“Adventures In Agency PR: Two Young Pros Tell All” with Lauren Panaretos and Nikki Stephan

March 31, 2008 at 9:32 pm (agency, conference, interview, PR, PRSSA, public relations) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

CMU PRSSA’s 6th Annual Spring Conference
The Road to Reinvention

Session 2: “Adventures In Agency PR: Two Young Pros Tell All” with Lauren Panaretos and Nikki Stephan

Lauren Panaretos and Nikki Stephan are account executives at Franco Public Relations Group in Detroit, Michigan. They both graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Integrative Public Relations and were active in PRSSA and PR Central.

The following are things I learned at their session:

  • Media Tips
    • Get familiar with the reporters
    • Google Alerts – can be used to monitor clients nationally
    • Media lists are important because you can’t send the same release to every report (for example, a sports reporter won’t care about business trends)
    • Pitching – read the reporter’s articles, be clear and concise on the phone, and when pitching to TV, let them know what the visuals could b

To work in an agency, you must be able to: (from their PowerPoint)

  • Juggle multiple clients
  • Be organized
  • Track your time
  • Pay attention to billing issues
  • Be creative, “outside the box” thinker
  • Be a flawless writer

One thing I didn’t know about was tracking time. In order to bill clients, you must keep track of how much time you spend working on their accounts.

How to land the interview: (from their PowerPoint)

  • Watch for spelling, grammar on resume
  • Include work experience before education
  • Get creative with your cover letter
  • Showcase what makes you unique
  • Build portfolio with most relevant work from classes and internships
  • Get involved on campus and take on a PR role

Also, don’t say that you are a “people person.”

On your cover letter, it is important to show that you know the company and that you are interested in their clients. You also should find what makes you unique, include relevant information, and summarize your skills (teamwork skills, thriving in fast-paced environment, etc.)

How to land the job: (from their PowerPoint)

  • Showcase your personality, confidence
  • Show familiarity with company
  • Ask questions
  • Be able to sell yourself without being over the top
  • Be prepared for a writing test and do well on it
  • Write thank you cards

Also, as much as they are interviewing you, you are interviewing them.

Where to look for jobs: (from their PowerPoint)

  • Company websites
  • PRSA, IABC, Media Bistro websites
  • PR Direcotires
  • Avoid Monster, HotJobs, etc.
  • Talk to your friends
  • Never burn bridges with people
  • Clean up your Facebook and MySpace accounts

Agency Tips: (from their PowerPoint)

  • Every agency is different
  • Remember, culture is key – find a place where you can be happy
  • Dress appropriately
  • Always maintain professionalism
  • Think about the big picture

Also, when getting a job, you should ask about the starting salary, the advancement process, and the room for growth. Benefits and vacation/personal time are also important.

Lauren and Nikki said that the starting salary for agencies in this area is $25,000 to $30,000.

This was definitely my favorite session. Lauren and Nikki have a lot of energy and are very interesting to listen to. I actually job shadowed both of them last semester for IPR 101. There were some tips they gave that I had heard from then before, but this was still a very valuable session because of interview, job, and agency tips. I actually hope to someday work at Franco.

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Social Media Campaign

March 31, 2008 at 4:29 am (campaign, new media, PR, public relations, social media) (, , , , )

I just came across a clip on PRo’s In Training about a social media campaign for Sea World by Communication Overtones. It’s not too long, so if you are interested in online campaigns and social media, check it out.

I can’t get the embedding to work, so go here to watch it.

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Attention College Juniors!

March 31, 2008 at 3:22 am (business, college) (, , , , )

If you currently are a college junior, check out the Summer Venture in Management Program with the Harvard Business School.

The website and information was sent to me by CMU PRSSA, but I am currently a sophomore, so I cannot participate in this opportunity.

My first question was how much would this cost? Harvard covers for your room and board for this week-long program. Go to the website for more FAQ.

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“Agency PR” with Robert Kolt

March 31, 2008 at 12:34 am (agency, college, conference, PR, PRSSA, public relations) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

CMU PRSSA’s 6th Annual Spring Conference
The Road to Reinvention

Session 1: “Agency PR” with Robert Kolt

Robert Kolt is CEO and president of Kolt Communications, Inc., a privately owned communications corporation located in Okemos, Michigan. He is a CMU alumni with an undergraduate degree in broadcast & cinematic arts and journalism. He also holds a graduate degree in communications from MSU.

The following is an outline of what I learned in his session called “Agency PR.”

