Thursday, June 30, 2011

Strategy is Key to Scheduling Social Media Messages

Have you ever wondered what the most effective time to send a tweet or Facebook post is? A strategic analysis of audience, content, and research can help pinpoint the optimum time for your next social media update.Audience comes first when scheduling a social media update. Are you targeting the tech-savvy soccer moms? How about workaholics or maybe college students? It is important to consider your audience’s schedule in order to maximize the impact of your message.

College students dread mornings, so scheduling a message around lunch or in the afternoon may be more effective. Saturday and Sunday mornings and afternoons may be a good time if you are targeting parents with active kids. This audience may be checking their social media on mobile devices during soccer games, swim meets, or hockey practices.

The content of your tweet will also help determine timing. If you are releasing a report that could affect the stock market, make sure you schedule the tweet immediately after the press release. However, if you are tweeting an event advertisement that will attract working families, think about scheduling the tweet for a Friday lunch hour or the evening commute.

Finally, the most strategically timed updates are based in research. This ADVERBLOG article has great statistics to help social media gurus time their updates. Important takeaways from the article include:

· Almost half of the U.S. population is based in the Eastern Time Zone
· The percentage of retweets per hour peaks at 6 p.m.
· Twitter click through rate by hour spikes around noon and again at 6 p.m.
· Facebook shares peak around noon

With this said, why is timing important to social media messaging? Simple: your message will fall flat if your targeted audience doesn’t see it or if they don’t have time to click a link. So before you schedule your next social media update, be sure to take into account your audience, content, and the facts to make sure your message makes an impression on the correct audience at the correct time.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why your Pitching E-mails get Deleted

My first pitching experience was absolutely nerve racking complete with clammy hands and nervous voice. I know rejection is part of the industry and pitching in general, but I couldn't help  but feel nervous about my precious pitch not getting a second look. A recent article in  Business Insider shed some light on why a pitch gets deleted and the specific things to avoid when pitching.

Some of the top reasons e-mails never get opened can be related to the following issues; unknown sender, non-compelling subject line, recipient's name spelled wrong, and boring first sentence (you can see it in gmail without ever opening the email). The article further explains that even if your e-mail does get opened, there is a 50/50 chance of your e-mail actually being acknowledged. Either you wrote something untrue about the recipient in attempt to connect with them, your e-mail was too long, or your pitch is irrelevant to what the reporter covers.

With that in mind, its important before you pitch to do some research on the recipient. Research recipients articles or Twitter to find their tailored  interests. Also using a site like Linkdin could help you make a personal connection with the recipient.

Another thing to avoid when pitching is buzz words, there is nothing more annoying to a reporter than a comparison between your topic and an already successful established event or product such as Foursquare. One of BEST things you can do however, is have an intriguing subject line. It catches the recipient right away while providing all the information that the e-mail contains. Its a hard task, but the success is worth the effort.

 The article even provides an example pitch:
Hi Alyson,

Wanted to let you know that a startup BI has written about in the past is seeking between [X] million and [Y] million in Series A funding. The company's founder has received inquiries from a number of VC firms and is now in California meeting with possible investors.
Thought this might be a decent piece of news for you. Let me know if you have any questions or want to speak with the founder. Here's a video of him recently on Fox. [X]

As an aside, my brother went to Syracuse. I sent him your website in case he wants to get a t-shirt for his girlfriend :)


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

College Students Use Twitter to Boost their GPAs

As the majority of college students already know, social media sites are becoming more and more popular every year. A whopping 94% of first year college students use them almost every day. While the use of these sites could be thought of as a distraction, a recent study has shown that incorporating Twitter into the classroom has helped a group of 125 students outperform those that continued traditional learning practices. In addition to earning a higher GPA, these students were also found to be more engaged in the classroom.

There's no denying that social media's popularity is not going to decrease anytime soon, so teachers and students are starting to take advantage of sites like Twitter, to encourage participation in a classroom setting. The use of this social media outlet allows students to create discussions with their classmates not only during class, but outside as well. They are able to see what their peers are posting while using the site as a forum for questions.

A recent CNN article interviewed eighth grade teacher, Enrique Legaspi, on how he has incorporated the site into his middle school classroom. "For a lot of them, what it did is help find their voice. I have many students that do not participate in my classes or share what's on their mind, so Twitter became that vehicle." Similar to Legaspi's classroom, it is evident in a university setting that only a small group of individuals usually participate during class time, but with encouragement to use the technology they use constantly, education may evolve for the best.

Has social media helped you in the classroom? Read more statistics from the study here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

How to Stake a Claim in the Boardroom

It is important to make yourself known when you are entering a new workplace, specifically in a positive light. You don't want to look like a rookie, but you also want to be respectful of your superiors. The boardroom is a great place to showcase your ideas while still promoting an open platform for constructive criticism from your colleagues. Below are a few pointers from "Communication Clinic: How to be a great participant in meetings" on effectively staking your claim in the boardroom:

  • Prepare-Research. Find out all the information you can about the topic of the meeting as well as your role. If you have a large part in the presentation, make it a point to request a space in the agenda. That way, you will be guaranteed a portion of time where you can get your idea across with the undivided attention of all in attendance.
  • Engage-While you should always be early to meetings, get to them earlier so you can get the best seat in the house: next to the facilitator. Getting there early will also allow you to network with your colleagues and give you a chance to relax before your presentation.
  • Record-Take notes. It is always advisable to do so in the case that you have something to address during the meeting. Being informed will allow you to contribute in a calculated yet constructive manner.

