Sunday, December 6, 2009

He Who Molds the Public

Knowing how far we've come as practitioners is essential to the art of Public Relations. Although technology is a key factor changing how we communicate, remembering the wisdom of the past gives us the focus we need to become great practitioners. All the technology in the world doesn't make up for the age old truths that guide us. Here are some of my favorite PR quotes. Some are serious, others funny; but they all remind us of the importance PR and the quality of how we practice it. Enjoy!

"All the president is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing, and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway."
- Harry S. Truman

"He who molds the public sentiment... makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to make."
- Abraham Lincoln

"Don’t believe your own publicity. You can’t; you’ll start thinking that you’re better than you are."
- Leif Garrett

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts."
- Abraham Lincoln

"Publicity is the life of this culture- in so far as without publicity, capitalism could not survive."
- John Berger, 'Ways of Seeing'(1980)

"Words are like bullets; if they escape, you can't catch them again."
- Wolof, African proverb

"If I was down to my last dollar, I'd spend it on public relations."
- Bill Gates

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers."
- Daniel J. Boorstin

"PR means telling the truth and working ethically - even when all the media want is headlines and all the public wants is scapegoats. Public relations fails when there is no integrity."
- Viv Segal, MD of Sefin Marketing

"The formulation of a public relations strategy properly begins with listening, not talking.... (Public relations) is an exploratory process in which one must establish goals, seek and, sometimes create opportunities, evaluate options, anticipate obstacles and ways of overcoming them, and assign the most qualified professionals to initiate the activity which is most likely to achieve the best results."
- Leonard Saffir

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Perception is Reality II: Ole Miss is Marching On

As the heated debate over the University of Mississippi's loss of "From Dixie with Love" to end the chant "the South will rise again" continues, the school's campus found it self with less than a dozen unwelcome guests this past weekend.

Members of the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan protested in favor of the chant on the Saturday morning of UM's football game against Louisiana State University. But just as quickly it had began, students and fans made it clear that the 11 KKK members protesting were not wanted.

Klansmen in full red, white and black uniforms, silently waved Confederate battle flags and the KKK flag as they stood in front of the Fulton Chapel while a mostly student crowd of more than 250 people called them various insults.

At one point the crowd began chanting the phrase, "Go to hell, KKK, go to hell!"

Responses to the crowd from klansman Shane Tate, grand titan of the Mississippi White Knights, were lost to the intensity of the crowd's boos and jeering. Within the first 10 minutes of their hour-long protest, the Klan left in defeat.

As the KKK dispersed and the booing of the crowd died down, an echo resounded throughout the air as a group of more than 100 students could be heard about 30 yards away from the chapel. Organized students read over and over the university’s student creed while wearing white T-shirts that said “Turn your back on hate” and “I live by the UM Creed.”

The day was a defining moment for the University of Mississippi and its public image as well as the view of the state of Mississippi. It was an incredible display that hatred and racism are no longer tolerated ideals of our peoples and that we are making progress and changing perceptions.

The University of Mississippi has been at the forefront of progress in racial eqauality. From the couragous risks of James Meredith in 1962, to the 2008 presidential debates featuring the United States' first African-American candidate and elected president; we are changing for the better. This past weekend was a continued sign that that change is happening.

As to whether the song "From Dixie with Love" can be reinstated is still uncertain but "Ole Miss is marching on."

Additional Resources:
* The Facebook Group to save "From Dixie with Love"
* An Article from Knoxnews about the protest
* A youtube video from the protest
* Chancellor Dan Jones letter to the Ole Miss Community

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Look Back: “Wamoola Madne$$”

In my Public Relations Techniques class, we were asked to find a public relations case study to do a report and presentation on. After searching through different cases I found a campaign that took after my own heart and style from the 5th edition of Public Relations Cases (Jerry A. Hendrix, Darrell C. Hayes) called "Wamoola Madne$$: America Meets the New $20 Bill."

Following an aggressive acquisition strategy in the later 90s, Washington Mutual, a Seattle-based financial services institution, became one of the largest banks in California with virtually no brand recognition in the market. Very soon afterwards, the United States Treasury’s decision to introduce a new $20 bill provided WaMu with a major chance to increase name recognition in the new markets and highlight their personal commitment in developing affordable housing in service.

WaMu continued to research attitudes of California consumers showing a negative view of banking as being stiff and big business. A poll showed that 95% of bills requested from ATMs are $20, common bill for the common man. WaMu’s researched through Rogers & Associates PR firm found that $50 and $100 launches did not exist giving them the go to do something original and powerful. Their main focus for the event was the consumers with appealing to them the one thing everybody loves – free money given away.

And thus the institution developed “WaMoola Madness,” a special campaign event. On the new $20 release date from the Federal Reserve, Washington Mutual gave 20 consumers in seven major cities a chance to enter a wind cube filled with new $20 bills. Once inside, consumers would have 20 seconds to grab as many of the swirling bills as they could. The grand total in each city was matched by WaMu and donated to a local non-profit housing organization.

The entire idea was genius to me. It’s always better to hit two birds with one stone if you can do it successfully and with style and this was their chance.

Through this event WaMu seeked to boost Name Recognition in reaching an audience of over 45 million, raise awareness of the Washington Mutual name in new markets by 50% and achieve media coverage equivalent to advertising dollars. Additionally, WaMu would be able to help promote the new $20 bill and bring focus to the company’s commitment to affordable housing.

In the planning process WaMu went through extensive preparation to ensure that in each event, 200 of the new $20s would be available. To do this, the PR team made special cash orders and obtained clearance to pick up cash before hours at Federal Reserve offices, and in some instances, had money flown to their locations.

Semiweekly conference calls were held with local PR partners. These and other measures helped to prevent various security threats concerning the day of the event. Winners from the cash cubes were given one new $20 bill and a voucher to pick up the rest of their cash at a nearby WaMu bank.

WaMu also took huge measures in securing media coverage for the event. Media advisories were sent to key media and submitted to wire services before the event. Many follow-up calls were made to key media, stressing that the event would be on of the only opportunities to see the new bill and AP photographers were also contacted about the event. A key element to their coverage was establishing Radio partnerships in each city who acted as event emcees in each city, generating an even larger crowd. Personally, this was spectacular judgment on how to broadcast the message for the event.

Finally on Thursday, Sept. 24, 1998, the nationwide event took place. The entire event totaled approximately $235,000, including the $97,000 awarded to consumers.

