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Posts Tagged ‘Public Relations’

PR Interview with Bob Geller

March 6, 2013 Leave a comment

Episode 009 of this Q&A project features Bob Geller President of Fusion Public Relations & Social Fluency, an agency that specializes in tech PR and social media, and Flack’s Revenge blogger. I’ve been a big fan of Bob’s blogging for a long time and appreciate his perspective. Now let’s take a look at the guy behind the insightful PR blogger.

Bob, you studied engineering, and have spent twenty five years in many different areas of high tech sales, consulting, marketing and PR, so how did you get into public relations?

My love of tech led me to study engineering, and my first couple of jobs were in the field.  However I quickly realized that I was more interested in marketing and communications.  After wearing a range of marketing and sales-related hats for tech startups, and leading a consulting team for IBM, I made the jump – first to PR freelancing, and then the agency side – I helped launch Fusion PR around 2000.

How do you explain your job to friends and family? 

I simply tell them I help tech clients get in the news (of course there is much more to it than that).

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

Pretty dramatically – the most obvious changes have been driven by the growth of social media and fragmentation / decline of traditional media.

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

I think it will continue to grow, and change too.  Social will continue to grow in importance, but so will mobile – my post on Windmill Networking discusses changes in content consumption trends.  It is targeted towards content marketers, but of course these trends have relevance for PR too.

How has social media changed PR? And what do agencies need to do to adapt? 

It has elevated the role of tech and content, and in general made it more challenging to rise above the noise – it has also taken many of us out from behind the curtains.  To be successful, the PR field needs to grow beyond its traditional role and comfort zones.  This means getting better at graphics, writing and content generation in general, and includes things like monitoring, metrics and SEO.

Do you think the changes in PR will be a good thing for PR agencies in the long run? 

For ones that recognize the changes, and are willing to try new things and adapt it can be an exciting time.  See my Bulldog Report post about innovation and PR.

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

For professional networking I use Twitter, and blogging (WordPress and Typepad) and LinkedIn. For personal, I use Facebook

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

Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath was a great read – as the title implies, it is about creating sticky ideas, which is one of the keys to effective communications and campaigns.  Here is a post that I wrote about this.

What are your top three industry related blogs / resources? 

I like PR Conversations, CommProBiz and Ragan’s.

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

Have an open mind about what PR is, and can be, because it is changing; find out what you are good at, and do a lot of that;  but also, don’t be afraid to master new skills. One other thing, I think there will be a strong demand for people who can master the numbers side – i.e. metrics.

What is the most rewarding part of working for clients? 

Helping them achieve success – moving the needle on brand and market traction.

What is the most challenging part of working for clients? 

It is sometimes difficult when the client doesn’t understand PR, or does not do their part in supporting a successful program.

If you could create a standard RFP process what would it look like? 

Do away with them!  I think I said in a post once, RFPs are where great ideas go to die.

People that know you would describe you as: 

bobgeller_biggerFunny, soft spoken, somewhat of a goof ball but hope they would say that I am good at what I do too.

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

No, have not had to, luckily.

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

Well, I would try not to argue; I don’t know, I like to think that I am already pretty self aware so it would likely be a short conversation

Immediate reaction to the follow:
Twitter: Indispensable
Facebook:- Fun
Google+: Potential
Klout: Sometimes useful
LinkedIn: Useful
Pinterest: Picture power
Instagram: Ditto
Vine: Don’t know
Press releases: A staple
Social media: Amorphous, important
Public relations: Love it!

If you like this interview, please also check out recent interviews with Jeff Beauregard,  Jules ZunichFrank StrongKrista GiuffiJeff DomanskyLisa Zone and Jason Mollica.

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PR Interview with Jason Mollica

February 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Episode 008 of this Q&A project features Jason Mollica, President, JRM Comm, Inc.

He answers to Jay or Jas, and while he admitted to me during this process that he is a romantic comedy softie, I chose not to reveal that…oops. Seriously, he is a good guy with a good sense of humor, smart and it has been a real pleasure getting to know him a bit over the last couple of years. If you don’t know him, take the next few minutes to see what you are missing. 

Jas, you’ve have taken a very interesting career path, producer, director of comms at a university, PA announcer, agency PR, blogger and now president of your own comms agency. If you were talking to someone looking to get into PR / Comms, would you suggest they try to follow a similar path? Why or why not?

