by Erin Feldman The NFL is no stranger to PR crises and controversy, but its lackluster answers to the ones it currently faces is worrisome. Fickle replies and behaviors do the brand no good; neither does a lack of response. PR crises require answers and action. The NFL’s absence of both raises a question: just how many PR poundings can a brand take before it faces an inevitable financial hit?

Crisis One: Dosmetic Violence

Ray Rice Original Image by Keith Allison When the world heard that the Ravens’ Ray Rice was to be suspended for just two games because of domestic violence, the world started a firestorm. It had a valid reason; abusing another person is not something to be punished with a slap on the wrist. That’s what seems to have occurred with Rice despite the NFL’s commissioner’s attempts to assuage the public:

You [Ray Rice] will be expected to continue to take advantage of the counseling and other professional services you identified during our meeting. […] I believe that you are sincere in your desire to learn from this matter and move forward toward a healthy relationship and successful career. I am now focused on your actions and expect you to demonstrate by those actions that you are prepared to fulfill those expectations.

While the commissioner, Roger Goodell, owns the nickname “The Enforcer,” his judgments of late have cast the name and subsequently the NFL in doubt. A number of reporters pronounce his judgments erratic and not in keeping with the crimes committed as evidenced by the chart below. Goodell's Record In addition, he has remained silent on the Rice matter since announcing the suspension. Adolpho Birch, the NFL Senior Vice President of Labor Policy, has become the public face of the NFL, a move that has raised questions and caused more misgiving and criticism. The silence and inaction on the part of the NFL and Goodell could prove detrimental to perceptions of the brand as well as sales; the brand claims a large female audience. It even has sought to cultivate that relationship through its “Fit for You” women’s apparel. Those women may show their displeasure by boycotting NFL products and events or ceasing to support the brand altogether. The NFL could keep those relationships intact, but it would require Goodell and Birch to change their words and actions. Howard Bloom, a reporter for Sporting News, advises the brand to do more than change its disciplinary practices. He says, “The fallout from the Rice decision affords the NFL a unique opportunity to right a wrong and make a statement about domestic violence.” Bloom offers some recommendations; he suggests that the NFL annually donate a percentage of its “Fit for You” sales to victims of domestic abuse, which would keep current fans happy and possibly attract new ones.

Crisis Two: The Redskins and the Browns

Washington Redskins Original Image by Keith Allison The Washington Redskins have been repeatedly asked to change its name but to no avail. Goodell and the NFL either have been relatively silent on the subject or have tried to put a positive spin on it. The team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, has not used either tactic. His unswerving support of the Redskins name has been termed “defiant” by some sports reporters. While the name might not be offensive to some, that doesn’t mean it’s a non-issue. James Brown, CBS newscaster, says:

If […] the name is offensive to a group of people, then do the right thing and change the name. It’s as simple as that.

I know people will engage in an argument and say, well it hasn’t been an issue all this time. Yeah, well, the civil rights issue was one where ‘that’s just the way it was’ for a long period of time, right? So that holds no basis and substance to me. Do the right thing. The NFL’s insensitivity is problematic and pervasive; it isn’t isolated to the Washington Redskins alone. Goodell has been mysteriously silent about the Cleveland Browns’ owner, Jimmy Haslam, who faces fraud charges while the NFL has gone so far as to call Haslam a “man of integrity.” Silence sometimes is the best and wisest course, but it is not in these two cases. An answer is needed. More than that, an honest one is needed if crises are to be averted.

Crisis Three: Concussions

Injury on the Field Original Image by John Martinez Pavliga The NFL is plagued with injuries, specifically head injuries, and how could it not be? It’s a violent sport in which hulks hurtle against each other. Even so, the NFL faces a potential crisis with its ongoing litigation and inconsistent implementation of new concussion protocols. PBS’ FRONTLINE has studied the concussions in more detail only to make perturbing discoveries. Injury reports often are inaccurate because of the way they’re reported. Many athletes aren’t missing any games despite suffering a concussion. New rules, such as moving up kickoffs by five yards and penalizing hits to the head, have had mixed results. In 2013, the number of concussions dropped, but the number is still higher than in 2010 when the rules were first introduced. Winning a settlement might seem cause for celebration, but it’s not. The few players, current and retired, who have won say the win is “the best of several bad options.” The outcomes of those settlements often are unclear; the most recent one leaves many players wondering what exactly the NFL will cover. To restore confidence in the brand, the NFL needs to follow through on its commitment to better concussion care. The NFL also should seek ways to care for its players and their families and, in some cases, their widows. Some of those women face large medical bills because of their husbands’ neurological conditions, many of which were caused or exacerbated by their time on the field. PR crises can be overcome, but they have to be dealt with quickly, honestly, and openly. If they’re allowed to linger and multiply as they have with the NFL, it’s only a matter of time before they impact audience sentiment and eventually the bottom line. What do you think?