In the end, WaMu exceeded all of their goals. The event goal to reach an audience of 45 million totaled 83 million, and a total of 3,500 attended the event. WaMu’s goal to increase name recognition by 50% reached 80% from 0%. That in it self is a mission accomplished. Additionally, media coverage equivalent to event cost surpassed and totaled $618,000. Of the $97,000 awarded to consumers, earmark grants for the equivalent were awarded to the regional non-profit organizations.

This was a great campaign for WaMu in more ways than one and its execution was almost flawless. Not only did they exceed their awareness goals, but they were able to show a strong sense of social responsibility in helping non-profit housing communities.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Perception is Reality: A Personal Realization

Through issue of controversy, the University of Mississippi has lost one of its game day traditions. Because of a recent incident where the Ole Miss Football student section has begun chanting the phrase “the South will rise again,” during the song “From Dixie with Love,” the UM administration has removed the Pride of the South Marching Band's performance of the song in the Grove, during the university’s pre-game and at other athletic events.

The song is a medley comprised from the tunes “Dixie” and the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” As a powerfully written fusion and reconciliation of two historical songs representing both the confederacy and union, “From Dixie with Love” has been a tradition at athletic events for over 30 years.

The chant “The South will rise again,” is a phenomenon yelled during the last five years at football games. A harmful phrase, referencing negative stereotypes, it has raised concern in hurting UM recruitment. The phrase is ironically chanted during the battle hymn in place of the lyrics “His truth is marching on.”

Although I have restrained my personal point of view regarding most of the dilemmas concerning this controversy, I have come to find great concern against pro-chant supporter’s arguments for their continued use of the phrase. Both pro-chant rebuttals are seemingly twisted viewpoints I take offense to as a journalist and Public Relations practitioner.

Their initial argument is the claim that the administration is impugning upon their First Amendment right. At no point has the University of Mississippi banned the use of saying “The South will rise again,” nor have they reprimanded or expelled any student for continuing to say the chant at athletic events. Just as the students chanting have the right to say what they wish, the institution reserves the right to take away what triggers the phrase.

The First Amendment ensures us the freedom to speak our minds as individuals and as a people. But with common sense, we as people must always ask ourselves whether the right to say something makes what we say right.

The pro-chant’s second argument is not far from this question. Their following point is that they do not “personally” believe the phrase is offensive. Even if this is their individual and collective viewpoint, it does not change the fact that they are the minority and that the chant does has negative connotations associated with it. This dispute clashes with two core principles of Public Relations and logic: perception is reality, which is a cornerstone of PR, and (yes, as Spock would say) the needs of the many will always out-weigh the needs of the few or the one.

Simply stated, The MAJORITY of the people perceive “the South will rise again” chant as a negative influence; therefore, it is harmful.

Beyond this infallible logic are the facts that the only groups and individuals that have aligned themselves with the phrase are racist, white supremacists such as the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, The Mississippi Council of Conservative Citizens, and Richard Barrett. There is also video footage in the UM J.D. Williams Library showing segregationists jeering James Meredith, the school’s first black student, in 1962 as they singing “Glory, glory segregation, the South will rise again.”

Whether the song can be reinstated and the chant disbanded when it returns is uncertain. Only the future will tell the outcome. But there is one constant to remember from this situation, Perception IS Reality… Always!

Additional Resources:
* The Facebook Group to save "From Dixie with Love"
* An Article from the Red Cup Rebellion blog
* Chancellor Dan Jones letter to the Ole Miss Community

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Roy Reiman: Building an Empire

Earlier today, Roy Reiman, CEO of Reiman Publications, was the Keynote speaker for Journalism Week at the Meek School of Journalism. For anyone who would not know, Reiman is a Godfather of magazine innovation with his publishing empire credited with building the country’s largest, private, subscription-based publishing.

His presentation began with a picture of a Royal typewriter on a TV tray in the basesment of his family home. Time and time again, people told Reiman "you can't do that", or "It will never work" but time and time again he proved them wrong. Today one of every 10
homes in America subscribes to at least one of his magazines, none of which accepts adversiting.

To Reiman there are two factors that contribute to success

  1. Never look at problems negatively - every problem invokes entrepreurship.
  2. Creativity is the engine that powers success. It is the difference between dreams and reality.

When Reiman first quit his job and started writing in his basement, his first project went straight down the drain along with $10,000. He credited this to not testing his markets and it was a lesson in learning from his mistakes. Labeling the experience as his "master's degree in publishing," Reiman didn't stop trying and later created his first successful magazine Farm Wife News.

His publishing company went on to create other hit magazines such as
Country, Reminisce and Taste of Home. From there Reiman persued additional innovations such as his promotional t-shirt "I'm proud to be a farmer's wife" which led to an entire line of the garment production for the company.

Even in retirement, Reiman could not help himself and started a new magazine named Our Iowa. Starting from scratch and continuing with the same principles as before, his new venture boomed in business and with it he continues to push the ideas of creativity and innovation.

When asked about the uncertainties of journalism today, Reiman cites two reasons: There have been too many average writers and editors for years just getting by and publishers have allowed advertisers to dictate their content to readers. He even created an imaginary ad salesman for the company named Cal to jokingly ward off advertisers.

When it comes to magazines, Reiman believes they should be treated as welcomed friends in our homes that visit us once a month. And to Reiman, the future of magazines is clear. These "doom and gloom" times call for a "zoom" approach.

"Optimism sees its the perfect time to create," he said. "With less competition there are millions who want a good magazine because people need an escape."

Reiman ended his presentation with a simple quote: "The difference between the possible and impossible is creativity."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Finding North

Today was the kick-off of Journalism Week, held each spring and fall by the Meek School of Journalism. As a special guest, our dean, Dr. Will Norton invited Roger Fransecky, the CEO of The Apogee Group to speak on what he described as the "illumination of a meaningful life."

Fransecky focused life into two core principles; Prose - the defining of your own voice by listening and establishing your view on life, and Poetry - the meaning and light in what you do. The rest, Fransecky said, is plumbing. Sometimes the plumbing makes people fall into routine and slip away from the prose and poetry in life.

"It is why you have to find your true North," Fransecky said, "You do this by finding focus and finding a purpose driven life."

And just as quickly, he turned his focus on the issue of "Change."

Fransecky described Change as having its own architecture, saying "real change begins with ending something. As behavior follows belief, you have to make visible your beliefs."

He then went on to create the allusion of the journalism profession as a boat upon a fog filled lake. As journalists, we cannot see the beginning or the end. To turn back is to try to regain the certainty of what we knew but may never find again. The only clear answer is to go forth through the fog until you reach the new land, or the new world of media tomorrow.

