Friday, April 27, 2007

Best Practices in Public Relations

So much has happened since this class began in January. Not only do I have an entire new vocabulary when it comes to PR, I have developed a sense of confidence about the industry and I am so excited to get out there this summer when I start my internship in New York City. As a blogger, I have been able to read other blogs out there and let me say, there are a million of them, each with their own style, forte, and personality. I have learned so much from the guest lectures and was lucky enough to pitch a blog to a local company right here in Dallas. Along the way I have picked up several tips about PR here are the top 5 that seem to be constantly reiterated:

1. Create buzz, not ink. The key to creating any successful PR campaign revolves around creating interest in your client- both with potential customers and the media. Timing is everything, a well timed PR campaign can increase your clients` chances of reaching their target market with exactly they want to hear, when they are ready to hear it. Use creative techniques, from basic media relations to outrageous stunts -anything to get the clients name in the media.

2. Learn to be digital. These days viral marketing is everything and PR professionals must be aware of the latest and greatest online tools and gadgets that will grab the public’s attention and create dialogue. Blogs and other online social networks are great places to generate buzz about clients, however if PR professionals are not careful about how they position their clients to the online world things can get nasty and all of a sudden viral marketing becomes a PR firms` worst nightmare. Guest lecturer Katherine Smith, of Visible Technologies said that companies need to be concerned about positive and negative blogs. “The Internet can hurt people,” says Smith, “and it is imperative that PR professionals understand that the ‘no comment’ phrase simple does not cut it anymore. Smith’s company has developed TruCast, the first all-inclusive solution for comprehensive management of online conversational marketing. With TruCast, companies will be able to track, analyze and participate in online conversations and perhaps prevent negative press about their clients. For more information about Visible Technologies and their innovative products please visit:

3. Read the Newspaper. A few months ago I had the privilege to attend a lecture featuring public relations expert Harold Burson of the world renowned Burson-Marsteller Public Relations firm. Burson offered a great amount of insight into the evolution of PR during his 53 year career. “Everything has changed, the way people communicate is entirely different,” said Burson, “Yet I find myself offering the same advice I offered 50 years ago-read the newspaper." It is imperative that PR professionals remain up to date with current events, changes in the business world, and are aware of what is going on in their clients` marketplace. Burson reads several newspapers every morning but always makes time for The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. To read Burson`s personal blog click here .

4. Know the basics of public relations. As obvious as this idea may seem, often times the biggest complaint from PR professionals about their newly hired/fresh out of college interns is that even though they are highly motivated and innovative, they lack understanding of the basic concepts. The basics include (but are not limited to) the following:

-Writing Skills. Anyone interested in PR should be able to write press releases, pitch letters, key messages, fact sheets, etc. Even though communication outlets have changed over the years the need for efficient writing skills has remained the same.
-Know your client. It is essential that PR professionals are familiar with their client`s products, place in the market and target audience. It is impossible to promote and create buzz about a company that you are unfamiliar with so take the time to get to know exactly how the client views themselves, what image they want to project to the public and establish a healthy professional relationship with the company’s managers and executives.
-Return calls and respond to emails.
-Stay current

5. Develop relationships with the media. According to the website how you develop relationships with journalists, TV reporters, radio talk show hosts and other media personnel is very important. Here are some quick tips to make this import relationship the best that it can be
-know what is going on in the world
-know about the publication that you are pitching your story to
start with a compliment about the publication, use something like “I really enjoyed your last column it was so interesting and I think you`d be the best person to write about my client`s up and coming event…”
-understand the journalism business- networking- go to events where media people will be
-face time is important
-join press groups so that you can meet the media, for example the Dallas Press Club. For information visit their website at

These are just a few of the many PR tips I picked up throughout the course of this semester. I must admit, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I enrolled in this "Advanced Communication Skills" class but 5 months later I am so thankful I did! This class has taught me so much about the PR industry and opened my eyes to the world of blogging. I highly recommend this class to anyone considering a career in PR or any communications related field because as I mentioned in an earlier post, "blogging is so hot right now" and it is so important that aspiring PR professionals keep up to date with current communication trends.

Even though the semester has come to an end, I plan on keeping up with my blog and adding new posts this summer about my New York City internship experience! So stay tuned and as my fellow classmates say "Blog ya later!"

Sunday, April 15, 2007

"Stop Global Warming College Tour " takes off at SMU

Last week, Grammy winning artist Sheryl Crow and global warming activist Laurie David kicked off the "Stop Global Warming College Tour" here in Dallas, Texas on the SMU campus. The tour, which will make 10 stops at 10 universities across the Southeastern United States urges college students to become part of the movement to stop global warming and demand solutions from themselves, their schools and their country.

"History proves that college students have the ability to be the driving force in large scale social change and now more than ever is the time for students across the country to become global warming activists," says Laurie David founder of and author of Stop Global Warming: The Solution is You!

