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Hack-A-Comm: “Fast Hacks” Providing Essential Tips for PR and Communication Industry Leaders

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

Photo Courtesy of PRSA

By: Pam Golden, President, GLA Communications*

The title was intriguing and two of the three presenters are Counselor’s Academy members, so of course I had to attend. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this session, however, I walked away with three really great ideas to take back to my team.

Sean Williams Photo Courtesy of PRSA

Relevant for internal comms teams and agencies alike, Sean Williams, Vice President with True Digital

Communications shared his hack for creating a communications plan that can be used with various company stakeholders.  He calls it AMMO: Audiences/ Messages/ Methods/Objectives.

Audience: The people you need to reach; who needs to hear, be heard, who do we have to help?
Messages: What do we have to say, show or demonstrate to attain our objectives?
Methods: How do we need to deliver those messages? What are the tactics?
Objectives: The actions you want people to take, what do you need your audience to think, feel do?

So basic, but so smart.

Elizabeth Edwards, President, Volume PR and a CAPRSA member, infuses behavioral science insights into communications strategies, messages and tactics. Elizabeth’s hack was to using psychology to get results.

She offered up how to get more from people using reasoning and validation to get positive responses.

As she explained, the word “because” helps answer the why question and gives people the reason for a yes response. Elizabeth shared how the law of reciprocity can be used to our benefit. After all, we tend to want to help those who have helped us.  And, they will be more likely to want to work with people who like and respect us.

Another great tip was to leverage rejection. If we ask for more –

John Deveney and Elizabeth Edwards Photo Courtesy of PRSA

whether it be more projects or higher fees, then when the answer is no, we have the flexibility to reduce the ask.

John Deveney, President of Deveney, an engagement agency and also a CAPRSA member, presented on how to identify, vet and get the most out of online influencers. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the influencer program must ladder up to the business goals. We need to evaluate goals, resources and needs and determine:

  • Why do you want the influencer?
  • What do you want them to say?
  • Who is their audience?
  • How do you want them to talk about your brand?
  • Where are these online conversations taking place?

Tips from John:

How to find influencers?

  • Use award programs, tap into influencer networks, form your own network, conduct internet searches and leverage database software.
  • Use several of these to identify the right influencers for your program.

How to vet influencers?

  • Look for ones who have industry standing and strong relationships.
  • Look at their engagement rate not the number of likes.
  • Does the personality fit your brand and look at the quality of results and the content.

How to get the most out of influencers?

  • Allow them to deliver the message in their own voice and give them time to get results.
  • Discuss metrics – do you need to drive sales? If so, build a way to track sales from the influencer impact.
  • Play by the rules – have them agree to the FTC guidelines

Big shout out to Johna Burke and BurrellesLuce for sponsoring this session.

*Pam Golden is president of GLA Communications which she founded in 1986.  Her expertise has helped fuel many successful communications campaigns including the launch of home satellite TV, DVD and HDTV. Pam provides high-level strategic and tactical counsel to GLA’s clients, bringing the benefit of more than 30 years of experience in creating and executing effective campaigns that deliver results. Pam is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America and serves on the executive committee for its Counselors Academy sector, where she is also chair of the programming committee. In April 2017, Pam was named as a finalist in the Leading Women Entrepreneurs “Brand Builders” category, which celebrates communications professionals who excel in brand innovation.

Using Measurement and Evaluation to Take Business to Next Level

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

By: Pam Golden, President, GLA Communications*

Photo courtesy of PRSA

If you ask most PR professionals, measurement and evaluation is an area we struggle with whether you work for an agency or in-house. Johna Burke, Chief Marketing Officer for BurrellesLuce, one of the industry’s most respected experts on measurement, presented “Use Measurement and Evaluation to Take Business to the Next Level,” at the 2017 PRSA International Conference. No matter how many presentations and webinars I attend on this topic, there is always so much more to learn and Johna shared concepts I hadn’t considered.

Of course, intellectually we know we should tie our communications objectives to an organization’s business goals, but do we always? With PR fighting for share of wallet and marketing budget, it is more important than ever to have clear and measurable objectives. Johna calls them SMARTER objectives:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely
  • Ethical
  • Revolutionizing

Together, these seven objectives can ensure that our programs and campaigns tie back to the business as well as demonstrate value, which is an overarching goal for all of us.

So, just how do you demonstrate value?  Johna shared four areas for us to consider:

  • Increase revenue, profit, growth, value, retention, ROI or ROA, efficiency, visibility
  • Reduce costs, time/effort, complaints, risk, turnover, conflict, paperwork
  • Improve productivity, processes, service, information, morale, reputation, skills, loyalty, quality
  • Create strategy, systems, processes, business, products, services, brand

According to Johna, we must make sure data and information are relevant for the audience; therefore  it is critical to understand where you are and where your audience is in the ecosystem. PR professionals need to think like analysts, which means we should be looking beyond the numbers and putting them into context and perspective for our audiences. That includes challenging what the numbers mean to show correlation to outputs and outcomes because without qualitative information the data is meaningless.

