Facebook Exec Mike Buckley on How PR Pros Can Use Data

October 23rd, 2014
Facebook Mike Buckely Data PR BurrellesLuce Media Measurement Press Clipping Media Monitoring

by flickr user r2hox under CC BY-SA

by Kristan Nicholson

Besides being a devoted husband, father of two girls and member of the 40-something-man band “The Love Handles,” Mike Buckley is also VP of Global Business Communications at Facebook.

On the final day of the PRSA 2014 International Conference in Washington, D.C., he tells the crowd of more than 800 communicators that “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share, to make the world more open and connected. The ONLY way we can do this, to service our 1.3 billion customers, is through the use of data, math and analytics.” And every PR person in the room cringed. “Gasp!  Math?!”

He asked how many people in the room majored in math, data or analytics in college and maybe one person responded. But we all measure results, right? This proves that we can use data without math; we just need to embrace it and not be afraid of it. We can become analytical without being a math expert, as simple analytics can have tangible benefits and drive business results. We must correlate our press results with business metrics. Test small audiences, look at K factor (the virality of a story), review social chatter (small clusters of people who are responsible for majority of chatter), and communicate with that group.

Buckley continued to tell us that data equals power; data equals intelligence; data keeps executives from panicking.  And there are three laws of news cycles: Understand the cycle; shorten (or extend?) the cycle; and get ahead of it.  None of us can manage what we can’t measure. None of us can advise what we don’t measure.  And if we (PR pros) don’t do it, how can we ever get a seat at the table?

Every other executive function does their jobs grounded in data and analysis, and we need to pick up our game. Several ways we can do this is by having lunch with someone in our company responsible for analytics. Marry PR with their art. Push our clients to spend money on analytics. Fight for the right to test.  And most importantly: approach everything with an ethical framework. Always do the right thing.

Mike concluded with a story, which seemingly challenged everything he’d just told us. He started by saying: “The biggest lever on Facebook reputation has to do with the experience people have with their product.” Their best day was the launch of their “Look Back” video. When Jesse Berlin’s dad made a video standing in his living room with tears flowing down his cheeks begging someone at Facebook to help him recover his late son’s “Look Back” video, it didn’t go viral. It didn’t have a K-factor.  And data would never explain John’s pain. Because regardless of the fact that data can tell us so much, predicting business outcomes will never replace human action. And there should be days when data simply shouldn’t matter. Mike’s team retrieved Jesse’s video for his dad and THAT is what it’s all about.



Ethics, Leadership and Accuracy: Amy Robach on her 20 Years in Journalism

October 22nd, 2014
Amy Robach PRSA 2014 BurrellesLuce Crystal DeGoede Public Relations PR Software Press Clipping Media Monitoring

Keynote speaker Roback in a 2008 photo via Wikimedia Commons author Gradient drift

Television news journalist Amy Robach kicked off the PRSA 2014 International Conference as keynote speaker at the opening general session. Robach is known for her role as anchor on Good Morning America and has nearly 20 years of journalism experience. Since joining ABC, she has covered a number of high-profile stories from the Oscar Pistorius trial to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia to the birth of Prince George and a live, televised mammogram that diagnosed her breast cancer. I had the pleasure of attending Amy’s keynote and here are some key takeaways for all PR/Journalism pros.

How do practitioners – especially women – set themselves apart as journalists?

By being the first one in and the last one to leave and having unbridled enthusiasm. Never be afraid to work that triple shift; you have to have the right mindset and mentality to do this job.

How do you set your emotions apart from your work?

As a journalist you experience some of the worst and best things that can happen to a country, a family or and individual.

Why do you think there are some few female leaders and how do you think that can be changed?

In so many corporate cultures it is still a men’s club and it’s hard sometimes for women to be taken seriously. We shouldn’t walk into our boss’s office and say “I’m sorry to disturb you” because we need something. We have to teach ourselves as women that we don’t need to apologize for everything.

Journalists are always asked to get the story fast; how do you handle that and make sure it is accurate?

Speed should never affect accuracy. You have to make sure you are responsible and ethical in the information you are providing.

Discuss a time when ethics came into play and how you handled it.

It was actually a time when I was reporting live from SkyFox helicopter here in Washington, D.C. and we were there to give breaking news for all the morning shows. There was a moment when we were flying over a river and we saw a dead body floating and there was a car parked on the bridge and the folks on the station wanted me to report on this story. And I had learned a long time ago that you never report on suicides or bomb scares. So I turned the camera off and put up the color bars so they couldn’t take the shot.

What advice can you offer for achieving a work-life balance?

It is a constant struggle keeping my family life as good as I want it to be while still doing the best at my job. I put the phone away as soon as I get home, but I do have to check it every thirty minutes or so. I make sure I am there to pick the kids up from school and help them with their homework because I am not there in the mornings. You can be a mom and you can be a working mom.

