PR Stardom

8 03 2013

Scenario: Representing a Super Star
Subject: PR Professional
Topic: Handling the Limelight and Obscurity

A night on the red carpet.

A week-long worldwide tour.

A day in the nation’s capitol.

There are probably worse things in this world than handling the public relations for a super star, but not many. Since the introduction of the internet and social media things have become more complicated as stars have been “followed,” “retweeted” and “linked” to thousands of their adoring fans. Whether an individual is a sports star, public official, songwriter, or some other celebrity; there are additional concerns and safeguards that need to be in place. These same safeguards can help manage and protect our own image.

Don’t do anything stupid

This seems like it would be a no-brainer, but with some of our super stars, apparently things need to be spelled out. If you are a state representative of a conservative state who was elected in part because of your support of the traditional family and good old-fashioned values do not solicit same-sex prostitution in a public restroom or get drunk, drive, and then get a DUI.

The key to protecting your image is not ruining it in the first place.

Think before you speak (or tweet)

Taking an extra minute or two to consider the long-term effects of our words will save a lot of regret and apologies. When your birthday party doesn’t turn out the way you want and you decide to leave the “weak *** club” you were originally going to spend it at, don’t just say that its the worst birthday ever and leave the public to fill in the blanks. Also when David Beckham is in his underwear on your screen, and it wierds you out as a guy, don’t tweet about it and make national news, just roll your eyes and move on.

What we say and tweet doesn’t just magically disappear when we realize it was a mistake. It lasts and lasts, so think.

Be honest…ALWAYS

There are few things that are more disappointing to fans and more embarrassing to a star than to be caught in an unmistakable lie. When you are singing for the President of the United States, it might be important to actually sing. It may also help when your the President of the United States to actually lead.

The truth will always come out, so start with it and don’t give people a reason to doubt it.

 

According to Benjamin Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is true in every aspect of life especially when it comes to your public image. Be sure to always take time beforehand to not do anything stupid, think things through and always be honest. If these three little rules guide you then it doesn’t matter what you’re doing or who you are representing, because everything will turn out just right.

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Portfolio PR and the Job Search

1 03 2013

Scenario: Applying for a Job
Subject: Potential PR Professional
Topic: Creating a PR Portfolio

Graduation is coming up and there are a thousand different things to worry about when applications to jobs and graduate programs start getting serious. One thing I have often wondered in preparing my applications is what kind of portfolio to put together. I never know what kind of information to focus on and how to present that information in a way that best reflects my skills and abilities. Luckily PRSA has an article about how to create a good PR portfolio. I’m going to share some specific writing samples that could be used from college classes and some other simple tips for  the portfolio pieces.

Select your best pieces

Almost every college class requires some sort of writing. If it is a writing class, choose a few of your favorites, but if its not a writing class pick your best piece of work from every class. It may not be applicable to the position you are applying for, but by having a wide range of good writing samples to choose from you will be more prepared.

Use professional pieces if possible

While it is not always the case, if you have an article that is published in a newspaper, magazine, or some other medium use actual publication so it can be presented in its original form. This will give your potential employer the full context in which the writing was used.

Include articles that demonstrate design or other elements

Demonstrating other skills that could be applicable to the position like design work or photography. This type of sample could be something from a journalism class or an introductory design class if there is some writing involved.

Make sure the samples are professional

As a graduating student most of your work will most likely be from classes, but that doesn’t mean that it has to look like it’s a student’s work. Some things that you can do to make sure it is as professional as possible is proofread your work thoroughly. Even if you got an A+ from your teacher, you should still review it and then get anyone else you can to review it. Just because you wrote it for a class doesn’t mean that you have to leave it in the same state it was in when you turned it in.

Include additional information as necessary

Sometimes portfolios require additional information in order to orient the potential employer with the purpose and extent of involvement in the project. One example of this is a group project. In my event management class we had to create marketing materials, create event programs and summaries, and write up a news release for the school newspaper. I wasn’t involved in every aspect of the project, but by including a brief summary with the materials you can get credit for a great portfolio piece without taking more credit than is due.

