Friday, April 27, 2007

Best Practices in Public Relations

It is hard to imagine the semester is coming to an end. In the past four months we have accomplished a variety of tasks. Through the development of our individual blogs, we have acquired a fresh outlook on public relations. On the very first day of class we began to see the importance of social media and how most organizations are becoming more and more technologically advanced. As part of the course requirement, we each met with a PR professional of our choice. Our goal was to find out their opinion on what the best practices in public relations are. After meeting with Gregg Elkin and through class lectures, I have come up with what I believe to be the best practices in public relations.

Media Development – As a public relations practitioner, developing an understanding of the media is essential. PR is dependent on the media for publicity and the media is dependent on PR for news. With that being said, establishing a credible relationship with the media is one of the best practices in PR. There are several important factors you should consider when dealing with the media.

1. Know what the reporter does for a living

2. Compliment a recent article they wrote

3. Take a target approach to PR – this means no e-mails!

4. Face time – you trust people you’ve met

5. Be newsworthy or journalistically adept

6. Be timely by staying on top of the news

7. Be honest and be available

This semester, I was fortunate enough to meet with Gregg Elkin, media relations director for the Texas Rangers. We spent a lot of time talking about his career and just about life in general but I made sure to end it with his opinion on best practices. Elkin’s job requires him to establish effective relationships with the media and to deliver the best messages he can for the Rangers organization.

“The best practice in PR that I can give you is, know what your message is and be able to get it to as many outlets as possible,” Elkin stated in the meeting. Elkin goes on to explain the only way to do this is through your ties and relationships you have with the media.

If you are interested in improving your communication with the media check out this helpful link:

Blogging – Another best practice for PR is blogging. According to an article on , over "4.1 million blogs around the world with a new blog created every 7.4 seconds". Social media and blogging is changing communication. Social media is when people come together to share their ideas.

We have all become so media savvy that we are cynical of what PR people have to say. This prompts the main reason individuals turn to bloggers for news and information. Bloggers have become the voice of the people and it is important for public relations practitioners realize the benefits of blogging.

What can blogs do for PR companies?

1. They allow individuals to express themselves

2. Raise awareness of clients through word-of-mouth

3. Track trends THIS minute

4. Quick feedback for clients

5. Less time consuming

6. Blog to build credibility

7. Use blogs as a “cultural barometer”

According to Elkin, blogging is a “really good thing.” He feels the more people talking about his team the better. “It’s easy and it can reach so many people,” Elkin said.

Over the course of the semester, we had several guest speakers. Tara Hall of Weber Shandwick expressed the importance of understanding the technological advances when she said, “When I heard about what this class did, I was so excited. If any of you are seniors we are looking to hire young professionals who have experience with blogging and social media.” If only I were a senior…

Writing – This might be one of the best practices for PR that gets pushed aside by most. Professor Flournoy can’t stress enough in class the importance of writing. On top of creating our blogs for our class, we have been writing overviews, profiles and pitches to keep up with our writing skills.

Public relations practitioners need to have excellent writing skills for several reasons.

1. Written proposals must be credible and persuasive

2. Speeches

3. Skillfully written news releases

4. Pitching a story to the media

You need to have excellent writing skills in order to be effective. Your writing has to be perfect in spelling and grammar and have absolutely NO style errors. Your writing skills have the capability of effecting your employment.

Check out for a press release on how writing skills can be a ticket to professional jobs.

Networking – The idea here is that you want to walk into a room and come out with as many business cards as you can but also take time to get to know each person. Investing time into the conversation will promote trust in the relationship. Networking is a key practice in PR. The only way you can get your message out there is through others. As I mentioned earlier, media development is important. Media development goes along with networking to some degree because you’re network is most likely going to be journalists. In the business world, it all comes down to who you know and how well you know them.

On the other hand, there is this new technological advance in social networking which is a form of social media. Just like blogging, social networking is an online tool to get connected with people. This is done through websites such as, where individuals create profiles and commentaries for themselves. It is important to establish social networks online because you can find out lots of information since people love to talk under the radar.

If you’re a member of myspace, you may have already noticed the vast amount of businesses that have started their own pages. I spent last summer working as the public relations intern for Backstage Creations, a premier celebrity product placement company. Part of my job was starting up a myspace page because my boss saw the benefits of such a network. Immediately after signing up and creating a page we were establishing friends and receiving messages. This gave our clients increased exposure and proved to be extremely beneficial in promoting the 2006 Teen Choice Awards. To check out the website go to: Backstage Creations

Research- Conducting research is extremely important for PR practitioners. This needs to be done before a campaign goes out to the public. Research allows you to analyze your public and learn how to please them. PR involves researching for several different things.