Kolt said that his corporation does a lot of strategic communications. For example, he might do research for a politician and tell them the facts and what they should say.” Another example would be interview rehearsals for Consumers Energy’s CEO.

Kolt Communications, Inc. offers media training, including message development strategies, speaking and presentation skills, and media interview techniques. They stage events that “help make news.” They are licensed as fundrasiers as well. Kolt said that fundraising and grant writing are growing areas in the industry.

One past client Kolt talked to students about was a lottery winner that wanted to remain anonymous. He did not want his face shown because he had a criminal record. His corporation also has staged fires to show crisis communication skills, done ground breakings, and has handled a crisis situation with the United Way. He also does advertising.

Kolt Communications, Inc. usually takes one or two interns that are paid $10 per hour. He said he looks for a good writer. Good interpersonal skills are important. You also need to be a hard worker. Kolt said that employers want to know what you’ve done and see your samples.

Kolt said that he does not actively pitch to businesses. Many clients come to him through referrals or he bids on projects.

One thing to remember, Kolt said, is “it’s not about you, it’s about your client,” Kolt said.

Kolt Communications, Inc. also handles a lot of crisis communications. He gave three steps to crisis management.
1. Prevention
2. Detection
3. Extinguishing

He said that many businesses don’t come to him until they need help with step three.

On starting your own firm, Kolt suggested the following:

1. Create relationships – Never burn any bridge
2. Be honest, knowledgeable, and creative
3. Add value and power to clients
4. Be philanthropic
This session was helpful to me because I would like to start my own firm one day. It was nice to hear from someone that had graduated from CMU with a successful firm.

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CMU PRSSA’s 6th Annual Spring Conference

March 29, 2008 at 9:30 pm (college, conference, PR, PRSSA, public relations) (, , , , )

The Road to Reinvention

That was theme for the CMU PRSSA Spring Conference that I helped plan and attended today. Overall, I believe it was a success. It has given me better direction to map my road to reinvention. The speakers were fabulous and I feel so inspired right now.

I think it is wonderful that I found a career that makes me feel this way. I was just discussing this with some fellow PRSSA members. Many students go to college for a degree. They choose a major that they like and go to classes (that they often complain about). That’s it. They don’t go the extra mile. It seems different for PR students at CMU.

I enjoy PR-related classes. I love my major and career path I’m heading for. I find PR so exciting and I want to be as involved as possible. Sometimes it is overwhelming because I have so many meetings, but I still love it. Some other students I’ve met don’t seem to have that motivation.

It has been a ten hour day for me and I am absolutely exhausted. Therefore, I’m not going to write anything tonight. Look for posts in the near future about what I learned!

By the way, I have had exactly 100 “steps ahead” (aka hits). That is very exciting because I started this blog on February 28. Happy one month anniversary to me. I think I’ll go celebrate.

My goal for next month: 300 “steps ahead”

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Write a press release? Or post in a blog?

March 28, 2008 at 3:17 am (journalism, new media, PR, public relations, strategy) (, , , , , , )

What is one thing that comes to mind when you think of public relations? Press releases?

What about blogs?

I was reading a post about Intel’s Atom Launch in the Ogilvy PR 360 Digital Influence Blog. It’s a pretty interesting post because of the way Intel announced and built anticipation about the release of their new processor. They didn’t send press releases out for this announcement. They used their blog.

Rohit Bhargava, the writer of the post, made two interesting points about blogs and press releases:

First, “a press release is just a tool. A blog is an ongoing platform,” and “blogs can foster a conversation around the announcement and build anticipation.”

This method, of course, wouldn’t work for everyone. If you never blog, you can’t just start one on the day you want to make an announcement. You need to have a good following on your blog so that people will actually read it and hopefully mention it in their own blogs. This method also leaves out the part of your audience that does not read blogs.

Fortunately, according to Brodeur at Marketing Vox, “Blogs are a regular source for journalists: Over three-quarters of reporters see blogs as helpful in giving them story ideas, story angles and insight into the tone of an issue.”

I think that’s a pretty good reason for people and businesses to join in the blogosphere.

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PR vs. Journalism

March 27, 2008 at 11:37 pm (journalism, new media, PR, public relations) (, , , )

I was going through the Digital PRSA Blog a moment ago and came across something I found entertaining. It’s a Youtube video done similarly to the PC/Mac ads, but it’s PR vs. Journalism. It was produced for the PRSA National Capital Chapter’s 2007 Annual Thoth Awards Gala.

