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Posts Tagged ‘public relations’

Tips for those moving from journalism to public relations

If you build upon skills developed in a journalism career, a future in PR could blossom. (Photo of shrub in my yard.)

If you build upon skills developed in a journalism career, a future in PR could blossom. (Photo of shrub in my yard.)

From time to time, journalists ask me for thoughts on moving into public relations. Somebody tells them about my shift to  PR a couple of decades ago after a dozen years as a newspaper reporter and editor. So I get the opportunity to share what worked for me — and hopefully will help them. Here are a few of the things I did. (By the way, I don’t regret the career change at all.)

(1) Strategic outreach to my network (although I didn’t know it at the time). I sent letters and resumes to contacts at companies I admired and knew were doing well, and followed up with phone calls. I had the great fortune of doing in-depth research as part of my job as a business reporter, so I knew who they were. I didn’t hear back from many of them, got rejection letters from others… Then, one called and said he was working to create a position in the corporate communications office he led at a computer software firm. That landed my first job in PR. I put my background as a reporter to use pitching stories about our software to trade journals and writing customer success pieces.

(2) Join the Public Relations Society of America and start attending its monthly meetings. My first manager encouraged me to join. He said it would be a good place for me to keep up with the pulse of the local PR scene, which would help us identify good candidates if our office expanded and keep us up to date with the latest in PR and communications. He also joked (sort-of) that a single guy like me might find a wife in an organization with so many women. I did end up meeting my wife at an Internal Association of Business Communicators (IABC) meeting!

(3) Connect with people at PRSA meetings. As a business reporter,  I had learned a few things about networking at events. One tip was to set a goal of exchanging several business cards at an event. Take time to ask each person where they work and what they do. Ask where they went to school, etc. Be sure to have a concise description of your role and/or career objective rehearsed and ready, and bridge to it when appropriate. When you leave, jot a note or two about each person on the business card that will help with followup. Be sure to connect on LinkedIn, if you haven’t already.

(4) Reach out to your contacts when the seemingly inevitable happens. I had only been in PRSA for about a year when my first PR job was eliminated as part of a company-wide downsizing. I e-mailed and/or called people in PRSA I barely knew, and several of them gave me good leads. They steered me away from dysfunctional situations and pointed me to possibilities I didn’t know existed. For example, I had seen an ad that stressed desktop publishing ability, which I didn’t have. But a contact who had a freelance job with the government social services agency suggested that I call anyway. Within two hours, I had an interview! Within two weeks, I had a job — one that would keep me gainfully employed for the next 17 years! My manager viewed the ability to write interesting and informative articles in AP style and on deadline was much more valuable than desktop publishing, a skill that could be learned in a relatively short time.

(5) Get your APR (Accredited in Public Relations) from PRSA. This was a game-changer for me. It taught me about areas of PR beyond media relations and newsletter/fact sheet writing. It showed me how to develop strategic communications programs. Now, it’s part of my DNA — Research, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation. I’ve had the great fortune of developing and carrying out plans with worthy goals such as getting employee buy-in for an important foster parent recruitment campaign, making an intranet an essential part of employees’ workdays, and building awareness for a a previously low-key healthcare system.

(6) Get involved in PRSA volunteer opportunities. Another major step came when I joined the leadership team of the Cincinnati PRSA chapter. I gained invaluable experience about event planning while serving as programming chair and, more importantly, about leadership during my year as chapter president. I made amazing contacts, many of whom I now consider good friends. I learned how to work collaboratively with diverse groups of talented individuals. Five times, I served as a National Assembly delegate, which allowed me to connect with PR go-getters from across the country.

(7) Never stop learning. As time goes on, I find myself endlessly reading PR, marketing and digital strategy books and blog posts. I attend not just PRSA meetings, but offerings of groups such as the American Marketing Association, Cincinnati Social Media, the Social Media Health Network… This is a vast field, with lines between PR, marketing, communications and advertising blurring as never before. Technological advances come faster and faster.

(8) Follow the leaders on social media. Twitter opens the door to a treasure trove of valuable information — white papers, infographics, podcasts, videos, webinars… Hashtags take you to conferences around the globe focused on PR, marketing, digital, healthcare communication, innovation, inspiration… you name it. You get access to well-known authors and speakers as never before. LinkedIn is awesome. Facebook and Google+ and YouTube, oh my!

