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Original articles from Doug Bedell.
 
From a Newsroom to the Digital Sea
The tides of our times are shifting from newsrooms to the digital sea. Anyone can cast off there, but it takes fortitude to keep afloat and be discovered by an “audience,” or rather, a community of your own. Keeping afloat on the digital sea – tough!

NASA Outdoing the Movies – for PR (and Budgetary) Value
We watched our Netflix mailing of Interstellar, a space fantasy, the other evening, and I remarked as it ended, “This kind of thing must drive NASA crazy.” But no, from a story in The Christian Science Monitor, NASA looks like it's promoting space fantasies of its own, such as “The Grand Tour” of Mars, for their relational – and budgetary – value.

CEOs, Make Time for a Presence on Social Media
CEOs, get over the notion that you don’t have the time, nor savvy, for being on social media. Your enterprise’s success is about developing presence in the marketplace, and there’s nobody who can help with that better than yourself. Yes, build your Twitter and/or Facebook rounds into your daily routine, just be out there so that the public can best size up what your organization’s about...

As the Generations Change, Listen Closely
Workplaces need to be listening closely to the expectations of employees as the generations change from baby boomers to millennials, an article in the Public Relations Journal advises. The piece, “Emerging Issues in Internal Communications: Generational Shifts, Internal Social Media & Engagement,” is based on interviews with companies listed among Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” as well as others.

Words Reporters, and the Rest of Us, Hate
PR people, be advised of this list of words or expressions that reporters and the rest of us, hate to encounter. Don’t use them, Noreen Seebacher, chief editor of SMG/CMSWire in Savannah, GA, counsels. What’s wrong with empower, reach out, de-layer and curate? They started out okay, but have gained a pretentious ring with overuse. Try to launch some new ones in their place!

Visiting a Rose Garden: Good PR In Action
From Shreveport, LA, comes a perfect example of good PR in action, of what the craft is about. The Shreveport Times interviews Beth Smiley, publications director of the American Rose Society, “who recently informed me that the American Rose Society is doing more than ever to invite visitors to explore the gardens this spring.” And Yes, “On Feb. 27, the American Rose Society will host its first Green Thumb Seminar of 2016..."

Videos on Facebook – a New PR Outlet
PR pros can now display their clients via videos on Facebook. Lisa Arledge Powell, of MediaSource, writes on Ragan’s PR Daily about how easy it is to use Facebook’s new video streaming feature, Live. You’ll be viewing news reports, personal odysseys and lots else there, including PR streams. Facebook’s status as the Coney Island boardwalk of our digital times keeps growing – get out there!

A PR Lady Who Hates Press Releases: Here’s Why
Christina Nicholson, owner of the MediaMavin PR agency in Florida, writes about why she hates press releases. A PR person who hates press releases? Well, when working in TV, she used to delete “just about everything” PR people sent her. Here are the six biggest complaints she had with press releases. Learn from Christina’s experience, and wisdom.

Empathy Lacking in Flint and LA Area Crises
In Flint, Michigan, and Los Angeles County California, we have two crisis settings in which a prime tenet of effective crisis communication seems to be missing – empathy, that is, identification with the affected residents and what they are feeling. Reports we have been reading indicate that officials at these two scenes have been taking their own good time providing helpful information and responding effectively.

Today’s Journalism Draining Journalists
Journalism’s always been a pressurized profession, but today it may be draining journalists more than satisfying them. This, of course, can be ominous for PR practitioners as they seek to cultivate press contacts. “It is rare,” writes Erica Berger on Quartz, “that we discuss what online media in particular is doing to journalists, writers, and editors in the fast-moving digital age.”

Police Taking a Respectful Pledge in San Francisco
Could it have come to this? Sadly, yes. In San Francisco, police officers “are being asked to combat racism in the ranks and take a pledge to turn in colleagues displaying intolerant behavior, such as slurs and jokes targeting people of color, gays and women.” When police officers have relational problems requiring such pledges, we are all taken down a few pegs.

Your Eyes as Cellphone-Activated Passwords
Your eyes shortly will have it, indeed. They may be providing access via your mobile phone to financial and other sensitive accounts. The Mountain America Credit Union recently introduced EyeVerify, “a feature on its mobile app that uses a cellphone’s camera to biometrically authenticate a user via an eye scan. “It takes less than a second for the app to scan a customer’s eye and log into the account.” It’s like a fingerprint replacing pesky passwords.

Municipalities Producing Credible News for the Web
Here’s a PR opportunity as trends in content distribution include fewer live media outlets. The city of San Diego, like other municipalities, notes The San Diego Union-Tribune, “is posting its own “news” stories “on a website that resembles an independent media outlet.”

Editorial Boards Welcome Input, But Not Monitoring
They went and did it anyway, and the New York Daily News, as no doubt other editorial outlets, is calling them on it. “Them” is New York State’s Joint Commission (JCOPE) on Public Ethics; it has voted to require public relations firms to advise JCOPE should they contact a newspaper’s editorial board. The original proposal was if they contact reporters as well, but that was nixed.

Leave Yosemite's Ahwahnee Alone
What is it with the National Park Service? How could it have permitted the name of an iconic hotel at Yosemite National Park, the Ahwahnee, to be trademarked, so that now it needs to be changed to suit a concessionaire’s fortunes? Starting March 1, unless wisdom intervenes, the Ahwahnee will become “The Majestic Yosemite Hotel.” Come on!

The Koch Brothers: Catching Up With PR
Maybe the Koch brothers, Charles and David, never viewed themselves as proceeding heedlessly, secretively showering funding on right-wing causes and acquiring an image of shadowy manipulators. But now, Jane Mayer reports in The New Yorker, public relations has gained unaccustomed prominence in the Kochs’ operations. We hate to see PR used this way, belatedly, but better later than never if the Kochs truly intend to play a more benevolent role. Ms. Mayer has produced a fascinating piece on a shadowy duo whose “energy-and-chemical conglomerate Koch Industries…is based in Wichita and has annual revenues of a hundred and fifteen billion dollars.”

Flint, Mich.: What Can Happen When You’re Heedless of Public Relations
Can anyone doubt that the Flint, Michigan, “poisoned water” crisis is a full-fledged public relations disaster as well as a human tragedy? The Flint situation has all the elements of what happens when you don’t pay heed to people and their legitimate concerns, when you don’t relate well to them, if at all. When you’re heedless of public sentiments, of the public interest, Flint is what can happen.

PR's For Real – Always, Please
Why do some people just fail to get it? Like the director of a senior center in Cranston, Rhode Island, who thought it would be clever to have a fake “old lady” seated next to her as she made a press announcement. The offending executive thought she ought to have an oldster seated next to her as she announced a new program of teenagers shoveling snow for seniors…

Social Media as PR's New Context
We return to this subject periodically, but who can doubt that the digital context of public relations is becoming increasingly important? Now Everything–PR notes that social media channels are challenging communication educators to update their offerings, and well they should.

Avoid Serving PR Clients Shoddily
Can PR be irresponsible? Certainly, as much as any other human-induced activity. The challenge to responsible PR practitioners, and we hope to encourage as many of them as possible, is to act with the public’s interests foremost in furthering their clients’ interests. That is, don’t gild clients excessively – it’s likely to catch up with them.

Register PR People as Lobbyists With the Press? Come On!
A New York State agency is demonstrating the sort of overreach that causes government to have bad PR for good reason. It’s considering classifying PR pros as lobbyists when they contact media outlets about issues of public interest. When a PR agency calls or emails a reporter, it would need to be logged as a public transaction or a hefty fine could be imposed? Come on, now...

As Volkswagen Shows, PR Shouldn't Be Fudged, Either
Good PR is clarity and honesty, not fudging and fast footwork. Volkswagen’s CEO Matthias Müller doesn’t seem to understand that, and it’s a shame. Read the post on The Truth About Cars on the current state of Volkswagen’s image crisis, and you’ll understand why PR needs to be conducted with clarity and forthrightness from the start.

PR Isn't an Add-On
Everything PR makes a good point in its post headed “Guilty by Association in PR.” Should you turn to a PR firm in a crisis, you may well be charged with laundering the situation, which can make the situation worse. Far better to have PR counsel as an ongoing part of a corporate team. PR should be part of an organization, not a crisis add-on.

Philly’s Remaining Two Newspapers Become Charity Cases
More evidence of the dire environment for newspapers comes from Philadelphia, where “Nearly Everybody Read The Bulletin” until it collapsed in 1982, and now the surviving Inquirer and Daily News are in the hands of a newly created nonprofit endowed with $20 million, which may not be enough to save them. Associated Press reports that the two papers have been “turned over to a nonprofit institute in the hope that a new business model will help them survive the digital age and stanch years of layoffs and losses...”

PR Isn't Press Releases, It's Relationships
Let’s be clear, says Pawel Tkaczyk, of MIDEA branding agency, public relations isn’t about issuing press releases, it’s about building and maintaining relationships. Sending information to someone you know and won’t mind hearing from you is relational, issuing press releases wholesale is not. That’s more like advertising...

PR Finds Its Place, Writes An Ad Lady – Geeze
From Advertising Age, no less, comes a post on “How Public Relations Is Earning Its Place in 2016.” Thanks folks. Even though PR has long had “its place“ in smoothing clients’ settings, it’s good to know that “in this (today’s) environment, it’s no longer “an afterthought in marketing.” It’s fair, indeed, to argue that marketing’s biggest weakness is often in not recognizing that public relations, a forthright relational stance, is essential for effective marketing over the longer haul. We could go on, but we’ll turn the mike over to Lindsay Stein of CooperKatz...

Truly, a List for PR Utility
The season of lists continues, but here’s one well worth checking through. Everything PR lists the “Top 10 Resources and Tools for a PR Guru in the Modern Market.” If you fancy yourself a guru, not to say modern, scan this list for reassurance or just plain utility – from PRSA to Social Media.

Digging Into Research – A Valued PR Skill Too
Have we noted the movie “Spotlight”? Don’t think so, but we should. The Pacific Standard blog notes that it’s “not just a love letter to journalism before clickbait, viral videos, and ever contracting news cycles. It is also an ode to research.”

Alertness Can Make a Big PR Difference
However a specific review of police-community relations turns out in Chicago, a Chicago Tribune story points up the challenge of insuring that police everywhere, along with the 911 call takers who refer incidents to them, are sufficiently trained and alert to meet special challenges.

Reality Matters for Effective PR
We’re not looking to publicize the enterprising TV show Undercover Boss but simply to note through the experience of one boss, Sam Dushey, CEO of Shoppers World, that walking in someone else’s shoes for a while provides great insights into reality. And that sort of walking (or plunging) is one of PR’s cardinal principles.

Old Navy's Deaf Relational Ear
Come on, guys at Old Navy – selling T-shirts to girls that obviously belittled being a “young aspiring artist” instead of an “astronaut” or “president” showed a relational density that hasn’t been entirely relieved by removing the offending items. They shouldn’t have been created in the first place – anyone with an ounce of PR savvy would have recognized that. When you're in business with any degree of relational awareness, you need to look around and ask “Would what I’m proposing be offensive to anyone?” and, if so, quit proposing it...

Digital PR Roaming in the New Year
One last list for 2015. It’s about digital PR, so you shouldn’t mind. PRNewser advises us on “The Top 5 Digital PR Trends to Watch in 2016.” Whether it’s that profound or not, it’s appropriate to be ending the old year on a digital note...

PR Summations Galore, and Maybe Some Helpful Tips Too
It’s that catch-all time of year, with lists of everything memorable, forgettable and possibly helpful about 2015. So here are a couple of summations of the year in a PR context. May they prove helpful to you! • 2015’s Most Memorable PR Moments and Cringeworthy Catastrophes – The Year’s PR Winners and Losers, on HuffPost Business. • 2015 was the year of _______ in PR. 8 top communicators fill in the blank, on PR Week. And, looking ahead...

‘Star Wars’ Style Safety, Drawn from AP’s Own Classic
We like to keep you apprised of new editions of the AP Stylebook, so here’s the latest – the Star Wars Edition. It’s not actually a new edition from the Associated Press, but 20 terms drawn from the Stylebook by Steve Vittorioso on the Inklings blog to fit situations in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. You don’t want to get George Lucas ticked off at you, do you?

Enjoy Your, Likely Paid, Holiday Weekends!
Merry Christmas on this three-day weekend! And, very likely, enjoy your extra holiday pay. The same for New Year’s day, which like Christmas this year, falls on a Friday. And if, by chance, the Grinch runs your workplace, take this piece from Business News Daily to make him or her feel like Scrooge.

‘Daddy Long Legs’ Scored With Internet Viewers
My wife and I were among the 150,000 people who Mark Kennedy, AP’s Drama Writer, reports watched the December 10 live-streaming of the off-Broadway musical “Daddy Long Legs” via the Internet. We thought it was wonderful, as did many others, and now, no surprise, comes confirmation that the show’s producer was indeed excited by the response.

Hang On For Trump's Tempestuous Ride
As the year turns, a great relational drama is unfolding in U.S. politics as a center stage example of perversity politics – Donald Trump's presidential campaign. It's demonstrating perversity in terms, as our dictionary puts it, of "Obstinately persisting in an error or fault; wrongly self-willed or stubborn." Hubbell Communications in Portland, OR, nails Trump's travels when it comments: "Trump's rhetoric is often angry and almost always bombastic. He seems to speak before thinking..."

Thinking Through the PR of Drones for Kids
Give your grandkids an extra-special Christmas present and have them fined (or maybe even jailed) for using it? Whoa! The Federal Aviation Administration has handed itself a potentially huge public relations problem in requiring, as the Amarillo Globe-News reports, “all drones weighing a half-pound or more to be registered in a federal database to combat numerous reports of close calls with aircraft.”

Good PR Takes Being Tuned to Reality
A cardinal principle of good PR is, or ought to be, clarity – clarity of situation and intent. Thus, when Donald Trump makes Muslim-wary comments, what’s the actual situation of mosques in the U.S.? Well, Slate advises, “Homegrown jihadists have almost all been radicalized either overseas or online, not within their own local mosques. In fact, what the United States needs to combat Muslim extremism is more high-stature Muslim leaders, not fewer.”

Pinterest: A Relational Internet Hangout
One of the better social media platforms, it’s always seemed to us, is Pinterest, which allows enough room for satisfying expression amid a group of associates on one monitor page. Here’s an example, though a rather downbeat one, from the DrDrew site.

CEOs Tweeting Away in Droves
Where do you go to find a good portion of the nation’s, actually the world’s, chief executive officers expressing themselves? Why, Twitter of course. Twitter? Indeed, says Nola Weinstein, Twitter’s head of executive engagement on PR Week. At last count, there were 288,000 CEOs tweeting away. You never know who you’ll run into, people say about their favorite metropolitan gathering spots...

A 'No-Brainer': Social Media Count for Identity
We don't normally venture into political realms, but whether social media postings should be vetted when issuing visas to overseas nationals seems a no-brainer. To virtually everyone, apparently, but Jeh Johnson, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. It would have been "bad public relations," he feared, if it was discovered that the U.S. was factoring social media postings into visa checks. Well, geez.

Think Otherwise to Get the Point
Spend some time in a classroom today, Shannon Bowen's classroom at the University of South Carolina. As reported on PR Week, Dr. Bowen is a proponent of taking an opponent's view to understand it better. Walking in someone else's shoes seems one of her key techniques, and why not? Understanding what another is thinking, and why they're acting as they are, will help you meet your own communication objectives.

Focus on Followers: Forbes Can Help
Forbes provides consistently good insights into making relational gains. Like this post by Jayson DeMers on "How To Get Influencers To Follow You on Twitter." Jayson takes you beyond Twitter to tools like Klout, Twello, Followerwonk and Traackr for guidance on where you stand in terms of digital networking. Pay consistent heed to reaching out for followers and you're likely to get more of them.

An Uneasy Prospect for 2016
We'll try to avoid end-of-the year summations and predictions, but Marian Salzman, CEO of Havas PR, leads off on Forbes.com with one that we're probably all anxious about: "Uneasy Street". Her "Ubertrend for 2016: Uneasy Street – an abiding feeling that things aren’t as they should be, that looming threats are out there, and that people need to make important decisions and do something."

'Daddy Long Legs' a Hit on the Internet
Broadway scored a relational coup tonight (Thurs., Dec. 10) with the historic first live-streaming of a Broadway show, Daddy Long Legs, over the Internet. In one digital stroke, the show's audience was greatly magnified worldwide, probably. People the world over, very likely, were introduced to the magic of a Broadway show...

'Storytelling' Is for Real, Not Convenience
Fables are stories, too. That's what bothers me when I hear public relations described as storytelling, which you do increasingly in these digital times. So I've been glad to note Amy Glancey of GroupOn Asia Pacific advising that, more than storytelling, PR involves "story sharing." "PR," Amy notes, "has evolved from an environment of storytelling with the traditional image led, flash in the pan campaigns to now story sharing."

Help With Getting Found on the Web
Getting yourself or clients found on the ever-widening World Wide Web is both a trial and a test of your knowledge of search engine optimization – SEO. PRNewser acknowledges as much with a post on “SEO 101: How to Find 9 Classes for PR Pros”. Except for those from Hubspot and Moz, the classes aren’t free. But they’re all worth considering if you want to be a presence on the Web, and who doesn’t? In further elaboration of SEO strategy, John Lincoln on Entrepreneur provides “6 Essential SEO Strategies to Incorporate in 2016.” John takes you into the realm of content-marketing strategy.

An App for Your Community? Why Not?
There’s a movement on, maybe, for smaller-sized cities to have their own apps. As in Redmond, Oregon, where university students think it would be good for residents to become more involved in local government. And why not? A Redmond app could prompt residents to be more involved, or at least connected, with the community. The startup cost, the students advise, would be $3,400 and then someone would have to maintain the app with new information, etc....

In Florida, They Loved Their Newspapers Yesterday
Newspapers scored decently in Florida yesterday when Twitter users responded to Kevin Cate’s appeal on his daily newsletter “to share on social media why you love and subscribe to your favorite newspapers using #LoveMy Newspaper and tagging your favorite newspapers... The print and digital editions of newspapers allow us to be briefed like kings and queens for next to nothing,” Cate noted on their behalf.

Maybe PR Educators Simply Can't Keep Up
‘Educators aren’t keeping up with the changes going on around us’ is the lament of public relations and advertising pros in an article in the Journal of Advertising Education by Marlene S. Neill, Ph.D., an assistant professor of journalism, public relations and new media at Baylor University. Maybe, even, they can't. Oh dear...

Southwest: Flying by Rote Doesn't Relate
We’ve just returned from a trip to California, traveling on Southwest Airlines. It may well be the same on other airlines, but if Southwest is bidding for an image as a “cattle car” carrier, it’s succeeded with us. Yes, the seats were comfortable, but they seemed tighter in legroom than our flight to the coast last year.

Virtual Reality Moving Across the Viewing Frontier
Okay, PR guys, what are you planning, or doing, about virtual reality? “What?” may be your answer for now, but maybe not for the too distant future. At the supermarket this week, there was a guy ahead of us with a virtual reality helmet. Don’t know what he was doing with it, but when virtual reality hits the checkout line, can PR pros be far behind?

Building a PR Practice ‘Isn’t Rocket Science,’ But Takes Clarity
Here’s the kind of post we like to send readers into a weekend to ponder, then act on. Rebecca Hasulak, a PR practitioner herself, writes on Entrepreneur that getting launched in a startup consultancy isn’t “rocket science,” and needn’t cost much either. But it requires a clear sense of today’s media/relational environment...

Forget the E-mail Trackers, PR Folks
Come on, guys, quit tarnishing PR’s image anew. We’re appealing to users of e-mail trackers to quit using them, after reading a New York Times tech post that includes the phrase “including many from public relations professionals pitching me their products” – PR folks who were using e-mail trackers. This is the kind of tawdry device in electronic form that PR people should recognize gums up their image and, yea, smudges the craft’s standing anew...

Together, PR and Marketing Going Digital
What’s all the talk about “content becoming a critical part of PR?” Content in terms of conduct has always been key to good public relations. But now, in a new context, we have content being produced in digital form and available for use by both marketing and PR people...

Offering Information Honestly and Usefully
Here’s a site, HealthNewsReview.org, that’s probably known to PR people hoping to have a credible impact in health care or associated fields. At least it should be. We note it because PR practitioners can use well-intended critiques of their work, whatever field they’re in, and Health News Review apparently provides them for health care.

Unless They're Royalty Free, Images Can Bite You
We suspect that for many PR practitioners, the question of using photos incidentally from such sources as Google Images, leaves a vague feeling of, “I wonder if this is really legal.” Might the photo be copyrighted? Who knows? So, in haste, we’re likely to use it, reasoning that if Google shows it, it ought to be okay. Not necessarily.

Crisis Readiness Basic to Good PR
PR projects should always have a crisis component, envisioned and written down in advance. Not because a crisis is inevitable but because, if one occurs, you want to be ready for it. A simple principle, but one that truly needs to be taken seriously. Should a crisis erupt, you don’t want to waste time on “What do we do now?” These thoughts occur upon viewing Amperage’s spiffy website in Iowa. It contains a post by Mark Mathis of Amperage Marketing on what the city of Dublin, CA, did when it found itself building a long-planned water park during California’s current drought...

A British Biker Wends His Way to PR Fame
We usually confine Flack Me to U.S. examples of exemplary public relations. But leave it to the British for aplomb. Here from the English Bike Biz site is the winner in the automotive category of the Public Relations Consultants Association’s award, presented at a black tie dinner at the London Hilton. 'Nuff said.

Lesson from Missouri: Leaders Need to Listen and Act
What went wrong at the University of Missouri that finally prompted the resignation of its president, Tim Wolfe? It wasn’t anything at the university so much as the “leadership” style of Wolfe himself, says Ron Fournier in a NationalJournal piece, “Missouri as a Microcosm”. Boy, are there PR lessons here.

Could the PR Scene Be THIS Depressing?
Ed Zitron, of EZPR in San Francisco, has a despondent post headed “Public relations desperately wants to convince you the media isn’t important.” We hope things aren’t as bad as Ed evidently sees them. The piece comes across as straight-out despairing. (Or does he just mean the “bad PR people”?)

What If Your Luck Should Change?
Here’s a good phrase to keep in mind in the practice of PR – or any other discipline, for that matter – “Normalcy balance.” We’re attuned to things happening normally, and if they don’t, we’re too often caught unprepared for unexpected stresses. Read through Emergency Management’s post on “Three Words to Improve Disaster Outcomes” to check how well it fits your professional situation.

The Key PR Question: 'Why Does It Matter?'
In the context of small businesses and large, Rebecca Hasulak, of DIY PR, does a good job of explaining that the key question PR reps should be asking about a proposed press release is “Why Does It Matter?" – not to the firm involved, but to its potential customers.

Doctors Could Be Reminding Us Digitally
If I don’t scribble down the time for my next medical appointment, or carefully stow the card a receptionist gives me, I might miss it. But my doctor could help me show up. Shouldn’t doctors be digitally relational – in terms of providing access to the information they maintain on their patients and share digitally with other doctors?

More on PR In Its Digital Context
Here’s another “homework” post, this one from the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. It includes two source references, from PR News and the Public Relations Journal, and, indeed, it’s on “The Convergence of Social (Media) and PR”. As you're well aware by now, this is a trend that has been building – the Public Relations Journal piece covers a 10-year period...

We're Between Two Communication Eras
Where are we with journalism and public relations? Betwixt and between seems an appropriate answer. Betwixt the collapse of a growing number of newspapers (see this Poynter piece on both the Philadelphia Daily news and The Inquirer) and between communication eras – try Michael Rosenblum’s Huffington Post Media reflections on "The End of Journalism" (how will the world’s 3 billion smart phones be focused, if at all?).

A Generous Hoard of PR Advice
This material would be better at the end of a week than the beginning of one, but that’s how the Internet serves things up sometimes. “31 Must Read Public Relations Guides for Business Owners” on the Techfunction site deserves some reflection, for it could be quite a resource.

Rules for Heading Into Space, or Other Supreme Projects
Here’s a Business2Community post for weekend reflection from a former NASA project manager, Jerry Madden – "A Project Manager’s Lessons Learned". Five of the 128 rules are expressly on communication and that’s important, because, “according to a report by the Project Management Institute one in five projects fail due to poor communications.”

Journalism at the Movies – Helping to Recall
Two new movies may be bringing back into focus the strengths and values of journalism at a time when the craft is nigh to floundering. There’s “Truth” about a later discredited 60 Minutes II report about then-President George W. Bush’s military service, and “Spotlight” on the Boston Globe’s coverage of child abuse by priests there.

Ralph Nader, Bless Him, Has His Own Museum
A big reason for public relations to follow the straight and narrow is that, otherwise, the craft can readily attract critics like Ralph Nader, although there is really nobody else at Nader’s level of zeal and effectiveness. Exposing the safety hazards of the 1960s Chevrolet Corvair carried Nader to public servanthood and its accompanying fame.

Firstly, Good PR Stems from Good Management
Good PR begins with good management, from Day One. The formula is as simple as that. Take the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a perverse example of academic management gone awry. The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., reports that “the legal and public relations costs from UNC-Chapel Hill’s fake-class scandal have climbed well past $10 million. Not to worry, says the university, in effect. “UNC officials say none of the money to pay for the legal and public relations bills has come from students’ tuitions or state appropriations. The money typically has come from a UNC foundation that is supported by private donations." Sounds like a slush fund for special needs...

'Summer in Syria' – a PR Travesty
This has got to be the greatest perversion of public relations possibly in history: Frontline calls it “surreal” and, indeed, that’s what the Syrian government’s intended PR lark, “Summer in Syria,” was. It came complete with a #SummerinSyria hashtag. Forget precisely who was invading, shelling, bombing or threatening Syria at any given time this summer. It was definitely not the place to be...

Get Back on the Phone, Guys, for Contact’s Sake
Ed Sherman on Poynter.org laments that he’s not using the phone to call PR people nearly as much as he resolved to do when the year began. “I am just as guilty as anyone,” he writes, “in being part of a horrible trend in media: Journalists and PR people have forgotten how to use the phone.” “I am not saying nobody uses the phone,” Ed continues. “However, I am fairly confident about this thought: Perhaps not since Alexander Graham Bell unveiled his new invention has the phone been used less in media interactions at many levels.” Ed recalls being with a reporter who didn’t answer her phone when it rang: “I don’t answer the phone unless someone has an appointment to call me,” she explained...

Police Offering Relational Programs for Residents
With police officers the focus of increased public awareness, police departments everywhere ought to consider the value in sponsoring Citizens’ Police Academies like this one in Tustin (Orange County) Ca. “At a time when national headlines continually criticize the police and create mistrust of law enforcement,” says PoliceOne.com, “developing a citizens relations program through a citizens academy can pay significant dividends.”

Don’t Be Shy About Issuing Pertinent Press Releases
Don’t be shy about sending out press releases so long as they”re informative and fit your organization’s intent and offerings. Danielle Capriato on Business2Community advises on sending multiple press releases, with three “use cases” in particular.

We’ve Been There: Yes, The Times Distorts the News
We feel a little like we’re walking in Jay Carney’s shoes in his dispute with The New York Times over the accuracy of its coverage of Carney’s current employer, Amazon.com (he was the White House press secretary). We had very much the same experience with The Times in the communications group at the Three Mile Island nuclear power station after the 1979 accident there.

Creating Effective Web Content Takes Digital Diligence
Creating persuasive web content is a constant whirl, so much so that 20 tips for doing so from the Florida Public Relations Association can leave your head spinning. But take the discipline of writing for the web seriously – due digital diligence, you might call it – because it’s the way, over time, to insure that you have a popular relational site.

Cool It: Volkswagen's Headlong Crisis Response
Back to Volkswagen for a bit. It can be argued, and Andy Barr is doing so on The Drum, that VW has been rushing through its crisis communication plan, assuming it has one and drilled on it before its diesel crisis hit. Corporate panic isn't an effective response. Rushing through a crisis may cost a further loss of trust, not a ready restoration of reputation...

A PR Guy’s Advisory: Web Ad-Blocking Has Arrived
With apologies to my colleagues at Beyond Madison Avenue and Beneath the Brand, I’m frankly pleased to report that I’ve installed an ad blocker on my Chrome browser. Yes, if it works as well as a few initial visits indicate it does, I won’t have to look at any more web ads.

Indeed, There’s An App for Mobile News Releases
“There’s an app for that” – like posting a press release. The UPitch app is a natural, a replacement, says Allison Kugel, its co-founder, for “700 word press releases and page-long PR pitches.” When reporters want leads, they can reach for their cell phones and get screens full of inspiration from plucky entrepreneurs. Thus the (PR) world changes. A “problem,” though, is that the free UPitch doesn’t seem to be in the App Store, although its promo says it is. It’s actually in the iTunes store. (Sometimes Apple drives me batty.) Part of the challenge, it seems, will be getting reporters to use it. Meanwhile, here, from Lisa Calhoun of Valor Ventures, are “8 Apps That Put PR In Your Pocket,” UPitch being one of them.

Motherhood and PR: An Apt Analogy
From down in Australia, Isabel Wagner writes about “What Motherhood Taught Me About PR (and Vice Versa)”. Noting that she’s not, by any means, the first nor last practitioner to have a baby, Isabel provides an engaging list of parallels between the two challenges. Such as, “Multi-tasking, Trust your instinct and How to be all chipper at 6 a.m.” Being organized is necessary as well, plus having a sense of enduring priorities...

PR's Opportunity: Be on Reality's Side
The Internet and social media are giving PR people added reason to value truth and credibility: Those virtues can be faked, as the Columbian Chemicals “explosion” showed last year, as discussed in a CyberAlert media monitoring post. Twitter users and news outlets were covering a “disaster” that wasn’t happening. A faked photo spurred them on.

AP Being Mindful of Numbers in the News
The Associated Press is becoming more numbers conscious. That’s a reality for PR people to be mindful of. Including good numbers in releases may help you get heard. Editorial guidance on “data driven journalism” will be added to the 2017 edition of the AP Stylebook, says a post on the Data Driven Journalism site. Not that AP hasn't been paying attention to numbers already. How could it not be?...

Looking Inside America's Prisons
Pause for a view of society’s underside, something we don’t do very often. Yet there certainly are relational issues in America’s prisons. The Marshall Project calls for greater press access to prisons. How else to reform them?

An Editor on the Standing of Newspapers Today
Where do newspapers stand today? Well, they’re in decline, with only a minority of people reading and trusting them. But if that’s so, asks Frank Denton, editor of The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, “why does our journalism have such impact?” Denton notes several examples of Times-Union coverage that brought truly responsive change. Like “when we wrote about ’The $5 million cop,’ the police and fire pension program got reformed.”

United's New Chief Aiming for Friendlier Skies
We don’t recommend flying United Airlines just to see how its new CEO, Oscar Munoz, is doing, but we applaud his frankness on the need to improve customer service on the airline. Munoz is engaged in a form of crisis communication in the friendly skies. “Let’s be honest,” says Munoz, a former top executive of CSX Corp., “the implementation of the (2010) United and Continental merger has been rocky for customers and employees…”

A PRSA Study on Social Media and the Real Media
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) posts a study of social media in PR practice – “An Updated Examination of Social and Emerging Media Use in Public Relations Practice: A Longitudinal Analysis Between 2006 and 2014.” With the influence of traditional media continuing to weaken, “blogs, social and other emerging media are enhancing public relations practice and (that) social and other emerging media continue to influence traditional mainstream media.”

Municipal Communication: Speaking Up for Newark, Del.
We don’t know how much of a trendsetter Newark, Del., may be, but we like its evident operational focus on communication as a discipline it itself. The Newark Post reports that the city council there approved hiring a heftily paid communications manager rather than combining the function with economic development. The lucky communicator will oversee Newark’s website along with its social media presence, the city’s TV channel and print publications...

Good Workaday Counsel on Practicing PR
Today’s a day for some workaday counsel in PR techniques. From the CyberAlert media monitoring site, we have “14 Top Media Pitching Tips for Public Relations Pros,” including “Get the basic right (like spelling)” and “Do most of the work for reporters.” Next, from Boomm marketing and communications, are some pretty savvy reporter pitching tips, like understanding the reporter you're contacting. And ever-helpful Business 2 Community supplies “Public relations rules to follow from A to Z”. You wouldn’t want to call a reporter if he doesn’t want to be called, would you?

VW’s Pothole-Strewn Detour — Stronger at the End?
We’ve touched on the Volkswagen situation before, but it’s appropriate to turn to three crisis communication experts, as mustered by The Wall Street Journal, on where the company stands in seeking to return from a diesel-powered detour. Follow its moves as a highly visible exercise in crisis response.

Communication Remains a Most Challenging Discipline
To start the week, here’s a mini-essay from the Holmes Report on one of the most challenging aspects of public relations – the reality of how difficult communication is to practice and master. What’s so difficult about speaking out? Everything, if you don’t understand the discipline of communication as accurate, pertinent utterance. “God weeps” Pope Francis’ said in Philadelphia...

Help Your Local Newspaper Survive
Look at what’s happening in, and to, your local newspaper. If you want to have a continuing relational context, it’s important that your local/regional paper be sustained. Austin Beutner, who until recently was the publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, discusses these issues on the HeraldDemocrat.com, originating in Texas and Oklahoma.

Would It Be Good to Name Snowstorms?
Feeling a bite in the autumn air? Yes, winter, and snowstorms, are coming. So are we brooding already? Not really, just wondering if it would be a good idea to name blizzards, like we do tropical storms. They’d have identity on Twitter then, they’d be tweetable. Would that be advantageous?

The Times Displays Its Digital Reach
The New York Times wants readers to know it has a strong digital presence, as well as on paper, the better to navigate the future. So the Times is providing a showcase of “50 of Our Best" highlighting its digital coverage since its launch in 2011. And, indeed, the “Op-Docs: A Short History of the Highrise,” for one, is a masterpiece of widescreen (if you’re fortunate enough to have one) digital coverage. This is an example of why The Times, at least, expects to be around for another century.

Volkswagen At the Crisis PR Podium
There’s an element of drama in the crisis communication statement by Volkswagen’s CEO Dr. Martin Winterkorn over allegations that VW used “cheat software” when its diesel cars were being tested under U.S. emission requirements. “We do not and will not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules or of the law,” Winterkorn declared.

The Vatican Searches the Stars, With Its Own Astronomer
Did you know that the Vatican has an observatory? We didn’t and think that’s fascinating (and we’re not Catholic). Relational insight can emerge anywhere and U.S. Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno is well-placed to provide some. He’s director of the Vatican Observatory and a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ringling Bros. Gives In On Its Elephants
National Geographic reports that pressure on Ringling Bros. to retire its elephants has prevailed and they’re being sent to live out their years at an unmarked location in Florida. “We’re in the entertainment business,” says Kenneth Feld, CEO of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, ”It takes away from the total enjoyment when you’re getting yelled at..."

Edelman Sides With Blue Skies
Edelman is making its position on accepting environmentally sensitive clients clear: It’s not accepting coal producers or groups that deny climate change is occurring. The world’s largest public relations company has thus drawn a line in the threatened blue sky. Cheers!

Gannett Trying ‘Storytelling Nights’ to Reconnect With Communities
Nine Gannett newspapers are taking monthly plunges into practicing journalism as a kind of performance art. They’re building around the four-year-old Arizona Storytellers Project of the Arizona Republic’s Megan Finnerty. The monthly evening sessions bring journalists directly in touch with the folks they hope will continue reading the news the Gannet papers generate about their communities.

PR May be 'Dead,' Though the Need for Good Communication Isn't
We’re not in a position to conduct a roundtable on new books related to public relations. But every so often, one appears that seems worth calling attention to. So it is with Trust Me, PR Is Dead, by Robert Phillips, “a former Edelman executive”. The review we’ve seen makes the book sound like it goes well beyond PR in its critique of today’s society...

For Good Customer Relations, Training Is Basic
There’s a lot to learn about in a Container Store – “750 types of office products, more than 300 food storage items and 70 styles of hangers and 50 types of hampers, among other things.” That’s a lot to sell, but first, it’s a lot to become familiar with. Indeed, relational ties with customers are based heavily on how well Container Store employees know their stock. That’s why new full-time Container Store employees receive “at least 266 hours of training” during their first year...

Listening In On Giraffes, and Others
Research into whether, and if so, how, giraffes communicate reminds us that we have to listen closely for many forms of communication. What are people or organizations not skilled in communication actually saying and why? The message may not be as evident as it seems.

A Youngster, Hilde Lysiak, 8, Keeping Journalism Alive
There's something irrepressible about the urge some people, like freckle-faced, eight-year-old Hilde Lysiak in Selinsgrove, Pa., have about gathering and publishing information, in Hilde's case as the monthly The Orange Street News. (That's the street where Hilde lives.) The Columbia Journalism Review's story about Hilde's journalistic enterprise, assisted on the production side by her journalist father, Matt Lysiak, provides hope that journalism, in one manner or another, will continue as a life discipline...

Ebola Care Report a 'Must' for Crisis Response
Before good crisis communication – and, more to the point, a desired outcome – can occur, effective crisis preparedness must be in place. A truism? Maybe. But who would have expected a Dallas hospital to have missed the point when it accepted an Ebola patient in September, 2014?

Boring? Not Really, at the Boring Conference
Leave it to the British, or to a Brit, anyway, to find the edge in boring, to make something of a movement out of whimsy. Yes, you can be relational about just about anything, if you’re attentive enough to it. This New York Times profile of James Ward, who “sees the potential in a humble paper clip” is priceless, or thereabouts.

Junipers Growing Slowly at Setting of 'The Shining'
If you’re going to capitalize on an image that people remember fondly or even weirdly, make it a complete one, and they’ll be fonder yet. That’s the insight we’ve picked up from a New York Times story on the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, where Stephen King had a nightmare that prompted him to write “The Shining”. After 20 years of owning the hotel, Stephen Cullen has given in and added a maze of juniper trees outside its front entrance. Trouble is...

Meet You at the 'Empathy Museum'!
Wish we could be in London tomorrow. That’s when the Empathy Museum is opening, and, boy, do we need a focus on empathy around the world. Empathy, of course, is understanding, and reacting helpfully to, the situation of another – walking in his or her shoes. At the Empathy Museum, they'll be doing just that...

'PR Firms Can't Keep Up'
After signing contracts with five different PR firms, and being disappointed in the results, Grant Cardone on Entrepreneur thinks PR is a dying, overwhelmed industry. “There are more than 800 channels on TV, thousands of satellite-radio channels and social-media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Medium, Meerkat, Periscope, Blab, blogging and all of the other platforms,” Cardone writes. “No PR firm is putting you out on every possible social channel and every stream you can be on..."

Employee Social Media 'Responders' Need Training
With everything else going on in a corporate setting, how many human resources departments are worrying about training a company's employees in the defensive use of social media? A growing number, it can be hoped. Ben Abbott on HC Online uses the recent defense by an Amazon employee of the company's culture against a New York Times article as an example of how employee talkback can turn a threatening PR tide.

Advance Man for the Pope's Visit to Philadelphia
Dan Hilferty, CEO and president of Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia, is demonstrating how stature and reliability – his own – are making it possible for Pope Francis’ visit to the city next month to proceed smoothly. And that’s no small challenge. With well over a million people expected in the city to honor the Pope, Hilferty, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, “has had one foot in the health care world...and another schmoozing with the city’s most powerful corporations and philanthropists to bring in the $45 million needed for the city’s papal visit.”

A Newspaper’s Survival – Blowin’ in the Post-Katrina Wind
Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, Paul Farhi, The Washington Post’s media reporter, provides a lengthy discussion of whether Advance Publications made the right move nearly three years ago when it made its website, NOLA.com, the lead factor in distributing the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The print edition was reduced to three days a week...

Napping in Napa: When Will They Ever Learn?
Well, it looks as though the Napa Valley Wine Train has joined the esteemed list of learners about the importance of crisis management and communication. Except, apparently, that the wine train didn’t have a real crisis, only a fancied one. Yet it had the 11 ladies of the Sistahs of the Reading Edge book club, one of them "85 with mobility challenges,” met by police and ushered off the train because they'd been talking too loud.

Be Careful Who Cheers You (If You Can)
Let’s hope the founders of Idea Grove, a classy-looking Dallas PR and marketing firm, aren’t entirely happy with the gushy review Jason Tannahill has given them on Everything PR. The reason? Throughout, Tannahill refers to the firm as “Ideagroove,” and nobody caught the typo...

Shakespeare, Nay Apartments, Produces a Battleground
You’d think this development project would be a no-brainer. But, instead, it may be sending its adherents in Washington’s Southwest district deep into the works of Shakespeare to find any comments he may have made about community development in Elizabethan times.

A Crime Noir PR Practice for Our Tarnished Times
Now, sadly, here’s a PR firm for our times – Frederick & Associates, a Los Angeles-area practice that, according to ChristianNewsWire, is a “faith-based crisis management firm (that) helps churches prepare for active shooters. Frederick & Associates,” the release continues, “has been actively aiding faith-based businesses and churches alike, with their tailored FEMA-rated crisis communication and emergency operation plans..."

Good Communication Counts Like Little Else
Good communication is one of the most under-valued, yet vitally necessary, attributes of any corporate setting. A truism? Indeed. Yet here we have the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania lecturing CEOs on how they “can adopt a 21st-century approach to communication.”

Domain Suffixes Don't Matter as Much as a Website's Content
As the web keeps ballooning in size, domain names with the tidy, instantly identifiable .com suffix are getting harder and harder to land. But don't let that concern you as much as it might have even a short while back. The Washington Post reports that "Domains like .vegas, .pr, .nyc are trending" nowadays. Indeed, a site's content is far more important than its Internet suffix.

Good Crisis Communication Matters, Chinese Learn
In the wake of the horrendous chemical explosions in Tianjin last week, Chinese officials appear to be acknowledging that good crisis communication matters. Reports the South China Morning Post: “The Communist Party’s official newspaper has urged officials to learn from Western countries about how to brief the public on emergencies and disasters...

Amazon In The Times – What Sort of Workplace Is It?
I was under the perceptual lash of The New York Times myself when I worked in communications in the nuclear power industry, but Amazon’s Jeff Bezos can’t fend off a Times attack on his workplace climate simply by saying “Even it it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero.”

Who's Got the Info? That Guy on Twitter
The latest example of social media outflanking traditional media comes from Sacramento, CA, where the fire department is boasting that, “We no longer need media. We are our own media.” That’s from Roberto Padilla, a firefighter and the department’s spokesman, who posts closeups of active blazes on Twitter.

How Relational Is 'The Donald,' With Whom?
Some background on one of the candidates in tonight’s GOP debate: Donald Trump. He’s vaulted into the polling lead, so it’s appropriate to be looking at him closely. David Marcus does that on the Federalist site, with some dismaying results. We’re just at the start of the new presidential political season, but this one looks as though it may have heftier, perhaps more upsetting, reading than others we’ve been through.

Hold It: 'Tweets' That Aren't Tweets
There have got to be limits on PR or marketing ploys, really. Representations of materials that are deceptive – like "tweets" that aren't tweets – are simply wrong. If this sets us awry with the promoters of a proposed shopping center in Carlsbad, NM, so be it. One can be too cute, and one ought not to be. Dialogue needs to be direct, not misleading. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that a recent mailer backing the shopping center "includes what appear to be several glowing tweets about the project – but none actually came from Twitter."

Personally, We're Not Communicating So Well
How are we doing at personal communication in a digital age? Not so well, Sherry Turkle, a great communicator herself, feels. She warned of "a flight from conversation" in favor of texting and email at a symposium on Martha's Vineyard recently. Ah summer, when blessed truths emerge!

California Heading for 'Electric Freeways'?
Look to California to see if public relations backed by political power can change American motoring preferences. Yes, says BloombergBusiness, Mary Nichols, head of California's Air Resources Board, "really does intend to force automakers to eventually sell nothing but electrics." Excuse us, but that will really have California's fabled freeway system buzzing.

'Deflategate': A PR Pro Stands Up for Integrity
In the matter of Tom Brady's football troubles, PR pro Meg McAllister announces for integrity, "which is the foundation of real and lasting influence." Instead of continuing to bounce the ball around, she advises, "You know what Tom? Shut the hell up and sit out the 4 games and be grateful it's not worse." Sounds like good, ethical advice to us – PR on the high road.

Journalism Jobs Keep Dropping
The numbers tell the story, or a lot of it anyway. Journalism is a failing field, as reflected in a Washington Post chart on the decline in the newspaper workforce. It dropped by 10 percent from last year to now, and 39 percent over the last decade. The numbers are from the American Society of Newspaper Editors 2015 newsroom census and The Post’s Chris Cillizza calls the drop “staggering; there’s simply no way that the growth in online-only publications has made up for the massive erosion in daily newspapers.”

Killed a Beloved Lion? Hire a PR Firm
Why does public relations have such a murky public image? Because, we’d venture, it readily accepts clients like the Minnesota dentist who shot, with a bow and arrow, the Zimbabwe lion, Cecil. The hunting party, reports Radar Online, then tracked the lion down for two days so he could be killed with a gun, beheaded, and skinned.

Dealers Should Hold Training Meetings for Today's Car Buyers
With digital dashboards and low-slung designs, auto dealers can’t rely on busy salesmen to explain all the features and differences in today’s new cars. So why don’t dealers hold training meetings, or seminars, for new car buyers? That would be a relational plus for the dealers.

Sleeping In Seattle? Really
The Pacific Northwest faces a one-in-ten chance of a catastrophic earthquake in the next 50 years. You’d think that would be of concern out there. “But the Northwest’s mellow residents and officials have just shrugged it off,” notes The Week. Indeed, you wonder how anyone could ignore threatened devastation on an epic scale after reading Kathryn Schulz’ New Yorker article that described it all in horrific detail. Japan has a warning system for earthquakes…the Pacific Northwest, nothing. Clearly, some preparedness measures are better than none. FEMA can attest to that. It’s blind-eyed PR to be Sleeping in Seattle on the possibility of “a really big one.”

How PR People Can Promote a Welcoming Web
Boy, it was comforting to come upon this Business2Community post by Rachel Moore on “The 8 Dying Trends In Website Design To Stay Away From.” If enough people read and apply it, maybe, for example, websites won’t start talking to you unless you ask them to.

PR Is a Process, Not a 'Quick Fix'
With all due respect, Sheila Dixon, who is running for mayor of Baltimore, appears to have a limited view of what’s involved in a public relations strategy. Which makes this an important opportunity to clarify what PR is about. (Ms. Dixon was also the city’s mayor from 2007 to 2010.) “Sure, we can do a (PR) campaign and say, ‘Hey, Baltimore’s safe now,’” Ms. Dixon says in a Baltimore Business Journal story, “But come on. People have to see for themselves. They have to go back up on Pennsylvania Avenue – CNN news, whoever, – and see people getting on the subway going to work.” Actually, a sound public relations strategy includes all the other elements in the Business Journal story as well...

Nuns and Their Bishop in a Real Estate Flap
We, of course, don’t have any direct insight into the fuss going on between the nuns on a Hollywood hilltop and their archbishop over the sale of their convent building. But, in PR terms, the situation points up the desirability of doing everything possible to settle vexing situations internally so that they don’t become public embarrassments – or court cases.

Planned Parenthood in a PR Vise
Planned Parenthood is in a crisis for which there may be no defense – a charge, advises David E. Johnson of Strategic Vision, LLC, “that the organization sells fetal tissue from abortions to researchers for a profit. Such action if true would be illegal.” If you have the stomach for it, Johnson’s report takes you through how Planned Parenthood appears to be mishandling a crisis...

Trump's Style a Relational Bore
You may well recognize this on your own, but Donald Trump’s arrogance, writes Emily Peck on Huffpost Business, “is outdated in corporate America.” Humility is “the new hotness for CEOs these days.”

Fastly Zips News Right Along
PR people don’t have an exactly enviable environment to work in these days, it seems. Before they can blink their eyes, or send an e-mail, there’s a new news setting before them. Witness Fastly – “the technology that empowers real-time journalism.” Take a deep breath and read on…

Mobile Pointers for Lawyers and the Rest of Us
Increasingly, web content is being discovered and read on mobile devices – smart phones and tablets. That’s been known, and the mobile momentum continues building. Now, on Real Lawyers Have Blogs, lawyers, too, are being urged to get with mobile – “the vast majority of law firms lack a mobile strategy.”

Wasn’t Subway’s Ordeal Signaled Early?
We’re not in Subway’s shoes in having to jettison its familiar spokesperson, Jared Fogle, in one day, after the FBI raided his home in a criminal investigation. The thing is, though, there was at least a premonition of trouble in April, The Communication Center notes, when the director of Fogle’s Jared Foundation was arrested on charges of child pornography.

Who Are PR's Journalism Partners Now?
Who do PR people connect with anymore? The question is raised by a USA Today story, “In digital media’s youth crusade, career paths are fuzzy.” Digital journalism is growing, yes, but remains hardly established as a career track in the way that print journalism was. “If not quite a sense of victimhood,” the piece concludes, “there is a sense, at least among many of those without an ownership stake, of being a cultural cliché, or perhaps a benighted dupe..."

Words of Warning from Kansas City
The Kansas City Star has a lengthy report on the darker side of today’s relational currents – domestic extremism that could produce more terrorism. “…Today,” says Judy L. Thomas in The Star, “at a time when much of law enforcement’s focus has shifted from domestic to foreign terrorism, a network of extremism is again spreading throughout the land."

The New PR: Technical Skills and Communication, Too
We keep returning to manifestations of PR skills in digital settings. And also, it seems, to commentaries on Forbes.com. Here’s one on how Walmart is using a crowdsourced analytics platform, Kaggle, to analyze retailing issues – and to find talented people. Ideally, though, the talents aren’t just technical ones. Communication skills count too.

The Bald Fact About PR, Courtesy The N.Y. Yankees
New York Yankees' bald-headed outfielder Brett Gardner has provided an example of what public relations does when the intended beneficiary, Gardner himself, is publicity shy. Gardner’s teammates want him on the American League’s All-Star team, so they’ve, literally, taken their heads in their hands to help him with the fan voters.

Edelman on the Climate Fence: Doesn't It Hurt?
Gee. We were wondering whether to note the embarrassment that Edelman, one of the most prestigious PR firms around, may well be reeling over the loss of four executives and a couple of clients over the climate change issue. As we read, in this Guardian post…

Reading on Paper and on a Screen – 'Equally Engaging'
The Columbia Journalism Review has come up with an interesting finding on the difference between reading on paper and on a screen – there essentially is none. That was the result for reading “a heart-wrenching true story that prompted empathy and emotional engagement.”

'Post-Mortem' on a D.C. Subway Accident
We don’t want to pick on the Washington Metro, but our attention was drawn to this Washington Post report on an accident in a tunnel below L’Enfant Plaza last January 12. Fairly or not, the report suggests a lack of coordination between the Metro and D.C. firemen, the kind of coordination that might result from effective crisis preparedness and training.

Free Wi-Fi for the Masses, Everywhere?
Consider whether free Wi-Fi access to the Internet isn’t becoming a factor in public relations. That thought occurred at a McDonalds the other day when the staffers were wearing headsets to talk to each other, but customers couldn’t access the Internet (other than by paying telephone charges) while enjoying their meals. Now coverage of the run-up to this year’s baseball All-Star Game at Cincinnati discloses that the Great American Ballpark has added free Wi-Fi for the fans, “via more than 570 high-density antennas; the free public network will be labeled REDSWIFI.” And it will apparently remain after the All-Star Game.

PR’s Not Purgatory, It’s Relevance
I guess we should be taking exception to this. Here’s a clergyman reporting that one former associate minister he’s heard about “is working in public relations at a major state university.“ As though that’s a form of purgatory. The reality, however, is that for churches, too, public relations ought to be a pivotal discipline. Things appear to be slipping for churches. But strong relational ties to communities and their residents are part of where renewal may lie.

Read About Empathy, PR's Foundational Precept
What is, or ought to be, recognized as PR’s foundational (and most important) precept – empathy – is explored in a LiveScience post by P.J. Manney, who has written a science fiction novel on the subject – ‘Revolution’. 'Empathy – the ability to share someone else’s feelings – is perhaps the most important trait humans demonstrate,' Manney writes.

Principles of Good PR: 'On the Ground' in Georgia
Brookhaven, Ga., appears to be an Atlanta suburb, and, writing in the local paper, Mitch Leff appears to be a highly knowledgeable PR guy. He’s advising on how to avoid a media crisis and other relational matters and he ought to be taken to heart – in Brookhaven and elsewhere.

Brian Solis: What the New Generation Values
Brian Solis was a panelist on the new generation of workers, who are rethinking a lot about what’s important to them. “Their value system is profoundly different,” Solis writes, “and they’re forming relationships with products and services based on the things they value and appreciate.” What are they? Read the post as an introduction to an Entrepreneur panel discussion on where we’re headed. “The older generation,” Solis writes, “is making decisions based on their experience and how they went through life – going to college, getting a job, getting married, buying a house and buying a car. Today’s generation is rethinking whether or not college is important, and whether they want full-time jobs or want to be entrepreneurs..."

Apple Hiring Real News Editors – Gee!
Boy, is Apple having fun at public relations – tipping its cap to Taylor swift and announcing a new, human-powered, news service as part of its upcoming iOS 9 operating system. For PR people, Apple News will be fascinating to observe...

PR Impact in the Corner Pocket
Here's a helpful post by MarketingProfs that likens doing effective PR in today's digital environment to playing pool. "Now PR is more like a game of pinball," it goes. "You put your news out, the info gets sliced, diced, purèed; ricochets around the social networks (if you are lucky, and the buzz is good); and it's curated. In fact people may notice your news only when it appears on Twitter, LinkedIn, or their Facebook News Feed."

McMillan, D.C.: A Case Study in Urban PR
Neighbors of the proposed renewal of an idle industrial site in the District of Columbia are divided over a “ vibrant” mixed-use development plan that would seem to have a lot going for it. But a Baltimore PR firm, The New York Times notes, got into the crux of the issue, to its detriment.

Relational Cheers to Walmart!
Walmart has been making some remarkable relational moves, topped now by removing, as The Washington Post reports, “all Confederate-flag-adorned items from its Web site…” and stores in the wake of the shootings at the Emanual AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Taylor Swift to Apple: 'Unfair' – Indeed
Apple, possibly the world’s most lavishly successful company, got a respectful comeuppance from Taylor Swift over its initial plan not to pay the artists royalties during the free, three-month trials of its new Apple Music service. “This is not about me,” Ms. Swift wrote on a Tumblr.com post. "This is about..."

PR's About Relating to Human Beings
It may be getting harder to find real-life media people to relate to, but keep at it because connecting effectively with journalists is still the core skill of public relations. That’s the heart-felt message from PR Newser: forget the “grunt work”.

Empathy vs. Sympathy – a Higher Order of Feeling
Valeria Maltoni, on her Conversation Agent site, introduces us to Dr. Brenè Brown talking (by means of great video graphics) of the crucial differences between empathy and sympathy. “Hey, I know what it’s like down here and you’re not alone.” That’s empathy. Sympathy is more like, “Ooh! Gee.” Spend some time with this presentation.

Which Is It? All Three Together
UK-based Stephen Waddington discusses the “blurring” of public relations, marketing and human resources as we move ever more deeply into a commonly applicable “social” setting. “There’s a turf war taking place between professional disciplines,” Waddington says. "In many instances the lines are blurring to the extent that it’s not possible to tell one from the other.” And he gives examples.

Will the Tweet Go On?
How do you position yourself in today’s communications world? What do you latch on to, as you shun – what? Jim Horton muses on the changing media scene in the context of Dick Costolo leaving as Twitter’s CEO. As a now public company, Twitter has millions of users. “Yet, it is struggling.”

Trimmed Up Press Releases for Today’s News Stream
Catherine Spicer writes on Business2Community about how press releases are, or should be, looking in today’s digital world. No more “For Immediate Release,” for example. And no more closing them with hashtags. “Most readers today” she notes, “see a press releases’s boilerplate and understand they’ve come to the end. Save the pound sign for your tweets and instead use a compelling closing paragraph to conclude your message.”

Learn About Algorithms – They're Steering Us Around the Web
Who or what is shaping your communication environment? How about algorithms, the mathematical computations that lead us around the web? Get a better understanding of them from a Columbia Journalism Review article, “Who’s afraid of a big bad algorithm?” It’s great for weekend reading.

'Short-' and 'Long-Fuses' in Relational Communication
We’ve come upon a post by Ally Krupinsky of the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota which shows that insight can come from any direction if you’re attuned to receiving it. It’s about how the National Weather Service is “working towards more two-way communication with the public.” Why? “People post things,” says Greg Gust, a warning coordination meteorologist with the weather service...