Put in a little extra effort

When it comes to making your portfolio stand out, a little extra effort can go a long way. Make it easy for the employer to find everything in the portfolio by labeling samples or making tabs. By putting your writing samples in a nice binder with plastic sheet covers or mounting them onto some black card-stock, your work will look more professional and it will look like you are willing to go the extra mile to make an impression. It also defines you as a professional and somebody who pays attention to detail.

The job field gets more competitive all the time, and when applying to a position every advantage can mean the difference between a job and six more months of job searching. By creating a professional and well-rounded portfolio we can be prepared for any interview in a variety of potential job fields.





The Great Communicator

22 02 2013

Scenario: Every Day
Subject: Every Individual
Topic: Seven Principles in Helping to Manage Your Story

Every day people engage in a process of trying to control and manage the messages that are being sent to others and perpetuated about their own lives and stories. Ronald Reagan was considered to be “the Great Communicator” for his ability to work with the media. He had seven rules that he followed in working with the media. These same principles can help to manage our own story and how it is presented to the public and handled by others.

 7 Principles

Plan ahead

Every day is full of activities and choices. Some of the activities or choices that we are going to engage in have the potential to yield negative or simply difficult situations. Each individual has the advantage in those situations to plan accordingly. This might mean taking extra precautions not to be in a particular circumstance. It also gives an individual the advantage of starting the truth before a reputation-tarnishing story starts.

Stay on the offensive

If the story is already given and pushed by a reliable source (namely you) than a false story, or less positive perspective to take hold.

Control the flow of information

By understanding who the parties are interested in the information and the most common flows of information and the easiest way for information to be spread. Because regular day-to-day activities are not generally considered newsworthy, some of the most common forms of information flow for that type of information is word-of-mouth, blogs, and of course, Facebook.

Limit reporters’ access to the president

While reporters are not necessarily a major concern for this type of information, there are “reporters” in our lives. These people are generally considered gossips or busy-bodies. When there is an important story that is going on in your life, limiting the number of gossips who have access to your life stories that can be destructive.

Talk about the issues you want to talk about

It’s your life. You have the same information channels to use, so promote the information you want to talk about. It is also important to not share information that you don’t want in the public.

Speak in one voice

BE CONSISTENT. It is important to share the same stories with friends, gossips, online, and with family members and others. It is important that wherever people turn for information, that it is the same.

Repeat the same message many times

Promote, promote, promote. You have control of the message, promote your side over and over. The message that is shared the most will be believed and promoted more by others than a less repeated story.

Each of these points has the potential to help promote and manage our public image and the promotion of our own story. The Great Presidential Communicator gained his reputation in part because of his use of these principles. If all these principles are applied throughout our lives we will be better able to control how we are viewed by the public and ultimately how we will be remembered after we are no longer around to tell our own story.





Valentine’s PR

15 02 2013

Scenario: Valentine’s Day (or any other holiday)
Subject: Spouse
Topic: S-H-O-C: Formula for the best

It’s Valentine’s Day, and one question that is on a lot of husbands minds is “How do I make up for those other 364 days?” Having been married for two years I have had the opportunity to ponder this question several times I decided to look at my own PR on the big day of love and see if the principles talked about in my PR book The Practice of Public Relations. The principle I decided to apply is S-H-O-C: Strategic, Honest, Open, and Consistent communications.

The situation

Long before my wife and I got married she had a boyfriend who gave her a pair of pearl earrings. Over the course of our marriage my wife misplaced them. Pearls are one of my wife’s favorite type of jewelry to wear, so I decided to get her a new pair of earrings to replace her old ones. I sent her little love notes throughout the day and at one point had her go and find a bag with the earrings and some chocolates in a bag.

The result

About 10 minutes after my wife got the pearls she put this post on Facebook.

Screen shot 2013-02-14 at 11.47.48 PM

Approximately 15 minutes after she posted this one of my coworkers whipped out his phone, said “Nice job bud,” and showed me a picture of her post on his mobile feed. Already 15 people had “liked” the post and a discussion started in the office about what great husbands, which I was now considered to be, do for their wives.

How did that one act work out so well for me? Here’s how.

Strategic

I had planned to replace the earrings for a while and had repeatedly dropped hints to my wife that I missed her pearls because she used to wear them so much, and I think she looks great in them. I wanted her to want to have some pearls and to understand that I loved her having some pearls because they make me happy.

My wife understood that her having pearls meant something to me and that I understood how much she loved her pearl earrings.