(9) Don’t take yourself too damn seriously. This is just a note to me. I can get super serious and stressed out about this stuff. Lighten up and have fun. The journey into PR is a marathon, not a sprint. Enjoy the process!

 

Just what is this thing called Brand Journalism? And why do I like it?!

April 26, 2014 2 comments
My wife and I have made a living doing brand journalism (aka content marketing).

My wife and I have made a living doing brand journalism (aka content marketing).

Every now and then, you get some clarity. You find something that sums up precisely what you have been trying to convey. That happened for me this week when I read this entry by Ann Wylie in Public Relations Tactics (April 2014):  

“Content marketing — aka brand journalism — is relevant, valuable and interesting information that you publish, post or present in owned, not rented, media. Instead of pitching your products and services, content marketing messages position your organization as an expert in your field. Not just blog posts and status updates, content marketing includes conference speeches (and your coverage of them), bylined articles, marketing magazines and e-zines, and more.”

That’s it! That’s what I do, and plan to do for years to come: Brand Journalism!

In recent years, I’ve defined myself as a “public relations professional with social media experience” or a “digital strategist.” I’ve tried to weave in my experience with content strategy for websites and intranets. I’ve spoken about my passion for social media and love of internal communications. I’ve talked about how I get great satisfaction out of researching, planning, implementing and evaluating strategic communications plans that support business goals.

Yes, I am a public relations professional. I do have social media experience. I have worked on digital strategy, although I like to pull in experts to assist with technical aspects such as web design, SEO and online advertising.

So there you go: I’m a Brand Journalist! That’s my passion. It’s my sweet spot… my groove.

It makes sense, really. I worked as a newspaper and editor for a dozen years before entering corporate and then government and then, again, corporate PR/communications/marketing. Heck, I started covering basketball games for my hometown newspaper as a 15-year-old. My dad drove me to my first assignment.

I feel in the flow while developing a strategic communication plan — and then pulling together content that helps educate, inform and entertain key audiences, those that could make or break my employer.  It gets my juices flowing writing a human interest article or Q/A with a thought leader; collaborating with a creative designer, photographer or videographer; tracking viewership and getting feedback for improvement…

I think that’s why I did internal communication for so long. It was so cool to segment audiences, foster two-way communication with them, integrate an intranet, town hall meetings, e-mails, broadcast voice mails…

Then, social media came along — and I got the great fortune of tapping its power to build mutually beneficial relationships via blogs, web chats, YouTube, streaming video and social networks. I experienced how the online supports the offline, how setting up a strategic speakers bureau integrates with a continuing series of web chats. Meantime, I saw my wife help many, many people thrive while living with cancer and other chronic illnesses through her blog and Facebook page. She had gained a bunch of experience in healthcare marketing communications before cancer entered her life.

I hope this blog entry helps you more precisely define what you do. I suspect that there are a bunch of us former journalists now working in PR, marketing and communications who sometimes fumble with describing their focus. It’s a continually evolving area, with the blurring of lines between PR, marketing, advertising and digital — and, dare to say, journalism. Technology has given us the power to “go direct” with key audiences and influencers as never before. Networking is on steroids.

Footnote: Just realized that this post has a bunch of I’s, when this as actually been a We endeavor. Brand Journalism is a team effort that involves supportive leadership, collaborative teammates, outside resources. It definitely is not a go-alone proposition. We’re all in this together.

 

Public relations, communications, marketing, digital… We’re all in this together!

Violinist Roddy Chong inspired Cincinnati PR pros with lessons learned during a career that includes touring with Celine Dione, Shania Twain and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Violinist Roddy Chong inspired Cincinnati PR pros with lessons learned during a career that includes touring with Celine Dione, Shania Twain and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

It’s an exciting time for those of us in public relations, communications, marketing, digital strategy and related disciplines. It also can seem confusing, overwhelming, contradictory, counter-intuitive… as we embrace the challenges and opportunities of this time of rapid change. 