In Wisconsin, Public Safety Servants Who Dance Together
Know any police, fire or dispatch departments who could use a PR lift by showing people how well they work, or dance, together? We refer you to the funky video from Beloit, WI, that’s garnering hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. It was produced by the Rock County Communications Center and videographer Tony Huml and is wonderful.

Staying Relevant in the New PR Age
Here they are, all in one place. The new skills and the mindset to stay relevant in the new digital PR world. The New Jersey Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America culled them from a Rutgers University seminar it held earlier this year with Torod Neptune of Verizon Wireless and Deirdre Breckenridge, a writer on the new PR. Right off, you’ve got to be rigorously strategic…then a compelling storyteller....

Springtime in the Rockies – Heralding a Biking, Hiking Summer
The Colorado ski resorts are using effective PR to let people know that the Rocky Mountains are a summer destination, too, not only a mecca of winter skiing. When you’ve got assets like the Rockies, it certainly makes sense to invite visitors and users all year round, not only skiers in winter...

Cyber Security – A Pressing Relational Issue
Now even the IRS has been hacked, with tax data on 104,000 people stolen – the challenge of cyber security has truly been brought home. Could there be a bigger relational challenge than cyber security? Hardly. And providentially, perhaps, from the Wharton School’s website, comes a proposal from several security experts for a “9-11-type Cyber Threat Commission”...

Police and PR – An Orange County Initiative
Out in Orange County, CA, there’s a website that looks like a news center, but though staffed by former news reporters, is actually a regional police PR outlet, Behind the Badge OC. Done well, this kind of site can be good both for law enforcement officers and the communities they serve...

A Dire PR Portent: 'Automating' the News
To the extent that human interaction is an important component of public relations – and we think it is – the arrival of an automated process for generating news stories seems an unfortunate omen. Yet Rachel Wingard of Cookerly PR in Atlanta advises that there’s a company, Automated Insights, that automatically generates news stories by using a program named WordSmith. She compares it to Ken Jennings being beaten by a computer on Jeopardy.

High Prescription Drug Prices a Relational Bane
The Wall Street Journal had a story yesterday about prescription drug prices, the gist of which was that they are too high. A cancer doctor even acknowledged that at a major medical meeting. Perhaps it’s time for the drug companies to change their relational stance of charging what they will. Prescription drugs, after all, are for healing. And who needs the kind of publicity the drug companies got yesterday?

After the Fire, Learning Occurred – A Community Feedback Exercise
From neighboring Canada, we’ve come upon an excellent example of the feedback benefits in reviewing community emergencies with the residents and responders involved. A couple of hunters accidentally started a brush fire and, afterwards, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the firefighters patiently explained what happened thereafter.

'One-liners' – The New Press Release
It was bound to get to this point, but who could have foreseen the Apple Watch except for Jony Ive? Kristen Parran Faulder writes on the Inkhouse blog about “Mastering the art of the one-line pitch.” One-liners? Yes, punchy and technology-assisted, they may catch the attention of busy reporters better than the tomes of yore. Read about how to write and deliver brief, tight press releases (though some of the links in Kristen’s post don’t appear to be working). Indeed, think Twitter!

Bill Moyers on Surviving in a 'Pressure Cooker'
Looking back over his long (and, by and large, well-supported) career, Bill Moyers notes that “the challenge of journalism today is to survive in the pressure cooker of plutocracy.” And (while Moyers might disdain the parallel) the challenge of enlightened public relations practitioners is very much the same.

Building Community Takes a Forthright Focus
If you’re running an online community or corporate website, or advising someone who is, here are “20 community building tips” that ought to be readily at hand, nay practiced. Brooke Ballard thinks that walking in the shoes of your audience members is about the most important thing you can be doing, and, indeed, that’s so.

... And Watch Those Airlines!
Here’s an opportunity for social media vigilance to the relational benefit of airline travelers – that could be any of us as circumstances arise. CBS Money Watch reports that Dr. Fiona Schott Morton, a Yale economics professor, has published a study finding that the four largest U.S. airlines – Delta, American, United and Southwest – are being snippy about providing their fare and route information for online comparisons.

Make Sympathy Statements Heartfelt, Or Not At All
If you’re not attuned to expressing empathy – walking in someone else’s shoes – don’t be the spokesperson in a crisis. That’s the lesson that Thomas Cook, the travel firm, provides after its CEO was asked to apologize to the parents of two young children who were killed on a Cook-sponsored tour to Greece...

A ‘Wow’ PR Website – Meeting the Challenges
Check out the Ink PR website as an example of meeting today’s challenges of freshness and pertinence. Then read Caitlin New’s post against do-it- yourself PR. Yes, PR is a craft that deserves to be approached freshly and done professionally. The Ink site shows what that can look like.

Drive-by Video of Water Waste In California
If you live elsewhere than in California, or some other locale with severe drought problems, be glad you’re not subject to drive-by videos, like this one, if you have a sprinkler system running when it’s not supposed to be.

Duke Energy, Too, Makes an Apology
Oh my gosh. Hardly had we finished posting on AMTRAK’s apology for its Philadelphia train crash, then we noted Duke Energy’s full-page of contrition in The Wall Street Journal for coal ash pollution of the Dan River in North Carolina in a February 2014 spill there. Proud old Duke Energy! The add was part of a plea agreement...

Amtrak and Doing the Right Things, On Time
In relational terms, we were moved by and appreciated a message issued last week by Amtrak's president and CEO, Joe Boardman, on the wreck of Train 188. "With truly heavy hearts," it said high up, "we mourn those who died" and ended by pledging the completion of Positive Train Control in the Northeast Corridor by this December. Yet...

Wish You’d Known Ivy Lee? We Do
We’ve been taking a look into PR history these past couple of posts. First there was Jacob Riss, now Ivy Lee. You may know of Ivy Lee as an early PR man, but you may not know the story of what’s billed on BusinessWired as the first press release, issued by Lee on behalf of the Pennsylvania Railroad almost 110 years ago. Journalists welcomed it, of course. Also, there’s Lee’s fervent declaration that, “This is not an advertising agency. If you think any of our matter ought properly to go to your business office, do not use it.” Incidentally, here are AMTRAK’s statements on its train crash at Philadelphia Tuesday evening, released in the form of blog posts.

Jacob Riis and Identifying With Others
The Columbia Journalism Review has an article inspired by Jacob Riis, the 19th century documentarian of New York City tenement living, on “Journalism and the power of emotions.” It’s actually a piece about empathy and identifying with others. While I’ve yet to read it fully, it looks highly pertinent to PR people, too.

Police on the PR Trail – Not So Great
Oh dear, don’t cheer those body cameras police officers are increasingly wearing without reservation. They’re also being used for police PR, at least in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in a ‘good news about cops’ campaign. Albuquerque officers “are required to upload videos from their lapel cameras to Evidence.com for archival,” advises New Mexico Political Report. Well and good. Except that they’re now being encouraged “to flag video-recorded examples of ‘good deeds, heroic feats, good ol’ fashion community policing’ and more with the hashtag #GoodNewsAboutCops".

Digital PR Delineated
This piece from KoMarketing may take some studying, but it fleshes out what’s meant by digital PR and the new digital information era. ‘“Online PR is a hot topic in search engine optimization,’ says Garrett French, founder of CitationLabs. ‘Because of the growing demand, our tools now include the ability to find journalists and media outlets in all sectors – we see great growth in this area.’”

Red Nose Day Finally Makes It to the U.S.
So what else are we missing out on? It took humanity close to 2,000 years to come up with Red Nose Day, a simple motion of clamping a red ball to one’s face to raise money — $1 a “nose” — for charities that help young people in poverty. NBC, Walgreen’s and M&Ms are bringing Red Nose Day to the U.S. for the first time from the U.K., where it originated in 1988. It’s such a simple, yet hearty, device, you’d think we would have been plastering ourselves with them since the invention of plastic. But no…

Empathy: A Relational Skill Requiring Awareness
One of the more profound relational skills is empathy, walking in the shoes of another. We don’t cultivate it enough, but here’s a post from The Bismarck Tribune on doctors who are doing just that. “I think (empathy) can be taught to a certain extent,” says a medical student, “but a person has to be open to it and willing to learn these (communication) techniques.”

Panera's Woes in Doing Additives Good
Lo the poor consumer, who wants to do the right thing, or go to the right places, when eating out. Is Panera Bread one of those places? You would think so, but now Panera is being accused of a “PR stunt” in issuing a list of more than 150 artificial ingredients it will omit from its food by the end of next year.

New Poll Provides a Starting Point on Race in the U.S.
Don’t know how you feel about telephone polling, but here, at least, is a mile marker for our times. CBS News and the New York Times took a poll from April 30 to May 5 that found, by extension, that 61 percent of Americans “now say race relations in the United States are bad,” the highest percentage since 1992.

PR Can Help Make Bleakness Sunnier, Too
Good public relations isn’t only about things bright and sunny. Kerry Diamond, Editor in Chief of Yahoo Food, writes about fighting depression with cupcakes via the Depressed Cake Shop, a concept that originated with a PR executive in London in 2013. Everything in a Depressed Cake Shop is topped with gray icing.

Tweeting Against the Tides of a Crisis
Here’s a rundown from Environment & Energy Publishing (E&E) on how social media, especially Twitter, is being used as a crisis communication tool. “We have an incredibly powerful device in our hands,” says Matthew Seeger, professor of communication at Wayne State University, “Social media gives us real-time or near-real-time information flows around a disaster, and that is powerful.”

Journalism Along the Way...
A couple of way stations in the evolution of journalism: A University of Wisconsin freshman decides that journalism isn’t dead, but requires a new definition: “The practice of broadcasting events, incidents, opinions or happenings by means of any publicly accessible platform.”...

Ebola Crisis Chagrin Produces 'Lessons Learned'
It’s embarrassing to have to acknowledge deficiencies in responding to a crisis, but far better to show that you’ve learned from the experience than simply to hunker down till next time. China’s Margaret Chan, General Director of the World Health Organization, shows she understands that need in her statement on how WHO responded to last year’s Ebola crisis.

What 'Digital PR' Looks Like
Following up on digital media and its application to PR, here’s a “case study” post on Amy Villarreal, social media manager for EmpowHER in Scottsdale, AZ, which has a website on women’s health. “‘EmpowHER is a modern form of public relations,’” Amy is quoted, "“The site deviates from the public relations work of the past, which didn’t include as much technology...."

Tips for Bringing Digital Media to PR Prominence
We’ve been noting digital media as a growing PR factor for some time, but here’s a PR pro who puts digital into full perspective. “Organizations that don’t move beyond traditional media relations,” says Jillian Fisher, vice president of PPR Worldwide, “miss out on an opportunity to reach their most important audiences, engaging in two-way communications with these stakeholders.” Jillian goes on to provide three pertinent tips to becoming adept at digital PR, including “Expand your media list to include digital influencers.”

Empathy Too Often Lacking in Attempts to Communicate
Using the example of Meryl Streep, Valeria Maltoni, on her Conversation Agent blog, notes why empathy, or the lack of it, is such a big factor in effective communication. “We could accomplish so much more,” Valeria writes, “if we could connect with this idea that talking through issues with honesty..."

New Media: Hard to Know the Gulf's Reality
Here’s an example of the new media environment in the digital age – and unfortunately, it appears as cacophony rather that clarity. British Petroleum may be every bit as duplicitous as claimed in this Media Matters for America post on the 5th anniversary of the Gulf Coast oil spill, or it may not. It’s hard to know, because you don’t know who’s behind this site.

Pulitzers in a Declining Craft – Show Due Regard
Public relations people need to be extra mindful of the perilous existence of contacts in the print media, even as they turn to digital media outlets to get their stories told. It’s a tough grind for journalism practitioners as the story of Pulitzer-prize winning, but now former, reporter Rob Kuznia makes clear. “Print journalism at the local level is a scary place to be when you’re pushing 40,” Kuznia, formerly of the Daily Breeze in Torrance, CA, said...

A Daughter’s Message from Earth to Space
Whether in earthbound terms this is public relations or marketing or whatever, it’s also intimate and fantastic – a daughter sends a message to her father working high up in the International Space Station. She misses him, and what a lovely Hyundai-assisted way to express that.

Ice Cream Crisis Response Melted Away
Whether or not Blue Bell Creameries in Brenham, TX, had a crisis response plan last month when a listeria outbreak was linked to its ice cream, it apparently needs some work in that area. In a Wall Street Journal post, three crisis management experts take Blue Bell’s handling of the episode to task for being slow, piecemeal and inconsiderate of consumers...

Increasing a Newsletter's Reach
For those of you who may be working on a newsletter being sent to your organizaton’s donors, or potential donors, Kristina Leroux on Kivi Leroux Miller’s nonprofit communications blog offers tips to increase the odds on its effectiveness. “Donor Newsletter Tips to Bring in the Dough” offers, among others, tips to keep it to four pages and don’t send it as a self-mailer...

Minimum Wages Generating Maximal Relational Reactions
One of the great relational questions of our time is how we treat people – workers, would-be workers and their families – struggling to make ends meet. We can use a union like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as a doormat at a MacDonald’s when uppity workers demonstrate for a $15 minimum wage.

Ready, Aim... Get Good PR Counsel First
Seldom, a Forbes posting confirms, have we had such a run of examples proving that, properly practiced, public relations is a noble discipline, precisely because it’s a beady-eyed one. Beady-eyed? Yes, says Dictionary.com – “Staring with suspicion, skepticism, etc.”

Executives and Social Media: How to Get Them With It
We’ve heard so many times that top executives don’t understand or use social media that educating them (those willing to be educated) on, say, Twitter’s use and advantages seems a major new PR opportunity. CyberAlert.com apparently agrees and has provided helpful guidance on tutoring top executives in social media.

From Waco, a Confirmation of Digital News Readership
Following up on our post last week quoting Martin Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post, advising, ‘Get Over It, We’re a Digital Society,’ here’s an account of what that means to Steve Boggs, editor of the Tribune-Herald in Waco, TX. It’s crucially important to PR people to understand how journalism is changing, and Waco provides an example.

‘Get Over It,’ The Washington Post’s Editor Says, ‘We’re a Digital Society’
For a steely-eyed look at the media present, we refer you to an appraisal by The Washington Post’s executive editor, Martin Baron, presented as the 47th annual Hays Press-Enterprise Lecture at the University of California Riverside this week. “Never have I seen a moment of so much excitement and so much anxiety,” Baron said, “Journalism is being thoroughly reimagined.” And with it, PR has a lot of learning to do.

For PR's Sake, Watch Those E-mails!
It’s so easy to send an e-mail, the click-and-hope process might be upending PR’s already tarnished status. Robert Moore writes on Forbes about how many of the e-mails he receives are no more than spam, and he’s not even a reporter. The senders don’t seem to care. Profligate e-mailing could upend PR as a craft and discipline aimed at influencing writers and the media. Stay mindful of that.

Ever Timely Now: Operational and PR Lessons from Target's Breach
Computer hacking is a relatively new threat of our times, and, thereby, a new PR challenge, as well as an operational one, when it occurs. Target’s massive breach in 2013, notes Eric Dezenhall in a Huffington Post piece, was exposed by a security blogger, Brian Krebs, formerly of The Washington Post...

Japan and the U.S. In a Relational Shift – Fascinating
Attitudes about fateful matters – like the U.S.-Japan relationship from World War II on – can change in great swaths over time, but it takes just that, time, contrasting actions and generational change. These are findings in a lengthy posting by the Pew Research Center on “Americans, Japanese: Mutual Respect 70 Years After the End of WWII”. It’s a fascinating relational read. “On a personal level, Americans associate positive personality traits with the Japanese, but do not associate negative stereotypes with people in Japan. Americans overwhelmingly see Japanese as hardworking, inventive and honest. The Japanese offer a more mixed assessment of Americans..."

The Lesson From Rolling Stone
What can be said about the debacle at Rolling Stone over its now withdrawn story, “A Rape on Campus,” and the Columbia Journalism School’s critique of the fulsome piece? Due process and procedures are everything in journalism, and PR as well. Don’t ever shortcut them.

An Urgent Need: California Relying on Public Relations to Help Save Water
Would that it wasn’t necessary, but public relations is being mustered big time in the increasingly urgent effort Governor Jerry Brown is making to conserve water in California. The governor, reports The Sacramento Bee, “strode into a bone dry meadow in the Sierra Nevada to issue the first statewide water reduction order in California history…”

When Firms Take Too Narrow a Relational Focus
A construction equipment website, ConstructionEquipmentGuide.com, has a post that’s highly knowledgeable in PR and crisis communication. It focuses on an explosion and fire that occurred in Morgantown, PA a couple of years ago that wasn’t handled well by the firm involved.

Forget Good Intentions Without Stated Policies Behind Them
What does it take to insure trust in an activity or enterprise? The copilot-initiated crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 raises that question anew in horrendous terms. But it's present whenever an organization's functioning purports to include an effective public relations component. That takes more than a plan, it takes policies and rules stated and applied credibly and consistently. Like, notes Captain Tom Bunn, a former pilot in a Time posting, a rule requiring that "when a pilot needs to leave the cockpit, a flight attendant is called in..."

Baseball Showing Empathy For Its Spanish-Speaking Players
The New York Times has a wonderful story about how Major League Baseball “has been working with the players’ union on an initiative this season to encourage every team to have a Spanish-speaking interpreter to help players communicate with the largely English-speaking news media in their native language.”

Broadcasting, Via Twitter, on Whatever You Want to Present
Well, now we can watch live-video events unfolding on Twitter via the Periscope or Meerkat apps. That’s got to mean something in terms of PR opportunity, and we’ll see what develops in that regard. Meantime, here’s an account of the two apps that make “every smartphone the camera crew — a crew that is already on-site, ready for you to cut over to their live feed and take you to the scene as the story develops. I doubt,” adds Jeremy Porter on Journalistics, “we’ll see the same skepticism from the journalism industry that we saw when Twitter came to market.”

The Digital PR Skills Crunch
From Grand Rapids comes a timely commentary on something we’ve been wondering about — the human reality of a skills gap in the shift to digital PR. Older folks in PR firms are apt to lack the knack of digital discourse and display. “The issue is twofold,” writes Adrienne Wallace in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, “Senior level executives in public relations firms lack the technological skills to both perform and measure digital tactics for a company and so do millennials.”

PR and Advertising 'Integrating' – On What Terms?
PR Newser has a post about integrating public relations and advertising, about how that needs to happen in light of the new digital communications scene and “clients’ demands to do more with less.” Well, maybe so, but values are at stake...

Crisis Communication Distilled – Nothing ’New’ About It
We looked for the “New Rules for Crisis Management in a Digital Era” and found nothing “new,” really, in the tried and true rules of good crisis communication that are listed there, except that we’re now, indeed, in a digital era. The thing is, folks often don’t take the requirements of effective crisis management seriously enough. An organization needs to have a crisis management plan and to drill on it regularly...

Press Releases Losing Out to Content Marketing Searches
Here’s a piece of incidental evidence to illustrate how PR is changing – from press releases to content searches on the web. As measured, anyway, by Google searches, press releases are in sharp decline while content searches are booming. “Overall,” writes Andrea Lehr, Promotions Supervisor at Fractal, “searches for public relations decreased 57 percent and those for press release fell 44 percent..."

Starbucks Lesson: Attend to Coffee, Not the Cups
Don’t trifle with PR initiatives, however well intended they might be. That’s our takeaway, a caution, actually, to anyone who might be considering a splashy PR campaign, from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz ending his “Race Together” initiative at its coffee shops. There’s no doubting Schultz’ sincerity about wanting to contribute to improving the nation’s racial climate. But “Race Together” was a muddled effort that, as it’s turned out, only lasted a week...

Don’t Worry About ‘Deniability,’ Just Tell the Truth
Donald Mounce, a PR practitioner in Tucson, Arizona, gives us a pithy reminder on telling the truth, promptly and always – that is, on avoiding “culpable deniability”. Forthrightness, even if it hurts, is, or should be, a pillar of responsible relations in today’s jaded, cynical world. Take Ray Rice, Roger Goodell or even Hillary Clinton as examples of mistaken relations.

'WhatTheyThink?' – Where, Who Are You?
We’re posting this for two contrasting reasons – interest and annoyance. One makes for good PR, the other doesn’t. WhatTheyThink.com isn’t the only organization we’ve come across with such a dichotomy. It’s almost as though once you’re on the web, nobody cares where you’re actually located or who you are. Not so. First, the good stuff: A WhatTheyThink? (the question mark is apparently part of their name) blogger bylined as Dr. Joe Webb has a post reporting that PR “employment boomed from January 2014 to January 2015, up +9.2%, an increase of +5,ooo workers” ...

Starbucks' CEO Trying to be Helpful on Race Relations
A cup of coffee at hand, we need to call attention to an effort to help improve the nation’s ability to talk about, and improve, race relations, as prompted by Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, under the heading “Race Together”. Baristas are supposed to write the phrase on coffee cups and, when it feels right, talk about race with customers.

PR On the Darker Side
This post is a downer but, from time to time, we have to acknowledge that public relations has its own darker side. In this case, it’s about a couple of western PR firms that have been working for the Putin regime in Russia and, thus, avers the Equal Times site, “are in an increasingly untenable position.” Other examples are provided as well. It’s sad.

PR Firms Need Hacking Defenses Too
A moment out on the dark side: Public relations firms are probably no less prone to computer hacking than other service agencies. Here, from Reuters.com, is a a primer on how to prepare for, and defend against, hacking episodes. Having a skilled cyber advisor needs to be a priority. But you already knew that, right?

PR and Marketing Belong Together
Public relations and marketing go together, at least they should. Without continuing relational content, marketing becomes a shell (hollow) of activity. As Lisa Calhoun on MarketingProfs puts it, “Fortunately, with the right technology and tracking, public relations is the perfect support to a natural lead nurturing process….”

Google's Ominous Shift Toward Mobile Devices
Law firms among others not so swift with mobile devices for Internet access may have concerns about Google’s plans to start favoring mobile-enabled blogs and websites in its search rankings, effective April 21. Here’s Kevin O’Keefe’s take on Google’s pending move on Real Lawyers Have Blogs.

Corporate Communicators Upsetting Reporters
Wow! How could corporate communications folks be messing up in their relations with journalists in today’s social media world as badly as a Forbes commentary on a new survey suggests? It’s under the headline, “68% of Journalists Unhappy With Corp Communications Pitches. New Study Reveals.” Don’t miss checking out the piece.

Good PR Requires Communication Clarity
Every so often we like to post a reminder that effective public relations is truly a communications discipline. Today’s is from Kivi Leroux Miller on PR mistakes commonly made by nonprofit organizations (and others, too): “vague, inconsistent, or buried asks.” You’ve got to be clear about what your asking of people, Kivi writes, just as you need to be effectively focused on whom you’re asking it of. Not only that, there are a dozen or more categories in which organizations may need help. Which one are you beset by? You need to be clear about that, too. Yes, PR is a communication process, and a demanding one as well.

PR For Understanding, Not Judging
Out in Midland, Michigan, public relations has become caught up in one of the most trying relational situations human nature provides, the need for acknowledging and understanding transgender identity. We wish all those involved at Midland’s Planet Fitness gym and the wider community patience and understanding in accommodating to the feelings that have been stirred there.

PR's Definitely Worth Paying For
At a time when social media and the effective use of Twitter, Facebook, etc., are becoming key to PR practices everywhere, along comes Forbes with a post by Neil St. Clair on “Why You Should Almost Never Pay for PR.” It’s always good to know what disenchanted or unaware observers of the changing communications scene are thinking or feeling. But be sure your clients and potential clients are aware of the insights and capacities that you as a PR pro bring to the business scene...

PR’s Now Mainly About Social Media
Along with the shift to digital media that Flack Me has been chronicling, comes the realization that PR as we’ve known it, if not exactly “dead”, is certainly in need of change. We offer Dr. Kimberly Shediak’s meditation on these matters to prompt your further awareness of the new relational realities.

PR Evolving Around Content
Mark Schaeffer notes that three of today’s key PR disciplines – SEO, influence marketing and content distribution – hardly existed five years ago, “…but they are absolutely essential to business success today…” “Can PR’” Shaefer asks, “evolve and embrace these crucial new activities?..."

The Hubble's Epic 'PR' Mission
Time to pull back for the big picture, the biggest possible picture, in fact, the one that’s been provided by the Hubble Telescope for nearly 25 years now. “In terms of public relations,” notes The Guardian, “the Hubble has been a soaraway success, not just for NASA but for science in general.” Indeed.

Verizon Loses Its Cool on ‘Net Neutrality’
We’re happy with our current Internet connection and hope it continues as it is in the current fuss over “net neutrality.” We’d like to understand the issues a little better, and don’t think that Verizon, in its vexation over the FCC’s new Internet rules, has been very helpful in issuing a distraught statement, first, in Morse code, then in a cranky old typewriter font.

Air India Flubs a Customer Crisis
It’s hazardous to pass along impressions from a situation occurring in another culture, but certainly the distraught scene at an Air India airport check-in station as a late-arriving passenger (five minutes) pleads to be allowed on her flight is an exercise in what might be learned about crisis communication for the benefit of all involved...

PR's Crisis Aim: Maintaining Reputation (Not Just Surviving)
In today’s fast-moving world, Stanton Public Relations in New York highlights reputation management (and preservation) as PR’s core objective. Be ready for a crisis, don’t improvise should one occur and preserve your organization’s integrity throughout are its themes.

Scratch These Terms – Just Do It
Casting about for a Flack Me post, a stop at the Forbes site is often rewarding, as with Robert Wynne’s offering there on “12 Useless Public Relations Terms.” Is anybody still talking about “thought leadership” in these tumultuous relational times? Apparently so. Or “thinking outside the box,” when we’re all in the box being heaved so recklessly (or defiantly) about? Forget hoary, hackneyed terms, folks, and just do it...

No Blithe Assurances – Eyes Open Only
A telling example of why public relations shouldn’t ever be practiced on a skin-deep-only basis comes from Williamson, West Virginia. There, the local paper has a story quoting Norfolk Southern’s PR director, Robin Chapman, on the measures her company takes to avoid an oil train inferno like the one that hit CSX elsewhere in the state on February 16. “Not only do our locomotive engineers go through extensive training beginning in McDonough, Georgia,” Chapman said, “but we also come and provide training to emergency responders in the case of handling hazardous materials. We spend hundreds of millions of dollars to properly ensure that this type of accident does not happen and to my best knowledge, the town of Williamson has yet to have a rail accident of this nature. We plan to keep it that way..."

PR for the Birds
Outside of battlefield settings, perhaps, awareness of PR impacts can help promote values that are life-sustaining and enhancing, as in the case of solar power arrays now reaching utility-scale output. They need to be made safe for birds and apparently can be, as this report from a solar project in Nevada indicates.

On the Boardwalk at Atlantic City… (It’s Still There)
You don’t hear much about Atlantic City, N.J., anymore, except that while it’s still got its boardwalk and, of more recent vintage, casinos, it’s seen better days. Pinky Kravitz on pressofAtlanticCity.com looks at the resort’s slippage and asks (our paraphrased quote), “Where are the PR people of yore?” “Last week,” says Pinky, speaking now for himself, “Atlantic City was named the most Romantic City in the nation. It beat out Key West, Florida, and New Orleans, Louisiana. Did you know about it?..."

Clarity in Labeling Would Help Sell Electric Cars
We seem almost to need a study to validate anything new and potentially valuable – but who reads studies? Clarity in labeling, as in the savings expected from hybrid and electric plug-in cars, would help, says a University of Kansas public affairs study. And so it likely would – why wouldn’t that be obvious from the start?

Superman Unwelcome in Cleveland? Not Really
Could it be that Superman isn’t welcome in Cleveland, the city where he was created in 1933? Not really, but the relational point in the controversy over a possible Superman statue on Cleveland’s lakefront is be careful what you propose. The mocked-up statue by academician and sculptor David Deming just doesn’t look like Superman...

Posting ‘News’ in Indiana
We’re not in Indiana and know nothing of its political climate or the workings of its state government. But it sounds too bad that a plan Republican Governor Mike Pence had for a state-run news service has been scrapped under ridicule as a “Pravda of the Plains”. Practically anybody knows that journalism’s becoming stressed as newspapers and other news outlets become crimped for support. Does that mean that information on state government has ceased to exist because the newspapers aren’t scurrying as of yore to report it? Of course not.

Lawyers Who Don't Listen For What People May Actually Be Hearing
“What are we saying and why? Can we say it better, so as to avoid any confusion that might besmirch us?” Besmirch? Yes, Samsung may well be feeling tarnished by language in the terms of service for its voice-activated televisions that suggested the “Smart TV” might actually be eavesdropping on its viewers.

Valentines Folderol from a Misguided ‘Communications’ Firm
Come on, guys! We note on the Providence Journal website that an intrepid Boston area marketing/communications firm, HB Agency, is celebrating Valentine’s Day this year by making it a “pitch-free” day for journalists in its orbit. (Read on to see why this is so annoying, though you've probably already gotten it.)...

Strumming Away, a Beautiful Relational Statement on Building Guitars
Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars makes great use of YouTube for a wonderful relational plea. "...Let's embrace the way ebony really is today." This is public relations at its best, a quiet awareness moment. When it's over nothing more need be said...

Eight Tenets of Trust, Edelman's Core Component
It wasn’t Edelman’s release of its annual “Trust Barometer” that attracted us to this Forbes column on Richard Edelman, but his thinking on how organizations can build and maintain trust, which is, of course, PR’s core component...

Human Kindness at Target
Last week’s incident at a Target store in North Carolina in which an employee showed a young man how to tie a tie is a beautiful example of the essence of good public relations — human regard for others, that is, walking in someone else’s shoes. The teenaged customer had been looking for a clip-on tie and was disappointed to find that the Target store in Raleigh, North Carolina, didn’t have any. But then...

A Weekend’s PR Counsel
Ford Kanzler, a marketing guy at that (unless you consider “marketing communications” a form of PR), offers some good PR counsel for pondering over a weekend. PR, he says, isn’t “free advertising,” “spin” or merely tactical. And, of course, he’s right. Read through Ford’s piece to get his slant on PR as a discipline in its own right. And have a good weekend!...

Wegmans Leads the Harris Reputation Standings
Somebody to pay some attention to: Wegmans Food Markets is listed in the 16th annual Harris Poll Reputation Quotient study as No. 1 in name value and recognition. We always knew that Wegmans was in high repute as a grocery chain, but to be listed above, say, Apple (No. 9 this year) and L.L. Bean (No. 7) is truly a relational accomplishment.

'Content Cadence' an Important Blogging Concept
Mark Schaeffer notes an important concept, content cadence, in a post on blogging frequency for a business-related blog. He links the phrase back to Brooke Ballard, who contributed it in a guest post to his own {grow} blog last month. Too often, Broke wrote then, "we write without actually thinking about the cadence of our content..." Indeed.

Sage PR Counsel: 'Dance in Reality's Rainbows'
One of the most candid depictions of public relations practice we’ve seen comes from Drew Gerber, CEO of Wasabi Publicity in Saluda, N.C. “When you are considering hiring a publicist for your company,” he advises, “make sure they can play where unicorns dance in the rainbows but make certain that they are also grounded in reality.”

Corporate Culture Runs Deep as a PR Challenge
Now it’s the big banks who are recognizing that corporate culture – shaping and monitoring employee attitudes and values – is a vital business focus. Last year, it was General Motors in the face of its ignition switch trauma. And in 1979 it was General Public Utilities after the accident at Three Mile Island Unit 2. Why does it sometimes take corporate catastrophe to prompt managers to recognize that how employees relate to ethical values, each other, customers and the public at large, is basic...

Comcast Strikes (Out) Again
What is it about Comcast in relational terms? You have to wonder. The last time we wrote about the cable service provider, last September, it had named a senior vice president for customer service, Charlie Herrin. He would be “roaming across the cable giant to ‘reimagine the customer experience,’” a process, we were advised, that “may take a few years." True enough, it seems.

Helping Busy Accountants Relate Digitally
We’re coming into a period – income tax time – when accounting will be on lots of minds, and accountants themselves will be taking a beady-eyed look at possibly everything but social media. Relationally, that could be a mistake. Savvy accounting firms are realizing that a well-executed Web presence can benefit them greatly, like just about anyone else who’s out there.

Driverless Cars: 'You Guys Are Nuts'
Emily Badger, who covers urban policy for Workblog, envisions the soon-to-be-experienced arrival of driverless cars in an essay that might be headed, “What Are We Doing – Again?” The first time, starting in the ‘teens and ‘20s, PR and advertising enabled automobiles to start reshaping U.S. towns and cities. And we’ve been living with the results.

Davos Portents of World Relational Challenges
The world may be facing an epic PR issue, income inequality. That’s the impression you get from reading a Holmes Report post on this year’s just-concluded World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “The world’s richest 85 people are as wealthy as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world’s population.” That spells anger, and, very possibly, trouble...

PR Becoming More Scientifically Based
Here’s a hefty piece of commentary by Christopher Graves, chairman of Ogilvy Public Relations, on how public relations is becoming more “scientific,” as presented by Amit Roy Choudhury in a Business Times story. Graves has been turning “to subjects such as neuroscience and behavioral economics to craft a better narrative,” Choudhury reports.

PR News Prompting Dour Weekend Observations
Can’t imagine what the PR scene may be like in 2024 when a summer Olympics will be held, but the relational trend isn’t encouraging, with Edelman’s Trust Barometer currently “at an all time low” and Boston officials having to be super cautious at a public meeting on the city’s bid for the 2024 games...

Facebook Stands Up for the 'News'
We thank Payne Public Relations for alerting us to another junction in the fadeout of reliable print news sources – Facebook’s approach to handling spurious news reports on its timelines. PR people need to know these things. Payne notes a Pew Research study that half of Facebook and Twitter users get news on those sites, where it’s likely an “incidental” experience. Incidental or not, news ought to be accurate and, thankfully, Facebook is mindful of that....

New Must Do: Tracking Social Media in a Crisis
Just as the TV networks were monitoring the topics drawing comment on social networks while President Obama was giving his State of the Union address, crisis communicators need to be prepared to track their own web presence should a crisis strike. While the President's address wasn't a crisis, online feedback, clearly, is a new dimension of crisis PR.

SorryWatch: Making Apologies Genuine
We’ve come upon SorryWatch, a website that analyzes apologies and is helping to make the use of language careful, genuine and effectively relational. For example, there’s its appraisal of how the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware, backtracked after reneging on a group of homeless people on Christmas Day and rated it not a great apology....It's best to consider straight-out what's honest and genuine and to stick with it.

Relational Tides of the First Order
Time to take a few moments out to consider public relations in the broadest, grandest sense imaginable — relationships between civilizations — and where that could lead us. In a Wall Street Journal commentary on the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris, Christopher Caldwell writes about how European countries unwittingly desensitized themselves to relationships with their streams of Moslem immigrants.

Letting Off Steam About PR Done Well
Geez, we should be flattered, not annoyed. PR, says the Center for Public Integrity, is a craft that works all too well. But that’s only if it’s practiced well. PR is a method of getting a message across. If the message is worthy, it will likely gain followers; if it isn’t, despite the “best PR,” it probably won’t. The Center apparently is upset that public relations and advertising involve “going to the public.” As though humans weren’t born, and meant, to communicate. Also to use their heads, do their homework and make choices. If we don’t do that well, and make poor choices, it will catch up with us...

Reporters vs. Followers as PR Influence Factors
Peter Himler’s views on Forbes.com about the changing media environment aren’t exactly news in this digital age, but he expresses them well at a crossroads for PR. It’s now content at least a much as contacts that counts for relational influence, Himler advises. “No longer must PR pros rely solely on the benevolence of journalists to advance their clients’ news and narratives,” Himler writes. “There are a myriad new ways to gain traction for one’s message or messenger that have little to do with convincing a journalist of its editorial merit....”

Body Cameras Score Big Among Police Chiefs
A bit of objective information often helps in easing tensions prompted by anxiety – like those between police and, possibly, the communities they serve. So it may be with a study from the University of Cambridge on the use of body cameras by 1,000 police officers in Rialto, CA.

CNN Preparing for Coverage by Drones
We don’t know what impact the advent of drones will have on public relations, but CNN, it’s clear, will be helping us find out. The cable news network has”entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRDA) with the Federal Aviation Administration to advance efforts to integrate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) into news gathering and reporting.”

Positive PR at a Michigan Pizza Shop
Don’t look for this to become a movement among pizza shops, but the tours being given to youngsters at Stevi B’s Pizza in Chesterfield Township, MI, are a good example of PR being done in an educational context. Worthy context and helpful messages are features of good public relations. Stevi B’s is taking kids on behind the scenes tours of the pizza shop...

Update on What's Been Roiling the Internet
Wondering how the status of your Internet service might change, if it does at all? President Obama has been proposing that Internet service providers (ISPs) be treated as utilities, and Congress is considering legislation on the subject. Whether ISPs will continue simply as “information providers,” which is to be hoped, remains uncertain. As C/Net notes, stay tuned.

Airlines Packing in Passengers Makes No Relational Sense
What can be on the minds of airline executives in relational terms these days? We haven’t flown for a while, but if a story on Public Radio International (PRI) is anywhere close to accurate, airline travel is being degraded in a seemingly mindless manner. “It’s not your imagination that you’re on a fuller plane than you used to be,” says a PRI report.

Truly, 'Thank-Yous' Are Appreciated, So Send Them
Time to inject a little gentility into PR practice. January, it turns out, is “National Thank You Month,” which makes it, suggests Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert, “the perfect opportunity to pause and express your gratitude.” Seriously, the way we acknowledge others is an important component of relational finesse, and sometimes overlooked. (See below.)

AirAsia CEO Draws Crisis Communication Kudos
In the crash of AirAsia Flight 8501, this is for the record, a macabre but chastening record, the crisis communication record. The manner in which AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes has been handling announcements of crash developments has been exemplary. That's in contrast, Associated Press notes, to the aftermath of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 last March.

Publicity for Campus Startups Could be a PR Opportunity
Relating to your local or regional university can be an advisable move for PR practitioners, for they can be sources of relational activity that their own PR (also known as “development”) departments may not have time for. Take, for example, the recent Wall Street Journal story on research-spawned business startup activity at universities noting that “turning research into viable companies is a challenge...

Bullets that Go Up Must Come Down, Fast Enough to Hurt
Here's some instructive information as 2014 draws to a close – "When fired into the air, bullets can return to the ground at speeds greater than 200 ft./sec., a sufficient force to penetrate the human skull and cause serious injury or death..." In other words, The Indianapolis Star advises, don’t be shooting guns into the air to celebrate New Year’s, as a lot of people apparently do. That’s good relational advice, in a year that’s included rather too much gun-related news.

American Psychology on a Relational Couch
Probably to its dismay, but possibly deserved in relational terms, The American Psychological Association is on the couch in a HuffPost(ing) by Bryant Welch, its first Executive Director of Professional Practice. He’s taking the APA to task for becoming a “handmaiden” to torture at Guantanamo and other “black sites.”

Be Careful What You Offer a Reporter: Is it, Indeed, Worthy?
At a slack time for worthy PR initiatives – that's to say, interesting items for passing along on Flack Me – we offer some counsel from John Crudele of The New York Post. He's got a list of stories that "public relations folks...begged me to write, but I didn't get around to it." No wonder.

For PR People, 2015 Arriving With a Digital Focus
As the year begins to turn, it’s well to note the steadily sharpening PR context of the new one – digitally-based content marketing. That’s how it appears to the folks at the Young Entrepreneur Council, as expressed on the e27 blog, in a post entitled “5 best ways to get your brand noticed in 2015.”

Santa Tracking Underway – a Great, Though Accidental, PR Tradition
The Washington Post, indefatigable itself, has tracked down the story of the Cold War-era tradition of tracking Santa Claus on his Christmas Eve flight from the North Pole. And it’s found that the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) faithful monitoring of Santa’s flight is the result of a typo in a Sears ad back then.

PR Isn’t for Arranging the Chairs
Is it the function of public relations to pack a meeting in favor of a departing functionary? We don’t think so. Thus a post on San Diego Reader sticks in our craw. When Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, retired this month, the Reader reports, “the agency’s public relations head ‘instructed staffers to reserve 30 seats at the front’ for people sure to heap praise on Peevey.” And they apparently did.

Creativity on Tap from Valeria Maltoni
You may not have time for this during the holidays, but put it aside for later because Valeria Maltoni is very well-intended in providing a primer on creativity, probably the most important of PR attributes. She includes help from John Cleese, Ira Glass and Brian Eno along with “29 ways to stay creative,” all in the form of video clips. You’re provided with instant insights into PR’s foundational discipline.

Restoring Ties With Cuba: A Gutsy Relational Call
While presidential actions are by their very nature relational, the PR factor in President Obama restoring relations with Cuba can’t be so readily calibrated. If it goes well over the next few years, it was a good move, if not, it wasn’t. Brilliant analysis, huh? Yet...

PR Fail: Sony Set Itself Up for Trouble
Sony Pictures executives might have done some soul-searching about what’s in good taste and what isn’t before they decided to film “The Interview” in the first place. But now a horrendous precedent has been set with the film’s withdrawal from its planned holiday-season opening. It will apparently be shelved for good. Charlie Chaplin to the contrary, scurrilous satire about a head of state in these digital times isn’t a good idea, whether his fans include a squad of hackers or not.

The New Republic's Leadership Lapses Causing a PR Crisis There
Look what happens when workaday management clumsiness or incompetence spills over into public awareness – the venerable New Republic is a current example of internal disarray spilling into a full-blown PR crisis. Effective communication systems matter – inside organizations as well as outside them.

Summing Up a PR Era Change
While it looks like a post on behalf of his “New Rules…” book, which has been out for some time now, David Meerman Scott does a nice job of summing up why PR clipping books aren’t really what the craft is about any longer. “Instead of focusing on a media relations program that tries to convince a handful of reporters at select magazines, newspapers, and TV stations to cover us,” he writes, “we should generate our own content..."

Public Health a Healthy PR Opportunity
Would you believe that “parents in wealthy communities like Malibu and Beverly Hills have opted out of vaccinating their children”? Indeed, public health has a distraction-induced PR problem, advises the Health Affairs blog. What to do? In classic PR terms, “Communicate, communicate, communicate” is one of the listed remedies.

Whirlwind Challenge: Getting Discovered on the Web
Have you seriously considered, really seriously, what it takes for you or a PR client to be discovered on the Internet? A lot, squared. We’ve had a prompting to check with InternetLiveStats.com and find the “total number of websites online right now” to be 1,141,406,743 and rapidly climbing.

CIA In a PR Stew
Flack Me doesn't normally report on governmental agencies, leaving them to the realm of government relations. But can anyone doubt that the Central Intelligence Agency has a public relations problem, big time? In the wake of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's treatment of detainees, The New York Times is reporting that the agency's claim that torture lead to the elimination of Osama bin Laden is bunk.

PR Has Its Own PR Problem, Big Time
Public relations evidently isn’t doing so well at maintaining its own image, which has always been a special challenge anyway. Jon Gingrich, editor of O’Dwyer’s magazine, notes that, when asked on a survey by Texas Tech University’s College of Media and Communication, respondents supplied “key words” like “liar” and “spin doctor” when asked about PR’s ethical standards.

What’s In a Name? They Should Have Known
Thank heaven for Twitter, but why was it necessary for “Strange Fruit,” the name of an Austin, Texas hospitality-focused PR firm, to be called out on Twitter after the better part of two years in use? Hospitality — for a ghastly song around lynching? Strange Fruit, advises the Austin Statesman, “represents some of the area’s best-known restaurants..." After the Twitter uproar, it’s been taken off the web.

PESO Is PR's Future, These Pros Say
Here’s some long, instructive material for pondering over the weekend. Rebekah Liff, chief strategy officer for AirPR, applies Gini Dietrich’s PESO model (paid, earned, shared, owned) to today’s PR challenges. It’s a PR-adapted take on digital marketing.

Police/Community Relations a Dire Challenge
There is something mightily awry with the state of police/community relations at various places around the U.S. – the latest example being the cordon New York City police created around the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting after protests erupted following a grand jury’s failure to indict a police officer who killed Eric Garner in a chokehold last July. Such holds are against NYPD policy.

Web Apologies May Not Matter
So you’ve said something on the Internet you think deserves an apology. Should you? Fortune blogger Brett Arends considers the hash Elizabeth Lauten, an unfortunately prompted GOP congressional staffer, made when she sought to apologize for criticizing on Facebook the dress of the Obama girls and advises, probably not. The Web’s legions are unforgiving.

A Daring TV Interview: Darren Wilson States His Case
The reviews are in on George Stephanopoulos’ interview with (then) Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, or at least this one from Forbes. It’s by Fraser Seitel, a long-time communications practitioner, who writes about Wilson’s “public relations victory” in sitting down with George.

Both Digitally and Relationally, PR's a Demanding, Hybrid Craft
Deirdre Breckenridge has it right: public relations is an increasingly demanding, hybrid craft: “The integrated PR/communicator,” she writes, “should work cross functionally with other groups. He or she should be skilled in social media, SEO, web, video and the current technology while practicing traditional and social communication.”

YouTube (No Surprise) the Place for Video PR
Need a primer on using YouTube in public relations? If you’ve got a decent video camera or are planning on getting one, you’re halfway there. The rest of the way is covered, at least on a start-up basis, by ReelnReel in a post, “Ways to Use YouTube in Public Relations.” "“Video sharing sites like YouTube,” ReelnReel notes, “are an excellent way to break the ice because nothing online is as personal and human as video..."

If You’re Focused, It’s Not that Hard to Help a Customer
Banking used to be customer-focused and highly relational. But David Segal, as The New York Times’ Haggler, provides an example of how some folks at Bank of America let process and procedure, if not their own laxity, get in the way of good, relational customer service. Good public relations has to do with focus – focus continually on the customer...

Journalism Late, Fatefully So, In Joining With Technology
What will the near future of PR look like? It’s emerging now and you probably won’t like it as much as the past, because it will be harder to relate effectively to the beleaguered media. That’s the impression we got from Friday’s Reuters Memorial Lecture by Emily Bell, Director of the TOW Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia Journalism School.

Brian Solis on Coping With the Digital Now
On a slow insights day, you can always turn to Brian Solis to provide something to dig into. Like engaging with the era of Digital Transformation, “one of the most important business movements in modern history,” as Brian puts it. The place to start toward an increasingly digital future, Solis advises, is with empathy, not technology itself....

Today's Hardball Media Expectations
Nothing is off the record, not even silence. The media expects, and especially with the competitive pressures they're under these days, will insist upon, immediate accountability. From two or three of the seamiest stories around currently, to anything that gets the media’s, and thereby the public’s, hackles up – nobody’s ever off-the-record. Act accordingly.

Help Clients Communicate Inside, as Well as Outside, Their Walls
Before a client organization focuses on relating well externally, it needs also to be concerned about how effectively it is communicating internally, among its own people. Internal communication awareness and counseling, if not outright organizational development services, ought to be part of a PR services package.

Social Networks, Not Surprisingly, Deemed ‘Insecure’
People may be using social media as a prime communication channel, but in doing so, they trust it least of all the communication modes available these days. This finding in a Pew Research Center report on privacy, amplified by a post on BetaBeat, should be prompting anyone sponsoring a social network to insure it’s as safe from intrusion as possible....

'Hired Guns' Aren't What Good, Relational PR Is About
If, in the public schools as elsewhere, public relations becomes viewed as hiring someone to answer the phone on an “as needed” basis, that’s a setback for the solid relational grounding that any communication-conscious organization needs. Good PR requires planning and engagement as ongoing functions. These thoughts arise in happening upon a story from the Coatesville School District in Pennsylvania, which apparently is under some grand jury heat over allegations of misusing taxpayer funds. So it’s hired a PR consultant on an hourly basis....

PR on the High Road, the Only One Worth Taking
PR can get pretty idealistic, and that’s the way, actually, we prefer it to be. Here’s one of the best, brief statements of that noble identity that we’ve seen: “For me the social obligation we have is to build better communities through communication.” The speaker is…Anne Gregory, chair of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management.

Social Media Disrupting PR: Examples of Transformative Change
We’re indebted to Meltwater, a global PR firm, for providing some of the clearest examples we’ve seen of the differences between PR and social media – disciplines that, while different, are allied around shared relational goals. Basically, they involve prompting folks to take stock of and, hopefully, follow an enterprise.

Crisis Quandry: Feeding the Homeless in Fort Lauderdale
Here’s a case study that shows what a challenge public relations strategy can be, yet must be pursued nonetheless. Fort Lauderdale, Fla., attracts homeless people and Arnold Abbott, 90, feels it’s his mission to feed them. The city’s tourism leaders, though, are in a swivet over the situation. What might you advise?

Will New Yorkers Slow Down? We'll See
Being from New York City, at least the Borough of Queens, I wonder what Time writer Justin Worland was thinking when he included in a piece about New York lowering its speed limit to 25 m.p.h. from 30: “Police first need to enforce the rule, something some city-dwellers think isn’t likely.” My recollection is that New York’s police were a no-nonsense outfit...

Signs of Our Digital Times: A PR Initiative from Australia
This may seem whimsical, but it’s not; it’s an illustration of the global reach of our amazing, and often challenging, communication systems these days. We’ve come upon a blog post from Toop & Toop, a real estate firm in Adelaide, Australia, that points up the demanding nature of e-mail if you’re in a service business and how, relationally, you may need to fight technology with more technology. Unfortunately, we don’t have any information on the new system that Anthony Toop outlines.... It won’t be launched until later this month, but...

From the Harvard Business Review: 'Do Business and Politics Mix?'
A couple of days after the midterm elections, we’ve come upon an article in the Harvard Business Review on what’s likely a vexing subject for many organizations: “Do Business and Politics Mix?” It’s written by Brian K. Richter, an assistant professor in the Business, Government, and Society Department at the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School, and provided under the heading of Crisis Communications. The crisis involved was one faced by Natural Foods...after it made a contribution to a super PAC called Minnesota Business First.

PR Fail: Another Round of Health Care Site Malfunctions?
Do we need to go through this again, really? The Wall Street Journal reports that the HealthCare.gov website is expected to start acting up again when it reopens for enrollments this month. A whole year and still a buggy application of the Affordable Care Act? Where is the Obama Administration’s sense of, if not technology, at least public relations?

Good Communication Starts From the Inside Out
Short of an immediate crisis, consider the climate that PR clients are creating internally before worrying about how they’re doing externally. Internal communication can say a lot about how prepared organizations are to do well externally. Jeannie Walters makes this highly pertinent point on iMedia Connection, noting that organizations can seem evasive or clumsy to their own employees depending on how well they communicate internally....

Police on Social Media – A Relational Boon
From the Lancaster, Pa., area comes a story of how the area’s police departments are using social media, Facebook principally, to be of service to residents, warn them of crimes and look for suspects. If the police can relate via social media, virtually anyone with an uplifting cause can....

Sadly, Sir Richard’s an Exemplar of Crisis PR
Sir Richard Branson has much grander aims, but it’s fitting to note that he’s been acting as a model of crisis communication in the test-flight crash of his rocket, SpaceShipTwo. “What you do and say in the hours immediately after an incident set the tone by which an organization will be judged,” crisis PR specialist Jonathan Hemus, of Insignia Communications, is quoted on TheDrum....

Richard Berman Takes the Low Relational Road
Here’s some PR heroism from the energy industry – in response to a tawdry talk by Richard Berman, a Washington political consultant, to oil and gas executives there. While advising his audience that “you can either win ugly or lose pretty,” The New York Times reports, Berman’s talk was secretly recorded and provided by an attendee who was offended by it.

Apple's Tim Cook Makes a Profound Relational Gesture
Whatever your sexual orientation may be, you likely haven’t deemed it necessary to be discussing it on the Internet. That’s the way it was with Apple’s Tim Cook, too, until today, when he published a BloombergBusinessweek essay in which he acknowledges being gay, hopefully to help make life easier for others walking with him. It’s a superb relational gesture.

Performance Breeds Publicity, the Red Cross Is Reminded
PR stands, importantly, for performance reviews – public relations practitioners should never forget that. Reality is in interactions, and that’s how it’s perceived by most people. The American Red Cross likely is reflecting on such matters in light of reporting by National Public Radio and ProPublica on its disaster response to superstorm Sandy two years ago....

Computers the New Editors – Oh Dear!
The New York Times – bless it for its coverage its own passing era – reports on how Facebook engineers and algorithms are becoming the overseers of what we once called news. Now, instead of events of some shared local or cosmic importance, “news” is what Facebook users may be interested in seeing in their “news feeds.” It looks to be an increasingly random way of gauging what’s going on “out there”.

Ebola's a Concern, but Flu's a Present Threat
It's all about what gets our attention in this media-driven world. We're duly concerned over the possibility of Ebola spreading to the U.S., but how much have you heard from your friends and neighbors about getting a fall flu shot? The latter ought to be the more pressing concern, notes the Rutgers Today site. "The flu," it advises, "takes anywhere from 3,000 to 48,000 lives a year in this country, depending on the severity of the disease in a given flu season."

Focused on a Pigskin Ball in a Sea of White
Ohio State football strategists are especially mindful of an unusually big factor in their game at Penn State tomorrow – the size of the Nittany Lions’ crowd and the noise that it makes. The roar from a crowd of 106,000 in a sea of white can be distracting, if you let it be. “That’s as loud of a stadium (as) I’ve ever heard,” says Ohio State tight end Nick Vannett...

Whither the News? On Paper, at Least
These have been seminal/dire days (your choice), more of them, for print journalism. First Robert G. Kaiser, a veteran Washington Post reporter posted “Bad News for the News,” about the technological transformation of newspapers. Then came the passing of Ben Bradlee, The Post’s legendary editor, at 93.

Good Communication Doesn't Come Naturally, Not Even In Hospitals
Communication is an active discipline, though it's not always regarded as all that much of a challenge. Yet when communication isn’t done deliberately enough, unfortunate results can occur. Witness the options for creating a hospital checklist, one that might be used for signaling whether a patient might have Ebola.

Predicting an Uncertain PR Future
David Kiu, a Unilever communications vice president, offers one of the most perceptive views of the future of public relations we have seen. “The truth is,” he advises, “no one really knows.” But PR’s become a multi-threaded conversation powered increasingly by social media “in a world of radical transparency”. Trust and purpose will be its hallmarks, Kiu feels.

Police/Community Relations a PR Opportunity
Especially in the aftermath of the August demonstrations at Ferguson, Mo., police/community relations has become a sector for advisable PR attention. On the Ludwig von Mises Institute site, Aaron Tao has an extensive discussion of what's being at least perceived as the "militarization" of U.S. police forces. This would seem to be an image that both local police and community residents might well be concerned about.

Latest Advice to Texas Hospital: 'Forget the Ads, Focus on Performance'
Reuters has a story, partly referencing a New York Times piece a day earlier, on Burson-Marsteller being hired by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to handle PR aspects of the unfortunately botched care the hospital provided to Thomas Eric Duncan, who died there of Ebola. It's an example of how a crisis can open up all sorts of windows into an institution.

HubSpot Helping With Social Media Management
HubSpot provides us with a timely weekend activity – becoming familiar with and setting up a social media content management system. Seriously, social media takes planning and a disciplined method for finding and posting engaging content on a regular basis. It looks to us like this HubSpot system – starting with “Keep an updated content calendar” through “10) Set a time limit for each task” – should indeed keep your social media posts in a row.

'Could Have' Makes For Horrible PR
Who would have thought that the Centers for Disease Control would have been so hidebound as to stick with lax infection control procedures when faced with controlling Ebola in the U.S.? “In retrospect, with 20/20 hindsight," said CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, “we could have sent a more robust hospital infection control team and been more hands-on with the hospital from Day 1.”

PR and Marketing to Marry? Heaven Forbid
Diane Schwartz raises a provocative question on PR News Blog: “Will PR and Marketing Get Married One Day?” I’m not among younger practitioners and they could make it happen, I suppose. But it’s likely to be a rocky union unless marketing changes its ways. For marketing is about selling while PR is about relating. And they’re not necessarily a good match. I’ve seen marketing people so fixated on selling that they don’t relate well at all, even when they already share the joint title of public relations and marketing...

Young People Preferring Smartphones Over Cars
Here’s an interesting post on the priorities of young people that might help in relating to today’s world, providing you’re adept at communicating with a smartphone. Micheline Maynard notes on Forbes that teenagers aren’t as much interested in driving as they used to be, preferring to be on their smartphones instead. “Nationally,” Ms. Maynard advises, “only about 27 percent of 16-year-olds now get their licenses, compared with 46 percent in 1983. They're putting off nabbing the credential for a variety of reasons..."