Fransecky discussed the personal side of realizing higher achievement. "The question of life is not what you're doing but what you are becoming," he said.

He went on to describe the 5 factors NEEDED for Higher Achievement:
  1. A Mentor - Someone you admire for positive traits.
  2. A Lover - We all need love. It teaches us to love life as it illuminates your own.
  3. An Editor - Someone to watch your back and call you out and keep you humble
  4. A Truth-teller/Champion - Someone who will praise you and fill your balloon when you need it, given their words are sincere.
  5. A Friend - The people who tell us the truth, find us, travel with us, belong to us. It's important to have a few great friends and remember you cannot be a friend to all.

Finally, Fransescky left us with what he called the two doorway truths (the truth someone tells you just as they are departing). The first is that everything we knew and trusted about everything is over! The second is that today is just the beginning of finding that greater tomorrow!

Apogee’s clients range from Fortune 100 companies with global reach and riveting competitive challenges, to entrepreneurial enterprises flush with dreams and deadlines. Whether taking part in their development programs or visiting The Apogee Group website just to learn something, they are a MUST for PR pros seeking high-impact coaching & development.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Living His Dreams

This past Wednesday, political cartoonist Marshall Ramsey, a nationally syndicated two-time Pulitzer finalist was a Society of Professional Journalists guest speaker at the Meek School of Journalism. Ramsey, who is the political cartoonist for The Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi, spoke about life as a cartoonist and political satire in Mississippi.

During the two programs he gave at the school, Ramsey talked with students about the obstacles he went through to get to where he is today; from college advisers who told him the collegiate newspaper didn't need another cartoonist, to his first newspaper editor who told him he had no career in the profession. Without a doubt, Ramsey's message was one of perseverance and achieving one's dreams.

As a result of his persistence, His cartoons while attending Kennesaw State College won the top prize for collegiate cartoonists, The John Locher Memorial Award. From then on, his career has skyrocketed as his cartoons have gone on to appear in USA Today, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, The Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times.

Also a melanoma survivor, Ramsey has been honored by the Melanoma Research Foundation and the American Cancer Society for his work with promoting skin cancer screening. During his presentations he reminisced about overcoming cancer and finding away to see the humorous side."How do you brush the devil off your shoulder?" Ramsey said to the classes, "You laugh at him."

It truly was an honor having Ramsey to speak and this program was one I had been planning since last April. Quite often, speakers that come through are trite and boring. Having heard him three times in the past seven years, I knew Ramsey would be a welcomed break from the norm. "He was like a stand-up comedian with his own visuals," student Darren White said, "Every cartoon he showed us had a great impact and he always had a punch line to go with it."

One of my favorite aspects to preparing the program was creating the event poster. It is by far the most creative and enjoyable I've been able to be in my SPJ program designs. Although there were many complications involved with the preparation of this program, thanks to team work and an extensive amount of emails, SPJ was able to cover all the basses in making the program a successful one.

We even got a shout-out from Ramsey later in the evening on his Twitter account.

"I'd like to thank Andrew Scott, Debora Halpern Wenger and the Ole Miss chapter of the SPJ for inviting me up to speak at Ole Miss today," Ramsey said on his profile.

The Essence of Oxford

A recent press release I wrote for my internship at the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce about the release of their 10th Artists' Series print featuring Glennray Tutor. This Friday, the article ran in THE OXFORD EAGLE.

"Chamber Debuts Annual Oxford print – 10th in Artists’ Series"

Oxford, MS – Are you looking for a unique Oxford print? Maybe something that captures the essence of Oxford in a seemingly simplistic but ultimately surreal and dynamic fashion as though experiencing the city for the first time. Well, the Chamber may have just what you are looking for.

The Oxford – Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce is featuring another in a series of prints that showcase talents of artists in the area. This year’s print, entitled "Afternoon on the Square," by famed Oxford artist Glennray Tutor.

This beautiful photorealistic art piece sends you on a stroll back through time as it peers toward the center of the historic Oxford Square from the west as if strolling down Van Buren on a late afternoon walk. The art features shops and stores that have come and gone, plus some that have stood strong through the years, sparking memories for many Oxonians and Ole Miss Alumni alike.

Tutor, known for his photorealistic paintings, is part of the photorealism art movement. His paintings are immersed with intense color, nostalgic items, metaphor, and a complete focus on detail.

His works have been shown at The Mendenhall Gallery in California, The Cole Pratt Gallery in New Orleans, The Hahn Ross Gallery in Santa Fe, The Alice Bingham Gallery in Memphis, The Frist Center of Visual Arts in Nashville, The Mississippi Museum of Art, The Schmidt-Bingham Gallery in New York, Helander Gallery in New York, The World's Fair in New Orleans, as well as many other well respected art galleries.

Influenced by painters Ralph Goings and Charles Bell, Tutor is a graduate of the University of Mississippi where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Art and English in 1974 and his Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting in 1976. During the years of 1999 and 2000, his artwork was featured in a show known as "Outward Bound: American Art on the Brink of the Twenty-first Century: An Exhibition of American Contemporary Art" which was sponsored by the Mobil Corp. The traveling gallery show started in Washington, D.C. and continued to tour South Eastern Asia.

The limited edition signed and numbered print can be purchased for $25 at the Chamber of Commerce office, located at 299 Jackson Avenue West. Only 250 prints will be sold.
Tutor’s artwork is also featured on the cover of the 2009-2010 Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation Community Guide and Membership Directory. He won first place in the tenth Annual Art Contest held by the Chamber of Commerce in the spring.

For more information about the print or the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce, call 662.234.4651.

Published: October 23, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009


It has grown increasingly apparent that there is a need to be in tune with the rapid, ever changing social media. In public relations, this is becoming critical. Whether it be through having a website, blog, facebook or even... Twitter? Yes, Twitter!

Despite the fact that the site is mostly used by people who, to quote one of my professors, "want to tell us about their every bowel movement" it does have the tools to serve a positive use in the business environment; especially Public Relations. Many large Public Relations agencies and small ones alike are jumping in and using twitter's resources to stay ahead of the game. Some of these agencies include Burson-Marsteller and KEF-Media.

So what does twitter have to offer the PR Professional?

1. Networking – The obvious but often unrealized fact, Twitter is a professional's gateway to the world. There is a total of somewhere over a million Twitter users and with an average of 200,000 active individuals using their Twitter accounts every week and I'm willing to bet a decent percentage of those people have jobs that may be in an emphasis you are interested in pursuing. Used properly, Twitter can help you enhance those relationships.

