Can I be honest with you? Having a blog is hard work. I mean, really! Have you tried it? It’s a time commitment but more than that it’s having the guts to have a voice within your craft and owning it. As you know, I LOVE my craft and, still, this blogging business is easier said than done. If you didn’t know, that was my sly attempt to elicit your pity and forgiveness for doing a not-so-great job with this blog. Now that that’s out of the way, allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Andrea. I started The PR Maverick blog to share my expertise and passion for public relations. But it’s more than just PR. You see, I’m also a freelance reporter. And a freelance consultant. I work full-time. And I have several clients I work with part-time. Hence the name “Maverick.” By definition, a Maverick is an unorthodox, independent-minded person, an individualistic and nonconforming free spirit. For a PR Maverick, this translates to someone who has been simultaneously successful as both a PR pro and a journalist, an employee doing full-time PR for an organization while masterfully juggling clients on the side. All the while, freely doing any and everything that makes me happy. From securing earned media and nurturing media relationships to doing news reporting with the help of PR people just like me. In between it all, you may see me writing press releases for clients, ghostwriting for them, and more. With all that being said, here’s what this PR Maverick has been up to for the first quarter of the year. The client: Accelerate Delaware The job: AD partnered with TEDxWilmington to present Swipe Left: Love, Dating & Situationships. The event had an all-star lineup of speakers; I mean really all-star: At the helm was Yvonne Orji, television actress from the hit HBO series “Insecure.” My job was to get some awareness for the event to help boost ticket sales and to entice reporters to attend and cover the event. The results: After some aggressive media pitching, I was able to score two segments for Yvonne Orji on Good Day Philadelphia. Then, a reporter from the Philadelphia Tribune traveled to Wilmington to cover the event. The lessons learned: As my mentor Jess Lawlor says, I had to “Get Gutsy.” Emails, Twitter outreach, phone calls; you name it, I tried it. Nothing was off the table when trying to get the details about this event into the hands of reporters and producers. I finally secured FOX 29 when I got gutsy and called the newsroom early one Saturday morning. The client: Poets & Quants The job: The World’s Top 40 MBA Professors Under 40 Years Old The results: It all started in December with a call for nominations. Nearly 500 submissions later, my co-author and I found ourselves up to our eyeballs in nominations. We narrowed it down to the top 40 and here is the final 2017 list of the 40 Most Outstanding Business Professors Under 40 Years Old. The article has been viewed more than 30,000 times so far. And, I’m excited to share that I was a guest on my very first podcast! I was so nervous, but got it done in one take! The lessons learned: I’ve done five of these lists now and I love it each year. It’s a crap load of work (hard work) but the end result is always so rewarding. The client: Contour Data Solutions The job: Press release writing to announce company news The results: Check out the press release here The lessons learned: You never know which professional relationships will lead to business partnerships. Shoutout to my former manager, Brandyn Bissinger, Head of Marketing & Communications for Contour DS The client: AWeber (AKA my full time gig) The job: Ongoing awareness for the organization through earned media The results: This hit for the CEO in Website magazine The lessons learned: This placement came as a result of genuine relationship building which I still believe is the heart of PR. 2017 has been great so far and I’m excited to see what the rest of the year has in store. I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to and some of your big wins. Share them in the comments below. Cheers!
