Posts Tagged ‘Tressa Robbins’


How to Change the Conversation About Your Brand Through Disruptive Storytelling

Thursday, July 10th, 2014
How to Change the Conversation About Your Brand Through Disruptive Storytelling Tressa Robbins BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Public Relations PRSA PR Media Monitoring Press Clipping McDonalds

flickr user Tsahl Levent-Levi under CC BY license

We all know that storytelling is a key component of public relations. We tell stories to enhance our brand, our client and/or our mission. You know your story is being heard, but is your audience really listening?

McDonald’s USA public relations manager Christina Tyler, APR, spoke last week at the PRSA Midwest District Conference on how to be disruptive to get your points across. She began by showing McDonald’s advertising clips, spanning four decades (that’s 40 years for those who are math-challenged), all saying their burgers are 100% pure beef. This message was loud and clear in the ads; yet, in nearly every focus group, the main question people had was “What’s in the beef?”

Tyler talked about consumers seeing Super Size Me and making (incorrect) assumptions about their ingredients. Or, perhaps they saw a Facebook post that was a hoax, myth or urban legend, but gets passed along by the uninformed as truth. She discussed how stimuli gets interpreted by our beliefs to form “facts” that may not be facts at all. Perception IS reality.

Time to get disruptive! It doesn’t have to be “in your face” or rude, and you shouldn’t feel obliged to engage trolls. What you do need to do is to interrupt the flow of information. Tyler laid out six disruptive tactics McDonald’s has used and why they work:

 1. Start on the inside of the organization

  • Make sure the customer’s voice is present. Be sure your messages, campaigns and programs support what the marketing team is saying/doing. Push your organization’s tolerance.
  • This works because consumers are naturally “me” focused. Consistency across all touch points improves the likelihood of being heard.

2. Play to the heart

  • Leverage your history and shared cultural experiences (like the Dove soap commercials, for example). Lead with your values. Step aside and let fans tell the stories that matter to them.
  • This works because it makes people feel “warm and fuzzy” so they are more likely to listen. People like to share their own stories—you simply provide the platform.

3. Transparency

  • Show them everything.
  • People need to see to believe.

4. Change the messenger

  • Move away from corporate spokespeople and toward real people. Credibility doesn’t always equal credentials.
  • Letting someone they trust share the story improves believability.

5. Provide unexpected access

  • First, broaden your idea of who should get access. Offer face time with CEO, or take them behind the scenes, or better yet—put them to work. Let them experience it–see it, touch it, feel it. Tyler gave the example here of taking a blogger to the farm where McDonald’s ingredients are grown and having them crack an egg or pick a piece of lettuce.
  • Seeing is believing; doing is even better. That’s why this works.

6. Take yourself out of context

  • Make it possible for customers to experience you in a new milieu. Surprise them by doing something unexpected of your brand. For example, last year, McDonald’s held a Top Chef event in New York where they gave top chefs the ingredients used in McDonald’s restaurants and had them create a menu. They invited 100 people to sample the results. People were amazed that these gourmet dishes came from the same ingredients as are found under their local ”golden arches.”
  • You can probably see from the example why this works. If you can truly set aside existing perceptions, then you have better odds at engaging in a new dialogue.

So, ask yourself, is what’s standing in the way of me disrupting the status quo and getting my message across the adherence to doing things the way it has always been done just because that’s the way it’s always been done? If the answer is yes, then get disruptive!

Your Public Relations Career May Start With a Post-Grad Internship

Thursday, May 8th, 2014
flickr user Ian Norman under CC BY license

flickr user Ian Norman under CC BY license

Hats off to those PR students who recently graduated, and to those who are about to walk—in your commencement ceremony and into the next chapter of your lives!

You are likely now focused on the job search.  Many grads will quickly realize that they don’t have what it takes to get that entry-level job. Yes, I know entry-level would seem to indicate just that—no experience required, but in PR (and some other industries as well) things work a bit differently.  Most entry-level public relations jobs ask for at least one year of experience. In some cases, they may also ask for additional skills such as graphic design, publication layout, web coding—ones that are historically outside the realm of traditional PR or summer internships. While it can seem frustrating that to get work experience you need work experience, there is a way to get that: the post-graduate internship.