Johna pointed to the Integrated Evaluation Framework from AMEC – the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication as a great tool that was developed to help standardize evaluation and provide tools based on best practices. It is set up in seven sections designed to obtain qualitative information, not just quantitative data:

Objectives, inputs, activities, outputs, out-takes, outcomes, and impact

This interactive framework can be accessed here.

And, of course, none of this is really achievable without critical thinking, which is an essential skill, and Johna’s acronym – RED – says it all:

  • Recognize Assumptions
  • Evaluate Arguments
  • Draw conclusions

None of this is complicated, but it requires consistent commitment from everyone on our teams to ensure success.

*Pam Golden is president of GLA Communications which she founded in 1986.  Her expertise has helped fuel many successful communications campaigns including the launch of home satellite TV, DVD and HDTV. Pam provides high-level strategic and tactical counsel to GLA’s clients, bringing the benefit of more than 30 years of experience in creating and executing effective campaigns that deliver results. Pam is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America and serves on the executive committee for its Counselors Academy sector, where she is also chair of the programming committee. In April 2017, Pam was named as a finalist in the Leading Women Entrepreneurs “Brand Builders” category, which celebrates communications professionals who excel in brand innovation.

Cyber Security: Fighting Back Against Threats

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Computer hacker stealing data from a laptop concept for network security, identity theft and computer crime

By Sydney Rodgers*

Theresa Payton is a notable expert on leading cyber security and IT strategy. As former White House CIO from May 2006 until September 2008, she is one of the leading security specialists in the nation. Payton is the CEO of Fortalice Solutions and co-founder of Dark Cubed. Both companies provide security, risk and fraud consulting services to various organizations.

At the recent Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference, Payton compared potential security risk to connecting a talking Barbie to unknown WIFI sources. According to Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council (ITRC), in 2015 over 169 million personal records were exposed due to breaches. With the internet playing such a large role in daily life I wanted Payton’s insight on how to structure your brand. Below Payton gives us tips on how to expand your assets without putting them at risk.

 

How does someone determine their most valuable assets?
Your most valuable asset(s) is that information that you absolutely cannot afford to lose. It’s the most critical asset that you need to safeguard and protect either for yourself or your organization.  Lots of digital assets are considered valuable but the top 3 digital assets that cyber criminals target before and during a large event are:

  1. The schedules of notable people and their security detail assignments;
  2. Ability to spoof or fake credentials online or in person; and/or
  3. Stealing personally-identifiable information or the right credentials to access payment information and bank accounts

 

What trends do you see in breaches of security?
Over the course of my career, one item rings true over and over again. Today’s technology, by design, is open so it can be easily updated. That open design also means that a breach is inevitable, but how you plan to respond to one is not. If you create and store data, there will be cyber criminals waiting to pounce to copy it, take it, post it, ransom it, or destroy it. Offensive strategies with defensive mitigating controls work, but a purely defensive strategy is a losing strategy. For every defense you put in the path of a cyber criminal, just like a squirrel after an acorn, they will relentlessly try to circumvent your defenses to grab it.

As we live in today’s world, it would be completely negligent to only think in terms of physical or digital security as two separate entities. We discussed this in great detail at the White House that a security strategy must dovetail the two together, physical and digital, and that a one sided approach was doomed to fail.

 

What things should someone take into consideration when looking into cyber security?
An area often overlooked or widely misunderstood is the use of open source intelligence, also known as OSINT, as part of the overall strategy. 70% of data breach victims indicate that they were alerted they had a breach from someone outside their own organization. That stunning statistic reinforces why every company should target your own organization, as if you are the adversary. This approach helps you identify the information leaking out of your vendor’s connections to your data, through your own employees, or technology, before cyber criminals use that same intelligence to launch an attack against your organization.

Digitally, you can use OSINT tools to identify everything you can about the technology and people that work at your organization. You can also use OSINT to see if your sensitive data has leaked online. Physically, you can use an OSINT technique to digitally geo fence a specific and physical land area and monitor the digital traffic occurring that mentions the location. In the case of fighting terrorism, private sector companies and law enforcement can geo fence critical infrastructure, significant events, and venues and then monitor to identify terrorist capabilities, sympathizers, motivation, flash points and intentions through various OSINT tools.

 

What apps would you suggest someone use to monitor their protection?
Some apps that I use everyday are: Privacy Badger and Ghostery to protect my online browsing from 3rd party marketing firms and other snoops. I also use Threema to protect sensitive text messages.

 

Should there be differences in cyber security for personal and professional?
How you think about protecting your privacy and sensitive digital assets in your personal and work life are the same. Most of the principals that you apply in your personal life should go to the office with you and vice versa. Please make sure you are familiar with the tighter restrictions at work that are typically agreed to within employee agreements that you have signed so you don’t unknowingly break rules or put your company’s most sensitive assets at risk.

