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Preview: San Antonio: Byline Blog

San Antonio: Byline Blog

Group blog of the Public Relations Society of America in San Antonio

Updated: 2018-03-05T16:49:46.074-06:00


What I’ve Learned from Doing TV Interviews


By: Laura Calderón, Communications ConsultantIn October 2012, our chapter was fortunate to host Dr. Joe Trahan, APR, for our annual workshop. He focused on that dreaded PR function—the tough on-camera media interview.I played investigative reporter and conducted mock interviews with workshop participants. Feedback was positive and confirmed how important spokesperson skills are for our profession.For almost nine years, I served as a spokesperson for a large tax-funded organization. We handled the two most precious things in a person’s life—their children and their money—topics that frequently brought reporters to my office. In the spirit of Dr. Trahan’s workshop, here are my two cents on what I learned during those years of doing media interviews.Think like a reporter. Become a TV news junkie and watch investigative reporters like a hawk. Listen to the types of questions they ask. After a while, you’ll pick up their pattern and be able to anticipate most reporters’ questions. If you really get into this, check out, the Investigative Reporters and Editors organizational web site, for a look into the mindset.Do your research and know your subject matter. Assume the role of reporter as you gather information within your organization. Probe the weaknesses in your case because the reporter will do the same.  Watch the Sunday morning political news shows—these are especially good for examples of bridging to key points. Part of your research should include knowing the reporter’s style. This is another good reason to watch the local news.Be ready for questions that are likely to come. Quite often, the reporter’s opening question is, “What happened?”  This is your opportunity to lay out your story as you want it told. In an interview about an organizational blunder, a reporter often asks, “What are you going to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?” Be ready to highlight the positive steps your organization is taking. At the end of an interview, the reporter is likely to ask you, “Is there anything else you’d like to add?” Repeat or deliver your most important messages.  Quite often, this is the sound bite that gets aired.Practice your interview with another person acting as the reporter. Doing a good interview is like playing a sport—practice makes perfect. In addition to good research, practice is the single most critical piece to managing an interview. It gives you confidence and the simulation can show you where you are strong as well as weak. For years, New York City Mayor Giuliani and key staff set aside one day per month to practice their communication skills. So when Sept. 11 came, his communication skills were honed.Don’t be afraid to hold your ground with the reporter when it makes sense. In general, you want to cooperate as much as possible with the reporter. But sometimes this can work against you. If a reporter wants to interview you outside in 100 degree weather with the sun in your face, it is OK to say no and do it inside. But remember, politeness is key!Sometimes a reporter really is unfair and biased. This is a tough one because it is difficult to prove and media outlets view this complaint like the boy that cried wolf. There are no pat answers on what to do. One approach is to give in and try to limit your story to as few news cycles as possible. Or you can play hardball PR—check out Rusty Cawley’s book “Hardball PR: How to Get Tough with ‘Investigative’ Reporters.” I have filmed an investigative reporter’s interview and then posted the full interview on our web site because our comments were highly edited. Reporters say this doesn’t work, but I can tell you it can. In another case, we presented hard evidence of the reporter’s bias to the TV station’s news director, general manager and legal counsel. They were skeptical and dismissive until the irrefutable proof came out. We were lucky to have evidence. Tread carefully because there is truth to the old adage of never doing battle with people who buy [...]

Media Wildfire


By Tanya LedesmaUTSA PRSSAMy first experience at a PRSA luncheon was fun, educational, and I won a raffle (not too shabby, huh?). I had the pleasure of meeting an awesome group of individuals from fields including: news, organizations, and businesses. And like me, these individuals wanted to know more about how to catch the interest of the public.Nathan Cone, director of marketing and digital content at Texas Public Radio, spoke about how we can create content on our blogs, websites, social media, etc. worth sharing. He explained that at the radio station, there are three channels they use to create engaging content for the public: on-air, online, and through public programming. Along with these programming types there are several types of stories that can engage an audience:1.       Place explainers2.       Crowd pleasers3.       Curiosity stimulators4.       News explainers5.       Major breaking news6.       Topical buzzers7.       Feel good smilers8.       Provocative controversies9.       Awe-inspiring visualsCone continued with the three ways they at TPR tell a story: on-air promotions, through social media, and with outside marketing. As the luncheon went on, and my food slowly began disappearing from my plate, I found myself thinking about how everything I do on a daily basis in social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) is exactly how PR is adapting to expand its horizons. After a few more examples on storytelling, it was dessert time! For the final course, Cone served up seven steps on how to dominate Twitter. 1.       Identify your focus2.       Compile your twitter source and influencer list3.       Tweet with pace and consistency4.       Live tweet events5.       Use hashtags(when the time is right)6.       Have conversations7.       Share your work with important people.As the luncheon began to wind down, Cone said something that got me thinking. “You are a curator for information. You need to be actively engaged so that the readers know you are reliable for the subject matter you do, and make it so that people can read it, but not too simple where you use abbreviations or emoticons.” This rang true to my own experiences. With blogs, tweets, and Facebook updates I’ve read, the content has been readable, yet not anything like how my friends tweet or post. They are simple and don’t feel like a PSA or commercial. All in all I was very grateful in having the opportunity in going to the PRSA luncheon and encourage current and prospective public relations practitioners to attend one and learn from those whom have experiences we hope to one day have. [...]

