Different Schools of Communication Have Plenty To Teach Each Other

October 31, 2012 Leave a comment

At the Global PR Summit in Miami this week, I was fortunate enough to sit in on a panel discussion called “It’s a Conversation, Not a Campaign: What Marketers Can Learn From PR.” The panel featured C-suite communications executives from the likes of Lenovo and Proctor & Gamble discussing how traditionally separate communications disciplines are becoming more and more integrated in today’s digital world.

That is, marketers must learn to speak the language of PR and social media to meaningfully engage today’s consumers. The top piece of information most public relations practitioners (83% of those surveyed) think marketers need to learn is that reputation is a consequence of the authentic behavior of an organization.

This lesson was underscored by Dave Roman, SVP and CMO of Lenovo, who noted that there’s no longer anywhere for brands to hide. “You have to be much more open when you can’t control the message.” Being open and transparent is a necessary condition of instilling a sense of trust and empathy with your clients, and to many public relations professionals, this is critical for marketers to internalize.

The survey cited by this panel also asked marketers what they think PR people need to learn. Not surprisingly, they have to do with analytics – a field marketers have mastered. 78% of marketers believed PR pros needed to learn how to shape their decision-making with data and analytics. 63% thought PR pros needed to learn how to quantify their results.

While marketers design their campaigns around research-based messages – determined by market data, audience attitudes, and demographics – some corporate PR departments still “wing it,” said the panel. (I am fortunate to be with an agency not among the “winging it” contingent.)

In short, all communications disciplines have a lot to learn from each other. We can learn creativity and emotional resonance from advertising. We can learn how to use metrics to not only judge a campaign, but design it, from marketing. We can learn the art of storytelling, how to create authentic connections with customers, and build a brand’s reputation from public relations.  And when all these fields sit at the same communications table, a brand will be that much stronger for it.


Girl PR Power: Notes from the Women in PR Summit

September 26, 2012 Leave a comment

I recently attended the Women in PR Summitat the Eden Roc Hotel in South Beach, Florida. Women working in all facets of the public relations business flew in from across the nation and Canada to attend panels, workshops and seminars.

I was fortunate to be invited to participate in five panels, ranging from developing a profitable social media strategy, to confronting gender issues in the workplace, to best practices in media relations.

Through participating in discussions and networking with attendees, I found that their concerns and questions tended to center around a couple of key topics that are top-of-mind for public relations and communications practitioners today.

Metrics and measurement

I noted in one panel that a mistake we see a lot in public relations is not knowing what success looks like for a given campaign. That is, plunging into the execution of the strategy before first determining the metrics by which you’ll measure the success of the strategy, setting benchmarks and developing a strategy accordingly.

Then, the firestorm of questions began. What kind of benchmarks should one use? How do you project what is reasonable to accomplish? How do you manage client expectations?

Given rbb’s focus on metrics, measurement and benchmarking success, I was able to offer some methods for attendees to implement in their next campaign. I explained that at rbb we don’t just have one way to measure results, and we certainly don’t just count clips. Depending on the project, we look at business outcomes: leads, customer service goals and conversion rates. We also track communications metrics such as impressions, message point penetration, sentiment and changes in perceptions – all great ways to benchmark success for a PR campaign.

Crisis management on social media

Many attendees were in the field of entertainment PR, serving as publicists for celebrities, musicians, artists, and athletes, and client management is one of their day-to-day tasks. But now that every client has the ability to broadcast image-damaging – even career-ending – statements without the benefit of PR counsel, what’s the best way to contain such crises?

Once they’ve happened, said Joshua King of Fly Publicity (our only male panelist), they’re difficult to contain. Counsel clients about the pitfalls of social media when you bring them on board. However, understand that in certain instances issuing an apology or ignoring the online outrage is all you can do (besides working with the client to avoid similar issues in the future).

Law in the age of online content sharing

These days, as intellectual property laws struggle to keep up with the ever-expanding platforms for creating original content and sharing found content, it’s more important than ever to know your rights when it comes to your own content (such as blog posts, white papers, or photos) and when it comes to others’ content. LaShawn Thomas, Esq. of Miami Entertainment Law Group shared ways to protect your work, just as you’d protect any other asset.

What about you? Are the topics above issues you struggle with? What solutions have you found? Tell me in the comments below.

