Archive for September 2009

To Tweet, or Not to Tweet

September 30, 2009

What can you say about Twitter? Like it or not, this still fairly-new medium has literally rocked the PR world for the past couple of years.

Stories have been broken on Twitter over ten minutes faster than its traditional counterparts. Customer service has been transformed through the use of this medium. And, since disgruntled consumers have found Twitter to be very effective in getting quick retribution for poor service, consumers are expecting much more from companies they’ve been loyal to. They no longer want to just be “marketed to”; rather, many now want to influence the conversation and have their say.

Although lots of companies have joined the conversation already, many are still on the sidelines, waiting for the right time to hop in (images of little girls waiting for the perfect time to enter when jumping rope pop into mind). However, the problem with waiting for the perfect time is that there is no perfect time. Companies who sit this one out will undoubtedly lose out!

Twitter veteran, Jeff Davis, of Sawmill Marketing Public Relations, has said that he doesn’t think today’s social media tools should replace traditional methods. Instead, he believes new media should be woven into an overall PR strategy — that ignoring social media tools such as Twitter is just as dangerous as relying exclusively on Twitter to get a message out.

Jeff will be discussing this topic and more during two workshops he will conduct on Twitter at the upcoming PRSA-Maryland Chesapeake Conference. Between the two sessions he’ll explore everything from retweets and hashtags to Twitter etiquette and what should be included in your corporate policy for social media usage.

Those who haven’t joined the conversation yet will especially benefit from his afternoon session, as he’ll be walking us through the process of signing up. Don’t forget to bring your laptops!

If you have questions or need more information, Jeff can be reached through his newly redesigned website/blog, sawmillmarketing.com.

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The Power of Accreditation

September 30, 2009

As professional communicators we’re keenly aware of the power of words and ideas to change attitudes and behaviors. What about the power of letters?

In our profession, three letters carry tremendous influence –

APR.

Those letters after your name don’t signify that you’re a better communicator than someone who doesn’t have them. What they do say is that you’ve made a commitment to your career that sets you apart from the pack, putting yourself through a rigorous, peer-reviewed assessment accompanied by a personal commitment to ethics, professionalism and life-long learning.

It’s a lot of work, and it’s not inexpensive, but practitioners with five or more years of full-time experience are often better prepared to meet this challenge than they know.

Those interested in pursuing accreditation do so for a variety of reasons. Some are looking at an impartial skills assessment, identifying their strengths and weaknesses to make themselves better prepared to meet the fast-moving challenges demanded by today’s marketplace.

Some see accreditation as a means of joining the ranks of the nation’s senior practitioners, recognizing it as a common trait among prominent professionals throughout Maryland and beyond.

Others are interested in setting themselves apart for career advancement. Some of the better jobs in our business are advertised with “APR preferred” in the requirements. Even without this as a filter, having an APR often helps a candidate differentiate him or herself from the competition. And for good reason – accredited professionals typically (though not always) earn more than their non-accredited peers.

Whatever your motivation, the hardest part is knowing where to start in the process.

Fortunately, PRSA’s Maryland Chapter can help.

On Tuesday, October 6, as part of the 32nd annual Chesapeake Conference, the Chapter will feature a panel of accredited professionals sharing their insights into the accreditation process. It will be a two-way discussion – bring your questions and your enthusiasm and leave with a path for starting the next phase of your career.

Do More With Less

September 30, 2009

Just in case you’ve been in a coma for the past 18-months or so, the economy…well, let’s just say that it’s seen better days.

The economic free fall of 2008 has significantly impacted the way we do business. Clients that once were…are no more. Clients that wielded sizeable budgets have cut them by 40, 50 and even 60 percent. Despite this, there are many clients who have sought to maintain their profile amid the challenging economic times, by keeping their public relations wheel churning.

Regardless the budget – every brand, every client and every account – all want BIG agency results. This quagmire has perplexed many practitioners and will continue long after many of us have retired from this beloved industry. There are a number of strategies and tactics available to PR professionals that can deliver BIG agency results on a small budget.

Opportunities are abound. Social media, WOM, the blogosphere are all emerging channels that – when paired with traditional PR conduits – can generate the exposure and visibility that you (and your client) desire.

So whether you’re working with a client who’s feeling the pinch of the economy or a small company (e.g. a start-up) whose budget lacks the desired number of zeros – don’t lose hope: big results on a shoestring budget is achievable. David Harrison, founder of Harrison Communications and former professional journalist, will impart several expectation-exceeding results he has delivered for his clients across the country at the Chesapeake Conference session: “How to get big agency results from a small budget”.

It’s All About Relationships

September 30, 2009

Elemental to any successful public relations strategy are relationships. Whether you’re forming new ones, fostering those with potential or leveraging existing connections, relationships are the cornerstone of a public relations practitioner’s arsenal.