Thank goodness, we don’t have to navigate these exhilarating — and sometimes turbulent — times alone. This era of social media allows us to build extensive networks and nurture mutually beneficial relationships as never before. We’re all in this together as we move to make this world a better place and enjoy the journey (at least that’s my goal during this short time on the planet).

This week, for example, I had the great fortune of attending Northern Kentucky University’s 2nd Annual Social Media Summit. The theme was “Maximizing the Client/Agency Relationship in the Social Media World.” An expert panel reinforced a lot of what we know, I thought. Stuff like social media allowing consumers to connect more directly with brands, the need for organizations to collaborate with outside partners to develop and implement social strategies, the need to integrate social with digital and offline, the imperative of breaking through the noise, etc. But, even more important to me, was the opportunity to speak with people I respect and like before the panel discussion — and to meet new folks interested in this subject area.

Two days later, I found myself in the middle of a totally unexpected experience at the monthly Cincinnati PRSA luncheon. Roddy Chong, a renowned violinist who has toured with Celine Dione, Shania Twain, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and others, gave a motivational talk interspersed with amazing violin playing. He simply blew away the 50-75 or so in attendance in the green room at the Aronoff Center.

Please take a look at the MikeBoehmer57 Twitter stream for my tweets from the summit and PRSA meeting. You’ll read some nuggets that hopefully will help as you work through fears en route to amazing, fulfilling work.

Here are several of Roddy’s points that particularly resonated with me:

  • When you don’t face your fears, your dignity grows smaller.
  • Find influences that point you above average.
  • Be clear and specific.

These are exciting times, for sure. Scary too.

I’m glad we get to experience them together!

Think outside of the Facebook box

FacebookA blog post by Forbes contributor Ewan Spence this week confirmed what I’ve been hearing — and experiencing — as the administrator of Facebook business pages: They are becoming a paid marketing and public relations channel. The days of “free” organic reach on this massive social network are dwindling with each passing year.

Citing research by Social@Ogilvy, Spence noted: “From 16% of followers of a brand page being shown a piece of content in 2012, the percentage of organic reach has dropped to roughly 6% in February 2014 for an average page, and just 2% for large pages with more than 500,000 likes.”

He adds: “And the unofficial advice from Facebook sources to community managers noted in the report? Expect it to approach zero in the foreseeable future.”

This confirms a belief of mine: You need an integrated approach to social media marketing. Don’t get overly dependent on Facebook, especially if you have a limited budget.

Strongly consider channels such as blogs, YouTube, Pinterest. LinkedIn. Twitter, Instagram… and, dare I say, Google+ when researching and planning your strategic public relations and marketing plans. Think outside the Facebook box.

You may have noticed that I used the terms “public relations” and “marketing” in the previous sentence. I find this excerpt from the excellent new book Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program by David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek very helpful:

“The concepts of marketing and public relations are often used interchangeably, even by those who are involved in the field. There are many definitions of both terms, but simply, ‘marketing’ is a multidisciplinary process by which a company or institution actively promotes, sells, or distributes a product, idea, or service to potential customers. ‘Public relations,’ on the other hand, is a process (an aspect of marketing, in fact), by which a company or an institution tries to encourage broad, public understanding and acceptance of an idea, product, or service among its various potential audiences.”

Any thoughts on the changing role of Facebook in your marketing and public communications strategies? Please comment.

 

 

Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage

December 4, 2011 2 comments

Within hours of getting my Kindle Fire (on the first day of availability!), I had downloaded an excellent new book by David Meerman Scott called Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas Into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. I read it in two days.

Scott offered me a peak into the playbook of PR pros who have capitalized on real-time communication to score big media coverage. It got my mind going about the tremendous opportunity for us to shine the media spotlight on our clients, their products and services.

“In a 27/7/365, second-by-second news environment, savvy operators realize there are new ways to generate media attention,” Scott writes. “…Newsjacking favors quick, observant, and skilled communicators.”

He shared example after example of PR pros who jumped into the news cycle early and came  up with angles that got their clients widespread coverage. For example, a high-end sunglasses company got coverage valued at $41 million by giving glasses to Chilean miners as they emerged from 69 days being trapped in a mine. In the political world, Rick Perry newsjacked the Iowa Straw Poll by announcing his candidacy the day of the poll. Bloggers wrote about controversial topics as stories were breaking and put a link to their posts in the comments sections of online articles — and found their comments inserted into followup coverage…

Scott spelled out this technique:

“(1) When something breaks in the news, journalists the world over scramble to put out a news flash within minutes. For local stories and industry-specific news, the same process happens but on a much smaller scale.