I would suggest they follow their own path. I don’t think anyone’s path to career success is the same. Sure, you can find inspiration from someone’s steps, but not one direction is similar. If you told me when I first started out in television that I’d be in PR and running my own business, I would have raised an eyebrow and kept going. It wasn’t even on my radar. Now, I can’t dream of doing anything else. And that is what students or those that want to make a change need to keep in mind. Your next challenge may not be in your view right now.

The best piece of advice I received was “Do it because you want to, not because you have to.” I want to do what I’m doing now. When I work because I have to, I’m going to find something more challenging. 

What do all of your professional positions have in common?

They all required hard work, focus and passion. I’ve lost the passion for some jobs along the way, but never the hard work and focus. 

JMollicaThe one position that I have to ask more about is the PA gig for the (former New York Mets Triple A affiliate, now Toronto Blue Jays), the Buffalo Bisons. How did you get into this?

I worked as the PA announcer for Niagara University’s men’s hockey team. A colleague heard that the Bisons were looking for a PA announcer, so I applied. I tried out a few weeks before the season began and was lucky to get the gig. I get paid to watch baseball. As a long time fan of the game, it doesn’t get any better than that. 

Can you provide some insight into the behind the scenes part of this job? How much prep goes into this position?

I normally get to the ballpark an hour or so before gametime. I read the lineups, check the pronunciations and see if there is anything to be done pre-game.

What you hear (batter walk-ups, announcements, in-game promotions) is just a small part of the picture. Behind the scenes, it can get a little crazy. The greatest part though is working with an enthusiastic, fun team of people. They all love what they do. 

We had the Triple A All-Star Game last season at Coca-Cola Field. It could get a little stressful because we were in the national spotlight on MLB Network. The Home Run Derby was another story, because I was the on-field host. It ended up being one of the greatest career experiences because of the event. But took a good amount of preparation, not just for me, but all those involved.

What would surprise people about being a PA announcer for a AAA team?

The fans are apt to call you on a screw up. I read a name wrong one time and I heard a fan below me say, “You read it wrong, man.” I actually leaned out the window and said, “Sorry about that!” The fan was surprised that I was that close!

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

I’d love to be an astronaut. Growing up, I wanted to fly on the Space Shuttle. I’ve always had this affinity for space exploration. So, if NASA is reading this, when you decide to head back to the moon or Mars, I’m in!

How did you get into public relations?

My wife and I decided to move to where she is from (a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y.) about six months after we were married. I wanted a change of lifestyle from the TV/radio hours. So, I started applying for PR jobs. Niagara University was looking for an assistant director of communications and PR and I was lucky to get the job. It took some adjustment, but looking back, it was a good job to get.

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

That is honestly a tough question. I think it would be for more of us to adapt much quicker to the changing times. We need to think ahead for clients, why not for our own industry?

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

Two words: Social Media. Personally, if it wasn’t for social media, I wouldn’t be where I am today (and would not have met Paul Roberts, either!). OFFICIAL EDITOR’S NOTE: haha

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

We’re going to see social media evolve. Facebook and Twitter will still be the standard bearers. But there is going to come a day, very shortly, where we will have one platform integrate all the good things of Facebook and Twitter, as well as Skype, for one true social experience. Imagine the snark then! 

Did you pay much attention to the recent attempt by PRSA to redefine public relations? If so, what was your thought about the process, result and industry-wide discussion?

I absolutely paid attention. I even did a blog on it . I appreciated PRSA’s hard work in trying to get an all-encompassing definition. Was the result successful? I don’t know. I certainly haven’t heard a colleague refer to the “definition.” I thought the industry-wide discussion was great. I didn’t appreciate some of the really rough comments towards PRSA. It takes guts to try and take a stand. Or, in this case, define a practice. Discussion or debate is healthy. 

What social media platform do you use (most) professionally?

Twitter is my go-to platform. It’s how I build my reputation and how I continue to build and get business. And is it different from what you use for personal? I blend by Facebook and Twitter use for personal and social. However, lately, I’ve ramped back on my use of Twitter for personal use.

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

When I first launched my business, I used my personal Facebook and Twitter pages. Now, I have FB and Twitter for JRM Comm. Why? Because I wanted an outlet where clients, friends, and potential clients could go for information. It’s actually worked out well. 

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

Honesty and sincerity. I’ve been lucky to work with and meet so many great people. They all are honest and sincere. People like Deirdre Breakenridge, Justin Goldsborough, and Valerie Simon. Each have the qualities I’d like future pros to emulate. 

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

Never, ever let someone tell you that you can’t. But, never let someone sell you a job that isn’t right for you. Believe in YOU and your skills. And be honest with yourself. 