“Growth Hacking” – Ignore the Hype

Growth Hacking There is a dangerous idea being shared in marketing, community management, and start-up circles in San Francisco – “Growth Hacking.” Image: daryjeki via Tumblr, CC 4.0 According to Neil Patel, the history of the term comes from a successful Silicon Valley executive who helped organizations achieve substantial growth specifically in acquiring a user base. However, this version of the story neglects to mention the long-term life-cycle of the companies and how complex successful communications programs really are. There is no mention of whether this style of growth worked for the organizations to really achieve what they’re looking for. There is no mention of which specific companies have employed this approach successfully, nor analysis of the return on investment, customer retention, or perception data. The term seems to be applied as an umbrella for a range of Internet skills and tools, from social media engagement, to measuring site traffic, to content site partnerships. Using social media and Internet tools to amass a huge user base can create as many problems as it solves, because engaging with lots of people means more stake-holders, each of whom bring their own expectations to the table. Believing that “growth hacking” is the way to build your user base, community, or marketing program is a very dangerous idea. It treats people monolithically, ignores differences in everything from demographic make-up to political background to existing perception barriers, and most importantly, ignores how complex the end customer’s decision-making process is. There is no consideration of how the customer comes to understand and relate to the brand, nor does it account for the additional bandwidth that this growth requires and the new constraints this adds to existing structures. The great promise of social media has been to give consumers more power through connection to their favorite organizations. By glossing over these distinctions, “growth hacking” completely ignores what an empowered consumer looks like in the social media age, and treats each person as a data point. That sophisticated customer who would understand and appreciate a new technology tool, that this approach is geared towards, knows that they do not have to be treated poorly by the organization. Your-perceived-audience-size In some ways, this makes sense in the current Silicon Valley zeitgeist. “Growth hacking” comes from a combination of the “faster is always better” and “newer is always better” mentality – contrasting Internet products like Facebook and Dropbox with tangible products like shampoo and couches. Unfortunately, this is a very dangerous way to think about organizational growth. This way of thinking encourages marketers to push for growth above all, rather than take the time to build something properly. The very product examples mentioned above compare apples to oranges, and gloss over the nuances in each of those market spaces. As a buzzword, this approach overlooks the very real challenges that technology both faces and has created, which are evidenced in the conversations raging around diversity, inclusion, and social responsibility. Even the Airbnb example leaves out what happens when the organization rolls out a new brand that misfires. More insidious is the fact that, because “hacking is cool,” growth hacking as a buzzword encourages lazy marketing and communications, and allows those using this approach to feel superior to more experienced communicators. For some start-ups, “growth hacking” has come to mean pursuing a single viral content hit, as opposed to a well-rounded content strategy that takes into account the complexity of reaching a return on investment and the organizational growth goals. Even if a start-up could engineer the success of a single piece of content to go viral (an increasingly challenging task in today’s complex online world), there is no guarantee that this coverage would result in the end metrics most successful organizations must rely on.
When content goes viral, the organization loses control over the message, the customer’s relationship to the content, and the reason that the content is being shared.

“Growth hacking” treats people poorly, ignores how complex real communications success is, encourages lazy thinking, overlooks the maturation process of an organization over time, and sets the organization up to be blindsided by inevitable problems that will come from having a large userbase. Responsible communicators will know that real success comes from ignoring spin like this, and investing in well-researched, carefully-crafted programs based on an understanding of their audience and stakeholders. Graphic via BufferSocial

“Growth Hacking” – Ignore the Hype is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Maura Lafferty
Maura Lafferty loves San Francisco, social media, and social responsibility. She is currently applying for full-time communications roles, where she can bring her nonprofit and tech knowledge and integrated media relations to a great team building some awesome programs.
“Growth Hacking” – Ignore the Hype

