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Posts Tagged ‘PR’

PR Interview with Jules Zunich

November 8, 2012 5 comments

One of the selfish reasons for launching this Q&A project was to use this site to better get to know some of the good folks that I’ve met via social media – especially those that live too far away to meet for coffee. One such example is today’s feature – episode 002 or Jules to her friends.

Jules Zunich, PR Consultant, President of Z Group PR, blogger, parent, and all around cool person.

Jules, you’ve been running your own PR / Comms consultancy for over a decade, could you talk about your normal day to day looks like?

Part of the reason I work for myself is because I have four children. I fully expected to work my way up the corporate ladder at some huge firm in Los Angeles or New York, but being a mom changed my priorities. I like being able to flex through my day between my corporate self and my mommy self. I miss agency life, but kids don’t stay little forever. So my typical day is totally spastic. I am cooking and checking email, writing and doing laundry, driving and having conference calls. Even with a dedicated office that is totally kid free, I feel comfortable stopping in the middle of the day to print cut-outs for the kindergarten class. I have worked in traditional 9 to 5 office roles, but with those, I had amazing flexibility and support. I have never been chained to a desk. My personality is more suited to corporate life, but my lifestyle is more suited for consulting. I would take a great job offer, because managing a business is hard and I miss my matching 401k, but I always come back to consulting because I get to pick awesome clients and projects and not miss my kids.

You have your own blog, which you know I’ve long been a big fan of, what have you learned about blogging over the last couple of years?

Yes, you have been my biggest fan and I thank you deeply for that. It really means so much to me. I was terrified when I started my blog, but I am over it now. What I have learned is that everything I tell my clients about blogging is true: It is a pain, a labor of love, and requires a commitment to writing that most non-marketing managers lack. It can be deeply rewarding, but rarely in financial terms. As a writer and communications professional, I find the burden of managing a blog to be almost too much for me. As you have noticed, I have taken long breaks.I often think of stopping and taking it down because I know that I am not doing it right. I am exceptionally critical and I knew it should and could be so much more. I am glad that I forced myself to manage a blog so that I can really be authentic when guiding clients. Right now the advice that I am sharing is this: If you do not have an hour a day to blog, then you will not get the results that you want. If an executive sniffs at that, then I know blogging is not for them. And I do not recommend hiring it out. Yes, have a great web person who can help you with the technical stuff (yes, I have stayed up all night trying to get a widget to work) but the blogs that are great are steeped in authenticity. And anyone who lets the interns run the blog should be tarred and feathered.

What tips do you have for individuals or companies starting a blog?

After blocking access to the interns, ask yourself and your team why you want to start one and have a really, really good reason. If you do not have people clamoring for your thoughts – emailing you, calling your or finding you via social media on a daily basis – then maybe you do not need a blog and your marketing efforts could be better applied in other areas. I think people over simplify their marketing these days and are completely lost in the noise and have no idea why. The splatter effect is good for art, not business. A blog that basically says, “Me Too,” is not really going to market your products and services very well. I have had a lot of success on my blog, but would not say that it has been successful at marketing my services. Readers and paying clients are two different things.

If you could do anything outside of PR / Communications, what would you choose and why?

I have always loved to dance and I taught fitness classes when I was younger. When I see anyone dancing or even hear music, my heart stirs and I long to be in a dance studio again. If I could do it all over again, I would have been less practical and danced my heart out before I looked for a real job. Also, I am really good at giving advice. I come from a family of therapists and medical professionals, plus I am a little bossy. I would be a great therapist or life coach.

How did you get into public relations?

I was in school in California and an instructor recommended me for a paid internship at Jane Ayer Public Relations. Until that point, I had wanted to work in advertising, but after about two seconds in Jane’s office, I knew that PR was for me. I am thankful for her every day. I was actually working at a small community newspaper at the time too, so I marched into the Publishers office and laid out a new position for myself. He supported me and I started working in community relations. I like to learn by watching others, but I can make things happen for myself when needed. I had really great work experience early on.