1. Understanding your client

2. Understanding your client’s industry

3. Looking for stories

4. Figuring out what journalists are writing about

5. Researching the competition

After doing the research, you have to analyze and determine what is important and what might benefit your client. Conducting research will make the message of your client more effective.

Exectutive vice president of PR for the Shelton group gave our class her opinion of the best practices. "We focus a lot of our time on researching for our clients because we want to have as much information and background as possible," Stacey Gaswirth said.

Check out: to learn about a company who specializes in research for companies.

Check out my classmates blogs for additional best practices in PR!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Visible Technologies

You learn something new everyday. At least that was the case for our Advanced Communication Skills class on Monday. Katherine Smith of Visible Technologies came to speak to us about social media and what her company has to offer.

Katherine just recently moved to Dallas to lead the company's Southwest expansion. Visible Technologies is a leading provider of online brand management products and technologies.

Katherine talked about how the internet can be phenomenal or devastating. "Nastiness online can erupt and go global over night," Smith stated with concern. She goes on to say that in this new marketing generation you need to learn how to protect your company's brand.

Visible Technologies can do just that with their TruCast program. It is imperative we understand that we are in a digital market and that what individuals say online can be detrimental. Once you register and login, TruCast goes in and scrapes the internet for key phrases or clients. It looks at the entire blogosphere and allows you to conduct research in a quick and effective manner. TruCast tracks discussions about any topics, brands, and products while identifying the influencer. It can track the tone and sentiment of discussions and how they change over time. It gives you the power to understand whats important and what is positive and negative talk.

With word of mouth being digitized, we are able to talk more to more people. There are millions of new posts each day and monitoring consumer opinion is important. You have to track harmful issues and participate in online discussions in order to address those issues. According to Smith, TruCast makes it simple to participate.

For more information check out their website.

Thanks to Katherine for spending time with our class.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"Look-Look" and the SMU Trend Challenge

A couple weeks ago, our class was given another challenge. This one came from Look-Look magazine out of Los Angeles, CA. Look-Look is interested in youth culture as a subculture. They look for trendsetters and cutting edge ideas. Take a “Look-Look” at their website:

Our challenge was to do a little trend spotting of our own at Southern Methodist University. SMU, a private university in Dallas, Texas is home to about 6,000 undergraduate students and 5,000 graduate students.

Look-Look asked us several questions on the “New Entrepreneur” after realizing that young people are redefining their values concerning work, careers and happiness. There is this shift towards individuals starting their own businesses, industries and independent ventures.

Look-Look first asks us how and where have you seen New Entrepreneurs in your world?

That’s easy for me, my own brother is on his way to becoming a New Entrepreneur. After graduating from the Cox School of Business at SMU with a 4.0, Andrew Nichols took a job with Ryan & Co. in Houston, Texas. It only took him three months to realize this was not how he wanted to spend the rest of his life.

“I wasn’t happy with my job. There was this lack of freedom that I couldn’t stand. I want to be my own boss and schedule my own hours, it’s as simple as that,” said Nichols.

With poker being a long time passion of his he decided to play professionally in 2006. Over the past several months, he has come up with a plan to start up his own company. He hopes to teach people how to play poker as well as set up casinos for charity events. Although he still has much to learn, he is on his way to success.

After speaking with my brother, he informed me of friend of his who started his own company on the side. Jonathan Welschmeyer, a 2005 SMU graduate just recently formed his own company called Buying Made Easy, L.L.C. Buying Made Easy, L.L.C finds any car you are looking for down to every last specification, full negotiation of the deal/terms and finalization of financial paperwork.

SMU’s Cox School of Business even offers a prestigious masters program in Entrepreneurship. To find out more check out:

I could go on for pages about new entrepreneurs on the campus of SMU but lets move on to Look-Looks next question.

Do you see a shift to a certain type of attitude toward work?

For young people there is definitely this shift from predictable jobs to jobs you are creating on your own. In our parents’ generation, they went to college, got a job and stayed there until retirement. For our generation, after college could mean several jobs as well as this goal of entrepreneurial ship. Competition is the driving force in our society and everyone is looking for new ways to get ahead.

Just like my brother mentioned, everyone wants to be their own boss. It gives them a sense of freedom. The more time and dedication you put into your own business the more success and empowerment you will have. If you are working for a corporate company you get the same salary no matter how much time you put into it and most of the time you are not recognized for your success.

Check out video for inspirational words from an entrepreneur:

The final question Look-Look asked us was how do you think this will change

business in the future, if at all?