Creating Content Worth Sharing


By: Delisi Araceli Duarte
This month, Nathan Cone, Texas Public Radio’s director of marketing and digital content, was the guest speaker at the PRSA luncheon at The Bright Shawl. His presentation discussed three ways to tell a story, nine types of ways to engage an audience, and seven steps to Twitter dominance.
As a social media lover with 827 Twitter followers, I found the seven steps to Twitter dominance most interesting. I had been wondering what to do in order to join the ranks of highly-successful Twitter accounts with several thousand followers, and often asked: Is there a method to this? Should I try to be more entertaining? Am I tweeting too much? Should I use more hashtags?
Cone’s presentation quickly helped me realize my problem might be that I do not address or focus on anything specific. My tweets vary from humor, to pictures of my Maltipoo using Instagram, to breaking entertainment news, to the problems that occur when planning a wedding, and everything in between. Rarely do I engage in a conversation on Twitter (one of Cone’s seven steps), unless it is with someone that I know. I had my “ah-hah” moment when Cone listed the final step in Twitter dominance. Share your work with important people.
When I became President of the PRSSA Chapter at UTSA, I made it a point to follow other PRSSA presidents and Twitter accounts that focused on leadership. Every leadership account I followed had an audience of several thousand, and I quickly found out why. I found almost every tweet valuable. Here’s how it went: I learned something, tried to apply it to myself and shared it with others. “Ah-hah!” I started to interact with the Twitter accounts with several thousand followers by sharing their information, and I saw an almost immediate response. The tweets with substance, from accounts that had value and importance, helped the performance of my own Twitter account in ways I never realized.
Sometimes the answer is right in front of you and you never even realize it. In my case, Cone’s presentation helped me realize I have the tools to dominate Twitter—it is just a matter of using them wisely.

Planning Events—PR Style


By Laura SalkowskiAs a communications student at UTSA and someone aspiring to have a career in Public Relations, I'm always looking for valuable information I can have in the future. At the February PRSA luncheon, I learned tips of the trade from a panel of three PR professionals who plan events on a daily basis. Speakers JoAnn Andera, director of the Texas Folklife Festival; Monica Faulkenbery, APR, assistant director of communications at Northside ISD; and Mari Gonzales, communications associate at H-E-B, shared their personal experiences, planning guidelines, and tips for a successful event. From their presentations I learned that you can’t always prevent the unexpected, but you can always prepare for it. When it comes to small snags in an event program, it is best just to keep things moving along. Faulkenbery pointed out, “No one [in the audience] knows what is supposed to happen… So just go with the flow!” Making staff assignments based on their capabilities can help keep everyone calm when dealing with tricky event crises, said Andera. Gonzales added that it is important to utilize all your resources, including personnel staffing the event. I left the luncheon with pages of notes packed with great event-planning information, but the top three things I learned about planning PR events are:Know your objectives and your audience.If it is a repeated event, keep it fresh and keep it new each time. Your written plan is your best insurance plan. Laura Salkowski is a student contributor to the Byline Blog and is a student at the University of Texas at San Antonio. [...]

Unintentional Internship


By Ariana Michelle BocanegraI walked into my first PRSA luncheon at The Bright Shawl on January 3. My appropriate business professional attire did little to appease my nerves. I was nervous, but also excited at the opportunity to interact with experienced public relations practitioners. I didn’t know anyone at this luncheon but the friendly atmosphere quickly became evident as everyone introduced themselves to me when they checked in at the reception area. As people began filtering in, I walked around the room selling raffle tickets to benefit the Marilyn Potts Endowment Fund, which provides a scholarship to PR students at UTSA. I spoke with PR professionals from H-E-B, San Antonio Area Foundation, Trinity and many other places. I also met Terry and Angel from Alamo Area Council Boy Scouts of America. Angel, communications and marketing director at the Boy Scouts, wanted to buy a raffle ticket, but he didn’t have cash, so his co-worker Terry bought one for him. While I was tearing the tickets and putting away money, Angel and Terry told me about an internship position they were looking to fill for the spring semester. I told them about my participation in PRSSA, and that I was connected to a network of PR students who might be able to fill the position. Angel gave me his card so that I could announce it to the other PRSSA members.After I finished selling raffle tickets, I went to find the seat I had saved before, and it turned out it was at the same table as Angel and Terry! We continued our discussion about their internship opportunity for the spring, and ended up scheduling a formal interview for the position. A week later, I was sitting in my office at the Alamo Area Council Boy Scouts of America, drinking coffee! I didn’t intend to land an internship at the PRSA luncheon, much less look for a position, but it was a great opportunity that I happened to stumble upon.Both professionals and students benefit from the PRSA luncheons. It's a great way to learn from those around you and create lasting, meaningful professional relationships. I am going to continue to attend PRSA luncheons. I am committed to the Public Relations profession and the San Antonio community because of the networking opportunities provided by the local PRSA chapter!Ariana Michelle Bocanegra is a student contributor to the Byline Blog and is a student at the University of Texas at San Antonio.  [...]