If you could change one thing about the PR industry, what would it be?

I would make it harder to enter the field. Truck drivers have to be licensed, why shouldn’t we? Of course, the old people like me would be grandfathered in – I hate taking tests. I think that PR people had it easy in the previous decade and now we have to prove ourselves again. Dot com PR was so easy. We need to be more focused on business outcomes. Trust is a huge issue and I have seen some craziness in the profession that makes me want to run screaming. I take all of that with a grain of salt though, because I know that the vast majority of practitioners are champions of the profession. The one thing I would campaign for is strict limitations in how interns are utilized and there is some political PR and campaigning stuff that is just wrong.

How has PR/Comms industry changed in the last 5 years?

The Wizard of Oz approach is gone. You can no longer do your magic behind the curtain and then voila! news coverage. The past 5 years has brought transparency at all levels, which is good. I think the past 5 years has changed professionals, creating a chasm between the tech savvy and the not tech savvy. And by tech savvy I mean digital and social media savvy. I am seeing very senior, experienced people flailing and rookies rockin’ it. It’s an uncomfortable shift in the force, but a necessary one.

What does PR/Comms industry look like in 5 years?

Less shiny. The days of huge agency contracts will be over. I see more in-house PR as companies realize that PR is still as much a science as an art. Companies will want to harness that power. I see the superstars shining a little less brightly and everyone just getting back to business.

Did you pay much attention to the recent attempt by PRSA to redefine public relations?

Yes and no. I like structure and I like the association in general. I followed the news, but kept my mouth shut. Which is not easy. But honestly, how bad is that our PR association had to redefine our role in business. If we can’t brand ourselves…

I agree with the definitions, but the whole process highlighted the profession in a less than flattering light, I feel. I am not big on airing dirty linens. I would have liked to have seen a little less of the process publicized.

What social media platform do you use (most) professionally? And is it different from what you use for personal?

Funny. I just told someone that following me on Twitter and Facebook is like following twins with distinct personalities. For me Twitter is 99% professional and Facebook is 99% personal. My Twitter feed is full of PR professionals and my Facebook friends are people I went to high school with. There is rarely overlap. I have a Facebook page, which lingers somewhere in the middle due to the people who Like it, but the content is professional. LinkedIn gets the least of my attention and is totally professional.

Do you make any attempt to differentiate you personal from your professional social media persona? If so, how?

Yes, but I rarely need to. I am always me and I tend to be rather formal so everything is professional to me. I never post about my relationship status or anything like that. I will do cute kid stuff on Facebook, but mostly I’m all work all the time. Or my style of work all the time, I should say.

The best PR / Communications people you’ve ever worked with share what quality?

Clarity.

What is the the last PR / Comms book you’ve read and would you recommend it?

I just read Dial M for Murdoch and yes, it seems like essential reading for communications professionals.

What are your top three industry related blogs / resources?

I am like an old dog…not interested in many new tricks. I pretty much read business news like NYT Media and Advertising and Forbes Media and Entertainment. My all-time favorite blog is PR Squared, although I tend to avoid gurus. I get all of the industry standards and just pick through them when I have time. And I read what my followers tweet.

What advice would you give young professionals just starting out in this industry?

Don’t be so creative.

What is the best professional advice you ever received?

Don’t take things so personally.

People that know you you would describe you as?  

Silly. Competitive. Kind. So many people confess later that they were initially intimidated by me, which I find shocking.

What is your Immediate reaction to the following?:

Twitter: Love
Facebook: Evil nuisance
Google+: Who cares
Klout: Napoleon Complexes
Corporate blogs: Paychecks
LinkedIn: Necessary
Social media: Life
Public relations: Everything

With, it depends or a combination of both not being allowed, the most effective PR program is driven by internal communications leaders or outside agency / consultant?

A strong internal team is the way to go, but it can be a negativity/doldrums graveyard if not tended properly.

In what ways do you think  social media has changed public relations?