“(2) Next, journalists have to update the story, fleshing it out with details and context, so they scour the web for anything that might give them a second paragraph. They turn to Google and Twitter to see who might have something interesting to add. Often they are near-desperate and willing to snap at whatever relevant bait you can provide.

“(3) Your job is to instantly spot an angle and get it online — via your blog, Twitter, or media alert — as fast as you can. You need to be clever and quick. You need to operate in real time.”

Scott gives tips for monitoring and promptly responding to coverage. He shares how others have done this with great results.

Fire up your electronic reader and check it out!

Career tips for those entering (or in) PR

February 13, 2011 4 comments

Yesterday morning (a Saturday), I spent nearly an hour on the telephone with a college student who had a number of career-related questions. She’s interested in public relations after first thinking about broadcast journalism. She was working on a paper for a class — and had a number of good questions.

Here are a few of the ideas I shared with her, based on my 12 years in journalism and 18 in public relations:

(1) Get as much experience as you can. Do internships. Volunteer to help a non-profit. Work for a campus publication or broadcast outlet. Write for your hometown newspaper…

(2) Get involved in professional organizations, such as PRSSA. Volunteer to serve on committees. Lead projects. Develop your leadership abilities and teamwork skills…

(3) Become proficient in as many software tools as possible — everything from Adobe to WordPress. Learn to do web pages and desktop publish newsletters, brochures and posters. Know the latest with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare…

(4) Read blogs such as Strategic Public Relations by Kevin Dugan and Bootcamp Digital by Krista Neher. Know what the leaders are saying and doing…

(5) Read career-development books such as Stop Peeing on Your Shoes by Julie Bauke and Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand by Wiliam Arruda and Kirsten Dixon. Both books have helped me very much in my long, strange trip of a career.

(6) Network, network, network — both in-person and online. See what you can bring to the professional relationship, not what you can get out of it. Give, and you shall receive.

We covered lots of other ground, too. Would love to hear what ideas you have about career development.

Social media and healthcare

January 22, 2011 4 comments

In the past couple of months, I’ve immersed myself in the study of healthcare social media.

I’m finding vast potential for connecting healthcare organizations with key communities such as patients and their family members, physicians, nurses, those who govern and regulate the industry…

Like government (where I formerly worked), healthcare as a whole seems to have many fears and concerns when it comes to social media marketing:

Technical issues. Some, especially those in IT, are concerned about matters such as hacking and viruses. Yet they are willing to learn and take steps to prevent problems in these areas.

Privacy. Others, mainly in the HR arena, fear that employees will divulge confidential or inappropriate information. They cite cases where hospital employees have actually posted photos on Facebook of emergency room patients, or carelessly vented about a difficult situation. Yet they are willing to adopt policies similar to those that have protected other organizations from such risks.

Time. Many, mainly in PR and marketing, wonder where they’ll find the time to monitor social media, respond to comments, and otherwise engage with key influencers. After all, social media marketing is a commitment, not a campaign. It takes up some of your precious time, those minutes and hours that you could be finishing that important task on your to-do list. Yet they are excited about the effectiveness of going direct with members of their key audiences and markets — about bypassing the media filter, DVR’s/Tivo, and subscription radio. They are willing to try new time management practies.

No first-hand experience. Yet others, with a variety of backgrounds, don’t use social media in their personal lives. They don’t Facebook or visit the blogosphere. Some are private people who don’t want to share on the Internet. Others don’t like communicating via computer. Many say they’re too busy. A variety of reasons. Yet they know they are late adopters who may have to at least give it a try. Social media isn’t for everyone — yet. Neither was the telephone, the radio, the television, the Internet, e-mail or other commonplace parts of our daily lives early in their adoption phases. Take a look at Social Media Revolution 2.

Overall, my early assessment is that healthcare in general will  slowly but surely move ahead with social media marketing. I’m really encouraged by organizations such as the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. Great things lie ahead. I’m excited to be a part of them.