Handling a Trying Crisis Assignment: Treating an Ebola Patient
Here’s a moving account of one of the most trying crisis communication roles imaginable — functioning as a doctor caring for an Ebola patient at a U.S. Hospital. Dr. Angela Hewlett in The Washington Post recounts her experiences caring for her patient, including media interviews, at a biocontainment unit at the Nebraska Medical Center.

Cyber Participation Can Extend, Deepen Events
Wow! Here’s an example of what’s possible these days via seamless PR – an event, enhanced by print coverage, extended by extensive cyber participation, and all returned to the scene of the event with its purpose greatly enhanced. As reported by The Post-Standard in Syracuse, N.Y., the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University is holding a 90th anniversary celebration partly by asking participants virtually anywhere to...

Ready, Fire but Take Aim First
Time to pull back for a minute and hold a brief review of a key PR topic, indeed starting point – the aim of any communication effort. Only now you’re likely to find “aim” being called something like “the PR point of view.” Bryan Evans discusses this concept in a post on Scribewise, and it’s an invaluable one. Aim follows from an informed vision of any communication iniitiative.

Jersey City Aims for a Municipal Face-Lifting
An example of the all-out public relations and advertising effort it takes to change a city's grungy image comes from Jersey City. Jersey City? Why yes, “Make it yours.” The New York Times details the efforts being made by a relational combine of firms to burnish Jersey City’s image...

GM Needs a Sustained Safety Focus, Not Hopeful Visions
The best PR isn’t about fluff, it’s about handling core issues effectively and honestly. Like building a safety culture at General Motors. Businessweek offers a skeptical appraisal of Mary Barra’s safety focus as GM’s chief executive. And, indeed, If she’s not fully focused on safety for the foreseeable future, she’s making a mistake.

Be Understanding: PR People Functioning in Stressful Media Times
Maybe it’s whistling past the graveyard or maybe, indeed, Gannett’s The Advertiser in Lafayette, Indiana, is positioning itself for “vibrant coverage of a vibrant community for the next 150 years.” You can’t help but sense at least a bit of anxiety in a statement by Cindy McCurry Ross, the paper’s executive editor, on its revamping plans, or maybe its survival plan. Whichever, public relations people need to recognize – as most probably do already – that newspaper editors and their staffs (and TV producers, too, as we’ve noted) are under a good deal of anxiety these days as papers dwindle in heft and even numbers. (The Guardian has this headline: “New York Times slims down by 100 jobs, but it struggles to keep weight off.”)...

Cyber PR Stalkers Behind the Financial Scenes
Who has real PR heft these days, if only in a negative sense? One group of candidates that may not immediately occur to you are the IT minions who work behind the scenes at, say, J. P. Morgan Chase & Co. or other major companies. Encounter a headline on the front page of The Wall Street Journal like “J.P. Morgan Breach Hit 76 Million Households” and you’ve got a big-time relational drag indeed.

Apple Playing Bush League PR
Apple is a classy company and mine is an Apple shop. I love their products, yet I get dismayed by reports about what seems a petulant approach toward public relations on Apple's part. Petulance and PR don't go together – indeed, they're contradictory. You'd think a brilliant company would get that right off...

In Crisis Communications, Never Say Never
Jim Horton has a point on his Online Public Relations Thoughts site about crisis communications – Never say never again. Just learn from what happened, acknowledge the challenges and do your best to overcome them. For Secret Service director Julia Pierson to tell a U.S. House committee "I will make sure that it does not happen again" was indeed unfortunate.

Linked-In PR/Marketing Contacts At-the-Ready
Want to build the rollcall of your PR contacts and mentors almost in a single click? Murray Newlands on Entrepreneur.com lists 27 public relations and marketing professionals available as LinkedIn sources of expertise. Among the exemplified traits, Murray notes, are willingness to learn and try new things and the ability to overcome adversity. Sounds like a pretty valuable group of web associates, right?

Comcast Vows to Improve Its Customer Relations – Wow!
Maybe now, or before too long, we'll be able to get a Comcast cable TV controller that doesn't strain our patience to use. Maybe. Philadelphia Magazine reports that Comcast has named Charlie Herrin, a 15-year veteran of the company, as senior vice president for customer service. He's charged with roaming across the cable giant to "reimagine the customer experience"...

PR Remains Foremost, Because Relationships Come First
Following up handily on our post yesterday on the difference between PR and advertising comes a dispatch from Fast Company by Jarone Ashkenazi on the continuing evolution of PR itself. The official definition of PR, crowd-sourced by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) only two years ago, needs revisiting in light of the rise of social media, Ashkenazi notes.

Edelman Chicago's Mushy Merger of Disciplines
One could wish that Edelman Chicago would find more public relations business and leave advertising out of it. But no, Edelman has hired four former ad agency executives and is discussing the move, one gathers from the Chicago Business Journal, with a mouthful of gobbledegook...

Good PR Should Begin at the End
Public relations is an "up front" craft. That is, the most important parts of a PR campaign occur during the planning phase, before any presentation even occurs. On behalf of the Institute for Public Relations, Molly McKenna Jandrain concludes "Measurement Week" by listing some "guiding principles" of good PR practice. The first, of course, is: "Before you do anything, define what success looks like..."

TV Watching Now a Sign of Quaintness
If you watch a lot of TV, you may be simply be quaint. That's not the thing to be doing any longer. First it was newspapers, now it's TV (which itself helped kill newspapers) – the Internet and the digital revolution generally are directing society's attention span to...devices, electronic portholes of one type or another. This can be all to the good, because it gets us moving. To where is yet to be conclusively answered...

Making Lively Community Use of 'Wasted' Spaces
Does your community have idle or underused spaces that could be put creatively to public use? Many communities do, and there is relational opportunity in such "wasted" spaces. Atlanta demonstrates what can be done with one such space – the Atlanta BeltLine, including the annual Lantern Parade. "The Atlanta Beltine," says its website, "is the most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States." And it's brimming with community energy.

PR Guidance that Matters: Arthur Page's Seven Principles
Public relations is in a seemingly constant state of fending off something which, in the hands of its best practitioners, at least, it doesn't deserve – the image of being a crafty, manipulative synonym for "spin". We have Edward Bernays and Ivy Lee, PR's founders, largely to thank for that. But, following them, came others, like Arthur Page, who weren't treating PR so much as propaganda, but as responsible relational communication. Jeff Morosoff reminds us of Page on his blog, Public Relations Nation, where he lists Pages's "Seven Principles of Public Relations Management". We thank him for that – we need to keep Page's guidance before us. Like now...

'PR Measurement Week,' Not to be Shunned
We ought to note that this is Public Relations Measurement Week, as promoted by the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC). With the advent of digital PR, measuring discovery and results is virtually obligatory. Stephen Waddington provides some measuring counsel and leads here. "My personal call to practitioners," says Waddington, "is to investigate AMEC’s work and if you aren’t familiar with the Valid Metrics Framework please sign up to an education programme."

All the News Fit to Discover – What Reporter Can?
You have to wonder about the information climate in the U.S. when you read this account of a week in the life of a Newsweek reporter who was swamped by PR news releases. Who would have time to do any real digging or reporting trying to keep up with a daily flow of press releases, if reporters, in fact, do try? This may be a root, largely unacknowledged problem, for the Republic. No, really, how do we get attention on what most needs to be known – the function of a free, enterprising, yet PR-swamped, press?

Warning: Internet Photos Aren't Free Use
What photos of the myriads of them out on the Internet are available for free use? Virtually none, is the best guideline to follow. That might seem surprising, but the copyright laws have extensive reach, if whoever took a photo wants to apply them. This is something well worth remembering. It's amplified here by Lindsay Bell on Spin Sucks. She notes that you need to be practically a monkey taking a selfie (as one did) to deprive yourself of photographic copyright protection.

PR's Role In a 'Content Blueprint'
Here’s another piece that amounts to a short course on new PR techniques, once you recognize PR as an ally of content marketing. Repetitive awareness is the desirable result, Debbie Qaqish notes on Business2Community, of “an on-going digital dialog with both prospects and customers at all stages of the Buyer Journey. Yet, says Debbie, “I’ve probably run the content blueprint workshop 30–40 times and I have never seen PR participate during or after..."

Sky's the Limit for This Blogging Infographic
Given the importance of blogging for reaching and building audiences, we thank Pam Dwyer for posting on her Pamorama blog an amazing, virtually one-stop infographic from Digital Phillipines that takes you on – and on – a tour of what's involved in building blogging buzz. It's like taking an elevator to the 99th-floor to arrive at the last step, Thought Leadership Marketing. Bloggers beware of, but stay with, the distance you have to go, as Mark Schaefer would put it, to grow.

Process Questions for Measuring Digital PR
Allen Mireles on The Vocus Blog supplies some context for the key question of measuring the effectiveness of public relations in its new digital setting. Clarity on aims and strategies is more important than it ever was, so Allen starts by asking, again, "Who are you trying to reach?" and "Where do you find them?" Old questions in a challenging new context. We'd advise hearing him out.

Vexing Twitter Training for New York's Cops
Back to the saga of the New York Police Department on Twitter. Mashable reports that the department is holding college classes for officers on Twitter, including, of course, advisories against tweeting impulsively. “They want us to put info like street closures or bus diversions because of a street fair,” one apparent cop told the Post.

How Do You Look Out There? Building Reputations Online
Gini Dietrich has it right. Reputation exists online these days. Not exclusively, of course, but importantly. People head online as readily as pouring their morning coffee. No car to start or bus to take. We were in our local department store last week and found four check-out stations empty. It wasn’t easy to buy underwear there.

Ketchum Provides Guidance on Twitter Analytics for PR Use
Now that Twitter has made Twitter Analytics available to all its users, Ketchum provides a blog post on "Twitter Analytics Demystified for Public Relations: It's Much More Than a Numbers Game." The post is a great service to Ketchum's PR colleagues everywhere.

Beyond Ferguson, Communication Builds Communities
Here are some thoughts in the aftermath, let's hope, of the strife in Ferguson, MO, that might prompt PR people to look around their own communities for opportunities for healing, bridge-building and relational growth. "Lawlessness, wrongdoing anger and fear," notes Michael Cherenson of Success Communications Group...

Getting Specific On Digital: Tools and Techniques
Ervin & Smith, a digital marketing firm, provides a post on digital marketing tools and techniques for public relations practice. They're grouped under 'Smarter digital tools,' 'SEO synthesis,' 'Fresh content strategies,' and 'Analytics to prove PR value.' We've been plugging digital presence in general, this piece is about helpful specifics in digital PR practice. There's a lot to plow through in this exploding presentation and contact mode. Ervin & Smith are providing useful counsel for the journey.

The 'New PR' – A Much Wider Reach
Wendy Marx in a Fast Company column does a nice job of filling out what's meant by the 'New PR,' a catch-all for how the craft has been evolving under digital momentum. "Don't get me wrong." Wendy writes, "Media relations remains a viable part of public relations. But it's just part of what the profession can do. Unfortunately, companies that don't recognize that are missing a major opportunity."

Urban PR – '2030 Districts' Showing the Way
We happened upon a web presentation by Seattle on something called the "Seattle 2030 District" that seemed to be promoting efficient, low carbon emissions use of energy in building design and construction. "Oh, there's Seattle taking the lead again," we thought. But hold on, there are a dozen or more cities either in or exploring the "Architecture 2030" movement that was launched, indeed, in Seattle and a couple of other cities by Edward Mazria. They appear to be showing the way to a sustainable urban energy future.

Trying Times For Journalists and the First Amendment
It's a dismaying time not only for news outlets, but for the journalists who staff them and for freedom of the press itself. Check out Noa Yachot's Huffington Post piece, "Journalism Is Under Attack, and Not Just in Ferguson." She's a communications strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union; her report highlights the media climate PR people are increasingly functioning in. The bad news extends from Ferguson, MO, to the Obama Administration itself.

Eavesdropping on Lawyers
Relationships between lawyers and PR people are famously uneasy. To gain insights into where lawyers are coming from (if you have time to spare on such a lofty pursuit), we pass along our discovery of Kevin O'Keefe's blog, "Real Lawyers Have Blogs". Indeed they do, and Kevin, a Seattle-based lawyer himself, regularly lists posts on the "Top Ten in Law Blogs". Discover how they may pertain to your PR interests.

'Ice Bucket' Latest In a Lively Line of Stunts
There was a letter in The New York Times yesterday by Howard J. Rubenstein about a PR specialty that we haven’t touched on: stunts. It’s especially timely during this summer of the chilling Ice Bucket Challenge, which, indeed, seems to be what prompted Mr. Rubenstein, who’s been in PR for 60 years, to write his letter.

Newsroom Titles You'll Need to Know
Jim Romenesko takes us on a tour of one of today's new newsrooms, based on position descriptions at Gannett's Pensacola News Journal. Best as we can tell, the City Editor is now the Community Content Editor, or maybe the Content Coach. Preserve us! Better know who you're asking for well in advance. Take a tour, maybe, beforehand.

Important To PR Too: Content Marketing Becoming Personalized
John Jantsch on DuctTape Marketing offers an instant seminar on where content marketing is headed, important both to public relations and marketing. It's becoming more personalized as the content scene becomes saturated. John has a group of experts in the field contributing to the discussion. Well worth the time of PR people invested in the web.

Brian Solis Considers Workplace Communication, a PR Opportunity
Brian Solis is a keen observer, there's no news in that. But take advantage, in terms of PR self-reflection, of his post on today's "disengaged" workforce. If employee relations isn't a relational opportunity, we've never seen one. Workplace relationships aren't a challenge for human resources alone, the pressures are too profound. What do you do to engage the 21st century workforce, which is now beginning to include "Generation Z"?...

Think Thought Leadership – PR Via Content Marketing
On its face, UV Resources in Santa Clara, CA, isn't the most enticing organization around – it "manufactures ultraviolet germicidal irradiation systems for heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration applications." So how does a creative PR company position it effectively? In this case, by a trade media relations campaign to tell the comany's story and display thought leadership in its field. Indeed, any company as successful as UV Resources, or aspiring to be so, has stories to tell, O'Reilly/DePalma, a PR/marketing firm based in Frankford, IL, would assert...

Practicing PR Across the Digital Divide
We’ve noted a fair amount about PR arriving at the digital divide, but here’s a piece on BizCommunity.com about the ramifications of actually practicing the craft beyond the new horizon. Ulaysha Sukhu, of Firefly Consulting in South Africa, says the first thing that has to happen is for an executive team to realize that there is, indeed, a new media environment and to accept that reality. “Without an organisation that understands this,” Ulaysha writes, “we’re left with tired media releases to over-strained journalists and a list of suffocating demands that can’t be delivered with the fast-dating mechanisms at hand. Getting the organization on side in this new challenge is the responsibility of the PR team…”

A PR Opportunity: Helping the Future Arrive
The Wall Street Journal had an op-ed piece the other day, “What Today’s Economic Gloomsayers Are Missing,” by Joel Mokyr, that should be of utmost cheer to PR people at a time when the economy is still dragging. Mokyr, a professor of economics and history at Northwestern University, thinks we haven’t seen anything yet in terms of what technology is contributing to creativity and economic opportunity.

Asserting Expertise Requires An Expert's Caution
There are tools these days for becoming known on the web and establishing, or seeking to establish, yourself as an expert there, and Vocus lists them. But take care. Building identity on Quora, for example, might be a tempting notion, but be sure you're up to the challenge of maintaining credibility in everything you do or say...

The 'New PR' Described For All
We're at a point where the elements of today's PR can be described as a package that shows how much the craft has changed, and Small Business Trends does just that. "Today, public relations is a cross-platform communications action reliant upon traditional and digital PR strategies, as well as social engagement, content marketing, brand publishing, media relations, inbound content, SEO strategies and limitless creativity."

PR's Turnover Rate Calls For Leadership
Did you know that PR firms tend to have a high turnover rate? If you do, you may be trying to do something about it. But what does it take to retain good people? Leadership, of course, an ofttimes daunting concept. Laurent L. Lawrence, Associate Director of Public Relations for the Public Relations Society of America in New York, takes a look on PR Newser at the craft's turnover problem, linking it to four factors that require pondering – and leadership to reverse them.

Now That Twitter Has Analytics, Don't Be 'Flying Blind' There
We're a little behind the curve on this, but want to be sure you're aware of Twitter's analytics function. It allows you to get a pretty good sense of how your Tweets are doing via a dashboard spanning the past month. The feature is available via Twitter's ads platform, but doesn't require buying an ad to use...

Long-Form Reading On Smart Phones? You Bet!
So how is news going to be displayed as the digital age moves on? A question of no small import to PR people. And the answer, as rendered on Wired, is surprising. On smart phones. "Even just two years ago, such an assessment would have seemed almost ludicrous," Wired acknowledges. (We would have dropped the "almost".) Partly, smart phones provide distribution that "Google doesn't control." And there's also the convenience, but who'd expect long-form reading to be done on smartphones?...

PR Firms: 'Climate Change Deniers, Take Your Business Elsewhere'
Wow, leading PR firms are taking a stand that's costing them clients – climate change is not to be denied, they're saying, and we won't work with folks who say it's not occurring. That's a principled stand and one to be cheered. You don't often hear of PR firms turning down business. This Guardian story identifies some who are, and includes a photo of the extremes that smog has reached in China...

Federal Managers Aren't Relating Too Well
Here's something to consider whatever business sector you're related to: Internal communication may not be going well and could use enlightened PR help. Starting, for instance, with the federal government. A FedSmith.com blog post advises that federal employees are unhappy with the communication they're getting (or not) from their leaders....

'Billionaires' Behind the Environmental Movement
Forbes discusses a report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) that opens to view the shadowy funding sources – a handful of "Billionaires Club" foundations – of the environmental movement. The concentrated funding doesn't invalidate the cause, but does suggest how wealth-centered major public interest campaigns have become...

The Challenging PR of Drug Trials
The Wall Street Journal has an engrossing story on how some medical patients on drug trials are spooking the scientists by discussing on social media whether they think the medicine is effective, of if they might be on a placebo with no healing value. Some are quite good at guessing and either don’t recognize, or don’t care about, the downside of exchanging notes on a new “drug”.

#OITNB – A Case Study In Social Media Promotion
Search Engine Watch offers the Netflix television drama "Orange is the New Black" as a case study in promoting a "brand" and a storyline via social media. "The show's social media team, fans and cast do a breakthrough job of publicizing the steamy side of women's prison and building relationships, engagements, interactions and advocacy that borderline's addiction – between the show, the characters, and audience."...

Reputation, Not Spin, The Heart of PR
Two PR veterans have published a book that should be helpful in elevating the craft above its "spinmeister" image. Their "Rethinking Reputation" is subtitled "How PR Trumps Marketing and Advertising in the New Media World." It's by Fraser P. Seitel and John Doorley. Reviewer Dante M. Velasco states "When you read this book, you can sense Seitel's and Doorley's respect for the profession of public relations and their realistic grip on how PR has become the main factor for the success of campaigns for products and causes..." "This book is not only about giving a bad name to 'spin,' as it should," Velasco writes. "It is also about driving your campaign using the force of public relations."...

Oh Dear, PR and Marketing 'Converging'
We haven't had time yet to read Weber Shandwick's new report on what it sees as the convergence of public relations and marketing, but we intend to. The idea of PR becoming equated with marketing, if that's what "convergence" would yield, likely sends shivers through practitioners who understand the complexities of effective communication, not simply selling.

A Washington Reporter Expresses an Unfortunate Peeve
Ron Fournier has a National Journal post that's depressing in terms of relations between the Obama Administration and some members, apparently, of the Washington press corps. Fournier sees a trend to inject PR "minders" into reporters' interviews with policy makers...

If You're In the Shadows, Stay There
When the European Union began fussing with "the right to be forgotten" last spring, some observers thought the ability to have unfavorable stories deleted from Google was a great victory for privacy rights. Except they didn't count on publications whose stories are pegged for deletion reporting on their travails...

Perverse PR: Russia Forgets About Empathy
A couple of the cardinal principles of effective crisis communication are candor and empathy — identifying with the legitimate concerns of people caught up in a disaster. Russia, though, didn't take the course. Vladimir Putin's PR strategy, says an expert observer in a Canadian Broadcasting post, "resembles that of the Soviet era: 'massive propaganda, disinformation and counter-propaganda.'"

Journalism Guidelines Evolving With Digital News
The Society of Professional Journalists is updating its ethics code, for the first time since 1996, to cover and encourage compliance by digital journalists. "Back in 1996, for instance, with essentially one print deadline at the end of the day," notes Karen Peterson of The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash., "we didn’t have to make split-second decisions about what to post online as news was breaking. Likewise, we didn’t have to decide how to handle personal information people post about themselves online."

Shadowy Areas of PR Practice — Levick and Goodluck Jonathan
Aren’t there limits to PR services? Shouldn’t there be? Everyone, you’d think, wants to be working in and associated with a worthy craft. But then there’s the Washington-based Levick firm taking on Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan as a client. Sahara Reporters advises that “Levick recently accepted a deal worth $1.2 million to help manage Mr. Jonathan’s image…”

CIA Posting Twitter, Facebook Nuggets
Talk about image polishing, or is it, in this case? The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has been on Twitter and Facebook since June 6 and the question is, Why? PR Week reports that the agency is seeking "to inform and educate the public" through its new social media presence. But does a tweet like it's first one, "We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet," contribute to the accomplishment of any useful mission?

College Journalists Targeting PR People
College journalism is bidding to fill some of the void growing with the decline of newspapers as information sources, but is upset over PR roadblocks to its efforts. That can be gathered from a letter thirty-eight journalism groups, including leading collegiate bodies, have sent to President Obama to "end the restraint on communication in federal agencies."

Great Technology, But PR's Basics Still Apply
Two posts this morning illustrate how, in the PR world, too, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Cutler PR, of New York, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv, writes on how "technology is shaking up the PR industry." But up in Bonneyville, Alberta, Canada, a reporter complains about how, in responding to press releases, he regularly finds that the listed contacts aren't available. Imagine that!...

Geez, Is It That Hard? PR Is A Relational Discipline
The Holmes Report has a lengthy report by editor-in-chief Arun Sudhaman on a Cannes discussion, another one, on the nature of public relations in the marketing spectrum. What are PR's "unique advantages"? Well, we'd join in by suggesting that PR is a relational communication discipline, not a media relations task list, although effective media relations are part of communicating well, obviously....

PR, Meet HR, and Work With Them
In lots of organizations, we suspect, public relations and human resources respect each other but seldom mingle and work as close partners. Vanessa Sain-Diegues, head of Social Media Planning & Integration at Hilton Worldwide, thinks that's a mistake, and we'd agree. In these social media times, the people an organization hires and how they're trained and nurtured are representing you as though at a coffee shop...

As Media Tides Change, A Police Partnership in Orange County
Three police departments in Orange County, CA, advises the Huntington Beach Independent, are taking creative PR action to insure that the word gets out about activities that might be missed by the news media. They’re working with a local PR firm that uses former reporters to write features and news alerts for a new public-safety website, BehindtheBadgeOC.com. The service isn’t cheap, $4,000 a month, but it’s in the interest of effective community engagement at a trying time in Orange County’s relational world.

PR Augur? Journalism Enrollments Dropping
Another sign of what PR's future setting may be like — less reliant on the news media — comes from an American Journalism Review report that journalism school enrollments have fallen for two years in a row. "Researchers," says the piece, "don't have enough data to know if this represents the start of a trend, but they think the recent declines may have been triggered by negative publicity about layoffs in the news industry."

PRSA Called on the Digital Carpet
Could it be that the PR industry's professional society is light on member relations? Carrie Morgan, a digital PR consultant in Phoenix, Arizona, thinks that's the case with the Public Relations Society of America, and has issued a web-prominent explanation of why she thinks PRSA isn't providing members with enough "fresh thinking and digital strategy" for their hefty dues payments. "As an organization," she writes, PRSA "is falling further and further behind..."

Journalism's Values Can Power Us Forward
For the Fourth of July break, here's a meditation on journalism education (and hence part of PR's future) – of what value is classroom education in journalism, with traditional journalism job niches fading away? Marco della Cava of USA today was invited to the Columbia School of Journalism to discuss multiplatform reporting. Disciplined training in trust-building skills, he found, remains at the core of journalism...

PRs Take Heart – Digital Isn't Much of a Welcoming Mat
Lest the digital PR tide leave you with a beached feeling, here's an important distinction, pointed out by the hotel industry and which applies, presumably, to any experientially based business, say, an amusement park: "The value of editorial press coverage – whether traditional print articles, online features or blog coverage – cannot be underestimated and continues to be very important for us," says the communications VP of Starwood Hotels...

Employees As Frontline Communication Resources
We haven’t said anything much about the importance of employee communication in building and maintaining an organization’s presence in the community and the world. So let’s make amends right now: Employees and their understanding of an organization’s goals and trials matter greatly; they can be among your best communicators, if you equip them to be. Tiffany Nelson, of Calypso Communications in Portsmouth, NH, brought employees to mind again in a “Lessons in Crisis Communication” blog post, urging us not to forget them...

Community Creativity: Hulking Steel Mill Becomes a Showplace Setting
Talk about community renewal and the PR that goes with it! Thirty-five thousand soccer fans watched the U.S.-Portugal World Cup soccer game via a giant TV screen on the SteelStacks campus — a newly created town square — against the backdrop of a hulking, shut-down Bethlehem Steel mill in Bethlehem, PA.

A List You’ll Never Want to Be On
Here, from 24/7 Wall St., is a PR-related list you want to avoid at all costs – “America’s Worst Companies to Work For.” How does a firm bungle badly enough to make this list? By operating under grungy labor practices. Seriously, with workers representing a vital segment of the marketplace, why would any firm want to treat employees poorly enough to make this list? It’s headed by No. 1, Books a Million, and runs through Number 11, Radio Shack.

Walmart Hammers a Times Op-Ed Piece
When Walmart goes against The New York Times, it’s bound to be engaging PR reading. And so, thanks to Ragan Communications, here’s the hand-annotated “edits” that Walmart’s communications vice president worked into a letter to the editor to “correct” a Times’ op-ed piece critical of the big-box chain. You’ve got to hand it to Walmart for firing back.

GM's Lesson: Corporate Culture Needs to Listen — That's 'NEEDS'
When does a corporate culture move from being craven to corrupt? The transition may occur by insidious degrees, but corporate PR people need to be present at the gate to keep it from happening. If PR doesn’t have that sort of influence in your corporate setting, it’s time to change settings.

Pizza and PR: Paying Only for Results
Media Relations, Inc., with five U.S. offices, takes issue with the predominate PR pricing model – by the hour, with no guarantee that press contacts will result in actual publicity. How would you feel if pizza was sold that way – “By the hour with no guarantee you would get a pizza…”

Digital Altering College Newspapers, Too
College newspapers, too, are feeling the pinch of change. How will that affect the training and perspectives of tomorrow’s journalists? This isn’t a question of immediate moment for PR folks, but it’s part of looking ahead into how journalistic relationships may evolve.

Big PR Firms Make a Pact On Wikipedia
Who, us? No way. Shunning any notion of attempting to manipulate Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, on behalf of clients, 11 big PR firms and others in the profession have pledged to play fair with posts to the site. Cnet reports on a would-be truce between the likes of Burson-Marsteller, Ketchum, Porter Novelli, Edelman, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and Wikipedia. A statement from the 11 firms and other PR organizations begins, “On behalf of our firms, we recognize Wikipedia’s unique and important role as a public knowledge resource. ..."

Botched PR in the Rose Garden
Flack Me doesn’t usually venture into politics or appraising actions of the White House, but this critique by Fraser P. Seitel, a long-time public relations practitioner and textbook author, of President Obama’s handling of the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is a due appraisal of botched crisis communication...

Brazil's World Cup Shaping Up as a PR Debacle
The World Cup soccer matches about to get underway in Brazil are unfolding, in PR terms, like a ball kicked wildly over the net. Brazil, apparently, isn’t ready for the games, despite having spent an estimated $11.7 billion on them. The matches being held at 12 new and refurbished stadiums figure to be a demonstration of how effective public relations need to stem from leadership and a shared reality of competence and vision, or else disaster looms.

Mary Meeker’s In-Depth Tour of Internet Trends – and PR Opportunities
Here’s material for weekend reading and reflecting: Business2Community provides us with Mary Meeker’s latest Internet trends report, with lots of opportunity for reflecting on how the Web, and mobile devices as its purveyor, are becoming prime acreage for a robust PR presence. All 162 slides are here, to demonstrate once again what a wondrous resource is the Internet!

PR at the Belmont Starting Line – Sniff, Sniff
If this PR stunt works, it will leave us gasping. At Saturday’s running of the Belmont, Breathe Right, a maker of nasal strips, will be handing out 50,000 of them to racing fans so they can emulate California Chrome, the favorite, who also wears them, now that racing officials have decided that they can be added to any horse’s equipage. “This is a moment-in-time opportunity for us,” says a Breathe Right brand manager. Hope it passes without a stink.

Google Rues Not Relating Well To Europe
Neglect PR and you’ll pay, that is, we’re paying, says Google, as it looks over its shoulder at the awareness embarrassment it’s created for itself in Europe. We don’t know how Google might better have handled the situation, but now its search results, in Europe at least, are subject to questioning over “the right to be forgotten.”

Think We’ll Be Mimicking Relational Robots? Maybe
Here’s a fascinating Wall Street Journal story on how scientists are trying to make robots more relational. When they succeed, as they’re likely to, people can learn the qualities that “humanize” a robot – like empathy – and pick up on them in their own behavior. Really!

Online Social Media Studies At-the-Ready
It took a while, no doubt, to distill them, but in May 2014, we have the Institute for Public Relations providing the “Top 10 Social Media Research Studies for Public Relations Professionals” from the second half of 2013. The lag time probably isn’t as significant as what’s available to learn about the rapidly evolving application of social media as a relational tool. Dig in! The full studies are provided with summations of why the research is important, method and key findings.

Look Around PR Leaders, You’re (Maybe) Not Relating Well to Followers
The week ends with a learning opportunity of the words-on-paper kind. The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at the University of Alabama has published a book that reveals a “Grand Canyon-sized gap between public relations leaders and followers.” Entitled “Public Relations Leaders as Sensemakers,” it’s based on research among 4,500 communication professionals in 23 countries. The challenges of relating well to subordinates are being heightened, it finds, in this digital era. A brushup opportunity comes in the form of a reminder from the Public Relations Society of America and the American Statistical Association on their concise “Best Practices Guide for Use of Statistics in Public Relations,” prepared in 2011...

Hiring with Social Media
Presenting an organization in social media requires outgoing people, but first it requires a plan, like any other public relations or marketing initiative. Yet once you have your goals and strategies expressed, how do you staff to accomplish them? Amy-Mae Elliott on Mashable has talked with people who have done social media team building and provides helpful insights into a frontier challenge.

For Walmart, Battling Climate Change Isn't a 'PR Stunt'
At first blush, Walmart and countering climate change may not seem to fit together. But that would be unfair to Walmart, a relational mistake. Sophie Yeo posting on RTCC — Responding to Climate Change — reports on the Engaged stance Manuel Gomez Peña, Walmart’s sustainability director for Mexico and Central America, takes toward climate change.

Poor PR: Amazon Tossing Its Book-Selling Weight Around
Wow! Amazon seems to have made a relational choice that's bound to call troubling attention to its dominance of the book market. On its technology blog, Bits, The New York Times reports Amazon is escalating its battle against Hatchette, "the smallest of the top five New York publishers." How? By discouraging the sale of Hatchette books. Why? Because it can't get the terms it wants on Hatchette e-books.

A Short Course in SEO for PR Use
Here's an opportunity for PR people to calibrate their understanding of search engine optimization (SEO) on behalf of clients, in an exchange between Pushkin Public Relations in Denver and Clark Street Consulting in Chicago. Brittany Heidtke, of Clark Street, is interviewed and advises, among other helpful things, "You should concentrate on creating good, quality content that will give searchers the best experience and answer their questions."

Replay Cameras Undermining Trust in Human Judgement, a Relational Loss
You need to be a subscriber to, or purchaser of, The Wall Street Journal to read Robert J. Petrella's heartfelt critique of the use of instant replays, now, God help us, in baseball. In today's Journal, Petrella, "a research scientist and physician in Boston," calls this one for umpiring over technology.

With the Media Shrinking and Distracted, Where to Turn for Cohesion?
Here, from O'Dwyer's, is an indication of where the ever-evolving (currently faster so) state of journalism rests. PR people are simply going to have to perfect other relational skills than media relations, and most of you likely know that already. The print media, said veteran reporter George Brock at a NYU conference last month, is "inherently unstable and not the place to be."...

How Ketchum is Displaying Russia on the Web
Associated Press has an extensive account of how Ketchum's PR work for Russia is unfolding, as embodied in the ThinkRussia.com website. Ketchum says the relationship is focused on economic development, not foreign policy, and that it's complying with the U.S. sanctions on Russia...

The New York Times in a Digital 'Panic'
BuzzFeed got hold of an internal New York Times report that, whether it's the next to final version, or whatever, shows the paper in a near panic over its digital standing. Along with insight into how a media monument adjusts to seismic change, PR people can gain insight into their own digital challenges from the Gray Lady's presentation woes...

An Oregon School District Tries Relating Better, Via the Web
We've been attracted by a post on what appears to be The Oregonian's blog about "20 Questions in 20 Days," which looks to be a promising effort by the Hillsboro, Oregon, school district to open a responsive, Web-based communication channel with its parents and other publics...

Memories Stirred Anew by the Opening of New York's 9/11 Museum
We're attracted to the theme of CNN's coverage of the opening today of the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York - "Tragedy turns the mundane into memorial." And indeed, that ghastly day did just that. Like the display of Genni Gambale's red wallet, which was found on the roof of a Marriott hotel a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. Employed by Cantor Fitzgerald, she was trapped on the upper floors of the North Tower when American Airlines Flight 11crashed into it at 8:46 a.m. Genni's wallet includes her Brooklyn Public Library card; she was 27.

The EU Gets Reckless With An Eraser
Be mindful of a troubling ruling by the European Court of Justice as you search through information on Google. Your assumption has been that if it's been printed, it's on Google. But not necessarily, if the thrust of a ruling by the European Court of Justice someday becomes a new standard for saving, and making available, printed information...

Indiana University Documents Journalists' Digital Angst
PR people in whatever setting, small town or large, can likely sense in relationships with their media contacts the sentiments and forebodings Indiana University's journalism school is reporting in its latest survey of "The American journalist in the digital age." IU's last such study was done in 2002 and the trends in the meantime have been in a dire direction. "So what's wrong with the direction?" the Guardian's Greenslade blog asks in its report on the angst-ridden survey. "When asked about the 'most important problem facing journalism today,' the respondents mentioned the following issues: declining profits (mentioned by 20.4 percent); threats to (the) profession from online media (11.4 percent); job cuts and...

Public Relations, Marketing Intersect Around Engaging Content
The Brafton firm in Boston seems to be spanning public relations and marketing nicely, by focusing on content and talking up information that relates well. What's content anymore? It isn't just newsclips from traditional media that are fading away. It's digital material that not only catches a viewer's eye but begins to engage his or her interest by being engaging, provocative or potentially helpful – something that holds your attention and gets you thinking about the meaning at hand. Engaging, credibility-building content is, indeed, the Web's challenge these days.

All You Need to Know About Media Relations in a 'Tipsy' Post
Jessica Robnett of LTPR in Portland, OR, provides a meaty paragraph on social media in a succinct post - "Feeling Tipsy" - on pitching to the media. The entire post is only eight paragraphs long and suffices for an entire course in media relations. There's nothing "tipsy" about it except for its jaunty title. Building rapport with select reporters on Twitter (or wherever they may be on social media) is a key element in with-it PR practice.

Mark Schaefer: Six Questions About 'Going Social'
Blogger and marketeer Mark Schaefer provides six questions, on 84 slides, to help you and/or a PR client decide whether they should be on social media and in what manner. As Mark says, these "aren't easy questions," but matters of identity and goals seldom are. There's a lot of thought and work involved in sorting them out. Schaefer's methodology can be of great help.

Duke's CEO Should Have Known Better About Crisis PR
Geez, this isn't the way to do crisis communication and Duke Energy Corp., of all the utilities, ought to know that. When I was in utility public relations years ago, Duke was the archetype of all things right and good in power generation. But today, The Wall Street Journal has a story about how Lynn Good, Duke's new CEO, "made virtually no public appearances in the weeks following the spill (of 30,000 tons of coal ash into a North Carolina river in February)..."

Slide Lectures on PR History: Good for Learning or Brushing Up
Not having been near a classroom in some time, I hadn't caught on to how slide shows are being used to teach public relations. But now we can all get with it. I've happened upon Kevin Brett's Slideshare posting on "The History of Public Relations;" he's using it to teach for PRSA certificates in Principles of Public Relations at Central Washington University. And a Google query turns up other evident slide presentations around the same theme...

From the Trenches: Act Early On for Media Coverage
Here's a dispatch from the trenches that likely won't be news to most of you, but illustrates how the nature and practice of media relations has been changing. Its message: Don't wait till virtually the last minute to seek media coverage, and recognize, as well, how the editorial structure of still-surviving papers has been changing. Writing on Gannet's pressconnects.com, Neil Borowski is executive editor of his chain's Central New York Media Group, which includes three papers in the Elmira-Binghamton-Ithaca area. ""If you are planning an event," Borowski writes, "send us a notice as soon as you set a date..."

A Google Patent Filing Validates PR's Value
Head into your weekend reading a Google patent filing that will validate your PR practice. Seriously, Christopher Penn, Vice President of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications, has come up with verification, in that Google filing, that "implied links" count toward a PR client's search engine ranking "even if the (media) publication doesn't provide a link to your company's website." In other words, media mentions help provide Google presence, whether they produce actual links or not. And that's big news (to us, at least).

Danny Brown Suggests a PR Path to Follow
Where next? We don't often find ourself printing out web material for further study, but Danny Brown is an exception and his post, "PR in the Digital Age: Where Now?" is an example. There's a lot to ponder there and, at some point, act on. Danny recommends the use of expensive tools like Traackr, but if you're not up to that, there's still a lot to consider, like connecting with "Disruptors" rather than being irritated by them, and not being cowed by the term "digital." Read, and ponder, for yourselves. Thanks Danny!

New PR Reality: Keyboarding Before Connecting Personally
There's no mistaking it, a PR practitioner needs to spend more time at a keyboard these days. Social Fresh planned its June mid-Atlantic marketing and PR conference around "five major social media trends" that demonstrate not only that content marketing is going digital, but that journalists themselves are turning to digital techniques. "Reporters are turning away traditional pitches," the post goes, "and are relying on social channels like Twitter to get pitches that resonate well with larger communities... "

Porsche, Too, Can Be Dented By Social Media
Sometimes even polished images suffer PR reversals, and in this new social media age, that's getting easier to do. There was Tesla Motors snubbing Forbes last year. And now an Inc. account of how Porsche angered Nick Murray, a Connecticut Porsche enthusiast, who took his grivances to YouTube. Oh dear, nearly a million views later...

Cell Phone Distractions at Conferences
At a couple of PR/communication conferences I've been at recently (I don't attend as many as I used to), members of the audience have been busily sending cell phone text messages (I presume that's what they're doing with their phones, anyway). I find that distracting and puzzling, for these are people who are supposed to know that attentiveness to their surroundings is paramount.

The Rumsfeld Interview: Knowing Where You Are
In its highest and best sense, public relations is about building constructive relationships, or avoiding damaging ones, by recognizing and responding well to reality. The interview that National Public Radio recently aired with filmmaker Errol Morris over his attempts to "connect" with Donald Rumsfeld...

New York's Cops Create a Photo Melee – Oh Dear!
New York's police department got what it asked for when it asked people to post pictures of themselves on Twitter with members of the force — presumably cuddly ones with a warm PR glow. But geez, almost immediately it started getting photos of New York's finest roughhousing people and looking like warriors. It created the hashtag #myNYPD for the purpose. So how does a misbegotten hashtag get recalled?

Pressurized Media Interviews a PR Hazard, As Well As Opportunity
Media interviews are occurring in an increasingly pressurized working environment for the reporters doing the interviewing. PR people need to be mindful of that, Beth Monaghan of InkHouse Media advises in a Ragan post. There are fewer reporters and their "news cycle can be mere seconds long." That may well work, Beth warns, for less engaged listening. So PR people need to practice, and speak, in naturally sounding sound bites.

Takes Too Much Time Being Social?
Don't have time to be social because it takes too much time being social? That sort of question can easily arise as you're trying to tend all your social media outlets, and if it does, you probably have too many of them. The folks at Apex Public Relations in Toronto, Canada, address this question in a couple of posts, "Which social platform should you be on?", and "Do clients need a personal social strategy?"

Doctors, FDA Caught Napping on Gynecological Safety
America's medical community and, for that matter, the Food and Drug Administration itself, aren't looking any too good relationally in the wake of an FDA "safety communication" advising against the continued use of a device in gynecological surgery that has been associated with a risk of cancer and was flagged in coverage by The Wall Street Journal. The FDA began its review of the device (power morcellators) in December, an FDA official said at a press conference yesterday, "when some high-profile cases covered in the media came to our attention."

L.A. Gets a New Print Daily — The Register
This will be something to watch. News industry analyst Ken Doctor writes for the Nieman Journalism Lab on the launching by Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz of a new print daily, the Los Angeles Register, in the huge L.A. market, going against the Los Angeles Times. Yes, a new print daily!

A Sensational Post on Business Blogging
Talk about a service to fellow PR professionals! Patricia Redsicker of Social Media Examiner has posted what amounts to a full-course presentation on business blogging, all but writing your posts for you. In 10 sections, with applicable links in each, Patricia takes you from "Establish Blog Goals" to "Measure Success" with generous heapings of insight and counsel from fellow business bloggers. A great offering (unless you're looking for an excuse not to blog)!

Brian Solis on Our Increasingly Digital Times
We keep returning to digital impacts on public relations - they're real and building. A good overview sense of how digital tides are rising is provided by Brian Solis, of the Altimeter Group. It features a prompt to a report that Brian and a colleague, Jaimy Szymanski, have prepared on "Digital Transformation." We recommend it as a means of keeping abreast of these challenging times.

Dig Into PR Measuring
If you're like me, you want to be able to measure the results of your PR efforts, in my case blogging. Learning Google Analytics from scratch can be daunting, but here's a "shortcut," an opportunity to be tutored by Adam Singer, Google's Analytics Advocate and speaker. His post on ClizkZ, "3 Actionable Ways for PR Pros to Measure Better," is a good place to start.

Local Politicians May Not Be Catching On To the Web
The political season is heating up, with mid-term elections in November and primary elections scheduled in many areas next month. The Internet is a new political context — how well are your local politicos using it? How would you be advising them in this regard? In Pennsylvania's Carlisle Sentinel, Theresa Myers, a Republican commentator, finds that, except for some tweeting, only one representative in her newly redistricted area seems to have the hang of the Web.

Making 'Transformative' Presentations
I went to a digital slide presentation this morning that was informative but not transformative — it didn't set me on a new course, or inspire me to take prompt action. There were gimmicky images fading in and out, but the motivational impact of the information technology was minimal. The presentation amounted to a partially wasted opportunity. Nancy Duarte seems to have opportunities like this in mind in her new book, Resonate...

Learn About the New Twitter Before You Bash It
We don't yet understand why Twitter would want to look like Facebook, but that seems to be where it's headed. That being so, here's a post by Sarah Skerik on Business2Community on "6 Keys to Using the New Twitter Design for PR." You've got to know what's up before you can gripe intelligently, and maybe there'll be something in the new Twitter for you anyway.

Case Studies as Sources for Content Marketing/PR
Case studies that may be gathering dust in your files can now be used - with or without names - as content marketing/PR tools on the web. David Libby, in a Business2Community post, lists six ways in which that can be done, starting with "turning case studies into blog posts."

More than Hot Air – A Balloon Becomes Newsworthy
Here's an example of how carefully to promote and place a story that most would say, at first blush, was nothing more than hot air. Three key words are in play: carefully, imaginatively and tactfully. Keith and Loren Yaskin, of the Flip Side in Scottsdale, Arizona, got a weathercaster and his producer to cover the arrival of a hot air balloon owned by a Re/Max brokerage at a local school. No mean feat, and here's how they did it...

Eras Prompt Infographics — Here's One For Social Media
It's been 10 years since thefacebook.com launched and Embrace Disruption Public Relations counts that as the beginning of the social media era. In honor of the time pivot, EDPR posts an infographic that engadget has prepared for the occasion. It's nice to know where we've been with social media — where we're going depends on all of us together.

Are We Headed for a Dismal Information Future?
A Nielsen study commissioned by inPowered shows that the press is still the most credible source of public information, much more so than content marketing, which is troubling, given that the press - newspapers and magazines - is fading in scope and authority. Both Sarah Skerik, of PR Newswire, and Chad Pollitt, of digitalrelevance, discuss the Nielsen study as of great significance to PR practitioners, which indeed it is. Though not necessarily because it insures the craft's future.

General Motors – Beyond PR
Five professional women sat and watched Mary Barra, General Motors' new CEO, on C-Span testifying before a congressional committee yesterday and decided she did okay — "with a combination of empathy for victims, assurances of changes made and continuing, and reliance on an investigation that forestalled many answers to questions." Bosh!

How to Do Media Without Live Media?
Tom Foremski latches on to, and explores, the central challenge of PR firms today. How to be a media-based profession without there being as much live media to interact with anymore. The answer, of course, is to build up digital capacity, but that takes staffers, too. PR's "still very much a hand-crafted, artisanal business..." "PR," Tom continues, "needs to figure out how to automate some of its capabilities and keep up with the changing trends affecting their clients. The major trend is helping companies become media companies simply because there are fewer reporters around to help tell the stories of clients."...

'Noah' a Wash at the Vatican
Russell Crowe and his party of "Noah" colleagues went two-by-two to a general audience with Pope Francis, along with about 80,000 others, but were unable to get a papal blessing for their "biblical" film. This Pope continues to impress with his sensitivity to values higher than publicity. Indeed, he demonstrates the truly relational nature of public, or papal, relations. Genuine value and heartiness, not glitz. Weeks of Crowe's tweeting didn't yield a meeting.

Logos Can Take You a Long Way
Ragan Public Relations has posted a marvelous infographic on the creation of logos — "Color, Value and Evolution of Logos." If you're thinking of creating one for yourself or a client, this is a stop to make. Kristin Piombino, the post's creator, has 15 other communication-related infographics listed as well.

Pew's Latest Report Expresses Hope for Journalism
A new calibration of the relationship between print and digital media, the Internet and paper, the whole media setting, is provided in the Pew Research Journalism Project report, "State of the News Media 2014," just released. In an early take on the 14th such annual report, Jennifer Saba, of Reuters, notes that "A new wave of funding by technology-savvy investors into U.S. media companies is driving momentum in journalism." She and Pew mean, of course, Amazon's Jeff Bezos and eBay's Pierre Omidyar.

Empathy: Being Effectively Relational Isn't Easy
The most important relational skill is empathy, the ability to walk in someone else's shoes, to identify accurately with them and their needs, and it's the hardest to learn and muster. We take some time, then, for a teaching moment, a short course in empathy. Dr. Jane Bolton gives us "7 More Reasons Why It's So Darn Hard To Earn The Empathy Gold Cup"...

Critiquing Malaysia Air's Crisis Communication
Crisis communication hasn't been faring too well throughout the ordeal of the search for Malaysian Airlines' Flight 370. As one of the crisis comm. breed, Jonathan Bernstein discusses what's gone amiss in the communication throes of the search for the missing plane and the 239 people who were on board, including the crew. "Malaysia Air," Bernstein begins, "has been totally lacking on the compassionate end of it from the get-go, and it's a classic mistake..."

Seeking to Pressure a Drug Company
Here's a somber report on a relational aspect of our digital times — the possibility of bringing keyboard pressure on a corporation for a desired action. What are the equities involved? That's for you to consider as Mikaela Knapp's husband, Keith and her colleagues at SparkPR in San Francisco seek, via the web, to prompt Merck to include her in the clinical trial of a cancer drug for which she'd normally be ineligible.

Learning From Customers, Online or Off, Is Smart PR
Here's a short course by Jan Vels Jensen on Business2Community on the merits of online reviews for having conversations, not digital encounters, with customers. Businesses that keep their cool and use online reviews both to inform and learn from customers are being smart, not defensive. This PR "curriculum" includes a quote from Bill Gates: "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." So true!

The Dodgers Score Now On Their Own Website
Following up on yesterday's post on sports fans being tracked as data, here's strike two, from Joe Jarek, director of public relations for the Los Angeles Dodgers, speaking at a communications conference in Australia: Traditional media aren't any longer always the best way of getting a message out because "you can't measure column inches anymore as there aren't any inches left in traditional media."

Oh Wow!, Sports Fans, You're Being Watched As Data
National Public Radio has a story on how the professional sports leagues have been setting up "social media command centers to monitor trends and engage directly with fans." When NASCAR runs a race, there's likely to be a spike on its data analytics system in Charlotte, N.C., that allows it "to dissect what people are saying about the sport on social media." It's pretty much the same in the data centers of the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball in New Jersey, New York City, Toronto, London, and Los Angeles, where the centers are located.

Don't Overlook Web 'Rebranding' in Mergers/Acquisitions
Here, from Mary Shacklett on TechRepublic, is a memo about an aspect of corporate and other organizational mergers that may not always be front and center, but should be high on the list - what to do about the web presence of the new company in place of the digital identities of the old ones. Mary offers "Five questions you must address," including "What is the immediate impact on web content?"

Was 'Pi in the Sky' a Confounding Stunt?
Pardon me for getting Flack Me's week off to a grumpy start, but could it be that EMSI Public Relations has provided us with an aerial display of the difference between marketing and public relations that might better have been left on the ground?...

Update on The Times: 'Not for Sale'
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of The New York Times Company, stresses during these turbulent times for journalism that The Times is not for sale. Sulzberger told a gathering on The Times this week...

PR in Russia More a Mishmash than Here
With nasty rumblings continuing in U.S.–Russian relations ("Things could get ugly fast...and in multiple directions," Secretary of State John Kerry says in today's Wall Street Journal), a group of Russian public relations students has been visiting Towson University in Maryland and loving "the friendliness of American culture..."

Ms. Barra Modeling Crisis Communication at GM
Mary Barra, General Motors' new CEO, might christen the new model she's attempting to test drive successfully GM's Credibility. Ms. Barra, notes Paul A. Argenti in a Harvard Business Review blog post, finds herself confronted by a crisis communication challenge of the first order in explaining why it took GM more than a decade to act on a faulty ignition switch that's been implicated in functional failures and fatal crashes.

Direct, Disquieting, PR-Assisted Reports from the Ukraine
In the old days, we'd be monitoring the situation in the Ukraine by shortwave radio. Now, with the Russian-engineered referendum in the Crimea on Sunday, we have the Internet, and its screen-sized deliveries of information on the situation are pretty unsettling. Like, as NPR reports, those "armed men wearing ski masks and uniforms with no insignia" at Ukraine's border with Crimea, And...

Climate Change Remains Front and Center as a PR Issue
Probably the greatest relational challenge of our time - climate change - keeps getting reinforced as a concern. Rewire, the KCET public television blog, notes that hardly had one study seemed to give a bit of breathing room on the climate issue, when another cautioned, "Hold it, here's what you overlooked." And John Kerry has spotlighted climate change as the subject of his first Policy Guidance statement as U.S. Secretary of State.

Ketchum on the Hot Seat With Russia as a Client
Reuters reports that Ketchum, "the U.S. company that handles public relations for Russia in the United States distanced itself on Thursday from the Ukraine crisis...," and no wonder. A client with weaponry can make unfortunate relational moves, as we've been seeing with Russia in the Ukraine. Ketchum says "We are not advising the Russian Federation on foreign policy, including the current situation in the Ukraine." No matter.

Videos Growing as Web-Watching Media
It's not a long post, but it's got impact. And that's just what the writer, Christina Drafta on Everything PR, says video has as a medium of web communication. "With the advent of in-feed Facebook videos, and the continued popularity of You Tube," she advises, "the rate at which plain text will disappear from our communication apparatus is growing steadily." Oh dear, now we've got to get a webcam.

Women Are Powering Social Media
Who are you relating to when using social media? More than likely, it will be women. Alex Hillsberg and David Adelman, from FinancesOnline.com, provide an infographic with data from Pew, Nielsen and others showing that women are the majority users of social media. More women are getting their news from, and interacting with, social media than men and, in fact, "Women Are The Real Power Behind Social Media." It's important to know with some assurance who you're likely to be reaching on whatever media you're using. On social media, women "are leading the way."

Presenting to be Discovered on the Web
There's such a vast amount of information on the Internet, it makes you despondent sometimes thinking about it all, and how much you may be missing in terms of sharpened insights, creativity and following. Two things: Shake it off, you'll never be that creative anyhow. And, two, organize you own web presentation so that people will have a better chance of being attracted to your offerings...

Forbes Speaking From Frustration Over What Too Many PR People Do
Deborah L. Jacobs, of the Forbes staff, tells how, after a recent panel discussion, the PR people present were all over the three Forbes staffers, wanting to know how they could get together in introductory meetings, rather than provide pertinent, useable information showing that they knew their markets and how they're unfolding. That makes "the public relations business model hopelessly behind the times," Deborah feels, and maybe it is.

The Hodges Agency Doesn't Dodge Around Blogging
It helps, of course, to have a name like the Hodges Partnership, so you can name the catch-all edition's of your PR agency's blog HodgePodge. But it helps even more to have a regular, well-written agency blog in the first place. Hodges demonstrates that with its blog, The Gong, "the mostly official blog of the Hodges Partnership," that builds identity and, we trust, marketing reach for the firm, which is based in Richmond, Va.

The New Republic Calls Edelman on Its Penn State Role
Score one for The New Republic, for a piece on Penn State hiring the Edelman PR firm during the miasma of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. Richard Edelman evidently reached out to a friend, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management, and last week USA Today ran an op-ed piece by Sonnenfeld under the headline, "Penn State deserves great praise" for its post-outrage handling of the Sandusky affair...

Get With Google Analytics, a Great PR Tool
Shift Communications does a good job of presenting the essentials of Google Analytics to encourage laggard PR folks, like us, to use the free tool to get a first-hand view of visiting/readership trends on their websites. "Obviously," Shift notes, "unique new visitors can come from many different sources, including organic search, paid advertising, and public relations. However, if your unique new visitors rate isn't growing, you know you've got to step up your PR game to get more awareness of your brand."...

Writing on a Train – Musing as the Miles Roll By
Here's a nice piece by Vauhini Vara on The New Yorker blog about writing on a train. Sure, it serves AMTRAK's interests, but don't worry about that, folks. How many people are going to be lured into an AMTRAK sleeper cabin to write as they roll through the landscape? A lot, we'd hope.

Keeping Relational Capacity at the Ready
Relationships are part of governing; knowing how to build and express them constructively is basic to a strong, responsive community. That's even truer when disaster strikes, as it did in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 and in the Philippines when Typhoon Haiyan hit last year. Now New Orleans is relating to the Philippines to help bring tourism and conventions back to the islands. This is a fascinating form of mutually beneficial outreach. Digital Journal notes how relationships can be formed and fostered over great, watery distances when comradely interests and misfortunes are involved.

Skier Withdraws, as Ukraine's Team Tries to Keep Focused on the Olympics
A figurative cloud over the Sochi Olympics from the violence in the Ukraine, some 870 miles away, seems growing, with one Ukrainian skier withdrawing from the games and the remainder of the national team struggling to keep focused on winter sports. "It's not easy," said pole vaulting great Sergei Bubka, head of Ukraine's national Olympic committee...

Brian Solis Voicing Uneasiness Over Apple's Future
Because Apple and its Macs are such a presence in PR offices, we thought this "aging" (from earlier this month) post by Brian Solis on Apple in the post-Steve Jobs era ought to be in Flack Me's archives. Not quite "post" at this point, Brian notes, because "The new products you're going to see from Apple this year and next are the final new designs coming to fruition from Steve Jobs' vision."

News Clippings Aren't Just for Framing Any Longer
A news story isn't just a coveted clipping any longer. It's the basis for digital followup via social media preening and sharing. Kathy Cabrera of Carabiner Communications notes that it wasn't so long ago — the '90s only — that news stories were treasured clippings alone. Now, she lists several ways in which news coverage can be extended into digital capital as well...

The Rocky Road to Solo PR Success
Launching your own PR practice, going into relational marketing for yourself, can be both satisfying and daunting. William J. Comcowich, founder, president and CEO of CyberAlert media monitoring service, explains why that's so with his post, 14 Truths about Starting Your Own PR Business, on Business2Community...