In today’s highly competitive marketplace of information exchange, companies are actively engaging creative channels to reach multiple audiences. Simply put, they are forming unique relationships – both in the traditional sense and through interactive, new media channels.

Companies and the brands they represent are recognizing just how important meaningful relationships are to their bottom dollar – particularly in lean economic times. They are embracing the relationship model; and those that are doing it – and doing it well – are finding that brand ambassadors or advocates for their brand provide invaluable support.

Communicating directly to key publics – stakeholders, media, the blogosphere and the end-consumer – play a critical role in a brand’s success (or failure for that matter). At this year’s Chesapeake Conference, the “How Brands (big and small) are forming relationships” session promises to spotlight a number of success stories that demonstrate how practitioners leverage relationships that deliver measureable results in a brand communications strategy. Moderated by Dave Imre, “sessioneers” can look forward to a really engaging discussion chock full of transferrable knowledge and practical case studies.

If you know Dave, then you know that you’re in for an informative session. And for those that don’t know Dave Imre…well, shame on you! Here’s a little background: Dave is president and CEO of IMRE Communications and has been an integral brand strategist steering regional and national campaigns for more than 20 years. Dave’s on the National Board of Directors for the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), a former President of the Maryland Chapter of the PRSA, and a past-chair of the Mid-Atlantic District of the PRSA.

Support Your Local Breasts

September 29, 2009

The Maryland Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure is part of the largest network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting breast cancer. But what most of us in Maryland don’t know is that they aren’t a big nonprofit. In fact the staff numbers just eight. Yet in 2008 Komen Maryland granted over $2 million to local breast health and breast cancer awareness projects across the State. Up to 75% of net proceeds generated by Komen Maryland remains in Maryland and 25% support national research and scientific programs around the world.

So how does a small staff with a big vision (to end breast cancer!) build success? Besides energizing thousands of volunteers and great pro-bono partners like PUNCH, Komen Maryland’s ad agency, they tap the new media along with the traditional. So they married an new edgy ad campaign, Support your Local Breasts, with Facebook to create excitement and success.  The focus of the ad campaign is to educate the community that they are the MARYLAND affiliate, separate from our national headquarters and we provide services here throughout Maryland. 

They began with a complete analysis of the race (next one is Sunday, Oct. 18) and discovered that 10% of our participants were raising 90% of our race revenue! To enhance and secure the success of our signature event, Race for the Cure, we identified our focus to communicate better the need that all participants do some fundraising.  We hired Adcieo, a local solutions management company to help with web-based efforts and overall electronic communications.

They dove into social networking especially with their Facebook page to promote the ad campaign, Race for the Cure and all the efforts of our affiliate.  There Komen Maryland is holding a Support Your Local Breasts photo contest on a special fan page. In the campaign, Komen asked Facebook “fans” to find a bus shelter poster around town featuring the new campaign, snap their picture with it and enter into a photo contact via Facebook for a chance to win Komen goodies.

The campaign was a success – will the race be? Well we won’t know until October 18, but on October 6th, we’ll hear from Komen reps more on the details of their campaign. On tap to present and answer questions will be: Lenore Koors, development director and Rebecca McCoy, MPH, grants & education program manager both with Komen Maryland and Dennis Chyba, president, Adcieo.

The session not to miss is Activating Grass Roots at 10:30. With Komen Maryland, you’ll hear the story of the End The Wait Now Campaign, a project of the Developmental Disabilities Coalition and The Arc of Maryland which is tapping the power of YouTube.

The power of social media is in giving voice — and action — to small nonprofits.

What’s the verdict on Twitter?

September 28, 2009

So what’s the verdict on Twitter?

Is it merely a diversion for people who want to announce that they’re eating a ham sandwich in the elevator? Or do you see it as a novelty whose unproven ability to make money warrants an “endangered species” label, which keeps you from learning how to use it?

For Jeff Davis, APR, Twitter is fast becoming an essential, mainstream communications tool that enables PR practitioners to develop and maintain relationships with the media and the PR community at large.

A past president of PRSA Maryland and currently a partner with Sawmill Marketing Public Relations, Jeff will present two social media sessions at PRSA Maryland’s Chesapeake Conference. The first, beginning at 9:00 a.m., will focus on Twitter. With a down-to-earth, non-technical presentation style, he will share useful tools and techniques for Tweeting with a purpose.

Jeff’s Twitter handle is @contactjeff. You can also reach him through his new blog/website. While you’re there, be sure to check out his nationally recognized Guide to Baltimore Media on Twitter.

Another View of Chessie 09

September 22, 2009

Here’s another look at the Chessie Conference …

Wordle: PR Chesapeake Conference

image by http://www.wordle.net/