  • Assert-If you have something to say, don't be afraid to say it. However, instead of interrupting or jumping into conversations, it may be effective to make eye contact with the facilitator or even raise your hand. When you are speaking to the room, be sure to make eye contact and execute your delivery. That is, sit up straight, project, and be clear and concise.
To read the full HRCommunicator article, click here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

When Does Who Become More Important Than What?

Apparently, it’s the moment a United States president uses social media.

In 2008, for the first time ever, the battle for the presidential election was waged and won by President Barack Obama through social media. This is not news. It happened roughly 4 years ago and was the topic of much conversation at the time. So much so, that now it is considered standard practice.

This is why I took interest in an article published by The New York Times entitled, “Obama Starts Tweeting for Himself”. I had always assumed that during the 2008 election the majority of the social media posts, especially on Twitter, were composed by a group of communications staffers, but I was surprised that Obama did not write a single tweet himself.

Well, that’s all changing. As of Father’s Day, Obama will start composing his own tweets. Or at least the ones signed, –BO. Here is what the president had to say in his inaugural tweet:

"Being a father is sometimes my hardest but always my most rewarding job. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. –BO."

What does this mean for his upcoming campaign? Well, staffers are hoping it will help voters feel more connected to the president, and that messages sent directly from him will have a greater impact. Personally, I am hoping we will get to see a glimpse of the individual style that is Obama. But I haven’t decided if this matters to me as a voter.

As a communications student, I expect a team of communications professionals to meticulously write and rewrite every piece of information that we receive from the White House and the president. So I am not sure if this personal signature will mean that much. Personally, I kind of doubt it. But if the president can make people feel as if they have access to him, then it just might mean a whole heck of a lot.

What do you think about the situation? Will you feel more connected to the President if he types in his own tweets? Will this bring something new to the political table, giving the everyday voter access to the candidate?

To read the full article from The New York Times click here.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Jacob DeChant.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What a Non-PR Internship Taught Me About PR

As aspiring PR professionals, internships are invaluable to gaining real world experience in the industry. An internship at a PR agency or in a PR department can help you gain experience in the various PR processes. Still, don't discount the value of a non-PR internship.

I've been interning for a month at Progressive Business Publications, which produces content online and in print to help business professionals do their job better. Not only have I gained a better understanding of business, but I've also gained some useful insights for the PR industry:

1. Know Your Audience: At Progressive Business Publications there are newsletters for business pros such as Human Resource Specialists and CFOs. Each newsletter contains information specifically targeted to a particular business profession. Even with the disappearance of many print publications, subscriptions for the newsletters have remained strong because PBP caters to its various audiences. Likewise in PR, if you know your target audiences' preferences and dislikes, you can formulate an effective message.

2. Keep It Simple: Everyday at my internship it's stressed how important it is to write clearly and concisely. With just four or eight pages to fill with content in the newsletters, the writer must get straight to the point. Similarly in PR, your message is more likely to resonate with your target audience if it is delivered in a clear and concise manner.

3. Sell It: PR pros must constantly "sell" their client's product, event, cause or even the client them self. At my internship, I regularly contact subscribers to gain information for stories. The experience has taught me quickly how to "sell" myself, so these business professionals will let me interview them as they go about their workday. These phone interviews have made me feel much more comfortable about pitching the media.

Have you gained any PR skills from non-PR jobs or internships?

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Shari Dacosta.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Background Checks Just Got Tougher

The debate about the legality of a potential employee using your information from Facebook and Twitter to determine your employment status has finally ended. According to ABC News, The Federal Trade Commission has given permission to the Social Intelligence Corp. to sell reports including personal information from social networking sites to employers and the file will last for seven years.

So while you may not be guilty of the obvious crimes of posting too many belligerent pictures, talking openly about racism, homophobia or drug use, you should now also be wary about the company you keep on these sites. It is also legal for a potential employer to turn down your application for knowing someone with a criminal record while not violating any employment discrimination law.

"You can be deemed a bad apple by association," says Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum. "Are all your friends gay, rich, poor? Do they all live in California or New York or Kansas? What are your hobbies? Do they look expensive or entail high risk?" If so, Dixon warns, your chances of landing that dream job, depending on your would-be employer's predilections, may go poof. The employer's decision not to hire you may be ethically outrageous. But it's not illegal.

As scary as this may seem to most job seekers, Michael Fertick, Founder and CEO of, predicts that the background checks of tomorrow will only continue to advance with more sophisticated technology with tools such as facial recognition software, used to identify job candidates in photos surfing across the internet without the need to rely on the human analysts being used for Social Intelligence, the only company currently specializing in conducting Internet background checks that are compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

I have always been appalled by what some of my friends find comfortable posting online, whether its pictures, crude language or open hostility to others. I agree that Facebook and Twitter should be included in any job search because it is information that we willingly share online and it is our job and responsibility to be cautious of what information we choose to share. However, I disagree that a company should be able to determine your employment based on the friends of your social networks. My friends and their actions do not reflect upon my own and should not be a factor in the hiring process.

How do you feel about the newest form of background checks? Do you agree or disagree?

To read the full article, click here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Create a Strategic Outreach Campaign to Add Value to your Organization

Evaluating your organizations presence in the community and taking specific steps to improve relationships are very important enterprises to take on for any ambitious Public Relations professional. Incorporating these steps as part of a larger strategic outreach campaign will improve your company’s public perception, as well as your chances of landing that big promotion.