Halloween Horror Stories


A Report from the October Professional Development Luncheon by Monica Cuevas The Nov. 1 PRSA luncheon, “Halloween Horror Stories: Real-Life Communication Mishaps” was a delightful and entertaining experience. Throughout my coursework at UTSA and during my internship, I have listened to several lectures on steps to take when faced with a crisis. Listening to the real life stories of PR professionals who have experienced hairy situations and how they were able to turn them around offered wonderful examples of how to apply these lessons. I particularly enjoyed the story by Dee Dee Poteete, director of communications for the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau, where her team found themselves with no light just before midnight as Anderson Cooper was about to go on air to feature a San Antonio New Year’s celebration. As hearts where pounding, her team thought quickly to come up with a solution. The team spotted a neighboring party and reached out to them for help connecting to an electrical outlet. Cords were thrown over a balcony and seconds before airtime lights illuminated Cooper. Poteete’s story, as well as the many others told, shows how PR professionals must be flexible to unexpected situations that occur even when planning is well laid out.Leaving the luncheon I felt a sense of excitement knowing I would soon encounter the challenge of experiences just like Poteete’s. Encouraged by the Halloween spirit, the corners of my mouth perked up into a giant grin. As I walked out, I couldn’t help but envision my opportunity to play PR superhero rescuing those in need, if even for just a moment.  [...]

Using CSR to Establish Credibility


By Randy Escamilla, APRIn 2004, activists labeled The Clorox Company one of manufacturing's "dirty dozen." They branded Clorox one of the nation's worst environmental polluters.Two years later, Clorox remained the only company in the super-packaged goods industry that had not issued a Corporate Social Responsibility report. Green Works or GreenwashingThen in 2007,  in an attempt to boost its green credibility, Clorox acquired Burt's Bees and Green Works natural household cleansing products. But critics charged Clorox, the bleach manufacturer, with "greenwashing." Greenwashing is a term stamped on corporations who make unsubstantiated claims about the environmental benefit of products, services, or technology. After critics continued a barrage of attacks, Clorox decided to respond. Clorox realized it needed to tell its story. The Clorox corporate communications team prepared a focus and a framework.Corporate ResponseClorox began formalizing its CR (Corporate Responsibility) strategy, began conducting surveys, and pledged to be accountable. Their strategy needed to be robust and transparent. Clorox began telling its story. Clorox bleach, the flagship product, not only kills germs and cleans clothes, but the chemical makeup is made of the same compound as table salt and by the time it goes down the drain 98 percent of the bleach has reverted to salt. Rebuilding Reputation. Clorox issued its first sustainability report in 2010.It also became the first cleansing manufacturer to voluntarily disclose all ingredients in its company products.  Clorox executives also wanted to establish credibility through results.      A survey found employee engagement at 88 percent.      Suppliers must certify a code of conduct to abide by human rights, provide a safe and healthy work environment, environmental stewardship, and follow ethical practices.     Repositioned the Brita water filtration brand to help reduce plastic water bottle waste.   Making Clorox bleach concentrated to reduce bottle size and increase store shelf space. Repacking Fresh Step cat litter to reduce box size and increase store shelf space. As a result, Clorox is using CSR to drive business. Already, it has seen a 40 percent growth in products that are sustainable. By 2013, Clorox has a goal of reducing its operational  footprint by 10 percent. Walking the walkClorox set out to inform stakeholders that what it's doing is true and transparent. Activists groups, namely the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, have now partnered with The Clorox Company.      Clorox has also provided more than $20 million in contributions:    $15 million corporate product donations (crisis response).    $3.3 million foundation cash grants.    $1.5 million cause marketing.Also, because nearly 100,000 people die annually from hospital-acquired diseases, researchers at Clorox will focus on healthcare products; now it's fastest growing market."I feel that public relations communications can really drive what we're doing," said Kathryn Caulfield, The Clorox Company Vice President of Global Corporate Communications, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Crisis Management. "Transparency is helping us set more aggressive goals. We use public relations to be more strategic in how we talk about what we're doing," she said. Strategic MoveOn October 15th at the PRSA 2012 International Conference in San Francisco, the world's largest public relations gathering, The Clorox Company released its annual report. Download it here at: and story-telling are building trust and establishing credibility through results. Editor's Note:  Randy Escamilla, APR, was a delegate to the PRSA Delegate Assembly. He holds a Master of Professional Studi[...]

