Archive for April 2010

The Speaker Line up and Program Details are in!

April 26, 2010

June 17th is fast approaching, and before you know it, the 33rd Annual Chesapeake Conference will be here. During the conference you will learn from industry leaders on the essentials needed to sail into the new decade of public relations.

Set your alarm clock and have ready your cup of Joe! You will not want to miss technology entrepreneur Dave Troy when he delivers the morning keynote where he will talk about the inspirational and creative efforts put forth by public/private organizations to could bring Google’s ultra high-speed Internet trial to Baltimore. Dave is one of the principal players working with Baltimore’s Google Czar Tom Loveland. Dave will share with attendees Baltimore’s PR, social media, and buzz strategies, lessons learned, why Baltimore is a good fit for Google Fiber, and when Google will reveal its decision.

After your much enjoyed lunch and the Best in Maryland Awards program, we will kick off the second half of the conference with our local Emmy Award winner Lisa A. Shenkle, president of VERB! Communications and board member for Sail Baltimore. As the afternoon keynote speaker, Lisa will describe how the art and skills of public relations help her navigate political landmines and sensitivities associated with international ships visiting the Port of Baltimore. Discover how she overcomes challenges in scheduling press events, gains permission to get the media on board visiting vessels, and engages all parties for the greater mission of establishing goodwill between our country and others.

Breakout sessions include:
• How Media Fragmentation is making it harder (and easier) than ever to reach your targets
• Putting SEO to work: Writing with search engines in mind
• Red flags of social media: A legal perspective
• Great marketing ROI for a lousy economy
• Writing for the web and social media
• Media ethics
• PR measurement
• APR roundtable discussion
• How not to pitch the media roundtable discussion

See full line up here.

Don’t miss the boat, register today for the Chesapeake Conference and Best In Maryland Awards on June 17 at the Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel in Towson.

Online registration and downloadable forms now available.

Follow our official twitter hashtag, #Chessie10 for updates, and check back at our More Than PR Basics blog for our series of discussions leading us up to the 33rd Annual Chessie Conference.

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PR Newswire’s Pranikoff Addresses PRSA-MD on Tagging

April 16, 2010

PR Newswire's Michael Pranikoff says tagging should be used in all of our social media pages.

On Thursday, April 15, PR Newswire’s Global Director of Emerging Media Michael Pranikoff spoke to members of PRSA Maryland at the University of Baltimore about a subject that too few communications practitioners have mastered—the art of tagging.

Simply put, a tag is an identifier that enables Web content producers to organize ideas, and Web users to follow them. Think of a tag cloud—that cluster of words you see on a blog. These groups of Web-linked terms enable users to continue their search for associated information. The more often a particular tag is used by a blog’s author, the more prominent it appears in the tag cloud, giving the user a clue as to where a given information trail will lead. Communications practitioners adept at using tags can make this trail lead to specific online destinations.

Pranikoff had a lot to say about social bookmarking site Delicious, which relies heavily on tagging. Although commonly used for personal bookmarking (your ‘favorites’ can be saved to a Web page and are, consequently, always available on any computer connected to the Internet), Pranikoff uses it as a publishing platform for his professional audience.

On his delicious page (, you will find information that he bookmarks not for himself, but for his readers. Organizations can use delicious as a “newsroom outside of the newsroom,” as he puts it—publishing their own press releases and other information, which drives users to a specific location through the use of tags. Pranikoff issued a word of caution, though: be transparent. In other words, let your audience know who’s publishing the information on your Delicious site. (One way to ensure transparency is to put your organization’s name in the URL when setting up the account.)

Pranikoff says we should make our content “directional and easy to share,” and that we should use tagging in all of our social media pages to drive people to one place.

Follow Michael Pranikoff on Twitter: @mpranikoff.

PR and Government Contracts – Where are the contracts and how to access the jobs

April 7, 2010

On March 23rd, Gloria Berthold Larkin, president of TargetGov, provided attendees to the joint IPRC/PRSA-MD program with insider tips on how to locate government contracts and how to best position to win the contract awards.