Along with press conferences and media events, each stop on the tour includes a 90 minute presentation about global warming with Laurie David, clips from the film An Inconvenient Truth, a short performance by Sheryl Crow and a question-answer dialogue with students . In addition to the free concert, each audience member receives a Philips energy saver fan bulb, guaranteed to last seven years.

I must admit, I am not exactly what you would call an "environmental activist"-I try and recycle when possible and make my best effort to turn off the lights when I leave my house but other than those small tasks, that's about it for me when it comes to combating global warming. And its not that I don't care or think that global warming does not exist, rather its the fact that I always assumed that this problem was one that wasn't really going to effect me, and I`d be long gone before the consequences would become real.

However, after watching films like An Inconvenient Truth and hearing Laurie David, Sheryl Crow and others talk about the dangers of global warming in terms that I could actually understand with solutions that I could do myself, I feel empowered to do something, to become active in the fight against global warming, one light bulb at a time.

During the presentation, Laurie and Sheryl highlighted several actions that anyone can take in the fight against global warming:

1. Join the Stop Global Warming Virtual March at a movement demanding our leaders freeze and reduce carbon dioxide emissions

2. Change a light. Use compact fluorescent bulbs, these energy efficient light bulbs have the ability to save 300 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $60 a year.

3. Buy minimally packaged goods. Less packaging could reduce your garbage 10% a year and could save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide and $1,000 a year.

4. Unplug electronic devices. Even when electronic devices are turned off, they use energy. So unplug the devices that you are not currently using and you could save 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide and $256 a year.

5. Bring your own bag. Use your own cloth bag instead of plastic or paper bags from the grocery store. This alternative reduces waste and requires no additional energy.

These are just a few of the simple things that we can all do in our everyday lives to help in the effort to combat global warming. We are all contributors to global warming and we all need to be part of the solution. Before the "Stop Global Warming College Tour" came to SMU, I thought global warming was an issue for the scientists, politicians, and environmentalists to worry about however I now realize that this is a real issue, one that everyone needs to worry about, after all its everybody`s world and we`re all living in it.

To learn more about the "Stop Global Warming College Tour" and other important environmental issues please visit:

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Taking a "Look-Look" into the world of young entrepreneurs

Look-Look, an online company dedicated to gathering information and research about youth culture believes that the youth culture has always been a subculture. According to the company’s website “Look-Look wants to share these subcultures with the rest of the world. We want people to be inspired by the creative and brilliant minds around the globe…” This company was launched by a group of young people who wanted to celebrate the dynamic and inspired youth culture. Check out their website at: and you will instantly recognize that these people know what they`re talking about.

In America, young people, more than ever have the world at their finger tips. With endless opportunities, thanks to the successful and relatively wealthy generation of parents who raised them, young people are expected to do great things. Whether its in the business world, music profession or science lab, these days in order to make it young people must do something to make themselves appear special, more talented and better than the kid next door.

As part of a class challenge, Look-Look asked us to do some research and investigate into the recent shift of young people’s ( ages 19-35) values concerning work, careers, and happiness. According to Look-Look, one manifestation in the shift of values is the “proliferation of entrepreneurs who start their own businesses, industries and independent ventures”.

Here at SMU, this idea rings true as several successful business men and women have pioneered their way to the top before they could even rent a car. SMU is located in the ritzy upscale neighborhood of Highland Park, Texas and has a reputation for social networking that goes back hundreds of years. From the Cox family to the Hunt family, SMU is well connected and is known for having one of the top business schools in the country, producing many remarkable business success stories.

Kacky Pritchard is one of those success stories. At the age of 19 Pritchard decided to start her own company as she sat in her Accounting 101 class looking at financial statements and balance sheets.

“I started to think that it might be easier than I thought to run a small business.” said Pritchard.
Even though she already had the imagination and love for fashion, it was that moment in accounting class that sparked her to start her own business.

“Since I knew I wanted to do something with fashion and utilize my finance degree from SMU`s Cox School of Business, I taught myself to sew, made a few apron samples, got a tax ID, and started selling aprons out of my college bedroom,” said Pritchard. “It was fun and stress-free from day one.”

After a few years of sewing and a lucky encounter with designer Kate Spade, Pritchard was given the opportunity of a lifetime to come and work with Spade and her successful fashion empire. By her senior year, Pritchard was working at one of the oldest fashion wholesale showrooms in the country and it was here that she met her future business partner Lisa Barnes.

Fast forward just one year later and Kacky & Carl was opened as a unique mixture of women’s apparel, jewelry, art, home furnishings, and gifts. Located in the swanky Uptown neighborhood of Dallas the store targets women and men ages 20 to 50.

It is obvious that Pritchard is part of the proliferation of entrepreneurs who start their own businesses, industries, independent ventures. According to an article published on SMU`s Cox School of Business Pritchard advises aspiring entrepreneurs not to be pushy, but not to be afraid to just get out there.

