Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Have a Happy and Safe New Year!

Being the last post of 2008, everyone at PRowl Public Relations would like to wish you a happy and healthy new year! Ring in 2009 in style, and have a fresh start on January 1!

Here are some of the top resolutions of 2009.
-Stop smoking
-Lose "x" pounds
-Be a better person
-Be a healthier person

Does yours match these, or do you have a different resolution?

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Top 10 PR Blunders

Thanks to our own Jessica Lawlor, I was recently alerted to this interesting list that was compiled by San Francisco's Fineman PR. It's their 14th annual Top 10 PR Blunders list, and it's a really great list for PR majors and practitioners to take a look at. 2008 was filled with blunders that many of us know about, but there were a few on the list that I needed to brush up on! Here are the top two blunders:

Number 1 Spot: AIG paying for retreats for executives just a few days after they were granted an $85 billion dollar federal bailout package.

Number 2 Spot: CEOs of the Big Three automakers flew to Washington in three separate corporate jets to ask for bailout money. PR Week reported that "it made the Big Three appear out of touch, and evoked memories of the AIG retreat controversy."

Want to read all 10 blunders? Check out the article here!

*All information was taken from "AIG, Detroit Three, V.A. and Berkeley Featured Among Top 2008 PR Blunders" on PRNewswire.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Freelance PR Part 3

In my never-ending quest to find out what I really want to do with my life, I came across a new avenue of public relations-- Freelancing.

After interning at an agency this past semester, I realized that perhaps agency work isn't quite the route I want to take upon graduating from college next year. I realized that I love to write, and often prefer working solo. I reached out through our Twitter to find other PR practitioners out there who have done some freelance work. Luckily, many people responded!

This is the third post in what is a series of posts featuring different PR freelancers

This week, I interviewed Shonali Burke, ABC , an award-winning, accredited communications consultant based in the Washington, DC area.

Ms. Burke would describe a Freelance PR professional as, "one who pursues his or her career without a long-term commitment to a single employer, thus being able to cater to as many clients as their time and workload allows."

Interestingly enough, Ms. Burke did not study PR at the undergraduate or graduate level. She began working in PR over a decade ago while living in India and working as an actress and director. After gaining name recognition, she was asked to help with PR for various projects. When she moved to the United States in 2000, she decided to take up PR full-time.

While living in San Francisco, she worked in a boutique PR and marketing agency, and after a few years set up her own consulting firm.
After moving to DC, she decided to work in an established agency, and eventually moved on to revamp the ASPCA's communications. Ms. Burke describes this opportunity as exciting and fulfilling but left in July 2008 and began independently consulting in November 2008.

She is extremely accomplished and was honored in 2007 when PRWeek named her one of the top 40 under 40 PR professionals in the United States. Also, in 2005 Ms. Burke earned her accreditation in business communications from IABC (hence the ABC after her name).

When asked why she broke into freelancing, Ms. Burke says, "
When I first started freelancing in India, I did so because I could not, at the time, imagine giving up my theater and related activities altogether; I loved what I did but needed to find a way to supplement my income. Freelancing allowed me the freedom to do both, and I also enjoyed the feeling of being my own boss. More recently, I started looking for a full-time position a few months after leaving the ASPCA, but had a great project come my way and leaped at the opportunity to work with a fun client. I'm investigating further consulting opportunities and thoroughly enjoying what I'm doing."

With the connections she has made through networking and her agency experience, Ms. Burke has obtained clients through referrals and has not yet had to cold-call and pitch clients. However, she notes that as a freelancer, networking is extremely important. Ms. Burke has spoken at many conferences which she mentions has been great for raising her profile to potential clients. She also notes the importance of Twitter as a tool for networking with other like-minded people creating potential business opportunities.

Ms. Burke's favorite aspect of freelancing is setting her own schedule, and choosing the work that she wants to do. Her least favorite aspect is managing every aspect of her business including taxes, accounting, contract, and finding new clients.