How do you balance the need for speed and accuracy? Do you find that getting ahead as a woman requires working harder and longer?

Public Speaking Tips: 10 Keys to an Engaging Speech

October 20th, 2014
Virgil Scudder Public Speaking Tips BurrellesLuce Media Monitoring Public Relations PR Software clipping service

Scudder during the session. Photo by Andrea Gils

by Andrea Gils*

We all get butterflies before performance. The key is to get the butterflies to fly in formation.” – Virgil Scudder, president, Virigil Scudder and Associates, LLC.

Virgil Scudder, public relations veteran and president of Virgil Scudder and Associates shared his 10 keys to succeed in public speaking during his session in the 2014 Public Relations Society of America International Conference, which took place Oct. 12-14 in Washington, D.C.

Glossophobia, or what most of us know as public speaking or stage fright, has been said to trump death as the biggest global fear. According to a 2001 Gallup poll, which asked more than 1,000 Americans what their biggest fear was, public speaking ranked second (40 percent) after fear of snakes (51 percent). Regardless of the ranking, why do people fear public speaking so much? Is it because of the fear of failing or looking ridiculous? Perhaps.

Some of us don’t have any issues talking with a small crowd but once the audience reaches the three or four figures, our legs start shaking. Whichever your audience size is, practice is by far the best way to overcome the fear to speak in public.

Scudder quoted Mark Twain who said there are two types of speakers in the world: the nervous one and the liar. “If you are not a little nervous when you get up to speak, I’m concerned because it usually means it’s going to be very flat,” Scudder said.

He said that content and delivery are equally important. “People will tell you ‘it’s not what you say but how you say it’ and that’s nonsense,” Scudder said. “It’s both. If you have nothing to say, saying it well doesn’t really help much.”

During his session, Scudder shared the big no-nos you want to avoid when delivering a speech and techniques to effectively trap your audience into your story and keep them engaged from beginning to end.

Common mistakes

Scudder and the professionals in the session said that some of the common mistakes speakers make include using jargon; speaking with the wrong tone, pitch and volume; making unconscious gestures; using visuals as crutches instead of as supplements; failing to inform and entertain your audience or worse, not switching to a plan B when you see your audience is no longer engaged.

With our busy lives and increased use of social media and multitasking, our attention span is reduced. Therefore, failing to keep your speech short can hurt your delivery and engagement with the audience.

“Every time you go over 20 minutes, you better have some help with something you are going to demonstrate or show – video, PowerPoint, et cetera,” Scudder said.

As Mark Twain said, “It is an awful death to be talked to death,” so remember this when you draft your speech.

Drafting the speech

Scudder said that when drafting the speech, one should start with an audience analysis and a strategy: what do you want your audience to say, feel or do? “If there’s nothing you can get out of it, don’t do it,” he said. If you can’t connect and share your passion with your audience, you’ll be talking to a wall.


Scudder’s tips on delivery:

Have a punchy line to open and close the speech

With a strong introduction you’ll hook your audience’s attention and with a strong close, they will have a powerful impression of your speech.


Use word pictures

Make your points memorable by thinking, speaking and presenting visually. Choose words that audience can picture in their minds as you speak.


Be energetic

By having ups and downs in pace, pitch and volume you will transfer that energy to the audience and keep listeners interested and awake.


Smile and keep eye contact

Smile when you start unless there is a good reason not to. For eye contact, “look at a tall person, a short one, a man, a woman, someone wearing a bright dress and someone wearing a dark suit and then move it around,” Scudder said.


Use pauses and questions to grab the audience’s attention and slow yourself down

A pause for emphasis or drama will help you keep your audience on the edge of their seats and help you control the speed at which you speak. “When the speaker asks a question, the audience becomes more attentive,” Scudder said.


Let your body speak

Don’t control your hands if that is part of your natural animation.


Use humor

“Humor should be humble and self-deprecating. If you make fun of yourself, no one gets offended,” Scudder said.


Tell a story

A story makes your speech more personable and if you change your tone and make the right pauses, the audience will pay attention to what you are about to say.


Avoid using crutches and clichés

Do not use terms including “you know,” “like,” “um.” Scudder said that when you use these often it becomes a problem and you lose credibility fast.


Organize information

The layout of your talking points, of which you should have no more than three, will play a key role in your ability to follow your speech and have a smooth delivery. This includes font size and using only short sentences and words.


How to nail the Q & A

If you know you will have a question and answer session, you should prepare, practice and repeat. Questions allow you to elaborate or clarify a point of interest and good answers are the key to a solid closure. Do not avoid questions and make sure you are well prepared.

Scudder emphasized,“You and your client should never get a significant negative question you are not prepared for.”

So before your next speech remember: grab a camera, record yourself, watch the video, make adjustments and repeat.