 

Follow Theresa Payton on Twitter @trackerpayton. And check out Fortalice Solutions.

*Sydney Rodgers is a student at Southeast Missouri State University. She has always been interested in the communication process and social interaction and is currently studying public relations. In her spare time Sydney likes to keep up with current events and is AVP of Communication for her Public Relations Student Society chapter.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SydSpksSuccess
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sydney-rodgers-5a6305127

AMEC North America Kick-off with #PRMeasure Chat

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
Word cloud image created from the chat content

Word cloud image created from the chat content

This week is the third annual AMEC (International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication) measurement week here in North America—as part of AMEC Measurement Month.  There are PR measurement-related virtual events all week. The best part? They’re all FREE! Just go to http://amecmmna.com and register for any you’d like to attend. Even if you aren’t sure you’ll be able to sit-in on the live webinar, if you register you will receive an on-demand playback link afterwards.

 

Measurement Week 2016 kicked-off Monday morning with a Twitter chat using the hashtag #PRmeasure. The chat was hosted by PR News and featured Measurement Hall of Famers Mark Weiner, Linda Rutherford and BurrellesLuce’s own Johna Burke.

I have personally been active on Twitter since 2008 and have participated in more chats than I can remember. I don’t say this lightly and can honestly say, this was one of the most robust chats that I’ve ever participated in, with more than 20 questions and netting more than 400 tweets in one hour!  It offered so much valuable information that it would be impossible to summarize into short form—simply wouldn’t do it justice.  Instead, we’ve created a Storify for your review. It’s not every single tweet but way more than what I’d call a “recap”.

Watch here for more posts recapping many of this week’s PR measurement activities!

New Resource (Book) for Millennial Job Seekers

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
Photo Credit: Bolla Photography

Photo Credit: Bolla Photography

As a PRSSA professional adviser and PR student mentor, I often get questions about job searching, professional networking etiquette, cover letters, interview preparation and follow-up, and résumé writing (as well as personal branding).  Those questions are typically prefaced with “how do I …” and followed by “will you read what I wrote and give me feedback”.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I get incredible joy and satisfaction from helping and mentoring PR students and gladly do so; however, I can’t count how many times I’ve thought that I should write this stuff down so I could just send a ‘canned’ response to some of those frequently asked questions—just to save time.

 

Last Fall, I was contacted via Twitter by Danny Rubin who had just completed a book called, Wait, How Do I Write This Email? and subtitled, “Game-Changing Templates for Networking and the Job Search”.  He knew (from my bio and various social media activity) that I do a lot with PR students and thought it might be helpful. A free book? Um, yes, please! Then I completely forgot about it until a couple months later when the book arrived in the mail along with a personal note from Danny. After skimming through, I knew within minutes that this book is as good as GOLD to, not just students but young pros or really anyone—especially those who’ve been out of job search mode for some time.

 

Around that same time, I was planning the PRSA St. Louis annual Career Development Day and thought this would be the perfect opening keynote topic. Fortunately, we were able to bring Danny in for the event to speak and do a mini-writing workshop and it was so helpful I wanted to share with you a few takeaways.

 

Use the power of storytelling in your cover letters , bio, etc. (even during the interview) to make you stand out from the crowd.

  • Lead with a compelling personal story—an anecdote that you can relate to the job skills required.
  • Stories, told properly, will capture the reader’s attention and keep them reading.
  • Unique details matter!
  • A personal story will leave a more lasting impression and makes you more memorable.
  • Starting and ending on the same story (a technique that professional journalists use) demonstrate that you “get it,” and that you know how to apply these tactics in a real-world setting.

 

So how do you do this? I’ll share an excerpt from Danny’s book (Chapter 9: The Power of Stories) where he steps the reader through the six parts of a storytelling cover letter.

 

Danny’s outline for the storytelling cover letter:

  1. Open with a line that places readers into the story. Grab their attention and make them think.
  2. Include concrete details about the story. The more specific you are, the more colorful the anecdote, the more memorable you will be. Quantify your results—provide hard numbers when appropriate.
  3. Demonstrate how the story applies to the job by referring to the job description—making sure the anecdote reflect the person the company is looking to hire.
  4. Show you did your research and understand how the company fits into the marketplace by explaining how you will help the company grow its business and make it more successful.
  5. Share more of your qualities as they relate to the story. Again, referencing the job description, touch on qualities you know the company admires and show how you would be a good cultural fit.
  6. Mention your story one final time and bring the cover letter full circle.

 

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, Danny offers up more than 100 templates demonstrating various scenarios and taking the guesswork out of applying these techniques.

 

Do you have an example of how you’ve done this effectively that you’d care to share with our readers? Or additional thoughts to offer?