America's Bright 21st Century Outlook, If We Don't Mess It Up
If you've been feeling a little down on America's prospects in the 21st Century, we pull back to give you maybe the broadest possible look at the PR setting for the coming decades – the Harvard Business Review's "Four Reasons to Believe in a Second American Century."

How're We Doing With SEO vs. Social Media?
In these increasingly digital times, how much web traffic is being generated for "publishers" (businesses) by search engines vs. social media sites? Adam Sherk took an earnest look at that and found that search was three times as effective as social media in generating traffic, but there are provisos. Among the 52 magazine and content sites he included, "strength of brand" made a big difference.

A New Challenge: Defending PR's Digital Turf
Bob Pickard, president and CEO of Burson-Marstellar Asia-Pacific, tells it like it is in advising PR firms to claim their turf in the face of global management consulting, law and advertising firms entering the digital media arena. "Running away from the 'PR' label," Pickard writes, "some agencies have chosen to demarcate digital as somehow being distinct from public relations whereas I think PR is very much at the heart of it." And so it is...

What PR! NASA's Backing Flights of Space Fancy
Wow! Talk about out-of-this-world publicity! NASA has come up with a way of assuring its presence in the fantasies of science fiction fans for years, if not ages, to come. The national space agency, reports The Wall Street Journal, is hosting novelists and providing their manuscripts with fact-checkers so that whatever flights of fancy the writers come up with will have accurate grounding, so far as NASA is concerned...

PR Society Turmoil Down Under
We don't know whether there are any fraternal relationships between the Australian public relations society and those in the U.S. But, from this dispatch on mUmBRELLA, there's little that looks fraternal about the current professional PR scene Down Under. Mike Watson is the Australian society's new, embattled president. Commenting on the mass resignation of Australian society board members, Watson says, "It is no big deal for us to find ourselves in this situation. As for why some of those board members have resigned I don't know, but I'm amused by it. Apart from one or two I've spoken with, the rest of them appear to have resigned without reason. This is quite a normal process with change in organizations and there are processes in place"...

A PR Challenge: CEOs Who Don't Relate
It's horrible for a PR person to discover that he or she has a client CEO who despises public relations, that is, who shuns taking a truly relational view of the business. But it happens, and Bernie Charland on his Public Relations Rogue blog discusses what the consequences can all too predictably be. There are rocks up ahead, even if they're covered by a currently high tide...

Blogging to be 'Out There' – Does It Work? What Arik Hanson Found
Will blogging more be a good move for your public relations visibility and status? Arik Hanson, of Communications Conversations, wondered about that and resolved to blog on every business day in January, 22 in all. He didn't get a surge in overall traffic, but he did gain in social media visibility, because of the time spent promoting his posts on Twitter, Facebook et. al. This is a post worth digging into for insights it provides for various means of time spent in a given PR practice. One of Arik's learnings: "When I get in a groove, I can write fast."

Scientists Need to be PR Specialists Too?
Digging into the mysteries of the universe, or the human body, are U.S. scientists going to have to become public relations practitioners as well? The question arises from Dr. Ethan O. Perlstein's effort to raise $1.5 million in "crowdsourced" funds to finance his laboratory, as reported in a Wall Street Journal story. Dr. Perlstein is about to start plugging himself on AngelList. Well and good, you say? How about when scientists start plugging themselves on YouTube, as Dr. Perlstein has been doing?

Hotels Doing Social Media PR
Hotels are reaching out to "social media influencers" in these digital times to maintain and build PR and marketing awareness of their brands — and hospitality draw. Daniel Edward Craig, founder of Reknown.com, writes about "Blurred lines: hotel public relations in the age of social media" on hospitalitynet. He tells of how JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts "significantly grew its followings and experienced unprecedented engagement numbers" by engaging social media pro Ann Tran, "who Forbes identifies as one of the top 50 social media influencers" on its behalf.

Downbeat, So Far, On the Sochi Olympics
The Sochi Olympics open in three days, and, sadly, you can't avoid an ominous feeling about that observation. The lock-step style of how Russians do things is apparent, not only in the transformation of the Sochi setting, but in the resultant media coverage the preparations have been drawing. There's not been a whole lot that's engaging about the prospect of the Olympics in Russia, and that's a shame...

PR Behind a California Education Battle
While it doesn't delve into the issues behind an education-based lawsuit, Vergara v. California, a lengthy account on the suit's publicity machine shows what can be mounted these days from a digitally savvy PR office. The lawsuit evidently was initiated by David Welch, "a Silicon Valley entrepreneur" and founder of the nonprofit organization Students Matter. The PR firm involved is Griffin|Schein. Trial of the suit is expected to last six weeks.

Digital Journalism Has Rocky News, Too
There's tumult in digital journalism, too. The fading of Patch and the expansion of GoLocal24 beyond New England to Portland, Ore., is covered by Ken Doctor on the Nieman Journalism Lab site...

Counseling Clients on Putting Foreign-Born Employees at Ease
Aside from being acquainted with the Harvard Business Review, a blog that should be on every PR person's monitoring list, here's a post that you can use with clients who may have foreign-born employees to their staffs. Foreign-born workers may be reticent in contributing to meetings...

Early Look: Google Glass and Crisis Communication
In a 35-minute YouTube video, crisis consultant Melissa Agnes rambles with professor Karen Freburg, a Google Glass "Explorer," on how the presence of soon-to-arrive Google Glass could affect crisis communication via on-the-scene wearers. While the video takes some patience to view, it yields insights into how Google Glass may affect crisis response, and public relations in general...

Another Take of PR's History: Promoting 'Apocalypse'
Following up on yesterday's post on the origins of public relations in the Colorado Coal Strike, we have another take on a historical perspective on PR — unflattering in that PR as promoted by Edward Benays is associated with propaganda, Adolf Hitler and a distracted public...

A Bit of Founding History: The Colorado Coal Strike
1913–'14 were the years of the Colorado Coal Strike and PR founder Ivy Lee's successful management of that crisis, which Hannah Kelly on the Business Wire blog calls "one of the most important milestones in the history of public relations"...

Pope Francis Hails the Internet and Its Relational Possibilities
I'm not a Catholic, but it's wonderful to have a head of the church who sees communication in the terms just stated by Pope Francis: "Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately to grow in unity...The Internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God."

PR Newswire: Taking PR's Increasingly Digital Pulse
Here's a milemarker graphic and commentary by PR Newswire's Sarah Skerik on PR's changing focus, from the "old media" to increasingly digitally based media. PR newswire conducted an "informal survey" on professional priorities for 2014 and found "Better use of social media channels," "More video use in our messages," and "Adding 'SlowPR/Content PR' strategies into our mix" the top interests. Our times, indeed, are changing.

Hacking Can Happen to...You
Time out for some technical counsel — hacking can happen to you. It happened last weekend to Heidi Cohen on her Actionable Marketing Guide blog and, freshly mindful of the threat, she's providing "20 Actionable Security Tips to Keep Your Site Safe." Give continuing protective attention to a threat that doesn't only happen to Target. (In Heidi's instance, the hackers "posted a racy ad under the header on each page.")

OfficeMax Needs to Pay Heed to Reality, Not Simply Data
Relationships can't be handled well by rote. List this as a primary PR principle. And "credit" OfficeMax for demonstrating its application. Ray Hennessey at Entrepreneur.com notes how somebody at OfficeMax (plus a vendor) was incredibly insensitive (to put it mildly) in how it handled an aggrieved customer...

Twitter Tags for Sharing PR Insights
Time spent on Twitter can have especially productive results if you know your hashtags. Like #PR Tip or #PRTips. Embrace Disruption PR in Toronto, Canada, issues its Top Ten PR Pro Tips of the week from leads submitted under those tags...

'Are PR People Too Nice?,' One Asks
Charlie Tercek, of GolinHarris PR, raises a profound question worth pondering over the weekend: "Are PR people too nice?" Charlie has worked in both advertising and PR and noticed a difference "that stuck out, and has continued to: 'People in PR are nicer than people in advertising. A lot nicer.'" That may well be because of PR's relational grounding but, whatever, read and ponder Charlie's views on the two industries. And enjoy your weekends!

News Drones Heading for U.S. Skies
Following up on our post of a month ago on drones likely coming to journalism, there's more news being generated by the ever-active Matt Waite, head of the University of Nebraska's Drone Journalism Lab. The Federal Aviation Administration, Waite advises, is moving toward considering the use of small, journalism-sized drones (though not fast enough for Matt) in U.S. airspaces...

Social Media From 1792 On...
Stuart Bruce provides from his friend Chris Norton, managing director of Prohibition PR, a mind-boggling infographic on "The Evolution of Social Media" starting in 1792 with...the telegraph in France. The latest addition came in 2013 with Snapchat, which makes it possible to post material that self-destructs in seconds. And thus is pictured a great tradition of human connectivity, leading to...disconnectivity. It's not that Snapchat posts don't say anything, and that the telegraph made it possible to start saying too much. It's that we've been great, over time, in finding ways to inform and amuse each other remotely. But we haven't necessarily been pulling together as people with a common stake on this planet. What kind of communication system will it take to accomplish that?

Edelman's Call to PR Firms: 'Show Up Differently'
Tom Foremski on ZDNet discusses Richard Edelman's call to PR firms to "Show up differently" against advertising agency rivals. That rallying cry is another indication of the shifting commercial reality being brought about by digital media and the opportunities it provides for new relational initiatives by PR firms. Interesting!

A PR Chill on Niagara Falls
A fading landmark takes its openings where it finds them, we suppose, but Niagara Falls came close to crossing the PR line when it created the impression that the falls may have frozen during this month's bitter cold "polar vortex" period. "Mix together some new and outdated photos," as the International Business Times puts it, "swirl in some crafty public relations work, and then blanket everything in frozen icing..."

Weather Emergencies: Freezing Out the Public Is Wrong
We can't let the recent spell of bitter cold weather pass without stressing that people in authority during such times need to be other-focused. The evidence comes from Canada, where cold spells and their crisis communication requirements ought to be second nature. But, sadly, a post on thestar.com indicates otherwise...

Homer — Yes, the Ancient One — as PR's Founding Father
When you go to Google Images in search of photos of the ancient Greek poet Homer, you also are presented with photos of Homer Simpson. Really. What does that say about our time, or any era, probably, since the ancient Greeks? You've got to cull the genius from the dregs, the opportunities from the detours - the eternal PR challenge...

Lessons to Be Learned: Snapchat's PR Saga
Occasionally a hustling young entrepreneur in Silicon Valley or elsewhere demonstrates the advisiability of doing crisis communication correctly by doing it poorly. The results are self-evident in terms of bitter reviews, customer unhappiness, etc., but the learning occurs anew, or doesn't. Such is the case with Snapchat's CEO Evan Spiegel in a post by Saya Weissman on Digiday, "The Startup Guide to Screwing Up"...

New Harris Poll Suggests a Challenging 2014 Outlook
Results of a new Harris poll suggest that, much as the economy may be picking up steam, a lot of Americans don't believe it and are planning a financially cautious 2014. Whether there's a true dichotomy here is for the experts to say, but the poll suggests it will be a challenging year for PR — a time to reach out with zest, inspiration and effectiveness. Isn't that true all the time? Yes, but 2014 looks especially challenging through Harris' lens...

PR on Pinterest
Making the rounds this morning, we discovered that somebody named Tiffany Fuller-Hoaglen has an engaging Pinterest board on public relations. (No offense meant by "someboday named...," but Pinterest apparently doesn't make it possible to identify its members further.) Checking further we discovered there are a host of Pinterest boards on PR...

A Snow Day Brings Out Web Creativity
With much of the nation blanketed in snow, we can't resist pointing you, via Mashable, to Christine Erickson's Tumblr rendition of "10 Ways Snow Days Change in Adulthood." Aside from Christine's personal creativity, the post indicates how Tumblr and Vine can be used in web PR presentations. You'd certainly call Christine's post eye-catching.

When Crisis Hit, Target Stumbled, Buffer Scored
Arik Hanson on Communications Conversations contrasts how two companies - large and small, Target and Buffer - handled their recent hacking crises. Target came across as standoffish, Buffer as promptly acknowledging its embarrassing challenge...

Never Mind Mars, Let's Do Better on Earth
One way to get continuing publicity is to plan and conduct a "one-way" mission to Mars. That's what Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp has been doing in promoting his mission to Mars for six "lucky" cosmonauts by 2023. But a bound-to-be-depressing excursion like that certainly illustrates the limits of relational reach...

Changing PR Times: What Lee Odden Covered in 2013
Want a little context for our churning (content, social media, lead generation) PR and marketing times? Lee Odden is happy to accommodate. Lee provides his firm's top five Slideshare presentations for 2013, as clicked by its 12,000+ followers. This insightful material is worth a lot more clicks in quiet time as the year changes. No listening involved - just watching and pondering where we've been and are headed.

Delivering the Word on Empathy to UPS
We don't want to add to the pressures on UPS during this busy holiday delivery season, but, geez, there's something the delivery company, or any organization, needs to recognize about employee training: It's got to be presented, above all, with empathy, walking in another's shoes - in a corporate context, the customer's shoes. Why are we going on about this?...

Times Picayune Hiring Again in Journalism's Changing Times
Lo and behold, Newhouse's New Orleans Times-Picayune, which fired more than 200 employees in June, 2012, is beefing up its newsroom again, most notably by hiring a crop of New York expatriate newspeople, reports CapitalNewYork.com. But along with its three-day-a-week print run, the Times-Picayune has a companion website and a new tabloid paper, TP Street...

Two Santas at Macys? Indeed!
Of all places, Macy's 34th St. should know the reality of Santa Claus - that he represents the spirit of Christmas for all people, everywhere, who believe in his whimsy and benevolence. That made it jarring, indeed, for a reporter and cameraman from ANIMAL New York to track down, and confirm, a rumor that Macy's has a second, black Santa virtually hidden away in what amounts to a Santa maze at the store. You can meet him here.

An Unthinking Tweet that Couldn't Be Recalled
What more can we add, other than that tweeting shouldn't be practiced as a reflex action. No matter how clever you think you are, think once again before sending a tweet, any tweet, or any other "contribution" to social media. Yes, those platforms are available now, but they're not for tap dancing. Justine Sacco was in public relations and should have know full well that her now infamous tweet should not have been posted. Yet we can all think we're too clever for second thoughts. That's a virus of our times that needs constant resisting. Especially, don't tweet before leaving on a 12-hour flight when you'll be completely out of touch...

The Goodyear Blimp: Not Simply a Gasbag
Consider an analogy between the current construction of a new Goodyear blimp, one of the most renowned PR symbols of all time, and public relations itself. PR as a technique doesn't just get inflated with zest until it floats above whatever horizon one's seeking to influence. A PR project needs to be astutely designed to accomplish its purpose. As with the new Goodyear blimp, which will have internal girders instead of being "simply" an air bag...

Think Twitter Can't Tell a Story? Think Again
Good writing is about what you've got to say, not so much how, or where, you say it. Imagine breaking a story up into 49 successive tweets on Twitter. Wouldn't that be annoying to read? Not if it's engrossing content, it turns out, like the story of Johnny and George Huynh on the #19 bus, as told by Billy Baker of The Boston Globe. You'll tear up, I guarantee it.

An NSA Open House: PR Missed the Point
Stephen Vladeck, a professor at American University College of Law, observes via MSNBC that he never would have been invited to a day-long symposium at the NSA's headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., part of a current NSA PR campaign, had it not been for the leaks of Edward Snowden...

Tomorrow's Journalist: Pen, Pad and...Drone
Suppose journalists had drones. Now that the possibility of mini delivery drones has been raised by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Matthew Waite, founder of the Drone Journalism Lab (did you know there was one?) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, envisions short, very low altitude flights by news drones in an article in Aljazeera. Sure paparazzi could have them, too...

'Virality Mills' Outpacing Media Placements as PR Platforms
Forbes Contributor Peter Himmler writes about the "virality mills" that are changing the nature of public relations from media placements (given the vanishing nature of print media currently) to knowing where on the Web to leave word of your clients' claims to fame, or at least recognition. Via a link to a colleague, Himmler introduces us to companies like Outbrain and Contently, pathways to the "new PR."

Stepping Into the PR Limelight
The key factor to understand about public relations is that you're always just short of being in the public eye, favorably or unfavorably. It's as though PR is a veil between fantasy and reality. Out in San Francisco (again), Greg Gopman, CEO of AngelHack forgot how readily a techie can insert himself into the city's awareness when he ranted against the homeless on Facebook. It wasn't pretty, and it was foolish.

Google+ Becoming a Media Showcase
If you're not already doing so, it's probably time to pay attention to how Google+ has been developing. The Google social network is becoming a prominent display setting for media outlets: Adam Sherk reports that "29 percent of the top 500 Google+ Pages are news and content sites." Google+ looks to have the makings of a media bazaar at a time when the future of media is increasingly digital. Check it out as a PR hangout.

A Baghdad Museum Where Culture Doesn't Seem to Count
Suppose all the world's cultural institutions functioned the way the National Museum of Iraq apparently does. We would have a dearth of culture and an ipso facto case for public relations as a restorative discipline. We have a Baghdad dispatch from AINA, the Assyrian International News Agency, as our source for what it might take to interview the museum's director. Forget it...

A Good PR Turn: Providing Community Disaster Information
Wow, here's a great example of a community relations service by PR people in tornado-prone Central Illinois. Might fit for your community, too. For four years, Peoria Public Radio advises, a group of media relations people have been operating Central Illinois Emergency Information. They started "communicating with news agencies about press briefings and other derails people need to know." The service is available to any municipality requesting it during an emergency and is an outgrowth of a Homeland Security best practice.

PR's Becoming 'the Media,' but Don't Get Smug About It
As we've noted before, the end of a week is a good time for reflections on where we've been in PR and where we're headed. From Australia, Craig Pierce (resuming his popular blog after a rebuild) writes in that spirit on "Public relations is now the media." Yes, the decline of traditional media and the emergence of a 24-hour digital news cycle has brought us to a point at which...

$4 Toast? You Bet – Wish I Could Get a Slice
The situation at the Mill coffee shop in San Francisco makes me wish, anew, that the Golden Gate wasn't a continent away. The Mill is charging $4 for a slice of toast, but is that turning customers away? Evidently not. They're lined up for much of the day, for it's gourmet toast at a trendy spot. Savvy PR and marketing have made the Mill the place to be, even though its setting gives it a big boost in the first place...

Monsanto Planting Freshly Relational PR Seeds
A possible example of what can be accomplished when public relations is practiced in an engaged, confidently relational manner is provided by Monsanto, the agricultural chemical company activists like to picture as the devil incarnate...

Creative PR: Bezos On Target With His 'Drones'
Whether or not Jeff Bezos and Amazon ever land a single book, or whatever, on your doorstep, give Bezos credit for snaring public interest over the Thanksgiving shopping weekend with his prototype drone delivery rig. Bezos must really enjoy being CEO of Amazon, accrued income aside. His flair for catching public attention is PR genius...

Communication: Keokuk Doesn't Seem to Get It
Boy, here's a great/sad example of our changing communication times: Mayor Tom Marion of Keokuk, Iowa, thinks the best way to know what's going on in the city is to attend city council meetings or to call his office (319) 524-2050. True, he adds, maybe the city should have a Facebook page. But, "From my standpoint, I don't do a lot of that. I don't 'twitter' and I don't do a lot of those other things..." Oh dear.

Obamacare Demonstrating that PR Is About Process First
If you need any convincing — and you shouldn't — that public relations is a process discipline, starting with a carefully considered aim and proceeding in closely monitored steps, the fitful nature of Obamacare so far is proof enough. Robert Kuttner on the Huff Post Daily Brief writes that "Even if Obamacare does help a lot of people, my question is: at what political cost...

As PR's Year Starts to Turn, on a Digital Pivot...
We won't be noting them all, but the first year-ending wrap-up of PR trends we've seen — from Sarah Skerik on PR Newswire's Beyond PR — has an appropriately digital emphasis. 2013 has been a highly digital year, and next year is likely to be too. So is the rest of history, for that matter. Sarah notes that "As of this writing, Google's revenues are greater...

Selfies Conjure Up a Communication Conference
So are selfies the new form of technology-assisted self-expression? We doubt it, more a lark. But EverythingPR uses an array of selfies (self-tagging via mobile phones) - to connect us with the presence and blogs of 10 social media gurus, all at once. Creators like Brian Solis, Mari Smith and Lee Odden. The post is like going to a conference of pace-setting communication colleagues...

At Walmart and McDonald's, Are Low Pay Policies Really Smart PR?
Minimum wages don't pay in public relations — that is, image — terms. Walmart and McDonald's are proof of that. Both firms are being pummeled on the Internet for their pay policies as the holidays arrive. We don't attempt here to parse how many employees of each company are in which pay category. It's sufficient for the point that many are low-paid. Is it really worth it, over time, in corporate terms?

'Verification Handbook' for Distribution of Digital Media Announced
For those of you with specialties in crisis communication, a new publication is coming that appears to offer unique assistance in these digital times. "Verification Handbook, a Definitive Guide to Verifying Digital Content for Emergency Coverage" is being announced for availability in January. "The handbook," the announcement advises, "provides actionable advice to facilitate (that ugh! word) preparedness in newsrooms, and best practices for how to verify and use information, photos and videos provided by the crowd." To be available in printed, Kindle and free PDF verstions, the verification handbook is planned for release on January 28...

Four Free Digital Tools for PR Pros
Some, maybe many, of you know a couple of these free digital PR and marketing tools, but maybe you don't know all four of them. A Business2Community post recommends Rapportive, a free social CRM for your inbox; SocialBro, in-depth Twitter marketing analysis; Quantcast Measure, web traffic and demographic data for major digital media outlets, and TweetReach, for finding influencers who share your content on Twitter.

Gee, J.P. Morgan Chase Unwelcome on Twitter
Public relations is the day-by-day creation of corporate reputation. If you haven't been careful about that, day-by-day, year-by-year, a relational brainstorm on a given day can do you harm - like demonstrating that you're not welcome on Twitter. JP Morgan Chase discovered that when it announced a Twitter chat for career advice that prompted a tweet-tide of derision. The mighty bank called it off as a "bad idea."

Newsprint's Mingled Fortunes Mirror the New Information Age
Take a fascinating look at the new information context, via the declining use of newsprint and the fortunes of its distributors. The Nieman Journalism Lab presents a retrospective on newsprint as it tracks "the newspaper industry's progression from mass to niche, as Google and Facebook have become that new mass, first in time spent and increasingly in digital advertising."...

When PR Got Lost Among the 'Channels'
Time out for a lesson in PR history. Not of Edward Bernays and his colleagues during the 1920s and '30s, but from Harry A. Bullis, who was chairman of the board of General Mills in 1948. That's when, Heather Yaxley notes in a PRConversations post, Bullis contributed a chapter to a book entitled Your Public Relations, edited by Glenn and Denny Griswold, in which he argued that "the second half of our century will be marked by inspiring progress in the field of human relations." Maybe so, but the progress didn't come from PR so much as demonstrations and political action. Corporate types weren't attentive enough to Bullis' message to take PR seriously enough. "...Analyze how you stand currently with your various 'publics,' Bullis wrote, "and set about formulating a program for improvement..."

Richard Berman: When PR Does Nasty Duty
Oh dear, Salon has the latest example of why public relations has such a punk image with the public — Richard Berman operating a "think tank" — the "Employment Policies Institute" — out of the offices of his PR firm, Berman and Co. One of its recent "studies" seeks to counter another by scholars at the University of California, Berkeley, on why the wages of fast food industry workers should be raised...

Buffer Handled a Digital Crisis Well
Meghan Sullivan on Business2Community sums up how Buffer, the social media scheduling app, handled a digital crisis a few weeks ago - the same way englightened brick and mortar firms do: openly and responsively...

Polishing Brooklyn Park's Image (In Minnesota, not NY)
Ever since Las Vegas came up with its "What happens here, stays here" slogan a decade ago this fall, locality branding has been receiving renewed emphasis as a PR specialty. Now, Brooklyn Park, a city on the northern edge of Minneapolis, is spending $150,000 to counter a tawdry, "high crime" image, even though its crime rate, advises the Minneapolis Start-Tribune, is at a 20-year low. Carmichael Lynch Spong, a Minneapolis PR firm, won the opportunity to burnish Brooklyn Park's image...

Brooklyn's a Big Place — Know Your Stuff Before You Call
It shouldn't be necessary to include a reminder like this in our daily PR ramblings, but geez, here's a journalist saying contacts like this really happen: "I'm sure you'll want to come," said the PR caller, "because it's right in your office's backyard." "I explained to her," responded Raanan Geberer of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, "that while we definitely cover Coney Island, it's an hour away from our Downtown Brooklyn office, not in our 'backyard.' She seemed shocked. 'Really?' she asked." Know the basics, starting with the details of location, time and focus, before you pick up the phone to call a journalist. Should this be a necessary reminder?...

Hill & Knowlton's Take on Communicating Corporate Character
Americans are looking, first, to the recommendations of friends and family on who to do business with these days. That means, says Andy Weitz, of Hill & Knowlton, that consumers are "looking for the equivalent of a personal connection" in their shopping choices. Which adds up to a firm being demonstrably trustworthy and accommodating in its dealings with the public. "Brand, reputation and behavior cannot be managed independently," Weitz advises, "because they have a collective impact on the public...Thus, the success of companies is contingent upon how consistently and authentically they communicate character to the public..."

PR: Big New Major on Campus at Iowa State
Public relations, reports the Des Moines Register, is in newly demonstrated good standing at Iowa State University, as it is, presumably, at other colleges and universities. Seventy-one students changed their majors at an open house on Iowa State's just-approved PR major and 12 to 15 more chose to add PR as a double major...

Highmark Seizes the Health Care Moment
Something good has come from health care reform/Obamacare. It's from Highmark Blue Shield and it arrived in my Wall Street Journal, and probably lots of other newspapers, this morning. It's a one-page, heavy-stock, glossy flier: "The 10 stages of health care reform...and you can skip stages 1 thru 9. We have the plans you need to get reform-ready now." There's a link to a website that works, ReformPrep.com. Instead of the stages of death and dying, Highmark has seized the moment and, in one stroke, unified the communications trades — public relations, marketing and advertising — into a helpful tutorial that should be welcome to anyone who's in a quandary over health insurance and their need thereof. Way to go Highmark! May you prosper by helping the public, fairly and creatively, negotiate the challenging early stages of Obamacare.

'Safety Culture' a Term With Vast PR Implications
When PR practitioners enter an organization to help it relate well to its publics, they need to look carefully around to be sure that all of its potential risk factors are included. This should be self-evident on an oil platform, say, but even there management without effective PR prompting may be prone to risks it should be avoiding...

Toronto PR Colleagues Culling a Helpful Twitter Hashtag
We keep getting drawn back to Twitter as a place where real people share helpful information. Now we need to thank Toronto-based Embrace Disruption PR for introducing us to the #PR Tips hashtag. (Okay, some of us are slower than others to find such things.) The Embrace Disruption staff is picking the "Top 10 PR Pro Tips of the Week for Your Business" from "#PR Tips" tweets and posting them on the firm's blog. A great way to render a fraternal service to PR pros who aren't inclined to cull through the Twitter hashtag themselves, at least not every week.

Lee Odden: What PRSA In Philly Was Like
For all of you, like me, who weren't there, Lee Odden provides a generous TopRank blog post on this week's Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference in Philadelphia. Talk about the ground shifting under us! "Over 17,000 newsroom jobs have been lost since 2007," Lee notes, and PR is focusing increasingly on digital content.

Ghosts, Goblins and Snubbed Energy Sources
The thing about PR, especially if you're an energy lobby, is that you've got to be alert for snubs, even at Halloween. So when the Department of Energy (DOE) issued some pumpkin stencil ideas without including fossil fuels, the American Petroleum Institute (API) produced some jack-o-lantern adornments of its own. DOE plugged compact flourescent lamps, solar energy and wind turbines, but no gas and oil. So API issued some carving suggestions on a dime. (Maybe Ichabod Crane's a staff member.) Happy Halloween!

Who's a Journalist These Days?
Considering who, after all, is a journalist can encourage PR people to broaden their reach on influence and ideas. Two academic-oriented writers, Jonathan Peters and Edson C. Talbot, noted by the Poynter Institute, deal with this timely question in a study aimed at defining anew who is entitled to press privileges. "The conceptual issue here," they write, "is that the last 10 years have seen huge swings in media-consumption patterns, and innovations in technology, from mobile applications to the Internet, have created new channels for people to communicate with mass audiences...

Google's Hummingbird: Real Persons Only Need Apply
Chris Abraham makes clear that Google's latest update of its search algorithm, dubbed Hummingbird, requires study. But the essence at the heart of the flower is that Google is giving search preference to real people producing authentic content. "It's a tacit tiering of the internet: real-name-verified authored content and everything else."

You've Got To Know What's Going On In An Organization, Even If It's the U.S. Government
Effective PR is, first of all, about knowing what's going on in an organization and ending what's likely to cause relational harm should it become known or misinterpreted publicly. Like listening in on your allies around the world, as the National Security Agency was apparently doing...

The Coming Informational Whirlwind
Arik Hanson gives us a glimpse of where the news scene is headed - toward becoming a dispersed range of source sites with little or no information cohesion. You'll have your favorite couple of providers, but so will everyone else. Arik surveyed 10 PR people for their top news sources and came up with 14 different ones right there. And the means of transmission varied from paper and desktop computers to tablets and mobile phones. This is like a peek into an upcoming informational whirlwind, unless you think the news will somehow settle out. Have a pleasant weekend.

Fine-Tuning Twitter for Readers and Retweets
As a busy crossroads of information clippings, Twitter isn't necessarily a place to get easily noticed or retweeted. So here, from Dan Zarella of Hubspot via Heidi Cohen, are "16 Ridiculously Easy Ways to Increase Retweets." Zarella found, for instance, that "including one or more hashtags in a tweet increased the tweet's likelihood of being retweeted by over 55 percent." And including quotation marks can make a tweet 30 percent more likely to be passed along.

AP to be Consorting With Advertisers
You truly have to wonder what the news flow of the future — which today is grounded in credibility — will look like when even the Associated Press is distributing advertising along with its news stories. Out of economic necessity, AP plans to start adding sponsored posts on its mobile apps and hosted websites next year. "The big hit to the revenue," says Jim Kennedy, AP's senior vice president for digital strategy and products, "was the drop in the newspaper segment. Newspapers are just paying a lot less." AP is mindful of the possibly seismic implications of running ads in its newsflow...

#PR Fail: A Soggy WSJ-Blessed News Release
The Wall Street Journal is lending its masthead to press releases issued via the Internet. That's a bad idea, and some of the releases published there are horrible examples of the craft. Today, for instance, there is the headline "Alkaline Water Co. Engages Innovative PR Agency Rogers & Cowan to Build Brand Outreach." Above the story is the obligatory notice: "The Wall Street Journal news department was not involved in the creation of this content." That, at least, is a good thing.

Emerging PR Measurement 'Standards' Getting Test Runs
There has been a lot of effort in recent years to develop and put in place standards for measuring the reach and results of PR programs, as though the profession would never be respectable without a shared methodology. Knowledgeable PR people have their own sense of how to gauge success. But the sense has been that tallying/evaluating ought to be a shared methodology...

A Well-Deserved Award for Boosting Kids, Technology
We don't normally note PR-related awards because there are so many of them. But here's one that's seems especially well-deserved, aimed as it is at reinforcing awareness of a national need: Boosting the proficiency of youngsters in science, technology and math. Time Warner Cable's Connect a Million Minds (CAMM) Program was just inducted into the PR News Hall of Fame...

PR Method: A Tutorial on Facebook Algorithms
Algorithms, schmalgorithms — they're nerdy, but important to understanding the likely viewing fortunes of content you post on Facebook, Twitter or a client's blog. Business Wire's Serena Ehrlich offers a tutorial on the latest changes Facebook has made in evaluating the merits of content posted on its social network. No. 1: Focus on being timely and relevant. There are nine more tips on standing out on Facebook. Helpful insight into what wings or dings a post there.

Tweets With Alarm Bells: Twitter Becomes an Emergency Notification Service
Crisis communication has taken a significant step forward in the form of Twitter Alerts, a system through which crisis-related organizations you follow can tweet about emergencies that may occur. Hopefully, you won't get many of these. But when you do they'll be targeted to emergency response groups you may, possibly, have a stake in. Up to now, we've seen news of Twitter posting emergency information on a random basis. Twitter announced its Alerts last month...

J. P. Morgan Reassures Its Neediest Customers
National Public Radio reports that J. P. Morgan intends to cover social security and welfare payments for any of its customers who might lose them in the government shutdown crisis. It's not likely that either funding stream will be interrupted. (Welfare payments, of course, are basically state obligations.) But it's good PR for JP Morgan Chase's Jamie Dimon to be on the side of seniors and the downtrodden...

PR Gem: Turning Old Buses Into Showers for the Homeless
Creativity works on a city street equipped with a fire hydrant as well as anywhere else. The catalyst, of course, is an idea. Doniece Sandoval, a San Francisco PR executive, had such an idea on behalf of the city's 3,400 homeless people, who don't have ready access to showers. Why not turn decommissioned city buses into showers and park them at homeless centers?...

In Health Care as Elsewhere, Planning Comes First
Oh, dear, it appears that in their enthusiasm for the Affordable Care Act, federal officials overlooked key tenets of public relations and marketing: Show and explain before you sell. The Wall Street Journal has been following the computer snafus on the Obama Care website that started up Oct. 1 and notes: "The site, healthcare.gov, was initially going to include an option to browse before registering, but that tool was delayed..."

Let's Be Clear: Tesla Flubbed Crisis Communication
We need to return to the crisis communication aspects of the Tesla Model S car fire in light of a blog post by Peter Himmler, of Flatiron Communications LLC, who seems satisfied with the response of Tesla's chairman, Elon Musk, to the accident - a blog post three days after the fire occurred. Sorry, that's not crisis communication, it's after-the-fact commentary and explanation. When the media was calling about the accident, we got the inept response of Tesla's corporate communication director. No self-respecting public relations firm should be accepting of that sort of crisis response.

Poor PR: Twitter's 'Shady' Accounting Practices
As useful an online service as Twitter is, you have to wonder about its management's credibility when, with an initial stock offering approaching, it enables itself to be slammed by Fortune for "shady accounting" practices. Instead of a stated $21 million profit in 2013's first six months, Fortune figures Twitter had a $69 million loss...

The Federal Shutdown: A Teachable PR Moment
The federal government shutdown (and the nearing debt deadline) is giving a PR professor at Temple University in Philadelphia and other schools a real-life opportunity to study the hazards of obstinacy in power. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Associate Professor Gregg Feistman's "Public Relations Management and Problems" class is now considering aspects of "Shutdown 101."

'Short Form' News In Your Pocket
As the presentation of news turns away from print, it can get right into your pocket - as with this year-old site being noted on the Nieman Journalism Lab site, "NowThisNews." Ed O'Keefe, the site's editor-in-chief, says it's now making the short-style videos it produces for Instagram and Vine "the focus of our company." Now, that's okay for a given presenter, and may "NowThisNews" prosper. But as it does, we're wondering what's going to bring readers regularly and faithfully to longer-form digital news sites, like the paper delivered to your doorstep used to, or may still do, though likely in a competitively stricken slimmed down size. We thank Arik Hanson for leading us to "NowThisNews" on his Communication Conversations blog.

Tesla's Missing Crisis Communication Savvy
Tesla Motors may offer a state-of-the-art electric car, but its crisis communication stance when one of its Model S cars caught fire near Seattle was something less than artful. Asked by Forbes to talk about Tesla's "PR plan to handle fallout from the fire," Elizabeth-Jarvis Shehan, the company's director of global communications, said "I don't know why that would help." How about analysts' reports downgrading the company's stock? "I don't read analysts reports."

Don't Look for Effective Public Relations in Washington Just Yet
An editorial in the Burlington Free Press in Burlington, Vermont, on the House Republicans' maneuvering over the federal government shutdown illustrates nicely why so many people consider "public relations" to be an empty, callous term, rather than the constructive one it's intended to be. "...Restoring funding for national parks and museums would address a public relations nightmare for which the GOP is taking the lion's share of the thumping..."

'Storytelling' the Big PR Difference
Matt Shaw, Director of Communications for the Council of Public Relations Firms in New York, sees storytelling as the big differentiator between public relations, marketing, advertising and the emerging new digital skills in this era of continuing creative ferment. "Public relations," he writes, " has long added value by providing a single, business-critical skill for clients: Storytelling."

'Isn't There a PR Plan for this Shutdown?' No
You'd think that along with shutting down the government, the GOP would have a PR plan to explain why it was necessary and rally grass roots support. You'd think; but there isn't. Kellen Giuda, a Forbes contributor, writes tongue-in-cheek about "The Secret Republican Obamacare Shutdown Plan" that doesn't exist. What an opportunity! For the next time.

Martha's Irked With Apple – Hope They Don't Cave!
Could Martha Stewart be so unskilled at public relations as to pick a fight with Apple on Twitter over her broken iPad? She apparently dropped her iPad (which she says Steve Jobs gave her) and the glass cracked. Now she wants Apple to come pick it up and fix it, as though that's what you do for nobility. They shouldn't and we hope they don't. Business Insider reports that Martha's tweets on the matter are going viral, so we have a little customer relations drama to follow for a while.

What a Gritty Triumph! Oracle Wins the America's Cup
"Greatest. Comeback. Ever." And so it may well have been. Oracle, the Redwood City, CA software company, has every right to exult over the victory of the catamaran yacht it sponsored in the 34th America's Cup races in San Francisco Bay. Oracle held off the nearly triumphant New Zealand boat with eight straight victories. Oracle's triumph came during the company's annual OpenWorld convention and what a scene that's likely to be today!

For Identity, Consider Blogging (Regularly)
Arik Hanson on his own Communications Conversations blog makes a good point about public relations blogging: Some of the sharpest PR people whose blogs he used to follow aren't blogging anymore and he misses them. Yes, a blog is a great way to build identity, but it needs to be sustained and that takes a special kind of commitment. An individual's voice is more compelling than a group voice, so consider a discipline that will allow yours to be heard via a regular blog.

PR Risks of Being on Social Media
Social media is a new enough publicity arena that this post on the B2C blog, "The Risks Associated With Social Media Marketing," is pertinent to PR people. (It's by Craig Robertson, who isn't identified further by B2C because "he has not yet filled out a public profile." Shame!) Robertson's SM risks (and he acknowledges there may well be others) are listed as: Prompting a viral PR crisis, Security, because of exposure to hackers, Offending your audience, Inspiring your competition, and Legal risks, along with others. Be mindful of them all.

Malcolm Gladwell's New Book: 'David and Goliath'
Mitch Joel on Six Pixels of Separation advises us that Malcolm Gladwell's new book, "David and Goliath," comes out on October 1. Mitch is halfway through it and advises that it's "a beautiful book about underdogs and misfits and how they win against giants." Sounds like a new PR text. Mitch's post includes several Malcolm Gladwell videos.

PR's Presence on Pinterest
We've long wondered how a PR firm could use Pinterest, the classy social media site that lets you create a shelf-full of goodies in a given category of, say, clothing to represent itself. Power Public Relations in Dallas, among others (Google "public relations firms on Pinterest"), has the answer...

Dissent and Protest — A PR Discipline Too
Why shouldn't campaigns of dissent and protest be subject to techniques of orderly, systematic thinking and planning, that is, classic public relations techniques? Heather Yaxley and her PR-oriented colleagues at Bournemouth University in England think they should and held a series of seminars on the subject last year. Summaries of four approaches to dissent PR are provided by Bournemouth University's PR Research Group here. Since dissenting views can become the norm, like the women's suffrage movement in the early 20th century, why shouldn't they be organized for clarity and maximum impact?...

Compassion Becoming a Corporate Value
For corporate PR people especially, it's worth noting that compassion seems to be coming into vogue in business. That's the word from the Harvard Business Review in a post, "The Rise of Compassionate Management (Finally)"...

Tweeting News of a Community's Schools
From personal experience, we understand that people not attuned to social media might not consider Twitter an effective means of distributing a school district's press releases to parents and the community. But their number is diminishing as the use and impact of social media grow. Hence, as an example, this use of Twitter by the Westfield School District in Westfield, N.J.

U.S. PR Firms Still Doing Nicely
U.S. public relations firms continue showing solid revenue growth — eight percent overall — two industry reports show. StevensGouldPincus pegs the PR growth rate for 2012 at 8.2 percent, and the Holmes Report at eight percent. That's about the same rate as in 2010 and 2011, Paul Holmes notes.

At the Washington Naval Shipyard, a Crisis Communication Plan Seemed Lacking
This isn't to pick on the U.S. Navy at a time of duress, but based on coverage viewed a while ago (shortly before 1 P.M. Eastern time) on CNN, the Washington Naval Shipyard seemed to be doing a poor job of crisis communication in the shootings that occurred there today...

Fighting Trolls on Digital Newspapers
In the march of the news media to new terrain, The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram is looking to Facebook to erase a distinction between the print and digital forms — how readers sign letters to the editor. In print, it's your name or no publication. But on digital, notes executive editor Jim Witt, "comment threads too often devolve into a cesspool of name-calling..."

Steering Journalism Into Its Digital Future
Eavesdrop for a bit with speakers at a Harvard panel discussion on the future of journalism, including Arthur Sulzberger Jr., of The New York Times: They're confident there's a bright future for digital journalism, but there's also a lot of churning in the present. That's the way it's apt to be in a transition time is the message from David Weinberger on the Joho blog.

Heidi Cohen Suggests How Content Marketing Feeds Into Digital PR
Public relations isn't merging with marketing; never will. An other-focused, relational approach to communication has much to offer anyone in business or community affairs. Yet, in its digital aspect, PR is more akin to content marketing than in other aspects of relational communication. Heidi Cohen is a marketing expert with a timely regard for the importance of content in influencing others. She offers an instructive post, "19 Content Marketing Experts Offer Their Best Advice," that PR people can plumb for pertinent insights from across the tracks.

NSA Can't Seem to Get Ahead of Its Crisis
The National Security Agency is, indeed, discovering that "there is no such thing as a standard crisis." Those are the words of Jim Crawford, of Crawford Public Relations, in a post on NSA's continuing encounter with Edward Snowden and the telephone system monitoring crisis he's opened up. NSA and the Obama Administration "did all the right things" but the story stays alive, as though there's a closet-full of shoes to drop.

Facebook Likely a Good Place for Crisis Communication
Maybe it's because it's more like story-telling, but two University of Missouri researchers found Facebook appears to be a better place for crisis communication than the mainstream media. A discussion on The Holmes Report of the MU research notes that Facebook posts can be effective as story-telling.

We're All Publishers Now
The world is becoming a haze of content, with your laptop, cellphone or tablet your only hope of sorting it out, of making your way to whatever reality interests you most. That's pretty much where Trevor Young has arrived on his PR Warrior blog, and it's something we've been feeling as we've trolled for Flack Me topics over the past months. Information starts with "I" and you are the hub for whatever interests you most...

For Digital PR, an At-Your-Service 'Butler'
Prompted by the movie, "The Butler," Cokey Falkow, on the Proactive Report, suggests what it takes to be a successful digital PR agency. That makes it an unusually interesting post. It's one of the first we've seen that lays out the attributes for specializing in digital PR — the main one being the ready attentiveness to a client's needs that a butler would show.

Johnson & Johnson: Advisory on a Warning
We ought to note, and (courtesy of Everything PR) hereby do, the deft manner in which Johnson & Johnson has gone about advising customers about the fact that Extra Strength Tylenol contains acetaminophen, which can cause liver damage if used excessively. J&J didn't use the word "warning" in announcing its new caps for the product, nor do the words on the caps themselves: "Contains Acetaminophen. Always Read the Label." While the media referred to a "warning" from J&J, the drug firm played it as cool as possible in covering itself should a user overdo the product anyway.

School's Back In: A Broad PR Role
Folks who may be curious about all that public relations involves might want to ponder this list of two-dozen ways in which PR contributes to schools, their effective operation, support for learning and community engagement. Richie Escovedo, a 12-year "School/Communication/Public Relations guy in Texas," notes all the roles school PR people play or foster, based, essentially, on activity areas key to the challenge of being accredited in public relations (APR). It's an impressive listing of responsibilities...

Chagrin over CVS' Streaming Coupons
This probably belongs to our marketing collagues, but it has PR overtones too. Those run-on coupon tapes that stream from the check-out printers at CVS drug stores are making the drug chain look silly. And now, notes PR Newser, social media is giving CVS a headache over them...

Pitney Bowes: 'Don't Overdo Marketing on Social Media'
As public relations moves steadily into the digital age, Pitney Bowes, the office equipment company, has produced some European-based research that warns against confusing digital marketing with building digital communities. Large percentages of European device users advised they would abandon social media "if mass marketing were to bombard their personal wall."

Dr. King's Speech for the Ages
We're not the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But his "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered 50 years ago today during the March on Washington for civil rights, was one of the greatest public relations events in history. We all have sentiments we want to express truly and well, if not nearly as eloquently as Dr. King did. Feel them deeply, then think in rhythms of the soul and the human spirit.

A PR Challenge: Helping the Air Force Recruit Drone Pilots
Want to tangle with the U.S. Air Force on a PR quest? Online Public Relations Thoughts frames a challenging relational encounter in considering why it may be that the Air Force insists on using only commissioned officers to pilot its growing reliance on drone aircraft, where the pilots sit with their eyes glued to computer/TV screens instead of off in the wild blue yonder. It's an intense, but nonetheless taxing and sometimes dull job...

Steve Ballmer Wasn't Up to Innovation's Urgency
What's the lesson to be drawn from Steve Ballmer's pending departure as CEO of Microsoft? It's not that a sometimes funny- or clueless-looking guy shouldn't be a CEO. It's that a successfully innovative leader has to be in charge. Ballmer wasn't that, and he'll be leaving before his time. Why does this matter to PR people?...

'Branding' Your Twitter Account Via a Blog
We know that a blog can be a powerful relational/marketing magnet. We also know that Twitter is a great place to promote your blog posts. But do you "brand" your Twitter posts, or let them serve as purely personal expressions? A Marketing Eggspert post urges that you "brand your Twitter account...This may seem self-explanatory," the post acknowledges, "but so many bloggers fail to create a branded Twitter handle specifically for your blog presence..."

Bless 'em: Collegial Sendoff at an Apple Store
When employees leave businesses for new opportunities, they ought to be given a proper sendoff, but that doesn't always happen. On LinkedIn, author Chester Elton reports an instance when it did - employees at his local Apple store stopped everything to give a colleague a proper goodbye. Don't you think that registered well with everyone else in the store - its customers? Imagine the favorable word of mouth that resulted.

Heinz' Proportionate Crisis Ketchup Pour
When Brazilian health officials discovered traces of rodent fur in a batch of Heinz ketchup that was made in Mexico, the company made a calm, proportionate response on social media. Mediabistro's PR Newser finds the company's response "Bland but Effective."

Real-Time Media Monitoring for Organizations that Need It
For the companies and organizations that have special jeopardy should they find themselves unfavorably in the public eye, the web-based Critical Mention monitoring service looks like it may have special utility.

Fundraising by the Generations: Boomers Lead
Following up on yesterday's post on the march of the generations ("The Millennials Are Coming..."), here's a post by Kivi Leroux Miller on fundraising participation by the generations — Generation Y (the Millennials), Generation X, Boomers and Matures. Boomers are today's leading givers, but the advice of the Blackbaud firm that compiled the data is "Know Your Donors' Birthdays."

The Millennials Are Coming; Pay Them Early Heed
Brian Solis is selling a new book but also making a good point when he advises how Millennials (Generation Y), the generation following the Boomers and Generation X, will "in just a few short years" be the predominate presence in the workforce. They're going to be communicating differently, and have different expectations of learning and collaboration...

PR Today: Where We Are in an Infographic
With all the attention we've been giving to digital PR and messaging, Inkhouse.com has produced an infographic that handily sums up where PR is today compared with, say, 20 years ago. It's not a totally different world, just very different. Bloggers today are as important as reporters once were, social media campaigns are outdoing newspapers and press conferences are giving way to Twitter chats. What hasn't changed, though...

Good Grammar Matters, and Never Forget It
We thank Shel Holtz for giving us all a weekend to resolve never again to brush off misspellings, poor grammar, punctuation or other language kinks that may creep into our work. They matter. Holtz points to research showing that other people — young people definitely included — don't like raggedy writing. Holtz cites research by Disruptive Communications showing that 42.5 percent of 1,003 consumers in a July survey said that poor spelling or grammar were most likely "to damage their opinion of a brand in social media." Never mind that Disruptive is a UK firm and that the consumers were British. The King's English is our language, too.

Andy Polansky: CEOs Can Become Social Media Magnets
Following up on yesterday's Flack Me post on the venerable Campbell's Soup company introducing social media to its employees, we now have a Forbes interview with Weber Shandwick CEO Andy Polansky urging corporate CEOs to become presences on social media themselves. CEOs? Gee, they can communicate? Yes, the best ones can do so very well, and social media offers a new, far-reaching setting for their magnetism. Others, less experienced at projecting themselves, can pick up the knack and learn from their employees, customers and the public while establishing an extra-compelling corporate presence...

'Digital Fitness' at Campbell's Soup
With social media becoming an integral PR skill, as well as a marketing standby, we thought we'd pay a belated visit to the Campbell Soup Company's social media "kitchen." The 144-year-old Campbell Soup Company? Yep!

Remembering an Organization's 'Story' When Its Leadership Changes
Especially in these hyper-active times, a period of transition in an organization's leadership can be hazardous. What can be lost track of is the strengths the old leader brought to the organization...

'Blue Angels' Grounded in Mindless Cuts
Flack Me doesn't normally venture into the political realm, where events can have fractious lives of their own. But when worthwhile, widely popular existing events are cancelled as a result of mindless congressional skirmishing, it needs to be noted. Such is the case with the grounding this summer of the Navy's Blue Angels and the Air Force's Thunderbirds close formation flying teams as a result of this spring's federal budget deadlock, the sequester.

Apple's 'Genius' PR Move
Apple has been prone to shunning the PR limelight, letting its popular products speak for themselves, along with being billed in Apple's ads. But here, on the Quartz site, the Cupertino company is being hailed for a "take-back" program in which consumers are being offered reduced-price Apple iPhone and iPad chargers for counterfeit versions...

Meditation on the Churning Media Scene
With another weekend at hand to get our breath, it's appropriate to reflect on the two epic media changes of the past week - the sale of The Washington Post and The Boston Globe. At The Harvard Business Review Bill Taylor, cofounder of Fast Company, does that very nicely in an optimistic post...

Should the 'Golden Years' Tarnish...
What's likely to be a huge market for public relations counsel as baby boomers age — retirement communities — is illustrated by the "Damage Control..." news release issued by Senior Marketing.com President Kevin Williams in the wake of a PBS Frontline report on an assisted living center. The report focused on the death of onetime pro football star George McAfee at an Emeritus Senior Living center. Williams offers some strictures to retirement center managers.

Patronizing PR: 'No, He's an Intern, I'm an Internist'
Ever think your internist needed explaining? Or recognition? Not here, but it's a tough road in these challenging medical times. We wish the Philadelphia-based American College of Physicians all success in their PR campaign on behalf of its 137,000 members, who want the public to understand that, as the Vital Signs healthcare blog reports, "there is a big difference between internists and interns." Gee, we never knew. Seriously, professionals who feel they need to call attention to themselves in an explicit campaign have a challenging PR problem...

From Down Under, the Limits of PR
The great thing about the Internet is that it can take us virtually anywhere to observe and learn. Like Adelaide, Australia. There we find an example of the limits of PR. A local PR company took its licks as the owners of the Burnside Village shopping mall tried to save a native red gum tree that had been left standing in the glass-roofed mall...

Bezos on the Beat at The Washington Post
Jeff Bezos is the latest to wrestle with the ultimate fate of newspapers. May the chief executive of Amazon.com Inc. succeed handsomely in his new role as owner of The Washington Post. The Internet is "transforming almost every element of the news business," Bezos wrote in a letter to The Post's employees. "There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy..."

Revving Up Detroit – A PR Opportunity
It looks like a good time to be in public relations in Detroit. There's a lot of constructive relating to be done and in Detroit's downtown area, at least, it looks as though it's already begun. The Wall Street Journal's Allysia Finley had a lengthy interview with Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, headed "How Detroit Can Rise Again." It's a hopeful view...

Seamy PR in Sunny Dallas
Oh, there's a seamy PR situation in Dallas, the result of lawyers and a former TV anchorman not understanding that ethics are, and must be, at the heart of legitimate PR practice. Mike Drago, the former city editor of The Dallas Morning News now in PR himself, reports in Business2Community on the ugly situation swirling around the new Museum Tower condo building, which was exposed by The Morning News' reporting.

Keeping Fitness Centers PR Fit
PR people who may have overlooked fitness centers as potential clients should be mindful that keeping fit has risks that ought to be planned for and countered. That's the guidance from Wood, Gutman & Bogart in a PR Newswire release. Sure, they're in the insurance business. But PR is a craft for exercising guidance, however it might be inspired. An interesting, possibly galvanizing, post.

Another 'Cool It!' Plea from the Civility Front
"Cool it!" seems to be the message in a news release from a PR research combine that's been monitoring civility in America: It's continuing to decline, "driving 70 percent of Americans to believe that incivility has reached crisis proportions." "Politicians, America's youth, the media and the Internet," the release adds, "are assigned most responsibility for the problem." The continuing fraying of America's communication climate is a profound subject, not easily fixable, but a PR challenge indeed!

Summer's Half Gone, So Turn to Your PR Reading
It's been a while since we ran a PR book list, but summer is catch-up reading time and Paul Maccabee, president of Maccabee Public Relations in Minneapolis, organizes a summer (or any other time) reading list around the topic "How to Start Your Own PR Agency." He especially likes "Managing a Public Relations Firm for Growth and Profit," by Al Croft, and "Fearless at Work," by Michael Carroll. Of Croft's book he says, "It should be your Bible, Koran, Talmud, Encyclopedia Britannica and Kama Sutra. Croft details how to win new clients, hire and retain great employees, track and manage profitability and develop a unique differentiating position (isn't that what we tell our clients to do?)" What more could you need?

For Effective SM, Employees Need to Feel 'We're All In This Together'
If ever the case for employee training and esprit can be made, social media will make it. An enterprise should not be engaged in social media unless its employees are a committed part of the picture. They may be on Facebook or Twitter anyway, as individuals, but at least the company's not "sponsoring" them. Bernie Charland explains all this on Public Relations Rogue.

For Unifying Energy, Vision Comes First
It's time to renew and restate the importance of a vision as the heart of a successful enterprise. In a time of so much fragmentation and digital distraction, a core vision is key to moving out successfully. And here we have Jackie Brock-Doyle, who headed PR for the London Olympics and Paralympic Games stressing that very point. Be clear about where you're headed, and why, is her message. "Take the time to develop the vision and really know why you're in business," Jackie says.

Crisis Communication Capacity a Key PR Skill
Sadly, our times are making it necessary for many more institutions, schools and colleges especially, to become versed and practiced in crisis management, including crisis communication. It would be hard to picture a PR firm that doesn't have crisis capacity as an offering, but maybe there are a few. If so, here's a testimonial from Sally Chapman Cameron, the communications vice president at Bristol Community College (BCC) in Massachusetts, to prompt them. BCC has had a crisis communication plan since 2001. But Sally recently attended a two-day workshop on the subject in New Orleans. "There was 9/11 and, then with Virginia Tech – a lot of people say that was higher education's 9/11. Sandy Hook was a real wake-up call for us..."

Why PR Beats Marketing at – Marketing
Vivek Wadhwa, now of Singularity University and Stanford, contrasts on Venture Beat the approaches he used in promoting two enterprises — cautious, but well-appointed, marketing and full-out PR — and explains why PR carried the day as, indeed, a marketing technique. It disperses creative energy like no other approach — the energy of enthusiasm, pride and commitment. Shun PR and risk hiding your corporate light under a bushel of brochures.

Florida Poll: Race Relations Continue as an Unsettling Challenge
We don't know whether race relations in America are as intractable as they sometimes seem. We certainly hope not and, in fact, doubt it. But occasional stories like Townhall.com's report on a poll taken in Florida after a jury acquitted George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin are unsettling. Apart from the Zimmerman verdict itself, 53 percent of those polled by Viewpoint Florida "answered that race relations have deteriorated since (President) Obama's inauguration, with only 10 percent saying they've improved."