2. Personally Brand Yourself - Twitter allows the opportunity to portray one's self in both a personal and professional manner. Look at the site as an extension of your resume, building a stronger definition of who you are as opposed to just the one-to-two page document you get to hand your prospective employer in an interview. With each and every tweet, you are able to post everything you are involved in with internships, projects, campaigns, etc.

3. Skill Development - The one thing Twitter can do the most for it's professional users; it provides a constant connection to changing trends in public relations and social media. Depending who you hitch your "following" wagon to, twitter can constantly keep you in the know about what's happening around you.

As for me, I have recently started my own twitter account and will begin posting as soon as I have developed the "purpose" behind my posts. I know I want my account to be helpful and encouraging for all Public Relations professionals; I just have to lock down what that angle and delivery style is going to be.

Of course, to create a sense of organization and credibility, I have been designing my profile to be a continuation of the color theme of my blog, using the deep blue and light green primary colors and using my banner for background. It is my goal and obligation to ensure that my twitter shall be used in a productive way for the greater good and advancement of public relations!

Click HERE to check out my Twitter account!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Man, The Myth, The Legend

To do a Public Relations take on the "Intel: Sponsors of Tomorrow" ad campaign: A small, yoda-like man walks onto the stage podium and smiles at the crowd of students that have gathered. His hair is combed back and the reflection from the over-head lights beams off his glasses. But despite this non-assuming man's appearance, his presence is Olympian as the students applaud his entrance.

Harold Burson; Co-founder of Burson-Marsteller, one of the world's largest public relations agencies and PRWeek's most influential public relations person of the 20th century. Public Relations: Our rock stars aren't like your rock stars!

That was what went through my head when Harold Burson spoke yesterday as he addressed students in the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics main auditorium at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

One thing is for certain, I can only hope to be half the public relations specialist that Burson is and he truly is the real "Mr. Public Relations."

During the hour he spent with students yesterday, Burson reminisced about the early part of his career, the creation of Burson-Marsteller, and the agency's defining moments; including its work in cleaning up Exxon's image after the Valdez oil spill incident in 1989 and Johnson & Johnson's confrontation with a second outbreak of cyanide-laced Tylenol in 1986.

One of the main points in his presentation was what you know. Burson emphasized the importance of specializing in something but also knowing something about everything. His big tip was for students serious in working in corporate PR to have a business background. In today's market, those with business minors and (even better) an MBA have the upper edge over those with English and history minors. It was a cold, hard fact that made me sigh in relief that despite the grievance it has been, I've been minoring in business.

Additionally, I felt a personal connection to Burson's life story when he told us about his graduating from the University of Mississippi (the same university I now attend) and his dreams of being whisked away to the life of New York City. Given the opportunity to hear him speak ensured me that with hard work, determination and a strengthened belief in the need for effective public relations, maybe someday, I too could be the professional he is.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Chamber Internship

I'm very excited to say that this fall semester, I'm taking instructor Robin Street's Jour 491 Public Relations Techniques class. The second of three public relations classes offered in the journalism school, the class focuses on developing individual PR skills and style.

Throughout the semester we will cover writing effective press releases, learning how to do surveys, professional PR case studies and developing our own campaigns.

Additionally, Ms. Street's class provides internships doing PR work for local businesses in the Oxford community. Though the internships are not paid, the credit and experience are worth the time and effort in giving students the competitive edge over other PR students.

Luckily I was able to receive my first choice in internship with the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation and Chamber of Commerce. One of the most sought after internships, The EDF is dedicated to a strong commitment in seeking new business and supporting existing industry for the Oxford-Lafayette County area. The chamber provides marketing, publicity, savings and client opportunities for nearly 700 businesses and members. The EDF uses community resources to help business needs and create healthy partnerships.

Its also pretty cool to note that Ms. Street was named the Public Relations Association of Mississippi's (PRAM) Educator of the Year this past spring. That fact, no doubt, continues to prove that the University of Mississippi journalism staff is one of the best in the south.

In both the class and internship, its going to be a great semester learning to become a better public relations practitioner.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Promoting the 'Half-Blood Prince'

This past Wednesday, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released in theaters nationwide. In the sixth installment of the series, Harry Potter discovers an old book marked mysteriously "This book is the property of the Half-Blood Prince" and begins to learn more about Lord Voldemort's dark past.

And in the spirit of spreading excitement for the film, I put together a small promotion for the opening weekend at Westbrook Cinema 4. As I had done with other premieres in the past, I made my own Harry Potter costume from scratch. Of course, though my past promotions have always been fun for the patrons, I wanted to expand on the idea to make the promo more fun for the rest of the Regal "Cast Members" as well.

So in order to take the Hogwarts "nerdiness" to the extreme, I made individual Hogwarts house badges (including Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw) for the other members to wear, letting each person pick which house they would belong to. Oddly enough, everyone seemed to pick the house most fitting for them. And as I had hoped, the added effect made the experience even more enjoyable for both the patrons and the rest of the Westbrook staff.

Needless to say, it was a great weekend to be a Harry Potter nerd!

Above photo: Me as Harry Potter working in concessions. Below photo: Cast members Sam O'Rorke and Dianna Beachum wearing their Ravenclaw house badges.
Bottom photo: Cast members Michelle Henly and Jonathan Hart wearing their Hufflepuff and Slytherin house badges.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Promoting Pixar's 'Up'

Starting yesterday, Pixar Animation Studios released its tenth computer-animated feature.

In "Up," the story revolves around the main character, Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Edward Asner), who, frustrated with his mundane life and impending enforcement into a retirement home, ties thousands of balloons to his house and sets off for adventure in South America. A small boy named Russell (voiced by Jordon Nagai) who is trying to earn his last Junior Wilderness Explorer badge for helping the elderly accidentally ends up on board, and hilarity ensues. The film is distributed by Walt Disney Pictures and "Up" is also Pixar's first 3D adventure.

Having seen the movie premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, critics boast that the film continues to exemplify Pixar's flawless record in never releasing a bad film.

The film is a "captivating odd-couple adventure that becomes funnier and more exciting as it flies along," wrote Variety's Todd McCarthy. "The two leading men are 78 and 8 years old, and the age range of those who will appreciate the picture is even a bit wider than that."