"I'm often asked for advice on whether or not to start freelancing. I always tell people that if you can deal with the ups and downs that come with an irregular income stream, and feel in your gut that it will make you happier than regular employment, you should go for it. Recognize, though, that as your own boss, you will work harder than anywhere else - after all, it's completely up to you to bring in your business, no one else is going to do it for you," Ms. Burke advises to any person who wishes to begin freelancing.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from PRowl Public Relations!

Merry Christmas! Everyone at PRowl Public Relations wishes you a happy and safe holiday!

Even though it is the holiday season, it is always important to practice proper etiquette. PR practitioners use some of these things every day, and it is important for you to do the same, especially around the holidays:

  • Always be pleasant. Smile, give a hug, have a firm handshake. It's the holidays. Nobody wants to be or look miserable.

  • Send thank you cards. If someone gives you an unexpected gift, always thank them. Make sure you always have simple thank you cards on hand. Mail them a thank you card the next morning.

  • If you're invited to a holiday party, ask what you can do to help. Give a nice bottle of wine, make an appetizer, bake your favorite Christmas cookies. Never go empty-handed.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Everyone at PRowl Public Relations
would like to wish our readers and friends
a very very very special holiday!

Enjoy yourselves, be safe and have fun!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Freelance PR Part 2

In my never-ending quest to find out what I really want to do with my life, I came across a new avenue of public relations-- Freelancing.

After interning at an agency this past semester, I realized that perhaps agency work isn't quite the route I want to take upon graduating from college next year. I realized that I love to write, and often prefer working solo. I reached out through our
Twitter to find other PR practitioners out there who have done some freelance work. Luckily, many people responded!

This is the second post in what is a series of posts featuring different PR freelancers.

This week, I interviewed Zackery Moore
, a unique PR freelancer, because he is also a student.

Zackery describes freelance PR as, "working solo with your clients." He is a senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The first thing Zackery did when deciding to pursue PR was to find a mentor.

Zackery mentions that it's sometimes difficult to balance PR, schoolwork, and holding a job to make ends meet, but it's something that he is determined to do.

As for charging clients, Zackery says, "Pricing is the biggest hurdle. Of course, I charge less than someone with a degree. And when I graduate next December, I'll raise my fees." Zackery uses an Adobe AIR application called FEAT that helps him to determine prices for projects.

Unlike most freelancers, who carefully plan their foray into the freelancing world, Zackery stumbled upon it. He did research, read blogs, and later constructed a business plan . He mentions that he, "became consumed with the freelance lifestyle."

So, how does Zackery get his clients? Many different ways. He makes cold-calls, networks as much as possible and uses personal marketing. However, his most successful tactic is networking. He explains that he often just asks how he can help a potential client, and sometimes does work for free, before finding paying clients.

Zackery's favorite aspect of freelancing is the freedom that comes with creating your own hours and being your own boss. His least favorite aspect, however, is finding new clients. "
I've never really been great at sales, but I love the creative part of it. I think that's the case for a lot of freelancers. We love our "art," but often times aren't great at the sales part," he said.

As for his plans post-graduation, Zackery said that he would like to continue freelancing, find a job at an agency, and eventually open his own firm.

To stay active in the business, Zackery relies on social media and networking. He likes to read industry blogs and social media blogs to stay current.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tweet Tweet: You're Fired!

Twitter is making the news these days. This week, the New York Times published an article about a new way to stay current on the media.

A tip sheet is a newsletter that PR professionals can get about changes in media personnel. If you have a Twitter account, now you don’t have to wait for that newsletter, you can get instant updates! “The Media Is Dying” is a Twitter stream that sends media hirings and firings in less than 140 characters. The stream, which was once private, is now public to all who want to “follow.” With the economy, staffing changes and layoffs are increasing every day, and as a public relations professional and/or student, it is essential to keep up with who’s who in the media. Keeping current on staff changes will allow for you to pitch to the correct person, and not annoy the wrong one.

Happy Twittering!

To subscribe to “The Media Is Dying,” visit

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Twitter has what new feature?!

Leave it to one of the most talked about social media upstarts, microblogging site Twitter, to come up with their newest and most intriguing feature... Twitpay.