Categories: Uncategorized

Nine Karate Moves to Crack Through Writer’s Block

We’ve all been there – stuck staring at a blank screen, a blinking cursor throbbing in time with our headache. Public relations professionals are called upon daily to write all kinds of documents: press releases, pitches, corporate communications, marketing materials, newsletters, photo captions, and more.

In fact, any PR practitioner will tell you that good writing – not to mention quick composition under deadline and effective crafting of messages – is absolutely essential to their job.

So what happens when writer’s block plops down on your keyboard? It can hit at any time, usually when you’re already a bit burned out. But take heart. You can power through writer’s block with a couple well-placed karate chops. Try a few of these techniques, and let the prose flow.

  • Are you stuck on your opener? Write the last paragraph instead. Then, write the second to last; and third to last; and so forth, until the opening line takes shape.
  • Change the scenery. Do you usually write at your desk? Take your laptop to your kitchen table instead.
  • Stuck on a particularly ornery turn of phrase? Can’t find a way to phrase a thought? Instead of writing it, speak it out loud. Speak into your phone’s voice recorder if you need to, and transcribe it later.
  • Just do it. Write about anything. Switch to another writing project, write a diary about your day, write about not being able to write. Just get the words moving, and soon they’ll start moving in the right direction.
  • Organize, organize, organize. Create an outline of your piece’s structure. Keep filling in details until you’ve got a path laid out in front of you – then, just follow the yellow brick road.
  • Having trouble finding the right phrasing? Here’s an exercise that can help. Do a Google Image search for images related to your topic, and mentally or verbally describe them. That might help you develop a turn of phrase or engage some forgotten vocabulary.
  • Use your deadline to your advantage. Force yourself to write a paragraph every ten minutes. Even if what you write is really awful, you’ll have written something, and that’s a starting point.
  • Do something active – ride your bike, take a walk, go for a swim – for half an hour. Getting the blood flowing is shown to improve cognitive function, and it just might get the ideas flowing too.
  • If you don’t even know where to start, try mapping your ideas out visually. Draw a flowchart or word cloud to organize your thoughts and the touchpoints of your piece.


What’s your top tip for breaking out of writer’s block? Share it in the comments.

State of the Media 2012: Here come the paywalls

February 28, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s no secret that media today is evolving faster than ever before. As the channels through which people consume and disseminate information increasingly move towards the digital, traditional print and broadcast media are scrambling to keep up – fighting for their lives as they try to boost their bottom line through their online content.

This year’s Vocus State of the Media Report covers these issues and more. Here are a few of the most interesting takeaways; you can download the full report here.


  • More and more, newspapers and magazines are closing bureaus in favor of having their employees telecommute. In fact, about 20 bureaus were closed in 2011, including the Miami Herald’s Fort Lauderdale bureau. Like many industries turning towards telecommuting, reporters and editors can do their work from home or remotely, and it saves money.
  • As print subscriptions shrink, with readers turning to news sites to read for free, many newspapers and magazines are seeking ways to make money from their digital content. Paywalls are increasingly popular among publishers. The New York Times has had a paywall for some time, allowing only 20 free articles each month. The Wall Street Journal makes certain content available only to subscribers. However, in 2011, many small and mid-sized publications adopted paywalls as well. We bet you’ll see more in 2012.
  • Beyond paywalls, some publications are dropping certain editions, including the Times-Standard of California which no longer prints a Monday edition.


  • The growing Hispanic market is increasingly becoming a treasure trove for publishers. Many are creating content specifically geared towards a Latino audience. For instance, one of only several successful print magazine launches last year included Hispanic Retail 360. Further, several major TV networks are launching Spanish-language websites, and online video streamer Hulu has introduced Hulu Latino. Some local news sites are offering alternative sites in Spanish, just as the MiamiHerald.com does with ElNuevoHerald.com. This is good news for us here in Miami, where Spanish language speakers are so common.

–          SOCIAL MEDIA:

  • In 2011, blog growth was mostly in consumer-oriented blogs, with topics including domestic life, parenting, and cooking. However, industry and trade blogs came in second – evidence that more and more professionals are seeing how an active blog about their area of expertise can enhance their reputation. In fact, we often advise our clients to integrate a blog into their public relations and marketing campaigns for this very reason.
  • Social media has created a new generation of journalists, who can break news faster than any traditional journalists. Social media users can also provide news from areas inaccessible to foreign journalists, such as during the uprisings in Iran and now Syria.