Just a couple days into the New Year and already there’s a PR crisis in the books for 2017. Surprising? Not really. The only thing surprising about this one is that the PR person–the one who is paid to avert such crises–is at the center of it. *Sigh* We can’t make this stuff up, people. My initial thoughts when I heard the story were, “OK, here we have a situation where not one, not two, but multiple reporters are tweeting about an unpleasant run-in with a PR professional. Really, lady? As if reporters can’t stand us enough!” In a nutshell here’s what went down according to this Philly.com article. Reporters in the press box at yesterday’s Philadelphia Eagles game were asked to quiet down as they tried to understand a call that had been made by the officials. Many voiced their displeasure for being told to hush. Most notably, Philadelphia Inquirer writer, Jeff McLane, wasn’t pleased which led to a deeper discussion with members of Eagles’ PR staff. Next thing you know, McLane is ejected from..get this..the stadium by security and the team’s head of PR, Anne Gordon. The reason: violating fan code of conduct. Side note: Uh, hello? In Philadelphia? That’s interesting considering this town is known for its rambunctious fans. Anyhoo, as other reporters watched the drama go down, one live tweeted and shared that the PR rep warned other members of the press they’d get the boot along with Mr. McLane if they interfered. Ouch! So, I’ve been monitoring this story since yesterday and have concluded that there are many, many reasons I would not want to be Anne Gordon right now. Purely from a PR perspective, of course! Here are my starting seven: As the head of PR–trained in and compensated for diffusing PR crises–it’s tough to figure out how one might then become the center of such a crisis. So much of public relations is about building good relationships with members of the press, but one reporter tweeted about the situation using such words as vengeful, petty, and ridiculous. Meanwhile, other members of the journalism community are also making it clear whose side they’re on. As I said before, reporters already think we do more harm than good, this doesn’t bode well for us PR folks. It also doesn’t bode well for the Eagles PR staff team as a whole. Reporters will always be on alert when working with them now, or may try to avoid them altogether. Finally, call me Petty Betty, but the Eagles weren’t that great this year. To have this happen during the final game of another disappointing season makes you wonder if it was even worth it. In other words, Philadelphia Eagles Beat Dallas Cowboys, Lose to Public Relations. If you’ve been following this story, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the PR implications. If this is any sign of what’s to come for PR in 2017, time to buckle your safety belts folks!
In my last post I mentioned I’d be starting something new with this blog. Before I get into what this “something new” is, can I just say that I hate fads? Especially internet fads. Here, I’m specifically referring to those ridiculous sayings that spin up out of nowhere then appear over and over again on my social media timelines. Some of my personal favorites (to hate on) are “turn up” “on fleek” and those silly “be like” memes. You know the ones, “dudes be like” “chicks be like” “bosses be like.” The possibilities are endless. Pause. Recently, it occurred to me that the possibilities with this last one are endless. So actually, I hope you’ll allow me to contradict myself (just this once) as I’m now ready to unveil what my “something new” is. Introducing: Newsmakers Be Like. I chose this title for this new blog series because there are some subtle commonalities that all newsmakers have and it forces us to zero in on what it takes to be a newsmaker. I can’t tell you how many clients, organizations, CEOs, VPs, non-PR folks, you name it, who simply do not understand what it truly takes to get news media and social media interested in their brand. Most times, the “news” they think everyone will care about, is actually the stuff that no one cares about. Sounds harsh but, hey, I’m here to keep it real! I’ve created Newsmakers Be Like to help reduce the number of those same old, tired media pitches and boring campaigns. Instead, let’s help increase the amount of out-of-the-box, newsworthy ideas that will boost awareness for you, your brand, or your organization. Ok ok, I’m ranting and rambling a bit here so what is it? Newsmakers Be Like is a weekly dose of people, places, and things making the news, a breakdown of why it’s news, and a three-sentence “how to” so you can do it yourself (or, of course, hire me to do it for you!). Here and there, I’ll also sprinkle in a relevant article or two from the wonderful world of PR. So without further a do, here’s your first edition: Newsmakers Be Like. Uber Puppies Makes the PR in Me Uber Drool Why it’s News: Real, live puppies delivered on-demand in an Uber car. On-demand puppies coupled with a partnership with the PSPCA to raise awareness about pet adoptions spells