Social Media Managing Involves Lots of Skills
In the corporate PR office where I used to work, we had a gifted graphic artist, a communication vice-president policy-setter and the folks in between. If, today, that office had a social media site, those roles would all likely be filled by the site's manager. It's at least desirable for them to be. For social media calls for a range of expressive and administrative skills at the keyboard, typically in one person — the community manager.

Hubspot: Slides on What's Viewed as PR Slime
Here's a big dose of PR consciousness-raising from Katie Burke on Hubspot: 31 slides on "S%#T PR People do that Journalists Hate." They're good to review and then keep on hand as reminders of what's viewed as boorish behavior, or simply doesn't work, in dealing with the press.

Obamacare a Major Test of PR and Marketing Techniques
Like it or not, Obamacare is going to provide a major, highly visible test of PR and marketing techniques. Implementation of the complex health care law has already been delayed to 2015, amid fierce partisan bickering in Washington...

Tweeting Out the News
You hear, or experience, every now and then how news has been broken on Twitter. "That's neat," you think and go on with your day. But more and more organizations are purposely turning to Twitter to get news out, then follow up with more than 140 characters somewhere else. Janette Speyer, a social media pro, provides on Business2Community "10 Tips to Increase PR Exposure on Twitter." It's like a chapter from a PR text. Remember those from the old days?

A Prime PR Tenet: Don't Get Carried Away With Yourself
This is kind of an incidental posting, but an editorial writer for The Wisconsin State Journal has done PR people a service by reminding us, and our clients, not to get carried away by the fanciful aspects of our causes or corporate ventures. A protest against an iron-mining site on Lake Superior got unnecessarily nasty when both the protestors and the security firm hired to protect the site got engrossed in the self-created "drama" of the scene. The security firm's guards came dressed like commandoes and the protesters laid on raucous profanity, and what did anybody gain from all that? "Yikes. Perhaps it's time for everybody to take a deep breath," said the State Journal's editorial.

Publicity is a Process, a Patient One
A level-headed post by Bruce Serbin on Ragan's PR Daily (okay, some of you may have seen it already) gets right to the point of professional public relations: Done well, PR is a patient process in which awareness is built steadily over time. Clients might want quick results (say, a month of your time), but, says Serbin, correctly, "Publicity is a long-term strategy that takes time and the ability to develop new story angles and play off current events." Keep making that clear if a client becomes impatient.

Misbegotten Crisis Response at Lac-Mégantic
For a dismaying example of crisis communication, we turn to Edward Burkhardt, chairman of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, whose runaway oil train set fire to the town of Lac-Mégantic in Quebec, Canada, with horrifying human consequences...

Congress on Digital PR Steroids
Jack O'Dwyer provides insight into how members of Congress apparently are one-upping reporters by relying on social media and email lists to connect with constituents — without intermediary questioning by the press. A New York Times reporter claims it's becoming the "default position" for "Washington reporters to allow sources to pre-approve quotes and make changes if they wished."

Asiana, Sadly, Muffs a Crisis
Oh dear, a Wall Street Journal story indicates that Asiana Airlines doesn't understand what crisis communication is about, even as it has a massive crisis on its hands with its crash-landing Saturday at the San Francisco airport. "It's not the proper time to manage the company's image," an Asiana representative in Korea is quoted as saying. As of publication of the Journal's story, the airline hadn't arranged for any spokespeople outside Korea...

Social Media PR: Complex, but Vital, to Master
We'd refer anyone who doubts that social media has become integral to PR to Heidi Cohen's blog post, "50 States of Social Media." She was inspired to put the post together by the Fourth of July, but the discipline of doing well and becoming widely known on social media has clearly become that complex and challenging. Use Heidi's methodology as a SM checklist of your own. Strategy and tactics still apply, of course, but, with social media, they're in a fully digital setting.

Colorado, Tourism and Fire – Crisis Planning Becomes Critical
The growing likelihood of wildfires in Colorado and other western states increasingly beset by global warming is prompting sophisticated crisis communication planning among tourism-related businesses in the state...

Tanks but No Tanks in Japan
The uses to which PR (or, in this instance, marketing) techniques can be turned include, of course, military ones. An example of that seems to be occurring in Japan, where The Ashai Shimbun is carrying a story, "Self-Defense Forces winning PR battle with softer approach." It's a fascinating exercise that could also be a somewhat ominous one in the ultra self-conscious context of Japan's military.

Lively at Boston's Library
There are PR opportunities practically anywhere you look, even in the quiet of a public library. The Boston Public Library's staff realized that with three programs that just won it top honors from the Library Leadership and Management Association, a division of the American Library Association. According to its press release, the Boston library received “Best of Show” honors in three categories. Nothing musty here!

Maintaining a Strong PR Mindset Matters — A Lot
This one may be a little too basic for most of us. On the other hand, do we approach our PR rounds with a strong enough mindset — that what we're doing is right and needs doing? If we're not convinced of that, we'd best turn in another direction, or to another client. Juan Freijo on the Lewis PR 360 blog shares some techniques about maintaining a mindset he learned while turning shoppers away from plastic bags at a supermarket's checkout counters.

Employee Recognition Well Worth Recognizing
Employees feel better about themselves and their abilities when they're recognized for good, creative work. That almost goes without saying, but it's not always recognized in practice. Days get too busy to salute the people providing the energy behind them. Unless you work at a place like DiGennaro Communications in New York City, where they hand out bright orange cowbells to employees with instructions to set them ringing when a colleague does exceptional work.

Alastair Campbell: 'Why PR's World Is Changing'
Read Alastair Campbell's fantastic Huffington Post piece, "Why the World of PR is Changing." Nuff said. (He was Tony Blair's communications director.)

PR Misunderstood by a Utah Activist
We get bothered when we hear someone in the public eye — often in a political setting — saying "that's more PR than substance." The latest example comes from Salt Lake City, Utah, where the leader of a citizens alliance used the unfortunate phrase. Properly understood and, of course, practiced, PR stands for a rigorous, honest, open process, not evasion.

Nitty-Gritty Time at the Writing Desk
Kate Kiefer Lee on A List Apart has provided a lengthy, helpful and encouraging post on the nitty-gritty aspects of engaging Web writing, like, for example, Terms and Conditions. She calls it, "Don't Poke the Bear: Creating Content for Sensitive Situations," and it's a real service.

Doctors Needing a PR Prescription
Here's a PR challenge to the U.S. medical profession: Promote responsible billing to Medicare of prescription drugs. Okay, so government should stay out of medicine. But doctors, all of them, should regard government as a channel of assistance for patients, not to be abused via reckless practices, by however many physicians.

Don't Plan Before You Know the Problems
We've happened upon a post by Mack Communications on preparing a communications plan. The importance of having a plan is basic. But Mack starts the process a key step short — research to uncover possibly overlooked issues. That means interviewing unlikely, even hostile, sources to determine how a client is coming across already, before you start planning to improve their prospects.

What's Your Client's Story? Build On It
Effective PR is about uniqueness, style, freshness, candor, all focal elements in a good story. Be clear on them, organize them, and, above all, don't expect simply to schmooze your way into the attention of busy media people. Good story-telling is the key element in today's PR, as Scott Baradell, of Idea Grove, illustrates with the subject of "spousal outplacement"...

'It's all content now,' says David Meerman Scott
A sobering assertion by David Meerman Scott: "When a buyer is researching your product category by using a search engine, does it really matter if the first exposure is a hit on your website, a news release your organization sent, a magazine, article, or a post on your blog? I'd argue that it doesn't matter. The distinctions have nearly disappeared."

Oriella Documents Media's 'Digital Watershed'
"...as the world turns away from print media and towards digital content." That's the "watershed message" of the sixth annual Oriella Digital Journalism survey, this one based on input from 500 journalists in 14 countries, including the U.S. "More respondents than ever," Oriella advises, "believe their largest readership is now online rather than off, and their performance is overwhelmingly evaluated based on digital metrics like unique visitors..." The underlying message of a survey like this is that it's largely over for print media, no surprise, as we've seen the digital tide rising...

Guidance for PR Folks Perusing Digital Content Marketing
Aarti Shah and Arun Sudhaman on The Holmes Report are providing what amounts to a short course on PR's role, or anxiety, if you will, in the digital content marketing picture. In a three-part series, they see the digital moment as "reshaping the conventional relationship between brands and content, offering significant new opportunities for the public relations industry." Gentlemen (and women), man your keyboards.

Who Said They Have to be Dry? Romp Away With Annual Reports on the Web
Time to start thinking about producing a client's next annual report, where public relations and advertising come together. Now you can splash away on the Web, with, as one option, an annual report on Instagram, like this one by the Calgary Zoo in a format somewhat suggestive of Twitter. Or in an even freer corporate lark, a click-away "visual stroll through twelve months...

NSA's Monitoring and PR's 'Big Data'
What's the difference, really, between NSA assembling millions of telephone records and PR pridefully gathering heaps of "big data" to know all it can about target populations? We ought to think about that a bit. Is this a new Age of Surveillance, whether for security or marketing purposes? And if so, is it really advisable? Consider the Smart Data Collective saying "...thanks to big data technologies, it becomes possible to get to know your customers, suppliers or influencers as if he or she were your best friend." Do we want that?

Booz Allen Handling a PR Storm
Booz Allen Hamilton, the technology consulting firm, finds itself in a whirlwind of publicity with the news that an employee for a brief spell, Edward Snowden, has leaked news of the National Security Agency's massive monitoring of telephone records in its fight against terrorism. That's a crisis communication challenge, indeed, and Booz, advises Critical Mention on the Business2Community site, has risen to it pretty well. You can follow Booz' response on its website and Facebook page.

What To Do When You're Being Bashed on Social Media
Now, let's assume that something goes wrong with a client's presence on social media. It could, you know. ('Is he kidding me?...') Federico Einhorn, a Web entrepreneur, suggests on EverythingPR steps to take if you're being bashed on Facebook, Twitter or whichever SM outlet may be involved. They begin, no surprise, with listening. "In many cases, bad publicity is the result of a genuine complaint from an unhappy customer..."

More on Prompting CEOs to 'Go Social'
Melissa Agnes provides support for encouraging CEOs you know to be on social media — in the form of an infographic based on the Weber Shandwick/KRC Research study that got us started on the subject on Friday. Being expert in crisis communications, Melissa is well aware of how helpful it can be to have a CEO's social identity known should a crisis strike. We don't expect to be back to this subject for a while, but these two posts should provide enough prompting for you at least to consider seriously a strategy...

Prompt Your CEO to be on Social Media
Here from Weber Shandwick and research partner KRC Research is supporting material for what's likely to be a hard sell (but nonetheless an enlightened one) for PR people - getting busy CEOs of client organizations to start participating in social media – personally. Who better to explain and further an organization's purpose and ideals than its chief executive officer?

Brief Is Best In Digital PR
The attention span for digital PR is mercilessly brief — live with that. The heart of a digital news release needs to be packed into the lead, with the rest of it right behind. Digital PR is an act, nay, an art, of compression. You're trying to catch the attention of viewers flipping through sites, pages and postings...

Old vs. New PR: A Tool for Explaining the Difference
Our thanks to Houston Barnett-Gearhart of BluePoloInteractive for providing an infographic tool on everythingPR that handily explains the differences between the old and new forms of PR — print/broadcast vs. digital. PR people themselves are facing enough of a challenge getting the attributes straight. This infographic-style tool helps them explain the fast-changing landscape to actual or prospective clients.

Harris: Younger Americans May Have More Global Identity
I don't want to seem to be exploiting the horrendous human tragedy of the Bangladesh garment factory disaster for PR insight. Yet there's an interesting segment of a Harris poll on the subject that you might want to be mindful of. It involves younger Americans, aged 18–34, who were questioned and could, Harris suggests, "indicate a new type of activism."

Help a Hardy Entrepreneur Survive Risk
A story in today's Wall Street Journal suggests a public service role for PR firms, in the nation's interest as well as their own. Devote some pro bono time to helping a young risk-prone business get on its feet. The WSJ advises that the risk-taking spirit in America seems to be fading, and that's not good. You can demonstrate the public service value of incisive PR...

PR Overtones: Coors Could Have Caught On
MillerCoors has nicely, or sadly, illustrated the difference between marketing and public relations in the context of New York's upcoming Puerto Rican Day Parade. The beer company apparently thought it had the blessing of the parade's board of directors for promoting the event on its light beer cans, but in an era of social media, especially, sensitivities extend far wider.

Slow It Down — Creativity's Your Due
Heather Yaxley on her Greenbanana blog makes a point that hits home but that we don't have time to pursue further at the moment — maybe we ought to go slower in these fast-moving times. Maybe, indeed, we should. The heart of public relations is strategy, the approach we decide on before turning to tactics, and the feedback we seek and gain to sense how we're doing and to change course as advisable. ...

PR's Future Is Now: Here's What It Looks Like
Here's PR's digital future in a "snapshot" package for practicing today: First, media will be primarily on tablets, not paper; "deadlines" will be anytime a news release is finished. Digital news releases will go directly to the public, along with the news media. And measurement of their reach and effectiveness will be closely at hand. All in one digital desktop of skills.

Cleaning Up Mt. Everest
What better way to return from the Memorial Day weekend, renewed and invigorated, than with some high-minded content about an image you would have thought couldn't have been tarnished, that of towering Mt. Everest. The Himalayan reports that 4,010 kilograms of waste materials (8,840.5 pounds) have been retrieved from the mighty mountain by a cleanup team.

PR As Storytelling – True Stories
We keep finding references to public relations as a storytelling craft and to good press releases as well-told stories. There's a lot to that. So here, in one place, is a short Business2Community course from Sarah Skerik on "4 Ways to Build Storytelling Into Press Releases," complete with a helpful diagram. Just remember, they always need to be true stories.

Social Media 'Likes' Don't Equate With Action
UNICEF (the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund) is making a good point about the growing appeal of social media as a PR tactic, and we have Stuart Bruce to thank for pointing it out. "Likes don't save lives," says UNICEF in an affecting Web commercial, referring, of course, to Facebook, "Money does."

European Grads View the Digital Age as Still Arriving
In an online news release issued via the The Wall Street Journal, the consensus of more than 2,000 European communications students is that the world hasn't seen anything yet of the looming importance of digital marketing/PR communication. These current graduates don't even view themselves as the much-touted "digital natives." Those youngsters will be along in 10 years, they feel...

When an Apology's Called For, Offer One
In the abundance of PR counsel that's available on the Web, practitioner videos posted by the Public Relations Society of America stand out. Kerri Guyton, of Memphis-based Obsidian Public Relations, points out one of them, Virgil Scudder, executive communication coach and crisis counselor, on "The Art of the Apology."

Crisis or Knock? Important Social Media Distinctions
Not every social media knock is a crisis, and it's important to be mindful of the difference. Crisis communication guru Melissa Agnes makes this helpful distinction in a post passed along by the Media Skills Academy. Despite a formatting lapse (the Agnes post apparently begins with the second paragraph) the counsel is important to not being stampeded by an edgy appearance in social media.

Getting a Flood of Crisis Help With Social Media
Here, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, is an example of how important portable technology has become to timely crisis response and management. In bygone days, Dan Schoonmaker, director of communications for the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, would have had to get back to his office computer before sending out alerts for flood-response volunteers...

The IRS: Doesn't It Get Any PR Counsel?
We don't know whether the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a public relations branch, but it's already clear in the developing "nonprofits scrutiny" storm that it could have used effective counsel in public and media affairs...

Dire Portents as Marketing Gets Mistaken for PR
Troubling, indeed, is Deanne Hollis-DeGrandpre's appraisal of the prospects for small public relations offices, those that aren't, say, FleishmanHillard or Edelman, in these increasingly digital times. Blissful ignorance, or avoidance, of the differences between public relations and marketing is sending unwitting businesses into...

Journalistic Folly Being 'Reversed' in New Orleans
Boy, are some newspapers confused in attempting to deal with their changing fortunes. Like those in the Newhouse chain, for example. With some relish, perhaps, The New York Times reports on how one of the papers that Newhouse switched to three-days-a-week publication, The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, is now trying to reemerge in a new form of "daily" publication...

Opening Up, So That Your Organization's Values Are Known
Forbes' Ken Makovsky notes that consciousness of purpose is at the heart of public relations and refers to a post by Sandra Duhè on the Institute of Public Relations website, along with the book, Conscious Capitalism, by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia, in making his point. "...I admit there are days I am ready to eschew public relations and instead claim economics as my chosen field," Sandra writes. "Surely it's better to be seen as dismal rather than manipulative, right? But then I remember well those incredible moments when stakeholder interactions produced mutually beneficial change, not only in the parties involved, but also, amazingly, in the broader community."

PR: Time Out for Basking in Recognition
Excuse us for taking a timeout to note this recognition of the importance of public relations by Sir Richard Branson, spoken a couple of days ago in Australia: "The head of PR," said Branson, "is perhaps one of the most important people in a company and a good chairman will have them by their side. They are critical for managing the brand and save millions in advertising..."

McDonald's Mistweeted on the Ohio Kidnappings
We're not in the polling business, but we're a little surprised to note that, when we checked this morning, more than twice as many viewers had agreed that McDonald's tweeting of plaudits to Charles Ramsey, who rescued the three kidnapped Ohio women, was "the right thing to do." Ramsey, notes USA Today, "was 'eating my McDonald's' when he saw kidnap victim Amanda Berry trying to get out of the house — and helped her escape."

Confusing PR 'Strategy' and 'Tactics' in Bangladesh
An Associated Press followup story on the latest garment factory catastrophe in Bangladesh confuses public relations strategy and tactics, but who would expect AP to be mindful of that distinction? First, it's apparent that the Bangladesh-based garment industry was bereft of anything like enlightened PR in its sweatshops. That would have cost money, and the whole point of being in Bangladesh evidently was to save money.

PR From the Start: Positioning New Enterprises
It's a choppy sea out there, and having a pilot who can help smooth the way is important when you're working to establish a new enterprise. That's the role of PR when done well — calming the waves, strengthening a sense of direction. Here are two posts, by Wendy Marx and David Vindel, discussing the public relations component of building a business.

PR Taunts From A Digital Practitioner
You always need to know what the competition's doing, or saying, about you. Hence this reference to a post by John Hall, CEO of Digital Talent Agents, who seems to feel that it's over for established, print-oriented PR agencies and that the craft's future is online. However you feel about John's thesis, it's advisable to hear him out...

Paul Holmes: What's Changing for PR in the 21st Century
It is, indeed, amazing how much ground has been covered, mainly related to the Internet, so far in the 21st century. But Paul Holmes, on the Holmes Report, thinks too many PR firms are still operating as though it's still the 20th century. So he contributes a post, "10 Ways to Design The PR Agency of The Future" to bring the laggards up to speed. His list starts, not with some new variation of shoe leather, but "Big data at the center." A must for agencies to check out, in their own interests.

On PR's Technical Side: Catching Up on Fonts
To dip a bit into PR's technical side, here's a Mashable post on "47 Top Typography Tools and Resources." "Typography is the foundation of design on the Web," Mashable rightly notes, and provides an up-to-date toolkit to help get it current and right. From Typekit to Font Feed and more.

Discover Google Glass' Likely PR Applications
Mashable provides some examples of the recording power of Google Glass. Recording power? We didn't know Glass had that capability. We thought it was for Web-watching. The point for PR people is that, with Google Glass now becoming available, a closer look at this new technology is advisable for potential applications to PR needs...

Danny Brown's 'Slideshare University' Keeps Unfolding
We've noted this already, but Danny Brown's really on to something in publishing a weekly "Sunday Share" of a Slideshare show he finds on the Web. As this one by Carlos Domingo, President and CEO of Telefonica I&D, illustrates in the context of Google Glass, the future will continue to be disrupted...

Two More Web Video Channels for Possible PR Use
We've known about Vine, but here are two more video social networking sites to become acquainted with for possible PR use. Hilary JM Topper introduces us on PR Week to Keek and Spreecast. Keek allows 36 seconds of video to Vine's six. Spreecast looks to be more for virtual conferences or seminars.

Deirdre Breakenridge on PR's Emerging New Attributes
PR is changing, but precisely how? Deirdre Breakenridge, author of last year's "Social Media and Public Relations," follows up on her book with a Business2Community post on "Public Relations Expanded: Eight Social Roles Assigned." These will help you get a sense of how closely your own perceptions and practices mirror or expand on ways in which PR is changing in its new digital, always-on setting. Deidre, who co-authored 2009's "Putting the Public Back in Public Relations" with Brian Solis, sees PR's social media setting as including...

Newspaper Reporters Getting No Respect, Unless From PR Folks
Clark Kent, where are you? Some of us, maybe many, made our way into public relations by starting in the then-glamorous job of newspaper reporter. Digging out information was a fabulous, if relatively low-paid, way to make a living. But now? The Wall Street Journal notes...

Digital Currents in Educational Leadership: Maybe Not Just Yet
Dr. James Michael Nolan, president of Southwestern College in Santa Fe, NM, provides a slice-of-the-moment meditation on the changing (or in some quarters, not yet so changing) makeup of the educational ranks in the transition to digital communication. For a sense of where communication leadership is headed, or not just yet, check out his blog post, "Higher Education: When Will Digital Natives Share Leadership?"

Discovering Patch – Digital Local Newspapers
We came upon the Patch edition for Huntington, Long Island, N.Y., in surfing this morning and, Wow!, here's how digital can readily replace, or become, local newspapers. Providing there's a Patch editor for a given area who wants to do the work...

PR's 'Winning the Content War' – What's that Mean?
The MinnPost site has a story, "PR is Winning the Content War." Now just what does that mean? The post seems to feel that because the PR business is growing and media outlets shrinking, that's a win for PR. Maybe, in a narrow sense. But is it a win for our nation, our society, to have sources of insight so fragmented and controlled by commercial interests? Not that the news media, themselves, aren't commercial, or were....

Did Xi, or Didn't He, Take a Cab?
There was a story in a Chinese newspaper about the country's new president, Xi Jinping, taking an eight-mile taxi ride across Beijing, and then the story was taken down. Did he or didn't he? It's pretty apparent that he did, but, gee, the publicity was getting to be too much. Read the story in the South China Morning Post about what happened when an apparent public relations initiative got a little too public....

Internal 'Renewal PR' at Weber Shandwick
Here's a brief report on "No Boundaries," a program New York PR firm Weber Shandwick has to help employees "recharge mind, body and soul" by engaging in new experiences and keeping in touch with one another. Participants get an extra week off and a stipend to travel to experience a new activity. While doing so, they contribute to a blog to share their experiences with colleagues. A nice way to keep renewing creative energy.

Elise Mitchell: A Necessary Passion for PR
Today's post is for aspiring PR people in home offices and start-up agencies who have dreams of building creative, durable businesses. That requires both passion and attention to details of all sorts. Elise Mitchell, founder of Mitchell Communications Group in Fayetteville, Arkansas, has been there and offers in PR Week her reflections on the "Essence of the entrepreneurial spirit: What does it take?" Consider this a service from a successful practitioner who's now associated, as well, with a Japanese firm starting to build a global public relations network.

Coexisting with Google's 'Penguin' SEO Policeman
Here are two websites that should be of interest to PR people, a growing number, who seek to optimize visits to clients' websites via search engine listings and rankings. Google's Penguin algorithm introduced last fall can be helpful to them, but also nasty if SEO techniques are abused.

Keeping an Eye on 'PressKing'
Excuse us for souring your day, but PR people should be keeping an eye on PressKing, with its "goal of offering the same quality of service of a traditional PR agency but at 1/10th the price"...

Scoping Out Slideshare as a PR Tool
Helpfully, Danny Brown is making it easy for PR people to get acquainted with Slideshare as a content management and presentation tool. Those, of course, are digital skills of increasing importance to well-rounded PR folks. Danny has started a weekly Slideshare offering — "a presentation that catches my eye and where I feel you might be interested in the information inside....

Doing Your PR All On An iPad
iPads are tools of our times, ever-present for many of us. In that context, Ketchum's Stephen Waddington offers "10 Ways to Use an iPad for Public Relations," from making presentations to monitoring social media streams and travelling. Waddington himself is based in London. His post is a helpful contribution to readying an iPad-equipped practitioner for whatever he or she may face on a given assignment. If you don't yet have an iPad, but are considering getting one, you might want to check Waddington's post for insight into its possibilities.

Heidi Cohen's 'Seven Actionable Blogging Tips'
Heidi Cohen provides "one-stop" counsel for individual, corporate and media bloggers with her post "7 Actionable Blogging Tactics for Individuals, Businesses and Media." The post leads off with a chart displaying the differences between the three types of blogging, highly pertinent in itself. Then it's on to seven techniques for insuring relevant blog posts, depending on your audience. Heidi's material amounts to helpful, all-in-one guidance on effective blogging. It's worth at least a visit.

These Lawyers Have It Wrong; PR Isn't 'War'
Given that PR practiced in the context of litigation can be stressful, it nonetheless shouldn't be viewed as "war" — never. PR is not a weapon of tactical advantage, it's a craft of relationship. Whatever Martin D. Beirne and Scott D. Marrs may intend on Law.com by placing PR in the context of General Sun Tzu's ancient work, "The Art of War," it doesn't belong there...

SM Pointers from a Possibly Upstaged Financial Stalwart (PR Newswire)
There's a winsome quality to reading a PR Newswire release on what publicly owned companies shouldn't forget now that the Securities and Exchange Commission has accepted social media as an outlet for breaking financial information. "PR Newswire applauds these moves (of course) but at the same time advises some caution when integrating social media into financial communications strategies (gee)." Indeed, it will be something of a new trading era now that breaking financial news can be transmitted on Twitter, Facebook or whatever other social media channel comes to mind. We recommend the PR Newswire release as an opening scene-setter.

Knowing the (PR) Company We Keep
The start of a new week is a good time to renew a sense of first principles. One that's come up in reviewing the flow of web news and insight is how well PR people know and relate to the people they work for. It's critically important for the terms of engagement to be established and known at the start of a PR relationship. That means sizing up prospective clients and being understood from the beginning. Don't just slide into a relationship.

Don't Wing the 'First Hour,' Nor Any of Them
Never try to "wing it" during the eruption of a crisis in your organization. That ought to be self-evident. But if, perchance, you don't have a crisis communication plan in place, and haven't trained for a crisis, Susan Tellem's post on commpr about the pressures of the first hour of a crisis is definitely on the mark. A good, well-practiced plan will get you through the rest of your crisis hours, as well. Don't open your doors without one.

Florida Reverses a Not-So-Sunny PR Glitch
Florida, you might say, has egg on its beaches and you have to wonder how, in PR terms, it let that happen. Hardly had the Florida Legislature passed, and Gov. Rick Scott signed (last year), a law requiring foreign drivers, including, of course, Canadians, to have International Driving Permits instead of their own licenses than they repealed it as their first order of business this year.

Today's Mortgages: Decidedly a PR Challenge
There could hardly be a more specialized, taxing field for PR practitioners, or bankers interested in serving customers well, than mortgage banking. Honed-up regulatory oversight is part of the scene now, and keeping home-buyers well-advised and patiently engaged with the process is definitely a PR challenge. Only this banker calls it "Process and Relationships"...

Simply Being Nice Can Work Wonders
We don't typically note or review new books, but a worthy exception looks to be Peter Shankman's "Nice Companies Finish First," published today. The reason is that it could mark a new, more relational era, away from corporate pizzazz to simply being pleasant and helpful. Shankman in a blog post tells a story about two passengers who arrived super early at the Dubai Airport only to find that the check-in counter hadn't opened yet...

Online Press Releases Aren't So Simple
Issuing an online press release, Jayme Soulati makes clear on SteamFeed, needs a partnership with marketing people who know the web, at least until PR learns the ropes itself. It's not simply a matter of writing a well-worded release and issuing it on Twitter, not if you want optimum coverage. There are tags, key words, back links, hyperlinks, tracking analytics and RSS codes to be concerned about; working together on such techniques is essential.

On an Organizational Scale, Social Media Training's Essential
Okay, you're all set up with an organizational social media feed or social network, ready to have conversations and advance your cause. But nobody shows up, you're not getting members. No surprise, that doesn't just happen, on the Internet no less than in life. You need to be discovered. Thus, you need training in how to make the most of social media....

PR in China – 'How Am I Looking?'
Be glad you're not doing PR in China, although how much of this is familiar wherever you're working in the craft? The China Buzz site provides a look. Through a Chinese practitioner known only as Ms. Zhang, we're given some insights into how PR is done for a member of the National People's Congress (NPC). It's basically about maintaining an image of power....

Cops and Tweeters — Policing Via Twitter
Policemen tend to be relational people — they need others to understand what they are doing, or to be their eyes and ears in a community. The best police work is involved with the communities it serves. And here, from Don Power on Business2Community, are two police forces using Twitter to relate well to their beats.

'Social Media as High School': Stereotypes to Avoid
One of the perils of PR, as of many other fields, is to fall unwarily into using, or becoming, a stereotype, so familiar from other contexts that your efforts get brushed aside. This can happen unwittingly or under the pressures of time or distractions, and it's a great hazard. Michelle Kraker on the Inbound Marketing Blog does a nice job of showing how the way you use social media can fall into "10 high school stereotypes." SM users beware...

McBee Strategic: A PR Firm That 'Gets It'
We don't know anything about Washington, D.C.-based McBee Strategic/Gibraltar PR beyond what we've just read on their website. But that's a statement of the "new PR" that we've been writing about for some time now. And we wonder how many firms are this far along in the digital age: "Today, anyone with an audience is, more or less, a member of the media." "Our philosophy," McBee adds, "is about producing highly-compelling, customized content that can be shuttled around the world using technology." That's it! We don't know how well the firm does any of this, but they've surely gotten the "new age" PR mission statement right....

Introducing PR to 'Pageview Journalism'
Discover the Agency Post site (for marketing, PR and advertising pros) via a helpful (some would say "consoling") article on 'Pageview Journalism' by Len Stein. "...PR pros not willing or able to perfect their social media skills," Len writes, "will face replacement by their eager younger sisters and brothers." He advises on how to get digital stories noticed, that is, clicked on.

Hubspot on Updating PR Techniques for Digital Times
Hubspot gets down to specifics in a generous post on "Modernizing a Public Relations Strategy That's Stuck in the Dark Ages." The dark ages, of course, are pre-digital times, but building relationships with reporters is still important, and Hubspot spends some time on them, too. Its post amounts to a short course on being current in on-line PR. It's worth the time it's likely to take to work through it.

Ho Hum, Print and TV News Decline Continues, Pew Advises
The decline of print and TV journalism continues, and depressing as that is, there's lots to do to experience what's emerging in their place, most of it digital. It's not that we'll be without information, but it will be Internet-based information which, unless you use Google News or some other form of aggregator, means it will be fairly dispersed. Such is the Pew Center's continuing advisory on the changing "State of the News Media 2013."

Today's PR Realities in an Infographic
Beth Monaghan at Inkhouse in Waltham, MA, puts it well: "The only industry changing more quickly than PR is the media, and we are inextricably intertwined." She explains what she means (and what we all know, or sense) in an instantly revealing infographic, "PR Then & Now." Keep this graphic at hand in explaining to clients the context in which they're aiming to be recognized.

Journalists and Savvy PR People Still Click
Peter Himler was in an especially reflective mood on a trip to talk to a group of journalism/communication students at Chapel Hill. N.C., so he produced a Forbes post updating the shifting relationships between journalists and PR people. The tide, he advises, keeps shifting in the direction of PR, but as journalists continue under great pressures, they still appreciate savvy PR folks. And PR people still like seeing their clients in print.

A Simple 'Thank-You' Is Good PR
We trust that Susie Parker on the SteamFeed blog is overstating it when she writes that saying "Thank you" is in decline, but we fear she isn't. The subject is certainly worth a blog post and Susie's is headed "What Happened to Etiquette in PR?". Whenever somebody does something helpful for you, whether a customer, a service provider or a journalist, it's customary, not to say wise, to say "Thank you"...

St. Baldrick's Day Approaching in LA – Inspired PR
Blessedly, in one sense, we haven't known anything about St. Baldrick's Day celebrations, which have proven an inspired way to raise funds to fight childhood cancer. But having come upon the Los Angeles police and fire departments' 10th-year celebration of the occasion, we checked out the St. Baldrick's Foundation, and it's raised $100 million since 2000 by turning and shaving heads at community events like the one coming up in L.A. This is truly inspired PR. Find, or create, an obscure, but catchy, event and turn it to worthy purposes.

Shift Provides Principles for Effective PR
We're a little late to the learning sessions being provided by Todd Defren's Shift Communications on influential PR (this is the third of six parts and we don't see how to get back to the first two). But this commentary on principles in Robert Cialdini's book, "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion," is well worth pondering in itself (and there are three more coming). The thoughts on the principle of "consistency" amount to making the most of opportunities you create for yourself. Not surprising, but when you see it presented well, it may become a more honored tactic.

Maybe This Is the First Vine 'Press Release'
PRSA's lead "Friday Five" post from last week directs us to what may be the first six-second, mini-video Vine "press release." Noted first by Mediabistro's PR Newser, the Vine post is by Sonar, a "social discovery app." The post "announces" funding from Microsoft's Bing fund and, by showing shots of Seattle and New York, cleverly suggests that Sonar connects people coast-to-coast.

Twitter Meetups for PR Pros
The Cision blog updates its list of Twitter chats among public relations and marketing people. There are 18 hashtags for tweeted conversation among fellow pros, along with a description of the ground covered by each group. A great resource to get into the tweet streams of fellow communications professionals. Lisa Larranaga has authored the post.

Using Twitter to Relate Well to Journalists
Keredy Andrews, of Fourth Source, a British marketing firm, provides some sophisticated reflections on using Twitter well to relate to journalists. "Effectively utilizing Twitter," she writes, "is just one example of how in today's digital world it is possible to cut through other brands' noise and identify worthwhile media coverage opportunities."

Digital Crisis Communication a Two-Way Challenge
TechNewsWorld offers another take on social media in crisis communication, based largely on experience from major flooding in parts of Queensland, Australia in 2011. Emergency management organizations don't really control the flow of crisis information any longer — they're monitoring information on Twitter and other social media like everyone else, writes Patrick Nelson.

What's Working Well in PR Content?
Content is an essential element of a PR strategy - what's the client about and how can that best be expressed? Meaty expressions of technique or meaning are important in gaining the public's attention, especially online. But what sort of content? EverythingPR reports on a survey by eMarketer that shows featured articles, video and white papers at the top of the list. Fluff's not to be found.

Decline Squelches The Post's Ombudsman
It's inexpressibly sad that The Washington Post evidently can no longer afford to maintain an ombudsman or is too distracted with survival pressures to keep one, for its outside ombudsman is being replaced by a staff "reader representative." In 1970, The Post, notes NPR blogger Edward Schumacher-Matos, became one of the first American news organizations to have an ombudsman..."

Aspiring to Speak? Here's Good Coaching
Speaking at conferences, lunches, breakfasts, anywhere you're invited, can be rewarding and contribute to personal and professional growth. But how to get out on the circuit? The aimClear blog offers tips and encouragement from 17 experienced PR-related speakers. Good coaching!

Where to Work From: Home or Office?
Productive PR work involves relating well to colleagues and clients, but what if the base locale for such work is your home office? Can relationships be fostered well, and maintained, from there? Partly, it's not all or nothing; people working from home offices likely have regular meetings with colleagues and clients, too. But with Yahoo's CEO, Marissa Mayer, now corralling all her employees to work from Yahoo offices, the subject of where to work from, virtually as much as how to work, has gained the spotlight. And Erin Grace, an Omaha World-Herald columnist, provides full treatment of the two workaday locales. She focuses on Gina Pappas (pictured here), who works for Omaha-based Albers Communications from home, like the rest of her Albers colleagues.

British Kids Don't Know Much About PR; Do Ours?
A survey of 1,229 students in Great Britain showed that 70 percent were unfamiliar with what a career in PR involves. So the Chartered Institution of Public Relations (Britain's PRSA) is starting to send teams of its members into British secondary schools to advise 14 to 16 year-olds about PR as a career choice...

Puzzling Pinterest For PR Purposes
I went to a workshop on Pinterest the other morning. There's something about those brightly colored, artsy pinboards that's appealing, but something whose utility I don't quite understand. Pinterest as a prompt for a Web scavenger hunt? Maybe. As the grounding of a Web business? I still don't know, but wait, here's a post from PR News, "Pending Change for Pinterest: What's In It for Public Relations Pros?" Because I wouldn't want you to miss out on a good thing, providing we can understand why and how it's a good thing for PR purposes, I'm providing three pointers from Alex Nicholson, VP at Cone Communications, in the PR News post...

Google Glass: Any Hazard Potential?
You have to wonder what the public relations of Google glasses might be. Fun or queasy? First off, as Google launches its Explorers program of hardy, deep-pocketed test users, it's now apparent that Google glasses aren't really glasses, but a frame for a mini camera that fits over glasses, if you wear them. Hence their test launch name as Google Glass.

Lack of PR Diversity: 'Brands Ought to Start Noticing'
Lee Hayes, of Lagrant Communications in Dallas, has been in PR for 17-plus years, during which time he has become less than confident of the willingness of communications firms to become racially and ethnically diverse. "Today," he writes on The Holmes Report, "I no longer have faith or confidence that my peers around the country will do the right thing where diversity and inclusion are concerned in the communications industry..."

Pitching the Right People: A PR Must When You're Pressed for Time
Picture yourself doing everything in an enterprise. How do you have time for public relations? If you're a small business, that's not an academic question, and can well be a do-or-die question. On the Vertical Response Marketing blog, Connie Sung Moyle stresses PR essentials to focus on when you're truly pressed for time. They have to do with really knowing your media terrain and pitching the right reporters and editors (not sending them press releases).

Ryan May: 10 Years as a PR Blogger
Today is PR blogging day on Flack Me. That's because of a web post by Christina Milanowski of Maccabee PR in Minneapolis, who is interviewing Ryan May on the 10th anniversary of the creation of his blog Minnesota Public Relations (MNPR Jobs followed three years later). There's also a list by with the date of creation of PR blogs through 2006 and a further list with more blogs. (In 2006 there were at least 400 PR blogs.)

Creativity Can Be Nurtured: Here's How
Kivi Leroux Miller is doing us all a service on her Nonprofit Communications Blog by running a two-part guest post by Michael Michalko on nourishing creativity. Creativity isn't all or nothing, you have it or you don't. It needs to be practiced, that is, worked at with a certain amount of confidence. Michalko is the author of "Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques."

Readiness for a Crisis That's Not Likely to Happen (and in a Changing World)
Crisis communication is a tricky discipline, because, fortunately, it is seldom confronted with the reality of an actual crisis. Thus, a well-intended plan can go stale and be out of synch should it be needed. Regular crisis drills can help with a situation like this, but continuing study and reflection on how crisis settings may be changing is highly advisable...

Following PR Firms on Facebook
Here's a resource: a way to follow PR firms that interest you and freshen up your Facebook "likes" at the same time. On "Everything PR" Liliana Dumitru-Steffens has provided "100 Must 'Like' PR Pages on Facebook." Liliana's list takes a lot of work out of finding and following PR shops you want to keep up with. It continues to be amazing how the Internet is drawing us in as both a communications medium and a fraternal one. The economy is coming to center on the web, and it's not really understood what that means for jobs and curbside economic activity.

Prompts on PR Thought Leadership
Occasionally we'll note a book that looks like a good bet for PR inspiration. So it is with an e-book by Liz Alexander and Craig Badings, "140 Prompts for Designing and Executing an Effective Thought Leadership Campaign." We thank Craig Pearce for bringing it to our attention. He notes that the book provides "a range of resources to help kick your brain into gear, increase the potency of your thinking...and help achieve the best results possible." Sounds like helpful weekend reading.

NASA's Incredible Satellites...and Apple's Rumored iWatch
It was quite an evening on television and the Internet last night, an ultimate relational experience from Nova and then, a new Apple rumor. All with the effect of heightening the awe with which we ought to be framing our days as we offer our services to others. Nova's two-hour "Earth from Space" featured...

How Not To Promote An Electric Car
Jim Horton on Online Public Relations Thoughts provides a wonderfully sad example of the folly of attacking "the fellow who buys ink by the barrel", in this case, The New York Times. The critique is aimed at Elon Musk, the co-founder and CEO of Tesla Motors. Tesla lent one of its Model S electric cars to a Times reporter, who ran out of power between charging stations in...

'Trends' Another Useful Google Tool
We're embarrassed. In our roaming of the Internet for helpful PR leads, it's taken a while to catch up with Google Trends. But thanks to Meredith Eaton of March Communications in Boston, we have a demonstration of Trends' usefulness to PR practitioners....

A Primer on Google Analytics for PR Use
Definitely, here's a site worth some study by PR people: Justin Cutroni is Analytics Advocate at Google and he clearly knows a great deal about Google Analytics, a free tool for measuring web traffic. We've always wanted to do more with Analytics and now, with Justin's prompting, we likely will. With the PR world becoming increasingly digital, gauging the origins and interest levels of visitors to PR-related websites is a measurement challenge Google Analytics can definitely help you meet....

A PR Malpractice Indictment
Sure, a blog named CRMBuyer likely has a vested interest in promoting customer relationship management systems. But, gee, there are some examples of PR malpractice that are worth noting, and advising against, no matter who calls them to mind. Such is the case with Chris Bucholtz' CRMBuyer post, "5 Business Lessons to Learn From PR Flacks." Like "time-wasting pitches."

PR Promoted to Army Field Manual
It's taken a while, but PR is now front and center among U.S. military priorities. Walter Pincus in The Washington Post reports that "The U.S. Army has embraced what civilians would call public relations as a key part of military operations for the 21st-century battlefield. "Inform and Influence Activities," IIA, Pincus reports, is now part of the new Army field manual. "Combat power," the manual advises, "is the total means of destructive, constructive and information capabilities that a military unit or formation can apply at a given time." So don your flack jackets.

Handling a Crisis via Social Media
It's time to get down to cases on incorporating social media into PR. A good place to start is on the crisis side of the ledger. We've discovered Melissa Agnes, a web-based social media crisis manager. For those of you who don't know her, here's a good meeting place: Melissa's post on: "Is Your Social Media Crisis Communication Plan Twitter-Friendly?" We know people who can't imagine why businesses would want to be promoting, or protecting, themselves on Twitter, really...

Infographics Are For Storytelling; Picture Them Well
From Edelman Digital comes a lengthy interview with Alberto Cairo, a pioneer of the creative use of infographics. He discusses how to use infographics well in PR and marketing contexts. "I have mixed feelings about this phenomenon," Cairo says. "On one hand, I do appreciate the efforts that so many people in PR and marketing are making to convey information by visual means. I believe that there's a huge opportunity in there. On the other, I think that many of these efforts are wasted due to a lack of understanding of what infographics are really about..."

A Digital PR Sourcebook: Tracking Social Media
Here's a sourcebook from Andrew Gothelf at radian6 for tracking and measuring a social media PR campaign. Much of it will be familiar and intuitive to PR people — it amounts to the "digitalization" of strategy and tactics. But it's useful guidance and indicates how digitalization is evolving in public relations, not capsizing the field. Goals and objectives will always be the paramount starting point, as they are here. And, of course, there's evaluation as the campaign proceeds.

Divining Our PR Times at Davos
The Holmes Report provides insights from six PR industry leaders who attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week. Interestingly, as Holmes writer Arun Sudhaman puts it, quoting Rob Flaherty, of Ketchum, one of the six, "Davos feels increasingly like a communications conference, 'one with a really, really big budget.'"

Can Spring Be Far Behind? Seeding a PR/Marketing Program
A commendation to Garden Media Group in Kennett Square, Pa. They're providing a seed packet of material on building a brand via PR strategy and tactics. The material shows the interconnection between marketing and PR as the sun shines and word spreads, with PR in the lead.

PR Is Becoming Effective Content, Plain and Not So Simple
Here's another source on the ongoing media revolution we've been covering — the convergence of media modes around search, digital and mobile technologies. He's David Armano, Managing Director of Edelman Digital Chicago. "I believe, Armano writes, "(that) search, social and mobile are the three most disruptive forces in modern communications and they are working together to wreak havoc on organizations and their agency partners."

Documentation: PR's a Pressurized Field
Internal stresses of being a public relations person are discussed in a new paper co-authored by faculty members at Baylor University and the University of Texas at Austin. Most of the 30 PR pros interviewed (with an average of 27 years of experience) served as an "organizational conscience" and faced personal pressures in their "'kill the messenger'" predicament...

Culling 'Big Data' a Pressing PR Challenge
In a "follow-up" to yesterday's post on coming to grips with digital media, Contributor Jim Delaney on the Waxing Unlyrical blog discusses the need for PR people to learn how to plumb "big data" as a key source of digital leads. "This year," he advises, "PR professionals need to learn how to harness the power of big data to listen and engage, or face being left behind...."

Fail to Cope With Digital Media at Your PR Peril
Here, from the Holmes Report, is one of the meatiest treatments we've seen of trends in digital media as they're influencing-to-transforming PR practice. Not to be reacting knowledgeably to matters like the "difference between a retweet and a Pinterest pin," the challenge of mobile apps and content, digital PR as a marketing force, and digital customer service feedback is to be left behind in terms of pertinent practice. It's becoming that stark. The Holmes post includes a meditation by Frank Eliason, Citi's global social media director (formerly of Comcast), on trends in social media that are pulling on brands and their managers...

Social Media Use Likely To Be Disappointing At First
There's one big thing about a great social media idea: Don't count on everybody recognizing it as great for quite a while. Like any other creation, you've got to nurse, polish and be patient with a well-intended effort to become known and well-regarded via social media. You can easily become disappointed with your early social media reception. Blogger Jeff Bullas explains "The Big Problem With Social Media Marketing." A lot of the social media challenge, Bullas notes, has to do with continually creating good, credibility-building content. And so it does. Then there's the continual Facebook, Twitter, etc., postings that need to be done...

PR Crystal Gazing: Sites of the Future for Spotting Now
With the ever-growing importance of the online/Internet component of public relations, it's important to know your way around out there. With all those sloshing sites, which should you be mindful of? On EverythingPR, Liliana Dumitru-Steffens provides "50 Startups for PR and Marketing to Watch in 2013."

Lance Armstrong's Crisis Ride
From Australia and The Illawarra Mercury comes a cogent appraisal by David Sygall of Lance Armstrong's crisis communication options following his TV interview with Oprah Winfrey last week. "The instant information age means secrets are harder to keep," Sygall writes, "But it also provides new tools in the PR war." Like social media...

What Is It With Airlines, Guitars and PR?
First it was United Airlines breaking Dave Carroll's guitar in 2009. His music video of that incident made United infamous. But now we have Delta Airlines mashing Dave Schneider's Gibson guitar between a service dock and loading elevator. You see this shape, airline? It's a guitar case.

How Good Are You At Blogger Relations?
Elizabeth Sosnow on the Business 2 Community blog raises a pertinent question about the changing relational scene. Why don't PR people seem to be especially good about relating to bloggers? "You rarely hear about the folks who created valuable relationships for their clients," she writes. It could be that electronic relations are too new or too "remote" from prospects' offices. In any event, Elizabeth offers nine steps for "making a good impression" with bloggers. They start, of course, with doing the right sort of research on a blog.

Daniel J. Edelman, a Public Relations Counselor
The last paragraph in The Washington Post's obituary of Daniel J. Edelman, who died January 15 at 92, speaks volumes on his importance to the public relaltions profession. PR people, Edelman felt, bore some of the responsibility for the dishonesty in a corporate scandal like the collapse of Enron in 2001. "They went after the lawyers and accountants but nobody said 'what about the PR people?'" he told PR Week back then. "What does that say about us — that we are irrelevant?...

Which New Social Network is Best for PR?
New social networks like pheed, Medium and Chirpify are emerging. Patrick Coffee on PRNewser wonders which are most suitable for public relations use, should today's main-streamers like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ start to decline. He asks, "What do we think, PR pros: Can you imagine using any of these new tools in campaigns or client relations over the coming year?" There's much to keep up with as the web becomes a primary sector of PR activity. Coffee, editor and manager of PR Initiatives at PRNewser, is a good source to follow for leads.

Build a Social Media Media List
Maintaining a media list can be enchanced by the presence on social media of at least some of the reporters who may be important to your PR accounts. Social media listings of media people are an opportunity if handled well, and Carrie Morgan has a blog post on Social Media Today advising on how to do that. It comes down to, Carrie makes clear, making your media list twice, first conventionally, and then via reporters' social media presence. And not just on Twitter...

Walgreens in Crisis Mode With Pitbull Owners
Pitbulls have a reputation for being tenacious dogs, but also loveable ones, depending on how you treat them. Walgreens apparently has a policy of allowing "some liberty" to its local stores on what products they can stock. The drug store chain may want to rethink that in light of the Facebook storm that has arisen over the sale of a pepper spray named for pitbulls at one or more of its stores. It's a crisis challenge in a social media context.

Is PR a Science? Paul Seaman Doesn't Think So
From his Zurich-based PR practice, Paul Seaman contributes an essay, "Psychobabble will not make PR credible," on the root disciplines of our craft. They do not, Seaman argues, include neuro-science. Seaman was apparently troubled by some of the topics that were announced for The Holmes Report's Global Public Relations Summit last year in Miami, including "Persuasion, Empathy and Neural Coupling."

Social Publishing Sites as Blogging Alternatives
Paul Mayze says it well: a regular blog is difficult to maintain. Many attempts at blogging peter out for lack of time or continuing inspiration. But now, when you've got something to say, you can post it on a social publishing site like Mayze's Howwwl, CheckThis, Storylane or Medium. It's like bringing Pinterest to blogging.

PRSA Compiling 'PR Trends for 2013'
Judy Gombita on the PR Conversations blog led us to the Public Relations Society of America's annual effort to assemble public relations trends for the coming year, in this case, of course, 2013. As a PRSA spokesperson explained to Judy, "This is the third year that PRSA has put together its 'Top Trends of the coming year' series. We look to industry thought leaders and ask for their opinion on what the top trends will be during the year."

Old PR Times and New: The Era Change We're Living Through
The Bridge Buzz blog, a product of New York's Bridge Global Strategies, provides probably the fullest description we've seen of the PR era change we're living through - the shift from paper media to digital-based strategies and techniques. It's not an absolute change, obviously, but Bridge Buzz considers the shift in terms of story-telling and leaves no doubt that it's for real. "Stories," Bridge advises "are passed around the digital campfire, from one computer to another." Need a whole lot more be said of these emerging times?

PR Isn't 'Snake Oil'
People concerned about the role and standing of public relations, and I assume that means most of us, ought to hang out for a while on a site like HealthNewsReview.org. Sure it's an activist site concerned with exposing PR drivel. But folks, the temptation to issue drivel is growing as news staffs and their capability to provide effective editorial review shrink. It needs to be resisted, for the good of the craft.

Police Using Pinterest, Other Social Media
Think Pinterest is for crafty-minded folks only? Depends on how you view the word. The Philadelphia Police Department has a Pinterest page to help it catch criminals, and is greatly extending its PR reach on social media. Social media, indeed, is a new form of police beat. Lauri Stevens, a law enforcement consultant quoted on Government Technology, advises that: "Social media is the most recent evolution in communication technology. I don't think there's a choice as to whether or not law enforcement uses social media."

PR Words to Moan By
PR people, notes PR News, pride themselves on telling stories. Yet too many such "stories," it suggests, are on a comic book level. "...why do too many press releases still possess hackneyed (and puffy) terms that make reporters think...?"

Crisis Communication Backup Via Finland
When's the last time you heard about a crisis in Finland? Probably not often, yet they doubtless occur there. Regardless, we noted in skimming the web that the University of Jyväskylä has a brimming crisis communication pantry, including a page of links to crisis centers, projects and journals around the world. Crisis practitioners, consider this a year-end gift from abroad.

Starbucks' Sending Congress a Message
Buy a cup of Starbucks coffee in the Washington, D.C., area tomorrow, and you'll find a message written on it: "Come together." The plea, of course, is to Congress to turn back from the looming "fiscal cliff." Whether the plea moves the House of Representatives or not, it will be great PR for Starbucks. "Will it make a difference?" asks PR Newser. "Who knows, but if it keeps them awake for another hour, that can't be bad, right?"

Generation Y: Early Digital Risers
Want to have a prayer of reaching members of Generation Y, the folks born in the late 1970s and early 1980s? Then you need to go digital. Some of them, Cisco found in a world technology survey, check their smartphones before they get out of bed. They've been conditioned into an "always on" mentality.

Digital PR for Doctors and Hospitals
Here's an example of a digital approach to public relations, this one for doctors and hospitals: JB Communications in Santa Rosa, CA, has been in PR and marketing for nearly 25 years and has medical marketing as a prime "center of excellence." It just launched MediWebPR, "a full service, cost effective, evidence based online marketing program for physicians, practices and hospitals in the U.S."

Rev Up Your PR for the Holidays
Inc. magazine is providing a package of "5 Tips for Rocking Your PR Around the Holidays" while your competition is supposedly taking the season off. A decent service, including a prompting to spend a little of your holiday-period income to do that promotional podcast you've long been mulling.

PR Newswire: PR Trends for 2013
PRNewswire is ending 2012 with a preview of "PR Trends for 2013: Outcomes & Tactics." Actually, that's just one offering in a bigger package. Check the links for a host of insights into practicing PR as provided by PRNewswire's Sarah Skerik. You'll be served with insights for PR pros of any rank. Sarah includes a link to a recent webinar featuring Deirdre Breckenridge, Shannon Ryan and Shana Harris.

Our Wide, Wide Screen-Based World
Between them, Google and Brian Solis advise on the degree to which our world — at least its transmitted version — has changed from being paper-based to screen-based.

Quality Counts in Press Releases, Too
PR Newswire treats us to a variety of reminders that quality is foremost in all kinds of writing, PR news releases included. This welcome service starts with a blog post, "What is Quality Content?," by Ken Dowell, PR Newswire's executive vice president of social media and audience development.

Print Brochures Doing Well in a Digital World
James C. Morrison was told by a futurist 15 years ago, "Five years from now, your business won't exist." Morrison's business? Distributing travel brochures. Instead of disappearing, reports Lancaster (Pa.) Online, it's growing. His brochures aren't being wiped out by the Digital Age. This is a story worth recalling as you consider your publicity options in an increasingly on-line world. There remains a place for print (at least in some forms) in these digital times. "The trick, according to Morrison, is to use the time-tested brochure in concert with electronic media. 'We find that one supports the other. They're not mutually exclusive,' he (Morrison) said."

'All the News,' Says a County, 'Here at Our .Com Site'
Maybe it is a foretaste of a media-slimmed future, but the County News Center website in San Diego certainly upsets the competing North County Times. "Government PR surges amid media cuts," is the headline on the paper's lengthy story dissecting the county's spiffy news-site, the well-mounted home of a non-stop stream of digitally mounted press releases.

'Informly' Reports How Your Content's Doing
Anyone posting web content on a regular basis would like to know how it's doing on an overall basis. Now you can gauge your content's standing, by using Dan Norris' free Informly tool. Informly combines Facebook likes, Twitter tweets, Google+ responses, comments from Disqus, and visits from Analytics into a trend line for each piece of content. Very neat!

Meet Some Digital Community Managers
Arik Hanson on Communications Conversations is providing a service to folks in the digital world — PR and marketing people increasingly included — by profiling a number of community managers, the people who manage online community sites. His first interview is with Drew Gneiser, manager of FeedMyStarvingChildren.org. Drew says the biggest challenge in managing his site is focusing, a need many of us undoubtedly share.

New PR Challenge: Editing the Web Gusher
Success in public relations has increasingly to do with negotiating the torrent of content available on the web. There's a gusher of material available via blogging and other forms of social media, but how best to access it? Not, says Heidi Cohen, by automating the process in some manner. Editorial sensibility matters. Understand your objectives and choose your sources, for a "less is more" approach, she urges.

Define Your Terms in News Releases
Whatever type of news release you're writing (commercial or medical, for instance), you need to watch the terms you use in it. Be sure that unfamiliar terms are defined, as they occur in the release. "What, you're telling me to write a dictionary?" someone might ask. No, just an intelligible news release...

Another Site for Connecting Reporters and PR People
Now there's a second website where reporters and PR people can give each other a hand in developing stories or doing research. Pitching Notes in the Orlando area joins Help a Reporter Out (HARO) in New York as a site where PR reps and reporters can connect to develop stories or leads. Pitching Notes went live in March but really started gaining traffic in October...