San Antonio PRSA Loses PR Giant, Charlie Kenworthey, APR, Fellow PRSA


Charlie with his wife, Dottie.With the sad news of Charlie’s passing on Sunday, I’ve been reflecting on his wonderful contributions to our chapter, to the public relations profession and to me personally. What follows is adapted from a profile that our chapter published in 2005 on Charlie’s 80th birthday. (Please let us know if you’re the original author.) Information about his memorial service is online with his obituary in the San Antonio Express-News with an online guestbook. Charles Kenworthey, APR, Fellow PRSA, reached many milestones both in years and accomplishments that few others have or ever will. He was one of the San Antonio PRSA chapter’s most active and valuable members.2005 marked Charlie’s 40th anniversary as a member of PRSA. And, nationally, he was one of only 130 members with that much active longevity in the organization. Locally, he served on the San Antonio Chapter’s board of directors as ombudsman into his 80s, lending his wide-ranging knowledge and expertise to solving problems for PRSA members. He brought a unique historic perspective to board discussions and helped guide strategy and decision-making on a regular basis.As the first-ever winner of the Chapter’s Del Oro Tex Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award, Charlie was recognized for pioneering the profession of public relations in many of the San Antonio organizations in which he has served. His professional achievements include:PR director, National Bank of CommercePR director, St. Mary’s UniversityVP of Communications for the Greater San Antonio Chamber of CommerceExecutive director of PR for USAAManager of the San Antonio office of Hill & KnowltonPresident of BSM Consultants, Inc.Commander of a Naval Reserve Public Affairs unitExecutive director of the Texas Public Relations AssociationTwice president of San Antonio PRSA Chapter, 1971 and 1979Elected to the PRSA College of FellowsIn addition to his professional career, Charlie amassed an incredible record of public service, using his public relations expertise to help others. For example, he helped raise millions of dollars for Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital. His fundraising skills resulted in the construction of a modern treatment center for people with cerebral palsy.As a mentor, Charlie’s sound advice, encouragement and good humor probably benefited hundreds of PR professionals over the years. He served on the chapter’s board of directors since before written records exist, and his latest title of PRSA ombudsman was created especially to enable his continued official involvement in chapter affairs. In addition to mentoring, Charlie was a staunch defender of the public relations profession against adverse treatment in the news media. Through hard work, outstanding standards of honesty and integrity over more than 40 years of professional and public service, Charles Kenworthey stood as a model for all PR professionals. Thank you for everything Charlie. Rest in peace our friend, mentor, leader and inspiration.Update: The San Antonio Express-News published a story today (July 25, 2012).[...]

The "R" in PR


By Randy Escamilla, APRThe PRSA-San Antonio chapter summer networking mixers are enjoying strong support among members and future members. The Association for Women in Communicationschapter along with PRSA co-sponsored the event.An estimated 60 people attended the July 12 event at Azuca Restaurant and Cantina in San Antonio's South Town.  Roughly half of the attendees are potential PRSA members.While the mixer is for professionals, PRSA keeps it relaxed which contributes to the event's success. Also, the co-sponsors did a great job of communicating the message and reaching out. "I received the email notification and subsequent reminder about the PRSA networking mixer and was compelled to attend by the casual premise," wrote Hart-Boillot Account Director Andrea Dunbeck.Future member Uche Ogba from BethanyEast PR enjoyed getting to know people and engaging with other public relations practitioners. He and his wife learned about the mixer through a post on LinkedIn. "I see myself getting more involved in the PRSA-San Antonio chapter. The mixer gave me the opportunity to meet interesting people, exchange contact information, and build lasting relationships."The payoff in a new job or big contract may or may not occur later on but no one endured hard sales or membership pitches. The PRSA networking mixer focuses on relationship-building and puts the R in public relations."The PRSA mixer provided a forum to introduce those folks I know well to each other, hopefully expanding their communities. As I headed home for the evening, I felt rejuvenated by my growing personal community-a truly successful networking event," Dunbeck said.For more information about public relations visit PRSA-San Antonio.Randy Escamilla, APR, is on the board for PRSA San Antonio.  [...]

Memories of Sharing the Newspaper at the Kitchen Table


By Monica Faulkenbery, APRI recently read an article about the Times-Picayune in New Orleans laying off one-third of its staff, reducing its print edition by five days (only printing three days a week), and focusing on its digital presence. The Picayune was established in 1837 with issues costing one picayune – a Spanish coin equivalent to 6 ¼ cents. Under Eliza Jane Nicholson, who inherited the struggling paper when her husband died in 1876, the Picayune introduced innovations such as society reporting, children’s pages, and the first women’s advice column, according to Wikipedia. Between the years of 1880 to 1890, the paper more than tripled its circulation. It became The Times-Picayune after merging in 1914 with its rival paper, the New Orleans Times-Democrat.As a news junkie, I find all the reductions in newspaper staffs over the past few years very disheartening. I grew up in a household that would gather around the kitchen table every morning to read the paper. My dad read the Muskogee Phoenix in the morning and the Tulsa Tribune in the evening. It was a ritual I remember fondly and tied us together as a family.I just don’t get the same satisfaction gathering around my iPad, scrolling through the newspapers. There’s no ink smell, no ink on my hands when I finish, no fighting with the cats who want to lie down on the paper while I’m reading it, no trading this section for that section. Steve Jobs once said that he loved the printed product but that our lives are not like that anymore. I know I have to embrace the new technology, and I have, but it’s okay to say that you miss the “old ways.” Just think, our grandchildren and great grandchildren will be viewing printed newspapers behind glass in museumswondering how we ever held those big pieces of paper and read them. What about the old political saying, “never argue (or pick a fight) with a man who buys ink by the barrel?”  There’s something else for the history books. Another saying also comes to mind – “can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But, as Jobs said, we can’t live like we have in the past, so as I scroll through my iPad reading a San Antonio Express News article, I still worry about all my journalism friends, and the integrity of good news gathering and storytelling as newspaper staffs dwindle. And, I still remember the “good old days” as I sat with my dad sharing the newspaper at the kitchen table. Monica Faulkenbery, APR, is on the Board of PRSA San Antonio and the Assistant Director of Communications for the Northside Independent School District. [...]

