Chasing Perfection

Taking a look at public relations practices that work

Social media in the world of PR April 14, 2007

Filed under: blogging,Business,PR,Public relations,Social media — Erika @ 3:37 pm

The use of blogs is becoming more and more popular in business. It’s easy to see why — blogs work.

Blogs are a great way to hear feedback from others in the industry as well as your company’s clients. Take a look at GM’s Fastlane blog. The blog focuses on the automotive industry. Some posts have generated over 100 comments. This proves that people are reading and that they care.

While I am just a newbie in the blogoshere, I can easily understand a blog’s usefulness in public relations. They can reach a targeted audience and give your company a personality. Blogs are easy to produce and quite addicting – for the readers and the writer. I catch myself checking wordpress daily just to see how many visitors I have had on my site.

A good PR person knows when a blog is useful and when it is not. While most of my friends can tell you exactly what a blog is and give you a list of who they are reading, my parents still don’t “get it”. A company wanting to reach an older audience my have better luck using traditional media. However, I wouldn’t give up on blog and the older generation just yet. I think they just need a little more time to jump into the blogosphere.

 

Teamwork in PR April 6, 2007

Filed under: PR,Public relations,Teams,Teamwork — Erika @ 8:17 pm

TeamworkWorking together with a group of different personalities is never easy. It can be difficult, tiring and down right annoying at times! But in the end, it is worth it. Work created by a team out performs work created by an individual nearly every time.

This semester I have had the opportunity to work with three other PR majors on a project for my final PR course at Kent State. So far, we have extensively researched our client, developed a PR plan and created communication elements to support our plan. This required several late nights at the library, about a hundreds e-mails and maybe two or three frantic phone calls. Now that we are working on the final stretch of the project, I feel like it is safe to say we have developed in to a fine working team.

Here are some lessons that I have learned:

Be flexible. Group meetings may not always be at the time you prefer, but if you are willing to give a little now your group members will respect you and return the favor. Listen to other’s ideas. They may be better than yours.

Use face-to-face communications. E-mail is easy, but can cause problems. Don’t assume that your group members will check and read every e-mail that you send. Remember that e-mail can be easily misunderstood. Many arguments have developed over e-mail that could have easily been stopped if group members were speaking face-to-face.

Be honest. If you don’t like the way something is, speak up! There is a way to tactfully disagree with a group member without hurting their feelings.

Do your part. No one likes a slacker. When you are a part of a group, you are there for the long haul. Finish your assignments. Help generate ideas. Offer to take on responsibility.

Agree to disagree. Members of a group rarely agree on everything. There will be a time when you disagree with your team members. And that is OK. If the team is willing to accept that not everyone thinks alike and is prepared for disagreements, your team can move smoothly past points of tension.

While these tips may sound simple, there are harder to put into practice than you may think. I encourage you to work with a team to see what lessons you will learn.

 

The smell of success March 21, 2007

old sneakersOnly at a company like Odor-Eaters does success smell like an old sneaker.

Odor-Eaters, a company specializing in products to curb unpleasant smells, launched a rotten sneaker contest. Contestants from around the country competed to prove to judges that they had the smelliest, most foul sneakers.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sure glad I wasn’t the judge.

Katharine Tuck, a 13-year-old from Utah, took home the first place prize of $ 2,500 and a life supply of Odor-Eaters.

Luckily for the people at Odor-Eaters the rotten sneaker contest did more than just bring a foul smell to town. The event generated tons of media coverage. The Chicago Tribune, CNN.com, and CBS Newsall printed stories about the contest. After all, the event had everything it needed to be a strategic media relations tactic: great visuals and uniqueness.

Events can be a great way for PR people to get their client or company’s name in the news. However, not all events work. Events must be fresh and fit the company. The press will not cover an event unless it will catch the attention of its readers – media relations 101.

I know event planning can be tough, especially when its goal is to generate media coverage. Keep searching for the right event, and you may be able to smell the sweet (or foul) smell of success.

 

Companies “go green” to bring in the green March 15, 2007

Filed under: go green,money,PR,Public relations — Erika @ 10:29 pm

I am an environmentalist.