Twitter and Television: A Match Made In Heaven

3412239865_995fa95581_bI have a confession to make. When I’m asked how I like to spend my free time, I tend to hem and haw. “Riding my bike,” or “reading up on the day’s news” are the answers I usually give, and those are true. But deep down inside, I know that the truth is the box that sits in my living room. Television. I have an unhealthy love for, and obsession with, television. “The Blacklist.” “Sons of Anarchy.” “The Walking Dead.” “Justified.” “The Americans.” “Fargo.” “Mad Men.” “Game of Thrones.” When I stop and think about it, I’m a bit horrified at just how much time I’ve spent watching television. Add sports into the mix, and I’m seriously embarrassed. A big part of why I enjoy TV so much is the camaraderie I get from tweeting along with the shows as they air. It’s so cool to see your feed explode when (GoT SPOILERS) Ned Stark loses his head or (Fargo SPOILERS) Gus shoots Malvo. My experience is that Twitter has become very intertwined with primetime television. So when NBC Universal Research Chief Alan Wurtzel had this to say about Twitter and the Olympics, I was shocked.
Just 19% of Olympic viewers posted about the games on social media, according to NBC. What does that mean, though?

Keep in mind, the East Coast was 9 hours behind Sochi. So, a hockey game being played at 5 p.m. in Sochi was airing at 8 a.m. in New York. Saturday and Sunday, you’d get some folks tuning in. Monday through Friday? Not so much. So let’s start there. It feels like NBC is comparing apples to oranges. Your programming has to be live in order for social media to drive it. If I already know the outcome of the game, I’m not likely to watch the entire thing. How can you expect social media to drive ratings when social media likely spoiled the outcome hours earlier?! I believe we’ve established that I think NBC’s full of it. Do I have any proof to back that up? Not particularly. Let’s try and fill in the blanks with what I have: a boatload of circumstantial evidence and lots of tweets. The next time you flip on your TV, check out the bottom right hand corner where the network logo (known as a bug in the industry) lives. Many, many, many, many shows have their own hashtag located there. AMC does it for their shows, so do NBC and ABC. I’ll admit to not watching any shows on CBS, so I can’t speak intelligently about that network. My point is this:
If social media has zero effect on drawing eyeballs to their shows, why are the networks (NBC included) so intent on promoting them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.?

I think it’s because social media does increase ratings; Nielsen and the networks just haven’t figured out how to connect the dots just yet. Social media IS impacting TV ratings. 35.6 million tweets were sent during the Germany/Argentina World Cup Final. Were those folks listening on the radio? Doubtful. “The Walking Dead” season finale saw more than one million tweets sent out about it. Interestingly enough, the Kid’s Choice Awards saw 2.1 million tweets that same night. My bottom line: people are posting on social media while they’re watching TV, be it sports or scripted shows (or “unscripted” shows like “Survivor”). Social media and TV are becoming evermore intertwined. Networks would be wise to learn how to monetize all the word of mouth they’re getting on social media while their shows are airing, and do it fast. Image: David Ross via Flickr CC 2.0

Twitter and Television: A Match Made In Heaven is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Matt LaCasse
Social Media Account Manager at KimberMedia
Matt LaCasse believes that finding the methods and channels customers and audiences use, and engaging with them in their comfort zone, is the key to effectively communicating with those groups on behalf of clients. He does social media management for  KimberMedia and teaches for  @bgckids. He is a husband, Iowa Hawkeyes and Chicago Cubs fan. He may, or may not, use humor as a defensive mechanism. He also blogs.
Twitter and Television: A Match Made In Heaven

Social Media Measurement for Pragmatists

Social Media Measurement Guest Post by Robert Rosenthal I like studying results-based information from social media experts. Much of it is fascinating and useful. But I’ve noticed a tendency among some to repeat behavior I saw early in my career in paid media: act as if tracking to the bottom line – especially where social media measurement is concerned – is pointless or impossible. In fact, at one time, many marketers (and creatives in particular) claimed that treating marketing as a science would kill the art. Image: sean dreilinger via Flickr, CC 2.0 Generations of craftsmen were taught that the biggest benefits of great campaigns couldn’t be measured. In my book, Optimarketing: Marketing Optimization to Electrify Your Business, I talk about a lesson we learned shortly after grown-ups were allowed on Facebook (before so-called fan pages even existed). We formed a group called “What I Saw at the Direct Marketing Revolution” and began having discussions that weren’t really available anywhere else. Within several months, our marketing agency tracked two new clients directly from the group. These were people who weren’t previously in our database. They joined the group, participated in discussions, got to know me and my marketing agency, and decided, when they needed help, to give us a go.
It was social media monetization before it was cool. And the math was fairly easy.

Now, I suspect some of you may say something like, “Robert, calculating ROI in these cases isn’t always so easy.” I agree. In a significant percentage of instances, it’s difficult or impossible to track customers back to their original sources. But not being able to track everything doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile to track what you can. At times we’ve been able to make important media decisions when about two-thirds of customers could be accurately tracked back to original sources. Some relationships will originate in social media; in other cases, social media will get an “assist.” Even a 50% rate of successful tracking could be valuable.
The difference between being in the dark on the ROI of customer acquisition sources and illuminating a sizable chunk could be substantial in bottom line terms.