The first step to effectively implementing a strategic outreach campaign is writing the plan. Be sure to have an overarching goal clearly stating the desired outcome of the strategic outreach campaign, Examples of an outreach goal include increasing information about your organization, bolstering your company’s public image, or helping to develop local communities through education and investment.

Another important part of strategic outreach is defining the publics and stakeholders. The audiences for strategic outreach campaigns may include policy makers, educators and community catalysts and the plan may include nontraditional publics. Strategic outreach campaigns that incorporate community development need to take into account all of the possible stakeholders in the community.

The overall goal of your strategic outreach plan should have clear objectives which are accomplished by specific tactics. These objectives should be measurable and could include changes in knowledge, attitudes, or values of key publics. Objectives for strategic outreach plans could also include measurable improvements in education, involvement, or wealth. Tactics should detail the tasks performed, resources need, and the process used to achieve objectives. These tactics and objectives should be outlined in a schedule to make sure all team members are held accountable.

Focus on the messages that your campaign is conveying and make sure to explain ideas so that your publics can understand them. For example, banks that offer financial literacy training explain concepts in drastically different way to middle school children than they would to college students majoring in economics.

Finally, including an evaluation section is crucial. Your evaluation should measure how well your outreach plan has carried out specific strategies, objectives and goals. Did your financial literacy program influence people to start a 401k? Has public perception of your organization benefited from your strategic outreach attempts? This is also the section where you lay out which measurement tools you will use to evaluate progress.

Crafting a strategic outreach campaign can add immense value to your organization. If effectively implemented, strategic outreach can have long-lasting, positive community effects as well as boost your organizations reputation. Has your organization engaged in strategic outreach? Do you have any advice to those starting strategic outreach initiatives? Let us know!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Four PR Measurement Priorities Everyone can Seem to Agree on

We all know that PR is a diverse and complex industry complete with different job titles and descriptions and with all the confusion, there seems to be some consensus on the four measuring priorities of the public relations industry. In an effort to move the industry forward, a global conference led by AMEC was held in Lisbon, Portugal to discuss the future of measurement in PR. A result of this successful convention is the creation of the Measurement Agenda 2020 composed of 200 delegates from five organizations: Public Relations Society of America, ICCO, Institute for Public Relations, AMEC and the Council of PR Firms. Additionally the Measurement Agenda 2020, is a by-product of the Barcelona Principles of Measurement, an achievement of the previous years conference.

The Global Director of Research & Measurement, Dr. David Rockland, present in the Barcelona Principles and Lisbon Measurement Agenda sessions states, "In Barcelona we created immutable principles about how you evaluate PR. Now, in Lisbon, we have set a course for the future and where this field needs to head in the next several years."

The 200 delegates decided amongst 12 measurement priorities to focus on in the upcoming years of growth and development for the industry. Without further a due here are the top four priorities:

1. How to measure the return on investment (ROI) of public relations
2. Create and adopt global standards for social media measurement
3. Measurement of PR campaigns and programmes needs to become an intrinsic part of the PR toolkit
4. Institute a client education program such that clients insist on measurement of outputs, outcomes and business results from PR programs

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Resume Length Debate

Something I have been struggling with lately is whether or not to cut down my resume. Personally, I feel that all of this information is necessary to sum up my professional achievements, but it could also be seen as excessive to future employers. An article from has put into perspective different resume lengths and why it makes a difference.

The article argues that there are pros and cons to each length. For example, if you are recently graduated, or only had a couple of jobs, a one-page resume is best to highlight what is important, your strengths and why the employer should hire you. Kristen Fischer, author of "Ramen Noodles, Rent and Resumes: An After-College Guide to Life," explains that when you make a resume it is important to, "avoid excessive spacing to fill up the page and instead flesh out your skill sets, even if you think you have none due to little experience." Another thing to consider is that you are probably one of hundreds of resumes that employers are looking at, and they don't want to waste the time flipping through more than one page.

While most say less is more, a two-page resume can also be acceptable. A one-page resume could give the impression that you are not experienced, but anything longer than two pages could make it seem like you do not have a specific career focus. A longer resume is more acceptable the more work experience you have. Someone who has had a long, successful career should take advantage of highlighting important career achievements.

Especially with today's job searches, most of them are done on the Internet, where human resources professionals or recruiters are using computer programs to sift through your information. If this is the case, include as much information as possible so as to increase your chances of getting noticed.

What it really comes down to is relevant content. If you happen to have two pages worth of important information, so be it. Just take note of how long your employment descriptions are, and include a minimal amount of information that will allow employers to get the most out of your experience. How long is your resume? Read some more tips here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

J.K. Rowling Gifts Harry Potter Fans with 'Pottermore'

As fans of J.K. Rowling's famed series Harry Potter are both anticipating and dreading the last installment of the franchise, Rowling has announced the release date of 'Pottermore', June 23rd. Ten coordinates were sent to some of the many Harry Potter fan sites across the web with the instructions to insert the coordinates into Once the coordinates were entered, ten letters were revealed that spelled out P-O-T-T-E-R-M-O-R-E, a mystery website that has fans reeling.

When fans go to, all that can be seen are the words POTTERMORE: COMING SOON, signed by J.K. Rowling. The web page also includes two interactive owls, one of which links to a Youtube countdown to the release of the site. Since the website went live 4 days ago, Pottermore's Twitter account has already accumulated over 70,000 followers.