Through various touch points, including being professional adviser to PRSSA-SE over the past few years (and previously PRSA-St. Louis’ PRSSA liaison), I have had occasion to talk with students, graduates, new pros, faculty and hiring professionals.  Post-grad internships seem to be a trend so I did a little digging, and to my surprise, found it wasn’t exactly a new trend.

I stumbled upon a post from 2009 on PR Channel’s (now abandoned)  blog, which quoted Meg Carosello (nee Fullenkamp), who heads up PR at Captiva Marketing in St. Louis, where she said, even if you’ve graduated without internship experience, it’s not too late.

First, don’t be afraid to do a post-grad internship. My first internship was after graduation at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. It was for 2 months, not much pay, but I learned so much and got to work with major editors at publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Dallas Morning News and more! This internship gave me valuable experience that made me more attractive to employers. Secondly, don’t be afraid to do more than one post-grad internship. After my time was over at Opera Theatre, I landed a position as an intern in the marketing communications group at Fleishman Hillard. I had applied at FH twice before and didn’t even get an interview. My internship at Opera Theatre made me extremely attractive on paper and I landed the job. While my six months at FH were crazy, it was great having such a large agency on my resume.”

I reached out to Meg to see how she felt about that quote today (and to ask permission to use it). She noted the PR world has changed a lot in the past several years and by adding web and digital marketing skills, she’s not only keeping relevant but it has made her a much better resource for her clients. She said, “By taking chances on something new and continuing to learn something new every day I have found my niche even though it was not necessarily my original plan when I graduated and I am much happier now because of it.”

As if to punctuate the point, I found a recent post by Nicole Bersani, who had plenty of undergrad experience between a couple internships and her work for ImPRessions (Ohio University’s nationally-affiliated student-run firm) but still chose to take another internship after graduation. She did this to get her foot in the door at a globally recognized agency, and successfully leveraged that internship into a full-time job!

Whether you’ve been told you need additional experience, want to check-out a new city (or country), or are simply trying figure out what you want to do, there are plenty of reasons to take a post-grad internship. You should expect to be paid, be committed to the job that you accept, and be willing to work beyond “normal” hours. Be inquisitive. Be open to all opportunities.

Most of all, don’t feel bad if this is what you need to do. The job title doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are moving toward your next goal—which is to find a job that is satisfying.

Blogging, Copyright, and How to Attribute Images

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014
by flickr user opensource.com under CC BY license

by flickr user opensource.com under CC BY license

I’m teaching a class on blogging this semester at Southeast Missouri State University. As we discussed the importance of images in blogging and storytelling, I told the class, “Just because it’s on the Internet does not mean it’s free!” I explained that you must attribute any image you use back to its origin.  Unfortunately, that was not explanation enough and apparently caused confusion.  As I struggled to explain more thoroughly, I thought there have to be others out there with this same perplexity!

“The law automatically grants full “copyright” over any creative work a person makes unless otherwise stated.

Copyright law is incredibly complex. Adding to that complexity is the fact that most of the laws governing copyright were written long before the World Wide Web. Regardless, here are some tips and best practices.

If you are unwilling or unable to pay copyright royalties, you have essentially three options:

1. Use free public domain images.

2. Use Creative Commons® images.

3. Use your own photos or use images you’ve created (from scratch—you cannot modify someone else’s image and call it your own)

Public Domain

Copyright.gov explains that a work of authorship is in the public domain “if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner.”

These types of images are ideal for blogging or educational use.  Works may also be public domain if their copyright has expired or if they are uncopyrightable. Even public domain images should be attributed to and linked back to the source. Two sources for finding public domain images are The Public Domain Review and The Getty Open Content.

Creative Commons

If you can’t find public domain images that fit your needs, you can use Creative Commons-licensed images – as long as you correctly attribute according to the terms of the license under which the image is offered.  Some Creative Commons images only require attribution and link-back, others are only available for non-commercial use, or may be used but not altered. This infographic by adityadipankar is a great “crash course” in Creative Commons:

What is Creative Commons?

by Folography.
Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

There are a number of sites where you may find usable images.  Creative Commons and Wikimedia are two.  My personal favorites are Flickr and Google Images—but you have to filter on only those with a creative commons license. For example, on Flickr it’s at http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/ but on Google, you have to go to the advanced image search and scroll down to “usage rights” and choose “free to use or share.”  Keep in mind, Google protects itself with the warning:

BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Image Attribution Google

So, you found a usable image but aren’t sure exactly how to properly attribute the photo? This blog post (by Peter McDermott) does a great job of explaining and demonstrating:

The bottom line when looking for images to use in your blog posts (or web page, portfolio, etc.)… as Benjamin Franklin said, “When in doubt, don’t! “

What sources do you use for finding images? What advice would you add?