Honest

From the beginning I told my wife that I loved her pearl earrings, but that I wish they were from me and not some other guy. While she agreed with me that it was a little sad that they came from somebody else, it wasn’t worth  getting a new pair just because some sucker spent money on her first.

I wasn’t going to get her diamonds or anything huge and fancy, but from the beginning I had let her know that I wanted her to have some pearl earrings from me.

Open

Throughout the time that my wife and I have been married we have talked about jewelry (as is evident form the previous sections). We have also often talked about Valentine’s Day and what our expectations were for this special day. I was going to be working all day and wasn’t going to be able to be with my wife until the evening. She understood this and just wanted something special.

The fact that my gift met, and exceeded her expectations made it more meaningful.

Consistent

I am not an overly romantic person, but I try to make my wife happy. I have always done that since we started dating. She knows that I try to do things that are nice for her when I can. I also really like to give her surprises that she doesn’t expect. In the time leading up to Valentine’s Day, she new that I had a couple things planned.

My wife expected something from me on this special day, so when I pulled through once again it reinforced her belief in my greatness once again.

When holidays come around, the key to being viewed as an amazing husband who spoils his husband is following S-H-O-C. If you do that, then just like me, your amazing husbandry may be shared with the world for free through Facebook and other social media channels, and there’s nothing better than having everyone know, what a great spouse you are.





Personal Press Release

8 02 2013

Scenario: Application Process
Subject: Applicant
Topic: Press + Release = Resume

Miranda Tan from MyPRGenie stated in an article titled Why Press Releases Are More Important than Ever, “Press releases have become a vital tool and more important than ever in successfully promoting your company.” Press releases have always been an essential PR tool, but with the expansion of the internet and online tools, the world has quickly become a very small place where one mistake or missed opportunity can quickly be “posted” globally and “re-tweeted” to clients, investors, or employees by the end of an afternoon. According to an article by LevelTen Interactive there are seven key elements to having a good press release. These elements help a press release to stand out and convey important information in a clear and concise manner. What’s amazing is that these same elements are what can help people to create an exceptional resume! I will show the seven elements of a press release and discuss how they can translate to a resume.

First, the press release must have an eye-catching headline.

A good resume has to have something to set it apart. This doesn’t mean that there must be bright colors, lavender scented paper, or an audio recording that plays when the envelope is opened. It means that a standard template resume just doesn’t cut it anymore. There must be some aspect of the resume that catches the reader’s attention. Once you have the reader’s attention, the message can be conveyed.

Second, the media contact information.

Nobody will get a job if the employer can’t contact them. The contact information on a resume should be found easily and should be professional. Do not have a answering message like this, “What’s up? This is Brad. You know what to do. *BEEP*” Congratulations, you just saved your potential employer the time it would have taken to interview you. Professionalism also extends to your email address, which should not be “kayla_hottie” or “surfer.dude.lol” at any email service. Beyond professionalism, it is a good idea to establish a habit of answering your phone and regularly checking your email.

Third, the dateline.

It’s important to have the most current information in a press release. Similarly, a resume is not a dead thing. It is a living, breathing, changing thing that needs regular updating and refreshing. If you ever feel that your resume is as good as it get, start over and find something different.

Fourth, the introduction paragraph.

The first thing that the reader sees should be the most relevant information on the page. If there are several hundred or thousand applicants, the first thing on the resume may be what gets you into the “actually read” pile. Don’t save the best for last, because the reader might not get there.

Fifth, the body.

This is the meat of the resume and information should be easily understood, specific, and honest. Using numbers and relevant examples will often help to communicate a particular skill in as little words as possible. Specificity is critical to a good resume because the reader must understand how your skills and experiences will transfer to their organization and if a resume is vague the reader will have no idea. Never tell a lie is the cardinal rule in PR, but it is also the cardinal rule in resume writing, because if a statement is false somebody will find out.

Sixth, the boilerplate.

In a news release the boilerplate is the key facts about the parent company that the press release is coming from. This is the information that is sent out with every press release that defines the company. While there isn’t a specific area of the resume that could be considered the boilerplate, it is essential to identify the key messages you want to convey. These are messages that should be carried and repeated through everything that defines you, your resume, cover letter, letters of recommendations, and even your facebook page. When you get the interview (which you will with your press release inspired resume) the organization should already know your core values and defining qualities from your materials.