In this article in the New York Times, Twitpay is highlighted:

"Twitpay is a start-up that aims to allow people to send small payments through Twitter. To do this they include the recipients’ username in their message. For example, posting the update “@johnsmith twitpay $10 for lunch” would deliver the cash to that Twitterer’s Twitpay account. The company monitors the public stream of messages for the keyword “twitpay” and facilitates the exchange. You replenish your Twitpay account using a site like PayPal. Once recipients have accumulated more than $10 in their accounts, the balance can be cashed out in the form of an Amazon gift card."

This new feature is really something that will make Twitter stand out in the social media arena. I'm interested in seeing where Twitter takes these ideas, as well as how Twitter users will react once this feature if finalized.

In what ways do you think Twitpay will affect the popularity of other social media sites like Facebook or MySpace?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Top Media & Marketing Innovations of 2008

There was an article yesterday in PRSA Issues and Trends, a daily news service for members of PRSA. The article, Top Media & Marketing Innovations of 2008, lists the top media and marketing innovations of the year. It includes everything from the 2008 Summer Olympics, the increasing popularity of Twitter, interactive magazine advertisements, etc. It's a really neat article, so check it out!

I wonder what will top the list at the end of 2009?

"It was a size 10"

By now I'm sure that everyone has heard about, read about, or seen a video of the shoe incident with President Bush. After it happened Bush brushed it off, saying, "So what if a guy threw his shoe at me?" He also compared the incident to political protests at home.

When I saw the footage, I didn't see the reporter acting in a joking way at all. I saw him acting in anger and frustration.

From a PR standpoint, do you think Bush should brush this off as a joke, or take a more serious stance towards it? If President Bush was your client, how would you advise him to handle the situation?

*Quotes taken from this aricle.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Freelance PR Part 1

In my never-ending quest to find out what I really want to do with my life, I came across a new avenue of public relations-- Freelancing.

After interning at an agency this past semester, I realized that perhaps agency work isn't quite the route I want to take upon graduating from college next year. I realized that I love to write, and often prefer working solo. I reached out through our Twitter to find other PR practitioners out there who have done some freelance work. Luckily, many people responded!

This is the first post in what will be a series of posts featuring different PR freelancers.

This week, I interviewed Robin Bernstein of Write Time Communications, a company that provides PR services to clients on a freelancing basis.

Ms. Bernstein would describe freelance PR as, "providing public relations services (writing, publicity, event planning, etc) to an organization or individual (the client) on a contract basis."

She mentions that freelancers are paid by the project, by the hour, or via a monthly retainer.

Bernstein also notes that many PR freelancers prefer to be called "independents" because the term freelancer sometimes refers to people who freelance, in addition to having a full-time job. For Bernstein, being an independent is a full-time and permanent job.

After holding positions at Ogilvy PR and Edelman, she opened Write Time Communication in 1991.

When asked why she chose to take the leap from the corporate world to being her own boss, Bernstein says, "I love the independence, variety and ability to work from home. After a decade in the corporate world, I got tired of playing politics. Also, the higher I rose the ranks, the more I had to delegate what I loved doing most, which was writing."

Bernstein obtains clients in many different ways. She cites referrals, word-of-mouth, staying active in professional organizations, and attending networking events all as vital ways to obtain clients. She mentions that she will occasionally send out emails or make cold calls. Lately, she has found, as many of us PR practitioners are finding that social media is helping her to gain new clients.

Although Ms. Bernstein loves the freedom of freelancing, she admits that she doesn't like the the difficulty in controlling the work flow. "Sometimes it's so busy I'm working 24/7. Other times I'm sitting around saying, "OK, where is everyone?" she said.

To stay active in the business, Bernstein advises other freelancers to remember to continue networking, both physically, and virtually. She says, "Get out to meetings, luncheons, dinners. Use the phone and email. And stay active online in social media networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Calling All Freelance Writers/PR Practitioners

For a series of upcoming posts beginning tomorrow, PRowl Public Relations is looking to highlight freelance writers and PR practitioners and what they do on a daily basis.