Increased transparency is my favorite change, just ahead of increased pressure on professionals to bring it.

And is this good for PR agency /consultants?

Yep, great for both.

Need more of Jules? Check her out on Twitter: @JulesZunichPR, LinkedIn, the ZGroup site or read a guest post she contributed to this very site.

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Former PR blogger admits: I can’t quit you

September 28, 2012 16 comments

Okay, okay, for all of you that looked at my retirement as a temporary situation, you were right. I just can’t quit you.

Truth be told, actually, it isn’t about you…it was time to pay for my domain (hey, we are talking about almost $20 here) so I had to decide if I was going to keep up a blog or let it die. While I’m happy that I stopped forcing myself to blog regularly, I just wasn’t ready to let this site die.

After almost 10 full minutes of soul searching, I decided that what I’ve really missed over the last few months (since I stopped blogging) was interaction with other PR professionals, so I’m going to move to the next phase in my personal development and embrace being a has been / never was and relaunch the site as a Q&A site about public relations / communication / social media / whatever I want.

Many of the people I’ve been fortunate enough to create relationships with over the last couple of years are people that I find very interesting, but have had little opportunity to actually spend any real time with, so over the course of the next few, insert random time frame here, I’m going to unleash my inner Arsenio Hall and interview some of the more interesting people I know in the industry.

These interviews will be focused on PR, marketing, communications, social media etc., but will also (best I can) include some insight into what makes these people unique.

I’ve already started contacting people to be included in this ongoing series, but please do let me know if you would be interested in sharing your story and participating. You can comment below or email me directly at Paulrobertspar@gmail.com.

PR’s Lessons Learned – WPRWD

July 13, 2012 7 comments

When this blog was originally launched it was created a my own (semi) private experiment, so now that it is nearing it’s end (Sun Setting on Paul Roberts on PR) here is a quick look at some blogging lessons learned.  and while I refuse to tell anyone how to run their PR program, no self-serving blog would be complete without some ‘how would I do it’ tips.

Anyone in the service industry side of communications (consultants / agency) knows that comms programs are rarely a one-size-fits-all solution, so I’m approaching the following as WPRWD – What PR Would Do – if he (yes, me) were in charge of the corporate communications program.

Don’t ditch that blog. In the last few months especially, there have been many report about the decline of blogging as part of a corporate communications strategy, but I’d encourage companies not to abandon this powerful and highly controlled communications vehicle. There are many ways to do blogging well, and unfortunately there are also even more ways to do it poorly. Acknowledge that blogging is hard and it is important and create a plan accordingly. The key here is to have a  hands-on communications professional that believes in the importance of blogging and can sell it to the necessary thought leaders and stakeholders.

Don’t be a snob about paid media. Especially if you work on the agency side of PR, it is easy to dismiss advatorials and other paid placements as ‘one of those cheesy pay-for-play things.’ But, these are not to be dismissed out of hand. Paying for speaking slots, editorial coverage, report sponsorships etc. may not be in everyone’s budget, but if done properly a little budget can go a long way. The key here is simply to be open to the idea. Experiment with different approaches.

Create content. Despite all the changes in the communications industry over the last few years, one element has and will remain constant. Words are important. Press releases, pitches, posts, tweets, videos, speeches, infographics, whitepapers, content marketing, brand journalism, these all use words. Creating content needs to an emphasis to a communications program. My approach would be to make content creation a specific element of the corporate communication plan. Not run solely by marketing, but a more holistic corporate approach.

Coordination and organization. This sounds simple, but the point being made here is that while many of these tips are about content creation, it needs to be noted that communications is not to be approached as a creative writing exercise. Even the best, most creative and well thought out PR program will fail to reach its full potential if constructed and conducted in a vacuum. The key here is to have a communications professional with insight and influence into ALL aspects of the communications program – marketing, PR, social, internal, external, branding, paid, earned, SEO, sales etc.