Finally, the close.

On a press release “###” signifies the end of the release. Your resume should end. There is no way to fully capture a person’s values, skills, and experiences on one page, but that isn’t the purpose of the resume. The reader should not have to go to other sources to understand anything said in the resume. At the end of a resume the reader should be satisfied with the information they received and eager to meet the applicant.

 

Seven little tips shouldn’t be too difficult to remember, but they may be the key to successful news coverage or a successful job application.
If you would like some additional information, please check out the links in this post that will take you to the articles I referenced.





The Gym: Breaking a PR Sweat

1 02 2013

Scenario: Gym
Subject: Exercisers
Topic: Positive and Negative Personal Branding Tactics

The new year has come and gone, but according to a list posted on the USA.gov website one of the most common goals is getting fit and healthy. In order to do this many people make diet plans, swear off unhealthy things like soda or candy, and go to the gym. The gym is an interesting place where a wide variety of people gather together. It is always interesting to go and see the variety of people and interactions that go on. Some of those interactions negatively affect our personal brand through bad PR practices and others positively affect our personal brand through good PR practices. I hope to take some of the ideas and methods discussed in articles from The Ladders and Forbes and adapt them to the gym. While they are adapted to a gym scenario, these principles can be used in every situation we encounter.

 5 Negatives

Be Fake

You can’t start building your brand until you understand who you are, what you want and what makes you exceptional.

Deciding what your purpose is for being at the gym is an important step to having good PR at the gym. Just like it is important to be transparent in business PR it is also important to be transparent in personal PR. If you act like you are there to work out, but instead you spend the majority of the time flirting with other people, you lose all credibility as an exerciser and as a potential dating companion because of your lack of tact.

If you go to the gym to flirt, then you should flirt.

If you go to work out, you should work out.

If you go to socialize, you should socialize.

Be Wishy-washy

Trying to be all things to all people is the opposite of branding.

Few things are more frustrating than having your “workout partner” take a nice break because he wants to go help a nice young lady with her “form”. I’m sure it is equally annoying to have your running partner decide she wants to do some power-lifting on your scheduled cardio day. If you only occasionally show up for scheduled workouts, regularly stray from the exercise plan, or can’t focus on the task at hand then you are on your way to PR destruction.

Act Before You Think

If you don’t have a clear plan — a message that you want to communicate consistently along with a strategy for expressing yourself — you will create confusion rather than build a fan club.

Tough guy.
I’m tired of being overweight.
Fan club.Muscles.
Future triathlete.
Gymnast.
Socializer.
Runner.
Pretty boy.
Sporty Spice.
Whatever the message is that you want to send, if it’s not consistent, then it’s not being received. Every message has actions that support it. With so many different areas to pursue it is easy to get caught up in multiple messages, but when the message gets garbled the sender gets forgotten.

Switch Tools Often

Choose the…tools you are going to use and commit to using them regularly.

Gyms are full of a wide variety of tools and workout plans. There is always that temptation to try everything. A few things happen when you decide to see what everything does. First, you look like they have never been in a gym before. Second, you don’t get as much out of your workout, or flirting, or socializing as you could if you are less worried about the tools, and more worried about the outcome. Third, you lose all credibility as a gym-goer.

Talk About Yourself

Just as people use DVRs to skip TV ads, they will start to tune you out if you come across as an immodest self promoter.

Whether it is working out, flirting, or socializing that brings you to the gym, talking about yourself is a sure way to ruin your future chances at having an enjoyable gym experience. People stop working out by you or intentionally mock you if you talk about the new supplements that you’re taking and how incredible your body looks after only three-weeks or anything else along those lines. It is fine to think you are amazing and to be totally into the fitness scene as long as your passion isn’t forced on others in an inappropriate way. This applies equally to flirting and socializing. If you don’t let the other person know they are important, then they won’t stick around.

 5 Positives

Master Your Craft First

Do a little research, find out a little something something, and come prepared to undertake the gym endeavor of your choice. This doesn’t mean that you have to be a fitness expert or a body builder, just know what you’re going for and be prepared to do it.