To put the revolution occurring in the media in perspective, consider that the New York Times now has more Twitter followers than print subscribers. It’s an exciting time for media and public relations professionals as we watch traditional media  integrate with digital and social media.

After reading the above points, what are your predictions for the media in 2012?

Social Media Week Miami: “Socialization” of Personal and Professional Ecosystems

February 17, 2012 Leave a comment

I was fortunate to attend the recent Social Media Week Miami Social Media For Economic Developmentpanel discussion, which addressed the interesting topic of how public and private organizations are facing the challenge of communicating and doing business digitally, and how this could contribute to the development of our local economy.

One particularly thought-provoking idea was put forth by Giovanni Rodriguez, a panelist who participated from California via Skype. Rodriguez said, “Just as we’re seeing a trend toward breaking down silos in our businesses [e.g., cross-departmental collaboration], we’re also seeing it in our personal “ecosystems.” (In other words, our various social and cultural contexts). By that, he meant that the many facets of our lives are increasingly homogenized and integrated via the social web.

 Hearing this made me think of the letter that Facebook titan Mark Zuckerberg’s slipped into the social network’s IPO filing papers. Zuckerberg believes that within years every industry will rely on the social web – it will permeate the entire business environment as it has our personal environments.

As a PR professional, I’ve seen this happening for years. In the public relations business, social networking is a fact of life. It impacts how we build the relationships that are the bread and butter of every PR professional, how we help our clients relate to and engage with their audiences, and how we consume, disseminate and market information. Public relations was one of the first industries to pick up social media and run with it – innovating on new platforms and finding fresh ways to use old platforms.

In the coming years, we will see businesses in every sector of every industry “socialize” their interaction with their customers. Restaurants and entertainment venues like clubs are at the forefront of this initiative; the travel industry is a growing force in social media; and nonprofits have long used social media to reach their networks’ networks’ networks, and so on.

Which industry will be the next adopter – and innovator – of the social mindset?

Categories: Uncategorized

Quick, take your motion sickness medicine!

November 3, 2011 Leave a comment

I have to thank Sam Mallikarjunan (@Mallikarjunan) who just tipped the Twitterverse off to something that can only be described as wicked cool.

Type “do a barrel roll” into Google.


Categories: Just plain fun, Living

What’s up November? Bring it on!

October 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Heavens, November is shaping up to be a busy month – bring it on!. Forget Thanksgiving travel and cooking; there are some excellent conferences here in Miami as well, two of which I have the honor of participating in. Here’s some info on both events and what I’m planning to run my mouth about.

Women In PR

November 4-6: First annual Women in PR Summit!

Anyone who knows me knows I love participating in organizations that work to advance women’s careers. I served on the board of directors of the Association for Women in Communications South Florida chapter for three years (one as communications chair, two as president) and do pro bono publicity for BadassBusinesswomen.org – if you don’t know this organization and its leader, the charismatic entrepreneur Jessica Kizorek, you should. At the Women in PR Summit, I’ll be participating in a panel discussion on how PR is evolving into a digital business. I’ve put down my thoughts on this before; here’s an earlier blog post on how social media is creating a whole new generation of journalists. Click here for more information on the Women In PR Summit and how to register.

November 10-11: The Women’s Success Summit IV – “Risky Business.”

Another fantastic conference devoted to boosting women in business. Says founder and organizer Michelle Villalobos: “Prepare to push boundaries, take leaps of faith, raise bars and take yourself, your business or your career to a whole new level, while being surrounded by hundreds of Miami’s most ambitious, successful women. In honor of our new venue, Gulfstream Park, the theme of this fourth Summit is Risky Business: Going All In.” I’m delighted to not only be a partner and sponsor of this event, but also a panelist on Buzz Worthy: How To Leverage Your Personality, Reputation & Expertise to Land a Spotlight In The Media. I’m beyond thrilled to sit alongside panelists including major journalists Amara Sohn of NBC News and Cindy Goodman of the Miami Herald. Click here for more information on the summit and how to register.

I’d better see you all at these events. And November, don’t just bring it on… consider it brought.