Lead PR from within. Just because an organization may outsource its PR, doesn’t mean that the corporate contact isn’t important. No matter how closely an organization works with a PR firm and no matter how good that PR firm is, the PR program can only be as successful as the client will allow. All too often companies believe that anyone can manage the PR function, but that is simply not true. This internal contact is especially important when the PR program includes social media, crisis communications and thought leadership.

Social starts from within. Related to the above social media too should be led from within. All things being equal (budget, time, resources etc.) my approach to social media depending on the size of the company, culture, business goals etc, would be along the lines of hiring a consultant (a good internal comms person can do this too) to provide assessment of the current social media activities, draft a indoctrination plan to recruit and train / provide guidelines to employees and then get out of the way. A corporate comms controlled Twitter feed alone isn’t social.

And finally, a couple of quick reminders.

  • It is okay to fail. Sometimes, the best lessons learned come from trying something new that doesn’t work out. Communications is changing too rapidly right now to be overly conservative. Calculated risks are okay. Experimenting is okay. Not all ROI is immediate.
  • Have some fun. Relax. Communications is serious business, but it is also about people, relationships, information exchange etc. Even the most serious companies would be well served to have communications people who are personable and dare I say, have a sense of humor.
  • When in doubt, ask What Would PR Do?
  • In the immortal words of Dwayne F. Schneider, always remember and don’t ever forget, free advice (like this blog) is often worth exactly what you paid for it, so take all free advice with a grain of salt.

Photo comes from private collection that my son dared me to use in a blog post. 

PRAS – Public Relations Alternative Society

February 20, 2012 1 comment

Today, President’s Day 2012, the Public Relations Alternative Society (PRAS) has been founded to provide under represented PR professionals with a safe haven for discussions as wild as suggesting a definition for the industry that doesn’t suck.

For reasons why this society has been formed see PR Undefined and PRAS Born. While still a work in progress, here are some ground rules of the PRAS.

  • First, we will not have a president. That is too arrogant for this type of organization.
  • We will not limit membership to America. What’s that about. The world is a small place.
  • We will encourage debate. It’s okay to disagree, but we will do it in a professional manner. No DBs.
  • No dues. Non paying PR professionals have full membership here. If you are in PR (student or professional), you are welcome to be a member of PRAS.
  • And finally, we will discontinue operations immediately if another organization proves capable of meeting the needs of the PR community.

To join, repeat the following:

I (state your name) hereby declare that because no other Public Relations Society in America (or beyond) has proven to accurately represent me, I am a proud member of the Public Relations Alternative Society.

Official membership will also be granted to anyone following on Twitter @PR_Alt.

PR Undefined and PRAS Born

February 18, 2012 5 comments

The public relations industry needs to redefine itself. It has an opportunity to do so, but it is letting that opportunity and the industry’s interest in the project, die due to some combination of arrogance and ignorance.

The failed project won’t be rehashed here. If you are interested in additional background, read Frank Strong‘s take. He is one of the most passionate and articulate folks fighting for a real definition for PR.

During a recent online conversation on the topic, I let my emotions get the best of me. Here is an abridged version of my comment posted at SpinSucks.

There are lots of well thought out and articulate opinions about why, PR should be re-defined, what is wrong with the current process and what should be done next. This isn’t one of those. This is raw emotion from a PR guy that has been in the industry almost 20 years, has had little use for PRSA and now finds himself embarrassed by this entire process.

There are lots and lots of PR people that don’t know this conversation (defining PR) is happening and there are even more that don’t care. I’m now in the don’t care category.

I agree that PR should be redefined. I agree that redefining PR is difficult. I agreed that this is a good and noble cause. But, as of right now, I’m officially out.

No matter the final outcome, I will not get behind any definition the PRSA comes up with.

I don’t need it. I don’t want it and I will not accept it. You don’t speak for me. I only wish I were ever a paying member of PRSA, so I could publicly demand my money back.