Did you know that in 2009, the federal government spent over $344 million dollars on public relations contracts? To work to win your portion of that pie, Gloria suggested the following tips:

  • Register at and in the SBA small business dynamic search database.
  • Fine-tune your marketing pitch to cover your core competencies, experience, and differentiators.
  • Identify your targets, whether they are federal agencies, prime contractors, or teaming partners (or all three).
  • Identify and meet the decision makers: small business reps at the Federal OSDBU Directors Interagency Council, contracting offices and acquisitions staff, and program managers.
  • Build relationships through your capabilities statement and capabilities briefings.
  • Market yourself aggressively by getting in front of decision makers, making your website government friendly, e-mail, attending procurement conferences and the OSDBU conference (next one is April 21 at Dulles Expo center!).

Download two valuable handouts from the program. Although it is a long process to set yourself up for government work (12 to 18 months entry cycle), the work is worth it. Just think of that $344 million pie!

Creating a Winning Awards Entry

April 7, 2010

So you have a great success story. Now you’re wondering if its award-winning material. Only one way to find out – submit it for one of the industry’s prestigious awards like the PRSA Silver Anvil or PRSA MD’s Best in Maryland. (Note the 2010 Best In Maryland entries are due May 7 with a discount on fees for entries received by April 23!).

Before you finalize that submission, did you know that at least 25% of entries get pushed aside not because they aren’t creative, effective and successful, but because the entry wasn’t – as in wasn’t creative, effective, well-presented.

Here a few tips from some pros – pro’s at winning and at judging – that may help you create an entry that is as successful at your program.

Peter Stanton, APR, Stanton Communications:

Keep in mind that the awards are as much about what you did that’s new and innovative as what you did well.  While the judges may be impressed that you scored a major hit in the national media, it’s far more interesting to know how you did that.  Did your overall program incorporate some new approach or some new tactic that galvanized media attention?  Was there something in your program that could be instructive for the rest of the profession?  If
so, flag it.

Judges may be called upon to review dozens of entries.  If you are hoping they discern the key element of your creativity, they may miss it.   If you are hoping they will be awed by very traditional tactics and outcomes, you may be disappointed.  Demonstrate innovation and prove that it accomplished your goals and not just achieved a nice news piece.  That’s the way to win.

Chuck Fitzgibbon, APR, Weber Shandwick

Two thoughts:

Judges value outcomes more than output.  Behavioral change is seen as more valuable than volume of messaging, impressions, material distribution, etc.  Smaller, local programs that moved the needle and affected real change often receive higher scores than massive national programs that had a lot of output, but didn’t demonstrate real change.

Organization is key.  If your entry isn’t organized as specified in the guidelines, judges may overlook critical information in your entry, or may assume that either you’re not paying attention, or just resubmitting an entry from another competition.

Paul Eagle, APR, Imre

Winning entries go far above and beyond typical campaigns …

  • Results must match objectives
  • Campaigns are too focused on media placements – especially “integrated campaigns”
  • Pay close attention to the categories you enter – I judged three last week that were simply in the wrong category
  • Backup is critical – if you say you wrote a plan, include it…or at least parts of it so we know it exists
  • Research is more than “we conducted an informal poll at our agency”

Jody Aud, APR, MedImmune

Make sure what you are entering is really a “campaign.”. So often I see entries that are really a single tactic. – such as the launch of a  newsletter or an Intranet and the entry focuses on just the tactic and why it was selected, audience reach and so on. That’s the kind of thing you enter in a Bronze Anvil. For me, an entry that’s primary importance on the research, planning and evaluation – and secondary importance on the tactics is usually one that will stand out from the rest.

Lisa Miles, APR, Miles Public Relations

My biggest frustration when judging entries (both Silver Anvils and other chapters) is that MEDIA RELATIONS IS NOT A MEASURABLE OBJECTIVE!  It’s a tactic used to reach your target audience.  Start asking yourself the question of “why” each time you write an objective and if you can get to something measurable and timely, THEN you have an objective.  Also make sure your objectives match up with the rest of the program, particularly the results.  I heard a great quote from another judge when we were at the Silver Anvil judging this year – it’s the Alpha and Omega that we look at first – the beginning and end.

Harry Bosk, APR, Bosk Communications

Make sure when you say that you want to increase awareness that you state with whom, why and by what measurement.  Otherwise, it’s not a measurable objective.

Have your own tips and ideas? Add them. Have questions for the “pros”? Ask away here or send an email to PR Awards Pros at info[at]prsamd[dot]org.