The anticipation is setting in and as fans are awaiting the official unveiling by J.K. Rowling, the rumor mill is spinning into overdrive. Some of the rumors include another book, a role playing community or even a Harry Potter encyclopedia.

What's your theory? Are you going to be logging on to on June 23rd?

To check out Pottermore yourself, click here.

To follow Pottermore on Twitter, click here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


The PR department of McDonald's had some serious explaining to do after a recent hoax that occurred last weekend. A picture of a seemingly authentic looking memo hit Twitter and spread rather quickly. The memo stated, "As an insurance measure, due in part to a recent string of robberies, African-American customers are now required to pay an additional fee of $1.50 per transaction."

Obviously the memo did not go over well with customers. People were so outraged that #SeriouslyMcDonald's began to trend on Twitter. After enough people complained with tweets and direct messages to the verified McDonald's USA Twitter page, McDonald's quickly addressed the issue.

Using the social media site where the scandal all began, McDonald's sent out a statement via Twitter that stated “That pic is a senseless & ignorant hoax McD’s values ALL our customers. Diversity runs deep in our culture on both sides of the counter.” They also responded directly to some of the more irritated consumers with tweets like “That picture is a hoax. We are proud of our long history of diversity.”

Proof that the memo is indeed a hoax: the number on the bottom of the memo is actually a number to contact the KFC customer satisfaction hot-line. It turns out that the picture actually surfaced awhile back, but didn’t hit Twitter until recently. With the popularity social networking sites have, it’s no wonder the picture went viral so quickly.

There are arguments over whether or not McDonald's handled the situation right. Some think they did a fine job, and others believe that more could have been done to address the situation and prove that all customers are valued. Personally, I feel that McDonald's handled the situation to the best of their ability. They used the same networking site where the scandal began—a sure way to ensure that their customers would see the statement. They also made a statement to a number of reliable publications clearly explaining that the picture was a hoax, allowing the media to quickly receive this message.

Do you think McDonald's responded in the right way to the hoax or could they have done more to address the situation?

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Kaitlin Tully.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

All Work and No Play Means Trouble

For many of us, twenty-four hours is not enough in a single day! With classes, internships, jobs, and the hope of a social life, each of us is cramming as much as we can every day. While we are trying to keep up during this highly competitive age, working too much has some negative, lingering effects.

CNN, Fortune, and the Today Show have been investigating what happens when people overwork themselves. Ellen Langer, a psychologist at Harvard University, finds that a vacation is essential for mindfulness, which is mediating in a non-judgmental way. This allows individuals to be present while clearing their minds and has plenty of health benefits, like lowering both heart rate and blood pressure.

In the article, “How Many Hours Should You Be Working?” author Laura Vanderkam helps workaholics decide how much work is too much. She quotes the authors of Rework, saying that workaholics aren’t the heroes but that the real hero is at home because she figured out a faster way to get everything done. While a study of Italian CEO’s found that working more hours does increase overall productivity, it is contingent upon how these hours are spent. For example, when executives spend more hours meeting with employees, productivity increases, but not when they meet with clients or outside vendors.

A recent segment on the Today Show highlighted the problems with overworking yourself. When juggling so many balls in the air, the one that usually drops is your own. This segment explained how women are at a greater risk for depression, arthritis, cancer, and other chronic illnesses than men. In their quest to have it all, a career, a family, women often neglect their own health. The Healthy Woman’s Forum, held for the first time this year in Princeton, NJ, offered solutions and suggestions for workaholic women. One idea was for women to join an exercise group or find some kind of hobby just for themselves. In the end, it is all about balancing your priorities.
It is extremely hard to shut down the computer, turn off the phone, and just unwind. Most of us have this ridiculous fear that we will miss some amazing opportunity or not respond fast enough to the "oh-so" important email. But, at the end of the day, our health, sanity, and well-being must be put first. There is nothing wrong with working hard, but we all must strike a balance between work and play.

Are you a workaholic? Do you think there are ways you can change to better yourself?

To read more on the benefits of taking a vacation, click here.

To read more on the value of your time, click here.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Alex Crispino.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What's in Your Email Signature Line?

We have all seen them. Those annoying email signatures that take up more space than the email itself, with crazy fonts and colors, irrelevant quotes from past leaders and crazy clip art inserts. I'm somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to my email signature and it has certainly evolved from my freshman year's:

Niki Ianni
Future PR Rockstar
(610) XXX-XXXX

In retrospect, its fair to say I was slightly uniformed but definitely eager at least. Now, as I have grown up, learned the do's and don'ts and have actually gained a few titles for myself, my email signature has evolved into something more telling than "Future PR Rockstar." While on I found a great article by Arik Hanson that outlines a checklist of things to include in your email signature. So I put mine to the test. My current email signature includes:

Niki Ianni
Firm Director, PRowl Public Relations
Firm Director, Temple University PRSSA

(c): (xxx) xxx-xxxx


As outlined in the Ragan article, your email signature should include:

1. Name - First and last
2. Title
3. Phone - Work and cell (include fax number if relevant to your industry)
4. Email
5. Website
6. Twitter handle - Only if its fairly active
7. Blog - only if updated regularly

Luckily, my email signature stands up to the test (minus the website - currently a work in progress!)

So remove those inspirational quotes, delete any of those cheesy pictures, get rid of the rainbow colored font and remember to keep it clean, clear and simple.

How does your email signature stand up to the checklist? Let us know!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Anonymous Launches #OpESR - will Fail to get Lulz

On Flag Day - Tuesday, June 14 - the activist hacker group Anonymous launched its latest campaign, this time against the United States Federal Reserve Bank. Operation Empire State Rebellion, or #OpESR as it is known in the Twitterverse, is aimed at forcing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to step down.

