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January 12, 2011

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PR Pitching Tips Straight from the Source

November 30, 2010

We were lucky enough to get some pitching tips from the editors of the oldest newspaper in Florida, the Florida Times-Union. Read over these tips for successful pitching…and don’t forget to pass them along to your fellow public relations enthusiasts!

  • Build trust. #1 – Don’t lie!
  • What is the value of my pitch to the readers? Show that to the reporter.
  • What not to say: “follow-up,” “On behalf of…”
  • Do not send them something on Friday afternoon. They are preparing the paper for Friday, Saturday, Sunday and sometimes Monday.
  • The BEST time to send a release and reach out is Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.
  • One phone call is okay. Follow up e-mails are better. Your original pitch should be effective enough that a follow-up phone call is not necessary.
  • No need for literary style in a press release. Give details and contact info. Keep it clean and to the point. Use bullets!
  • Do not send out a release to everyone in the news room – they will not read it.
  • Go to the website and figure out who to talk to.
  • Be aware of who you are sending it to. Do your homework.
    Ex. “I notice you wrote about…”
  • Relate your client’s need to the need of the paper’s target audience.
  • Personalize the e-mail. Include background information on the reporter.
  • Reporters do not prefer attachments. Write it in the body of the e-mail. Limit photos…attachments are too large.
  • Sometimes appropriate to arrange meetings with editors, etc.
  • Get to know the beat reporter who writes about the industry of your client. Ex. If your client is a hospital, reach out to the local health reporter.
  • Make sure all your contact information is available to the reporter. Respond to them quickly if they need further information.
  • Understand that the reporter can’t always give you a straight answer. They may not know for a while if they can write about it.
  • If you want them to write about an event that is visually stimulating, they may just send a photographer if they can’t send a reporter.
  • Many newspapers have a “Good News” feature on Saturdays or something similar.
  • Be familiar with the outlet you are pitching to.
  • Physically look at the website and newspaper to see where your story could strategically be placed. Ask the reporter and mention different areas/sections where it may fit.

Appropriate Dress

November 1, 2010

The way people dress says a lot about how they view themselves. It’s very important, especially in the workplace or an interview, to dress appropriately in business attire. Appearance greatly affects an employee’s professional image. There are certain items that are not appropriate for the office, so these guidelines will help determine what is appropriate. These same guidelines can be applied to professional seminars, luncheons, and more.

-Always make sure you never show too much skin, expose bodily piercings, etc.

Skirts, dresses & suits
Skirts and dresses should be at a length comfortable for sitting. Make sure dresses do not show excessive cleavage. Mini skirts, sundresses, skorts, shorts and spaghetti strap dresses are not appropriate.

Shirts, blouses & jackets
Dress shirts, sweaters and turtlenecks are appropriate for the office. Inappropriate attire for work includes tank tops, tops exposing excessive skin, logos, pictures, cartoons, halter tops, sweatshirts, and t-shirts unless worn under another blouse, shirt, jacket, or dress.

Shoes & footwear
Every office has its own policy, but most offices do not allow opened-toe shoes. If it does allow open-toed shoes, most require shoes with a back or a heel. Flip-flops and athletic shoes are never appropriate for the workplace.

Jewelry, perfume, cologne & makeup
Make sure perfume and cologne are worn lightly as some are allergic to certain smells. Makeup and jewelry should always be worn in good taste and never distract.

Hats and head coverings
Hats are never appropriate in the office. Head coverings that are required for religious purposes or to honor cultural tradition are allowed.

Obviously, if your office requires certain things to meet its dress code, you should make sure you apply to those rules. Presenting yourself in appropriate business attire speaks volumes about your professionalism to both current and potential future employers.

A picture says a thousand words

October 25, 2010

With Halloween right around the corner, students across the nation are putting together their costumes to don at parties and festivities. Dozens of pictures will be taken…many in a party setting. In a world with ever increasing exposure and instant coverage, students and up and coming professionals need to be weary of what they tweet, post and blog.

Your online image is an important package as a public relations professional. You are a commodity in the business world, and need to keep a watchful eye on your branding and positioning. Privacy settings are an important factor. If you choose to let it all hang out online, make sure your Twitter and Facebook have restricted viewing. A picture says a thousand words, so make sure to check through your tagged photos from the holiday weekend.