The ABC’s of Setting Goals and Objectives


by Monica Faulkenbery, APR

Recently I was asked to judge a national awards program. My category for judging was communication plans. 

It was disheartening to view so many plans, submitted by seasoned public relation professionals, who did not understand the difference between goals and objectives, or strategies and tactics. Many of them wrote tactics as objectives.

So the purpose of this post is to serve as a primer for understanding the difference. It’s not that I’m an expert, but I do understand that you cannot measure the success of a project without setting a measurable objective. Maybe because I have taught it for so long in our APR sessions, but it just seems so simple and reasonable to me, so here’s my version of the 411 on understanding the difference.

First of all, goals are not objectives. Goals are longer-term, broad, and more global future statements of “being.”  Probably unbeknownst to him, Shakespeare was well on his way to writing a goal statement with his famous line of “to be or not to be.” An example of a goal statement is “to become the recognized leader, foster continuing public support, etc.” Consider using action verbs when writing goal statements, such as “to maintain, to continue, to create, to enhance, to increase/decrease, or to promote/prevent.”

Objectives should be specific, measurable, attainable, audience specific, relevant, results (outcome) oriented, and time-specific. You should also think short-term and long-term when writing objectives. An easy way to think of it is to remember: who, what, when, and how much? For example, “within six months, 40% of employees will contact the benefits office to inquire about setting up a 401K account.” Or, “by the end of 12 months, 65% of the residents living within one mile of the plant will be aware of at least two anti-pollution projects undertaken by the company.” 

Strategies serve as a road map or approach to reach objectives. This is the planning process of how you will approach the challenge to reach your objective. You probably will have several strategies for each objective. Examples include media relations, third party endorsements, and public engagement.

And finally, tactics serve as specific elements of a strategy. They are how you plan to use your resources to carry out your strategies and work toward your objectives. Examples include meetings, publications, community events, news releases, etc. These are probably what many of us are most familiar with doing; the hands-on activities that get the job done.

So you can see, it is definitely not rocket science or even earth shattering. But it is important and should be something that you pull out of your toolbox and understand how to use. 

Monica Faulkenbery, APR, is the assistant PR Director for the Northside Independent School District and serves on the board of the San Antonio chapter of PRSA.

Survey Says?


Public relations practitioners, and others, received a reminder last week not to put too much faith in surveys. In the Wisconsin recall, pre-vote polls benchmarked the election as extremely close with a 50-47 margin in favor of Gov. Scott Walker – within the margin of assumed error.
The actual result? Walker won easily by a 9-point margin. The surveys missed it – big time. So is something wicked in Waukesha? Hardly.  Some thoughts:
* Whom did you ask? To be accurate, a truly random sample has to be built very carefully. Even such assumptions as using only respondents who have landline telephones skew accuracy.
* As surely as chemistry or physics, there is an observer effect in surveying. Respondents may feel an obligation to give a certain answer, or may give an unexpected or incorrect answer just to be perverse. My daughter participated for a year in a nationally recognized television rating service. She admits that box on the TV made her want to skip Entertainment Tonight and watch PBS instead.
* Burnout. I heard a piece on radio a few days ago with workers who had done exit polling at Wisconsin precincts. One made the comment that it became obvious some voters were “avoiding people with clipboards” as they got in their cars. My hunch is Badger State voters may have already endured endless surveys and were just surveyed-out by the time they made it into voting booths. I live in a Texas state senate district that had a very intense Republican primary in May and I received daily phone calls, plus at least one visitor to my front door and mail, all asking my opinion. It became tiresome and I started hanging up on people, thereby skewing their results.
So are surveys worthwhile? Yes, but only if used properly. And always ask yourself if the results provided are prophecy or puffery.