Journalism, of course, complains that PR spins everything and tries to pitch boring stories. PR complains that Journalism likes to report on anything whether it is true or not.

It’s kind of long…keep watching through the blank screen pauses…

What do you think of this video?

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Advertising 2.Oh! Recap #3

March 26, 2008 at 9:55 pm (advertsing, new media, PR, PRSA, PRSSA, public relations) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Click here for Advertising 2.Oh! Recap #1 or here for Recap #2

Advertising 2.Oh Recap #3

Lastly, he discussed the paths to engagement. The first one was “branded cinema.” Tom Hanks was the primary example. The movie, You’ve Got Mail, was essentially a long infomercial for AOL. It is the same for his other movie, Cast Away. The two brands involved were FedEx and Wilson.

Then there are “branded books.” The main point with these is that they are all done from a different point of view. You don’t know if the CEO of the company actually wrote it, or the publisher just had someone write it and slapped his name and face on the cover.
Next were “blogs and search.” There is a blog called the Huffington Post and it had written something about John McCain and his “bomb Iran” song. the thing with this clip is that it will never go away.

Then there was “community.” There was a printer who had a strange youtube video called “Printing’s Alive.” But it had 113,000 hits the last time Lance checked. Where else can a printing business get that much free publicity?

“Branded remix” relates to music. The example was the Starburst berries & creme ad. It was remixed from its original footage and had received over 1.6 million hits. So here’s something not even done by Starburst, yet ended up promoting it still.

Actual commercial:
Remix commercial:
With “on demand,” people come for information. His example was a local tax attorney who wanted younger clients to attract his own son into taking over the firm. They ended up setting up a beta site called “You’re on your own now,” offering financial advice. They got a sponsorship from a bank and also got the audio versions onto radio stations. The bank is happy because they get publicity, kids are happy for the advice, and the radio is happy for the content.

Last was “shopping.” The example given by Lance was AutoNation. The printer took over and manages the databases. From the database, they can send personalized reminders (and discounts) for oil changes, etc. Sales have gone up, apparently.
The last point he made was that branded content lowers the budget. If your content already contains your brand, then you spend less.

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Advertising 2.Oh! Recap #2

March 26, 2008 at 9:51 pm (advertsing, new media, PR, PRSA, PRSSA, public relations) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Click here to read Advertising 2.Oh! Recap #1

In Lance’s presentation, he quoted Gene Dewitt of DeWitt Media Strategies. DeWitt had said that in five years, every company will need their own network. This doesn’t mean like taking over a network like Disney did, but every company will need its own network to help form digital relationships with customers. This gives opportunity for it to be the customer’s idea to form the relationship (and they expect you to be available for them). Lance also made a point that we are not just marketers; we’re programmers too.

Lance said that the “old rules” still apply, such as understanding your brand, etc . But now the focus has shifted to two-way conversation. Also, the consumer has more options now. Instead of just the original two options, ignore and engage, they can now reply.

Consumers will want to engage if the message is compelling (entertaining) or interesting (offers information). There is also responsive engagement. This would include brand offers, sweepstakes, etc. Interactive engagement is when the audience creates (and usually controls) the conversation.

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Business Dinner Etiquette

March 26, 2008 at 4:18 am (PRSSA) (, )

This evening I attended the Etiquette Dinner put on by CMU Career Services with several other members of PRSSA.

I felt that this would be a very useful event to attend. What if I am required to attend a formal dinner with clients in the future? Before this event, I had no idea why I would need three forks!! Now I know that one is for salad, one is for dinner, and the one at 12 o’clock is for dessert.

Images and impressions are important, especially in public relations. I would encourage every student to take advantage of learning experiences such as this. You want to appear competent and professional to your superiors, peers, and clients.

So here’s the top ten tips I learned while eating dinner:

1. Put your napkin in your lap as soon as everyone is seated.
2. Wait for everyone before beginning (ordering, eating, moving onto the next course, etc.)
3. Start on the outside and work in.
4. Cut one bite at a time.
5. When passing “community” items, offer to the person on your left and then pass to the right if you initiate. Pass to the right at all other times.
6. Bread goes on the plate on your left and you have to rip off one bite-sized piece at a time, not make a “bread and butter sandwich.”
7. When eating soup, move the spoon away from you and sip the soup from the side of the spoon.
8. When the host is done, so are you.
9. Coffee is for after you have eaten dinner.
10. The host or person who invited you out pays the check. If you are the inviter, you get the check. This may change in other cultures.

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