As college students, this is our time to have fun. Make sure to do so in a responsible way, and to show prospective employers that the party scene isn’t what defines you. We can still have fun and be young while being responsible and maintaining a respectable and professional image.

Social Media and the Job Search

October 21, 2010

We have all been told this before: Being social media savvy is going to move us to the top of the resume pile when we are applying to jobs. So how do you show employers that you are, in fact, an expert? One great way to do this is to use social media effectively to find job openings and interviews. What better way to show off your skills than by telling your interviewer that you heard about the company and the job through social media?

Here are some strategies for finding a job using social media:

1. Conduct a people search instead of a job search. Studies show that 80 percent of jobs are obtained through networking. In other words, it is who you know! Start by identifying the top five companies you would like to work with. After you’ve made up your mind, use the amazing social media tools available to you to find people who work for those companies. You can do a company search on LinkedIn as well as an advanced search to find people. On Twitter, search for people who are talking about topics related to the company. Twellow is a great Twitter application that allows you to search people’s bios for key words. Search for the company name and find people who work there. Now that you’ve found the people you need, do exactly what social media is meant for- connect with them directly.

2. Attract employers to YOU rather than going directly to them. This part is all about personal branding. It shows that you are dedicated, interested and an expert in the field you want to work in. In order to attract employers you need to become a content producer, a true asset to the company’s team. The best way to become a content producer is by creating a blog about what you are great at, what you are interested in and what you are passionate about. Some great blogs to get started with are WordPress and Tumblr.

3. Be proactive on Twitter. Start by making sure your Twitter page is complete. Upload a professional photo, have a complete bio and state your location. Start following people in the field you are interested and share industry news with them on occasion. Build relationships and a following that values the information you share and what you have to say. If you used the previous tip, share a link on Twitter to your blog.

4. Use LinkedIn. Recruiters love using LinkedIn because it is free and the industry’s top professionals are only a mouse click away. The only way you will benefit from this, though, is if you use LinkedIn regularly and have a complete profile. Make sure you complete the summary section using key words that recruiters will search for, upload a resume and ask two people to provide professional references on your page. On LinkedIn you can conduct company searches, browse job listings and connect your blog to your profile. It is an invaluable networking tool that will get you in touch with key contacts and help you land the job that you want.

5. Use Facebook Ads! This may seem a little ambitious, but it’s a great idea! Creating a Facebook Ad will show employers that you know how to use the tool and help you target specific groups. You can also share links to your ad on your blog, Twitter and LinkedIn which will allow you to make sure that people who are interested in your expertise will see your ad.

6. Create a video resume. Not only will this show recruiters that you are tech-savvy, but will really impress them and show that you are willing to think outside the box. A good video resume is short, describes the value you can contribute to a given position, explains why you’re the best person for the job and talks about your background in a story-like format. If you are not outgoing, the video resume won’t be the best option for you. Once you are done, upload the video to YouTube using tag words that are related to the field you are interested in.

7. Subscribe to blogs that have job listings. This will make your job search more efficient.

Good luck!

This blog post was compiled using information from Mashable and

The Ultimate Social Media Stats

October 12, 2010

It’s evident that social media has become an integral part of the communication industry as well as our personal lives over the past few years; however, the subject has seemingly grown more and more redundant. When social media terms are uttered, we often automatically zone out because “we already know everything there is to know.”

We all basically know how to manage social media, but what do we really know about how our usage plays into the grand social media scheme?  On a day-to-day basis we view social networking only in our little bubble of Facebook, Twitter, sometimes FourSquare or occasionally another outlets, but their are actually thousands throughout the world! Although there is a great deal of propaganda out there regarding social media,we’ve gathered some cold hard stats from Mashable. If you’ve ever wondered the average number of tweets a day, or the largest social media network in the world (not Facebook, surprisingly) check out the data below that reflects the history of social media sites, how different networks stack up and how you play into the big picture of the digital revolution.

social media infographic

facebook infographic

social media stats

internet usage

You didn’t know everything…did you? For more clips and stats check out “The Ultimate List: 300+Social Media Statistics”

PR Behind-the-Scenes, A Tutorial on Mail Merging

October 4, 2010

As PR professionals, we will constantly have a need to send personalized messages… to a mass audience. Whether pitching bloggers or news media, announcing a product release or attempting to acquire sponsorships, a huge part of our jobs is to create relationships with constituents across the board–in little to no time at all. Every advice column we’ve ever read tells us to speak specifically to each individual we pitch to, to make every letter personal to it’s target. But how (oh, HOW?!) do we do this with so little time in the day?! Ladies and gentlemen… it’s only the beginning… but, we present to you: mail merge.