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

Twitter: Game changer
Facebook: Standard bearer
Google+: Misunderstood
Klout: Overrated
Corporate blogs: Stiff
LinkedIn: Severely underrated
Social media: No longer a “fad.”
Public relations: adapting

Still need more of Jason? Check out:
Twitter: @JasMollica 
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jasonmollica
Blog: http://oneguysjourney.wordpress.com/
Pinterest:  http://pinterest.com/jasmollica/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JRMComms

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

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 Interview with Lisa Zone

January 16, 2013 Leave a comment

The latest edition, episode 005 to this Q&A project is Lisa Zone (or Zone to her friends) senior vice president, head of customer communications practice group. With more than 15 years’ agency experience managing B2B and B2C marketing communications programs for a variety of clients, ranging from start-ups to nonprofit organizations to Fortune 500 companies, Lisa is also former president of American Advertising Federation – Cleveland; active with many community organizations and nonprofit Boards.

Lisa, you are a senior VP at Dix & Eaton an agency that provides integrated marketing and PR services. While most readers of this blog know what that means, how do you explain your job to friends and family?

My “explain it to your mom” speech is basically, “It’s my job to help my clients get in front of their customers.” That might mean helping them at a trade show, getting them in the newspaper or a magazine or talking with customers on social media. The tools might change, but the ultimate goal is always the same – to increase and enhance engagement with the people who buy my clients’ products.

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

I think I’d enjoy being a hairstylist or makeup artist. The projects I tend to enjoy most are the ones that include a lot of creativity, and both of those fields are all about creativity – and creative people. Plus, I’m a bit of a girly girl.

 How did you get into this industry?

Growing up, I always wanted to be a newscaster – until I did an internship at a TV station the summer between sophomore and junior years and realized I didn’t. I did, however, enjoy the work I did at the station within the public affairs department, which was the closest thing to a PR department at the station. The following summer, I did an internship at a local advertising and PR agency after hearing one of the agency partners speak to my journalism class. I loved that internship experience so much that I stayed on part-time during my senior year in college. They hired me upon graduation, and the rest is history. I was recruited to my current job by someone I’d worked with at that agency internship.

Your resume / LinkedIn profile is impressive and includes all the core PR, marketing, event categories one would expect, but I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what ‘Brand Culture Integration’ is, can you explain?

Brand Culture Integration is part of Dix & Eaton’s branding process that identifies and engages a team of internal brand ambassadors (a Brand Engagement Team) to participate in the branding process along the way. Our experience suggests that this approach – particularly in companies with inclusive corporate cultures – generally yields a better end product and builds buy-in along the way from key internal stakeholders.

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

In my opinion, the best PR practitioners are the ones who have insights into the complex business challenges facing an organization – and who have a seat at the table to help solve those issues. PR should not be an afterthought. I’d love to see the PR function elevated to a strategic function of an organization, as much as operations, legal, etc.

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

Certainly, social media has drastically changed the way companies communicate with (not at) their constituents – customers, employees, investors, community, partners/suppliers, etc. And it’s not just staying on top of emerging and popular social media platforms that’s important – it’s understanding how content is developed and delivered in an ever-evolving communications landscape.

What does it look like in 5 years?

Who knows? I don’t think any of us could have predicted the impact social media would have on the way companies communicate today five years ago. In my estimation, it’s less important to try to guess where communications is going and instead focus on really paying attention to how people are communicating with each other – then adjust to reach them where they are with content they seek.

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

Twitter is hands-down my go-to resource for all things professional, as I find I can learn from other practitioners, industry resources and media outlets all in one place. I find myself using Facebook more for personal use, mostly because that’s where a lot of my personal connections are. As I said earlier, it’s all about paying attention to how people are communicating with each other – and where. For me, that means Twitter for professional development and insights and Facebook for personal connections. But I must admit – Instagram is fast becoming a favorite platform for me. I love the way a photo can capture a story, even with no caption. Visuals are very powerful communications tools.

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

No. To me, it’s not authentic to maintain one persona for work and one for personal – and social media is all about authenticity, isn’t it? That’s not to say I don’t sometimes filter what I put on my social networks (acknowledging it’s a representation of both my personal and professional self) – but I do use the same language, humor, etc. for work and play.

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

Young professionals are often very eager to prove themselves, which sometimes manifests itself in talking too much or trying to figure everything out without asking for help. There’s no shame in asking for advice or spending more time listening than talking in meetings when you’re just starting out (though I’d caution to not be totally silent in meetings either). I’m more impressed by a young professional who listens, absorbs and shares a really thoughtful observation or question than one who just talks and talks and talks to make sure his/her voice is heard.