A potential downside of tracking customers back to original sources and running an ROI calculation: some executives outside marketing may expect all marketing to be calculated to that level. In these cases, it’s best to treat colleagues as grown-ups and educate them on what is and isn’t reasonable or possible. It’s easier for marketing programs to be fully funded when the executives responsible for approving budgets believe every attempt is being made to make the most of available funds. As the cliché goes, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Measure what you can – right to the bottom line. Robert RosenthalRobert Rosenthal is founder of Contenteurs, a content marketing agency, and author of Optimarketing: Marketing Optimization to Electrify Your Business, which recently became the #2 marketing book in Amazon’s Kindle Store. Robert was previously with BBDO Direct, Petersen Publishing, American Management Association, and National Syndications.   

Social Media Measurement for Pragmatists is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical Social Media Measurement for Pragmatists

Match Makers go Social by Breaking Stereotypes

Match Makers [Ed: The tradition of arranged - as opposed to "love" - marriages has been practiced in India for centuries, and is still a thriving and commonly accepted practice on the sub-continent. A relatively recent proliferation of matchmaking sites is bringing the tradition in step with the tech age.] Most of you reading this post have, or will go through, a phase in life where it seems the only goal of your friends, family and strangers is to get you married! Image: Weddingsforaliving.com via Google, CC 4.0 That’s when you get anti-social, run away or hide from family get-togethers, parties and weddings. People around you suggest uploading your profile to matchmaking sites, so as to find the best fit in a potential life partner. But little do they realize or understand that it’s not just about finding “a suitable boy” (or girl). It’s about finding someone with whom you’re so compatible, you can imagine spending the rest of your life with them. Recently I came across TrulyMadly.com, a modern day matchmaking service that claims to effectively use science and psychology to find suitable matches. The website offers a new way to connect with like-minded individuals who are looking for serious relationships. At first, I wondered how different it was from other matchmaking sites like Shaadi.com, Matrimonialsindia.com or Jeevansathi.com (which I personally have very little experience of). But my perception about such sites in general changed when I came across a unique and very promising campaign by TrulyMadly called #BreakingStereotypes. It made me think that, perhaps, matchmaking sites aren’t such a bad way to meet your dream boy/girl after all. What makes TrulyMadly stand out from the rest of these sites, is that it matches people’s profiles based on who they are and what they are looking for, instead of the traditional matches based on caste or location. The campaign was aimed at disproving stereotypes, thereby supporting compatibility and personal interactions among individuals. #BreakingStereotypes The campaign introduced 10 fresh stereotypes a week. Each stereotype was illustrated using photographs, articles and tweets, which also frequently used humor. And what they did was to refute the cliched opinions we form of people, based on superficial elements such as the colors they wear, and the work that they do. Check out a few #BreakingStereotypes which created quite the buzz: #BreakingSterotypes #BreakingSterotypes #BreakingSterotypes #BreakingStereotypes ran for five weeks. Over this time, 53 different stereotypes were posted about, which reached over 1.1 million people through social media. According to reliable sources, 90,000 people engaged with the brand on Facebook and over 9,000 interactions were recorded on Twitter by 375+ participants. And, most interestingly, a 330% jump in unique users on TrulyMadly was observed over a span of a month. It’s fascinating to see how social media is taking over every aspect of our lives. There was a time in India when people didn’t believe in such sites, and the only way to find the right fit in a bride or groom was through suggestions from extended families and friends. And what TrulyMadly has done is to get a step ahead of the competition, as people have become more tech-savvy and started using matchmaking sites, taking advantage of the way we live our lives in and through social media. The #BreakingStereotypes campaign gained a lot of attention in the virtual world. What do you think it will take for it to gain traction offline in what is still a fairly traditional society?  Images: Breaking Stereotypes via TrulyMadly, CC 4.0
Match Makers go Social by Breaking Stereotypes is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

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Ancita Satija
Ancita Satija
Senior Account Executive at Six Degrees PR
Ancita Satija has a Masters degree in Public Relations & Corporate Communications from the Xavier Institute of Communications, one of India’s best school for communications & media studies. With a keen interest in social media, she blogs regularly at In My Humble Opinion...; other passions include singing (professionally trained for over a decade!), reading and traveling. Learn more about Ancita via her About.me page.
Match Makers go Social by Breaking Stereotypes