Please send us an email at or leave us a comment below with your email address if you're interested in being interviewed and we will contact you shortly!

Thanks and looking forward to hearing from you!

Friday, December 12, 2008

GM makes cuts, but firms seek to hold on

PRWeek has an interesting article posted today about when budgets are cut, PR often goes out the window. In this article, they are referring to the world’s largest automaker currently plagued by financial crisis, General Motors.

In fact, according to GM’s VP of global communications, “all budgets throughout communications” are being cut. Like many other large companies, GM employs several PR firms. Although GM’s budgets are being drastically reduced, at least one firm has agreed to battle the storm with the American automaker. MS&L, a leading global communications firm, will “temporarily reduce rates next year” to devote themselves to “helping GM get through the current financial situation and onto firmer ground in 2009,” according to the firm’s CEO, Mark Hass.

Reducing their rates is very kind of MS&L, but are they genuinely committed to the cause or could the drop of the giant automaker be disastrous for the communications firm. As many organizations’ budgets are being cut left and right, agencies and firms are losing clients and are seeking any way to hold on.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Soooo what now?

The semester is practically over.... now what?

Though we all deserve a break after this gruesome semester, we shouldn't forget that spring is just around the corner from our winter break! Soooo after a few weeks of relaxing, it might be a good idea to consider plans for next semester.

Some things you might want to consider doing over break...

-Get a holiday or seasonal job! Though you might have less time to relax and veg out on the couch, at least you can make some extra cash, which is always nice!

-Volunteer! If you don't want to be tied down by employment during you break, grab some friends and lend a helping hand. Volunteer at local hospitals, schools, food banks or the many other places that need help during the busy holidays. They will really appreciate it and you'll feel good about it too!

-Look for internships! Start looking for your next internship while you have time, so when you get back to school, you'll have an idea of where you want to apply.

-Revamp your resume! After you've found your dream internship, make sure your resume is ready to go! Take the time to organize and edit your resume, making it perfect. Plus, with tons of family around, you'll have extra eyes and critics to look it over too.

But don't forget to...

Spend time with your family and friends! It is your break after all, so spend quality time with the people you love most!

And most of all...

Enjoy yourself, have fun and be safe!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Hey Temple students, congratulations! You've made it through your classes of the fall 2008 semester! Today officially ends classes, and finals week begins on Monday, Dec. 15. One last hurdle to jump: finals. Be sure to stay focused during this last part of the semester.

Good luck with finals, from everyone at PRowl Public Relations!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Give Them What They Want!

Today I was reading the latest release of the Bulldog Reporter (one of my favorite places to get PR tips and news) and I came across this really cool article about how to attract more media, from a journalist's perspective. The journalist giving the tips is named John McIntyre, and he's the assistant managing editor at the copy desk of The Baltimore Sun. Here are his tips for writing something a journalist will actually want to read!

Don't let your pitch get watered down, stay focused and specific.
Say one thing in your pitch, and get to the point quickly! Don't put all kinds of information in there.

Avoid the painfully obvious — move right to the salient point.
Give your reader something that they don't know already. Tell them what they need to know.

Get the facts straight.
Make sure everything you're saying is true and accurate.

Chill out on the adjectives and promotional language.
McIntyre says that since everyone is writing shorter stories, to just give the main points and don't put too many details in that really don't matter.

Avoid trying to be "cute" — just deliver the facts.
Write an interesting, factual headline that has some impact for the reader. He says that "tantalizing" them might work sometimes, but it's not guaranteed.

Everyone has their own tips for getting the attention of the right people. Do you agree with these? What are yours?

Temple students - good luck with your LAST day of Fall 2008 classes tomorrow!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Social Media as a Stress Buster?


It's clearly the hot topic of this month for many people, but especially for students what with finals upon us.

Did you know the social networking can relieve stress?

I saw an interesting post on PR Squared a few weeks ago written by Mari Ryan about how social networks like blogging, Twitter, and texting can actually RELIEVE stress.