Be Known for Something

If somebody sees you at the gym multiple times, they should know why you are there. Whether you are there to work out, flirt, or socialize, there should be a consistency to your behavior that people can depend on even if you never actually interact.

Leverage What You Have

Not everyone is a supermodel, a superstar athlete, or a personal trainer. That is fine. You have a unique set of skills, abilities, and personality traits that you can employ to your benefit. If you can’t run very far, then some slower treadmill warmups may be just what you need before you head off to your usual weightlifting. If you are nervous around the opposite sex but have a lot of friends you feel comfortable around, then go as a group. Nobody has the short end of the stick in every case, so find something that works for you and run with it.

Transform the Personal Into the Business

This is connected to the Be Known for Something and Leverage What You Have sections. As you start to go to the gym and establishing a dependable pattern and using what natural abilities you have, then it is a simple matter to capitalize on those opportunities to maybe expand into an area of gym life you may not have touched before or to build on some fledgling skills you have discovered. This takes a concerted effort on your part, but it will usually have a big payoff.

If It Doesn’t Match Your Personal Brand, Don’t Do It

The key to having good PR is maintenance. When you have tried to eliminate all the negative PR habits and worked on improving the good PR practices you must continue to do that same thing every day. If you have established a good workout regimen, you have a set schedule, you use the same equipment, and have finally established yourself as an established “exerciser,” the last thing you want to do is ruin that by hitting on the employee at the front desk. Why? Because then you have to start all over, and unless you are trying to rebrand yourself, then it is much easier to maintain your good PR practices rather than trying to reestablish them.

The gym is just one place where personal PR is evident. The principles of good and bad PR are universal to every situation. The gym is a great place to observe a wide variety of specific PR practices. There is something about sweaty individuals peeled back to their physical prowess that seems to intensify some of those principles and exaggerate the good and bad practices. So the next time you’re in the gym, try to figure out how your PR is doing.





Ethics: The Best PR

25 01 2013

Scenario: Part-time Job
Subject: Employee
Topic: The Importance of Ethical Behavior

One of the most important PR practices is being ethical at all times. In order to illustrate this point I will draw upon a personal experience, as they are the kind I am most familiar with. I learned about the importance of maintaining a high level of ethical behavior at all times by getting fired.

When I was 16 I began to work at a local restaurant. I had worked for the restaurant for a little over a year when a new kitchen manager was hired. She and I were working during the same shift and the kitchen was short staffed. Throughout the night the manager was trying to help out, but was unfamiliar with working in the kitchen. At the end of the night I went to my lead and suggested that the manager could maybe be scheduled in the kitchen and trained like she would be as a regular kitchen employee so she could help out on busy nights.

This was the established channel to submit suggestions: employees to leads, leads to managers, and then managers would discuss it in their manager meeting and decide on a course of action.

While I was meeting with the lead the manager saw us talking. She got upset and started yelling, “I know what you’re talking about you sons of ____! If you’re just going to sit here and complain, then I don’t want you here!” I was done with my shift so I went home.

The next day I got a call from the general manager and was asked to come in to work. I went into his office and he informed me that I was fired based on some accusations made by the manager.

A little over a month later I was asked to come back and work at the restaurant with increased pay and an apology from the general manager.

The general manager had discussed the incident with some of the other managers and restaurant leads. When he talked with all these people and dug a little more he found out a few things about me

  1. I had never exhibited any of the behaviors or traits that I had been accused of.
  2. I had repeatedly covered extra shifts and stayed late to help others with their closing duties.
  3. I had been honest and had followed the established rules and codes of conduct.

And the other manager

  1. Who had been dishonest in several instances.
  2. Who had broken some of the rules and codes of conduct.
  3. Who had also lied about some qualifications.

The fact that I had behaved ethically and adhered to the standards set by my employer is what eventually resulted in my raise. It also resulted in the general manager believing me over an employee twice my age with twice my experience. The general manager continues to be a friend of mine and has repeatedly expressed an available position if I ever want it. The raise and potential job position are not due to my skill or experience, but is primarily due to my high standards of ethics that I expressed during my previous employment.

As graduates from BYU-Idaho, the most valuable asset we have going out into the workplace is an abnormally high level of morality and ethics. While this is not always considered an asset, good morality and ethics are essential to the PR field and any other industry.