“Nothing is more persuasive than a live speaker addressing a live audience, and who then nails the Q and A,” Scudder said.

Which techniques do you employ to be an effective communicator and keep your audience awake, engaged and on their seats until the end?


Andrea Gils   is currently PRSA St. Louis Chapter’s Newsletter Editor and social media co-contributor and former PRSSA National Diversity and Ethics Subcommittee member and PRSSA Southeast Chapter Firm Director. She is a public relations and journalism senior at Southeast Missouri State University and you can find her on Twitter @andreagils.



Pitching the Media – The 2014 Edition

October 16th, 2014
Pitching the Media BurrellesLuce Public Relations PR Software Media Monitoring news clipping

L to R: Hammerand, Drew, Putz, Lebens. Schwartz, Ojeda-Zapata and moderator Rachanda Hall. Photo by Debbie Friez

by Debbie Friez*

Your pitch needs to be a great relevant headline in the subject of your email. (“Yes, I know,” I think as I listen to yet another media panel. But, do I always follow this advice?) So, I continue to listen to the panel of six journalists for this combined Minnesota PRSA, NIRI Twin Cities and Business Wire event. The 2014 edition of this annual event turned out to be one of the best media panels I’ve attended.

Let’s get it out there. Do I call, email, tweet, Facebook, Google Plus message or text a journalist? They all agreed, email is the best option. Duchesne Drew, managing editor for operations, Star Tribune, reminded the audience you can usually find reporter’s emails on the publication’s website, and getting to the right reporter will make all the difference.

The follow-up call to see if they received the press release, on the other hand, is usually annoying. (And all PR folks hate that call!) But, several panelists agreed, they are extremely busy with very full email boxes, so reaching out via different means (even a phone call) is not a bad idea if you don’t get a response in a few days. Andy Putz, executive editor at MinnPost, says you can call him, but avoid calling him in the morning. Julio Ojeda-Zapata, a technology writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, is actually quite active on Google Plus, and, if you follow him on Twitter, he’ll follow you back, so you can direct message, if needed. Other panelists said it is OK to find them on social media and text (yes, text!) them if you have a relationship and their cell phone number.

As young PR novices, we learned we should take reporters out for an informational coffee to develop a relationship for future stories. It seems the practice is still worthwhile for most reporters working a beat. Jim Hammerand, digital editor at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, says his day is very busy, so he finds breakfasts or happy hours work better for him.

Embargoed releases are fine, if the reporter has agreed to it ahead of time. (Wow! I’m thinking about all the times I’ve seen these go out blindly!) But Ojeda-Zapata says he doesn’t have a problem with embargoes.

The sportscaster of the group, Dave Scwartz, KARE-TV, doesn’t usually use bloggers for sources. In the sports world, he finds most are just big fans. He also assured us that sports guys do wear pants. (I’m not sure we found that information relevant?)

The actual hard deadline is less relevant in the 24/7 newsroom, although some still exist. Hammerand commented on the need to fill the Business Journal’s 3 p.m. daily email and the paper edition needs information one to one-and-a-half weeks in advance. Nancy Lebens, editor for Minnesota Public Radio News, has about 30 newscasts to fill, so she is always looking for stories at all times of the day.

Reminders from the panel for your own organization’s website media room:

  • Include complete contact information (not the generic media@domain.com) on their organization’s website.
  • If you don’t want your mobile number on your website, be sure to have it in your voice-mail.
  • Remember to post press releases as you send them out, so they can confirm information.
  • If your company has a product, post easy-to-find and downloadable images and background information.
  • Don’t make your media room password protected, where the reporter is required to sign-in. They may not do it.

Even in this digital age, reporters and PR folks still need each other, and we can continue to learn from each other. Happy pitching!


Debbie Friez serves as tech editor for the Capitol Communicator and is also a consultant. Previously, she worked as Vice President, Major Accounts for BurrellesLuce. She originally joined BurrellesLuce at their Minnesota Clipping Service affiliate.

Friez was a senior account director for West Glen Communications, a broadcast PR services company. While at West Glen Communications, she was a frequent contributor to the DC Communicator newsletter.

She has a broad understanding of the technologies that are transforming the marketing and communications profession. She serves on the advisory board for the Capitol Communicator, the membership committee for the Minnesota chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, the national marketing committee for the Association of Women in Communications, and is a member and past president of Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR).



The Best Tweets From the PRSA 2014 International Conference

October 15th, 2014

Cooling temperatures and fall foliage mean one thing to public relations pros: the PRSA International Conference. This year’s conference, in case you hadn’t heard, was held in Washington, D.C., and it was definitely one for the history books. In the following weeks we’ll have lots of great session recaps, but since #PRSAICON was trending on Twitter multiple times throughout the conference, first we’re bringing you some of our favorite #PRSAICON tweets.