Ryan writes:

We live in a world where our ability to connect with others is limitless. The Internet and social networking provide us with a means of connecting with others that may help with reducing our stress. Abraham Maslow, the American psychologist most well known for the “hierarchy of human needs,” described the “sense of belonging” as one of the social needs that is core to our self-actualization.

How very true. I know that I use many different forms of social media and I often feel a sense of satisfaction when I make a new connection or someone replies to one of my 'tweets.'

Ryan goes on to say:

Research shows that bonding results from these interactions and creates a feeling of belonging and connectedness. The effects of stress are lessened through such interpersonal relationships and strong support systems.

So interesting! Next time you're feeling stressed, tweet about it! You never know who might make your day a little better.

What do you think? Do you think that social media can relieve stress?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's Ladies' Night...

While I was driving home to visit my parents a few days ago, I heard a really interesting advertisement on the radio. A Philadelphia jewelry store is holding ‘Ladies’ Night’ where women and their friends can come and make a holiday wish list for their husband or boyfriend. While browsing the store’s selection, ladies can enjoy wine and refreshments to create a party atmosphere. One week later, the store will be holding Guys’ Night, where gentlemen can come and check out the holiday wish list chosen by their wives and girlfriends who attended the first event. Again, to create a great atmosphere beer and refreshments will be served. I thought this was a really creative idea for attracting customers who might be on a tight budget and think twice about buying jewelry this Christmas.

A few days later I came across this NY Times article that talks about the same concept used by that jewelry store. Because budgets are tight this holiday season, many smaller companies are sponsoring special events instead of spending large amounts of money on advertising. It talks of a comic book store holding art shows and a futon store holding a comedy show. Personally, I would enjoy attending a special event like those mentioned instead of seeing tons of ads thrown at me, often times I just ignore ads on television or in a magazine anyway.

Although this is a great way to raise customer awareness and get that sale, events need to be done in a certain way to be successful. These tips were offered in the article:

-If you are having a performer at your event, like a comedian, provide incentive to get them there.

-Make sure the event doesn’t overshadow the brand of your company. You want the event to help

consumers identify your brand, not create a new one.

-The tone of the event needs to be genuine. Customers will know if you are only focused on getting a

sale out of them.

-Use social media to promote the event, as well as your brand.

As many companies have to cut back their marketing budgets this season, it could be very beneficial to them to use my favorite PR tool, a well-planned event!

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations firm staff member, Laura Macenka.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

PRowl’s 100% Guilt-Free Blog Entry

Although I keep up with the daily news—well, for the most part—I have to admit that I love keeping up with the month-to-month features and columns of women’s magazines, especially Glamour. In particular, my favorite features section is Life & Happiness, where there is always a “100% guilt-free page,” that lets us all know we’re not alone in whatever we are thinking, or doing. So, as the end-of-the-year stress piles up, I think it’s important to let our readers know…

Hey, it’s okay!

…to wake up debating whether it’s more important to wash your face, or hit the snooze button for ten more minutes.

…to put lyrics to songs like “Manic Monday” on your Facebook status, because that’s the only song you can relate to right now.

…to settle for fast food on-the-go just to save the time and stress of cleaning up.

…to have at least one half hour of “me” time every day to de-stress. Even if it’s just to take a power nap, or catch up on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

…to stay in on a Saturday night because it’s the only time you can relax.

…to inwardly groan, and then say “no,” when someone at work asks if you can cover their shift…on December 26.

…to not do it all in one day. I mean, you’re only human!

…..I hope that helps everyone during this busy time of year!

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations firm staff member, Ashley Kraynak.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Starbucks Love?

As read in the WSJ today, Starbucks is just another company who is losing steam during this economic crisis. The hip coffee chain closed hundreds of locations within the past few months, but instead of closing even more in the near future, Starbucks will be placing a new emphasis on retaining customers, cutting costs and promoting the value of its products.

I must give Starbucks props on their new tactic of retaining customers though. Their new loyalty card. Customers who get this card, a free purchase but with an annual fee, get a 10% discount on every purchase (beneficial for those who visit Starbucks approximately 16 times a month, our 4 times a week). As a student who must get by on little amounts of sleep, Starbucks is an almost daily destination for me (Did I mention I can’t resist their fat-free blueberry cake?).

