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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.

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.

–          BUSINESS MODEL CHANGES:

  • 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.

MARKETING:

  • 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?

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.

A message from the me in another life

September 20, 2011 2 comments

If you’ve read my “About Me” page, you probably noticed that I worked as head wardrobe technician for a performance theater for several years. I’ve worked with a number of high-profile dance and theater companies, but none so renowned as the Royal Shakespeare Company, with whom I did two residencies in 2003 and 2005. I remember those days fondly, but to this day the smell of a theater is reminiscent of exhaustion and adrenaline.  Yep, the job is a piece of work, to use a misapplied idiom.

In my current quest to get my home organized, I came across this letter, which I had written to memorialize the thrill, achievement, and chronic sleep deprivation of my first round of working with the world’s best theater company, performing two shows in rep. I’m sharing it here for as much my own enjoyment as for yours.

 I have the dubious honor of being the only full-time student on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s core crew.  Every morning for several weeks, I arrived at the theater by 9:00am to start work.  Unfortunately, I still had to manage a full class schedule in addition to preparing for midterms.  This meant no breakfast, no lunch, and seldom dinner – I took off an hour for class in the morning, then an hour for class in the afternoon, but the rest of the time, I was stuck in the basement.  I usually finished the wardrobe work by four or five in the afternoon, giving me a few hours off before I had to return for show call at about six.With the show, then cleanup and prep for the next day, my workday usually lasted till about 11. Then, it was school work time! I rarely got to bed before four or five in the morning. Looking back at photos, I’m amazed I was still standing after the gig was over.

Wardrobe maintenance may not be a physically taxing job, but it was quite time-consuming.  My main tasks were laundering, steaming, pressing and repairing all of the costumes for each show.  It may not sound like much, but I knew I was in trouble during the load-in: half of the first semi that we unloaded was wardrobe, makeup and wigs.  The RSC has twenty actors, each of whom changes at least three times per show.  There were two different plays in rep. That adds up to a lot of laundry.  The costumes also undergo a great deal of wear during the quick changes and fight scenes; part of each day’s work was making sure each was in proper repair.

For laundry, I  did five loads every morning.  Not only was I responsible for all of the wardrobe for every show, I also had to ensure that about forty towels were clean, folded and ready for clean-up after the bloody murder scene in Julius Caesar.  The most arduous task, however, was the ironing.  For Two Gentlemen of Verona, I had to iron 18 dress shirts every morning besides the regular laundry.  My hours spent at the ironing board quickly became a joke backstage, and were well documented by digital camera.

Although I was badly in need of sleep by the time the RSC left, I dreaded the end of their stay.  I made wonderful friends with the wardrobe girls, makeup and wig staff, and props managers, who “liberated” and signed a pair of combat pants worn in Julius Caesar for a keepsake in my honor. Kay, Deb, Linda, and Denise were my partners in crime – we shared the work, the flu, and the celebration at the end of each workday.  I must admit a certain degree of separation anxiety after they departed; luckily, we have kept in touch via email and cell phone.  We even have a reunion planned in Europe this fall, as I will be studying in Paris.  Working for the Royal Shakespeare Company was a culturally, educationally and financially enriching experience (I logged an incredible number of overtime hours), and I would not hesitate to undertake this job again.

And I did, a couple of years later, take a second residency with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Working under time-sensitive, high pressure, high stress conditions has prepared me quite well for working in a fast-paced agency environment. Would I rejoin the ranks of theater technicians? That’s a question for another day.

Seven things I learned from giving my first seminar

Recently, I blogged about a presentation I gave to artists, teaching them the basics of D.I.Y. media relations. I’ve sat on panel discussions before and spoken in front of the Association for Women in Communications South Florida (as president and past president), but I’d never had the opportunity to stand at the front of a room under bright lights, and speak for 45 minutes about one of the topics I’m most passionate about. And I can’t wait to do it again. Here are five things I learned from this new experience:

  1. Organizing the presentation: Make it a thought process. Lead the audience step by step through this thought process, with as few detours as possible. Not only is it a very effective teaching technique, but it relieves a lot of pressure to memorize, memorize, memorize. Standing up in front of a room full of people, looking expectantly at you, can be a hair trigger to losing your words (and your mind, and your composure)  all of a sudden. If you work yourself through your own thought process, you’ll never forget what you need to cover.
  2. Wear something comfortable – physically and psychologically. I chose my go-to jeans, a comfy blouse, and a blazer that never fails me. If you’re up there tottering in heels too high, or uncomfortably shifting around a wedgie, or worrying if your bra is showing through, your level of effectiveness is going to be inversely proportional to the level of your uneasiness. Pick something you know looks good, feels good, and is going to hold up under hot lights and moving around on stage.
  3. Gauge your audience. When I arrived, I wasn’t sure how experienced my audience was with media relations, or even (what we might consider simple) tasks like setting up a Youtube channel. And I was surprised to learn what they needed to learn. Yes, the “raise your hand if…” opener is a bit cheesy and overused, but if I didn’t ask a few of those before I began, I might have ended up teaching people what they already knew, or failing to teach them what they really needed to know.
  4. Shut up early and let the audience take over. That “15 minute” Q&A session is never, ever going to be enough time for everyone to pose their questions. Next time I give a seminar, I’m going to hold it to 35 minutes and then let the discussion do the rest.
  5. Get there early and stay there late. Not only is this another great way to gauge your audience before you begin your seminar and find some familiar faces you can use as anchors in your view of the audience, but it also lets the “never long enough” Q&A session continue afterwards. Hand out a couple of business cards. Invite people to contact you later with more questions. The closer you get with your audience and the more information you have time to provide, the more you – and they – will get out of your seminar.

