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PR Interview with Jeff Domansky – The Coach

January 25, 2013 Leave a comment

No doubt that when I get the opportunity to build my PR All Star team, this guy will be The Coach. An accomplished PR professional and author of PRoactive: The Public Relations Job Hunter’s Guide, he is probably best known by most of us as ThePRCoach online.

While I’ve been fortunate to get to know Jeff a bit over the last couple of years, if it wasn’t for this Q&A project, I never would have learned that he built his own cedar strip canoe and survived a near fatal spinal injury when surfing in Hawaii. Every coach has a story. To learn more, please enjoy the following interview with Jeff Domansky for episode 007.

Jeff, you’ve been running The PR Coach site (one of my favs) as blogger, editor and publisher for the last couple of years and you’ve been CEO of Peak Communications for 18 years, how do you balance the two?

Balancing your work, family and online presence is always a challenge as you know Paul. I’m very disciplined about when and how I spend my social media time. On the PR/social media client consulting side you’re at the disposal of your clients. If your client has a crisis or a social media or marketing challenge, it’s your challenge too.

Q&A signHow much time do you put to these two positions?

I spend about two to three hours a day on social media and another couple of hours a week writing blog posts. I’ve developed a couple of unique ways to save time researching, reading and posting. Stay tuned.

In other words, dude, do you ever sleep?  

Sleep does not compute, LOL.

You are one of the best PR bloggers out there and your work is always well read and widely circulated on social media, so who are some of your favorite PR bloggers?

Apart from the 230+ PR bloggers in my PR Library? I have a few that I keep a close eye on: Jay Baer (Convince & Convert); Brad Phillips (Mr Media Training); Deirdre Breakenridge; Kevin Dugan & Richard Laermer (Bad Pitch Blog); Jeff Esposito; Lou Hoffman (Ishmael’s Corner); Heather Yaxley, etc. (PR Conversations)

Have you ever written a blog that you thought was one of you best pieces only to see it not get the attention or reaction that you expected? If so, which one(s)?  

I have two favorite posts that never jumped for some mysterious reason: Will That Be Value or Values with Your PR? and Public Relations: Great or Gone in 7 Seconds?. Oddly enough they were two of the easy ones to write. On the flip side, who can explain the huge traffic I still get for Bad News Releases: 25 Press Release Turkeys? Truth really is stranger than fiction.

What is the story behind the “The Coach” handle?

The PR Coach persona really fits me well. When I’ve run agencies in the past, what I enjoyed the most was PR counsel for clients and young PR pros. I’ve had several terrific mentors in my career and I’ve always believed in paying it back and forward by doing the same.

The CoachHow do you explain your job to friends and family?

Well, I certainly don’t use PRSA’s definition of PR. Depends who I’m talking to. If it’s my mother-in-law, I say it’s “sorta like advertising without the ads.” These days, it would be meaningful to talk about public relations in terms of “social PR.” Maybe creating and managing communication with key individuals and communities would capture it?

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

I’d be an English professor. I originally started university in pre-law but after one year switched to English and history. I was partway through my masters degree when I decided to take a year off work. I got a job as an ad copywriter, moved into PR after several years and never looked back. How cool is it to get paid for writing and ideas?

How did you get into public relations?

My first PR experience was in nonprofit. I learned to do everything with nothing and to not be shy about asking anyone for advice, including the media. I spent several great years in government public affairs but the majority of my career has been in PR agencies.

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

I wish we could get out of the media relations “straitjacket.” I hate it when clients think every solution is media coverage. What’s up with that?

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

In five years, our role will still be very similar to what it is today. That is, providing communication solutions regardless of the shiny new tools of the day, the challenges of people or organizations or the shifting media platforms.

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

No. My PR Coach persona is very true to my own personality. Be smart, be well read, write well, be a leader and share.

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

Prolific readers and writers, quick studies, steady under pressure and obsessively curious.

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

 Two recent favorites; both highly recommended. Paul Smith’s Lead with a Story and Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halverson. If you’re curious about business storytelling, Smith’s book is a must-read.

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

My advice mirrors those PR pro qualities I mentioned earlier with a couple of tweaks. Be a prolific reader and writer. Be obsessively curious about social media and new technology. Learn how business works and how to read and interpret financials. Find a mentor and always share. Marketing is not a bad word except when it’s used in PR.

Do you subscribe to any print publications (newspaper or  magazines)?

In the past two years, I’ve cut back to just my daily newspaper, a couple of business publications and two lifestyle mags. I read everything else online including traditional media like The New York Times, CNN, Economist to online media like Forbes, Huffington Post, Gawker and Buzz Feed. I also monitor a pretty active RSS feed with more than 350 media and blogs. Of course there it’s headline scanning.

Have you ever deleted a Tweet / post? If so, why?

Nope. Live or die by your comments.

If you were interviewing yourself, what would you ask and how would you answer?