This Week’s Shot of Fresh: International Intellectual Property, SCOTUS to Rule on Broadcast Copyright, and Building Brand You

Friday, March 14th, 2014
flicr user wwarby under CC BY license

flicr user wwarby under CC BY license

Shot of Fresh is our weekly roundup of Fresh Ideas content.

U.S. Copyright Compliance Eyes Asia-Pacific

Enforcing copyrights and intellectual property protections isn’t just a domestic issue – it’s an international one. The Trans-Pacific Partnerships is a push to close the gaps on international property that could strengthen U.S. copyright protections in 12 countries.

Broadcast Copyright Case Headed to Supreme Court

Not just another hot news misappropriation case – this one deals with broadcast and it’s going all the way to the Supreme Court next month. Hold onto your copyrights, folks; SCOTUS’s decision could make for a bumpy ride.

Building Your Personal Brand

You aren’t just you anymore – you’re your own brand, so you’d better start promoting yourself like one. Tressa Robbins has excellent tips from St. Louis PRSA’s Career Development Day.

Building Your Personal Brand

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Building Your Personal Brand Tressa Robbins BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Staci Harvatin PresoAs promised in my last post, here are more tips from the St. Louis PRSA Career Development Day. Digital marketing maven and Director of Marketing at Cantor & Burger Staci Harvatin gave the luncheon keynote on building your personal brand.

To demonstrate why your digital personal brand matters, Harvatin quoted a few statistics from a 2013 Jobvite survey:

  • 94 percent of recruiters use or plan to use social media to recruit and vet candidates
  • 78 percent of recruiters have made a hire through social media
  • 42 percent have reconsidered a job candidate based on their social media activity

That certainly got the audience’s attention—pros and students alike!

She went on to say that an active brand is the best brand. Many recruiters use Twitter to vet candidates for their style, attitude and communication aptitude—soft skills, things that are difficult to determine from a traditional resume. Her tips to building your brand online included:

  • Use consistent profile pictures across your various platforms
  • Claim vanity URLS on all profiles that you’re able to
  • Pay attention to your bio—this is your professional “elevator pitch” to sell yourself, but should also include some insight into who you are as a person
  • Create and use vanity email and professional signature blocks
  • Cross-promote public profiles so they are tied together
  • You can’t be everywhere so pick a couple social networks or other digital outlets and put all of your efforts into making an impact in those areas
  • Invest time participating in LinkedIn groups, Google Plus communities, and industry-related Twitter chats
  • Connect –follow, friend, and like other professionals
  • Share posts (socially) and other content created by companies you are interested in
  • When you comment on blog posts or online articles, make sure you use a consistent name and link back to one of your public profiles.
  • Participate in the blogosphere by reading and commenting or asking questions on pertinent blog posts

Harvatin suggests Googling yourself often—remembering to turn off “private results” so you are seeing what someone else would see. She even suggests setting up a Google Alert with your name so you can keep track of any mention of you (aka your brand).

Personally, I use the free version of BrandYourself. It tracks my search results and alerts me (via email) whenever the results change. It even offers a “search score” based on how many positive versus negative results are on my first page of Google search results.

Harvatin wrapped up her presentation saying that if you want your personal profiles (like Facebook) to be private, then lock them up! Check and double-check your privacy settings.  If you are commenting on something that you don’t want to be associated with publicly/professionally, use a different email address and alias and do not link back to your professional persona.

In addressing why this matters, Harvatin concluded there are two major advantages( and I’ve added a third of my own):

1. You’re leaving breadcrumbs of content with which you want to be associate

2. You are building a REAL network of professional contacts

3. The more professionally active you are online, the more those activities push down less desirable search results

What additional advice would you offer? What strategies do you use to remain visible online?