The projected ways of cutting costs were a little outlandish though. One example: Cut down their recipes of banana bread, from 11 to one. They also plan on saving labor- which probably means longer waits for consumers as the cashier moves from the register to the espresso machine. Starbucks will also be partnering with the Subway chain, selling its Seattle’s Best Coffee brand at 1,900 locations.

Starbucks believes these presented tactics, among others, will save $400 million in costs by next fall. What do you think? Are consumers still in love with their $4.35 specialty drinks or has Folgers become increasingly more appealing to many of the once-avid Starbucks fans?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bad Pitch, Bad News!

I first found out about "The Bad Pitch Blog" from my professor, Ashlee Goodman earlier this semester. (Sorry, I forgot to share sooner!) The blog features the best and worst of pitches, submitted by journalists and editors. The entries are really entertaining and can be educational in teaching us, PR folks, what not to do.

You really must check the blog out!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

End of the Semester Stress

At Temple, there is exactly one week until the end of classes for the fall semester. Although it isn't technically "finals week" yet, I know a lot of people who already have loads of stress bubbling inside of them. I personally would rather listen to Christmas music and bake cookies, but that isn't happening any time before the end of the semester. Here are a few tips to beat the end-of-semester heat!

  • Make lists of what you need to do. The list may be overwhelming at first, but once you begin crossing items off, it feels much better.
  • Keep organized. You don't want to be scrambling at the last minute looking for your notes to start writing a paper or studying for that exam. Try to get everything together (if it isn't already) and keep it neat so you'll be ready to go when you start.
  • Take a deep breath. It may seem like the end of the world right now, but you can get through this!
  • Take a break! Nobody can study for days (or even hours!) straight. Walk away from your desk. Put on a few Christmas songs (or any other song - but it is the holiday season!) and rock out. Go for a walk in the city. Watch your favorite TV show. Visit your favorite blog. Call a friend. Do anything you can to get your mind clear and off of things.
Good luck with this last week of classes!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More Black Friday!

After reading Jade's post about her working and shopping experiences on Black Friday, I started really thinking about my own. I too worked and shopped on November 28, and it was quite the day, as always.

After doing a little shopping, I headed to the GAP at my local mall where I work. As I approached the store, I saw something that I didn't expect to see. I was greeted by HUGE red signs advertising Buy 1 Get 1 Free Holiday Sweaters. This surprised me because GAP never has promotions like that! As I entered the store, I saw many people taking advantage of the rare opportunity.

By closing time, we were out of many colors, styles and sizes of the holiday sweaters and the store was a mess, but the promotion was worth it. The store's sales were comparable to last years sales, even with the economy in disarray. This left me to wonder how other retail stores did on Black Friday, and what promotions they used to get people to come in and spend some money!

So now I'm very curious. What did you encounter on Black Friday? Did you notice any really good deals? Do you think they had anything to do with the economy? Let us know!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Good Pitch, Bad Pitch

In the last few weeks, members of PRowl Public Relations have sent out many pitch letters on behalf of our clients.

For instance, just last week we sent out a pitch letter to Philadelphia community news writers about the Dutch Umbrella brand.

When sending out a pitch, we always make sure to:
-Target the correct person. What good is sending a community related pitch letter to a local news reporter? No good at all. We do our research to ensure that we are sending the pitches to the correct writers or editors.
- Personalize the pitch. We make sure to personalize the pitch by including that writer's name and targeting the content to what that person writes about it.
-Follow-up. After sending a pitch letter, we make sure to follow up with the writer or editor by phone the next day. Instead of just asking them if they received the pitch letter, we make sure to ask them if they have any questions that we could answer. Also, we ask them if they are on deadline before we bother them any further. If a reporter is on deadline, they will be less willing to talk!

Shannon Cherry from Common Sense PR gives other examples of how to create a pitch that will get the attention of the media.

What are your pitching tips? Do you have any suggestions for PR students on how to effectively send a pitch letter to the media?