Search Engine Journal a Good Place to Hang Out
Ron Tossarian offers a primer on PR's role in search engine marketing and, thereby, an introduction to Search Engine Journal for those of you who might not know about the site. You've no doubt heard that search engine marketing is an art; it's also increasingly important for PR people to understand and use well. This is a good place to join in that quest.

Citigroup's Meandering Press Release
The Wall Street Journal deserves a not-yet-conceived Pulitzer Prize for deciphering unduly reticent press releases. Citigroup is the villain here, with the release it issued yesterday on "repositioning actions," which the Journal translated into 11,000 layoffs.

Well Worth Heeding: Reasons for NOT Hiring a Given PR Firm
Jeff Haden at Inc. magazine gets lots of questions from readers on "how to find a great public relations agency." Because Jeff has "no clue," he asked Richard Furness, senior managing partner at Finn Partners, for his sense of the matter. Furness provides eight reasons for not hiring a prospective firm...

'The Daily' Loses Out as a Digital Newspaper
News Corp.'s The Daily, launched as an iPad newspaper in February 2011, isn't going to become established as a prototype digital newspaper after all. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is shutting it down instead, and along with it, hopes for at least Murdoch's idea of a way forward for besieged newspapers. The Daily was a great idea but, says Ad Age, "may have proved a bit generic for a product that consumers had to pay for."

The Year's PR Disasters...and Best Ads
The season of lists ("Best and Worst of 2012...") is opening. Permit us to be among the first to pass a couple of them along. From Business Insider, we have "The Biggest PR Disasters of 2012," accompanied by "The 10 Best Ads of 2012." Sad to say, Penn State was the No. 1 PR disaster, for covering up the Jerry Sandusky affair. And then there's the year's best ads/commercials...

A Police Officer's Act of Kindness...
We don't know how much the New York City Police Department spends on public relations. But no amount of budgeted dollars could have brought the return that Officer Lawrence DePrimo's simple act of kindness did on a cold city street recently. The officer bought a barefoot homeless man a pair of boots and socks, and a passerby, also with a police background, snapped a picture on her cellphone... The renown that Officer DePrimo has received for his heartfelt gesture reminds us that the best public relations is just that, relational — an action that strikes a chord of recognition and regard. It doesn't necessarily need to be planned, just done.

PR Furor On the Farm
National Public Radio documents how the manner in which Americans' food is produced has become a PR battleground. "Factory farming" methods have become notorious. And farmers are being sent to media trainers to learn how to talk to reporters — and to listen, as well. The latter, especially, isn't such a bad idea.

Stonewalling Doesn't Do It, No Doubt About It
Two contrasting approaches to PR challenges — by the pop band No Doubt and a shopping mall in Virginia — illustrate that facing up to adverse publicity is a far better move than ignoring it. The public can readily sense good manners and a caring approach and to seek to trump adversity, as the shopping mall discovered, is to spurn the public. Such sensitivities are only heightened in an age of consumer digital response.

Press-Kit-In-A-Box Still Works PR Magic
It's an old tactic, perhaps, but one that bears reminders and reuse — creating a presskit in a box for sending to media people you want to be remembered by. Jean Bain, on the Natural Products Insider marketing blog, describes the making of a boxed presskit and how to follow-up after sending one. And Dolphin Creative provides an example of a state-of-the-art glossy boxed version...

Creativity Seen as a PR Challenge
The level of creativity in public relations worldwide isn't as strong as practitioners believe they are capable of. That's the gist of a survey on creativity in PR sponsored by the Holmes Report in association with Ketchum and co-authored by breakthrough. Sentiment includes lackluster thinking and plodding work practices. Here's the full list:

Social Media Giving PR More Swat
Gregory Galant writes on Fortune Tech that public relations is getting a steadily increasing boost from social media. "PR departments," he writes, "are starting to be tasked with creating branded content and spending significant amounts of money on platforms that increase distribution for content such as Facebook's Promoted Posts, Twitter's Promoted Tweets and Outbrain's Amplify."

'Winning Friends and Influencing People' Today
From the University of Alabama comes an endorsement of Dale Carnegie's 75-year-old "How to Win Friends and Influence People" in a PR context. (What other context could a book with a title like that possibly have?) Student editor and PR aspirant Sam Nathews reports on how the relational classic has profoundly influenced him.

'PR is ___': An Infographic About Now
PR Newswire has produced a delightful infographic on where PR stands today, based on social media and PRSA conference conversation around the question, "PR is ___ ." The very process of producing these findings illustrates how PR is functioning these days in a new digital setting. Not completely digital, but enough so that it's changing the craft.

Finding: Too Much 'Kool-Aid' for Boomers In PR
A study of trends in public relations released by the University of Alabama's Planck Center doesn't look good for the profession's boomers, advises Jeff Domansky on the PR Coach blog. "Leaders drink too much of their own Kool-Aid," the report advises. "Leaders and followers hold different views about the 10 most important issues..."

A Healthy PR Opportunity
One of the realities established by the presidential election is that the new federal healthcare law, or Obamacare, is here to stay. As such, a post on the Holmes Report, "...Healthcare Reform Has Broad Implications," indicates that the new healthcare system, with all its complexities for doctors, hospitals, specialists, and the public, will have healthy PR opportunities. There will be a lot to explain and jostle for in new ways.

Listening In on the 'Global PR Summit'
Here's a place to hang out for a while to get a sense of current and looming trends in public relations. Christine Barney, CEO and managing partner of rbb Public Relations, provides a link lode of after-the-event access to the Holmes Report Global PR Summit held in Miami earlier this month. There's a wealth of access to the event via slides and videos.

PR and Marketing Allied in a College Digital Setting
An example of how closely public relations and marketing are allied in this increasingly digital era is provided by Karine Joly on the collegewebeditor.com site. Karine interviews Nancy Prater, marketing and communications director at Ball State University's Extended Education (online) branch. Subject: Digital advertising in higher education, once your aim is set. "We have done at least a little bit of everything," Nancy says, "...With each campaign, we carefully consider our target audience demographics...

'A Zen Place' on Social Media
As more and more relationships come to involve aspects of social media, Courtney Seiter at Raven Internet Marketing Tools in Nashville addresses the question of what can be known and what really can't be about a client's digital presence. "Everyone else can keep fretting," she writes, "but I've gotten to a zen place when it comes to social media ROI. For me, social media is a first impression. A blind date. A first dance."

Online PR Learning, from Capetown to Where Else?
Now here's something a little different we found in roaming the web. The University of Capetown in South Africa is offering an online course on "challenges of the modern PR environment." It looks to be a course in PR techniques online and off. We don't have details of the content or the cost in U.S. dollars, but you can email Nicole at nicole@getsmarter.co.za if interested. The course starts November 19, but registration closes November 9.

Activities-at-the-Ready for Promoting Clients
What kinds of activities can clients be doing to help you promote them? You all can come up with several examples. But for a handy check list of possibilities, here's Joan Stewart on the Business-2-Community blog listing nine such opportunities — "9 Things Corporate Sponsors Can Help You Promote." From live events to tours and causes, it's a good list to have on hand...

PRketing™ May Be Patented, But PR Still Leads
Each time we consider the trend of PR and marketing "merging," it looks like it's becoming more pronounced. Now we have D S Simon (DSS) winning a trademark from the U.S. Patent Office for the term PRketing. Frank Strong brings this to our attention in another post on the two crafts coming together. This isn't a matter of PR being swamped by crass commercialization, though. For clients need to relate well before selling a lot. With social media in play, "right conduct" may well become the principal value of both.

A Promising New Social Media Research Center
Conjunction with a Halloween hurricane might not be the best time for such an announcement, but the Institute for Public Relations launched its free online social media research center despite Sandy. And with our power back on, we can report that the new center looks promising indeed. It offers scholarly studies on social media and where it's headed.

A New PR Front: Watch Your Online Reviews
So maybe it won't happen often, but when it does, it can be especially harmful. Customers are putting a lot of stock in online reviews. One survey found that consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from a friend. Get a poor one, and what do you do? A column in the Idaho Statesman addresses this increasingly important aspect of Internet PR and marketing.

Cracking FEMA's Books on Emergencies
Waiting out tropical storm Sandy (will the power stay on?) is a good time to remind communicators of the independent study program offered online by the Federal Emergency Management Program (FEMA).

Looking In On Twitter Technique
We may simply have come upon it on a good day, but Mediabistro's AllTwitter site looks like a great resource for polishing up social media technique as a tweeter. Maybe that's because we've hit upon the site's "Weekly Twitter Roundup," which provides "our top ten Twitter stories of the week." And, indeed, the posts look quite helpful for extending your knowledge and use of Twitter.

PR, Marketing Aren't Exclusive Partners
The conjunction of public relations and marketing is illustrated, not so fancifully, by the concept of content marketing in which public relations is assigned the relational aspects of the "marketing funnel" — webinars and events, newsletters, e-mails and publications, websites, blogs and social media. Note that, in these times, these functions are largely digital. Which confirms that there is more to public relations than meets the web-based eye.

As Chinese Companies Head Abroad, How Will PR Fare?
Public relations could be in for a fateful cultural clash as Chinese companies expanding to overseas settings turn to PR counselors for help in getting established abroad. PR's image among much of the public as being manipulative could be strengthened or China's for being controlling could be softened. In any event, it will be a fascinating cultural interchange, as suggested by a Holmes Report post on a roundtable it held recently with Fleishman-Hillard

A Canadian Slice of the PR Scene
Put in 10,000 hours on the PR scene and if you're not keeping up with how it's been changing, you're not a practiced pro but pretty much an irrelevant one. That's the pertinent guidance from Charlotte Sherry, of Western Canada's Peak Communicators. Charlotte figures she's exceeded Malcolm Gladwell's "10,000 hours" standard by 8,720 more, "Yet I'm still following trends and dreaming up ways or channels to get my clients in front of their target audiences." Popular news sites are monetizing, blogs are abounding, Google+ has 400 million registered users, more new magazines are being launched than are closing.

Crisis Response at a Nashville Hospital
Crisis management is especially challenging in a hospital setting, where rules of patient privacy and expectations of effective treatment apply. The Nashville Ledger provides a gripping story on how St. Thomas Hospital there has dealt with a meningitis crisis that wasn't of its making. An outside pharmacy supplied its outpatient neurosurgery center with tainted steroids that made the hospital the focus of a full-blown crisis. The hospital's web homepage has an evolving report on the crisis.

Twitter Use Trends Updated
I went to a communications conference yesterday where a fair number of presenters noted Twitter as a channel of choice. Choice by whom? Well, Heidi Cohen provides an update on that, based on findings from Beevolve. Twitter users trend female and young, for one. Thus, Heidi suggests, family-related subjects are thereby good for tweeting.

Forbes Goes Awry on Pizza Hut's Ploy
Usually the Forbes business blog is pretty level-headed. Not, however, with a contribution by Aaron Perlut praising Pizza Hut for proposing to inject the question, "Sausage or Pepperoni?" into the last night's town-hall-style presidential debate. Pizza Hut itself tried to back away from that one, yet Perlut thinks the marketing ploy was inspired. The problem is, Perlut argues, that there are fewer reporters on hand these days to read press releases. So companies need to be really creative to get the public's attention.

Public Relations Is About Relating Well — And That's Changing
Before any more time passes, we need to call attention to Michael Ramah's post on the Huffington Post's business blog earlier this month: "It's Called Public Relations for a Reason." Ramah, of Porter Novelli, does a good job in sorting out PR's changing mission and identity. "PR is not about image management — it hasn't been for quite some time," he writes. "As the media landscape continuously becomes more complex and multidimensional, public relations is increasingly defined as the ability to empower organizations..."

Being Creatively Critical: A Key PR Skill
Craig Pierce discusses the advantages — nay, the necessity — of being critical to enhance organizations and avoid groupthink. Retaining a sense of doubt and knowing how to be heard creatively are key skills organizations should value, though sometimes don't. PR gains depth and reach when and organization is willing to be constructively critiqued by a practitioner with the skill of being listened to. You've heard that, of course; here's a refresher on being constructively critical.

Media Training on an iPhone? Sure
In media relations, it's vitally important to project competence and credibility in answering a reporter's questions. And that takes practice. Even if you're shooting a client on an iPhone in a cab on the way to the interview, says T. J. Walker, of Media Training Worldwide. Having the facts doesn't necessarily matter if your client doesn't have the technique down.

Google's Amazing Cultural Journeys
Violeta-Loredana Pascal introduces us on everythingpr to another amazing aspect of Google — the Google Cultural Institute. Based in Paris, the institute is only about a year old and its online collection of historical material keeps being added to. It's like having a cultural museum at your desk, or in our lap — wherever your computer's screen might be located. Google offers photographic resources for events in each decade of the 20th century and now into the 21st. It's an amazing collection...

Tylenol Reprised With James Burke's Passing
Sometimes the best way to learn is to "relive," that is, reprise, a challenging PR situation that was handled well. Fortune makes that possible in the case of the 1982 Tylenol poisonings in which James E. Burke, CEO of Johnson & Johnson, Tylenol's maker, handled a dire challenge with "business acumen and empathy," and brought the company to new heights. Fortune's article on the Tylenol killings is reprised on the occasion of Mr. Burke's death on September 28 at 87. Bottles of Tylenol that had been tampered with killed seven people in the Chicago area 30 years ago this month. A grimmer PR crisis can hardly be imagined.

Chinese 'Twitter' Causing Digital Downdrafts There, Too
Oh, dear. We no sooner wrote about "Twitter as the New Press Release," than we come across a variation of micro-blogging madness in China — Sina Weibo, "weibo" being the Chinese name for microblog. The Holmes Report chronicles how Siemens, the global engineering giant, was brought to heel by Sina Weibo, with Chinese consumers smashing their Siemens-made refrigerators. It's brought Siemens grave embarrassment in the Chinese market.

Twitter as the 'New Press Release'
Times they are a-changin' indeed. We don't know how many newspeople are turning to Twitter for story leads, but BuzzFeed Politics sees a "Twitter deluge as the new press release." And it offers an example in point — a host of politicos tweeting together.

A Lawyer on Display in Knoxville
Tensions between PR people and lawyers are legion. There was no PR person in this situation down in Knoxville, Tenn., but there should have been. This News Sentinel account of a lawyer putting himself on display, supposedly on a client's behalf, is not for the fainthearted. "Oh, he was full of clichés," writer Pam Strickland reports, "but I won't bother with the rest of those except for his demeaning insistence on calling a female news reporter 'sweetheart.' Really. He apologized, but then he took it back 'because you really are.'" Anybody want to advise the Tennessee Bar Association?

Social Media Creating a New Communication Environment
Brian Solis places a milepost on the progress of social media: it's here to stay, people are becoming steadily more connected and "Connected consumers think and behave differently." These aren't trifling observations, they're a plate shift in terms of communication practice and should be seen as such. In just six years or so, we have a new communication environment.

Public Relations as Human Relations
Heather Anne Ritchie-Carson, in a KISSmetrics post, discusses the difference between public relations and human relations, where mutually beneficial relationships are the aim. Actually, the latter is PR practiced well, but the human relations distinction is helpful for learning purposes. The underlying point is that in this social media era, paying attention to writers as people...

Edited Quotes Aren't Quotes At All
Margaret Sullivan, The New York Times' Public Editor, has a piece explaining why The Times' bans quotations that need prior approval from the officials uttering them, a practice known as "quote approval." Since quotations are supposed to be freely expressed sentiments from live, breathing sources, they shouldn't need any explanation or defense in the first place. "The practice (of quote approval) risks giving readers a mistaken impression that we are ceding too much control over a story to our sources," says a Times memorandum. "In its most extreme form, it invites meddling by press aides and others that goes far beyond the traditional negotiations between reporter and source over the terms of an interview." How about simply saying that...

Tim Cook's Classy Apology for Apple's 'Maps'
To us, Apple's Maps in iOS6 has an unfinished look, which isn't surprising when you're mapping the world turn by turn. Apple could have walked more in its customers' shoes before releasing what would prove to be, for now, an embarrassing iPhone 5 feature. But it didn't, so it's appropriate for Apple CEO Tim Cook to be issuing an apology for the Maps misstep.

Comcast May Rue the Years It Went Without PR
A company with challenged-to-poor public relations is Comcast. The cable-TV provider has been so big and indispensable to so many people it's as though it hasn't had to be concerned about PR. Wrong. Every business needs to be concerned about public relations, from Day One onward. Jeff Kagan of E-Commerce Times does a decent job of envisioning what might befall Comcast because of its poor PR sensibility....

Doing Social Media Checkups
Like any other PR technique, the use of social media outlets requires testing and checking. Posting to even the most familiar ones - Twitter and Facebook - doesn't mean it's going ideally for your client, even if the client thinks it's fine. Arik Hanson on Communications Conversations provides a checklist for a social media checkup. A you using visuals suitably on Facebook? Doing well with TweetStats? Arik's guidance can make you a regular social media medic.

'PR' Should Stand For 'Persuasive Relations'
There was spirited discussion this week at a program on climate change at Yale University. But what caught our attention about the evening was the Yale story noting that "Some environmental scientists in the audience raised concerns about the feasibility of arguing persuasively while also remaining factually accurate. One argued that a scientist's role is not to be a hero by relating information to the public, adding that persuasion inherently requires the skewing of facts."

Do You Have Images in Your Crisis Plan?
With images becoming a steadily more important presence on the web, do you have an image component in your crisis communication plan? Gerald Baron notes on Crisisblogger that by 2013, according to Cisco, 90 percent of Internet time will be spent watching video. Agree or disagree, images will be a substantially bigger component of information flows.

Brain Injuries a Downside of Sports
A largely unforeseen aspect of athletics, football especially, is the possibility of concussions from head impacts. Malcolm Gladwell wrote about them in The New Yorker in 2009. And now, Paul Woody, a sportswriter for The Richmond Times Dispatch, is running a series on traumatic brain injuries.

Building Community Influence, According to Groundwire
For PR people advising clients on their roles in communities — their objectives, means and level of prominence — the Engagement Pyramid from Groundwire Consulting in Seattle, looks like a useful tool. "Some engagement is lightweight," says Groundwire, "and that's OK — we can't expect everyone to have the same degree of interest in our mission. In fact, having a mix of people with varying levels of interest and engagement is actually a good thing...."

Two C's of PR: Creativity and Curiosity
Creativity is a curious attribute. It comes sometimes from obscure sources or sublime promptings. But it's a key attribute of success in a host of fields including, most especially, public relations. To prompt your awareness of the origins of creativity, we offer a Forbes post on the subject. And, since curiosity feeds into creativity. we've also got a paen to curiosity by Kirk Hazlett.

PR Aspects of the Chicago Teachers' Strike Assessed
Chicago public television station WTTW provides three public relations experts discussing who "won and lost" the Chicago teachers' strike. Good tactical insights are provided.

For Fall Reading, Results-Related PR Books
Here's your fall reading assignment. Katie Delahaye Paine provides a list of "11 must-read PR and social media measurement books." Don't let the word "measurement" trick you into thinking this is a boring list. These are books that link PR techniques to results in today's supercharged context. Time to renew your professional awareness with highly pertinent reading.

Social Media and Protected Speech
Twitter "tweets" and Facebook "likes" are influence builders that fully deserve to be understood and used properly. They are, indeed, a new communication discipline. We have here a court case on what's involved in clicking a Facebook "like"....

'Storytelling' Resources for PR Writers
The PR Coach website has a terrific post on storytelling in a PR context. Jeff Domansky, head PR coach, focuses on six PR and communication storytellers and includes a host of other resources to back them up, including links to storytelling groups on LinkedIn. As many of you already doubtless know, the PR Coach site offers a great assemblage of professional resources in its Library, Bookstore, Blog, and Jobs sections.

PR Will Be Needed As Drugs Go 'Over the Counter'
A number of big-name drugs are going "off patent" and will become over-the-counter medicines in 2014. Debra Gaynor of Marina Maher Communications advises on PR Week that pharmaceutical companies will looking for ways to extend the drugs' lives at a time when consumers are playing a bigger role in their health care. So here, Debra advises, is an opportunity for PR pros to respond to a specific communication need. "No discipline," Debra contends, "is better suited to build consensus among third-party groups, build anticipation and demand, and educate consumers..."

What Information Overload?
The next time you hear that people are "drowning in information" in these computer-powered times, be mindful of a study by Northwestern University that says information overload is bunk — "Very few Americans feel bogged down or overwhelmed by the volume of news and information at their fingertips..."

Breaking Bad News
Nobody likes to break bad news, but, as a PR person, if you don't do it carefully and calmly, or advise your client on being forthright and responsive, you'll make the situation worse. On Ragan's PR Daily, Christina Miranda, of Redpoint Marketing PR, provides five pointers on breaking bad news as effectively as possible.

PR Opportunities in Job Creation
Given the importance of the subject, we've been hearing very little about job creation: How it's being done, what jobs need to be filled, what the prospects are for more jobs, and where? There's PR opportunity here. Jeremy Heimans and Lee-Sean Huang appear to agree. On the Huffington Post, they're urging "Join the Insurgency Against the Jobs Crisis."

Check Your Own PR Stance
PR pros need continually to consider how well they are relating to clients and potential clients before anything else. How strong is your PR stance, how well are you coming across to the people who need to respect your style and skill well enough to pay you for your services? Susan Young, of Get in Front Communications, provides a pertinent post, "5 signs that PR leaders are impacting business results." With 26 years of experience in news and communications, Susan lists her "five signs" of effective PR pros. They're peppered with links to other sources and, overall, a helpful tool for personal PR stocktaking.

Yummy Pieces of PR Advice
You see this sort of list occasionally, but Ronnie Manning has kicked it up a notch or two by calling on colleagues in the craft for "35 Delicious Pieces of PR Advice for You to Eat Up. Yummm." He asked them to relay "some of the best public relations advice that they have ever received..." There's lots of good advice here, but we especially like Mark Grimm's "PR is not about spin. It's about telling the truth well." The post is beginning to draw a list of comments that should add to its wisdom.

Tactics When You're Tweeted
You've heard how Twitter is being used as a news stream. Suppose your own company's name comes streaming by in an unflattering tweet. Mohana Ravindranath reports in The Washington Post an apparent PR consensus on how to respond to Twitter pings and to maintain an accountable presence there.

A Planning Chart for PR Bloggers
For PR people considering a blog as a prime digital relations tool, Heidi Cohen provides a very useful-looking blog focusing tool — "How To Plan Your Blog By Type." Across the top are blogging categories from business2customers to solopreneur and personal blogs. Down the side are goal and content considerations. Each of the intersecting boxes contains helpful prompts. Heidi's infographic clearly wasn't devised overnight, and it's a real service for her to offer it to colleagues.

PR at the Extreme: A Police Emergency Response Team
In its 27 years of operation, the Somerset County Emergency Response Team (ERT) in New Jersey has never fired a shot at a person threatening to harm themselves or others. These standoff negotiators, typical of many more across the country, exemplify both police work and public relations at their most stressful. A story told in gripping terms by Everett Merrill on MyCentralJersey.com

'Big Data's' Challenge to PR
PR people are supposed to be good at listening, but what happens when listening becomes trying to pick up insights in a daily torrent of web-generated information? It's becoming increasingly daunting to listen well. That said, we're pleased to refer you to a primer on listening and sorting from March Communications in Boston — "Big Data, Big PR?"

Facebook Facing the Investor Throng
We wondered at the time whether Facebook was a substantial enough entity to list itself on the stock exchange, and we still do. Now, with Facebook's stock at half its opening price, there's a Wall Street clamor for Mark Zuckerberg to be something he likely isn't: a corporate statesman. Maybe a social media enterprise should concentrate exclusively on fostering its members' exchanges.

Digital Grip Grows on The Patriot-News
It can be big news when a newspaper produces news about itself. That was the case yesterday when The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., the state capital, announced that, starting in January, it will be publishing only three days a week and is placing its bets on its digital version. A print circulation drop has been accelerating.

Edelman Rebuild Includes Penn State's 'Faces'
Richard Edelman is sounding like something of a PR coach to Penn State as the University seeks to rebuild its image. "We have been playing defense for the last five months..." Edelman told Penn State's trustees, "Now is the time to pivot." The school's PR offensive will include "Faces," a poster campaign that will highlight the accomplishments of students, alumni, and professors.

Capitalizing on Attending Events
Events aren't any longer just occasions for taking notes, holding conversations and making resolves that don't get applied. They're promotional opportunities for you and your organization during and shortly after an event that can greatly enhance your attendance.

PR Efficiency Tools
Possibly you've got all the tools you need to run an efficient PR practice. But just in case you may have missed some, we refer you to the tool locker provided by Kami Watson Huyse, APR, on her Communication Overtones blog. They're mainly for users of Gmail. But Kami provides links to Outlook and Mac tools as well. There are always ways, it seems, to use a computer more efficiently. But not everybody is in a sharing mode. Most of us are too busy for that. Yet sharing is at the heart of our craft.

Focus, Consistency Key in Today's Messaging
Sarah Skerik, of PR Newswire, makes a fresh effort to sort through the relationship between content marketing and public relations, the one focused on sales and the other on reputation. They're becoming inseparable in today's "always on" Internet culture, she notes. "Both rely heavily on publishing messages with the goal of influencing opinion and generating specific outcomes." For communicators, Sarah stresses, these new relationships mean you have to "Eliminate silos. All groups with(in) the organization who are creating content for public consumption need to be hand-in-glove. Coordinating efforts can create search engine lift and a calendar of consistent messaging that delivers a cumulative effect..."

Great Advice from PR 'Youngsters'
Good, sage advice is usually associated with seasoned veterans. But here we have excellent relational advice from younger members of the PR craft — "Moving Up Quick — Ten Do's and Don'ts From Rising Star Professionals." It's not so much the italicized lead-ins, but the heart of their guidance itself that roused us. Like "PR is such a fluid and dynamic practice that every day we get intensive on-the-job leadership training..."

SEO's a Spinnin': Up or Down?
We're not involved in SEO, only aware of its importance as a means of being discovered by the public. We've been hearing of big changes by Google, the proprietor of web searching. But it looks like a confusing scene. Here, for example, are two posts by PR practitioners taking opposite approaches to PR's prospects on the web.

Stunted by 'The Personalization Paradox'
Savvy communications people have sensed this for some time, but now we're seeing it pulled together - as in this concise paper, "The Personalization Paradox," from Cookerly Public Relations in Atlanta. Our information sources are becoming more like a constricting pipeline than a nimble breeze. And that can be stunting to all of us. Even if our web pipeline includes our friends, as is true for most of us, it's still small bore compared to the vastness of what's being accumulated.

Progressive Insurance's Collision With Social Media
Wow! Read what happened to Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. in complex auto accident litigation that created a PR setting made to order for social media. The litigation over the death of motorist Kaitlynn E. Fisher and the manner in which her brother, Matt, took to Tumblr about it is an illustration of today's increasingly challenging communication environment. Corporate public relations people need to be mindful of what they could be facing in the court of social media-enhanced public opinion.

Spotlight Money for Harrisburg's Streetlights
Friends, read how a strip club in cash-bereft Harrisburg, Pa., upstaged the stuffy Chamber of Commerce in contributing money to repair some of the city's streetlights. Always be watching your back, folks. There's good in anyone who recognizes the value of well-lighted streets to a capital city, or any city.

Slackness in Crisis Readiness Continues
A perennial warning is voiced again, this time from an Australian crisis communication practitioner: Many companies aren't prepared for handling crises well. Tony Jacques cites a research report in IR Magazine in noting that only two thirds of companies worldwide have crisis plans in place and only half of those conduct crisis simulation exercises. Further, the IR report notes that "North America is the most crisis prone region."

Rediscover Rudolph Flesch's Readable Writing Tool
We're indebted to Wiley Brooks on the Business2Community site for reminding us of Rudolph Flesch's tool for clear, brisk writing. Brooks reintroduces Flesch's algorithm tool in the context of crisis tcommunication, but it applies to any writing requiring assured clarity, and what writing doesn't? Brook's sends us to his PR Writing Class site where you can click on "Tool," enter a block of text, click on "Get Results" and discover your Flesch score, the higher the better. Rudolph Flesch, Brooks reminds us, was a lawyer and refugee from Nazi Germany who "earned a Ph.D. in English at Columbia University, and then became a prominent professor there."

Get Real With SEO for PR
James Crawford, managing director of PR Agency One, is writing from Manchester, England, but his plaint about PR agencies not being adept at Search Engine Optimization (SEO) probably applies to a lot of U.S. agencies as well. It's a new and different PR discipline and the value of Crawford's post is that he lays out what agencies ought to know and be doing about SEO.

Where In the World...?
As subject-matter content becomes a prime information commodity (rather than news brands themselves), consumers of content are roaming the Web and too often fuming when they come upon a meaty article from...where? Here, for instance, is a good piece on Rio's prospects for mounting the 2016 Olympics from Business Mirror. But where's the Business Mirror itself located?

Infographics Capture Investor Sentiment
We don't know who or what prompted it, but PR Newswire has begun an innovative, year-long digital survey on investor and media confidence in publicly traded companies. Results from the "Shareholder Confidence 365 Study" are being provided in the form of infographics that should catch the attention of corporate executives. The questions being asked are posted on Survey Monkey. The first question was, "For the stocks you currently own, how often do you visit the Investor Relations websites of those companies?" And there it is, near the top of the infographic among less jaundiced responses: "I never trust what the company is putting on its website. They paint everything in a positive light." Seriously, this infographic approach to presenting survey results captures a lot of sentiment in an all-in-one graphic. Looks like a terrific way to present responses to any kind of survey. We bet corporate and Wall Street executives will be following PR Newswire's infographic insights into where they stand with investors.

Approaches to Corporate Blogging
We're a little slow in catching up with this post by Freek Janssen on Lewis PR 360, but it's worth noting for the insight it provides into planning a business blog. "But first of all: why?" Janssen asks, and provides four possible answers that are more nuanced than, simply, "We want to be out there."

Community Managers Organizing in a Grand PR Tradition
With the community movement flourishing and becoming a "new media" environment on the Web, it's time that it had it's own professional association. And lo, it does — the Community Roundtable and the CR Network.

PR's Future Materializes in Brooklyn
We've been writing the past few days about how public relations and marketing are converging as consumers become more conscious both of values and relationships in a post-recession, digitally powered time. What does that look and sound like in the form of a going, real-time PR practice? Well, here's what appears to be a fully-expressed example of what we've been outlining.

With Consumers Clearer About Their Values, Marketing Becoming More Like PR
Marketing keeps becoming more like PR with PR enhancing marketing. Samara Farber Mormar, of Hunter Public Relations, explains on PRWeek a good part of the reason why that's happening, backed up by a seminal article, "The Power of the Post-Recession Consumer," by John Gerzema and Michael D'Antonion. The trend's occurring because chastened consumers are becoming more values-based in their choices. And that's a good thing. Samara calls the trend "values-based" marketing and sees it as "an opportunity for our discipline (PR) to contribute more than ever as drivers of brand marketing. Simply-put, values-based marketing sparks an emotional connection..."

PR's Pell-Mell Outlook
PR seems about to become a pell-mell profession, but without the confusion, hopefully, that the term implies. We've already noted The Bridge, the digital media monitoring center(s) that GolinHarris has purring in its offices worldwide. Now Jeff Beringer, GH's digital lead, writes about "real-time marketing" in which you can "expect new methodologies to assess performance based on PR's ability to reach and impact people at the right time, at the right place, with a tailored message." Wow! Never mind saving those clippings. There won't be any to save. Instead, there will be interpersonal transactions happening as we live, and fashion, them.

PR On Your Own: Circulate and Percolate
Here's one for sole business practitioners or small, start-up businesses without PR budgets. Writing on everythingpr, Liz Becker provides "5 Tips for Great PR on a Tight Budget." They come down to being relational yourself and engaging in social media, starting with a blog. With some elaboration on each, Liz's program includes, 1. Start a Blog, 2. Do Something Newsworthy, 3. Network, 4. Pay-Per-Click Marketing, and 5. Social Media (Facebook and Twitter).

Poll Shows Business Outshining the Federal Government
The Public Affairs Council in Washington provides context for today's relational climate via a report on Americans' views of government and business. The results aren't surprising in today's contentious climate, but business (especially small business) is apparently being held in growing esteem over the federal government. Two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) have a favorable opinion of big companies and as many as 88 percent view small businesses positively, while only 41 percent view the federal government favorably, according to a telephone poll compiled by Princeton Survey Research Associates. The survey was conducted from June 30 through July 11 in telephone interviews with 1,750 adults.

Social Media Abuse: Don't Fake Familiarity
Mitch Joel, author of Six Pixels of Separation, has it right. Practically anyone with email will agree. There are folks out there who fake familiarity with you and probably think that's clever PR. It's not. "It turns out," Joel notes, "that faking familiarity gives an air of creepiness somewhat more disturbing than the spam that came before it." In this social media world, it's easier than it used to be to find pegs for intrusive emails...

Exeter Hospital's Crisis Communication Challenge
Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire has been providing a case study in crisis management. Unfortunately, it hasn't been going all that well. But how would you handle an unfolding situation in which an employee was arrested and charged with being responsible for infecting at least 31 patients with hepatitis C? The New Hampshire Business Review discusses the situation.

Holmes: Social Media Rankings of Top PR Firms
The Holmes Report provides its assessment of where leading PR firms stand in their use of social media. Its index ranks the "social effectiveness" of the 25 top global shops, and Edelman leads the list for the second year, followed by Ogilvy and EuroRSCG. Holmes' survey uses Sociagility's PRINT™ methodology.

PR From a New Media 'Control Room'
David Meerman Scott describes and GolinHarris demonstrates The Bridge, a real-time media 'control room' — actually a monitoring center — that the agency is using at its offices worldwide to keep abreast of opportunities or challenges for its clients in real-time social media.

Brave New World of Employee Communication
Communication to an organization's employees used to involve making announcements — that was about it. That's not so any longer, advises Scott Spreier of the Hay Group on the Public Relations Society of America's (PRSA) blog. Now it's about being credible to employees and identifying with them — considerably more challenging. "Finally," Spreier writes in a piece well-worth pondering, "no matter what your strategy, media, or technology, don’t think you can win the credibility battle with communication alone..."

Boy, Blogging's Sure Spawned a Media Industry
Here's a press release from "after the ball" that pictures an entire industry that didn't exist not too long ago — blogging and other forms of new media — and provides ample reasons for saving your pennies for next year's gathering at Las Vegas.

Venture Capital Firms Turn to PR
When it's crunch time, even venture capital firms turn to PR and marketing. That's the essence of a New York Times report, "Venture Capital Firms, Once Discreet, Learn the Promotional Game." Investors are turning to the top firms, so everyone left wants to look "tops". It's a little depressing, actually, to find PR being turned to only under stress.

PR Creating 'Friction or Flow'? You'd Better Know
Kellie Sheehan in a Business2Community post does a nice job of examining in a PR context whether practitioners are creating "friction or flow," a crucial measure of business effectiveness. The piece is based on a Harvard Business Review blog post that was written in a human resources setting.

Edelman: PR on the Cusp in Silicon Valley
Here, from The San Mateo Daily Journal, is a snapshot of PR in the fast lane, in Edelman's San Mateo office. The PR giant has 130 employees in its Silicon Valley office there, is looking to hire more and last month hosted an academic conference at Stanford on "When All Media is Social: Navigating the Future of Communications."

A PR Contract Had Better Get Follow-Through
This pointer shouldn't be necessary, but it certainly is advisable. When a PR firm lands a client, it needs to serve that client well. Elementary? Well, apparently not always. In 2011, LogMyCalls hired a PR firm to promote its new call-tracking software. For months, the (unnamed) firm didn't produce any results. So LogMyCalls fired them and started its own PR campaign.

What's 'Old Media' Got Over 'Social Media'?
This could be one of the last times you'll be asked to consider the value of traditional media as the social media swirl keeps gaining velocity. So attend to those delivery trucks still making their rounds - what's the PR value of their products over and against social media? Dave Hogan APR speaks up for "traditional news media" in an AbileneBiz post.

New Link-Based Tools Bring PR Results
Adding SEO and social media to a PR department's tools can yield great results. But the techniques are new and not necessarily understood. Hence, says Eric Enge in a Search Engine Land post, it all "starts with education." And he proceeds to provide some. This is timely instruction, including why links are so important and how to use them for audience building. Entitled "How To Leverage Brand PR To Drive SEO & Social Media," Eric's post is at the junction of public relations and marketing.

PR Just Getting to Graduate Business Schools?
There's an AP story abroad this morning about the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) launching a "pilot project at five business schools to teach MBA students how to handle crises and preserve corporate reputations." Really? Why'd it take so long? This can't be the first time that PR was taught to graduate business students.

Penn State's PR Lesson For The Ages
Louis Freeh's report to the Penn State Trustees nails it, and never forget it: "Taking into account the available witness statements and evidence, it is more reasonable to conclude that, in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University — Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley — repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse..."

Starbucks Sounds An Alarm
Howard Schultz doesn't like the situation the country is in, and he's saying something about it. So what, a lot of us are unhappy about the state of things. So maybe Schultz will get some ears and stir some resolve. He's the billionaire CEO of Starbucks and his full-page "open letter" is appearing in national publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

Applebee's Wants Kids to Read: Great!
Whether the "Summer Reading Challenge" to kids being mounted by an Applebee's franchisee and the Salvation Army in upstate New York and Connecticut is public relations or marketing is immaterial. It's a great idea that ought to be picked up by other businesses, for next year at this point.

A Tense Time To Be In PR
The tension between old and new media — relating to reporters and to the world of social media — is expressed well in a Forbes post by Robert Wynne titled, "Is Social Media a Waste of Time?" Wynne seems to think it is. But one's about "mention" and the other's more about "presence." Media relations and social media function on somewhat different time scales. Being attuned to both, and the yield from each, is today's key PR challenge.

PR's Real Role Isn't Media, It's Change
Another prod for PR people to become current on what the profession's about — or put another way, change what they're measuring as results — comes in a PRWeek podcast by Mark Westaby and Philip Sheldrake. Both attended the recent International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication conference (AMEC).

Questionnaires Completed By PR Colleagues
For those of you who don't already know them, enjoy, and maybe learn from, the online company of colleagues with the PRoust questionnaires. Inspired by the French writer, Marcel Proust, the questions are intended to reveal personality. Jane Tchan, a communications consultant, completes today's. But links to more than a dozen others are included at the end of the post. Thanks to PR Conversations for this offering. The questions are intended to reveal values of the depth and range of one's interests. They're a means of professional online companionship.

Launch.it For Do-It-Yourself Online PR
Here's a new site worth getting to know. Launch.it is a free site for announcing and self-promoting new products and services. PR Newswire and its fee-for-service counterparts are likely to shudder as Launch.it perks along. It looks like a sort of Pinterest-for-PR site. In fact, Brian Cohen, Launch.it's co-founder with his son, Trace, was Pinterest's first investor, says The New York Times.

For Apps or Networks, Your Story Matters
eReleases makes an important point in advising how to promote an app you may have developed. But it's a point that holds for more than apps: "To be the most interesting app (we'd add network, blog, digital whatever) is all PR. There's one major thing that separates you from the countless others - your story." If you don't tell people something about yourself and your enterprise in this whirlwind age, nobody's likely to do it for you.

Dipping Into the PR Flow...
Here are some of the current stories bouncing around the Web on developments in public relations. We're likely to be switching to this "roundup" approach occasionally to be a bit more inclusive in our PR reporting. It's not meant to be an all-inclusive Web digest, hardly.

Penn State's Core PR Lessons
Why pause to sum up the PR lessons, so far, of so ugly a situation as the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State University? Precisely because Penn State thought it was so good at public relations, and because top officials thought they were protecting the university by not referring the now-convicted Sandusky to the authorities. Image and reputation aren't everything in PR.

'SourceBottle' Automating PR Contacts
Gee, is a site like SourceBottle a threat or an accessory to PR people? SourceBottle connects journalists or bloggers with sources exclusively in the realm of women's interests.

Great Digital PR Resource Materials
The next best thing to being at last week's Taste of Tech and Social Media Summit, hosted by PR News, is to study this mass of material provided by CDS Global for Nonprofits and Xochi Adam. It would take nearly as long as travelling to, and attending, the events to read, click and listen through all this timely information.

From India: PR On A (Virtually) Spiritual Plane
Feeling a bit of a drudge on your PR rounds? We refer you, then, to N. Chandramouli, CEO of the Comniscient Group in Mumbai, India, whose companies include Blue Lotus Communications. It's like being tutored by a sage seeking to free us from earthly evils (at least ennui). "If language is the liberator of human beings," Mr. Chandramouli advises us, "the Communication function is the liberator of an organization. It frees businesses from the constraints of time and space and the incarceration of their own mindsets..."

Hazards of Going It Alone
People with creative backgrounds, including media pros, can be drawn to public relations for career restarts. There's allure in launching your own business, but there are definite hazards, too. One of the best discussions of the pitfalls of entrepreneurship that we've seen comes in a post on Entrepreneur Stories, "Ten Mistakes That Will Ruin Your Business."

Vanessa Got an Earful About PR, And...
Public relations has a PR problem. We've known it or sensed it, but Vanessa Horwell brings it to the fore. Vanessa, Chief Visibility Officer and founder of Miami-based ThinkInk and The ThinkTank, attended the Online Marketing Summit and spoke with people who had negative things to say about their own PR reps. "Most of the gripes I heard," Vanessa reports, "ranged from: 'All they did was write press releases' to 'They weren't creative or strategic in planning,' or my favorite, 'They charged a lot but didn't do much.'"

A Method For Blogging Well, Socially So
Being good at something usually means having a method and system for accomplishing it, some form of polished discipline. This surely holds for successful blogging, whether of the personal or corporate kind. PR people looking to succeed as bloggers should thereby appreciate Janet Aronica's "7 Ways to Increase Your Blog Visibility With Social Sharing."

Update on PR Measurement Modes
Though the subject of measuring PR methods and results sounds a bit stodgy, it's important for validating the effectiveness of legitimate strategies and tactics (or the ineffectiveness of bogus ones). Thus a post from the PRSA from this month's Dublin meeting of the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) is worth some attention.

Slides on Social Media Crisis Response
We've all heard of crises that have been spotted and reported on Twitter and other social media channels. But how do you actually use social media as a crisis-response tool? Ustream and ayoudo provide a crisis response kit in the form of 11 slides on "How to respond to a crisis using social media." This is a primer you need to be familiar with.

Martha's Making Mincemeat of School Lunch Officials
Check out the saga of Martha Payne's NeverSeconds school lunch blog in Scotland to experience the potential of social media for catching the public's attention and puncturing corporate huffiness. Don't ever let this happen to you — and Marsha is only nine! (But she's got a camera...)

Grayling Launches Promising Global PR Survey
The first edition of Grayling Pulse, a new global communications survey, has been issued by Grayling, a London-based global communications network. It shows PR and communication continuing to be strong, basically growing business interests, despite budget pressures and global economic instability.

Think Through the PR Trend to Twitter
PR people seem to be deciding that the channel in which to build media/blogger awareness is Twitter and other social media outlets rather than e-mail. They're not yet actually pitching stories so heavily on Twitter, however, though that could change. Hashtags and messaging rather than simply posting to the tweetstream could make a big connection difference. We're a little slow in catching up with the the PR News/Cision survey that revealed the PR trend to Twitter. But it's certainly worth noting anyway. More timely (this week vs. the end of last month) is James Crawford's American Express Open Forum post...

New AP Stylebook Wrestles With Social Media
The new AP Stylebook, notes the Poynter journalism institute, "has an expanded social media section that's intended to be a How To handbook on using social media to build sources and gather news." Or to negotiate the slippery slopes of SM signups. What's it mean for a journalist to be a "friend"? Check out AP's effort to explain. "It is acceptable," says the Stylebook, "to extend and accept Facebook friend requests from sources if necessary for reporting purposes. However, Friending and 'liking' political candidates or causes may create a perception among people unfamiliar with the protocol of social networks that AP staffers are advocates. Therefore, staffers should avoid friending and liking unless they have a true reporting reason for it..."

Internal Cultures a PR Opportunity
A press release from the MWW Group across from New York City catches our attention for the pertinence of its message: Lots of organizations aren't being internally consistent with their own purpose and/or fate. An MWW survey of "100 business leaders and HR professionals" showed that corporate reputation is "substantially driven" by internal corporate culture.

Atheists Seeking a PR Director
Looking for a PR challenge? How about taking on God? Yes, American Atheists is looking for a PR director. "As our membership explodes," says the group's prospectus for the position, "we need a full-time Public Relations director to help steer us into the future." It's nice to be confident of having a future around so controversial a subject.

Shell and PR Needled at the Space Needle
We've been wondering what the Occupy movement has been up to in its current, relatively quiescent phase to help set the economy aright and speak truth to power. Well, its Seattle branch, at any rate, has had the energy for an elaborate hoax that, hopefully, will backfire on winsome protest frolics everywhere. Protest, guys, is a serious business. In Seattle, an "invitation" surfaced from an ersatz PR firm, "Wainwright & Shore," to attend a June 6 event, "New Frontiers: a Celebration of Seattle's Energy Leaders," on the Skyline Level of Seattle's Space Needle. The "event" produced an online video showing an "oil platform" punchbowl running amok and spraying an elderly "attendee."

Warren Buffett Buys 63 Local City Rooms
Gini Dietrich looks at Warren Buffett's recent purchase of 63 community newspapers, noting that "Buffett is not known for making high-risk or crazy investments. Quite the opposite..." Indeed, this will be something to watch....

PR's Role Alongside Social Media
With social media channels like Twitter and Facebook to present and amplify messages, do entrepreneurs really need the services of a PR firm? Sharma Kabani, CEO of the Marketing Zen Group in Dallas, takes on that question in a Portfolio.com post. Sure, you can use social media to build relationships, Sharma notes, but the older media can extend your reach.

'Servant Leadership' In 'Integrated PR' Is Our New Reality
What's "integrated PR"? You'd best know and be practicing it, for, says Jason Ouellette of Pan Communications in Boston, it's PR's new reality. "The more and more I meet with clients, partners and others that have some sort of ownership of the marketing function," he writes on Pan's prSpeak blog, "the more I get the feeling that PR is really dying. I am seeing (and others are in agreement) less and less value gained out of basic media relations and PR today." The new reality is the need to grasp all the analytical tools...

Sharing for Success, Yours and Others'
Got expertise? Of course you do. Well, share it, don't hoard it and leave yourself waiting to be discovered. Phil Fersht, founder and CEO of HfS Research, has made himself the services industry's thought leader by sharing information freely to potential, as well as actual, clients. The Internet and blogging offer a great opportunity for radical sharing. Use them in that light. Phil Fersht, notes a profile in PRWeek, started his Horses for Sources blog in 2007 and immediately started sharing his expertise "freely, openly, and often."

Billionaires Itching To Invest Money: Which Of Your Clients Could Benefit?
The Economist reports that some 36 billionaires, led by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, held the second meeting recently of the Giving Pledge to discuss how to give away at least half their wealth. Some are interested mainly in public-private partnerships to solve tough problems. Others are intrigued by "impact investing" to make profits and do good simultaneously. Is there an opportunity here for deserving PR clients?

Gearing Up for a Workshop on Digital PR
Digital public relations has reached the point where it can support a day-long workshop. Arik Hanson, principal of ACH Communications, knows that because he was recently asked to conduct such a training session for a corporate communications team. So what to include? Here's what Arik came up with for a digital PR workshop:

Emotional Mastery Key to Effective PR — As Well As Living
The ability to deflect gathering emotional storms is critical to effective PR, not to mention living well. Writing on All About Public Relations, Sara Fletcher, of TalentSmart, notes the importance of "Connecting Emotional Intelligence with PR." We spent time mulling the subject years ago via Daniel Goleman's "Emotional Intelligence." It was time well spent. We picked up the "emotional stoplight" graphic from Daniel Goleman, and it's been useful — and comforting — to keep around. Stay cool.

On LinkedIn: What About 'No Comment'?
Here's something a little different for Flack Me: A link to a LinkedIn discussion on the hazards, and sometimes necessity, of using "No Comment" in response to reporters' questions. Jim Bianchi, of Bianchi Public Relations, raises the question. If you're not on LinkedIn, the "Public Relations and Communications Professionals" group, the home of this discussion, is a good reason for joining.

Social Media Is About Socializing, Not Necessarily Selling
Facebook's anxieties since its Wall Street launch last week suggest that we should keep social media in its rightful focus: it's about socializing, not necessarily selling — creating awareness, not necessarily sales. All the people worldwide who head to social sites daily are doing so for updates on friends, acquaintances, and colleagues, not usually advertisements.

Drones: Cutting Through the Relational Haze
Here's a challenging subject for a PR classroom — or maybe airstrip — exercise: What strategy and tactics can help pilotless drone aircraft find their place in the American sun and skies? From their missions in the Afghanistan theater, drones have the image of sneak, deadly attacks. Now they want to fly them over U.S. landscapes?

'Seek or Shout' For Media Relations 'Community'
We haven't used Seek or Shout, Cision's new media relations tool, yet. But it sounds promising as a channel for helping "journalists, bloggers, public relations, marketing professionals and other professionals research and promote their content..." — an online alternative to a media card file. Cision describes the tool as a means of building "an interactive community with photos, live comments and direct collaboration." With all these folks on hand, as a community, it'll probably be a little raucous.

Crisis Communication: Social Media at the Heart of WHO
David J. Olson, a veteran crisis health communicator, found Twitter at the heart of WHO, the World Health Organization, when he visited the organization's Geneva headquarters recently. Here he provides examples of tweets that were posted during the Japanese tsunami and radiation crisis last year. One — Iodized #salt doesn't have enough #iodine to protect you from radiation. Too much #iodizedsalt can cause poisoning. #japan #global health — helped head off a salt-buying panic in China.

Relational Challenges: GM's Social Media Bumps
We've been saying that social media needs to be included in corporate public relations plans these days, if at all possible. What does that look like when it's done well? General Motors has been having difficulty with the concept, so much so that it's pulled its advertising ($10 million worth) from Facebook. B.L. Ochman thinks GM "doesn't get" social media, that it "wants to broadcast instead of listen." She provides 11 "boring" examples of the problem. "GM is spending $30 million maintaining its Facebook presence..."

Paul Holmes Puts Relationships In Today's Context
Effective public relations is about changing behavior, first and foremost — the client's behavior toward its publics. As another week ends, it's well to ponder and grasp the import of a lengthy essay by Paul Holmes about defining PR in the Social Media Age. Gee, you mean public relations is about relationships? Indeed so.

Perverse Energy PR Does the Craft No Credit
Oh, dear. Just when the nation needs a balanced approach to an issue as complex and, to many, as confounding, as climate change is, The Guardian provides a draft memo from the conservative American Tradition Institute that calls for "subversion" of the message of the wind power industry. It's true that public relations tactics are available to a range of causes, but...

Shaking the Social Media Blender: We're All Doing It
In this social media era, it's hardly worth drawing distinctions between marketing and public relations any longer. Yes, they exist. But overall, reaching the public increasingly involves conversations on social media, whether you're in PR or marketing. Frank Strong, PR director for Vocus, refers to "integrated marketing" as being what the new Web-powered discipline is about. We're all using a social media blender now. Whether people are listening or not depends on how effectively you appeal to them; engage them.

PR Take Note: Bing Now Providing Social Leads
With PR becoming increasingly involved with the Web and social media, Gary Goldhammer on his Below the Fold blog advises folks to get acquainted with the new Bing approach to searches. Bing's aiming to become a broader, more socially engaged alternative to Google. Its searches, Gary notes, now include "social recommendations from multiple sources..."

Washington's Truly a 'Second Tier' PR Market Now
We generally don't cover PR's corporate scene, but we can't help taking note of Thomas B. Edsall's piece in The New York Times on WPP, the London-based conglomerate that's been buying up Washington's PR firms and turning lobbyists there from "backslappers" into the "man in a gray flannel suit." Lobbyists used to be "personally vested in the institution of government."

Does PR Foster Junk Science? It Shouldn't
Robert McHenry is a former editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia Britannica (from the period when it changed from a door-to-door to electronic version) and hasn't lost his touch for rigorous review of scientific research and claims thereunder. Here, he skewers a press release from the American Chemical Society on whether dinosaurs might rule other planets.

Facebook's Crisis Services for Veterans
The potential of social networks for sharing is well known; it's the very reason they exist. But their utility in providing vital services may be less familiar. Facebook is likely changing that with the attention it's been giving to stressful situations encountered by returning military veterans and Facebook's interest in providing them with help. Today, the social network and Bluestar Families are hosting a 3 P.M. ET webcast for veterans and families at-risk for emotional crisis — a truly worthy extension of Facebook's reach.

Personal Presence and Social Media
We're all students of social media, so here's some guidance on using the new online social identity builders, as provided by Todd Vann Hoosear, a Boston University faculty member and a PR professional, to graduating seniors. It's a two-part series, continuing tomorrow. Todd prefers to talk in terms of creating an "online presence," rather than a "personal brand" in using social media, "...because I teach that the walls between work and life are falling pretty quickly." Creating an online presence "allows for a variety of different things," Todd advises, adding that "I've given up any real distinction between personal and professional brand. Instead, I have degrees of oversharing."

Think We'll Have the Drugs We'll Need? PR Could Help
Now here's a situation that could use a lot more PR, that is, open acknowledgement and attention. There's a growing shortage of drugs, especially generic, lower cost pharmaceuticals used in the treatment of cancers, for which there could be life or death demand.

Journalists, PR Pros Tweet Their Peeves
Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager for Business Wire/Chicago has done an air-clearing service in collecting from both journalists and PR pros their pet peeves about each other on Twitter. No longer do we have to fly blindly on what's acceptable and not in PR etiquette (though most of us have our own notions, instinctive or practiced). PR people who ask for reporters' questions in advance compete with reporters who email spokespeople during a crisis.

Eclipsing Strategy on PR's Workaday Level
Here's a thoughtful post by Richard Becker on his Copywrite, Inc. blog to leave you with for the weekend. PR is changing and, Becker seems to feel, becoming more tactical even as PRSA's new crowd-sourced definition of the craft emphasizes its strategic dimension. Becker's reflections are prompted by the Annenberg Center's PR study released earlier this year. "Fewer firms manage the message. More firms are managed by it," is a provocative Becker subhead. What he means is that clients are "becoming more inclined to assign each firm smaller and smaller 'project work' such as Facebook...

What's in Pinboards for PR?
The Public Relations Society of America has obligingly produced information on a subject we've been interested in: How do pinboards, and Pinterest specifically, fit into PR social media strategy? "Pinterest," the PRSA post notes, "is now the third most visited social networking site in the United States, behind Facebook and Twitter."

Lessons from the Secret Service: Radical Awareness
The Secret Service failed to protect its own back when some of its agents went awry in Columbia. Shame, writes Steve Cody, of Peppercorn, in Inc. magazine, a crisis caused by rogue employees can be anticipated and managed

Goldman Sachs, Tweetless; Spirit Airlines, Heartless
Question of the day: how did Goldman Sachs amass 3,731 Twitter followers without posting a single Tweet? You can run down the list of them all; we're wondering if they're actually pleased to be there. Is Wall Street really that inept about social media, which is, first and foremost, about public dialogue? We wouldn't be surprised if this reaction causes Goldman to start tweeting.

Thoughts On Communicating Via Machines
Kami Huyse, APR, offers some challenging thoughts on her Communication Overtones blog on communicating by machine - the web-induced tendency to use pre-packaged sources and techniques to establish presence and get your message out. She doesn't come to any especially dire conclusions, but offers six drawbacks to communication via various forms of software.

A Book Of PR Portents
This isn't a book review so much as a book alert (I haven't finished it yet). PR practitioners need to read "That Used To Be Us" by Tom Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. These guys have our world pegged — the world public relations is functioning in and facing. It's a web-based, fast-changing environment for our clients — large or small — and for us all. It's a scary, but, hopefully, exhilarating one. The book's subtitle is "How America Fell Behind In the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back." It's not going to be easy. Images, so far, that I can't shake are of a textile manufacturer in Hong Kong saying "Now our motto is 'Source everywhere, manufacture everywhere, sell everywhere.' The whole notion of an 'export' is really disappearing."

PR From The Inside Out
PR strategists can become so focused on the media that they overlook, or don't sufficiently appreciate, the importance of communicating continually and candidly with an organization's employees. When there are external issues, they need to be explained internally, too, because employees circulate among friends and neighbors.

Watch Your Manners, Crowdsourcers
It was inevitable, we suppose. The folks in those playful, exuberant scenes in which seemingly disconnected people in a town square, or Grand Central Station, coalesce into an energetic, evidently choreographed event — a crowdsourced occasion — have to consider whether they're acting legally, too. We hereby note Jay Pinkert's post.