What is the best professional advice you ever gave / received?

I always tell college students studying PR or communications to take some basic business classes, even if it’s not required for their major. It’s the one thing I wish I would have been exposed to more in college, as I have had to self-teach myself to understand things like financial statements and earnings announcements. If PR is going to have a seat at the executive table, it’s critical for practitioners to really understand how a business runs.

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

Absolutely. Most often, I delete when I catch a grammar or spelling error. There have been those times, however, that my emotions have gotten the best of me and I’ve used Twitter to vent. That’s not productive and doesn’t really accomplish much. I’ve learned to avoid hitting “send” on those tweets for the most part, but there are always a few that slip through – at least, until I delete them.

What is your immediate reaction to the follow:

Twitter: news, connecting
Facebook: overcrowded, personal
Google+: undercrowded
Klout: grain of salt
Corporate blogs: thought leadership
LinkedIn: recruiting, job hunting
Social media: two-way
Marketing: one-way
Public relations: all-ways

Need more of Lisa? Check her out on Twitter at @lzone or on LinkedIn.

See past interviews including with Jeff Beauregard, Krista Giuffi, Jules Zunich and Frank Strong

PR’s Interview with Jeff Beauregard

January 11, 2013 1 comment

The latest edition (004) to this Q&A project is one that really hits home for me and is one of the reasons I really like social media. Jeff Beauregard and I both attended Salem State University (then College) and worked our way through school at The Sports Authority. Jeff as the stealth undercover dude and me as the warehouse guy that spent most of his energy making sure not to make eye contact with customers.

Jeff and I hadn’t communicated with each other in well over 10 years until social media reminded me how funny he can be – now 140 characters at a time. It’s been great to reconnect and see that he is doing so well. Jeff and I didn’t follow the same professional path, so I’ve used this opportunity to get perspective and insight into a different path for what I thought would be a PR guy. Enjoy.

So Jeff, you and I haven’t seen each other in years, but then we ran into each other via social media (Twitter, Instagram and your blog) and I quickly realized our careers are very different. Does your current gig match what you expected to be doing back when we were working our way through the Harvard of the North Shore (AKA Salem State)?  

No way. Not even a glimmer of what I thought/wanted to do. My idea of what I wanted to do was probably what you are doing. I wanted to be doing PR, promotions or something like that in the PR or marketing industry. My career went on a weird path starting with The Sports Authority and a few decisions I made shortly thereafter….

Jeff BCan you run me through the career highlights?

After I left TSA, I went to a software company in Boston and started doing data entry. After a year or so, I went to a small… small….small direct mail company in Salem. We did local mailers for banks, country clubs, car dealerships, stuff like that. Nothing exciting. The best and worst of that job was sitting in a room facing Pickering Wharf watching people on their expensive yachts as I clear wafer-sealed 75,000 Self-Mailers over the course of a few days. Tantalizing work, let me tell you! I was there only six months, but it gave me a stepping stone towards another small direct mail company. This one was a great company with a great owner.

Ok, so PR degree and direct mail, I get the connection, but how did you go from that to what you are doing now ?

Remember, this was also the time of the 99-2000 freak out regarding computers and DOS to Windows. They were changing their system from a DOS black screen, green font system, to a Windows White Screen, blue trim, black font system…Basically from HAL to Facebook and for whatever reason I got it. I understood what they were doing, how they were converting it and how users would interact with it. So, by default, I was given the task of training the entire company on the new system. I thought nothing of it, because it came second nature to me. It was easy. Unfortunately, a year later in early 2001, I got laid off from CPS. The bubble had burst and half the company was let go.

After spending that summer bartending and collecting unemployment – one of the best summers of my life mind you – I landed a job at Vantage Travel Group in Boston. Crazy place. I was hired for the non-profit direct mail position, I walked in the door and a day earlier someone quit on the travel side and they moved me to group travel. That weekend they had a sales meeting and I asked all kinds of questions about email marketing and their direct response rates and the owner/CEO said “What the hell is he doing in Travel?”

The following Monday I was back on the direct mail side and a couple weeks later was 9/11. Half of the travel side got laid off and I kept my job on the direct side. Mailing everyone flags and stickers and eagles for affinity support groups (Elks, Masons, Knights of Columbus, etc.).

Alright, sounds like you were pretty opportunistic and maybe even a little unlucky, but how did you get from shipping to the technical? 