After seeing "Up" for myself, I could not help but fall in love with it. The plot line of the movie will touch audiences hearts. The 3D effect is remarkably and tastefully done unlike other 3D films in recent years (i.e. Spy Kids 3D, Shark Boy and Lava Girl). In this case, you truly feel as though you are in the movie. But even if you see "Up" in the traditional 2D format, you are still in for an epic adventure.

Now that I'm back working at Regal Entertainment Group's Westbrook Cinema 4 for my last summer, I wanted to get the lead out on my promotional technique by doing something for this film in particular (mostly because I'm an avid Disney/Pixar fanatic). Since Westbrook is typically the short stick of the draw when it comes to getting promotional materials it created more of a challenge (though welcomed) for me.

Before opening yesterday I assembled a cut-out, with a cardboard backing, of the the house used in "Up" to attached to the marque box for theater hall one. Then I went out to get a few helium balloons to attach behind the cut-out using a dead weight to hold them in place. On the bottom side of the marque I attached a cut-out of Fredricksen holding on to the garden hose to make it appear as though he is holding on to the house.

I'm happy to say that as families came into the main lobby, quite a few of the small children would tug on their parent's shirts, pointing at the promotion and/or yelling out "Look at the balloons!" Knowing that the younger guests enjoyed the display was all I needed to see for the display to be a success.

And one specific note I want to mention about "Up" before I close was Pixar's triumph in the animation of the balloons. For this feat they used a process called procedural animation which uses an algorithm, or set of equations, as well as Newtonian physics which allowed software to simulate the actions of each individual balloon without animators having animate each balloon themselves. To read more about what it took to create the amazing sequences, read's report "How technology lifts Pixar's 'Up'"
Above photo: The promotional display above theater one at Westbrook Cinema 4.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

pr-IMPACT on Improving Press Releases

Today I happened upon an interesting Public Relations website called by PR pro Jerry Brown. On his site, Brown promotes a practical, effective approach to promoting PR to stakeholders through his e-books. Deciding whether to purchase his e-books is a personal call but the site does provide some great insight. The following exerts from his section on "Improving Your Press Releases."

Three reasons press releases fail:
1. They’re too self-serving. Reporters won’t write stories about you for your benefit. They write for the benefit of their audience. Give your audience a reason to care about what’s in your press release and reporters who write for that audience will be more likely to use it.
2. They’re boring. Reporters are competing for the attention of readers or viewers. They work hard to make their stories interesting – with the language they use and the way they tell their stories. People who write press releases often do just the opposite, then wonder why their press releases didn’t get used.
3. There’s no clear objective. You can’t succeed unless you know what success is. Getting a “positive” story isn’t specific enough.

Five tips for writing really good press releases:
1. Give your audience a reason to care. Everybody’s favorite subject is me. Make your press releases relevant and interesting to your audience.
2. Localize your story. Reporters are always looking for a local angle for their stories. Provide a local angle in your press releases. Localizing your press release often is about geography. But it can also be about community of interest. You can “localize” a press release by providing an angle that makes it interesting for trade or specialty publications.
3. Humanize your story. News is about people and things that affect people.
4. Use the Big Four. Do one or more of the following four things (they’re not mutually exclusive) in a way that affects enough people and turn almost anything into news:
– Solve a problem or create an opportunity. Flip sides of the same thing.
– Provide useful information (tips)
– Identify a trend. Better yet, tell me how to take advantage of it or avoid being harmed by it.
– Help the community. Charity events for example.
5. Optimize your press releases for the Internet search engines. Press releases aren’t just for reporters any more.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Overby Center Internship

Yesterday I concluded my semester-long internship as student assistant at The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

The Overby Center is funded through a grant from the Freedom Forum, a foundation dedicated to educating people about the importance of a free press and the First Amendment. The Center's mission is to create better understanding of the media and politicians and the role of the First Amendment in U.S. democracy.

The Center features programs, multimedia displays and writings that examine the independent and interrelated relationships of the media and politicians; past, present and future. Because many leaders in media and politics have come from the South, the Overby Center pays special attention to Southern perspectives.

The Center is named for Charles L. Overby, editor of the Daily Mississippian at the University of Mississippi from 1967 to 1968, executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson from 1982 to 1984, former vice president/news of the Gannett Co., former member of the management committee of USA TODAY, and now chairman, chief executive officer of the Newseum.

During the semester I worked for and did research for Overby fellows Curtis Wilkie and John Hailman. Wilkie is a revered Southern journalist and author and was a reporter at The Boston Globe for over 25 years before teaching journalism at the university. Hailman, a federal prosecutor, also teaches at the university and was a wine columnist for the Washington Post and was nationally syndicated for over a decade by Gannett News Service.

Under Curtis (as he prefers his students to call him), I transcribed phone calls for a book he is working on involving one of the most recent Mississippi fraud cases. For Professor Hailman, I worked on typing and editing the chapters for his next two book projects, Midnight to Guntown and Good Wine. Both fellows were unique personalities to work with and it was great getting to know them.

For Dawn Jeter, the Operations Manager of the Overby Center, I helped set up for different forums and speakers that visited the center throughout the semester. I also handled other administrative assistant work that she needed.

My time with the Overby Center also provided me with a chance to meet and work with many journalists and politicians such as NBC broadcaster Sander Van Oker, Oxford Mayor Richard Howorth, state representative Jim Evans, Pulitzer Prize writer Gene Roberts, and NBC anchor Tom Brokaw who I had previously worked for during the presidential debate last fall.

Although at times, work was rigorously fast-paced and seemingly over-whelming, I did enjoy my time interning there. It was my first job where I had my own three-sided, oak desk and how cool is that! Since yesterday was my last day, Professor Hailman gave me a signed copy of his book Thomas Jefferson on Wine and a 2007 bottle of Hogue white Riesling wine. As a dessert wine, the Hogue is wonderful and the book has been added to my on-going book collection.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Sacred Heart

After eight seasons, Scrubs, the sitcom I watched throughout high school and most of college, finally ended tonight.

For those who have never seen the series, Scrubs is an comedy-drama that premiered on October 2, 2001, on NBC (which I still remember watching) and follows the lives of the employees of Sacred Heart hospital. The show's title is a play on surgical scrubs in addition to “scrubs” being slang for the inexperienced.

The show is primarily viewed through the eyes of the central character, John Michael "J.D." Dorian (Zack Braff) and his adventures with his friends; Christopher Turk (Donald Faison), Elliot Reid (Sarah Chalke), and Carla Espinosa (Judy Reyes). Great characters in the show like Chief-of-Medicine Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins), J.D.'s mentor Dr. Perry Cox (John C. McGinley), his nemesis "the janitor" (Neil Flynn), and Sacred Heart Lawyer Ted Buckland (Sam Lloyd) continued to bring the laughs and added depth to the show.