Content Rules Should Be On Your Bookshelf


 Book Review of Content Rules by Ann Handley & CC Chapman                      This book, while not new, has the best subtitle: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars and more that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business.  Published in 2011, it's a resource that should be on every PR practitioners' shelf.  Back in 2008, when David Meerman Scott Published "The New Rules of Marketing and PR," his main takeaway was that organizations need to think like publishers instead of marketers. Now that we are seeing the effects of the attention economy, "Content Rules" is the next step to help PR teams visualize what being a publishing organization requires. And it's written in a style that is easily digestible, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, yet it is PACKED with actionable ideas.  Right from the start, in a chapter titled "Big Fat Overview" (as opposed to "introduction), you know that these two authors will lead you into new concepts with an element of fun. There's so much here for PR teams to embrace and best of all, it perfectly aligns with our industry's skill set. The book is organized into three sections. The first makes the case for why content should be created and shared.  This section establishes the rules of the road for public relations pros to successfully create content.  Here's a few key takeaways:Avoid one and done -- integrate everything. Leave stuff alone -- don't be so perfect that there's no room for your audience to participate. Get rid of that jargon-- business speak can kill your content. Storytelling can be used in any organization. The second section is a how-to for different types of content like blogs, ebooks and photographs.  There are tons of ideas and checklists for each type of content, which goes a long way to deciding what approach will work for your organization. The most refreshing thing about this section-- it is a Facebook-free zone!The last section features 10 case studies from a wide variety of organizations that will be worth referring to over and over again. This is one of the most generous business books I have read in awhile and the authors offer even more resources online and on their Facebook page for the book.    [...]

PRSA Advocates for the Profession Among U.S. Senators


It’s been a decade since PRSA set up its Advocacy Advisory Board in response to a member survey. The board is charged with helping to advance the profession by being PRSA’s consistent voice on key issues. One of the most recent issues has been PRSA’s actions to urge the U.S. Senate not to restrict government use of PR firms. Two U.S. senators are conducting an investigation into the government’s use of PR and advertising contracts. PRSA’s concern is that the investigation will “disregard” the central value of public relations to the federal government.

In a letter to Roll Call, PRSA Chair and CEO Gerard F. Corbett, APR, Fellow PRSA, stated: “Whether educating the public about government services, providing information on public health and safety, explaining the tax code, attracting businesses to an economic enterprise zone, or any of dozens of other areas, governments have a clear role in communicating effectively and efficiently to the public.”

We have no problem with investigating potential flaws in contracting procedures. But it is critical that PR not be characterized as a whole-scale misuse of funding.

You can read more on the PRSA website, including the letter from PRSA to the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight and the Roll Call op ed.

You can also listen to an interview with Gerry Corbetconducted by Shel Holtz.

The Power of Free Tools


The soft economy the last few years have made free tools more important than ever for public relations practitioners who are trying to stretch their budgets.  Three speakers at the April Professional Development Luncheon demonstrated the power of free tools and explained how to do more with less. Debi Pfitzenmaier, blogger and chief bottle washer at Pfitz PR, looked at tools in several categories, including some for organization, online business and PR and some photo tools, too.   You can see her presentation here.           In true social media fashion, Pfitzenmaier curated an online list of favorites from the assembled group.  Review and bookmark the list from here.  Ronee Andersen, reference librarian, gave a live demo to the group on using some of the free databases at the San Antonio Public Library.  Two are worth noting.  Business Decision is a consumer market database which offers users competitive intelligence, including something called tapestry segmentation, which is similar to developing buyer personas.  Reference USA is another market research tool which can reveal competitors’ strength, credit ratings, home ownership, home building trends and more for zip codes in Bexar County. “The old days of having to visit a library are gone,” says Anderson. “You can visit the library from the comfort of your home.”  Both databases are available to all San Antonio Public Library cardholders.   The library also offers a Jobs and Small Business Center, according to Beth Graham, public relations manager for the San Antonio Public Library.  [...]

Agency vs. Corporate PR? Which is Better?


Both, according to a presentation given to the PRSSA chapter at UTSA by two local PR professionals. Kathy Hill, principal of KHILL PR and me, Fran Stephenson, Principal of Step In Communication, offered students a different look at these two areas of public relations practice. While both of us have worked in agency and corporate communication settings, Hill’s experience is rich with local agencies, while my focus has been corporate communications. We focused on three key areas to share with a dozen students from the student chapter. The Way We WorkCorporate communicators often work with longer time lines and create strategic plans for more continuity. They have established teams, goals and ways of working together. Agencies have more fluid teams as groups are convened and disbanded based on the immediate client workload. They are often called in to help with short term planning and project management and serve on more than one team at a time. The Relationships We Build On the agency side, PR practitioners often have excellent external relationships, particularly with members of the media. Their corporate counterparts, on the other hand, have deeper internal relationships and a deeper knowledge of their company “subject.” The Lifestyle We Lead Corporate communicators have a more stable income, but can be resource challenged in their company. They usually have benefits including the standard stuff like health, 401K, etc, but also a predictable work environment. Agencies, on the other hand, often turn over projects quickly, so you have to get up to speed on a client’s business quickly, help solve their problem and move onto the next project. Longevity in an agency can be less predictable because it’s client driven, but the rewards are learning about multiple industries and clients. The students who attended the presentation were surprised at the similarities and differences to these two types of public relations careers and got a glimpse of what they might do in the future. [...]

Hello, I Must Be Going


There’s been a lot recently within the PR business about the
impact of social media on crisis communications. Mostly, this speculation
projects social media as a bad thing. Companies and organizations can be
blind-sided by crises that tend to come out of nowhere, mounted by strangers.
Control becomes hard when sources are unknown or unexpected.