Results Matter: Takeaways from PR Measurement Conference
Measuring how you're doing on behalf of your organization or PR clients is a key, much-discussed need in a changing information environment. Joel Wethall, of PRIME Research, reflects on the interplay at the PR News Measurement Conference in Washington earlier this month. Nearly 300 PR pros attended, he notes. Joe offers 14 takeaway points he gathered at the conference. They're well worth reflecting upon. "The challenge of public relations measurement is ceertain to continue."

Got a Workplace Violence Response Plan?
Add to your "What if?" PR planning: workplace violence. Sure, it's not likely to happen, but if it does, you wouldn't want to leave it to the security guys to handle the media and resulting community relations, would you? Some might do okay, others might not. That's not a chance you, or a client, should want to take. A risk and insurance panel discussed the subject last week in Philadelphia.

Slides for Ethical Awareness Wherever PR Is Practiced
We're ending the week on a high note, by providing guidance from Mark McClennan, of Schwartz MSL, on sharpening ethical awareness under PR time pressures. Mark gave this keynote presentation on "Public Relations: Training Your Ethical Mind" recently at the state PR conference in Alabama, organized by the Public Relations Council of Alabama. His "four takeaways" deserve fealty wherever PR is practiced, namely, everywhere.

Off-Duty Police Imperiled on Social Media
With people of all estates flocking to social media, whom do you figure probably should not be using the new communication channels? Off-duty police officers may come to mind. The Arizona Republic has a lengthy story on the hazards of police officers tweeting and Facebooking, that is, of the images they may create thereon. An interesting PR situation, indeed. "If you can educate your members not to be on social media," one consultant advises police departments, "do."

Wikipedia a PR Morass, Penn State Finds
Wikipedia is a morass for PR, new research from Penn State University confirms. "Sixty percent of Wikipedia articles about companies contain factual errors," reports Penn State's Marcia W. DiStaso, and it's often next to impossible to get them corrected. We've known that Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales and PR people don't hit it off. But these findings are disturbing news, indeed, for online research. Wikipedia says its standard response time for making corrections is between two and five days. Yet Professor DiStaso reports that "When respondents attempted to engage editors through Wikipedia's 'Talk' pages..."

Product Journalism Doing Well For PR
Tom Foremski on his IMHO blog pays tribute to PR for helping to create "a new form of journalism" — product journalism. "Why," he asks, "are reporters competing to scoop each other on news that is essentially a spec sheet about a mass-produced product?" Because PR created the interest. "PR spending continues to increase..."

Putting the Boss Out Front
If you're in corporate PR or have a talented, or even promising, executive as a client, you'll appreciate this guidance by Puseletso Mompei on "Doing PR for the boss" on the DestinyMan.com site. High-powered executives can freeze up in the presence of the media, and some shouldn't try it at all. But good counsel and training can help those who are interested in being "out there". Media training can at least advise chief executives what the media are about, and some top people need that.

Brian Solis Nails Our Times
Brian Solis really gets it, boy does he. It's no secret by now that Solis is an unusually attentive observer and writer. The 10 principles he's come up with in his post, "Survival of the Fitting," apply as much to public relations as to business generally. They're "Trends for Transformation" you can use and recommend to your clients, and you'll all be better off for doing so.

New Tech Bust Coming, Says InfoWorld
Facebook's deal to buy Instagram - "a startup with 13 employees" - for $1 billion is a sign that a new tech bubble is fixin' to burst, advises Bill Snyder on an InfoWorld blog. That's a truly frightening prediction, considering the harm the tech bubble of the '90s did when it popped. "...the last time we saw this pattern, the entire tech economy blew up along with the dot-coms, and thousands of people in IT (and elsewhere) lost their jobs. It's going to happen again," Snyder warns.

Have Video Pitches At Hand For Reporters
With newspapers evolving (apparently) into online presences, PR firms need to be mindful of the special requirements of online journalism. Key among them, notes Matt Cochran of Cookerly PR in Atlanta, is video. "In the last three months, I've had more reporters talk about the need for video than in all of 2011," he advises.

Services Without Savoir-Faire
Sometimes it takes a quality professional (that is, a pro in the quality movement) to call-out public relations failings, and really stupid ones at that. Akhilesh Gulati, a Six Sigma Master Black Belt on Quality Digest, does that in his post "Service Industries Just Don't Get It!" "Nickel and diming" on bottles of water and non-nutritious menus are examples from the hospitality industry. But Akhilesh roams farther, into e-commerce and insurance transactions. Why don't some business folks pay heed to what they're doing? It's PR's role to call them to account...

Keep a Tight Focus – On the Ballgame
The saga of Ozzie Guillén, suspended manager of the Miami Marlins baseball team, illustrates almost in terms of caricature the importance of keeping a tight focus on your PR objectives. In Guillén's case the aim was to extend the Marlin's promising start against the Philadelphia Phillies. Instead, he's a mere fan for five games for expressing endearing words toward Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in Time magazine. Balk! Indeed. Guillén apologized contritely at a suspension press conference; he got that part right. But why is a baseball manager in a city tens of thousands of Cuban refugees making endearing remarks about Fidel Castro?

Suppose PR Became Known For Candor
Suppose public relations became associated with candor rather than spin. Unknown numbers of practitioners may already be doing PR that way. But the social media era, in which trust and transparency are like groundwater, gives everyone in the business the incentive to break with Edward Bernays' notions of manipulative marketing for good.

Eyes Searching For What's Ahead
Just watched a gripping TV recreation of the sinking of the Titantic from the perspective of the men in the engine rooms who fought to keep the ship afloat as long as possible. Without overdoing it, you almost get a similar feeling about the changing media era we're in — how long will the traditional media be able to hold on?

Press Releases for the Web's Masses
Press releases these days aren't as much about influencing reporters as including the right keywords to attract the web's masses. That's the guidance offered by Tiffany Cherry on SubmitMyPressRelease.com and picked up by PRNews.com. The media keep being overshadowed by the Internet in possibly one of the most fateful trends of our times.

Guidance for Parents, Moms Especially, in PR
Allison Kenney, writing on Lindsay Olson's blog, offers advice on working in PR and being a parent, too. She compares PR with being somewhat like the medical profession in terms of its demands on practitioners' time. Allison says she's now "a Buddha of sorts when it comes to work-life balance, having just crossed a milestone birthday and with a child in double-digits."

Fees for PR Services Rendered
We haven't discussed PR fees, the bottom-line charge for everything a PR firm or solo practitioner does on behalf of a client. AM:PM PR in Portland, Ore., has given the price for its services a lot of attention and come up with a "prix fixe (fixed price) menu of options rather than the usual ala carte list." The reason is that not all billable hours are equal in output on a client's behalf, and PR results take time (months or more) to achieve. So why not have a menu of price packages based on aims over time?

Using Social Media Requires Attentive Emotional Range
Using social media to engage with potential customers is likely to bring you in contact with a range of emotions. To be effective and, more important at such moments, genuinely human you'll need to be both confident and private enough in your use of social media to identify with them, to rejoice or mourn together.

The Media World Is Changing — to Whistling on the Web?
A run down Twitter's feed yesterday showed how the media world is changing, but could remain much the same (only less impactful) in its electronic reincarnation. The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News have just been sold to a group of local investors at only 10 percent of their value in 2006.

Does BPI Have a Prayer of Offsetting 'Pink Slime'?
Here's something for you to ponder: What can offset the term "pink slime"? Anything? We haven't dealt with the lean beef story because, frankly, it seemed hopeless. Once the media, old and new, saddles you with "pink slime," it's over, we felt. Maybe so, maybe not. But it's certainly late in the day for Beef Products Inc. to rebound, as it's being urged to attempt.

Get Up to Speed With Pinterest, et al., for PR Resumes
Prospective clients are increasingly looking for experience with Pinterest, the social pinboard, on PR resumes, advises PR Web. "Our clients are always looking for the new, up-and-coming social media websites. When they see how popular Pinterest has become in the past few months, naturally they want to know what marketing opportunities are available to them," says Lori Gilson, president of Utah-based PRMarketing.com. "A report by Wanted Technologies shows that since August there have been 59 new employment ads for candidates who have experience using Pinterest for marketing," etc. Whoever said that changing eras would be easy?

Sign Up For 'Social Media 101'
The growing complexity of PR and the need for increased specialization in the field is indicated by this post on Communications Conversations, "What would your Social Media 101 syllabus look like?" Yes, here's an entire proposed course just for the study of social media. Something like it is very likely being taught somewhere. For social media is a new, increasingly pivotal, branch of PR.

Fast-Flowing News of the Future?
What would news delivery of the future look like without newspapers or TV newscasts? While this is a question we'd rather not ask, it's a pertinent one, given the web's rapid evolution. And British broadcaster ITV has provided something of an answer with its ITV News website "providing truly 'digital native news.'" Meg Carter finds there's nothing static about it.

Social Media Invites 'Agile Engagement'
Here's a great term for focusing the use of social media in PR — "agile engagement." You don't just monitor social channels, but figure out how to become creatively engaged with the people using them. It's "not just the actual production of content," says Sarah Skerik in a PR Newswire post, "but incorporating the voices of our social audiences into the content mix by building social collaboration into the strategy.

USC Annenberg Finds PR Ever More Professional
Corporate PR budgets are up, measurement and evaluation are gaining budgetary backing, and measuring "outcomes" seems a better indicator of a PR firm's standing than tallying "outputs." These are some of the findings from the USC Annenberg Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center in its seventh Communication and Public Relations Generally Accepted Practices (GAP VII) study, issued every two years.

Social Media In Your Crisis Plan?
Organizations that pride themselves on having emergency communications plans drilled and at-the-ready should they be needed should consider whether they include social media capability. Corporate spokesmen can be upstaged on Twitter should a crisis occur. That may be obvious, but how many organizations are equipped to respond promptly and effectively?

Heed the Importance of Headlines
Miller Public Relations in Dallas/Fort Worth posts a reminder on the importance of headlines in web browsing. They reference Jakob Nielsen on the scant attention web readers give to scanning web pages — on average, they read, at most, 28 percent of the words on a page. The headline needs to catch their attention accurately. There's no rustling newsprint there to help the reader peruse the scene.

Avoiding Goldman's Tarnish
PR isn't HR or legal or the executive suite, or is it? PR people need to take a holistic view of the organizations they represent, to walk in the client's shoes as well as the public's. As long as you're listened to, you need to be a cogent adviser. When the listening stops, leave. These reflections arise upon reading a Business Insider piece on "5 Ways To Make Sure Your Company's Culture Doesn't Turn Toxic Like Goldman Sachs."

PR With a Social Vision
Gwen McKinney has built a boutique Washington, D.C., PR firm around a vision of public interest PR. Starting three decades ago as a reporter for The Philadelphia Tribune, she's been an advocate for social causes. Now her firm, McKinney & Associates, has clients like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the AFL-CIO, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. And Gwen and her associates are telling their story in a new book, "Voice Matters: An Anthology of Public Relations With a Conscience."

Responsive Crisis PR at Wells Fargo
This is an example of a full-scale aim/strategy/tactics PR response to an epic challenge — dealing with the home mortgage crisis. You can parse Joe Ohayon's testimony to the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for a front-lines example of a crisis communication plan developed in intricate detail...

Ben Bernanke Bids for Thought Leadership
Give Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, credit for trying to be understood — and tune in today to his first TV lecture on what the Fed does. Yes, Bernake, a former professor, is going live to explain what he can of the Fed's occult operations. It's a PR initiative intended to counter attacks from the political left and right in a sluggish economy. If you miss the live broadcast, you'll be able to view it on YouTube.

Could Your Clients Be Thought Leaders?
Who're you working with, really? Is your PR client a business person, a CEO or, maybe, a thought leader? A business person who's also a thought leader in a given field is likely to become a much more prominent, successful manager. Should PR people be concerned with helping them get there? Why not? The question arises from reading a web post.

Social Media Sources For With-It PR
More and more, social media is/are becoming part of professional PR practice. Recognizing that, the Business2Community site offers "12 (of the) best Social PR Guides, Tips and Techniques of 2011." By now, you may have seen some of these; on the other hand, there may be new SM guidance readily at hand. From "Twitter-friendly press releases" to "5 excruciatingly dumb things PR pros do with social media," there's guidance both for the learner and the initiated pro.

Using Pinterest for PR
Speaking of creativity, Pinterest represents a highly creative, visual approach to social media. Douglas Idugboe has pondered the possibilities of using Pinterest for PR networks, and lays out seven principles for participation on his Smedio blog. Pinterest is a new kind of social media community and it stands to reason it ought to be effective for PR.

Neuroscience: Getting Creative With Jonah Lehrer
Here's a subject we'd like to be doing more with: creativity in public relations. Ideas don't "just happen;" if they seem to, they've likely been prompted by prior mental activity. On its Research Conversations blog, the Institute for Public Relations introduces neuroscience writer Jonah Lehrer on creativity. Lehrer has a new book, "Imagine: How Creativity Works." But wait till you see his Web page! It's got prompts to Jonah's YouTube lectures, descriptions of his books and feedback from his visitors. You can profitably spend time here tuning up your own creativity. The IPR is to be commended for bringing Jonah to our attention and maybe getting a creativity in PR dialogue underway.

What Will White House Grounding Yield for Goldman's PR?
A crisis communication challenge is greeting Goldman Sach's new public relations director, Richard L. "Jake" Siewert Jr., who was President Bill Clinton's press secretary and more recently served as a communications counselor to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Good Times Roll for Ranked PR Firms
Half the top independent PR firms ranked by O'Dwyer's had double digit billings gains in 2011. Edelman, the largest, grew by 15.9 percent, with added business "greater than the annual volume of all but two other firms in the ranking, APCO Worldwide (the next biggest independent) and Waggener Edstrom." Publisher Jack O'Dwyer said the firms' statements show their growth is being abetted by "expertise they have developed in major categories such as healthcare, tech, financial, government relations, environment, food/nutrition, sports/leisure, travel/hospitality, and others, as well as their ability to capitalize on the many new ways of reaching consumers.

Edelman's Hand At Atlantic City
Well, here's Edelman taking on another big challenge, but is it a worthy one — reviving Atlantic City? It seems like folks have been trying to burnish Atlantic City's image for generations. Yet here's Ronn Torossian, who just visited the gambling town and found it "an awfully unattractive, gross city." Does PR have, or should have, its limits? The boardwalk at Atlantic City is surely a place to ponder that question.

SBA Needs to Get With Social Media
We just posted on social media being key to the modern practice of PR, and here's the Small Business Administration hardly acknowledging that SM exists. This is important because of the number of fledgling businesses that turn to SBA for guidance.

PR Newswire Paper Advises: 'Be Hep in New Media'
PR Newswire's latest white paper, "Modern PR: the art & science of integrated media influence," is another step toward integrating social media fully into the practice of public relations. "New media, owned media, social media," it begins, "- each represents a giant step in modern public relations. In little more than a decade, they have reinvented the way information flows through business and society."

PR Firms Need Bloggingmeisters
Without too much effort, or taking too much time, we've amassed a list of 89 blogs on, or closely related to, public relations. But who are all those writers? Which of them are most closely attuned to our interests? Good questions that cause Danny Brown, one of our listed bloggers, to write on "The Clear and Continuing Need for Blogger Outreach Specialists at PR Agencies."

Taking a 'Wide Angle View' of Organizations
As the 11th edition of the classic textbook, "Effective Public Relations," moves toward publication, one of its authors, Glen Broom, recommends that PR practitioners take "a wide-angle view" of their clients' organizations. No longer will a "telephoto lens focusing tightly on the customer" suffice, Broom advises. This is one of those "concepts for our times" that's both easy and imperative to keep at hand. It's a social media age in which the contributions of everyone in an organization matter greatly.

Sharing a Wealth of Experience
Wow, we're a little slow in catching up with Chris Winfield's post on SEOmoz, "92 Ways to Get (and Maximize) Press Coverage." But the post is a distillation of 12 years of successful experience in gaining and, maximizing the impact of, press coverage. It's a generous offering, and a timely one in light of the growing complexity of PR practice. From planning to reaping coverage, it's all covered. Chris is co-founder and chief marketing officer of BlueGrass Interactive, Inc., in Tampa, FL.

Jobs Coming Home to the U.S.?
Ever since the term "global economy" became fashionable, eons ago now, it seems, we've had less understanding of where the U.S. economy has been headed. In the past few years, it seems to have gotten mired in uncertainty stemming from technological change and global competition. That could now be changing, though. Synergroup, a computer industry-staffing firm, says in a press release that "interest in hiring American computer specialists rather than outsourcing those jobs overseas has sharply increased in recent months."

Branching Out to Create Content
Here, from San Francisco, is one way to help PR's future unfold — create it yourself. When the traditional PR firm LaunchSquad realized it couldn't service new media clients adequately, it created a new, sister firm — Original9Media. The new company is content-focused.

PR Defined Isn't Any Easier
Now public relations can get on with being whatever the craft was before it was officially defined by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). PRSA sponsored a noble, crowd-sourced effort to "define" the elusive relational spirit behind PR. The result, just announced, isn't bad. Consider what it means to you, and move ahead. PRSA's official definition is: "Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics."

Healing Starts With a Relational Sense
My wife, Dawn, is home now, after 12 days of recovering from a stroke and carotid artery surgery at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, in Hershey, Pa. The health challenge has been a huge ordeal for her, but the response to it has been an enormous blessing. Not just the medical and surgical techniques, but the obvious personal regard shown her by her doctors and nurses...

As We Were Then, and Now
Public relations is largely about context, the settings in which information is presented and considered, in which influence is sought and relationships fostered or not. Here's a fascinating grand scale context to consider.

We're Not Promoting 'Free,' Just Advising of One Such Seminar
While it initially makes us uneasy, a seminar on "free public relations" could, we presume, be turned to the profession's advantage. Something about, "Well, spell our name right, and maybe we'll find a further context for what you're doing." That's how this announcement of a seminar in Plainfield, Ill., on "How to Get Free Publicity" strikes us. It's being offered by a junior college marketing specialist. Flack Me reports on all the applications of public relations techniques we come across (though we don't get into politics).

Beyond Cops, Wearable Cameras Might Have PR Applications
They're designed for use by police officers, and you might call them a crisis communication tool, but at some point applications for public or media relations generally are likely to be found for the new miniature wearable camera by Taser.

Home Office PR: The Phone's Ringing...
To the public relations firm in Texas, I believe it was, who may have called me last Thursday, I apologize profusely for being short with you. The thing is, I've been getting a spate of calls from magazines asking me to renew my subscriptions, when they could reach me by mail. It's annoying when you're busy with other things, like finding good leads for Flack Me. But whatever the provocation, good telephone etiquette, it strikes me, is increasingly important as more of us work from home offices, with different sorts of distractions than at corporate workplaces.

On the Cusp of Social Media
The social media category is PR's growth area, no question; it's growing at warp speed. Stacy Green, vice president of marketing and communications at Mashable, elaborated on social media's surge at the PR News Digital Summit last week in San Francisco. She covered SM's growth and how PR people can respond to it.

A PR Guide for 'Infrastructure' Projects
Craig Pearce writes from Australia, where they no doubt are building infrastructure — "roads, rail, parks, amenities etc." — as actively as in the U.S. That makes Craig's post on the somewhat specialized field of infrastructure PR as applicable here as there. PR for building and development projects needs to be energetically two-way. Listening counts for a lot. And there are apt to be more people involved than in other PR locales. Craig includes detailed suggestions for infrastructure communication strategy. We recommend his approach for your next contractor client.

Scoops Via Your iPhone
Wow, if news breaks around you, whip out your iPhone and follow the steps for producing a reliable news account on "Get It Right, A field guide to practical and critical thinking for citizen journalists." Yep, it's an app-sized school of journalism. There are six "lessons," from "What is news?" and "Reporting Basics" to "Ethics." There's also an Equipment Checklist, but we've got a quibble there. The list includes cameras, a computer, batteries, earphones and a microphone, but no pencil and paper!

Catching On To The Digital Omens?
It's transition time for PR. We've made that point before, but today three bloggers are underscoring it with varying degrees of emphasis. Darika Ahrens frets that PR agencies are in danger of becoming "largely irrelevant" in the face of digital marketing, while Tom Murphy thinks agencies will adapt in time. Haydn Shaughnessy thinks PRSA's unfolding "redefinition" process is dubious.

Getting It Wrong In Wausau
We don't know what the other priorities are in Wausau, Wisconsin, but for the city council to nix hiring a public relations person seems like a bad idea, especially because of the reason given by one member. Elected officials shouldn't "hide behind a hired person," she said.

Prepping for the Media at Conventions
Scientists absorbed in research may not be up to relating well to the general and professional media at conferences, but one group of them, at least, is getting help. CLEO — the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics — is providing attendees with a 23-page "Exhibitor Public Relations Toolkit" that's an excellent pdf primer on media relations — for practically any organization. Cheers, CLEO!

Melding Technology Into Municipal PR
Granted, we're reacting to only a preview report on a website, but what officials in the town of Huntington, Long Island, New York, are planning in terms of a new citizen request system looks like a promising blend of technology, communication, and responsiveness. In short, good municipal PR. To be launched March 1, Huntington At Your Service "will allow residents to make requests and track progress..."

Where Lies PR's Soul?
Maybe it's just us, but we're feeling a little antsy about the Public Relations Society of America's (PRSA) efforts to identify public relations flat out with business goals. We've always viewed PR as having a mediating role.

Fairness Belatedly Comes First at Komen
However it came about, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure/Planned Parenthood imbroglio is one of the most bollixed PR situations of recent times. Here are the lessons Shonali Burke has drawn from the affair, along with Komen's statement aimed at calming things down. The second paragraph indicates that the whole affair was indeed unnecessary.

Press Releases Cross the Digital Divide
Press releases are becoming increasingly electronic and delivered by digital means rather than by mail, fax, or hand. Deb McAlister-Holland, marketing director for Distribion, Inc., provides the fullest expression of this trend that we've seen. Deb sends out press releases on her company's content marketing blog posts, with amazing results in terms of exposure and distribution. And she includes a unique photo or graphic with each release. "I'm a true believer now," Deb writes.

The News Via 'iReporting'
What if the news was to become largely an amorphous mass of information contributed by virtually anonymous iReporters? We hope we're not headed there, but as the traditional media contract in numbers and CNN's iReport (more than 1 million registered "reporters") keeps gathering steam, the question is at least pertinent.

Turn the Spotlight on Yourself
Could you use a pep talk? Times are rough and income-generation opportunities may be sputtering. How best to keep your spirits up? One way immediately at hand is to read this lengthy digest of a talk Amanda Miller Littlejohn gave to an audience of PR pros last month. She advises that you "make yourself client #1."

Cruising Isn't a Carnival
We don't know all that the cruise industry and Carnival Cruise Lines, in particular, ought to be doing in response to the shipwreck tragedy of the Costa Concordia on the coast of Tuscany. But it seems that a broader, deeper perspective than "working through all the possible scenarios it (the cruise industry) will face going forward" is in order.

Fobbing Off the Media Is Unhealthy
Long-term care and other facilities for the elderly are highly vulnerable to bad publicity and, too often, may be among the least equipped to handle a reporter's call effectively. Elizabeth Newman, senior editor at McKnight's, a long-term care industry journal, discusses that reality in a post that, by implication, offers media relations alerts for other industries, too. Don't, for instance, ever have a staffer who, if she happens to pick up a reporter's call, says, "I think you have the wrong person. I am the marketing person." Everyone, including secretaries, should be trained to handle a media call with basic effectiveness, should they find themselves on one.

Lewis Loses It Over an E-book
Yes, PR is becoming increasingly digitally focused. But words are still words, with explicit meaning. Don't ever mistake that. We're afraid the folks at Lewis PR aren't clear enough about the meaning of "simply" in promoting an e-book of theirs, which just caused us real (digital) annoyance.

Paper Making a Comeback at Doodle
Speaking of the digital trend, one outfit has come full circle. Doodle, an online scheduling service, now has a paper option if you want it - remember paper? What goes around, we guess, folds around. Seriously, the company explains that "Doodle Unplugged runs on a piece of paper and was designed by our offline user interface experts."

12 'Everyday' Press Release Ideas
Not having as much to say to the news media as you would like? Here, from everythingpr, are "12 Powerful Press Release Ideas for Any Business." They're "routine" topics that often go overlooked but are of legitimate interest to people following your business or a client's. The list was contributed by Bird and Co Creative, a British online marketing and SEO company. It includes such evergreen topics as making a prediction, reporting on survey results, and announcing a new staff member, website, contract, or client.

News Releases for Our Digital Times
Dave Hogan, who teaches PR at Abilene Christian University, writes in his hometown paper on essential, or at least very helpful elements, of 21st century news releases. Their ingredients - factual, newsworthy information - are the same but the format is changing for maximum effectiveness in a digital world. Which presents opportunities for PR people to develop new forms of content. "Far from dying," Dave writes, "news releases have taken on new life and are likely to be a staple of PR work for a long time to come."

2011's Crises Recapped for Learning
We trust this will be our last "Top 10 for 2011" list, but it's a good one — the Holmes report recaps for us the Top 10 Crises of 2011, in knowledgeable summaries. They are Tepco (the Japanese earthquake), News Corp., Penn State, Blackberry, Dow Chemical, Netflix, Sony, HP, Qantas, and the European Central Bank. Put this aside for crisis communication recollection and learning.

Email Newsletters Still Connect
With all the digital jousting going on for the attention of web visitors these days, there's still a lead role for effective email newsletters. But what makes for effective ones? David Wilson makes that a community question by quoting other experts in a small business blog post from Australia. Start with your newsletter's subject line, they urge, and, overall, keep it short and sweet.

So How Open Are We, Really?
Canadians apparently envy the open communication policies that exist for government-connected scientists in the U.S. The Canadian Science Writers' Association has been appealing to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other national leaders to allow scientists to speak freely with the media. As things stand now, according to a column in The Globe and Mail, they need the government's permission to speak, and it's not readily given.

Trust Continuing to Founder Globally, Edelman Finds
Trust continues in a tarnished state around the world, needing ever more burnishing. That's the main finding in the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer, based on surveys during 2011 in 25 countries. Government dropped "a record nine points to 43 percent globally....Government officials are now the least credible spokespeople, with only 29 percent considering them credible."

'Rather Have a Spokesman or a Fireman?' Both
In all the disarray occurring in the virtually bankrupt city of Harrisburg, Pa., the state's capital, this question sums up the confusion: "Would you rather have a fireman or a spokesman?" asks City Councilman Brad Koplinski. The right answer, clearly, is "Both." Setting Mayor Linda Thompson's communication director against police and firemen — information vs. safety — is a false dichotomy. Both skillsets are necessary for a city to function effectively. Municipal PR directors everywhere (and firemen and policemen, too) should be rallying to Harrisburg spokesman Robert Philbin, who's continuing to work without pay.

PRSA Training Webinars a Great Benefit
If you're building a career in PR and have been wondering whether membership in the Public Relations Society of America is worthwhile, we call your attention to a new PRSA membership benefit — free access to the 50 training webinars the society anticipates holding this year. They're not only aimed at preparing for the PRSA exam, but at communication skills in general. It looks like you could virtually attend a better-than-college PR training regimen at your desk, with insights from many talented presenter colleagues.

Twitter Crisis Response Techniques
It's time for Twitter crisis-response techniques to be codified and Dallas Lawrence, of Burson-Marsteller, makes a helpful contribution to the tool locker. Whether Pulitzer juries consider Twitter a news platform or not, it is, and needs to be understood for as much crisis utility as possible. But for Twitter's terse digital format, not much is new about crisis imperatives there, Lawrence notes.

Educational Rigor as a PR Asset
Credit Heather Yaxley, of Bournemouth, England, and her Greenbanana blog with adding some heft to the subject of the proper preparation for work, or a career in, public relations. She argues that "we have to stop bashing academic study and intellectual understanding" in favor of a "fire-fighting" or "busy work" approach to the craft. Instead, communication studies should be a rigorous, life-long pursuit. Heather notes a post on PRmoment advising that the majority of PR pros (67 percent) say their career development has come from magazines, followed by training (54 percent) and books (43 percent).

Inept PR: Shades of the Old Soviet Union
Jim Horton has it exactly right on Online Public Relations Thoughts: Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dimitry Rogozin may be hep enough to be using Twitter, but his message there blaming "anti-heroes" scientists for the failure of the latest Russian space probe and demanding their names is, as Horton notes, egregious. "Who wants to be mocked?" Jim asks.

PR People Seeking Wikipedia's Welcome
PR pros haven't been welcome on Wikipedia and leaders in the craft are seeking to change that. Jimmy Wales may or may not be listening, but an effort is underway to enable PR people to contribute to Wikipedia entries like anyone else recognized as having a valid interest in doing so. The problem, again, is image and Jimmy Wales doesn't like PR's "spinster" image. "Wikipedia's bias against PR pros (as bona fide site contributors)," writes Peter Himmler in Forbes, "speaks to the challenge our industry faces as it seeks to redefine itself in a world where myriad other reasonably credible information sources abound."

PRSA Keeps Mulling and Mulling...
Keep on chuggin' under the understanding you've had of PR right along; it's not likely to change much when the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) releases its restated definition at the end of February (a now extended deadline). PR, we're certain to be advised, is a relational craft. Along with Cutlip, Center, and Broom's classic text, the three draft definitions that PRSA's considering all include the notion of "mutual."

Nieman's 'Storyboard' Inspires Good Writing
We're indebted to The PR Coach for introducing us to the Nieman Storyboard from the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard as a great continuing source of examples of good writing. "These powerful stories are told in every medium," advises Jeff Domansky, "and I dare you to read them without getting stoked about your writing craft." So far, there are 26 examples of great writing on the board. "As public relations pros embrace content marketing," Jeff adds, "there's no better source for inspiration for us too....

Framing a Crisis for Sadness Instead of Anger
Social science research sometimes seems to confirm the obvious, but it doesn't hurt to be mindful of well-intended studies like this one from the University of Missouri's journalism school. There, the importance of "properly framing" the response to a crisis is being emphasized by focusing on "sadness-framing" of the mishap and avoiding "anger-framing."

Help a Harried Reporter
As newspaper layoffs continue, Penny Carnathan of Tampa-St. Petersburg, a new PR staffer who was recently a reporter and features editor, discusses on the EMSI blog how reporters and editors are adapting to their thinning ranks. For one thing, they're not responding to "urgent" notices unless they're life and death, so plan ahead — like making an announcement two or three weeks in advance of an event. Along with getting on a reporter's calendar early, Penny suggests helping him or her out by, for example, providing interview sources and photos.

Getting Found on Google
Know what a "Panda update" is over at Google? You should, for it's a term d'art for our web-centric times, one that's important in understanding search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Krista LaRiviere, of gShift Labs, writes about "8 Steps to Leveraging PR for SEO" on the iMedia connection blog. You need an SEO strategy as much (maybe more) these days as you need phone numbers.

Penn State's Provost Didn't Know?
It's hard to imagine what brand of public relations Penn State University is teaching if it's not the one holding that one of PR's functions is to alert an organization to how it's appearing in the news media, favorably or otherwise. Many PR departments send around daily press packets, or whatever distribution mode is being used now.

PR Currents Abroad in China
Keep your eye on political trends in China (which it's possible to do on sites like globalpost). They're likely to be fueled by PR-savvy members of the Politburo, which "will have an unprecedented turnover of leadership" on its standing committee this year, with seven new members of the full nine. Wang Yang is expected to be one of them.

PR Becoming Digitally Driven
The Holmes Report offers one of the more extensive, compelling reviews we've seen on how and why PR is becoming a digitally-based craft centered around data, analytics and digital messaging. "In an era of Moneyball-inspired statistical analysis, where the likes of Wal-Mart has acquired a digital analytics firm, the idea that PR strategy amounts to little more than relationships and intuition seems jarringly anachronistic," Arun Sudhaman writes for Holmes.

Content Collecting, a New PR Discipline
When I was writing newspaper editorials, I kept a notepad in my pocket to jot down ideas as they came to me to offer at our daily editorial board meetings. Now that I'm blogging for PR purposes, I keep a pad in my pocket to store ideas for posts and tweets. Content is king on the web, as it was on newsprint. Curation, too - collecting for reposting material already out there - is a "big C" of our times. It's worth amassing content studiously.

Learning From the Failures at Fukushima
Effective crisis response requires systematic planning and training in advance, a commitment to seeing a challenging situation through, regardless of fears or embarrassment, and unflinching honesty. An opportunity to appraise the degree to which these elements were missing at Japan's Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station last March is now available.

Five PR Books of 2011
One other bit of notation from 2011 is Richard Bailey's PR Studies post, "My PR books of the year." Bailey, who's been doing his PR education blog since 2003, has the background to recommend why these five PR books matter to PR professionals. He explains a bit about each: Measure What Matters by Katie Delahaye Paine, Public Relations: A Managerial Perspective by Danny Moss and Barbara DeSanto, The Public Relations Handbook (Fourth Edition) by Alison Theaker, PR Today: The Authoritative Guide to Public Relations by Trevor Morris and Simon Goldsworthy, and The Business of Influence: Reframing Marketing and PR for the Digital Age by Philip Sheldrake.

Social Media's Utility No Longer In Question
2012 opens with social media being clearly at the forefront of PR tactics and planning. It wasn't always that way, notes Mike Johansson in a post on PRSA's "Public Relations Tactics." Mike quotes Deirdre Breakenridge as observing that "It's hard to say the exact tipping point. It may have been a culmination of real-life experiences through social crisis that caught the PR person's attention."

Reaction Speed Counts, Wherever You Are
A post on The Standard's website in Hong Kong reminds us that reaction speed is a key factor in minimizing PR-pertinent foul-ups. The piece cites both FedEx reacting fairly quickly (within 48 hours) to a mishandled package (a computer monitor) in the U.S. and, more impressively, the producers of a TV quiz show in Hong Kong (the same night — there were two possible answers to one of the questions). To prevent PR disasters, a fast response is a must.

'All-In-One' Lists to Sum Up the Year
Okay, we're indebted to Tonya Garcia on PR Newser for this year-ending feature — a list of lists. Actually, it's "The Top 6 'Top 10 Lists of 2011,' PR Edition". All in one place, the top media disasters, blunders, searches, and, from Time, "The Top Ten Everything 2011."

A Website for Inviting Ideas
Out in Ketchum, Idaho, the Ketchum Community Development Corp. wants ideas on projects for further developing and enhancing the mountain community. So it's posted a new website that prominently asks visitors to share their ideas on what might benefit Ketchum. It's an inviting feature that we hope will prove productive.

Hazards of Health Care PR
Thinking of getting into health care PR, or accepting a health care client? Don't do that lightly. We doubt you would, but you may not be fully aware of the hazards and challenges of health care communications. Susan M. Tellem, APR, RN, of Tellem Grody PR lists 10 health care/biotech cautions on HealthNewsDigest.com. Susan's list is aimed at possible health care clients considering PR assistance. It starts with familiarity with medical terminology and moves on to such matters as whether or not a PR agency knows the restrictions imposed by the Food and Drug Administration on marketing announcements.

What Kellie Sheehan Learned 'On Stage'
Kellie Sheehan, a PR practitioner in St. Louis, decided to take an improv class "to better myself professionally" — even though she doesn't relish "embarrassing myself" in public. She not only got insights into delivering laugh lines, but in sharpening her awareness of PR skills, such as "validate, don't negate." "What are you doing," Kellie asks, "to push yourself beyond your comfort zone?"

PR Training Being Added for MBAs
PR may be about to get its due, finally, in MBA course requirements. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has prevailed upon a select group of business schools to provide PR coursework in 2012, with more to follow later. The move, says Business2Community, "was prompted by the PRSA's recent survey of 204 American business leaders, which found a 'knowledge gap' in the communications and reputation management skills training of MBA graduates." Ninety-eight percent of the business honchos "believe that business school should incorporate instruction on corporate communications and reputation management strategy into MBA curricula." This is certainly due recognition of the importance of well-advised and executed communication.

Optimizing Press Releases for Search Engines
Here's a treatise about getting press releases recognized by search engines on the web. Yeah, we're functioning like a content curator here, but this is good content, worth your professional attention. We're pleased to pass along pieces that strike us as providing helpful insight into PR techniques. Posts like this are for your consideration, to ponder what approaches may be most helpful to you as PR disciplines evolve. Posts like this are for your consideration, to ponder what approaches may be most helpful.

Muslim PR Practitioners Meet On a 'Moderation' Keynote
Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, earlier this month, Muslim PR practitioners held their first global conference and have formed the International Association for Muslim Public Relations and Communication Practitioners. The conference's theme, reports PR conversations, was The Voice of Moderation and Harmony.

PRSA Gathers 12 Trends for 2012
Here's an end-of-the-year list that deserves your attention. The Public Relations Society of America offers "#PRin2012: 12 Trends That Will Change Public Relations."

Newsweek in an Outer Realm
We're glad to see a cover story in the December 26 Newsweek pegged on Online Public Relations Thoughts for what it actually is, "Physics Phlackery." There, above the cover photo of Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher is the headline, "The Meaning of the Universe" for a piece on the quest for the Higgs boson, the so-called "God Particle." The story provides no such thing, and if it represents the Daily Beast's idea of Newsweek journalism, shame. Online PR's Jim Horton takes us to a Scientific American blog post by John Horgan that deservedly debunks the current excitement over research at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland and, by extension, Newsweek's cover story.

Videos for the Watching on PR Techniques
It's hard to imagine that everyone in PR doesn't already know about the YouTube treasures, "Conversations in Public Relations," produced by Mary Fletcher Jones and David Hyson of Fletcher Prince in the Washington, D.C. area. But on the chance you don't, it's our pleasure to introduce you to more than 100 video conversations with people in or related to PR and marketing. This is truly an instructional treasure trove! Jones and Hyson present videos with advice and how-to tips.

PR Currents in Animal Welfare
One of the nastier aspects of public relations is the fight going on between the Humane Society of the United States and, as the Associated Press puts it, "conservative public relations executive Rick Berman" and the Humane Society for Shelter Pets, for which Berman says he has provided "substantial pro bono PR and operational services."

Scolding Regulators for the Press Of It
Here's one of the more remarkable press conferences we can recall. Doug Henry, a factory owner in Lebanon, Pa., called reporters into his plant this week to blast environmental regulators who, he charged, are hampering his business. "I want to run this company," Henry declared, "I don't want to constantly contend with bureaucracy and regulatory compliance."

Re: The Lawyers Who Aimed at Justin Bieber
Often it's the lawyers advising PR people, sometimes to the detriment of effective relationships. As counterpoint, here's a PR executive calling a couple of lawyers to account. Jonathan Franks, of Lucid Public Relations, refers to the lawyers who represented the young woman who tried to involve Justin Bieber in a paternity hoax.

Working in Corporate Communications
So what's it like in corporate communications these days? Those of you who work there will identify with Robin Farr's blog post,"20 signs you work in corporate communications." Enjoy these lighthearted notations on what can sometimes become exasperating aspects of the job, like "You become catatonic upon hearing the word 'approvals'."

Where PR's Come This Year
As the year begins to turn (and we won't be overdoing these posts), reflections on how PR is changing/evolving are especially appropriate. Two are right here: Gini Dietrich on "Skillsets Every PR Pro Needs" (increasingly digital) and Heidi Sullivan and Jay Krall on "2012: the year of data-driven public relations." Digital and social are, indeed, keywords as PR becomes increasingly integrated with advertising and marketing disciplines (assuming they're practiced as disciplines).

PR Gurus on Twitter
Credit Mickie Kennedy, of eReleases, for providing "20 PR Twitter Accounts to Follow." People in the field may already know several of these knowledgeable, very helpful folks.

Lowe's Laid Low By Controversy
For a Lowe's spokesperson to say the home-improvement retailer pulled its ads on the TV show "All-American Muslim" because the show had become "a lightning rod for people to voice complaints from a variety of perspectives" is ludicrous. You make an informed choice at the beginning and stick with it.

Writing Social Media News Releases
For one thing, it keeps on scrolling. That's because, explains Chris Abraham, "people tend to click away from where we want them to be," and you don't want to lose them, at least not too quickly. So scroll-ability is one of the characteristics you want a social media news release to have. Chris discusses writing and coding news releases for the web in this timely tool.

Trade Shows Resisting the Digital Tide
Industry trade shows — a key PR and marketing venue — have been in decline because of competition from the Internet and search engine listings. Now the exhibitors' association has raised over $1 million "in support of its public relations campaign to increase awareness about the long-term benefits of face-to-face exhibitions and events." That's truly an intrepid resolve.

Getting Ahead in PR Without a Master's Degree
How do you get ahead in a stressful industry — PR — without an advanced degree? That's a question that Crash Course, a new weekly Grindstone column, seeks to answer. Professional society membership and training along with online seminars can provide the acumen that otherwise might come with a master's degree. (PR, says the post, is the second most stressful U.S. job).

PR Hiring Continues Strong
Public relations firms continue to have strong employment, while ad agencies remain concerned about declining ad spending, says a report on Wanted Analytics. PR hiring demand is up 10% with the trend projected to continue next year.

PR on the Digital Crest
We're a little slow in catching up with Nick Kinports' report on the digital dimensions of content marketing via the Business 2 Community site. But it contains a clarion message to PR agencies to build capacity in digital disciplines or founder. Nick, of lonelybrand, says his warning to get with digital is based on a study of 300 U.S. advertising and public relations agencies. "Despite their legacy of tackling print-based content marketing," Nick writes, "these top advertising and public relations firms are struggling to understand and execute sustainable initiatives in the digital age. Meanwhile, consulting firms, digital agencies, and new industries are moving in to grab mindshare..."

Marketing Miscues Dog PR
It certainly makes you wonder. There have been enough examples of bad marketing ploys of late to fan the ever-present tensions between marketing and PR. The PR Coach blog does that with a depressing post, "Bad PR: What the Hell's Up with Marketers?" It alleges that too many marketing mavens don't get social media, and it seems to have a point.

The Volt: Unsafe At Any Headline Size?
General Motors' Volt electric car is subject to risky battery fires, making it a highway hazard. Right? Wrong. At least the Volt, from anything we know currently, is no more of a risk than cars powered by tanks of gasoline. Yet such is the power of headlines in a new context — electric automobiles.

Keeping the Church 'On Message'
We offer this critique of the Vatican's communications not as a church-basher but as a caution to all organizations about a prime tenet of PR — keeping releases clearly focused and on message. Charles Lewis, a Catholic press reporter in Canada, takes an exasperated tone in reliving his experiences with Vatican communication. You don't want folks to be upset with your own organization, right? So be clearly focused and orderly in relating to the public.

Soggy Crisis Response in Thailand
Sadly, we can learn as much, if not more, from poorly managed communications than crisp, on-the-mark messaging. So it's in the spirit of learning that we offer this critique of post-flooding crisis communication in Thailand from The Nation there. We don't know if the Thai press is partisan.

Making Friends and Influencing People on the Social Web
From an executive of Dale Carnegie Training comes an "other-centered" caution about using social media. Keep it constantly in mind: "The best way to navigate these networks is to focus not on ourselves but on other people's interests." That includes, says Michael Crom, being a good listener, showing interest in others, and being positive and smiling out there. Don't complain or argue.

PR Should Be 'Owning' Content
Oh wow!, here on The Future Buzz is one of the most cogent discussions we've seen on who "owns" what in the communications arena. PR, says Adam Singer, should be owning content but needs to recognize that that needs to happen day-by-day, inch-by-inch, and won't be accomplished by grand flourishes. Developing a voice, having a personality, expressing opinions, taking sides...

Don't Trifle With Twitter
The Huffington Post calls it "a new trend in public relations firms," but we can't believe that any self-respecting PR firm would pay Twitter users to send tweets. Twitter is a channel for spontaneous, or at least candid, helpful expression. Paying someone to post there negates both Twitter and PR itself. Come on guys, enough!

Monitoring SM: Take It From Youth
Nikki Parrotte is new to PR but self-trained in social media in an exemplary manner. "When asked on the first day of my internship on a scale of 1 to 10 how social-savvy I was, I confidently replied with an 'eight,'" Nikki writes. "Come to find a few weeks later that I may have swiftly inserted my foot directly into my own mouth." So, on the PR at Sunrise blog, Nikki provides some tips on where she turned to really engage with the buzz stream.

New TV Opportunities Still Require Poise
Television news involves a lot more these days than standing in front of a camera at a plant gate or office complex. There's web-based TV, "mobile TV, podcasting, web streaming, branded content, and ad funded programming" advises a post on BurrellsLuce.com.

New Measures of a Press Release
It used to be that the number of print appearances, as certified by an envelope full of clippings, was the measure of a successful press release. No longer. Now there are search engine rankings, website traffic, sales and overall buzz to be concerned about, notes a post by Online PR Media. Fine-grained suggestions are offered for each of these modes of gaining the public's, not just the media's, attention. For that's what really matters about a press release — its success at igniting interest among the public, not simply the news media.

Saying 'No' On Your Own
Heather Rast on the Solo PR Pro blog discusses what it takes to say "No" to a prospective client who isn't right for a lone practitioner. How would you know that, soloist? Well, it depends how willing the prospect is to accept your counsel and what his or her aims are vs. yours. You're building a practice, after all, as much as they're building their own business. What's most important is to be clear about your own aims and priorities, and to be able to size a potential client up by gaining a sense of the movie they're running.

PR Advice Unstintingly Given
Some blog posts, perhaps many, provide exemplary services. They're labors of devotion, on behalf of an employer, perhaps, or simply an ideal of service. Whichever, a post like Linda Forrest's "What makes a good PR person?" provides invaluable counsel, especially to PR people out there on their own. Linda's with Francis Moran & Associates, a technology marketing firm.

Apple's Boost For Visioning
PR people can provide an additional service to clients by being ever-mindful of a client's leadership style and how it might be preserved over time if it's strong or possibly improved if weak. This came to mind in reading a Chief Learning Officer post on how Steve Jobs and his colleagues prepared Apple to continue prospering after his passing. Of course, not everyone can, or needs to, found an Apple University. But we all can be continually mindful of how we are nurturing ourselves and others to be continually creative people. This isn't counsel for promoting perfection.

Latest Research: People Prefer Being Dumb
People seem to be biased against being smart — in the sense of informing themselves — in these complex times. So advises research from the American Psychological Association. Better to trust those who know, seems to be the popular preference. "Beyond just downplaying the catastrophic, doomsday aspects to their messages," the APA advises, "educators may want to consider explaining issues in ways that make them easily digestible and understandable, with a clear emphasis on local, individual-level causes." Don't give up on informing folks, but keep it simple.

Social Media in Marketing's Clutches
Some interesting news on social media stewardship, passed along by ragan.com: 88 percent of companies polled by Booz & Co. and Buddy Media are using social media, but primarily as a marketing function (81 percent), not PR (48 percent). One wonders how a firm can be enduringly social by selling rather than simply relating well.

News Breaks When It Breaks
Where should news be broken these days? Wrong question. Where is news broken these days? Two Associated Press staffers got into trouble with AP for breaking the news of their Occupy arrests on Twitter. But it's AP itself that ought to be admonished - for stodginess. Ever noticed how long it seems to take AP to get stories on to AP Mobile?

Now It's 'Occupy Healthcare' Too
A guy named Nate Osit, "your average friendly Health IT geek," is helping to launch "Occupy Healthcare," a medical counterpart of "Occupy Wall Street." And for good reason. Health care costs have been going through the roof — everyone's roofs.

Penn State's PR 'Boom'
Penn State seems to have ignored every PR tenet in the book, yet it's the home of the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communications. Which speaks of the distance that can all too readily exist between the management of an institution and what's best for it in terms of communication — not to say legal — principles. At any rate, attendance is booming.

PR's 'Rebranding' Gets Underway
Today starts a campaign to rebrand PR for the social media age. That, indeed, is the aim of the Public Relations Society of America as it launches prdefinition.prsa.org, a site with a tag-cloud template: "Public relations (does what) with or for (whom) to (do what) for (what purpose)."

A Five-Step Social Media Path
Here, from Aaron Uhrmacher on Mashable, is the closest approach we've seen to applying and evaluating a specific social media PR strategy. It's complete with links to helpful tools and organized under the headings 1. Listen, 2. Prepare, 3. Engage, 4. Go Offline and 5. Measure Success. Aaron has been around, that's clear. (Check the link to his name.)

PR Pros With Kids
Of all the articles written for PR pros, says Linzy Roussel Cotaya in New Orleans, there aren't many about the field's 24/7 nature and how it fits with raising kids. Linzy has some tips for relating well to clients while raising a family. Her post on PRBreakfastClub is intended as "group therapy for PR pros" struggling with work/life balance.

Press Releases With Moxie
Jason Kintzler, founder of PitchEngine, gets down to cases on what a new media press release should look and sound like. The whole idea, he says right off, is to "Stop writing for your CEO and start writing for your audience." How do you convince your CEO of that? Well, that's your personal PR challenge. But face it, because it's imperative to identify with your publics — who aren't your boss.

Helping PR Matter to Management
"PR doesn't get any respect from our own management!" How many times have you heard that plaintiff sentiment voiced by practitioners? It's true; public relations skills often aren't sufficiently appreciated by managers who think they come naturally. So Jackson Wightman on the Proper Propaganda blog offers five things PR people "can do to matter more."

Enhance Your Social Media Releases
Here's an infographic that should be hung in every PR office. Press releases need to be sent via social media channels in this social media era. Yet the channels and adornments matter, too. Research by PR Newswire and Crowd Factory shows that Facebook is used most often in distributing releases, but Twitter gets more views. And releases with links, photos or videos draw more engagement than text alone. "The extra minute it takes to add a link or a photo could certainly be worth it," says PR Newswire.

Telling It Like It Doesn't Need To Be
The journalists and PR people who attended the National Association of Science Writers' annual meeting last month in Arizona held an air-clearing session. Wow! Some, too many, folks still don't get it. Seventy-nine survey respondents "cataloged a litany of offenses, real and perceived, from both sides of the journalism-PR divide."

Good PR's in the Details
The East's freak "Halloween snowstorm" brought plenty of frustration for utility crews and customers alike. But in the case of Jersey Central Power & Light, the vexation may have been increased by inattentive maintenance of its web and telephone connections.

When a Paper Cuts Its Staff, Anything Can Happen
The Deseret News in Salt Lake City has been cutting its staff and during the past year published about 5,500 articles by 2,000 contributors to help fill its pages. Some of them, the Associated Press reports, were written by a local mayor under an assumed name. Mike Winder, mayor of West Valley City, Utah's second largest, got tired of the Deseret News concentrating on crime in his city. So he began writing releases under the assumed name Richard Burwash and sending them in for publication. Some even quoted himself as the mayor.

That 'Christmas Tree Tax' Short-Circuited
It's so hard sometimes for organizations to see things whole and focus on key realities. Take not only Penn State but the matter of the "Christmas tree tax," as reported by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic under the heading "Worst Public Relations Idea of the Year, or Ever?" The National Christmas Tree Association has been losing sales of fresh-cut trees to artificial ones. So let's have consumers give us a financial hand in figuring out what can be done about "adverse" consumer preferences. Smart? Not the way this 15-cent per tree charge played out.

Nittany, Grittany — Pay Heed
The appalling crisis at Pennsylvania State University is not, at heart, "a public relations catastrophe," as a New York Times writer called it, but a true relational crisis, a failure of empathy in the most basic terms. Empathy is defined as "identification with another's situation, feelings, and motives" or, simply, as walking in another's shoes. Former football coach Joe Paterno and ousted university president Graham Spanier surely understand that now, but too late.

Been to a Food Bank Lately?
We came upon a post on the needs facing City Harvest, a food relief agency in New York City, and it made us wonder if PR people are mindful of food needs in their own areas. If people are hungry, PR skills are a means of helping to gain awareness of their plight. Hunger is harmful for a lot of reasons.

Blogging Isn't For Everyone; Neither Is Piano Playing
Blogging is an increasingly important means of corporate, as well as individual, expression. But blogging involves writing skills and not everyone is a writer, just as not everyone is a piano player, another creative outlet. It puzzles us, therefore, to find Adam Singer on the Future Buzz blog headlining a post, "If Your Team Hates Blogging, You Need a New Team."

Traditional Media Still Matter Greatly
We've been covering the rise of social media because the new forms are steadily gaining prominence, have specialized appeals, and require insightful use. But that doesn't mean it's over for the old media and traditional PR that relates to them. That won't happen until The New York Times or your local paper becomes web-only, and we're not predicting they will (though the day could come...) For the record, we're noting a staunch advisory on the enduring importance of traditional media.

Burnishing Google Results Via Social Media
Out in Des Moines, Iowa, Claire Celsi, "the Public Relations Princess," advises that the way to overcome Google's persistent memory is not to fall for "quick fix" software, but to update your Web presence, or a client's, via sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

PR's No Game, Though This Job's Close
Tammy Levine is Vice President of Public Relations for Electronic Arts, the video games company. Here, she takes you through her busy days, including crisis communication challenges. Crisis communication in gaming? "Crisis communications is one of the biggest challenges of the job," Tammy explains. "There’s actual backlash, concerns and complaints that arise."

Help This Colleague Prove Out Social Media Returns
Those of you who are in solo PR practice will identify with Nicole Shore's quandry expressed in a LinkedIn message, but even if you're not solo, the challenge of demonstrating yields from social media content vs. advertising is with us all. So why not join Nicole on LinkedIn's SoloPR Pros stream in exploring this need? "I'm now in the process of crafting the logic and value behind a qualitative strategy versus just purchasing enough ads that lead to conversion rates."

'Brand Streaming' in the New Communication Environment
The steadily shifting currents in PR and marketing (we usually don't mention these in the same breath, but it's appropriate here) have gained a nifty name: brand streaming. "Content flowing from brand to constituent has become a real-time, always-on stream, and that content flows across channels to media influencers, social influencers, consumers, policy makers and decision makers," explains UBM TechWeb.

A Key PR Role: Helping Management Get In Step
Nike, Levi-Strauss, and other U.S. companies — the issue of working conditions in factories overseas that produce products for American companies is an emotionally loaded one. It's also an appropriate concern for corporate PR, especially if other management groups seem to be shunning the subject. Transparency is becoming the rule.

Non-Profits: Don't Bemoan the Poor Economy
Sandy Rees, a nonprofit marketer, warns against using the "woe is us in this bad economy" peg for fundraising and recruiting volunteers. It's depressing and lumps you in with all the other groups who are complaining of bad times. Joan Stewart, who notes Sandy's advice on her The Publicity Hound's Blog, joins with Sandy in providing several more upbeat suggestions. Charting your own way, whatever overall conditions may be, is always the best way to get a pump primed. It establishes your identity and resourcefulness for good times or bad. Check out Sandy and Joan's suggestions and links.

What Would You Do at St. Paul's?
Here's a crisis communications exercise still unfolding, from the plaza in front of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. What would you have done when Occupy London protesters showed up with their gear to harrass the nearby London Stock Exchange? Seems that St. Paul's Canon Chancellor, the Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, wasn't any too clear about that.

A Rousing Social Media Forum
Social media was the subject of this year's Critical Issues Forum of the Council of Public Relations Firms. And the speakers apparently didn't need much prompting to get right into the subject. Said Peter Cashmore, founder of Mashable: “Marketing and PR are in a great place. The role is changing but there is still a bigger role than ever. It used to be that there were a few distinct publishers reaching certain audiences. Now there are thousands of gatekeepers..."

Mapping Social Territory
In our steadily dawning recognition that social media is the new frontier of PR, one that requires a different sort of attentiveness than "traditional" PR, we'd like to recommend Tom Webster's brandsavant blog. Tom has been onto the social web "from the perspective of a professional researcher" for some time now. His site is a source of cutting-edge insights into social media byways.

Newswires In The News
Press releases themselves are in the news, as two of the firms that distribute them go head-to-head in court. Marketwire is suing PR Newswire for $25 million in New York Supreme Court, alleging that it's obtained "trade secrets" from Shoeb Ansari, Newswire's former chief technology officer, who now has the same job at PR Newswire. Three other former Marketwire employees are also named. ODwyer's and Reuters have the story. PR Newswire says it "has every right to hire these (former Marketwire) employees."

Chubb Launches a Risk Discussion Site
Here's a site you might not readily come across but looks like it will be helpful in identifying risk concerns pertinent to PR practice and clients.

Signs That You're In PR
Whether you're in an agency or solo, PR represents a community of practice. The Web makes it possible to give the PR community direct expression, as in this engaging post on Ragan's PR Daily, "53 signs you work in public relations." It began with a blog post by PR professional Lauren Fernandez on 11 such signs. The post drew 42 comments,.