Each episode of Scrubs is amazing because of the show's plot lines that always have good morals and values mixed in with overwhelming humor. It is probably why I love watching Scrubs so much. Unlike most shows it is not just an escape from reality, but instead the journeys of the characters relates to viewers in a way that inspires them with positive perspectives to make it through their own every day hurdles. By the end of each episode, Scrubs taught viewers lessons on life.

Some of my favorite episodes include "My Musical," "My Way Home," "My ABC's," "My Fallen Idol," "My Catalyst," and "My Overkill."

Another unique aspect of Scrubs is that it is filmed on location at the North Hollywood Medical Center, a real decommissioned hospital located in the North Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, Calif. However, the location of Sacred Heart Hospital within the fictional world of Scrubs is left ambiguous, leaving it easier for its audience to connect with the characters. It's probably another reason I've been able to relate with the show. It has never been about where Sacred Heart is, but the experiences of the lives within the hospital.

During the seventh season more than a year ago, NBC announced that it would not renew the show. To make matters worse for the show's future, in November, the Writers Guild of America went on strike, which put the production of the show's seventh season on hold. When the strike started, only eleven of Scrubs' eighteen planned seventh season episodes had been completely written. The show's creator and director, Bill Lawrence refused to cross any WGA picket lines to serve any of his duties for the show, so ABC Studios had non-WGA members finish episode twelve, which the studio had unsuccessfully pressured Lawrence to rewrite as a series finale prior to the strike.

Shortly after a very weak, ill-fitting seventh season finale, ABC announced that it had bought the rights to the show and on January 6, 2009, the eighth season of Scrubs premiered on ABC. Once again, Lawrence and the cast of Scrubs were able to rekindle the heart-felt reasons many viewers had come to know from the earlier seasons of the show.

Even the last episode kept true to the same themes that have carried the show since the beginning: people grow and change, but life at the hospital just keeps going. People leave, people die, someone makes a life-changing decision, and life just keeps going. To Quote:

"I'm real sorry there, newbie. But this is not a special day for me. It's just a day," Dr. Cox almost-convincingly said during one of J.D.'s attempts at getting an emotional goodbye from him. He was right. And Sacred Heart did not make much of a big deal out of J.D.'s departure.

And as J.D. walks out the exit for the last time, he reflects on the individuals that influenced his life during his years at Sacred Heart. Then he starts to daydream about the the future. And as always he sums up with an important life lesson:

"It's never good to live in the past too long. As for the future, thanks to Dan (J.D.'s older brother), it didn't seem so scary anymore. It could be whatever I want it to be... Who's to say this isn't what happens? And who's to say my fantasies won't come true just this once?"

For all of the wonderful memories, laughs, and lessons learned; I have to say thank you to Lawrence, Braff, and the rest of the cast and crew of Scrubs for an incredible eight years.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

PR Profiling in the News Media

I recently came across a great Public Relations practitioner’s journal article from PR Journal, published by the Public Relations Society of America. The title of the article is “Influence of the Gender of Reporters, News Topics, and Circulation Size on Framing of Public Relations.”

The study itself explored how external news factors influenced media framing of public relations by analyzing daily newspapers’ news content dedicated to depictions of public relations. The gender of reporters, news topics, and circulation size of newspapers significantly predicted how the newspapers framed public relations.

In their research, a neutral frame was dominant. When negative and positive frames were compared, male reporters took more negative approaches than female reporters, and female reporters took favorable stances toward public relations. Both negative and positive frames of public relations were more frequently present in hard news than in soft news. Large newspapers emphasized a negative frame toward public relations, and small newspapers highlighted a positive frame.

Especially in PR crisis management, it is critical that practitioners heed these frames and apply them to handling media relations.

As a whole, this concept is relative to all Public Relations practitioners; PR departments, PR firms and small businesses. This knowledge is particularly an important informational tool that applies to small business managers in order to relate to their employees on how do deal with the media in situations where there maybe little or no PR department within the business.

Ultimately, how the media views your company of business is typically how the public will see you. Remember: "Perception is Reality!"

Lim, Jeongsub and Bae, Jiyang, "Influence of the Gender of Reporters, News Topics, and Circulation Size on Framing of Public Relations," PR Journal Vol. 3, number 1, winter 2008

Monday, April 20, 2009

Capture the Moment: Find the Moment

Beginning April 22, "Capture the Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs," the largest and most comprehensive display of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs ever shown in the United States, formally opened at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics (my place of work) at the University of Mississippi.

The exhibit features 138 images drawn from each year's winning entries from 1941 up to and including the award-winning 2009 photographs. Without a doubt, compelling images in the exhibit touch the heart strings in a very profound way.

The FREEDOM FORUM's Newseum developed the traveling exhibit and its sister exhibit at the Newseum with the help of Business of Entertainment, Inc., New York, with Cyma Rubin as curator. The exhibition at the Overby Center will be on display through July 3 and I highly encourage individuals to see this amazing tribute to the human condition.

To raise awareness for the exhibit, we decided to do a Society of Professional Journalists sponsored scavenger hunt for students viewing the exhibit. To complement the exhibit we titled the event "Capture the Moment: Find the Moment."

Participants in the hunt were given a list of 10 Pulitzer photographers who's pictures were on display in the exhibit. After accurately finding the matching titles for all 10 photographers, participants would have to return the list, signed by the Farley Hall receptionist. To help from participant miss-use of the list we developed four different lists: one by Grafton Pritchartt (Vice President), Janna Jones (Webmaster), Dr. Wickham (faculty advisor), and myself.

In the end, SPJ had a great participant response with more than 30 entries. We gave winners either a Big Bad Breakfast $25 gift certificate, free McAlister's cookies or other local prizes from the Oxford area.
Above Photo: The flyer I designed for the Pulitzer exhibit's promotion.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The World Will Have Its Skeptics

The following is a list of quotes from my Marketing Principles text book. It comes from chapter 11, "Product Concepts."

The chapter covered five adopter categories in acceptance of new innovations in order of adoption. The first were the Innovators (2.5%), followed by Early Adopters (13.5%), Early Majority (34%), Late Majority (34%), and finally the Laggards (16%). Some of the greatest ideas have always had their skeptics. This list covers just a few of the quotes by closed minded reasoning later trumped by success. Enjoy!