Just stay with me. This is where it gets good. I landed at a French Gaming company called Infogrames. Shortly after I got there, they changed their name to Atari, which they had just bought the rights to. As a kid of the 80s, this was pretty much a dream job. You got bored, you played video games. Things were slow, you played video games. They needed opinions on something, you played video games.

But…

Wait for it…at the same time, they were rolling out a system called MAM (Marketing Asset Management) which was a homegrown product they created to share marketing assets between the U.S. and Europe for localization of assets. With my experience rolling out and training the previous system at CPS, I was a perfect fit. I trained all of the U.S. marketing department and worked with European counterpart who was doing the same thing in our office in France. Short answer, it didn’t suck at all…until, the company announced “we’re closing, we don’t know when, but we’re closing.” This announcement turned the entire office into one for all head-hunting office. We were looking for jobs for each other and my boss found a posting for a creative asset administrator at Digitas.

Everything I was doing at Atari was in the job description. They were purchasing a new system and I was to help roll out and train the entire agency on the system. It was a much grander scale, but was right up my alley. Adopted system use and naming conventions across the agency.

Next up is we are in the process of rolling out new storage and a system upgrade for our DAM system. It’s pretty exciting stuff, but was nowhere on my radar all those years ago.

People that know you well would describe you as…

A lot of people think I’m this crazy off the wall person, but I think I’m pretty reserved in my own eyesJeff B hand stand anyway. However, since starting Crossfit a year ago and starting to eat Paleo almost two years ago, those two things changed my life. I’ve lost 40lbs. I feel better than I did 10 years ago. I’m in better shape than I was in my 20’s. It’s an amazing life change and so much more for the better. I now work my schedule around going to the gym instead of the other way around. The community support is a group of people I wish I had when I was in my 20’s. Opened my eyes to self-worth and confidence that I didn’t know existed. That confidence definitely rolls into your professional life too, which is a definite bonus.

What is your Immediate reaction to the following?:

Twitter: People I want to know
Facebook: People I kinda know
Google+: It’s cool, but it’s no Facebook
Klout: Social Media’s “Hot or not”
Corporate blogs: Could do without
LinkedIn: Interesting connections
Social media: About to jump the shark, but become uber specific
Advertising: is social media
Public relations: blurring the lines between corporate and social

Need more of Jeff? Check him out on Twitter @jeffb0572, his blog and LinkedIn.

By the way, truth be told, I asked Jeff some additional questions not included here (like the classic Maryann or Ginger) but those were more for my own enjoyment. And let me tell you, his answers didn’t disappoint. Very funny guy.

PR Interview with Krista Giuffi

December 12, 2012 4 comments

Anyone that has read this blog or my posts on Twitter probably already knows that I’m a big fan of the blogging of Krista Giuffi – AKA PR in Pink, so it should be no surprise that I’ve used this Q&A project  to interview Krista for episode 003.

Krista Giuffi is associate director, alumni relations & communications at Temple University School of Medicine and blogger at prinpink.wordpress.com.

On a side-note, she admits that she voted for Jesse Ventura for Minnesota governor in 1998, but says it is “not because he was a professional wrestler. No, her reason was two-fold: a.) He was in my favorite X-Files episode b.) I didn’t think he would actually win!”

Krista, if you could do anything (professionally) outside of PR / Communications, what would you choose and why? 

If I had to throw it all away and not do anything related to PR or communications, then I would choose to be a marine biologist and study sharks. That was one of my first “little girl career dreams,” but my lack of interest in math kind of deterred me from pursuing it as a career. Plus, once I got my first word processor and started writing at age 14, it as all communications from there….

In your LinkedIn bio, you lead with: “I believe in the power of good, honest communications.” What made you decide that it was important to highlight ‘honest communications’ is there some dishonest communications you are trying to distance yourself from?

That line was from my resume at the time I set up my LinkedIn profile. It stemmed from when I was trying to work in PR and the stereotype is that if you work in PR, then you are a “spin doctor” or a “hack.” I was trying (and still try) to convey that any work I do in communications– be it PR, corporate stuff, or otherwise– is based on honesty. If I believe in my client, my product, my company, etc., then it’s easy. I feel that’s what a potential employer (because that’s who is going to be reading that part of my profile closely) should know about me, and that I am not a BS-er and never will BS nor shill BS for anyone or anything.

You recently made the change from corporate communications to alumni relations. How are these two career paths the same / different?