Looking back, do I wish I took a moment to calm down and write a more thoughtful comment. NO! Sometimes emotion is called for, but, upon further reflection, I may have been too hard on the PR society. So, I’ve decided it would be best to turn anger into something positive.

Realizing that there are lots of PR people that have no other organized ‘society’ to turn to, I’m launching the PRAS – Public Relations Alternative Society. Full organization charter still to be defined, but if you are a frustrated PR professional looking to join with like minded folks, please feel free to consider yourselves members of the PRAS.

Public Relation Alternative Society on Twitter @PR_Alt

Photo by arztsamui

2012 PR33 – Top PR / Communications Blogs

January 16, 2012 45 comments

Before unveiling the 2012 PR33 list, here are a couple of semi-personalized notes.

– To the bloggers listed below – many thanks for the quality content over the last 12 months. Also, please don’t feel like you need to send me a public thank you. That’s not why this list was created.

– To visitors looking for top PR / communications blogs – this list reflects countless hours of labor, but it is far from an all-inclusive list. Please feel free to comment below and add your favorites.

– To the bloggers who were on last year’s PR33 but not on this year’s list. It’s not you. It’s me. See companion post for more details.

To those of you about to comment that you hate these ‘best of’ lists – why are you still here?

Finally, wanting this list to be about the folks listed below, any and all further commentary, information, disclaimers and even some bonus selections, can be found on a separate post – Now the Rest of the Story – PR33.

In no particular order – the 2012 PR33.

InkHouse Inklings Twitter: @bamonaghan or @InkHousePR  Leading the 2012 class is Inklings, which is a fantastic example of agency blogging done right. Want to know what makes a PR33 blog, look no further. The blog includes a steady flow and perfect balance of industry specific subjects with entertaining human interest type of posts. Beth Monaghan’s writing is what first won over this blogger (Exhibit A – Breaking News: When to Speak Up and When to Shut Up), but she is also joined by a number of talented bloggers. InkHouse and its blog continues to bring the goods week after week.

The Steveology Blog by Steve Farnsworth  
Twitter: @Steveology 
A returning PR33 blog and a favorite of this blogger, Steve has evolved as well as anyone in social media, from humble beginnings as TheRealPRMan, to his Digital Marketing Mercenary blog, Steve never fails to entertain and educate. Currently, he is creating video content as well and as fast as anyone. He always leads the list of must follow on Twitter. New disclaimer, I finally had the opportunity to meet Steve in person and he is just as smart and funny in real life as he appears online.

PR in Pink by Krista Paplau  
Twitter: @PR_in_Pink
Not sure how to best characterize this next comment, but no one on this list makes this reader smile as much as Krista. Practically every new post, comment and tweet brings either a warm smile or a full-on belly laugh, often complete with snort. It’s not all about humor, her posts are smart and insightful like when she is declaring independence from PR stereotypes. Her sense of humor and her writing style are a joy. She also gets extra credit for staying involved in PR blogging even though she is no longer part of the industry’s daily grind. This gives her a unique and valuable perspective. Enough said. Read more…

Companies Too Dependent on PR Agency?

January 9, 2011 12 comments

As a PR professional for over a decade and a half – mostly on the agency side – I’ve represented lots of companies from early stage start-ups to well established brands. Through no fault of PR, many of the companies I’ve represented no longer exist – some have been aquired, some have reinvented themselves, others have closed thier doors and there are probably others that I just don’t remember.

On a whim I recently searched (Google News) for four of my of my past clients – all of which are still in business – and there was one result. Not one results each, but one results in total. One guest written article. That is all.

When working for these companies the results varied, but safe to say each saw a significant amount of coverage. None of the relationships ended due to lack of coverage. During the engagements I feel like I did all I could to educate the client regarding strategy and tactics necessary for a successful PR program.

Yet none were able to maintain any media visibility. It is sad to see a company completely fall of the map, but part of me feels proud because these results proved that securing coverage for some clients is really really hard. Mostly I wondered WHY these companies were not able to maintain some momentum from their successful media relations programs. Read more…