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
- Western Union internal memo, 1876

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"
- David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible."
- A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corporation)

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
-H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make."
- Banker's response to Debbie Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
- Decca Recording Company rejecting the Beatles, 1962

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Save the Last Dance For Me

Today I'm unbelievably happy to say that last night, my fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and our sister sorority, Sigma Alpha Iota celebrated our first conjoined spring formal, "Music From the Heart."

I'm also proud to say that by this event being such a phenomenal success, I've broken through my superstition barrier and fear of Friday the 13th.

That is not to say it was an easy success. As the coordinator for the formal, the entire event took a personal 10 months worth of creation, constant planning, time, gas and stress. Thankfully with a lot of support, help and imagination from other enthusiastic individuals, the bar was raised even further.

The formal itself started as an idea from another friend's formal that she had invited me to last April at Rhodes College in Memphis Tenn. After constant research for adequete venues in Oxford to host the formal at and two weeks worth of writing a proposal, I later passed the project before the fraternity in October. From there it was all about the planning. From the big stuff to even the smallest details.

Because the formal was within the beginning weeks of spring semester and most of us were gone for the full two months of winter break, I created a private facebook group to communicate ideas for the formal between members. The focus of the group was on issues concerning theme, dj, ticket sales and food. Using Facebook was very beneficial in the process. As soon as the semester began, I started holding Formal committee meetings to talk about and finalized issues and start organizing the details.

As the time came for selling tickets, I brought the focus on marketing strategy to include creating posters, making general announcements to the bands and choirs in the music department, and the creation of an event on facebook. All those factors helped to promote the event effectively enough that ticket sales covered most of our expenses.

The location for the formal was the Oxford Conference Center which provided a regal sense of environment to guests. When it came time for decorations and food, SAI took the bill on decorating and Sinfonia, the cost of food. Of course that pretty much meant I was the caterer for the event as well as coordinator. Turns out, I can do a much better job creating a full buffet with much less money in comparison to actual caters. Go me!
In the end the event was very successful and there were many outstanding reviews about the formal the next day on Facebook. Considering many PR jobs involve a considerable amount of event planning, the experience has been a positive and justifiable one for me.
Above photo: The poster for the formal designed by me. The logo for the event was a design by Amanda Frazier.
Below photo: The Oxford Conference Center in Oxford, MS.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Selling the J-Dept t-shirt

I should probably start off with the fact that as of this past month I am the new President of the Society of Professional Journalists Ole Miss chapter. Now that I've taken this position, it is my personal mission statement to raise SPJ out of the slump it fell into last semester and make the organization stronger that it was before that.

This also means that after designing and preparing, SPJ finally started its sales drive for the Official Journalism t-shirts yesterday. As I figured, we ended up using the third design from the "Designing the J-Dept t-shirt" entry.

SPJ started the drive with a bang. Throughout the day on Monday I came and briefly spoke about the shirts to the different classes that met in Farley Hall. I also hung various posters, marketing the shirts throughout every classroom and every bulletin board in the building. The posters displayed here are a part of the first set of posters I designed labeled "the diversity posters." The second set I designed were in accordance to Valentine's day coming later this week.

On the posters are the major slogan for the campaign "Show Your Pride!" as well as the ticket prices and places to purchase the t-shirts. With strong volunteering from Grafton Pritchartt (Vice-President) and Katrina Baker (Secretary), SPJ managed to handle covering most of the major classes to our booth in the main lobby of Farley.

The funniest part of the whole process of designing and producing the posters for the t-shirts was while I was doing the photo shoot of students modeling the shirts. The selection was randomly drawn from one of Dr. Wickham's (SPJ's advisor) ethics classes. What I did not realize until after printing the posters was that one of the four students I had chosen was the Ole Miss football team's wide receiver, Dexter McCluster.

Of course as the week has moved along I have come to realize that I made one fatal flaw in the process of deciding how many t-shirts to produce. Initially we ordered 100 total with 34 smalls, 33 mediums and 33 larges. I figured "hey there are so many smaller sized girls in the Journalism Department, if I'm gonna order one extra, it might as well be a small." Well, wrong!

A very important key cultural aspect to the majority of the girls in the department on a campus like Ole Miss is "Sorority." And for some strange, constantly mind-boggling reason, sorority chicks love wearing over-bearingly
large t-shirts with sophie shorts that make it look like they are not wearing any pants at all. The lesson here is to underestand your demographics. In the end, I probably should have ordered 44 larges and 23 smalls. It isn't a serious matter and it will not have a crushing affect on sales profits. Revenue will have to be in the long-run as apposed to my original short-run plan for total sales, but it evens out. I still feel bad for the smalls though.

The smalls will suffer.

A New Hope: Rise of the Millennials

Update : This article recently ran in the Daily Mississippian, the student newspaper of the University of Mississippi. It is currently on file with the DMonline.
With an 18 hours-a-week class schedule and the sometimes 20 hours-a-day work schedule of a residence assistant in Kincannon dormitory, it is understandable that James Buchanan stays busy. But he is also a student in the Croft Institute, as well as a member of the Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, Amnesty International, and the College Democrats at Ole Miss.

After that, the rest of his day is ruled by a computer; checking emails, doing blackboard homework, researching projects and reports using the internet, and of course, the constant need to check his facebook more than four times a day.

Two weeks ago he was accepted for an internship with U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C.. Someday, he hopes he can make a difference in the world of politics and a failing economy.

Though his story is very unique, James is not alone. A lot of his characteristics are similar to other students his age. That defines him as part of a rising generation now known as “the Millennials.”

Also known as the Net Generation, Generation Y, Echo Boomers, and iGeneration, the Millennials consist primarily of the offspring of the Generation Jones and Baby Boomers. The Millennial timeline of birth ranges between the years 1982 to 2000. Their numbers far outrange that of their Baby Boomer parents, numbering somewhere between 80 million and 95 million.

Ross Haenfler, a University of Mississippi assistant professor of sociology and specialist in youth subcultures, believes the most prominent characteristic of the Millennial generation is how technologically savvy they are. He mostly links that aspect to being plugged in their entire lives.

Many Millennials spend their day either checking facebook, MySpace or twitter feeds. Others go to online forums and video sites like YouTube. When they are not in front of a computer, Millennials either have a cell phone in their hands texting or an MP3 in their ears. Sometimes it is both.

“I think its changing their consciousness. Their ability to multi task is pretty amazing but so is their lack of attention,” Haenfler says, “Technology is almost a compulsion; it’s difficult for students to sit still and not be plugged in.”