Q: Where did you get that warped sense of humor?
A: I was the kid with the smart mouth in English class. Fortunately, my teachers got the jokes and liked my writing. They also fostered my love of reading anything and everything.

Immediate reaction to the following (in one or two words preferably):

Twitter: essential
Facebook: Farcebook
Google+: some day
Klout: relevant yet?
Corporate blogs: critical
LinkedIn: necessary, evolving
Pintrest: possibilities
Social media: need for speed
Public relations: = social PR

Still need more of Jeff? Check out: 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ThePRCoach
LinkedIn: http://ca.linkedin.com/in/jeffdomansky
Blog: http://www.theprcoach.com/pr-blog
Curation: http://www.scoop.it/t/public-relations-insight

If you like this interview, please also check out recent interviews with Jeff Beauregard,  Jules ZunichFrank StrongKrista Giuffi and Lisa Zone.

Q&A image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

PR Interview with Jayme Soulati

January 21, 2013 12 comments

For those professionals still wondering if blogging and being active in social media is worth the effort, I’d point to this interview as my personal proof point. This Q&A project and my participation in social media, is the reason I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some really smart and talented professionals like Jayme Soulati.

President of Soulati Media, Jayme Soulati is an 18-year veteran of Chicago’s PR firms and a three-time entrepreneur – Soulati Media Relations, Marketing Media & More, Soulati Media. She is the past President, Publicity Club of Chicago and very smart.

Hope you enjoy getting to know Jayme who was kind enough to provide some valuable and always unique insight for episode 006.

Jayme, you’re currently the president of your own consultancy, did you have to know someone to get that job? Seriously, how do you compare running your own biz to working in the PR trenches for someone else?

As I am an agency brat from Chicago, which means I got my start in Chicago’s competitive agencies and bounced around to the next highest-paying job (I launched my career at Manning, Selvage & Lee making $13,500 per year), I am a strong advocate to stay “in” as long as humanly possible. jayme

What that means is – everyone starting out in this profession has to learn from others. Find a mentor who is a solid business strategist to glom onto and when that fizzles find someone else.

When you finally realize you’re getting into more trouble inside, take yourself out the door (as I did) and sow some oats and see how that feels. There’s a bonus most PR people probably don’t realize, and it’s this – every single company needs someone with our expertise to go to market, get talked about and to grow. Knowing that principle and letting it guide you is like a peace of mind; you can grow your own business keeping that close to the vest.

Did I answer that question? Hmm, I don’t think so!

Running my own business is like nothing you can plan for. Folks always thought I sat in my pjs at work; nonsense. You dress the way you want to feel; pjs and sweat pants make you lazy.

 There are no breaks or holidays without connectivity; the work-life balance always suffers. However, the rewards are like nothing you can imagine.

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

I’d be a gemologist, hands down. It’s been a hobby of mine…traveling to gem markets of the world to add another bauble to my collection. Some people collect stamps or guns, I collect colored gems…doesn’t that make sense? Heh. It’s all about color for me; color makes me happy.

How did you get into public relations?

When I was a junior at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, I had no major, so I started reading the curriculum directory and happened upon a public relations course in the J School. Turns out, I had been taking courses from anthropology to zoology trying to land on something that fit and got an amazing introduction to a variety of vertical markets which became a great segue into public relations. Wish I had consulted advisors during college to help direct me, but the unconventional route I took turned into the five-year plan I self-financed.

Jayme smallYour blog is crazy good and popular. What are the top 5 tips you’d give to bloggers just starting out. 

  1. Find your voice with continuous writing and stick your neck out!
  2. Develop a thick skin and don’t let sensitivities prevail.
  3. Never focus on yourself; nurture and welcome people who visit and they will become your community.
  4. Guest post and comment on other blogs a lot.
  5. Keep the arrogance to a minimum; it’s terribly boring.

How much time do you spend on your blog during a normal week?

Tough question; blogging is an every-day occurrence so I’d say average is 2-3 hours a day writing a post, preparing it for publication, commenting on comments, marketing the post, and monitoring it. So…that’s about 10-15 hours weekly (depending on how frequently you post). (This is kind of a hard question because I never stop looking for content ideas; everything I read, everyone I speak with provides fodder for content.)

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

Anyone not engaged in social media marketing in this profession CANNOT walk the talk. It is a PR professional’s duty and accountability to self and profession to innovate in tandem or ahead of the curve. Sadly, many remain behind and give the profession a bad name.

While we can’t wipe out an entire profession of PR folks, we can wipe out the title. Many of us have already removed PR from our titles; as for me, I’m now a B-to-B social media marketer and content marketer with core PR. What we’re already seeing is a migration to a blend where marketing drives the collective disciplines and PR aligns under, in, or nearby.

You were very vocal during the recent attempt by PRSA to redefine public relations, looking back, what was your thought about the process, result and industry-wide discussion?