publicity. Why? Because you have two polar opposite organizations coming together for a good cause that probably 9/10 people would get behind. That’s because, just like Raymond, Everybody Loves Puppies! In PR, we call this the “human element” or “human interest.” Then the slam dunk: we saw the juxtaposition of puppy overload in highly unlikely places such as corporate offices and tv studios during live broadcasts. Give it a Try: Giving back will almost always get you news coverage because people like to see humans being humans helping other humans. Stop trying to sell crap all the time and figure out a creative way to attach your brand to a good cause that will show your human side. But don’t stop there, bring it to life with rich, newscamera-worthy visuals that will tap into the basic human nature in all of us. Local Library Lends Out Books. And Ties? Why it’s News: In a time where libraries seem just about extinct, one local branch is still making the news. In the opening lines of a story about the library lending out neck ties to job seekers who are prepping for job interviews, Philadelphia magazine describes the good folks over at the library as “The innovative people that run the Paschalville Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.” This is news because we see a seemingly antiquated thing–the free library–staying current by reinventing itself. All the while staying true to its roots. Give it a Try: Do something unorthodox. A fun event, campaign, or initiative that puts a different–but related–spin on your product, brand, or service. Own a bakery? Offer free baking lessons to children on the weekends. Expert interior designer? Spruce up a classroom or two in an underserved school district. Get Hired, Scrub Toilets. Why it’s News: It’s counterintuitive to think that a software engineer would be assigned to scrub toilet bowls their second day on the job. But that’s exactly what one company is requiring of its new hires. This qualifies as news because A) it’s unexpected and B) it tells a narrative of top-level workers doing lower level jobs. Most stories focus on big shots doing big things, while this one brings the big shots down a few notches. Give it a Try: Put your thinking cap on and get counterintuitive. Within the means of your business, do the unexpected. Instead of looking for reporters to come running to your store’s grand opening (I’m here to tell you they won’t), try commemorating the grand opening by closing the store and taking the team to a nearby shelter or Good Will to serve the surrounding community. That’s it for this first edition of Newsmakers Be Like. Waddya think? Share your ideas or comments below. Til next week!
Anderson Cooper called it, “A momentous night.” Another reporter called it, “A moment in history.” While another said it would solidify a legacy. Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address as President of the United States. An hour before the 9 PM speech was set to begin, pre-SOTU coverage was dominated by breaking news that nearly overshadowed the historic moment. Ten U.S. soldiers–nine men and one woman–taken into Iranian custody. You could hear the collective gasp made by PR pros everywhere. An American crisis underway as the President set out to declare the state of the union. It certainly made the PR in me cringe. Here are the three key things that last night’s SOTU reminded us about PR: Anything can happen. Even at an event as meticulously planned and tightly scripted as an American State of the Union address; the news cycle has mercy on no one. Not even the ruler of the free world. Thus, all your hard work in fine tuning a bullet proof communications plan can be altered the instant there is breaking news to be told. Be ready–always–to pivot. The ability to make critical communications decisions on a moment’s notice can’t be stressed enough. To mention it or not to mention it was the decision facing Obama’s camp just before last night’s SOTU speech. Because of the breaking news, White House communications staff had to make a last minute call whether to inject new remarks into the President’s address. Moments before, news media were informed that Mr. President would not talk about the situation in Iran (feeling the issue was under control). They stuck to that plan and the President gave his speech as originally planned. Clearly communicate status updates. As best as possible, inform stakeholders and media of crisis status and any changes to the original schedule of events. Communications staff quickly alerted media that the President would proceed with his speech without any new additions. Clearly the situation in Iran is not something a presidential communications staff wants to deal with just minutes before the capstone speech of an eight year long presidency. Kudos to the team for responding quickly and proactively keeping the public informed. What were your thoughts on the SOTU? Do you think it was the right choice to leave the President’s speech as is, without addressing U.S. soldiers being detained in Iran? Tell me what you think.