According to the authors who wrote the book Millennials Rising, William Strauss and Neil Howe, one of the Millennial generation’s other key strengths is that they are team players. Millennials play in groups and study in groups.

Because of this the Millennials are also the least race-conscious generation in American history. Millennial values encourage unity in dress and speech and ideals, far more than fears regarding diversity issues.

Another aspect Haenfler cites for this generation is that it extends youth well into the 20’s, with fewer individuals wanting to be married, own a family, or a home by their mid 20’s.

“For them it’s no rush, especially when they think they could live into their mid-80s,” Haenfler says.

A number of studies, including new ones by the Center for American Progress in Washington and by Demos, a progressive think tank in New York, have shown that Americans in this age group face a variety of challenges that are tougher than those faced by young adults over the past few decades. Among the challenges are worsening job prospects, lower rates of health insurance coverage and higher levels of debt.

In Strauss’ and Howe’s book The Fourth Turning, they predicted that some event between 2005 and 2010 will signal the beginning of about two decades of chronic fear and struggle. The effects of this event will have led to a point where compromise is no longer seen as a virtue. The Millennial generation will have no choice but to rise to the challenges.

The authors make much of the generational structure of the Star Wars characters when it comes to this crisis. The Baby Boomers have become old Obi Wan Kenobi as a Prophet, who defines the confrontation. Han Solo, like Generation X, belongs to a "Nomad" generation that is likely to get most of the dirty work and little of the praise. Luke Skywalker is a Hero, obviously, and he is what the Millennials are to become. The shadow of Luke Skywalker, however, is his own father, Darth Vader. In the prequel to the trilogy, "The Phantom Menace," audiences see Darth Vader as a child, still full of possibility, like the little Millennials now.

“For the average person of this generation, it’s going to be harder to achieve the kind of lifestyle their parents got to have,” Haenfler says, “This is the generation that in their lifetime, environmental and economical problems are going to come to a head. So once they are older and in positions of power, they are going to have to tackle these issues.”

But Haenfler remains hopeful for Millennial’s future.

“You hear a lot about this generation’s wanting to change the world for the better so that is where some of them are finding meaning in contrast with the ramped individualism of the 70-80’s,” Haenfler says, “Many of this generation are interested in giving something back and finding fulfillment in that.”

Millennials are increasingly aware of and engaged in volunteer work, community service, and philanthropic activities. About 67 percent of students said helping others who are in difficult situations is an essential or very important objective, according to UCLA's annual survey, "The American Freshman—National Norms for 2006."

The report also found that 35.2 percent of undergrads think it is important to become leaders, and 42 percent believe it's important to influence social values, which is the highest that measure has been since 1993.

Under all of these circumstances is where students like James come in. With a tedious academic career and a very dreary economic future, he and the rest of his generation has come of age to where soon they will have to use every resource they have available to rise to the challenges of a very uncertain future.

Published: March 9, 2009
the Daily Mississippian

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Three Keys

Without a doubt, there are three keys to fundamentally being a great agent of Public Relations. You have got to be Professional, Personal, and (going into this century) Technology savvy. All of these aspects are important in mastering the art of Public Relations.

When serving your company, the client that you work for, or the public, how you practice PR says everything about how you can handle their needs and dictates "the trust factor." Being professional comes with the need for your own personal code of ethics and applying those morals in your decision making process. Being professional also in tales a need for transparency with with the company to the client and the public. Your morals reflect the company's morals.

How you carry yourself professionally also influences how your media counterparts see you. And how the media sees you often reflects on how the public tends to see you.

Odds are, you are not the only PR agent out there that has top notch professional skills but a friendly, caring personality can give you the upper hand. The best way to describe this would be the "Extra Mile" Syndrome, putting that extra effort to let the client and the public know you care about their needs.

Being personal means always having a warm smile on your face, being ready to go the distance to maximize efficiency for your clients needs, and saying "thank you." Sometimes that last one will mean a world of difference and gives the strong impression that you and your company truly care.

Technology Savvy
In case you have been living under a rock for the past eight year, this is the 21st century that we're living in now and technology is the ruling factor. Thanks to the Internet there is a higher demand for information and to have it as fast as possible. And as new tech savvy generations grow up in this time and age, it's important to ad hear to their "digital appetite." That's why we have to use the materials right here in front of us to give them what they need with the use of user friendly websites, e-mail and blogs.

Technology was a huge factor in President-elect Barrack Obama's campaign. Through the internet he was able to connect with his constituents and (what do you know) created a sense of "Personal" relationship with them. With the power of the Internet, the world is becoming a much smaller place than it was and technology is a powerful force in your pocket in such global community.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Saying Thank You

As I'm learning my field, I'm realizing that it's always important to say Thank You. Nothing makes a company's client or donor happier than finding a way to let them know how much you appreciate their time and efforts.

This past summer, I headed the "StarsOfHope" Fundraiser campaign at Regal Entertainment Group's Westbrook Cinema 4 in Brookhaven, Mississippi where I work when I'm home during the summers and holidays. The Regal in-house program is designed to raise funds for the Regal Foundation’s “Stars of Hope, Shine for a Brighter Tomorrow” fundraiser campaign by asking for $1 donations at concessions.

The money for "StarsOfHope" goes to the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center (stroke rehabilitation), The Will Rogers Institute (lung cancer and pulmonary disease research), Variety the Childrens Charity (for disadvantaged, needy, sick children), and The Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Our highest ambition is to raise money for these national and local charities through our $250 Gold Stars. Not only is the $250 Gold Star donation an important contribution, but it is also an enormous advertising opportunity for any company that purchases the Gold Star.

When company's make a donation, a Gold Star will bare the company’s logo and will be displayed at the front of Westbrook Cinema’s main lobby for the theater’s daily patrons to see through-out the summer. And to signify the importance of the company's contribution, the Gold Star will be incased in its own display frame.

Unfortunetely during this past summer, the economy was just starting to go through its financial strife that led to this year's recession. With a small city population of 9,861 like Brookhaven's, it's hard to get donations, especially when most of that money goes to local junior baseball/softball leagues.

But thankfully despite these factors, one man named Richard K. Furr did make a personal donation of $50 to the campaign. So to thank him for his contribution I made a point that the theater would give Furr a thank you letter this Christmas with two free Regal movie passes.

Being able to say "Thank You" creates a better, personal relationship. And at the end of the day, people need to know you appreciate them.