Anonymous and connected groups, including Lulzsec, are attacking the Federal Reserve for “systematically looting the country to enrich one-tenth of one-percent of the population.” The organizations threatened to hack Federal Reserve websites and send USD prices plummeting. They called on their members to resist the Federal Reserve System by organizing protests, trading in their United States Dollars for gold, and switching their remaining money out of large banks.

The first visible signs #OpESR started on Tuesday morning as Anonymous members, fanboys and sympathizers gathered in peaceful protest at Federal Reserve locations around the country. Anonymous simultaneously launched a social media campaign to spread its message and vague threats, leveraging multiple national and regional Twitter accounts.

The initiative comes in the middle of a recent hacking wave targeting videogame companies and government websites. A handful of Anonymous members were arrested in Turkey and Spain in the past weeks for organizing distributed denial of service attacks against government websites. Anonymous also called on its members to attack a Malaysian government website yesterday evening to protest government censorship.

It is likely that the Anonymous attack on the Fed is more bark than bite. Distributed denial of service attacks would have no effect on the value of the dollar and would definitely not persuade Bernanke to step down. Besides, a few nerdy-looking protesters at Federal Reserve Banks are nothing new and will not bring much attention to their cause. In fact, the total protester turnout at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia was a whopping two people.

In the group’s first #OpESR YouTube video, Anonymous levies high charges against the central bank but fails to provide any evidence. A fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the Federal Reserve seems to be at the bottom of this campaign. The Federal Reserve System has many responsibilities, especially since the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, but its main functions are to stabilize U.S. currency, strengthen the economy and promote full employment. Bernanke’s quantitative easing strategy may be controversial, but the Federal Reserve System has been instrumental in the country’s economic recovery and has increased its regulation of banking, credit institutions and Wall Street greed under the chairman. Besides, devaluing the dollar would cripple ordinary Americans, the same people that Anonymous claims to be trying to save.

Ultimately, Anonymous will fail to get Lulz, the laughter that from online humiliation, with #OpESR. A distributed denial of service attack, if pulled off, will only be a minor nuisance to the Fed. Anonymous may be plotting something a little more sinister but I do not believe a cyber attack to the Federal Reserve could have a meaningful effect on its policies or the value of the dollar. In my opinion Anonymous should leave the economy to the experts and go back to hacking video game companies that make products that are too difficult for them to beat.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Gay Market

An often unappreciated and diverse market that goes unnoticed or even avoided is the lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) market. Although it is evident that markets appreciate this $743 billion dollar potential industry, many companies are choosing to simply avoid targeting or even sponsoring the potential industry.

Back in 2005, Kraft sponsored the Gay Games which resulted in an unsuccessful boycott. In response to the boycott Kraft coolly stated, " (Kraft) truly respect all kinds of differences. And diversity is not a selective concept." Diversity helped us be a more successful business". Another similar incident happened to Home Depot who was being boycotted by the AFA (American Family Association) in response to supporting its shareholders in their encouragement of the gay community. Their response was also well thought out, CEO Frank Blake stated, "I appreciate your feedback and I hope all of our shareholders understand that we're a company that respects the diversity of our associates and our customers and the communities where we do business. In fact, the values wheel that I showed just a minute ago -- one of our core values is respect for all people." Once again a great response delivered with sensibility and respect.Better yet, the most infamous long term boycott of Disney, who was starting to reach out to gay consumers. The boycott backfired and Disney enjoyed growth in its already expanding empire and double the profits.

While the threat of boycotting still lingers even in 2011 the market which includes a diverse and willing consumer is waiting to be asked.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What does your e-reader say about you?

As the proud new owner of a Nook Color, I did thorough research before I purchased based on differences between it's rival, the Kindle, and even the iPad. All of these devices are more than capable to read any type of publication, but it has been found that magazine sales have been very reflective of which product sells to whom. A recent New York Times article explains the differences in features that consumers look for when purchasing new technology.

While the iPad still proves to be the top contender for the magazine business, the Nook Color has been shown to appeal to a surprisingly large amount of women magazine readers. Top sellers on the Nook Color include US Weekly, Shape, Women's Health and Every Day with Rachael Ray. This could be due to Barnes & Noble's marketing strategies specifically targeting women. Women buy more books than men do, and are more likely to buy devices made just for that very thing.

The iPad and other tablets are marketed as toys for men, while the Nook Color and Kindle are more popular among women. Nook Color ads feature women and girls relaxing and reading in comfortable places such as the beach, in bed or on the couch. Also, when you purchase a Nook Color, an enthusiastic woman is more than happy to take you through the introduction video on how to use your new device. Females usually don't think there is anything wrong with just words and pictures, as opposed to men that look for animation, live video and audio. According to sales, women just want something to read on, not high definition applications.

The Nook Color also proves to be popular among the publishers that supply these magazines, because of Barnes & Noble sharing data with them about who their subscribers are, unlike their competitor, Apple. It is also much easier and less expensive to create electronic versions of magazines on the Nook, than the iPad. Publishers are only required to send a PDF, and Barnes & Noble does everything else. "Nook Color really taught us an important lesson in that consumers in their interests are really diverse," said David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines. "We have those that want a really enhanced edition with cinematic elements which you find in iTunes, and those who want a more straightforward version of their favorite magazine where the benefit is portability."