Perhaps there might be some good to dealing with a social
media-driven crisis situation, as Wall Street Journal editor Francesco Guerrera
noted this week in an opinion
. “In a socially-networked world where investors, customers and
employees are judge, jury and news editors, companies may be able to survive
foul-ups better than in the old days of ‘traditional’ news and corporate spin,”
he notes.

This could be due to a couple of things: First, social media-related
incidents tend to be much shorter in duration and reach a comparatively smaller
audience than when the traditional media become involved. Second, the
traditional media often tend to become “obsessive-compulsive,” as one
commentator put it, and linger over an incident far longer than the story
merits. My hunch is that with shrinking news budgets, it’s easier for an editor
to just squeeze one more story out of a reporter, rather than moving on to
something else.

So what does all this mean to public relations
practitioners? Speed is of the essence, Guerrera reports. Also, reputation
management remains key, as it does with any crisis. Loyal customers, employees and
a supportive public will move on quicker than when there are thousands who will
gladly add their own tales of woe to a troubling post.

When the Trouble Shooters Come Calling!


March’s luncheon presentation featured WOAI TV’s Trouble Shooter team Brian Collister on “Trouble Shooting Your PR Approach.” Collister has been an investigative reporter for WOAI for years and has fine-tuned his advice to public relations practitioners on the do’s and don’t’s of working with a reporter on the investigative side of the news house. Here are his top five tips. Don’t try to defend the indefensible. If your company has made a mistake, admit it. But first, he also suggested you pay attention to the next four tips. Do NOT downplay the dollar amount. Particularly in the public sphere and especially in this economy. DO prepare your interview subject. That’s your job as the PR person and Collister expects that when he requests an interview. Surprisingly, though, Collister’s experience shows that far too many of his interview subjects are ill prepared. Seek forgiveness from the beginning and the process will be so much smoother for all involved. Poor Public Relations strategies are obvious to all. Think through your objectives and their consequences and remember that in the public eye, perception is reality.Collister used two key analogies during his presentation that really sum up the way investigative reporters think.The first was the analogy of three doors. If two doors are open to him and one is closed, he will always attempt to take the closed door. If you're in PR, you want to make sure your door to reporters is at least ajar!He also used the analogy of ripping off an old bandage. It's far less painless if you do it quickly, than slowly. In other words, for PR people, get on the issue and resolve it fast.Here's a short video from Brian Collister with tips on working with investigative reporters. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />[...]

PRSA Announces New Definition of Public Relations


In an effort to modernize the 1982 definition of public relations (the last one was developed on 1982), PRSA created an interesting crowdsourcing process using social media. Professionals were invited to submit comments to the “Public Relations Defined” blog. PRSA then created a word cloud to see which key words appeared most often. From that, three definitions were developed for professionals to vote on, again through social media.

So here’s the winning definition:
“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
See the announcement, “A Modern Definition of Public Relations,” to see the other two finalists and related discussions. There is also some reflection about why the word ethics doesn’t appear in the definition.

The whole initiative is not PRSA’s alone, by the way. It was developed out of a collaboration among several PR related organizations

So what do you think? Will this definition stand for decades to come?

The Crisis at TCU


Texas Christian University has an outstanding reputation for integrity, both in the classroom and on the athletic field. That’s as it should be for an elite institution with religious roots.

Its excellent image has been sorely tested by this week’s arrest of 18 students, including four players on the Horned Frog football team, for drug dealing. The arrests threw TCU into a classic crisis communications scenario.

Nefarious doings on campus, involving athletes in particular, have been an all-too-common stories in recent years. And in many cases, the respective scholastic institutions have done a poor job responding when things went bad.

TCU may be different. It’s receiving “deserved praise” from the media for getting in front of the story and explaining what it has done, and what it will do, to assure this won’t happen again. An early-on press conference allowed college officials to answer questions, not just read canned statements blessed in advance by the lawyers. Now, football Coach Gary Patterson’s personally on the phone with parents and other interested parties.

It ain’t over 'til it's over for the Horned Frogs, but TCU may come out of this crisis with its reputation intact. The school’s been responsive and transparent – vital points in making a crisis response successful.

Nora Frost's Top Ten List


At Last Thursday's PRSA February Luncheon, comedian and PR professional Nora Frost shared her take on the top ten list. Here it is for you to enjoy.

Top Ten Signs You're in PR

10. You enjoy yelling, "IT'S IN THE PRESS RELEASE! READ THE PRESS RELEASE!" internally... several times a day.

9. Well... what does the client want no. 9 to say?

8. You are very loyal to your job... pretty much because you can't get one anywhere else.

7. You start a fantasy press conference league.

6. Your family still doesn't understand what you do.

5. You still don't understand what you do.

4. You'd be more of a people person if you didn't have to relate to them so much.

3. You've told a journalist, "Eh... ethics is for politicians."

2. One man's tchotchke is another man's door prize.

1. You used to be a journalist.

What's in your top ten list?