Mail merge is a nifty tool (lifesaver) in the PR (and business) world that allows you to send a general message to as many people as you like, with specific inserts that personalize to each individual you send it to. For the sake of space, scroll all the way to the bottom for a final example. This will serve as a tutorial on how to best achieve this, on both a PC (upcoming post!) and a Mac.


Step 1:

Using Excel, create an outreach list with the following headers: Company, Title, First, Last, E-mail, Phone, Notes, etc. in column A-G (or whatever letter you get to) – 1. Avoid formatting the spreadsheet any other way, the headers will NEED to be in the “1” row to work properly. Also, make sure all information (specifically e-mail, name and company) is 100% correct. Any discrepancies within these fields will cause the merge to not work properly (which will be discussed later in this post). You can include any amount of information in these columns (i.e. personal paragraph or closing to each if you like), just make sure to keep the formatting the same.

Step 2:

Save the spreadsheet somewhere easily accessible. If you are saving to your client drive (usually lots of folders in), save to the desktop as well, for ease.

NOTE: If you are sending something to only certain contacts within a spreadsheet with multiple “sheets” or divisions within a sheet, save yourself some trouble and create a new spreadsheet with only pertinent information to the specific message–it will be much easier that way.

Step 3:

Open Microsoft Word. Create the message you want to send to your audience. (i.e. Hi X, Hope all is well. With fall weather in tow, we hope that Y Company…. Best, FPRA Exec) Save it.

MAC using Microsoft Word and Entourage 2008——–

NOTE: Entourage must be set up with the e-mail account you wish to send the message from, as well as be selected as your default e-mail client. You must re-start your computer for these changes to take effect.

Step 4:

On the toolbar, select “Tools<Mail Merge Manager.” A grey pop-up box will appear. In order, selsct:

1. Select Document Type. Select Document Type<Create New<Form Letters.

2. Select Recipients List. Get List<Open Data Source. Select your spreadsheet from the desktop. A pop-up box that says “Open Workbook” will appear. For ease, select only the tab necessary for your merge (as previously suggested, it is best to have only one tab on the spreadsheet you are using, in which case, keep the default selection “MASTER” and “Entire Workbook.”

3. Insert Placeholders. The “Insert Placeholders” box will show each header you placed in A-G – 1 of the spreadsheet as a “placeholder” under “contacts.” These “placeholders” are your instant personalization. In your document, drag the appropriate placeholder to wherever in the document you want to be changed. The placeholder will appear as <<Placeholder>>. (i.e. Hi <<First Name>>, Hope all is well. With fall weather in tow, we hope that <<Company>> …. Best, FPRA Exec)

4. Filter Recipients. If you need to do any editing of your recipient list (which you shouldn’t, since you saved your list separately), you don’t need to do anything here.

5. Preview Results.This is so, so, SO important. Click the “<<ABC>>” button to show the actual text (which is being imported from your Excel sheet) that will show in the messages you send out. Make sure that each and every one of your messages makes sense and is addressed appropriately. Especially when inserting company names, make sure that the grammar surrounding the sentence that addresses the company is appropriate to each name. Remember, the point is to make each one of these messages appear as if it was individually crafted to its recipient. Take the same care as you would in an individual message. Also, make sure to omit any extra punctuation or “X” that was there before your nifty placeholders.

6. Complete Merge. Here, you can select “Merge to Printer or New Document” for letters, and “Generate E-mail Messages” for e-mail. Clicking this will finalize your merge. There is no going back. For e-mail, Entourage 2008 will open automatically and send your messages. You will see each of the individual messages in your outbox, and (from experience) you can expect to receive a bunch of “out-of-the-office” replies immediately. Each of your e-mails is individual from here out, so no worries about replying to the whole list when you send a reply to one.

PC using Microsoft Word and Outlook——–

Check back soon!