What do you look for when purchasing an e-reader? Read more of the New York Times article here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Short, Sweet, and to the Point

Have you ever watched a speech on the news and thought to yourself, "Huh?!" Many times, this is because communications specialists fail to think of their audience. Writing a speech in a concise and easily understood manner is effective, both for the speaker and the listener. The speaker will sound much more confident in their words, and the listener will be able to grasp the concept of the issue without having to anything.

Brad Phillips, of Phillips Media Relations, recently wrote an article "5 Ways to Write for the Ear, Not the Eye" in which he gave the following points:

  • Use short words: While using larger words can be impressive, the point of a speech is to get your message across to your entire audience.
  • Use short sentences: When you are delivering a speech, having long or run on sentences can be hard to read, much less understand. Shorter sentences are always easier to deliver and the most memorable.
  • Use everyday words: Though the general population may have a large vocabulary, the majority of those listening to you only use a limited amount of non-conversational words.
  • Use contractions: In writing formal documents, it is never advisable to use contractions. It is the opposite in spoken word. Using contractions such as I'll, I'm, and can't lend a more friendly and personable vibe when speaking to the public.
  • Say them out loud: When you finish writing your speech, say it out loud. If you are stumbling over words and taking multiple pauses, maybe it's time, as Phillips says, "write for the ear, not the eye."
To read Brad Phillips' full article, click here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Social Media Can Be Socially Dangerous

The positives of Social Media and the Internet are obvious for both consumers and companies: unlimited free access, massive amounts of shared information and networking. Facebook allows you to show your friends what is happening in your life, Twitter allows you to cleverly share your thoughts and likes with your followers, and Four Square gives you tips on which up-and-coming places your friends are “checking into.” On the other hand, the free marketing, event planning, and ability to easily access demographic information makes social media a publicist’s dream. However, the Internet is not always as safe as it appears to be, and it is important to monitor what you publicize.

Recently, the multi-billion dollar company Sony has had a massive data breach that has allowed hackers to access personal information from over one million Playstation customers. Sony, one of many companies who have fallen victim to a large scale security breach, has spent the past couple of weeks investing millions of dollars in PR recalls and increasing malware for their customers. This is just one of many cases in which the Internet has shared too much.

While your company or client may not be as publically vulnerable as the technological conglomerate Sony is, one should stop to think if they are really protecting themselves and/or their customers’ information to the best of their ability. While doing some research, I stumbled upon the article “Keeping Your Company’s Online Presence Safe” on the Bankok Post’s technology section. The following are what the article outlined as the five biggest virtual threats to both companies and individuals:

1. Malware: In the past, there have been worms that have been circulating both Facebook and Twitter. Do not click on a button or icon you are unfamiliar with! If you are curious, a quick Google search can take only a few seconds of your time and could potentially keep your computer safe.

2. Privacy: The more personal information you put online, the more at risk you can become. Privacy settings can often be broken by hackers, so be aware that people outside of your network may still be seeing things that can put you at risk.

3. Phishing Scams: Do your research before divulging personal information to any website! It is easy for cybercriminals to make fraudulent websites in order to attain passwords, usernames or even credit card numbers from the masses. Make sure any website you submit your information to is valid and safe.

4. Site Flaws: There have been breaches in privacy settings that can allow others to access your personal websites even if they are protected. Often basic information that can be found on your pages can be used in security questions that could give others access to a variety of your accounts or subscriptions.

5. Spam 2.0: Advertisers and companies often use your personal information to target you for your demographic or personal likes. Be aware that information you display may lead to unwanted e-mails or targeting.

As I read up on the Sony data breach, I did a search on data breach/identity theft. I was shocked with how many breaches occur on a daily basis that don’t make it to national news. Large companies may benefit from investing in Identity Theft protection software to avoid these issues. From Facebook to Playstation, information is out there, so make sure you are smart with what you post. Everyone in the Public Relations world is grateful for the use of social media, but beyond their professional uses, be aware that if one isn’t careful, social media can become socially dangerous.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Meagan Prescott.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Have You Un-Sucked Your Writing Lately?

We've all experienced that dreaded feeling of being obligated to use 'buzzwords,’ overused phrases and jargon in our writing. The term "For lack of a better word" may actually be a good thing when it comes to public relations writing. Let's face it, in the PR field we struggle to deliver a message to the public that is clear and unambiguous; a message that gets the point across and engages the public through expressive writing. The problem many of us face is how to remain creative without losing the public's interest in the organization's message no matter how complicated it may be. Simplifying the words we use does not equate to a loss of creativity but rather a broader, more comprehensible message for our audience.

Luckily, there is a tool to help those who wander in the purgatory of "fluff" words and terms. It's called, and it may be the second best PR writing tool next to your AP Style handbook of course! Unsuck-it is a website that allows you to submit, search, define and sometimes laugh at the hundreds of examples of bad, over complicated business and communication jargon people use while identifying a better word or phrase to use. Some popular examples of over-used words the site lists along with their easier counterparts are: "Pre-Plan" or just plan, "Eyeballs" or viewers and "facilitate" or help. The site will help you and at the same time give you a good laugh with its sarcastic definitions and cynicism of media and culture today. As sarcastically says in regards to the site's use - If only we could convince clients that all press releases needed to be “run through the Unsuck It filter” (read: “written in plain English”) before sending them to the wire services. Let’s work on that."

