More Wise Women: “Lessons Learned” from Washington Women in Public Relations Panel

November 24th, 2009
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A couple weeks ago I blogged about some of the great advice discussed during the Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) Washington PR Woman of the Year Award luncheon. As a follow-up, WWPR’s November professional development brought together a panel of senior PR professionals to talk about “Lessons Learned.” The panel included:

Wheeler started by asking the panelists, “What attribute contributed to their success?”

  1. Integrity (Gossens)
  2. Taking risks to move ahead (Crockett-Ntonga)
  3. Having an iron stomach (Graveline)
  4. Looking for excellent mentors (Silverberg)
  5. Listening and being an advisor (Silverberg)

As the discussion progressed, Hamilton reminded us to “question your policy that affects the public.” She relayed a story about the original Dr. Gridlock of the Washington Post, who came to Dulles Airport to pick-up his family, and was upset that there weren’t any luggage carts outside of the international terminal. The airport management had plans to add luggage carts in a year. Hoping to have them added sooner, Dr. Gridlock launched a writing campaign, dubbed “Dunkin Donuts vs. Baggage Carts,” commenting the airport could replace the donut shop with baggage carts. The airport management eventually agreed, and the luggage carts were put in early…

Hamilton surmised that the campaign would have been bigger and that change may have come faster had there been social media tools available. A blog would have helped get out the airport’s views and messages, for instance.

Graveline encouraged everyone to “Know what you don’t control.” She said to “Stop resisting change and focus on what you need to do.” This can easily be applied to the resistance many PR people have to social media. Social media is a great way to hear what your audience is thinking.

Gossens said, “Gratuitous publicity is a waste of time. You should focus on creating listening, communications-based organization.” She had three great points to remember:

  1. Own your responsibilities
  2. Tell your own people first
  3. Tell your own story

Trust but verify” was the moral of the story Silverberg recanted on being the spokesperson for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority during the blizzard of 1995. She went on TV and the radio saying that the Metro trains were running, when actually many were stopped. When she found out the truth, she insisted that one of her team members remain in the control room to verify the status of the trains before any new announcements were issued.

Silverberg also stressed that PR folks should monitor the media for what is being said about their own organization, so they can react to the coverage. I loved hearing this advice, because it’s what my BurrellesLuce colleagues and I stress to our clients.

Do you have some public relations “Lessons Learned” you can share? We would love the hear them!

2 Responses to “More Wise Women: “Lessons Learned” from Washington Women in Public Relations Panel”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Debbie Friez and WWPR, Karin Lornsen. Karin Lornsen said: Some fantastic "Lessons Learned" Crisis Com. advice from #WWPR Wise Women complied by @dfriez http://budurl.com/p9db […]

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by klornsen: Some fantastic “Lessons Learned” Crisis Com. advice from #WWPR Wise Women complied by @dfriez http://budurl.com/p9db

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