In many ways, Stephen Flemming is your quintessential elementary school teacher. He knew since he was a child himself that he wanted to educate children. But educating the youth of Philadelphia isn’t the only thing this teacher excels in. Perhaps it was a reporter at Billy Penn who described him best in the Who’s Next: 16 young teachers and leaders shaping education in Philly feature. The writer describes Flemming as “an outspoken defender of public education.” Then adds: “who you might know from his vibrant Twitter feed.” You see, Flemming is not only a teacher, but he’s also a media magnet (my words, not his). As a teacher working for the School District of Philadelphia, he has first-hand knowledge about the district’s daily drama that us Philly folks see in the news each day. What’s more, this third grade teacher has strong opinions about the condition of the district and what it means for Philly’s children. So he takes to Twitter, his blog, and public forums to sound off. A quick scroll through his social media pages and there’s no doubt about it: Flemming’s #1 priority is ensuring Philadelphia’s children get a quality education; whether it’s a tweet condemning the city’s lack of resources or a picture of him speaking before CIty Council. The result is that news media flock to him. Totally not his intention, but at least once a month reporters contact him, wanting to know what he has to say, needing his insights and opinions to add to their news stories. In other words, Mr. Flemming is a publicist’s dream. So I asked him to draw up a lesson plan for getting the press to notice you. Pay close attention, class is now in session. Lesson #1: Have something worthwhile to say Around 2011 I began submitting my opinions to the Philadelphia Daily News’s daily views and opinions section. I wanted to express how I felt in response to a political figure speaking negatively about public school teachers. The person’s comments bothered me so badly, it came through loud and clear in my submission and the paper published it. Lesson #2: Closed mouths don’t get press I think the news media continues to come to me for a couple reasons. As a teacher for the Philadelphia School District, I’m on the “inside.” But on top of that, I’m not afraid to talk and give my name. This is a big deal with reporters. People are reluctant to give their names for fear of losing their jobs or the potential scrutiny that may come as a result. But journalists won’t pursue stories with sources who don’t want to talk. I’ve experienced some backlash for my outspokenness in print and on broadcast, but I don’t let it worry me. Lesson #3: Use social media to show your thought leadership I use Twitter and my blog to unleash my thoughts on what’s happening inside the Philadelphia public school system. A key piece of advice is to use trending hashtags that are associated with your topic. In my case, it’s #phled. Hashtags have faithful followers (many of which are reporters) who will read, react, and retweet. As far as my personal account goes, there are quite a few reporters who follow me on Twitter and most of my interview requests come through DMs. I don’t know of any journalists who subscribe to my blog, but some will Tweet my posts so I do know they’re reading and following. Lesson #4: Keep it 100 When I post something on social media, I don’t think about it. I just speak the truth. Reporters are looking for “real” and I think the public wants it just like that as well. I speak from experience and I never talk on behalf of other teachers if I don’t have the first-hand knowledge or experience myself. Also, I have no shame in calling Philadelphia’s public school district out on Twitter. Keep it 100% real, tack on a hashtag at the end, and you’re sure to get somebody’s attention. Flemming’s four tips work. See for yourself. Here are just some of his media mentions from 2015. Philly.com – Teachers Express Anger at SRC Decision to Impose Contract Terms Billy Penn – Sixteen Young Teachers and Leaders Shaping Education in Philly Technical.ly Philly – How Schools Across the Philadelphia School District are Building a Tech Culture NBC 10 – Judge Grants Injunction for Philly Teachers Philadelphia Metro – Street Talk: The Reality of Budget Cuts in City Schools Want more inspiration? Follow Steve Flemming on Twitter and check out his blog The View from 105.
It’s Halloween weekend which makes it a perfect time to add some thrills to your ghostwriting skills. Ghostwriting plays a big part in the lives of us PR Mavericks. Speech writing, OpEds, byline articles, the list goes on. Without getting into the debate about whether ghostwriting is ethical (I absolutely think it’s ethical and a critical part of any publicist’s job), here are my top tips for doing killer ghostwriting. Find out what scares them What I mean by this is get to know the person you’re writing for. I mean really get to know them. What are they passionate about? What pisses them off? And yes, what scares them? Doing this will help you can convey their voice and their tone as you write content on their behalf. Channel their spirit When writing for my CEO or my CMO, I have to take off my PR hat and put on my C-suite hat. The chiefs are mostly thinking about things from a wide-angle business perspective. So, when writing for them, part of my job is to channel the inner chief that’s within me. Nine times out of ten ghostwriting requires writing for someone who’s title, position, and/or expertise is different than your own. No matter whom you’re writing for, it’s always best to put your own perspective in the back seat and let theirs drive. Get inside their heads You know that part in a scary movie where one of the characters goes wandering off alone and you yell at the screen, “Don’t go!”? It’s the same with ghostwriting. Never just wander off and start writing without talking to the person you’re writing for. Sit with them first and get inside their heads as it relates to the subject you’re writing about. Get their overall perspective then work your magic as a writer and professional to give it that sizzle the news media is looking for. Find out if they have skeletons in the closet Ghostwriting doesn’t just mean taking someone’s thoughts and putting them to paper for the media. Ghostwriting also means you have to seek out any skeletons that may be lurking out there in the wild. Good or bad; if the person you’re writing for has previously written or said something that counters what you’re currently writing, then you’re going to have a big problem on your hands. The job of the publicist is not only to write, but to ensure the public-facing message always remains consistent. What other tips do you have for killer ghostwriting? Share them with me in the comments!