I recycle – at least try to. I help stop air pollution. I mean, after all, I do walk when I can as long as it’s not snowing, or raining,  or too hot, or too far. I don’t brush my teeth while the sink is running, and I always buy “green.”

Turns out, I’m not alone. In fact, according to ABCNEWS, sales of environment friendly products– from energy efficient light bulbs to cleaner locomotive engines topped 10 billion dollars- almost double than the year before. Whether it is the fear of global warming, desire to do the right thing or the need to stay hip, we are willing to spend money on products that help out Mother Earth.

Many companies in all different industries are jumping on the green-wagon. In Oakland, FedEx uses almost entirely solar power to fuel their business. Automotive companies like Honda, are developing cars that are more “enviroment friendly”and even retail giant and most hated company, Wal-Mart, sells organically grown cotton balls.

Is it time for all PR people to start selling the “go green” campaign to their companies? Is this just a fad or a real attempt to clean our environment?

Either way, people are taking notice. Target Green, a conference for PR people, is focused entirely on how to help your company go green. While the conference is not until May, it is likely that it will draw a large crowd. I would go, after all, this is all in the name of saving the environment, isn’t it?

 

Free and Funny, but does it work? March 8, 2007

Filed under: Humor,Microsoft — Erika @ 1:13 am

We know that humor relieves stress and can put us at ease. We also know, that when used correctly, Microsoft Office humor can sell some products. But can it sell computer software?

The people at Microsoft sure hope so. Microsoft has launched a campaign aimed to promote Microsoft Office 2007 using a comic strip as well as a personality internet quiz designed to find users’ software that is a perfect personality fit.

While the personality quiz is interactive and fun, the comic strip lacks the kind of spark that keeps audiences interested. The comic strip is about a character named Madeline , who lives in an enchanted forest of productiveness until she discovers Microsoft Office. The strip is dull, too long and it is apparent that the reader is “being sold.” Today’s young professionals are too cleaver to give into tactics like the comic strip.

To be fair, these tactics are new and are moving Microsoft in a direction that may some day pay-off. The use of interactive media can be very effective when used properly and targeted at the correct audience. With a little more work, these new tactics could be successful.

While humor can be an effective tool for PR people, we must consider the audience. Will this tool really keep our audience laughing or will we be laughed at?

 

Silly String Saves Lives February 27, 2007

Filed under: Media Relations,PR,Public relations,Uncategorized — Erika @ 12:57 am

Sometimes PR people get lucky, and when they do, it may be necessary to develop a media relations plan.

For example, take a look at the recent headlines about the war in Iraq. As you might expect you will read about President Bush and our troops, but I bet you were surprised when you read about Silly String. Possibly even more surprised that you finished the entire article.

Silly String, a common request from troops overseas, is being used to detect trip wires without creating an explosion.

This new combat innovation has started a Silly String frenzy. Time, MSNBC, and USA Today have all published stories about Silly String’s use during combat. A soldier’s mom in New Jersey has started a Silly String drive and you can bet that Silly String sales have been on the rise. You can be sure that all of these stories were ideas pitched by a PR person.

It’s not every day that circumstances can make a product like, Silly String, newsworthy. It is our job as PR people to recognize an opportunity and act on it before it is too late. Keep your eyes open and ears tuned in — you just never know when it will be your client’s or company’s turn to dominate the front pages.

 

Sorry doesn’t cut it February 20, 2007

Filed under: Crisis Communication,PR,Public relations — Erika @ 11:00 pm

Our mothers have lied to us.

Now it is no longer acceptable to just say, “I’m sorry.” It seems the magic words have gone out of style, or at least when it comes to public relations. A study done by Weber Shandwick, a worldwide PR firm, found that out of 950 global business leaders surveyed, 59 percent believe that public apologies by CEOs are not as effective as other tactics when it comes to communicating during a crisis.

This makes sense. During a crisis, people want action, not talk. The same surveyrevealed that a majority of business leaders expect CEOs to address the problem and the steps they will take to fix it.

So where does this leave PR people? It is our job to help hold the apologies and get our CEOs moving in the right direction. Letting the public know how the problem will be fixed is fine, but will only work if that plan is followed through.

While apologies are essential on the playground, they may not be the best tool for the boardroom. The learning lesson here is simple. Do now, and apologize later.

 

 
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