Category Archives: Public relations study

“I tried to control the internet and it worked.” Said no one. Ever.

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I, like many of you, my mind was blown watching Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime show. I was just in aw of the dancing, the hair flips, her amazing costume – it was an incredible performance. We all thought so – everyone I watched with agreed it was the best half time show in years.

On a related note, aren’t Mondays awful? I bet Beyonce’s publicist sure thought so the morning after the Super Bowl. Just doing her job, asking a pesky blog to remove unflattering stills of the jaw-dropping performance the day before. And wouldn’t you know it – the Internet got annoyed at her attempt to censor it, and bit back. Big time.

Don’t try to control the internet.

What could have been the stuff of halftime show legend, is now comic book legend. I mean, really great that champion body-builder Beyonce can share her other talents, like singing. And hair flipping.

[Image courtesy of]

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Why You’ll Fall In Love with Tech PR – And why it’ll love you back.

You’ve probably heard that from people who get into Tech PR with reluctance kind of end up loving it. You’ve probably been surprised to hear it. Well, you’re as surprised as I was. To address that skeptical look on your face, let’s liken it to, say, having your first geek post-high school crush. (editors note: Please continue to read after the below image. Unfortunately he is not the main point of this post.)

Sometimes technology is pretty attractive.

He’s witty and quirky and not at all like the high school soccer jock you always imagined yourself with back when prom was the big event in your life. When you’re first getting into PR, you think it’s going to be like Samantha on SATC or Lauren and Whitney on the Hills, taking orders from Kelly Cutrone while you sit at your desk with your iMac and perfect weave surrounded by hip couture as you, you know, do PR. And at first, that sounds pretty cool. OK, it will always sound cool, but after a few months in the industry it also sounds fictional. Oh, sure, there are those Oscar De La Renta PR girls out there, but there are so many other opportunities to do real PR. Without cat-fights.

When it comes to tech, at first it’s confusing and a little (a lot) over your head. But then it’s intriguing. You start to understand the ins and outs of the industry, your competition, why it really is competition (it’s a race for innovation!). How technology is changing and maturing faster than it ever has and how you, yes YOU, get to see it with your own eyes — all the behind the scenes stuff and you get to influence it. Wow, that’s kind of exciting. Think I’m developing a tiny crush, but I mean, I’m not going to be his girlfriend or anything. This is just harmless flirting…

You resist, and also don’t. He’s funny and sweet, and loves your attention because, well, he’s a nerd. And suddenly, you’re interested in the things that he finds interesting, and you now find that you want to support him in his endeavors. It’s OK, let yourself get excited about things like public APIs and SXSW INTERACTIVE. These are valuable things that matter and are the building blocks to the important and critical technology that will eventually be infused throughout business, lifestyle, culture – and the rest of The New York Time’s sections.

You bring something unique to the table, something the tech industry needs badly. An “everyman (woman)” perspective. How will this be received and by who? Where should we have an online presence? How do we explain this in simple language so that people will understand the story? How do we get past jargon and tell the story to anyone? They need you because you are good with people. You make them feel comfortable and can move easily in and out of social situations.

He teaches you things. Every day you’re launching stuff that eventually brands across every industry will want to be a part of. And you can help them get there. You learn the “next thing” and see trends before they break – Tech PR people were the first to see the branding potential in Twitter, Facebook and now Foursquare.

In Tech PR, your clients are often services or platforms being used for PR initiatives. Knowing the space around these companies gives you a good leg-up on how to leverage them.

He introduces you to his friends: Being able to find, access and leverage online communities is vital these days. Clients will want to know who is talking about their brand, what they’re saying and how to reach them. By working in tech PR, you’re already managing that, if not working to garner those communities and which platforms they’re on. Everyone is a publisher these days and knowing how to tell your story to all of those channels is hugely important.

He’s everything you never knew you were looking for. Tech PR gives you an incredible opportunity to practice traditional PR (press releases, media tours, press kits), while staying sharp as the media changes and the PR industry changes. So much of PR is about web content and content creation – blogging for clients, doing client videos, creating media properties (like external, loosely branded sites) – to engage with the community, and knowing these trends is half the battle. Tech PR will do that for you.
Almost every major (and successful) branding campaign has some kind of online component and social web presence – be it sports, fashion, food, travel, eCommerce, politics, non-profit, etc. You need to know how to lead the charge.

On that note, LaunchSquad is hiring at all levels in SF, NYC and Boston. Interested? http://launchsquad.com/about/join-the-team.php

Setting the PR Bar in Rwanda

In a recent article from allAfrica.com, public relations professionals are making an effort to regulate the profession there and clean up its reputation. Peter Malinga, president of of the Public Relations Association of Rwanda, asserts that the public relations world has a current “free entry” status in which “failed or re-traded journalists” can thrive. This being the case, the PRAR, a joint private-public sector venture, hopes to align the industry with professionalism and apparently competency.

“[PRAR]’s main aim, [Malinga] added, is to professionalize the public relations profession, given that its practitioners are often considered to be poor cousins of advertisers’ and event management.”

The organization hopes to “weed out” unqualified people and make the profession something to which people aspire, rather than resort.

At first, I was mildly offended. Only mildly because I wasn’t sure if Malinga and his organization were referring to the Rwandan PR industry rather than the global profession. But I was offended because I think that the skills that make a successful PR professional are disciplines that I am daily honing and – well, at least thinking about.

The article later goes on to focus on the importance of distinguishing between good and bad PR and the need for the former.

And so at this point, I realized: I need to NOT be offended (even mildly) about this and realize that he’s right. There’s plenty of bad PR out there, even if most of the time I associate it with being stimulated by external, “beyond our control” forces. Probably the bulk of bad PR out there is done by PR pros who really aren’t THAT pro.

This is a rallying call for mobilization and engagement. How do we answer?

By striving to be truth-centric and people-oriented. By allowing the industry to be chastized.

“It is in the institution’s interest if it is criticized, since this helps in the correction of different mistakes.”

*Photo courtesy of http://polosbastards.com

It’s Not Easy Being Green

This is my last post that counts as an assignment for the class in which this blog was assigned. So in honor of St. Patty’s, I’d like to say, it’s not easy being green (as in inexperienced not eco-friendly).

This term, more than anything else for me has been: “What’s public relations all about?” And more than ever before, I’ve been asked to prove that I can answer that question. I have one instructor who insists that at its very fundamentals, PR is about influencing people. I have another instructor who stressed how much we needed to make messages that were going to “stick”.

So here are some things I learned this term to make me less green and more savvy:

1. In a trade publication, if you don’t know the audience, check the media kit.

2. Everything you write needs to matter to someone.

3. Accountability is important and it’s good to let a client know in a plan how you’re going to be accountable to them

4. Never list someone as a reference on a resume or CV until they know they are being listed.

5. In order to truely “join the conversation” you must be actively listening.

6. Shareholders don’t always care about the CSR.

7. Do not data dump in presentations.

8. Tripple Bottom-line: People + Community + Profit<– According to mis-read lecture notes – it’s actually People, Planet, Profit (Thanks, Emily).

9. Transparency is key.

10. In a media-advisory, make the photo-op irresistible to the press.

11. In a crisis, address concerns first.

12. Nail down AP style.

13. Listen and respond.

Thanks to all the PR pros that have indulged in my questions and concerns this term via Twitter and e-mail. I hope we’ll have an opportunity to continue the conversation.

*Image courtesy of http://www.smart-kit.com/