They say you never forget your first. Yesterday was a day of firsts for me. My very first Google Hangout and the official launch of my first-ever website for my own personal brand. All in a day’s work of a rising PR Maverick I suppose. Neither will be forgotten anytime soon. The hangout was a ton of fun. It was hosted by Evan Carmichael and I was the guest expert helping entrepreneurs and business owners with tips to get free media coverage. As you know, PR is my favorite subject so hanging with Evan and his audience for an hour was pretty dope. The time went by way quicker than I expected and I wouldn’t have been opposed to taking a few more questions and continuing the chat. But that’s what blogs are for, right? Here are some bonus tips I didn’t have a chance to cover in yesterday’s conversation. First off, here are my top three points to remember when pursuing media coverage. – Go where your audience is – Be newsworthy – Ask yourself, “If I saw this in the news, would I find it interesting?” How to get in touch with media reporters Many times, it’s a matter of using a paid media database or searching the media outlet’s website for a journalist’s telephone and email information. Most prefer email so start there. – Craft a short, but enticing subject line – Keep your email pitches to three sentences max. Reporters are busy! – If you can’t explain it in three sentences or less, try harder! How to become BFFs with a reporter – Do your homework, do your homework, do your homework! Find out their “beat” and the types of stories they typically cover – Sell the story, not your product or service – Engage with them on social media. if you follow them on Twitter, share their stories you find interesting, bring something new to the discussion in the comments section on their articles – Say thank you when they write about you or feature your business! How to get reporters to ignore you – Not doing your homework – Pitching them with junk or something that’s irrelevant to their beat or their audience – Offering something and then not being able to deliver – Leaving them hanging when they need you. when the media calls, you jump! Tips to determine if something is newsworthy before you media pitch – Look for a human interest angle – Is it a “first ever”? – Can you create a story out of current events, trends, news, etc. that are popular? – Is there any shock value? think counterintuitive, surprising statistics, etc. – How can you tie your story to national/world events, holidays, seasons, themes, etc. but bring in a new perspective? If you missed the hangout yesterday, here’s the full recording. Share your tips or questions with me in the comments!
Am I the only one who adores reading, but can’t find the time? Good, it’s not just me. Nevertheless, I do manage to squeeze in a few good reads here and there. This summer, I tried pushing myself to conquer at least three. To kick things off, I started with Aliza Licht’s Leave Your Mark. Turns out, Leave Your Mark was not only an awesome read, it also happened to be the extra push I needed to create my website and launch this blog. Yes, the book was that inspiring; it moved me from thinking to doing. I’m a sucker for three things: PR (of course), career development, and anything about personal brand. It’s almost as if Aliza dedicated her first book to me because Leave Your Mark covers all three! The book is divided into four parts: Landing Your Dream Job, Killing it in Your Career, Rocking Social Media, and Creating the Brand of You. The first two sections weren’t all that applicable for me personally, but who doesn’t love a nice reminder of what they already know – with confirmation that they’re on the right track? That’s not to say the first two sections didn’t have anything to offer because there were some definite key takeaways. Not to mention, I totally wish this book was around when I first started out in my career. Parts III and IV were when things began to heat up for me. So many bookmarked pages and “notes to self.” Chapter 13, “Being Socially Savvy” spoke favorably to the PR in me thanks to Aliza’s strategic advice on how to do social. Did I mention she’s the creative maven behind one of the most successful fashion brands on Twitter? Yeah, she’s the mastermind of DKNY PR Girl. With more than 530K followers, I was all ears to what this PR Maverick had to say about social strategy. Like how to build a follower base. Aliza says it’s the result of three things: 1) putting out great content, 2) engaging with people who speak to you and 3) proactively reaching out to others. Throughout Leave