Simply stated simpler is better but often more difficult. The irony of the difficulty of finding a simpler word to use will be over once you give a try. The word base is always growing on the site so user submissions are definitely encouraged. Remember the K.I.S.S. method folks: Keep It Simple and Short!

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Jessica Lopez.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Creating Opportunity in 140 Characters or Less

This summer I am studying abroad in Paris for five weeks and I am getting ready to leave in less than 20 days. Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post about creating and taking advantage of the opportunity to travel and study abroad because of the benefits it provides to you as an up-and-coming young professional. Luckily for me, I followed my own advice (and the advice of many others).

However, being gone for such a large gap of time this summer meant that finding an internship this summer would be nearly impossible. Those that know me, know I am an internship addict of sorts. I haven't had 20 internships or anything crazy, but ever since I began interning last summer I haven't been able to stop and have had three internships since. I have plenty of things to occupy my time with this summer including arranging travel plans, my part-time job and working on things for the firm however I couldn't help but feel as though I was missing out on opportunities to do more.

I graduate next May and it is my dream to work in public relations/communications for a wildlife conservation nonprofit organization, combining my passions for PR, animals and nonprofit. I've had a great deal of experience with nonprofit, interning with two nonprofit organizations, interning for an agency that works solely with nonprofit organizations and managing several nonprofit clients through my work in PRowl. However, I had yet to gain any experience working with a wildlife conservation organization and I knew I needed to start making connections now not a few weeks before graduation.

So, I sent out a tweet. The tweet read: Dream job: PR for nonprofit animal conservation org. Looking to connect, learn more & volunteer services! I proceeded to tag @nonprofit orgs, my favorite Twitter feed that is connected to over 50,000 nonprofit organizations on Twitter.

Within an hour, I received a reply from an organization called Nikela Wildlife whose mission is to find and qualify experts and certify wildlife conservation and education projects in order to protect our planet's wildlife and prepare the rising generation for careers in conservation and ecotourism. I spoke back and forth with one of the organization's founders and she asked me if I would like to assist them with their blogging efforts for their "Meatless Mondays" installation that provides readers with meatless alternatives to their favorite recipes. It was honestly perfect... combining my love for wildlife, social media, blogging and food. I've already written up three posts and I very much look forward to writing more throughout the summer for this incredible organization. To check out their blog and read more about their various projects visit

Twitter can be an incredibly powerful tool when used correctly. A friend and PRowl alumnus was able to find a job using Twitter and I was able to find a volunteer opportunity using 140 characters or less. Make sure you are clear and concise (you don't have that many characters to ramble with) and make sure you let people know how you can help and what you can bring to the table. Opportunities are out there, just learn how to use the tools you've been given to go find them.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

#WeinerGate: Another Lesson in Political PR

Just when you thought it was over, up pops Weiner again.

Last Thursday I wrote about a Twitter scandal involving New York Representative Anthony Weiner’s unfortunate tweet to a college student containing a picture of a man’s bulging underwear. He ignored press inquiries until the picture became headline news on almost every major media channel. He then claimed that his Twitter account had been hacked and the recipient of the picture wrote an article for the New York Daily News supporting Weiner’s assertion. Oddly enough, he told a reporter that he could not verify whether the body part in question belonged to him. I mentioned that this blunder could drive further media speculation and that Weiner needed to address future gaffes upfront immediately in order to avoid a scandal that could end his political career.

Turns out I was right. A few days later a conservative blog reported that there were even more explicit photos of Weiner that he had sent to young women around the country. On Monday the representative held a press conference to admit everything; he had sent the original tweet and had similar relationships with at least half a dozen women across the country.

Weiner’s attempt to evade the press backfired on him. The hashtag #weinergate has been trending on and off the last couple days whenever a new piece of the scandal is unearthed. His media gaffe went viral and is still taking up most of the news cycle on major networks and pundit shows.

Avoiding or lying to the press is never a good tactic for a public official. Their careers rely on the sense of trust and credibility that they foster with their constituents, much of which is established through media coverage. Now Weiner’s colleagues from both sides of the aisle are calling for his resignation. I have to give him some credit; he came clean within a week. Other politicians like Bill Clinton and John Edwards have kept their denials up for much longer.

What do you think? Can Representative Weiner recover from this blunder? Should he resign from his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives?

Just incase you're considering a run for public office, here is a quick guide to posting on Twitter.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Delivery is Key

What makes a consumer pick Nike over Adidas or Tide over Gain? Brand loyalty has been tied to millions if not billions dollars a year in market research in the science behind how a consumer connects with a brand. Recently the majority of research in brand loyalty is getting those consumers who are infrequent or on the fence about a certain brand. An article in Distributed Marketing explains how message delivery, specifically message consistency, multi-channel delivery, customer management, and frequent communication within the channel, could be the key in swaying infrequent consumers.

1. Message Consistency- Making sure that the audience fits the message. For an example a young demographic calls for an informal relative message.

2. Multi-channel Delivery- Providing information that is easily accessible. Make sure the your key words for searches are up-to-date and accurate.

3. Customer Management- Knowing the consumer and their experience with the brand. The article highlights customer service as a major factor in experience.

4. Frequent Communication Within the Channel- The new front runner in obtaining brand loyalty can be directly linked to the interaction and open dialogue between the consumer and the brand, "You can’t over communicate with them – but you can easily overwhelm them by bombarding them with one-way messages..."
Most importantly we see that delivery and consistency of a message is key in converting a one time consumer to a potential loyal consumer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Social Media...on the road?

The fast-growing world of social media is accessible on pretty much any device that we could want, but are cars equipped with social media capabilities too much?