Oh, there’s a lot the two have in common. I’ve been meaning to pick up my blogging and gear it toward the alumni relations/advancement communications field. One area I see a lot of carry-over is the way in which alumni relations is based on relationship building with the alumni. You have to take your time to get to know them as individuals; know their interests; understand if they are philanthropic; find a way to connect them back with the institution. It’s very much like media relations was with reporters back when I worked in PR. You had to get to know the reporter’s beat; know what they liked to cover; provide them with useful content and build a relationship before you pitch.

Until your recent blogging vacation, you regularly wrote a popular PR / Communications blog. What did you get out of that (hopefully soon-to-be-revived) project? 

Yes, I do hope to revive the blogging effort! It was immensely rewarding for me when I worked in PR because I got to know people (much like you, Paul) who shared the same interests in the field and from whom I could learn a lot. It was challenging to write every week, but I made the effort and planned ahead, so it really is like having a second job. It was also cathartic to see my throughts expressed for the world to see, because I could hear my tone and feel my emotions in them. It’s really something I hadn’t counted on but appreciate having gone through the blogging exercise.

How did you originally get into public relations / corporate communications?

I like to say I was forced into PR– I actually got a job at a Spanish-language newspaper in Philadelphia thinking the publisher wanted to hire me to be a reporter. He gave me a few assignments but started asking me to help him write press releases in English and pitch ideas to the local media about the newspaper-sponsored activities. At the time (circa 2004-2005) the Spanish media was booming but it soon imploded and I realized it was easier to get a job in PR than in the print newspaper industry. Plus, as soon as I found my groove in PR/communications, namely healthcare or medicine, it was an easy fit for me. And now, I find that I like working in alumni relations for medical schools because it has the same connection to healthcare that I want to follow in every future job or career path I choose.

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

That’s a tricky question– I don’t know how best to articulate it, but sometimes I think people working in PR get so wrapped up in their little bubble of a world that they forget that the industry can come off sounding like it’s filled with a bunch of d-bags. For example, the whole hub-bub about PRSA wanting to define “public relations” started this whole social media discussion and back and forth between PR professionals (so much so that people were threatening to revoke their PRSA membership). When I explained the situation to my husband, a complete layperson, he asked me, “what is the big deal? Even if you define it, I still couldn’t tell other people what it is you do for a job.” See, all that work for a definition and it still only served those of us in the industry and did nothing to help our image with the outside world.

In what ways do you think social media has changed the larger communications industry?

I think it’s caused the communications industry to listen to it’s customer base more, whether they like to or not. At the same time, I think those who are social media savvy enough know how to work it for the better of their clients or companies. When it all started, communications pro’s were like, “oh, you can’t control the message on social media.” But now, I’m seeing sponsored tweets, social media ambassadors, and suspecting a lot of fabrication on social media that it leads me to believe that, given the right circumstances, you can control the message. You just have to be smart enough to know how to do it.

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

Not really– my social media persona pretty much is my professional persona. I think both LinkedIn and Twitter are my professional face, but even with those, I don’t share much personal stuff because it’s not the appropriate forum for it. My Facebook account is private to only friends and family, but even there, I’m careful about what I post because people still post such trivial stuff. I try to treat social media like I do real life– keep it interesting, share something of substance, try to cut down on the self-promotion, and keep it real.

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

I don’t know if I could pinpoint one particular quality, but some of the best PR/Communications people I’ve worked for had integrity, honesty and passion for what they did.

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

Try to get a job with as much flexibility to try different things– be it writing, media relations, event management, client service, etc. Even the lowest job on the ladder can give you a lot of experience to get you to the next level. And it’s been my experience that if you reach a glass ceiling and there is no more upward mobility in your current workplace, it’s always worth it to get out and move up elsewhere.

What is the best professional advice you ever gave / received?

As much as I hated hearing my boss at the time say it, I realize this is my mantra when it comes to confronting a problem. My boss at that time would always tell me, “Don’t come to me with problems; come to me with solutions.” When you’re working with a manager and want to show some initiative, it’s helpful to not only bring a problem/issue to their attention, but to also present some solutions to demonstrate that you have the ability to overcome them.

What is your Immediate reaction to the following?:

Twitter: Fun for trolling 
Facebook: Getting tired 
Google+: Not interested
Klout: Meh
Corporate blogs: Corporate speak
LinkedIn: Online resume
Social media: Dot.com bubble?
Public relations: Still relevant

Need more of Krista? Check her out on Twitter: @PR_in_Pink, her Spin Sucks #FF profile or PR in Pink.