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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.

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Categories: Uncategorized

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

If my blog took a shower, this is what it would sing…

October 11, 2011 2 comments

This website makes my blog rock – literally! CodeOrgan is a fascinating website that uses algorithms to translate the body copy of a website into music. You can “listen” to my blog here.

Here’s what the website’s creators have to say:

The codeorgan analyses the *body* content of any web page and translates that content into music. The codeorgan uses a complex algorithm to define the key, synth style and drum pattern most appropriate to the page content.

Firstly, the codeorgan scans the page contents and removes all characters not found in the musical scale (a to g), and then analyses the remaining characters to find the most commonly used ‘note’. If this is an even number the page is translated in to the major pentatonic scale of that particular note, it becomes minor if there is an uneven number.

Secondly, the codeorgan defines which synthesizer to use. This is  Based upon the total number characters used on the webpage – there are currently 10 synthesizer effects and the one chosen is picked based upon the percentage of content.

Lastly, the codeorgan selects a drum loop based upon the ratio of characters on the page versus the number of characters that are actually musical notes – there are currently 10 different drum loops to pick from.

All right, now give it a shot for your own website!

Categories: Uncategorized

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.

State secrets revealed #3: Rosemary Garlic Chicken

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Here’s another quick, easy recipe from the original JKW cookbook. It’s a savory but light chicken dish that goes well with fresh vegetables or wild rice. Most of the materials you may have already on hand; the others are easily available. The whole operation will take you half an hour tops.

 

ROSEMARY GARLIC CHICKEN

You’ll need:

  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • a bit of white wine
  • fresh rosemary – chopped, leaving a few whole sprigs for garnish
  • garlic – thinly sliced
  • butter
  • dijon mustard
  • salt, fresh-ground pepper, and olive oil

Saute the chicken at medium-high heat in a bit of olive oil for two minutes each side, or until golden. Turn the heat down to medium and let it cook a few minutes longer – 4 to 5 minutes each side, until it’s cooked through (this depends on the thickness of the chicken breast). During this time, you can add the garlic slices, but be careful not to burn them – splash in a little white wine every now and then to keep the garlic and chicken moist.

When the chicken’s finished, remove it from the pan and leave the pan and whatever oil’s left on the stove. Toss in the rosemary and a healthy glug-glug of white wine. Cover the pan, turn it on high heat, and let it nuke until most of the alcohol has burned off and the sauce begins to thicken. Then, remove it from heat, and pop in a tab of butter and a spoonful of dijon, whisking until the butter is melted, the dijon is mixed in, and the sauce is syrupy. Add your salt and pepper to taste.

Pour over the chicken, dress it up with a few sprigs of rosemary, and serve!

In the unlikely event you have leftovers, you can slice up the chicken and make a delicious sandwich on French bread.

Enjoy!

Categories: Food, Living, Uncategorized

“This is your brain on Kafka:” absurdist literature makes you smarter

December 3, 2009 Leave a comment

MotherJones.com, a nonprofit news organization specializing in investigative journalism and political and social commentary, recently published a fascinating article called “This Is Your Brain On Kafka,” by Tom Jacobs.

Mr. Jacobs detailed a study recently published in the journal Psychological Science, performed by psychologists Travis Proulx of the University of California, Santa Barbara and Steven Heine of the University of British Columbia. The study found that reading absurdist literature heightens the brain’s ability to find patterns.

…Man is perpetually in search of meaning, and if a Kafkaesque work of literature seems strange on the surface, our brains amp up to dig deeper and discover its underlying design.

Confirmed. What’s fun about (good) absurdist literature is trying to decipher the underlying themes and symbols, manifested possibly and probably as a function of the author’s subconscious – much like dreams.  Jorge Luis Borges is an excellent example. In Labyrinths, a collection of short stories, the more bizarre the plot becomes, the clearer Borges’ motive.  His stories reflect internal debate over the genesis of causality and fate; the world as an information space; and the nature of thought, to name a few. Tracking the arguments each story makes is exhausting, time-consuming – even for a story of 20 pages – and incredibly fulfilling. Who knew it was sharpening my wit?

For the full text of Tom Jacob’s article in Mother Jones, visit http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2009/09/your-brain-kafka.

Categories: Uncategorized

Twenty years ago today…

November 9, 2009 Leave a comment

I was a child riding in the back of my daddy’s grey Cadillac with my sister by my side. We were barreling down a tree-lined boulevard within a mile or two of our home. Dad was listening intently to the radio, and all of a sudden, he turned up the volume and said

Listen, girls. This is history. You’re too young to understand now… but someday, you’ll be proud to tell your children you were alive on the day that the Berlin Wall fell.

The words didn’t mean a thing to me, but the look on my dad’s face, and the gravity in his voice, gave me pause. I tried to get it, to look solemn, and to make him proud of me.

Later, of course, I learned about the deprivation, the cruelty, the triumph. It meant more then, and I thought I was horrified at it.

At twenty, I backpacked alone through Germany, making special stops to explore Dresden (a citystorydreampileofashes that has always haunted me) and, of course, Berlin.

You know, you can still see a difference between the East and the West sectors. The East is a little more spartan, pockmarked in places; there’s a McDonalds restaurant, though, and you get the feeling that East Germany didn’t finish getting dressed for the party and now that it’s there, feels a bit out of place; a little naked.

The remnants of the Wall, of course, are a shrine now. I crouched down and laid the palm of my hand against what was left; it’s more graffiti than it is wall. And it’s thinner than I had imagined, a poorer barrier than its reputation suggests. The “Iron Curtain” was mostly an idea.

Which of your ideas impoverishes you? Which separates and distances you from the life you want to have? Bear down on it with enough rage and enough determination, and you may find it somewhat weaker than you thought.