We've all seen the commercials that advertise certain cars adjusting the temperature, or playing your favorite songs just with a simple voice command, but is that where car companies need to draw the line? Just last month, Toyota created a "Toyota Friend" network to connect with other Toyota drivers. They have also been working with Microsoft on a system called Entune, that allows drivers to access Bing and Pandora. General Motors has also added a feature where drivers can view real-time Facebook status updates.

In a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, they interviewed U.S. Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, on the matter of these changes. "There's absolutely no reason for any person to download their Facebook into the car, it's not necessary". Along with lobbying against automakers and these new social media features, LaHood is pushing for them to create public service campaigns against texting and driving. So far, BMW and Subaru are the only companies that have done so.

Do you think LaHood is stunting the growth of technology, or is he right in saying these new features would just further distract drivers?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Building Your Brand Online

It is an entrepreneur's job to take a risk to put themselves out there in order to establish their own business or venture. In order to do so, they must make their presence known. In "10 Ways For Entrepreneurs To Build Brands Online", Benjamin Lang discusses how using the internet and its variety of resources has proven to be a useful tool in a time when social media is the premiere method in attracting clients. Below are a few of Lang's pointers:

  • A Custom Short URL-If you often share links on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, a custom short URL can be very useful in making your name known. Whenever your link is retweeted or shared, people will see your personal short URL and associate it with a certain brand, that is, your brand.
  • Social Email Signatures-By making your preferred social media site part of your email signature, you will make it easier for the public to get a hold of you personally and learn more about your company.
  • Guest Posting-By posting on other blogs, you will be able to tap into that blog's clientele and gain a more broad range of potential clients, as well as build relationships with blogs that can advertise your company in the future.
  • Newsletters-This is a good way to gain followers. By sending out monthly newsletters filled with interesting topics and future plans, you will catch the eye of your readers, who will in turn forward your newsletter to their friends, thus providing you with a ever-expanding network.
Would you use these suggestions to build your brand? Do you have anything to add? Do you think the Internet is the best way to build a potential clientele?

To read the rest of Benjamin Lang's pointers, click here.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Musicians and Social Media

Social media has forever revolutionized how we communicate with one another. Whether it is for personal reasons, business efforts, or promotion, social media has positioned itself as the dominant means of communication for a wide range of industries.

The music world has not been immune to this shift. The rapid growth of social media has allowed musicians, specifically those who are up-and-coming, to raise awareness of their existence in a way that was nonexistent merely 10 years ago. Musicians who have yet to make it are able to share their work beyond the scope of their own social circles and cities. Through the use of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube, young artists are able to post their work and share it with the entire world in effort to achieve their ultimate goal, a deal. “Facebook is my resume,” said Aj Curry, an up-and-coming hip-hop artist from Rochester, NY. Not only can artists share their music, they are also able to market and create an image of themselves and the songs they represent. Considering that the current state of music is more fixated on production and marketing and less so on lyrics and quality of the composition, social media provides a necessary tool for the young musician to appeal to the capricious industry.

Prior to the explosion of social media, musicians were forced to do some serious legwork to achieve the results that YouTube or Facebook are capable of. Young musicians had to physically go to their potential audiences. Whether it was handing out CD's on a street corner, or incessant phone calls to bar managers in hopes of securing a venue, musicians had to put forth a great amount of time and effort to get their music out there, a strategy that is very time consuming and expensive. Social media has relieved artists of some of that burden. Artists are now able to reach a wide audience through more convenient methods. Evan Prewitt, a guitarist from Rochester, NY, said that his Facebook page has allowed him to easily promote upcoming shows. “I could not imagine trying to promote my shows without Facebook, I love it,” said Prewitt. “It’s the only way you can be in contact with everybody without being in contact with anybody,” said Curry. According to Curry, the use of social media has generated a faster growth of his fan base than when he originally began making music almost 10 years ago, a time when social media had not yet burst onto the scene.

But is this shift in the way we communicate truly beneficial to an artist who has yet to make it? The extreme popularity of these sites and the excessive amount of information posted everyday makes it easy to comprehend how a young musician may struggle to become noticed. How can an artist distinguish him or herself from the masses that constantly saturate social media sites with their work? It’s a daunting task to say the least, but one that is necessary in today’s world.

Curry noted that the accessibility of these sites has resulted in a large quantity of bad music being posted on the Internet. The voluminous amount of poor to mediocre music being pushed on social media websites has made it hard for good music to get noticed, a truth that has frustrated the young musician. But, according to Curry, persistence is the key. “Facebook really allowed me to prove my musical capabilities,” said Curry. Despite his frustrations with the continual exposure of subpar music, Curry credits much of his current success to his use of social media, attributing much of his recent fan growth and hype around the Rochester area to the quotidian postings of his songs and music videos on his Facebook page.

Prewitt expressed a similar sentiment. He too is frustrated with the mind-numbing music filling social media sites that make it difficult for quality, underground musicians to make a name for themselves. But ultimately, Prewitt feels that if you are good enough, you can separate yourself from the artists who prematurely release their work online. “I think what it boils down to is you can’t jump the gun until the product is right, especially if you’re just starting off,” said Prewitt. Much like Curry, Prewitt has increased his fan base and been offered to play gigs around Rochester because of his social media usage.

To learn more about Aj Curry’s or Evan Prewitt’s music, please visit their Facebook pages. You can also follow Aj on Twitter @AjCurry.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Evan Galusha.