Any experienced speakers out there like to weigh in? Leave a comment!

Artists need media love too

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

On February 15, I gave a seminar, “How to Get The Media’s Attention,” teaching DIY media relations for artists. The event was sponsored for an amazing local organization, Life Is Art, which advances and promotes Miami’s own artists.

Many might think artists ≠ public relations. They do it for the joy of creation and ideation, right? – hoping to sell just enough of their work to finance the next round of paint, clay, or film.

But when I asked for a show of hands from those who want to make a living off their art, every hand in the room – right back to the standing-room-only peanut gallery – shot up.

“Essentially, then,” I said. “You are an entrepreneur. You are your own small business. Why shouldn’t you use the same marketing techniques and strategies so critical to the success of any other entrepreneur?”

About fifty light bulbs clicked on over the heads of the audience members.

“The fact is, public relations ain’t brain surgery,” I told them. “Anyone with some basic training and materials (and a lot of time and energy) can do it. And I aim to have each and every one of you walk away with the education and materials you need to get the media’s attention.”

I showed them how to create a “home base” where people can find their work, their events, and their contact information. I recommended either a simple website or, even better, a free WordPress blog where they can host their videos, audio, or images. Then, I explained why having a social media presence was so important – each profile, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or Flickr – is another “lily pad” leading audiences back to their home base, and which of those social media platforms might be most effective in promoting their work.

Eventually, I told them, their lily pads will be articles in the New Times, American Artist, the New York Times Arts Beat blog, and other media hits they garner – yet more signs guiding potential buyers to the artist’s home base.

From there, we moved to tactics. I showed them formats for basic media relations documents, including calendar announcements, media alerts, and press releases. I taught them how to use those documents, when to use those documents, and who to send them to. Finally, I showed them the most important tool of all: the personal note.

As any professional PRer knows, the power of the personal note cannot be underestimated. If I’m tracking a reporter who I think might be interested in my story, I research their recent stories and read each new one they publish. One of the top ways to open a dialogue and begin the process of building a relationship is to just drop them a line with a comment or insight on one of their articles. After a few of those notes, the foundation is set, and I can ask them to consider my story. Artists are communicators as well, and arts writers connect with them in a much different way than they do with a public relations professionals. My bet is, the artists who attended my seminar would be much more likely to get some deeper coverage if they opened a dialogue with a writer whose previous work shows a potential interest in the artist’s story and work. I explained the best ways to research a writer and the best ways to communicate with them.

In the Q&As, though, things got down and dirty. The conversation turned to social media, and I sat down at my laptop behind my projector to show them, in real time, how to use some of the platforms, and examples of other artists who were using them well. We talked about how to sell a story, how to stage a publicity stunt, like a live graffiti muraling or performance art piece. I gave each attendee a handout with the templates to use, and emailed each a media list of contacts in the local media, broadcast media, and national arts and consumer media.

Now, let’s see who makes the news….

For more information, check out this write-up we got from the Miami Herald. Or, view the full program description here.

ART AS BUSINESS

Seminar in Wynwood tonight: how artists can manage their own PR

By Jared Goyette

When artists decide to make a living from their talent, to make their passion their career, they become their own small business, and suddenly have to a manage a slew of new responsibilities of that are not typically mastered in art school or in studios. One of those tasks is managing their own PR, and that entails more than just opening up a Facebook page

How artists can manage their own public relations is the subject of a seminar being held tonight at 6:30 p.m. at GAB Studio, 105 NW 23rd in Wynwood. The event is sponsored by the Life is Art foundation, and there is a charge of $10 at the door. Julia K. Wakefield, a Senior Account Executive and Director of Social Media at Schwartz Media Strategies, will present, and plans to give the artists in attendance the rundown of what they need to know about the world of media relations.

“I want them to walk away with the ability to do some very basic public relations to get the media’s attention to their work,” she said in a phone interview.

The presentation will go through how artists should set up their own platform – a homepage, a blog, social media accounts — and how to build an audience. Wakefield will also go through the basics of traditional media relations, and will distribute a press list of local, national and international art writers and journalists.

She believes that developing artists are more than capable of managing their own PR, as it’s “not rocket science,” but that getting the basics right can be important for their success, especially if they want to make art their career.

“Most artists do it for the pleasure of it, but everybody needs to make some money,” she said.