Nora Frost is the principal of Dos Culturas, a bilingual, multicultural public relations firm. She has often been seen doing stand-up comedy in San Antonio, too. She can be reached at

Creating an Award-Winning Campaign - Resources


During today's chapter luncheon, Debbie, Randy & I shared some tips for creating an award-winning campaign. Here are some sample award entry summaries that we referred to. WONKA Arte Brings Life to Day of the DeadLULAC Brings Presidential Contenders Center Stage to Latino VotersIDRA study - sample objectivesAnother great place to look is the PRSA national website where there are tons of winning case studies (It's in the section of the site that's for PRSA members only.). Also, the National School Public Relations Association website has the summaries of award winners. There are some webinars coming up on measurement and evaluation. Remember that these webinars are now free to PRSA members! I mentioned that Angela Sinickas is a great resource (she happens to be leading a couple of the webinars). Another expert is Katie Delahaye Paine. Both are top experts in PR measurement and evaluation. And they both have free email newsletters with lots of great info.PRSA's Tactics publication recently had a couple of articles on measurement (May 2011; free online for members)."The Strategic Approach: Writing Measurable Objectives.""Deliverable Objectives: Considerations for Creating Measurement Plans." PRSA's Srategist had a great article, "Confessions of a Silver Anvil Judge," that I've referred to several times (Winter 1998).Upcoming Award CompeitionsPRSA San Antonio Del Oro Awards PRSA Bronze Anvil Awards PRSA Silver Anvil AwardsTexas School Public Relations Association Awards Association for Women in Communications San Antonio IABC San Antonio  Finally, here is my silly look at the four parts of an objective.[...]

Editing by Ear


The year 2011 soon slips away so it’s worth a pause during the holidays to mark a celebration that occurred this year – the 400th anniversary of the Authorized, or King James Version of the Bible.

Regardless of religious persuasion, most agree the KJV marks one of the greatest writing achievements in English. National Geographic featured the KJV in a cover story for its December issue, which opines “You don't have to be a Christian to hear the power of those words – simple in vocabulary, cosmic in scale, stately in their rhythms, deeply emotional in their impact.” The article provides insights we forget:

First, the KJV represents one time a committee got it right. It is the product of 54 scholars, not of all of whom were particularly religious, nor were all with the Church of England. They produced their masterwork in a time of political upheaval with bitter divides over religious belief, and every faction already had a translation. But the “most high and mighty Prince James,” as the preface calls its sponsor, saw a new translation as one way to bring his squabbling subjects together.

How did the committee do it? Second, the KJV was intended to be read – aloud – in church and home. The committee’s goal was “that it may bee understood even of the very vulgar,” the preface adds. Yeah, they really talked that way back then. The committee divided into teams and read their draft translations of the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek aloud to each other, knowing the ear serves as an excellent editor and tends to find the perfect written phrase.

Modern writers and editors improve their product when they lean back in the chairs and speak the words just typed on a screen, as surely as reading words written with a quill on parchment.

Sic Transit: American Airlines in Chapter XI


My dad came home from World War II and took a job with American Airlines. It was opportune for him, the airlines boomed in the late 1940s as passengers flocked aboard the new four-engine piston planes that made flight both comfortable and fast. It was an exciting and romantic business, something ABC tries to capture, unsuccessfully, with its potboiler Pan Am.

This was a carriage trade back then. Fares were steep and coach class as we know it didn’t exist. That changed with deregulation. Fares fell off a cliff and airlines had to change. I recall gasps when Braniff announced a $299 roundtrip, DFW-London fare in 1980. That price stunned people, although in today’s money it would be a ho-hum $800. You can easily beat that. Some airlines, like American, adjusted. Some, like Braniff, didn’t.

Flying today is less romantic than riding the bus, although commercials by American and its competitors try to remind passengers of the glory days. Tiny seats so close together you can’t cross your legs prove more compelling.

My experience with American goes from vacations on my dad’s pass – getting up on my knees in the window seat to look at the big propellers on the wings – to enough business travel to earn gold-level AAdvantage status. That offered first-class upgrades, where there’s a whiff of romance left. At least I could cross my legs. And reading my dad’s copies of Flagship News years ago provided my introduction to internal communications.

This sea change naturally impacted airline public relations. I interviewed for a PR job with American several years ago. Romance tugged at my heart but reality pointed to the rows of cubicles emptied by multiple layoffs. I didn’t get the job. It might be just as well. PR becomes increasingly optional to a firm fighting to make a profit.

Having been through a corporate bankruptcy, I’m numb thinking about the challenge American’s PR staff faces. But the initial result seems good. I wish them well and every success in whatever the future may be.



A new survey finds the public perceives low-level employees as more trustworthy within most organizations. I find these results interesting as they dovetail with what I’ve seen informally in my public relations work over the years.

If true, this trend has multiple implications for practitioners focused on a number of important roles – community relations, internal communications, media relations, etc. For example, it may be more effective in crisis situations to have a well-trained local employee handle the media questions or meet with the mayor than to jet the big guy out from headquarters. Or, perhaps a service project featuring a group of blue-collar employees may have a more positive impact than a vice president handing over a check while the TV cameras roll.

Deciding who delivers the message can be as important as deciding what the message is.