I think businesses will change in the sense that they will get smaller and less corporate. Also, this idea of a global business with an office anywhere you want it. It will also create the emergence of new business models or contemporary business models that are more diverse. I think it will be very interesting to see how entrepreneurs really do change the business world in the future. Just the other day, our professor asked the class to raise their hands if they wanted to start their own business and I wasn’t surprised to see a majority of the hands up in the air.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Creating an Alternative

What’s America’s favorite food? Pizza

What’s the new fad in America? Dieting

Hmm…clearly the two of those don’t go well together.

Pizza Hut came up with a solution to this problem. They realized Americans were looking for lower-fat, lower-calorie options and therefore came up with a new pizza called Fit ‘N Delicious.

I’m sure everyone is dying to know how this pizza is less fat. Well it’s simple; they have half the cheese, lean meats and fresh vegetables on the Thin ‘N Crispy crust. And for the fat and calorie counters out there, these pizzas only have 3.5 to 5 grams of fat.

Pizza Hut became the first national pizza chain to introduce a great-tasting pizza with less fat. With the help of OgilvyPR, they established a credible source, nutrionist, Jackie Newgent R.D. and secured the cover story on the “Money” section of USA Today.

This campaign run by Pizza Hut and OgilvyPR is great. Why not give Americans what they want? I know how much I love pizza but I also know how bad it is for me. I would feel so much better knowing it has less fat than regular pizza. Also, establishing a well-known nutritionist as their source is fantastic because right there the pizza is given credibility.

For a link to a case study done by OgilvyPR go to

Friday, March 2, 2007

Thanks Leslie Slama

A few weeks ago, I met with Exxon Mobil’s Global Event Manager, Leslie Slama. First them me start off by saying, Exxon Mobil’s headquarters in Las Colinas is a sight to see! XOM is known for being one of the most conservative companies in the nation; this would explain my chic business attire strategically planned for the afternoon.

After signing in and receiving my very own visitors badge for the day, Leslie’s assistant Elise, escorted me quietly through the building to a conference room. The table could fit at least 20 people but there were only two chairs placed directly across from each other. I noticed a pen, notepad and an ice-cold Fiji water bottle in front of me. XOM really goes all out don’t they?

Leslie and I talked for an hour about the event planning business. After telling her about my previous experience in entertainment event planning out in Los Angeles, I asked about corporate event planning.

Leslie described her work at XOM as heavy but also very steady at the same time. “Any event planning business outside of the corporate world is going to be less stable,” Slama said. She explained the main difference between entertainment and corporate event planning; it doesn’t entail a broad variety of events. Leslie spends a lot of time traveling as XOM’s Global Event Planner but loves every minute of it.

Leslie provided me with some great tips to becoming a solid event planner. Every event planner must be meticulously detailed and creative. It is imperative that they visualize every function and are prepared to handle stressful situations.

Her best advice for me was to do anything and everything for 10 years. After providing me with a contact at the Four Seasons, she informed me that hotels are fabulous training grounds because you learn customer service and that is KEY to a successful event!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Putting our Heads Together

It's time to put our recently discovered blogging knowledge to the test. We are coming together as a class in hopes of creating a blog for Heal Magazine.

Cure Magazine is a quarterly magazine that is aimed at individuals living with cancer. It provides a way for cancer patients to understand the disease and how to deal with it on a daily basis. Heal magazine has evolved from Cure and will launch in the Spring of this year. Heal will focus their attention on educating cancer survivors on recovery, life after cancer and most importantly living well.

To learn more about Cure and Heal visit: and

The blog will provide a place for cancer survivors, caregivers, and doctors the freedom to express their opinions and talk about recovery. There a millions of blogs that are similar to the one we hope to create for Heal. Simply type in “Cancer Survivorship Blog” on a Google search and you will find both personal and group blogs.

Here are a few blogs I found helpful and inspiring:

As a class we are to come up with several sidebar topics for the blog site. The three that popped up in my head include:

*Fundraising – Staying Involved

*Families – We Are Survivors Too

*Get the Facts

It will be imperative that we put a disclaimer on the website explaining this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.

My personal vision for this blog would be to broaden it to Heal AND Cure. I think you are a survivor from the moment you are diagnosed. Just imagine, someone is told they have cancer. Where do they go? Cure Magazine? The chances are very high. They visit the website, discover the blog, and read blog posts from cancer survivors who once suffered from the same disease. Think about the hope that would instill in them when reading those personal stories. Survivors would feel satisfaction and joy after helping a fellow cancer “survivor”.

The blog would express the power of choice in survivorship and the idea of never giving up.