I’d need to revisit the conversation from that time frame to be more accurate in my deduction for you, Paul; however, the entire situation left a sour taste in many mouths, and we said so on our blogs.  You’ll note one of the tips I provided to newbie bloggers is to stick your neck out? I did and I do; it’s what keeps me on my toes – to speak an opinion backed by community and proof points.

 We had a lot of support from big bloggers on this issue, and we took PRSA to task. They had to put a grassroots campaign together to hit our blogs and comment to our wrath; eventually, the influencers won out – we made an impact and the issue did not end with a final vote. PRSA put the issue back on the table to revise the definition.

Anyone fortunate enough to have joined us during that timeframe (Frank Strong, Shonali Burke, and Gini Dietrich to name a few) should be proud of the fact that we had such a strong collective of unified voices, and we forced the hand of a national organization by standing up to what we felt was truly wrong for our profession.

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

Small businesses like mine run the risk of over-extending in social channels. I have two Facebook and Google+ accounts and the company brand suffers. At the end of the day, I’m the brand, so it’s fine; basically, I don’t do much personal stuff on any social media channel (e.g. the family pet or reunion photos, but I’ll post some good stuff like that on occasion).

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

Call me…937-312-1363

What is your Immediate reaction to the following?:

Twitter: Fav Channel
Facebook: Imploding
Google+: Underestimated
Klout: Necessary evil
Corporate blogs: Lacking attention
LinkedIn: Finally modernizing
Social media: Here to stay
Public relations: Critical!

Need more of Jayme? Check her out on Twitter: @Soulati, or LinkedIn, or her website at Soulati.com, or her blog Soulati-‘TUDE! 

If you like this feature, please also check out interviews with Jeff Beauregard,  Jules ZunichFrank StrongKrista Giuffi and Lisa Zone.

PR WIRL February 2012

February 12, 2012 4 comments

Okay, not a very catchy title, but this is a work in progress.

As mentioned when publishing the 2012 PR33 list, a new recurring feature on this blog will be PR WIRLWhat I’m Reading Lately – which will highlight some of the best blogs, articles, books etc.

The general idea here is simple. I appreciate when someone recommends something for me to read. And, I’ve found that there are lots of things out there that deserved to be shared. Enough said.

While this feature will usually present new recently published (communications-focused) works, this first issue features a couple of posts that are a little dated, but have recently been republished and have proven to be timeless.

P.S. If any graphic designer wants to contribute a cool PR WIRL logo, I’m more than willing to accept it.

Read more…

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…

Now the Rest of the Story….PR33

January 16, 2012 2 comments

While the true highly-proprietary and closely-guarded research, evaluation and selection process will never be revealed as long as this blogger is still alive, here is some insight into the background behind the 2012 PR33 list.

First, a few links as background; the 2012 PR33Last year’s list, this year’s call for nomination and finally the 2012 PR33 Twitter list.

The original thought behind this year’s PR33 list was to create an entirely  new list with no repeats from 2011, but that seemed disingenuous. It felt like that would make the 2012 list no more than blogs number 34 – 66 and that wouldn’t be right. So, in order to create a new list while avoiding repetition from the 2011 list, the decision was made to limit the number of returning blogs to about half the list. This proved to be the hardest part of the process. Truth be told some quality blogs were probably unfairly disqualified from this year’s list simply because they were recognized a year earlier.

It isn’t you, it’s me. For those on last year’s list but don’t find their name on this year’s list, let me be clear – it isn’t you, it’s me. Seriously, in many cases it means that what I’m looking for in a blog has changed to the point where I’m attempting to expand to alternative points of view. That being said, I do continue to read every blog included in last year’s list. Read more…

PR33 – Nominations Wanted for Best PR Bloggers

November 10, 2011 1 comment

Earlier this year this blog published a list of the top (in my opinion) 33 communications blogs – 2011 PR33 – and it is time for an update.

Please take a moment and tell me who is your favorite PR / communications blogger.

Lessons learned: After publishing the original list, it became clear that some people are critical of these types of lists. Whatever. Sometimes I am too, but the number of people who thanked me for building the list – and no, not just the people on the list – is reason enough for me to repeat the process.

New for 2012: As of this writing, no decision has been made regarding if blogs from the 2011 list are eligible or not. As of right now, I still like and read most of the blogs on last year’s list. Not wanting the 2012 list to be overly repetitive, I’m leaning toward not allowing any repeats. Again, this is still a work in progress and your nominations will be helpful in making the final decision. Read more…

Critical Elements of Public Relations Strategy

May 27, 2011 1 comment

Yeah, yeah, strategy is important and planning is critical to the success of any communications program, but…let’s not get carried away.

Wondering where I’m going with this? Well you won’t find that answer here. The post Critical Elements Public Relations Strategy Should Always Consider is part of the Public Relations 2011: Issues, Insights Ideas e-book found on Craig Pearce’s blog.

Again, I need to thank Craig for putting together this project, editing my rant and allowing this conversation to continue.

Illustration provided by Pennington & Co.