Your Mark, she also hits you with her Insider Tips. These little info nuggets were short, yet each one packed a mighty punch. As far as social strategy goes, here are the tips that stuck with me most: – Not every tweet has to include an image or a link, and the shorter a tweet is, the more engagement it gets – Pay close attention to your tweets that generate engagement, and lose the ones that don’t – Before your start a blog, determine what your purpose and point of view will be and stick to that filter – Transparency and authenticity rule in social media She also talks about the importance and relevance of social media for our personal brands. “Social media has helped catapult seemingly regular people into personal brands,” she says.”Your social presence should be a carefully curated version of yourself.” Speaking of personal brands, Chapter 15, Being Your Own Publicist, was another key chapter for me. My favorite Insider Tip from the entire book: A lot of people do a lot of things, but the person who does it the loudest gets the “expert” credit. YES! That’s what I needed to hear as I aim to pursue my new PR Maverick brand. Seems like basic advice, but the short blips of information were like gasoline to my fire as I move forward with my own social media and personal branding. There’s a ton more that I took away from Leave Your Mark. If you’re a sucker for PR, personal development and personal branding like yours truly, I strongly urge you to pick up a copy. When you do, come back here and let’s chat about it! Leave your thoughts in the comments. Happy reading!
It was an unlikely chain of events a few weeks ago. America’s favorite weight loss success icon, Jared Fogle, pled guilty to charges of child pornography and sexual acts with minors–about a dozen over the past five years. Disgusting. Due to his disgraceful acts, the former spokesman for Subway restaurants has catapulted the restaurant chain to the center of national media attention. The words “firefighting” and “damage control” come to mind as I ponder what the company’s PR folks must be experiencing at the moment. So what are the PR lessons to be gleaned from this? Say something One of PR’s many golden rules when it comes to crises is to tell it all, tell it early, and tell it yourself. In other words, say something before others say it for you. Subway first started out with the classic “no comment” statement. In this International Business Times article, PR Disasters and How Companies Can Overcome Them, Eric Dezenhall a PR consultant says that given the situation Subway has found themselves in, “you sever ties, you make a statement, and get back to business.” I’ve never been a fan of this type of arms folded, “I’m not talking and you can’t make me” approach, but I’ve also never been involved in a PR crisis of this magnitude. Thank you PR Gods <<insert praying hands emoji here>> Damage control The day of Fogle’s guilty plea, Subway opened things up some. Because Jared’s acts are as despicable as they come, their strategy was to create as much space as possible between him and the brand. From a brand perspective, this makes sense I suppose. But PR-wise, wouldn’t it have been more impactful had they humanized it some? Here’s why. No matter what, Jared Fogle and Subway will forever be synonymous. This was the case before the scandal and now even more because of the scandal. With that said, Subway’s attempt to publicly “unfriend” Jared are ineffective because their statements end up coming across as mere corporate speak. To humanize it, it would’ve been more impactful to express sympathy towards the victims and (dare I say it) even toward Jared as a human being who clearly needs to get help and who was once a long-time partner of theirs. This is all assuming that Subway had no knowledge of Jared’s vices, of course; which is still unknown. Looking ahead This scandal is still in its early stages so it’ll be interesting to see if Subway quietly fades into the background and waits for the PR gods to send the next crisis for everyone to turn their attention to. After all, Trump is saying something outrageous every other second so it shouldn’t take too long, right? But Subway may be proactive in a continued attempt at damage control. I wouldn’t be surprised if they offered some form of assistance to the victims or if they launched a campaign to help fight and put an end to child pornography. We’ll have to wait and see. What are your thoughts on the way Subway handled all this? Share your thoughts in the comments below and let’s talk about it!
Copyright © All Rights Reserved.