“Go up to the Kate Spades of the world and tell them who you are, what you want, and that you`ll take any advice they have to offer,” she says, “No matter how many accolades, businesses, or employees a person has, they are still just a person like you and your parents. Approach them with respect and see if something, somewhere down the line, comes of it.”

For more information about Pritchard`s success story please visit:

and to check out Kacky and Carl online visit:

Thursday, March 29, 2007

One of the White House`s Finest...

Deputy White House Chief of Staff, Karl Rove....or shall I say "MC Rove"?

The greatest sacrifice of all?

For me, it`s fast food. For my friend Rachel, it`s chocolate. But as this Easter approaches, some young and devout Christians are anxious to return to what they gave up for Lent: online networks such as MySpace and Facebook.

According to an article published on, these dedicated and disciplined Christians feel that giving up the addictive popular social networks is a sincere sacrifice.

"It`s been hard, especially in the beginning, " said 23-year-old Kerry Graham who says she gave up Facebook for Lent.

Graham who was raised Catholic and is currently studying theology at the University of Nottingham in England, admits that during the first few days of Lent she had to stop herself from typing in the websites` address every time she checked her email.

For many Facebook and MySpace users, the online communities provide a way to keep in touch with classmates, relatives and new friends without having to bear the financial brunt of a long-distance cell phone bill.

MySpace and Facebook are the largest social networking sites on the web. According to comScore Networks, an online measurement firm, MySpace attracted 64.4 million visitors in February with Facebook following behind as the Internet`s second most visited site with 23.6 million visits that same month.

Perhaps giving up time online is something everyone should take into consideration . Clinical psychologist Dr. Maressa Hecht Orzack of the Computer Addiction Study Center at Harvard`s McLean Hospital has found that limiting the amount of time spent on social networking can be beneficial.

According to Dr. Orzack, students who demonstrate compulsive Internet use often neglect schoolwork. In some cases, this behavior results in a lack of sleep, missed meals, poor hygiene and in some extreme situations seizures.

Whether or not I agree with Dr. Orzack`s findings about Facebook and poor hygiene, I am willing to admit that sometimes I spend time "facebooking" when I really should be working on a research paper but after all I am in college and I`m still working on my time management skills (although I always get everything done on time).

What is most disturbing to me personally is that I honestly don't think I could 40 days and 40 nights without checking my Facebook account. Its like asking me not to check my e-mail or watch the morning news. Facebook has become part of my daily routine, important things happen Facebook (And I`m not just talking about who broke up with who or what my ex-boyfriend did over Spring Break) and it has become an integral part of college life, so for now fast food will have to do.

Happy Easter.

For more about Facebook, MySpace and Lent please visit:

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mystic Pizza

In October of 2003, Pizza Hut , home of the "Big New Yorker Sausage Lover`s pizza " ( which by the way for a quick three slices you ultimately ingest an impressive 96 grams of fat and 1,830 calories) presented a new item on the menu in response to increasing attack from the media and public health advocates for not offering healthier, lower fat items. Fit `n Delicious, was promoted as a health conscious pizza with 25% less fat than the regular pizza recipe and between 22g and 26g of net carbohydrates. With the help of Ogilvy PR, Pizza Hut launched the Fit `n Delicious Pizza to consumer media.

As a college student, living in a sorority house, the pizza aroma is one that frequents late night study sessions, Friday afternoons and long meetings and to be honest I am somewhat surprised that I have never heard anything about the Fit `n Delicious option at Pizza Hut (given the high calorie count God knows I would be all about the healthier option). I decided to do a little survey on my own to make sure I wasn't the only one who had missed the low fat pizza bandwagon and asked my housemates if they had heard anything about Fit `n Delicious Pizza-15 girls later no one had any idea what I was talking about. I then took my little survey one step further by calling the local Pizza Hut and ordering this mysterious Fit `n Delicious pizza and still, three employees and one confused manger later, no one had any idea what I was talking about.

Does this healthy pizza alternative even exist? Or way this just a quick fix to a very public issue? According to Ira Rosenstein, co-producer of "Shopping Smart" and Supermarket Guru online contributor, often times the healthy options are hard to find. Rosenstein writes, " The Fit `n Delicious Pizza sounds great. But try to find them! Fancy press releases are issued! But try to find them...The pizza is not featured on the menu or in the literature. Makes one question a company`s really commitment to low fat food."

While both Ogilvy PR and Pizza Hut seemed failed to really promote the new and improved pizza to the public, they did take the initiative to create a healthy option and in response to growing concern about America`s increasing obesity epidemic.

For more information about Pizza Hut and the Ogilvy PR case study visit:

Monday, March 5, 2007

A little girl goes a long way thanks to YouTube

5 year old Nia Frazier stars in Mary J Blige Commerical thanks to a YouTube exposure