From Gatekeeping to Curating
Don't know how many PR people still consider themselves primarily as gatekeepers for their employers or clients, but they need to get beyond that "custodial" mindset. This is increasingly a social media age, one that involves a lot of Web-watching, and the increasing role of PR people is to watch, listen and archive well — along with responding, of course, when necessary. Robert Niles makes these timely points on OJR: The Online Journalism Review.

'Not Everything's a Crisis,' Don't Make It So
Ryan Rudominer, now in private PR and marketing, served as national press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. So he's got the credentials for warning against a knee-jerk approach to the crisis communication aspects of PR. There tends to be, he cautions, "an over-emphasis on rapid response." Not everything is a crisis, not even in the digital age...

Resolve at The Times
Be advised, folks, although this shouldn't be of great concern if you're practicing public relations smartly and honestly: Jill Abramson, the new executive editor of The New York Times, states in an Oct. 24th New Yorker profile that she wants "more investigative reporting, attention to politics, cultural coverage, and searching for the story behind the public-relations announcement." Fair enough, although in this great information dance we're all involved in, The Times needs to be mindful that with too much skepticism, there's a danger in telling its own stories occasionally.

Social Media Keeps Building Globally
Social media keeps building as the corporate "place to be" relationally. There's a good deal of work to do, though, to be represented well in SM. These are the findings in a nicely packaged survey of world businesses by Forbes Insights and Weber Shandwick. "Online sociability will account for 65 percent of (surveyed) companies' reputation in the next three years," the research partners found, "but while most companies have added social media to their marketing mix, only a short list (16 percent) consider their efforts to be in their words 'world class.'"

PR Crisis Plans Need Staff Involvement
Tony Popwski doesn't want to sound like a "Debbie Downer" in urging that PR firms create crisis management plans because you never know what might bite you. No problem. That's actually being "Peter Prudence." Every PR firm (and most of their clients, too) should have standby crisis response plans. Tony includes six steps toward crafting such a plan. He does advise as the first step "Brainstorm all possible scenarios..."

Promote 'Let's Talk' Boxes; Draw Kids Into Communicating
Here's a community service project that could yield appreciative energy for your PR practice: Promote the distribution of "Let's Talk" boxes at schools in your area. The take-out-food-style boxes contain 20 or so questions aimed at drawing kids into conversations at home.

Reputation Insurance From a Company That Knows All About It
Isn't it great how capitalism rolls right on? Create a royal, very high-cost mess like A.I.G. did in the financial crisis (the first one)? No problem. Create a subsidiary, challenge them to be creative, and start selling reputation management insurance! That's what A.I.G. is doing via its Chartis property and casualty subsidiary, which is offering ReputationGuard services. And Burson-Marsteller and Porter Novelli are the middlemen, The New York Times Dealbook reports. “In today’s world, one person’s negative opinion can quickly become adverse publicity on a global scale,” Tracie Grella, the president of Chartis’s professional liability unit, said in a statement.

Advice for PR Job Hunters
PR job-hunting in this social media era is different, in the sense of challenging. The PR job outlook is strong, but capitalizing on it means more keyboard pounding than pavement pounding. That's the message from Jeff Domansky, of Peak Communications in Vancouver, Canada. "PR job hunters must source these difficult-to-find job openings and must also make a special effort to be found easily in social media," Domansky advises.

PR's Social Dimensions Via 'Occupy Wall Street'
The evolving role of public relations in the "Occupy Wall Street" protests is discussed by Daniel Tisch on PRSA's PRSay blog. It's fascinating to consider how a protest with smarts can build publics for itself (in this case, people in New York and other cities). "There's a level of public relations sophistication at work here..."

Persistence Is an SEO Necessity
Gaining visibility on the Web via Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques can be frustrating and tiring. Melanie Rembrandt is mindful of that as she offers guidance on things you can do to improve your site's online presence. It's a drawn-out process, to be sure, but fortitude (along with content, of course) pays. Melanie's post is a good example of helpful (to others) self-promotion. We commend her enterprise.

Savvy PR Software Can Wow Clients
Turning crisis communication into an opportunity is what a savvy PR firm does. That's what Weber Shandwick did last year when it introduced its proprietary crisis-simulating software, FireBell. The crisis-response package this year was named PR Innovation of the Year by PRWeek.

A Tall Story at Logo Floor Mats
Hey, there are a lot of ways to celebrate in this world. One is by issuing the "World's Largest Press Release!...A PR Stunt that's Meant to End Up on the Floor." That's what a winsome company in Forest City, Iowa — Logo Floor Mats — has done in issuing a 5x8-foot press release on the occasion of its 15th anniversary. After all its anonymous success, It feels it's been stepped on long enough!

Barbs on a PR Battlefield
We've got no stand on the slugging match between PR Watch and the Public Relations Society of America over Jack O'Dwyer's status in the field, beyond the feeling that it's dismaying for the craft when prominent practitioners go after each other like this. We think, however, that Flack Me followers should be mindful of the exchange.

Time Out For Thought Leadership
We haven't yet taken the time to watch Brian Solis' interview with John Battelle, but plan to. And we recommend that you do as well. Battelle, co-founder of Wired and a cutting-edge guy in general, is reflecting on "Our Digital Society in the Next 30 Years," as part of the process of a book he's writing. Having just reread Nicholas Carr's book, "The Shallows," about how the Web distracts and atomizes attention, there's much for PR people to ponder on this new frontier. Dig in!

PR Case Studies, As Though You Were There
James L. Horton, a communications veteran, has a plainly wrapped website, "Online Public Relations Thoughts," on which he devotes considerable effort to be of assistance/inspiration to PR colleagues. His latest contribution, posted this month, is a series of 19 "case studies," fictional PR set pieces inspired by Jim's experience in contexts such as "Crisis," "Breach of faith," "CEO," "General Counsel" and "Reluctant Client." You download the two or three page cases as PDFs.

Pitching Journalists Via Social Media
The PR Builder blog has a post that's worth special attention. It's a brief one, but raises the question of how best to pitch journalists via social media. This is an aspect of media relations that we haven't seen treated very widely, but that can be key to building media contacts as social media build (or builds?) prominence. The post also introduces us, at least, to the The Online Journalism Review, for which we're grateful.

William Safire's 'Fumblerules' Revisited
We all doubtless miss William Safire and his vigilance on behalf of the English language. Here, Safire (who died two years ago) is restored to us courtesy of Barbara Nixon on her Public Relations Matters blog, with 19 of his "Best Fumblerules of Grammar" — like "Help stamp out and eliminate redundancies." Truly, learning can be fun.

What Management Wants To Know About PR Results
And from The Independent in London comes sage advice on measuring results from PR efforts. You don't know how to relate well to senior management until you can show them what you're achieving in terms most important to them — those that help accomplish their business objectives. You've got to be specific on what you're trying to accomplish, like bringing viewers to a website or building more contacts among the public. "It's the delivery and support of these kinds of objectives (not simply column inches!) that your PR should be measured against," notes The Indy.

Getting To Know Clients — Right Off
From the Globe and Mail in Canada comes a feature on establishing client-agency relationships and how to maintain them, hopefully, as trusted partners. "As a small business owner," writes Mia Pearson, "it's imperative to join forces from the beginning - keeping communication channels open and executing campaigns that reflect teamwork and passion." And so it is.

Tools for Monitoring Social Media
Here's a primer on tools to monitor the Web for mentions of your brand or organization. In this dawning social media era, E-releases says, "It's vital that you take a proactive approach to monitoring the conversation surrounding your brand so you can find important conversations and jump into them to strengthen your brand by engaging with your target audience." Tools for doing so, the post advises, include Google Alerts.

Facebook Becomes a Newsstand
Wow, thought you'd like to see — no, you need to see — the new Facebook editions of The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. They call them "social readers," and we're indebted to Adam Sherk for bringing attention to them on his blog.

Crisis Communication Heads to Social Media
Derrill Holly of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association provides a glimpse into the future of crisis communication based on experiences during Hurricane Irene little more than a month ago. With the power out, "wireless, battery-operated devices kept co-ops connected to their consumer-members through extended outages." And how were those connections maintained? Largely via social media channels.

A Chamber Takes Its Newsletter Online, With More To Come
This is more of a workaday item, but we're interested to note that the Chamber of Commerce in Chautauqua County, New York, has moved its newsletter online rather than keep maintaining a printed version.

'Occupy Wall Street' Gains a Pro Bono Publicist
Now here will be something to watch in PR/crisis communication terms. The Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York have acquired pro bono public relations representation. And not just any PR firm, but one that speaks of class togetherness. Based in New York's Chelsea district, 15-year-old Workhouse Publicity (says its website) has had a raft of glitzy clients including Assouline Editions, Zimmerli of Switzerland, Bergdorf Goodman, and Oscar de la Renta.

Good PR Starts With a Sense of Community
Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge published a book a couple of years ago on "Putting the Public Back in Public Relations," and now flooding in Vermont brings to renewed focus, at least for us, the importance of building a sense of community, of participating in your community to understand its promptings and linkages, as essential to the practice of PR.

Feeling Fretful Over Fracking? So Is the Oil and Gas Industry
Here's a public-spirited PR challenge. Once you have a notion of how it can be done, pick up the phone to the American Business Conference in Washington and offer to help quell the negativity around the term "fracking," as in the hydraulic fracturing of shale formations to access oil and natural gas reserves. The ABC is organizing a conference in Houston for that very purpose, to make "fracking" a friendlier term.

Build 'Em a Social Media Newsroom
Here's an up-to-the-minute concept to develop on a client's behalf: build them a social media newsroom (SMNR) to engage visitors to their website. SSPR suggests replacing anemic online pressrooms with Web 2.0 updated versions. "Companies are shifting away from the traditional online newsroom in droves," they say. "A social media newsroom," SSPR advises, "is a traffic-building clearinghouse that offers more than the usual news releases."

The Fed Quits Fretting, Issues a Social Media RFP
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for help in monitoring references to the Fed in blogs and other forms of social media. Predictably, the move is being attacked by right-wing media, like The New American magazine, as a "propaganda operation." The wonder, though, is that it has taken this long for the Fed to decide to connect with social media.

Bringing Lawyers Around
PR people dread working with lawyers, unless they've worked with them effectively. And how do you do that? By demonstrating that PR is a craft like lawyering, with techniques — like planning and strategizing — that lawyers themselves employ. It's especially important to show a lawyer or two that you know what you're doing when it comes to proposing a social media campaign.

Sailing the Social Media Sea
As social media becomes more and more of a factor in PR practice, these words of Marjorie Clayman, a third-generation marketing practitioner in Ohio (expressed in a guest post on Danny Brown's blog), are worth keeping at hand. Prompted by the chorus of a John Lennon song, "Serve yourself. Ain't nobody gonna do it for you," Marjorie writes of "the tides of social media." "I am finding more and more," she advises, "that social media is like the ocean, and it has tides that can carry you out or bring you back in."

Piloting a Panel Takes a Steady Focus
PR people interested in extending themselves or taking leadership roles in a community — their physical or professional one — might welcome opportunities to moderate panel discussions at trade shows or community meetings. As with anything else involving public display and interaction, there's an art to being a successful moderator.

Getting Blog Posts Read on the Web
If you're blogging on behalf of a client or two (we'd hope, though, not under their bylines), you might be interested in Karen Russell's tips to academic bloggers on making blog posts unobtrusively friendly to search engines — search engine optimization applied to blogging. SEO isn't an arcane skill, but one to get your Web posts read and, hopefully, appreciated by as many viewers as possible. What's good for professors as would-be bloggers also serves PR pros, Karen feels.

PR Thought Leaders for the Meeting
Craig Badings in Sydney, Australia, has been cultivating an appreciation for developing thought leadership in PR and spotting practitioners who already have established themselves as deeper thinkers. Here, he provides excerpts from interviews he's had with seven such PR and marketing savants — David Meerman Scott, Dana VandenHeuvel, Gary Bertwistle, Fiona Czerniawska, Bernard Salt, Ken Blanchard, and Howard Gardner. Craig suggests you start cutting a swath for yourself in your area of special interest.

Got Analytics Needs? Try Here
If you're looking to fine-tune the analytics end of your PR practice — especially if you've been conducting social media campaigns for clients — we'd suggest you check out Captera's PR software selections. There are a host of possibilities, so many they may at first seem overwhelming. But if you're seriously into analytics and have big enough fields of exposure to tally, this post by Captera and its accompanying link to their software shelves may be very helpful.

Listening With 'The Smokers' For Corporate Stories
Shel Hotz recalls how a Silicon Valley CEO he was interviewing describe how information circulated in his company: "If you really want to know, step outside and hang out with the smokers." "I haven't had a cigarette in 20 years," Shel reflects, "but I remember well the outdoor smoking circle." Its members changed daily and they weren't giving reports on their departmental activities. "They told stories," Shel notes, stories worth capturing. "Today, if I were looking for content for the intranet or the Web, I’d be asking myself every time one of those smokers told a story, 'Is this a video? Is this a blog post? Is there an infographic in there?'”

A PR 'A List' for the World
Stuart Bruce on a PR Guy's Musings takes us to Influence 100, a list of "The 100 Most Important in-House Communicators in the World" that's been compiled by the Holmes Report. It's available from Holmes as a book. But even in Web form, the list includes a profile of each prestigious practitioner around such questions as, "Best advice?" and "Biggest career mistake?"

Values Part of What PR Should Be Promoting
Along with "What are you selling?" and "How do you present it?," PR people should be asking present and prospective clients, "What do you value?" And if they're not clear about that or their values don't relate well to the public, PR practitioners should be ready to help shape more pertinent ones. Values should be part of what PR promotes.

PR's No Mystery To This Veteran
Pari Noskin Taichert in Albuquerque is part of a blogging combine of mystery writers, Murderati. But, like many authors, she's been through the mill of public relations and knows how to do it well. If you're looking for clues to the craft, Pari's pointers in her post, "Seven Things I Wish People Knew About PR" are on the mark. They start with, "Public relations is about relationships with your publics," and "Word of mouth is still the best form of PR there is."

Social Media Tools for PR
Pete Codella, who writes for Ragan's PR Daily, brings together 16 web social media tools he feels are especially applicable for use by PR pros. There's a lot to become familiar with in the likes of FeedBurner through Kapost, but these are keys to web influence and listening out there. Pete's list was compiled in two posts, one in May and the other this month.

PR Coursework On a Desktop
Veteran PR practitioner and professor Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, discusses the PR course materials he uses in his classes at Curry College in Milton, Mass., courtesy of Valerie Simon, of the National Public Relations Examiner. He's got a list of "must read" books as well. Here's a place to turn for informal educational upgrading on the craft.

Putting Your Personal Web Presence Together
Along with being other-focused as we build practices and careers, we need to attend to our personal presence, especially the way we come across online and in social media. It's increasingly easy to leave tracks online, and we want to be well represented there. Google doesn't need to glorify us, but it should bring up a proficient profile of who we actually are.

Not Quite Rocket Science: Getting Covered on the Web Beat
From the perspective of launching scoops on Universe Today, here are tips from Fraser Cain, the site's publisher, on what's involved in going viral on the web. They apply, says Fraser Cain, in much the same manner to "every news market on the internet."

PR Tactics Mired In Duplicity
This one is certainly beyond the pail - that's right, pail. The one the Central Basin Municipal Water District of California will be using to bail out its reputation after paying nearly $200,000 in taxpayers' money to finance phony "news" stories. A too-clever-by-far PR firm, Coghlan Consulting Group, is affiliated with the NewsHawksReview.com web site that publishes promotional stories "written in the image of real news."

What's Your Take on 'Pitching' These Days?
We knew there would be a reaction to Andy Beaupre's post on ragan.com yesterday, "7 reasons why it’s time to retire ‘pitch’ and ‘pitching,’" and Buck Banks, of NewmanPR in Miami, weighs in with the first we've seen. He sees them as terms that are still legitimate in this social media era. "Pitching epitomizes the old-world model of one-way communications."

...Or Is PR Taking Over?
On the other hand, John Sullivan in The Columbia Journalism Review (via the Utne Reader), fears that journalism is being supplanted by PR. With the upheaval in traditional journalism, Sullivan quotes David Barstow, a New York Times reporter, "The muscles of journalism are weakening and the muscles of public relations are bulking up—as if they were on steroids." So which is it. Is PR threatened by abuse and decline or is it taking over?

PR Imperiled by CEO Abuse of Press Releases
This PR Daily post needs to be shown to CEOs "who fail to understand," notes Gordon G. Andrew, "that journalists are not ad hoc members of their company's communications department." That's because, Andrew fears, the abuse of press releases by corporate management could end up putting PR out of business.

At Twitter: Where PR Belongs – In the Guts of Things
Here's elevating news in the buzz about Twitter seeking PR counsel. Edelman is apparently their choice, but the really interesting aspect we noted in Ad Age's coverage is this: "Edelman will try to help consumers understand Twitter's value and how it works, as opposed to creating awareness, which doesn't seem to be a problem for the microblog." This is true relational awareness, not just horn-blowing. It seems that lots of Twitter users don't fully understand how the site works.

Hope You Can Get to PRSA's Ethics Link
The fact that building trust seems an endlessly recurring subject in PR councils doesn't keep the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) from designating September as Ethics Month, nor should it.

Building 'People-Brands' on Facebook
Aside from the fact that it's got a murky lead and refers to "marketing" when it's actually about PR, a post on everythingpr on "The Facebook Effect: Strategies That Work for People-Brands" seems helpful, if not inspiring, in getting your name and presence out there.

Curating Lists for PR Clout
What we do to produce Flack Me comes under the heading of "curation." We roam the Web looking for helpful PR-related posts and note them to you. That's a form of curation. More detail can be found in Steven Rosenbaum's excellent (though poorly proofread) McGraw Hill book Curation Nation. Now we find PR Newswire blogging about applying an SEO-related curation technique.

As the Waters Rise, Email to the Rescue
Jo Ellen Litz, a county commissioner in Lebanon County, Pa., is an inveterate email communicator. She dashes off emails on almost anything connected with county government, at least as much to advance communication efficiency as her own political standing. Now, with flood waters cresting along Lebanon County's creeks, Jo Ellen is demonstrating the crisis communication value of a lengthy e-mail list.

Signs Of Our Social Media Times
Here are two further examples of how social media is impacting PR disciplines or, indeed, expanding them. The press release distribution firm PRNewsChannel says it is adding the hashtag # and @ symbols in its headlines to make them more accessible to social media channels like Twitter. And Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughhead tells an audience of social media pros why the Navy, despite initial misgivings, has been plunging into social media communication, and (in the PDF of his remarks) benefiting from it. "I submit to you that in today’s media environment, as leaders — whether we recognize it or not — we are no longer simply leading a workforce of employees."

Get Schooled — Don't Try To Fool
Here are two stories that fit together nicely in fast-changing PR climes. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley tech execs are being fortuitously trained in media relations, while Ketchum, a supposedly worldly-wise PR firm, gets egg on its face for trying to exploit bloggers on behalf of a lasagna-selling client.

On the Road, Again?
We don't know how often these presumably leather-jacketed academics head out on the road for Upper Iowa University, but here's a trek that qualifies as a notable PR tactic: The university's president and two other senior administrators are riding their motorcycles from Southern California to Chicago and then to Iowa and visiting university alumni along the way.

Google Launches a Crisis Response Site
Google has launched a crisis response website to serve the U.S. when natural disasters or other emergencies occur. The Google Crisis Response site has been developed in cooperation with the Red Cross, FEMA, and other disaster assistance agencies. This partnership has also produced a public preparedness web resource for use during emergencies. Search data show, Google notes, that people turn to the Internet in times of crisis.

Got Your Flash Mob Plan Ready?
The AT&T train station flash mob commercial that was at first clever and amusing and is now just plain annoying brings to prominence, if that's the word, the social-media-abetted tactic of turning out a crowd to make a point. Do you have a crisis plan, a "flash mob policy," for that? The Dix & Eaton communication consultancy advises, yes, you need to be prepared should a flash mob be in the offing in your locale.

Calling City Hall in Aurora, CO
Jo Ann Greer spends a fair amount of time on the phone in her work with the Aurora, CO, city government. Aurora has a citizens' call-in line, Access Aurora, and Jo Ann answers it, handling many of the 4,000 or so calls that come in each month. Aurora is a city of 325,000 residents, but a call-in line for the public is a good idea for municipalities of just about any size.

Try It Again: PR's About Relationships
Here's a heartfelt post on the essence of public relations practice - fully professional relationships between reporters and PR people. Yes, public relations is about relationships - not only with the public, but with the media people who keep the public informed. We're talking about respectful, mutually advantageous relationships between reporters and PR people – enduring relationships. You know them when you have them. We've been on this subject before, and will be again, because it's the essence of the craft.

Indy PR Firm Loses Out to Solo Practitioners
A sad note from Indianapolis, but apparently an indicator of the changes occurring in PR: Hetrick Communications, once a big Indianapolis PR firm, is closing, in large part as the result of competition from solo operators "with less overhead than office-based firms...Now it's much more a climate of one project at a time," says Bruce Hetrick, the firm's owner. Of Hetrick's 20 remaining clients, only two have long-term contracts.

Social Media in Emergency Response
As the East Coast was experiencing an earthquake and then a hurricane, thousands of web watchers were tuning into a Facebook talk with representatives from the American Red Cross, the National Weather Service, and the Department of Health and Human Services on emergency preparedness and the use of social media during emergencies. A infographic depicts findings from an American Red Cross survey about current trends in this realm. This is a good reference point for PR people seeking to gain emergency response expertise.

Meeting Up at the Social Media Club
The Social Media Club was founded in 2006 and many of you probably know it already. But if not, it's definitely worth your attention as a listening post for what's going on in social media. "We bring together journalists, publishers, communications professionals, artists, amateur media creators, citizen journalists, teachers, students...and other interested collaborators."

Amazon's PR Best Sellers
Staying current on your PR reading? It may be hard to tell, because for a lot of people (including, even, practitioners) PR is likely an arcane field, and PR books aren't conversation starters. But there are a lot of good ones available. Amazon proves that with its list of "Best Sellers in Public Relations" — 100 of the best-selling PR books (although a couple appear to be listed twice). The list is currently headed by Shama Hyder Kabani's The Zen of Social Media Marketing and David Meerman Scott's The New Rules of Marketing and PR. Looks like PR books comprise an active business zone for Amazon, even if we don't talk all that much about them among ourselves.

Crises In a Nutshell
Here's possibly the most succinct guidance we've seen on communicating in a crisis. Executives should put this on a card and hang it around their necks. They'll be well-served should a crisis strike. Prompt, honest, relational communication is what's called for. With this "tip sheet" on hand, you won't go wrong. And you won't have to plow through a procedure manual.

Five iPad Apps for PR
The iPad is an amazing tool and is no doubt showing up in PR offices — and cars, trains, and airplanes — the land over. Here, courtesy of Jason Chupick on PR Newser, are "Five 'Must Have' iPads Apps for PR". We'd add Evernote, an all-purpose composition/filing app. Jason's choices are Flipboard, Phoster, Spashtop, Hootsuite for Twitter, and Cozi. He includes thumbnail descriptions of each. Send along your favorite PR-related apps as comments to this post.

Key Social Media PR Precepts Highlighted
Here's a nicely distilled post on the "Top 5 Ways Social Media Has Changed PR." A focus like this is needed in strategizing to include social media in public relations practice and outreach. On the YoungUpstarts site, the piece is actually a promo for the Social Media World Forum coming up next month in Sinapore. But no matter. The five precepts are: It Takes Two; A Wealth of Information; Move Faster, Think Quicker; Measurable Success, and The News Is Changing.

Earthquake Rattled DC's Communicators
Washington, DC, wasn't a great place to be during Tuesday's earthquake. Buildings shook, but there was no place to turn for reliable information on what was occurring. "To be fair," writes Chris Battle on the Security Debrief blog, "DC does have a Twitter account. Well, it has 22 of them, all with different Twitter handles, which can make it a little tough to figure out where to go...." Crisis communication apparently wasn't well-served in the nation's capitol on Tuesday.

Sarah Shaw's Awesome List of PR Tips
"Awesome" is greatly overused, but this is a truly awesome list of PR guidance and inspiration. Sarah Shaw on The Entreprenette Gazette provides 69 tips for practicing PR, with a photo credit to the source of each. There's a wealth of experience and sage counsel provided here. Sarah's list is an example of why we love to get up in the morning to plunge into Flack Me. It's community-in-action.

New Book on Medical Communication
We don't know anyone practicing medical communication as a speciality within PR, but we hope they're out there and wish them well. In a field as busy as medicine with the stakes as high as they often are, doctor-patient, hospital-community, and other forms of medical communication are well worth understanding and improving. These thoughts occurred in noting a press release for a new book, "Medical Communication: Defining the Discipline," written jointly by a physician and a communication professor.

Twitter Looking for N.Y. PR Help
Here's an opportunity to land a smart, prospering PR client, if you're located in the New York City area. Twitter is looking for PR help. "Twitter is on the hunt for an agency to help it through its next stage of growth," AdAge reports. Twitter's current stage of its five-year existence has brought it to a market valuation of $8 billion. Using Twitter as a proxy for social media channels in general, what strategies and tactics occur to influence tweeters around the world?

'Don't Make Your Mom Cry'
So what's a ready standard for whether something should be posted on social media in the name of your company or organization, or your own, for that matter? You could do worse than recall this one suggested by e•releases: "Don't Post Anything That Would Make Your Mom Cry." Most of us have ready memories of what about our behavior upset our mothers, and most of the time they were right. So ask if your mom would be upset about words used or actions suggested, and if so, think twice about them in social media posts. As e•releases puts it: "What would happen if you sent out a Facebook message that was borderline offensive and your mom saw it? She would probably cry. Or get mad. Or worse, call you up and tell you she’s (gasp) disappointed in you!"

Kissed-Off By Hershey
The iconic Hershey Co. has a contractor that operates a Hershey warehouse — Central Distribution Center III — that it's staffed with foreign students who are unhappy with their working conditions and have been demonstrating to make their point. They're minimally paid and work so hard that they don't have the ability to experience American culture beyond the warehouse and their rooms.

The Verizon Strike: PR Isn't Battle Tactics
As the Verizon strike continues, PR is likely to become increasingly smudged with misunderstanding. "[The] Verizon strike is also a public relations fight," says a headline in The Philadelphia Inquirer. But PR as a relational discipline isn't battle tactics — yet they're what a strike setting promotes. So confusion over what's meant by the term "public relations" is likely to grow while Verizon's unionized workers and managers have at each other.

Emergency Plans Matter, Even At State Fairs
Judging from a distance is hazardous and, ordinarily, to be avoided. But the AP story reporting that the emergency plan at the Indiana State Fair, where five people were killed when an outdoor stage collapsed, is only a page long is well worth noting. The plan, says AP, does not mention the potential for evacuations or other key possibilities.

Multiple Paths To The Ethical High Road
We've been out of employee communication and training for a while, but from the sound of things on the Chief Learning Officer blog it's become increasingly weighted toward online e-learning, which employees are finding tedious. Ethical behavior that sets an example, that's in compliance with applicable laws and public expectations, is something that PR people need to be able to advise clients about. So give this lengthy piece a read.

PR By Another Name, Or Not?
From Australia Craig Pierce has a lengthy blog post that ties in nicely with a discussion we noted yesterday on whether PR will be subsumed into marketing or emerge as key to an as yet unnamed communication discipline in this social media era. Craig writes, of course, from a PR perspective. "There is so much synergy between fundamental aspects of PR and social media," he writes.

PR Seen As Recession-Proof
For PR firms, there's cheeriness in economic adversity. Gil Rudawsky writes on Ragan's PR Daily that PR services are increasingly being viewed as recession-resilient. That's because preserving a business' place in the sun is PR's role. "PR counsel has become especially valuable during times of turmoil," Rudawsky writes.

Facebook's Captivating Churches
From Lebanon, Pa., comes evidence of how PCs are jostling with pulpits to become relationship builders for churches. More and more churches have Facebook pages and a recent sermon topic at a Lebanon-area church was "What a Facebook Friend We Have In Jesus." The Lebanon Daily News notes that "A survey last September...found that 47 percent of churches actively use Facebook."

Emergency Communication Via Mobile Devices
PR people, especially those specializing in crisis communication, need to pay heed to the Federal Communication Commission's "NG9-1-1 for Next Generation 911 Services" announced a week ago.

PR Or Marketing: What Do More Relational Organizations Look Like?
Marketing is becoming more relationship oriented, but under whose lead will that occur — Marketing or PR? This key question is raised by MaryLee Sachs as a "conversation" on the Institute for Public Relations website. It comes down to, who owns PR? Can you think of a more seminal question for the profession? "Certainly the growth of social media and the necessary skills to navigate two-way communication have given PR an edge over more traditional 'push', one-way marketing approaches," MaryLee writes. "And as reputation, credibility, authenticity, and transparency have become more important to consumers, PR has emerged as a key element of the marketing mix."

Content Should Be PR's Domain
Joe Pulizzi on PR News provides a primer on content marketing, with attentive PR people as the keystones of the big new emphasis in relational management. "Organizations weren’t built to be publishers," Joe writes, "but that is exactly what they are being asked—scratch that—forced to become. "And whenever there is change," Joe continues, "there is politics. Everyone in the organization is fighting for content. Social media wants it. E-mail marketing wants it. Corporate communications wants it and, of course, PR wants it. Everyone is telling stories, but no one is on the same page...

Good PR Is About Substance, Not Sham
Decent public relations come in the planning for a situation, not the announcements about it. That seems exemplified by the schedule the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has set for consideration of its planned toll increases on its bridges and tunnels.

Facebook Starts With Listening
PR Newswire provides tutelage on "Using Facebook for Public Relations." It's reassuring how a timeless principle of PR is the first that Sarah Skerik applies — listening. Get the feel for who's on hand and what their interests are. Facebook is a highly personal medium, so you shouldn't just charge in because it's faddish. But none among us would do that, right?

Crowdsourcing the London Riots
From Reuters, here's an example of how reporting via Twitter works. We'd rather have a benign example (if you can imagine one), but this is the frontier of journalism. Worth getting a sense of how it goes. Practitioners of crisis communication should find this highly instructive...

Becky, Brian, and Our 'Connected Customers'
Becky Carroll has a new book, "The Hidden Power of Your Customers." Brian Solis wrote the forward and is promoting Becky's book in a blog post. We note it because customers aren't so much abstractions anymore; they're out there what Brian calls "connected customers," poised to comment on our goods and services. All of which poses new relational challenges. "The future of business is rooted in shared experiences," Brian writes. "Customer experiences will be shared, and they will either be positive or negative. Not unlike the reviews we’ve either posted or read on Amazon, people either love or hate an interaction they’ve had with a company." People — somebody's customers — can now express their feelings on social media.

Pointers on Search Engines
Adam Singer on the Lewis PR 360 blog encourages PR people to engage knowledgeably with search engines on behalf of their clients. Search engine optimization (SEO) is becoming as much of a PR tool as polling and planning. The Singer post includes links that help make it a timely introduction to search engine skills.

Don't Fight It, Dan, You're In PR
Talk about protesting too much! I'm not a video gamer, but I've happened upon a post by Dan Amrich, Activision's social media manager. For whatever reason, he's protesting that he's "not a PR person," because he hasn't studied public relations and has none of the experience and knowledge that makes PR people "good at what they do." He's a writer who creates blogs, podcasts, and videos and sets up Twitter and Facebook feeds and pages. And, of course, he has "editorial freedom." Come on, Dan, don't fight it. You definitely have a relational job, and that places you in public relations.

Blogging as a Business
Here's a helpful post from Ivan Walsh on what's involved in getting into blogging as a business — the perceived and possibly unrecognized costs of becoming a professional blogger. Ivan turns to Kristi Hines to provide further insight into "The Truth About Making Money Online" and she, in turn, references Danny Brown on the same general subject area.

Banking On New Media
PR practitioners need to be familiar with how new customer service/social media technologies fit into given settings, like banking. Here's a briefing from financial services pros at Ernst & Young on that very topic.

Crisis-Mapping With Good Guys and Bad
This is somewhat removed from day-to-day public relations, or even crisis communication in the context of natural disasters. But crisis-mapping via the Web is, indeed, a new form of media and we thought you should have insight into what might occur if a crisis setting is a politically hostile one.

'Standing? Standing? Who's Got Our Standing?'
Talk about an epic public relations crisis! Congress and the Obama administration don't seem to understand that's what they set themselves up for in haggling so bitterly over the nation's debt ceiling. Now Treasury Secretary Geithner is attacking the firm that called them on it — Standard & Poor's.

'4Cs' of Facebook PR Prowess
With social media an ever-increasing factor in PR techniques, it's important to be familiar with strategies and tactics for becoming known on the prime SM outlets, Facebook among them. John Casey on the "Big Marketing for Small Business" blog contributes to that worthy end with the "4Cs to PR Your Facebook Business Page."

PR's U.S. Statistical Portrait
Here's the page on Public Relations Specialists from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010–11 Edition. Why post it? Because it provides something of a consensus on the nature of PR work, along with the news that "Employment of public relations specialists is expected to grow 24 percent from 2008 to 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations."

Avoiding PR Disasters — The Illustrative Case of Airbnb
Oliver Milman on StartUpSmart has produced one of the most chilling lists available to PR pros: "Top 10 PR disasters." It was prompted by an actual disaster experienced by the travel-arrangements company Airbnb two weeks ago. Surely, something like this should have been anticipated. U.S.-based Airbnb matches travellers with people willing to rent them their homes.

Relating Through 'Social Advertising'
We can't say that we fully understand him, but Brian Solis has something important here: where people head when they head to the Web. It's no longer so much to websites and banners as such, but to interaction with other people through texts and sharing - through social networking sites.

What To Expect Of Clients
After 30 years of handling corporate PR for firms like Sears and Sara Lee, Ron Culp reflects on what makes a great client in the client/pr agency relationship. Basically, it's the trust the client places in its hired counselors. Ron quotes Dave Samson, General Manager, Public Affairs at Chevron, in his post on the blog of the Council of Public Relations Firms.

PR Pricing and Payback
Marie Swift gets real about creating a viable PR presence and paying for the services it entails. Pricing, of course, comes before paying, so what's involved in a PR pricing strategy? Too many of us come up with an hourly or monthly rate, and that's it. But it isn't, of course. "Time block rates" give short shrift to all the possible strategies and tactics of building a client's public relations presence in a given community. They all represent services involving time. The question is, considering a client's available budget, what's most advantageous to creating a presence over time?

Where's Your Content Coming From?
You're out on the Web with a vast public awaiting your next words...and you've got nothing to say. Many of us are in that situation after signing up for Twitter and Facebook and starting a blog or two.

PRSA's Leads on Continuing PR Education
We all need to keep reasonably current with a field — PR — that's changing with our rapidly evolving communication styles. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) lists "10 Ways To Continue Your Public Relations Education On a Budget."

Blogging Currents 'Down Under'
The great thing about the Web is that it brings insights from everywhere, like how PR firms in Australia are trying to corral bloggers there. Same thing's no doubt occurring in the U.S.

PR Barrages on the Debt Ceiling
Pretty obviously, the debt-limit drama involves public relations on a grand scale. The Hill blog is a good place to follow the saga, including its report yesterday that President Obama and his staff are conducting "a massive, all-hands-on-deck public relations effort ot turn the tide of political opinion in their favor." And the Republicans are firing back.

Avoid Slapdash Event Planning
The Indie Book Event being held on Saturday in New York may turn out to be a well-attended gathering of publishing industry influentials, but Michael N. Marcus doubts it.

Working With Millennials
The emerging workforce is made up of millennials — men and women born after 1980 — and it's important for PR firms to know how to relate to them. They're different in what they expect a workplace to be, as CNN reported recently. "We're pretty hard workers, I just think we have a different way of working," one young woman said.

Where, Oh Where, In The World Are You?
It's happened often enough that we need to call attention to it: The Internet is worldwide and ever-present — but where, oh where, are you located in the real world? Too many sites, we've been discovering, don't bother to let you know where they're based.

Crisis Messaging: Texting at Tufts
Cell phones have become key instruments of crisis management. Tufts University teacher Lisa Gualtieri shares her school's approach to crisis texting. It's a simple, hence helpful, one. "With the chances of a college student being more than one square foot away from their cell phone being approximately zero," Johnathan L. Bernstein writes on the Crisis Management Blog, "that technology makes for a very powerful crisis management tool."

Relating to Journalists: PR Newswire Gets It Right
PR Newswire has contributed a helpful statement aimed at strengthening professional relationships between journalists and PR people in the face of The New York Times chastising its columnist, David Pogue, over associating with PR people. The Times relies on responsible PR assistance just like any other paper, and its reporters know the difference.

Blogging As Though It's 'War'
Chris Abraham provides insight into how blogging can become a pitched battle, sometimes needs to be one, to influence people like doctors or scientists who shun the limelight. "If you cannot target your dream customer directly," Chris writes, "you can target everyone around him. He calls this tactic "firing for effect," as when a battlefield is littered with explosions and craters to get the attention of whomever's in the bunker. Chris discusses the tactics his firm used in "targeting health care providers for a client that sells health care devices and targeting astronomers for a global radio telescope project."

Google+ Scores for PR Use
Here's an early review of Google's new Google+ social networking service from a PR perspective. Jocelyn Brandeis, of O'Dwyer's, rates the Plus Hangouts feature highly. Sounds like a social tool we need to start getting familiar with.

Murdochs Make Ethics Look Messy
It's fair to say that the early innings of the testimony of Rupert and James Murdoch before a committee of the British Parliament demonstrated that corporate ethics are not a matter of gobbledygook or evasive regrets but of clearly stated and enforced standards of conduct.

PRSA Adds To Its Job-Hunting Resources
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has redesigned its online JobCenter to provide more help to those — students and pros alike — seeking PR positions.

Metro: Rolling Along on Social Media
Washington's Metro public transportation system has hired a full-time social media manager to help improve its presence on Twitter and Facebook and have a "two-way dialogue" with customers. A neat way to help explain why escalators take so long to repair, and to learn what else is bothering riders. Brian Anderson, 31, has been working at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in Philadelphia.

Brits Noting that PR and Journalism Aren't Interchangeable
Suddenly Great Britain has a glut of journalists on its public relations job market. The Drum notes that 200 staffers from Rupert Murdoch's shuttered News of the World and 90 more from Trinity Mirror's Scottish division are jobless and possibly interested in PR positions, providing an unhappy setting in which to discuss the differences between work in journalism and PR. Just as marketing people may not be fully fledged in PR disciplines, journalists may not either. Sad, but important, to note.

PR Folks: Be Social, But Available, Too
In the wake of Amazon's recent cloud collapse, Kate Schackai, social media director of Crawford Public Relations, Boston and D.C., sorts through the relational requirements of social media and warns that, beguiling though SM is, spokespeople need to remain on hand. Real-life reporters who need answers aren't going away.

Piecing PR Together, As In a Lovely Park
Natalie Middleton has a great way of setting marketing/PR services apart — by associating them with popular, well-designed local facilities and explaining how good outreach needs to be similarly well-conceived.

Gauging Online Presence With Klout
We've got to give Cut-It-Out Communications, Inc., of Westchester County, NY, credit for introducing us to Klout, even though their news release on PRWeb opens with typing sounds. First time we heard it, we thought something in the office had broken.

Good Media Relations Manners Matter
Media people are just like you and me, only busier. So to connect with them, and do well on the tube or in print, be sensible and respectful of others' time. That's what Mike Volpe's tips on attracting media attention come down to on The Customer Collective blog. Volpe was in broadcast media before joining Hubspot.

Sweet Reason Doesn't Always Work
Slogans alone aren't compelling enough to prompt Americans to drive safely. The threat of punishment needs to accompany highway safety urgings to get worthwhile results. That seems to be the message in highway safety campaigning, reports The Washington Post. "Buckle Up for Safety" doesn't work as well as "Click It or Ticket."

Meaty Material on Measurement Skills
While we're noting the importance of tooling up for today's PR, the discipline of measurement deserves special emphasis. You can't know how effective you're being unless you measure it against some aim or standard, and keep doing so regularly. Valerie Simon of BurrellesLuce makes that point in reflecting on PR Week's recent Measurement Roundtable. Valerie leads off with a link to a nicely packaged set of slides on the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles from 2010.

Murdoch's Maneuvering Dismaying the British
Rupert Murdoch is discovering that outrageous conduct by underlings on his Sunday-only News of the World is truly tough to placate. Closing the paper doesn't do it. His Sun, The New York Times reports, is simply expected to add a Sunday edition.

Retooling for Today's PR
Neicole M. Crepeau asks what five skills are needed by today's PR people and, from other practitioners, gets answers like multi-media search, content creation, being engaging, and integrating social media with traditional media. It's increasingly an online world for PR aptitudes.

Savvy Tips on Choosing PR Clients
Not just anyone needing PR services makes a good PR client. A lot of time, energy, and frustration can be can be saved by picking clients wisely — before you start working with them. Kathy Cripps of the Council of Public Relations Firms talked to several pros on their approaches to vetting potential clients.

'Crisis Pending Here,' Companies Fear
The present is an unnerving time to be in business. Maybe it's always been thus, but the sense of a looming crisis is uncomfortably strong among the businesses, large and small, that Burson-Marstellar polled globally in its latest crisis-preparedness study.

Pogue's Pitchman Energies Produce a Times Entente
David Pogue's personal PR activities may have been going overboard as far as his editors at The New York Times are concerned. Pogue seems to agree, for he's cooling his speechmaking. As Arthur S. Brisbane explains in The Times' Public Editor's Journal, Pogue is now "barred from making any more speeches like the one set for a Ragan Communications Media Relations Summit on July 11, "Pitch Me, Baby."

A Global Network for Food Crisis Management
Here's an interesting approach to crisis planning and management in the global food industry. Thirteen communications agencies "have set up the Crisis Management Network to offer support to global food and drink industry players." The at-the-ready alliance was "formerly the European Crisis Management Partnership."

Life In a Large PR Firm — Edelman
Amanda Aviles provides a slice of life at a large PR firm, from Edelman's Atlanta office. If you'd like a sense of working in a large agency, Amanda's piece on the PRSSA blog is worth some of your time. You get the sense that Edelman is an engaging place to work, and why. You'll never see the boss? No, Richard Edelman holds video conferences and meetings for his firm's 53 offices. "Edelman," says Aviles, "does a phenomenal job of assuring no one is ever just a number." Get a feel for what else occurs in the daily whirl.

Kudos! Muslims Posted Relational Videos for the Fourth
A number of American Muslims made highly appropriate use of the Fourth of July by uploading videos to the My Faith My Voice website, where Muslims can introduce themselves to other Americans. It doesn't take more than a few seconds to affirm that Muslims are as well-spoken and relational as other Americans.

It's Becoming a Facebook Relational World — Happy Fourth of July!
Here's one of the fullest appraisals we've seen on how social media, especially Facebook, is changing PR from "delivering a message to joining a conversation." PR pros, notes Brenda Krueger Huffman on the Business Insider blog, have to be savvy in both areas. This fits with a post from Ron Culp, of Ketchum, that says journalists are having a harder time switching to PR jobs.

PRWeb Provides a Robot Press Release Editor
We're not going to sign up for a "free PRWeb account" to check this out, but some of you might want to. PRWeb has a new tool to evaluate and provide feedback on draft press releases.

Twitter Hasn't Changed So Much, After All
These "10 Tips for Tweeting as a Brand" suggest that social media - Twitter, in particular - haven't changed that much about public relations practices after all. What Maria Perez does to protect her "Twitter brand" is basically to maintain the same kind of alert, responsive, respectful communication climate that good PR people provided for their clients before the Web.

Sears Lets a Refrigerator Leak Get the Better of It
Sears is one of a number of companies whose demise is predicted before long. Is that prompting Sears to try harder to relate well to its customers and the public generally? Not out in Ballwin, Mo., apparently. TV station KMOV reports on how Sears allowed a refrigerator water leak to become a TV cause celebre.

Fracking Flubs PR
Why wouldn't an extraction industry recognize it's exploiting a public resource and be PR-responsible from the start? That's a good question to ask the natural gas industry as it struggles to gain and hold public support. In Pennsylvania, for example, enlightened PR should have accompanied the arrival of the first drilling rig — not a campaign to avoid an extraction tax.

Wordle's a Great Graphics Tool
Don't know how long it's been around, but we've come across Wordle, a great free tool for making word cloud graphics. Want to highlight a proposal, planning document, or outreach initiative? Transform the document making the proposal, report, or offer into a Wordle, and you've got a supportive illustrative graphic!

Google's New Social Media 'Circles'
We're on a software bent this morning — relational software. Here's another one — Google's new Google+ service. Google+ appears to be a Facebook alternative, a Google bid in social media. The service allows you to form mutually exclusive "circles" through which you can relate to friends, family, business associates, customers, whomever, without crossing paths along the way.

PRSA Encouraging Pro Bono Work
Know any deserving organizations that can't afford PR services? The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is encouraging its professional and student chapters to do some pro bono work relating via a new program, "PR Serving America."

Ross Dawson's Graphic for Getting Around Out There
We're a little slow on picking up on this one (it was posted in March), but it's a big wide Web. Anyway, we refer you to Ross Dawson's graphic on "Success in a Connected World." It draws very nicely together the process and all the means of being "out there" on social media. As Ross says, the six elements are all inter-related.

Charities Should Be Getting Into Social Gear
Charities are caught in the crux of informational change, and JD Rucker on TECHi thinks they're doing a poor job of presenting themselves on social media where, he feels, they need to be. That's undoubtedly so as time moves along. But, as a comment to the post notes, it's not just a matter of page views. Charities need people to send them checks.

'Mixed Links' Weekly for Nonprofits
If you're in marketing and PR for a non-profit organization, check out an engaging feature on Kivi Leroux Miller's Nonprofit Communications Blog - "Mixed Links for Nonprofit Marketers". Kivi saves up links to post weekly with ideas and services for non-profits. Like Nancy Schwartz's "Know Your Target Audiences for Nonprofit Marketing Success (Case Study)". Nancy has another blog, getting attention!, aimed at helping nonprofit communicators. On the Web, one good blog deserves another, and there are so many of them. We like to be helpful, occasionally, in noting some of possible interest to communicators.

What If You Were On This 'Doomsday List' ?
Suppose you worked, or indeed work, at one of these companies, which 24/7 Wall Street predicts will disappear in the next 18 months: Sears, Sony Pictures, American Apparel, Nokia, Saab, A&W All-American Foods Restaurants, Soap Opera Digest, Sony Ericsson, MySpace or Kellog's Corn Pops. What PR/marketing strategies would you be recommending to help prove these guys wrong? 24/7 Wall Street doesn't just throw darts at lists of companies. Last year it predicted the demise of T-Mobile and Blockbuster, while missing the mark on others.

Why Not Host Your Own 'Media Day'?
Los Angeles is a major regional commercial hub and Lisa Elia Public Relations based there is a well-established PR firm. But there's no reason why the concept of a Media Day like the one Lisa Elia is planning for the fall couldn't be picked up on in smaller locales.

Google's PR Library: a Great Resource
Google offers a virtual library of books on public relations. We happened upon it via a review of Shirley Harrison's 2000 book Public Relations, An Introduction. There are 10 other books featured with it, starting with Edward Bernays' classic Public Relations. Click on any of them and you get taken to a review along with more books. As in so much else, Google is enabling you to fine-tune your PR reading according to your present and future needs, techniques or theories. You can preview given books, make your choice and order it by clicking on a bookseller listed nearby. A great professional electronic library service.

Relationships Matter — Don't Nuke 'Em
I'm not a video gamer, and wouldn't be commenting on the online fuss over the reception of the game Duke Nukem 3D, except that it gets at the essece of what public relations is about — relationships. No matter how upset you as a game's publicist — or any other organizational manager — might become over comments in the media or elsewhere, never lose your cool. That's it — all you really need to know about PR in one word, "Never." Video game companies send out review copies of their new games, and that costs more, obviously, than an envelope and stamp.

A Utility Goes Social
Utility companies typically have an old-line image. That is, they're staples. They keep the lights on and the water running. They're community conscious and value good customer relations, but you don't normally think of the electric company as being on Twitter and Facebook.

If a Crisis Strikes, 'Breathe'
There's lots of advice on the Web about what to do if a crisis strikes your business, but one of the more dead-on tips is simply to "breathe." The American Express' Open Forum blog for small business reminds us that "it is essential to keep a level head in the face of a firestorm."

What's Your Web Standing? Google Can Tell You
Google has added a tool — Me on the Web — to make it easy for individuals to find what's being said about them on the Internet. Steve Rubel is already suggesting that it be extended to brands and corporations.

Measure Away, PR Has a Future
PR people globally remain edgy over the standing of their craft. That's our take on the Third European Summit on Measurement held last week in Lisbon. The news release on the meeting suggests that at least the practitioners who attend international meetings are anxious to have PR's standing bolstered by whatever measurement techniques may be available. True, these were measurement professionals, and one would expect them to be concerned about perfecting their craft. But the focus on the overall standing of PR itself is apparent. These are priorities for the coming decade. The Lisbon resolves follow the Barcelona Principles of Measurement adopted last year.

Media Shifts: How the FCC Sees Them
As an indicator of the concerns over the ongoing web/media upheaval, the Federal Communications Commission has released a 360-page report on The Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age. It's available on the FCC's website. The FCC report follows up on the Knight Foundation's work on the future of journalism, but, understandably, avoids prescriptive remedies for what's seen as a decline in newsgathering resources.

What's the Right Role for PR?
Gini Dietrich catches Gary Vaynerchuk using a roundhouse assertion that "ninety-five percent of the worst social media egagement I've seen was produced by PR companies that were hired to manage a brand's profiles, pages, or blogs." Is that possible? Are PR firms that disconnected from customer needs?

Boomers Have Lots of Time for Learning; They'll Need It
Jane Genova has bittersweet words of encouragement for aging baby boomers in PR (or any other field) — "You've got lots of time remaining to learn, and you'll need it." Jane cites research showing that "many Americans will have to keep on working well into their 70s and 80s to afford retirement." And that's good, it can be argued, because there's so much yet to learn. Jane's point, and it's a fairly serious one, is that there's still plenty of time to pursue and learn new coping skills." Nest eggs, pensions, and social security are unlikely to keep aging professionals afloat. The less they earned during their careers the more likely it is that they will have to keep working until their 70s and 80s.

Social Media Are Work, Not Just Fun, Brian Solis Warns
Brian Solis is sometimes concerned that he overdoes the rigor involved in applying social media to customer relations (or, by extension, public relations), but not for long. Social media aren't simply fun to use, they're tools to connect with. "In the end," says Solis, "the reality is that you get out of social media what you invest in it. But at the same time, experimenting with social media is not anything to discredit. The difference between today's media and the networks of yore is nothing less than the democratization of information, from creation to consumption to sharing and the equalization of influence..."

Hey, Leaders, What You're Doing Is Too Important To Be Poorly Communicated
From Australia comes a reminder that those of us in PR need to keep pressing the importance of good, pertinent communication on all those we encounter, leaders especially. "Scientists need work on communication" declares a headline in The Gladstone Observer. True, because we've been hearing so much about global warming in the form of controversy that when its consequences become manifest — as they have this spring in deadly tornadoes and other raucous weather events — we're apt simply to shrug them off. Exactly the wrong response.

Perils of Do-It-Yourself Crisis PR
Back-pedalling and belated remorse seem to feature Rep. Anthony Weiner's (D-NY) handling of his self-created Internet communication crisis. Exactly the wrong way to proceed if you find yourself in such an unfortunate situation (though one shouldn't) in the first place. Gene Grabowski on the BulletproofBlog on crisis PR critiques Congressman Weiner's catch-up performance. "As a former journalist myself," Grabowski writes, "I too thought Weiner was showing all the signs of a do-it-yourself crisis manager."

A Primer on E. coli in Europe
Here's a good primer on the E. coli outbreak in Germany, said to be the worst such crisis ever, from Phil Butler on Everything PR. Phil offers a a PR perspective with lots of folks in the European Union being too quick and willing to play the blame game. The source, he explains, is likely a cow or a pig in the importation of meat, not Spanish vegetables. "Discovering exactly who and why is a time consuming project for investigators," Phil writes, "but being naive is a commodity none of us can afford much longer." (Yet, in a June 10 finding, European health officials announced that bean sprouts from a farm in northern Germany caused the outbreak. How the sprouts got contaminated – tainted seeds, water or nearby animals? – hasn't yet been answered.)

Are Your Police Tweeting Yet?
Keeping up with what's happening in your community or marketing area? Be sure to watch whether your police department has a presence on Twitter or Facebook. Increasingly, that's the case, advises the Poynter Institute. While journalists may still be checking the log at police headquarters, now anybody on a given social media stream can follow announcements from a growing number of police departments. "It's much more democratic in a way," says Gitte Laasby, a crime reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Everybody gets to have their say. I'm sure it must be empowering for them (the Milwaukee police)."

Ketchum's Campus Contributors
When I was in college, I worked as a stringer for a regional newspaper, delivering copy daily to the bus station down the hill from our campus, on my English bicycle with its rams head handle bars. The clippings I saved from the experience - including one front-page banner headline - were invaluable in landing my first reporting jobs, first in the Army, then in Philadelphia. Today, students working on a crowdsourcing project with Ketchum PR don't need bicycles, only their aspirations and Internet savvy.

The Power of 'Being Around' When News Breaks
Here's an alternative approach to generating awareness and relational heft. Don't worry about making news, just be around when it breaks.

Rolling Over, or Alongside, Criticism
Here from the trenches, or at least the tire racks, is a seasoned view of handling negative social media comments, compliments of Christine Taylor on Tire Review, "The Tire Industry's #1 Source for News & Analysis." First, Christine urges, categorize a comment. Is it a straightforward problem, a helpful criticism, an organized attack, or spam? Each has its own index of response, from forthright apologies to collaborative improvement to withhstanding attacks and facing down spammers.

Personality for Nonprofits
Without high-powered PR support, some non-profit organizations hide their light - their personalities - under bushels. They're so busy serving their clients, they neglect engaging their publics, with the result that fund-raising and other forms of support become a continuing struggle. "Let your light so shine..." is guidance lost in such circumstances. Kivi Leroux Miller, however, suggests "7 Ways to Show Your Nonprofit's Personality," guidance that ought not to be lost on publiciy-shy non-profits.

Gallup Tallies on Americans' Moral Views
Gallup has provided us with the lay of the land on moral choices, an especially interesting opinion poll, and one that's gist for PR strategies.

Advice From, and To, the Media Boondocks
Surfing the Web in search of insights for Flack Me is a fascinating exercise, like having a global newsstand. The Web is a great equalizer — good content from anywhere is prized, whether it's from New York, Chicago or Klamath, Oregon. Yes, Steve Miller, editor of the Herald and News in Klamath has some pertinent things to say about media relations.

Ocean City Gets It Right At Its Beaches
Congratulations to Ocean City, Md., for a PR-perfect way of handling the annual migration of high school and college graduates to its beaches. Give them lots to do and encourage residents to relate well to the town's cusp-of-life visitors.

One-Stop Crisis Communication News
For those of you with a stake in crisis communication (all of us, to one degree or another) check out Grayson Daughter's Paper.li The Crisis Communication Daily. Yes, it's automated, but Paper.li has a cagey ability to come up with pertinent stories in a given topical area that we might otherwise miss.

AT&T's Proposed Blockbuster Combo
With reliable, affordable cellphone service becoming increasingly important to PR people, as to most everybody else, AT&T's proposed $39 billion merger with TMobile is definitely worth your awareness and consideration. AT&T hasn't been our favorite company, but they've moderated their cellphone rates a bit and the connections haven't faded, so we've been in a "truce" mode with them. But the pros and cons of a merger are important to consider.

Help With Keeping Abreast of It All
As we write (as we just did) about the comingling of print and digital journalism, how does a well-intentioned PR person keep up with it all? Good question, to which Mashable attempts an answer with a post, "7 Ways Ad Agency Pros Stay on Top of Social Media Trends" by Bob Wasserman. In this context, what holds for ad people can also be helpful to PR folks.

For Media (and PR), the Twain Becoming One
We keep inching along the transition between old and new media, print and digital. Now Gerald Baron on the Crisis Comm blog is calling attention to the Oriella PR Network's Digital Journalism Study that shows, among other things, the extent to which journalists are relying on social media channels for information (Twitter: 47%, Facebook: 35%). Journalists are increasingly becoming bloggers, too.

Giving a Talk? Consider Its Digital Dimensions
It used to be that a speaking appearance was just that — an appearance before a group of people at which you offered insights, took questions and maybe held a few sidebar chats afterwards. Now a speaking appearance is an event, transferrable in whole or remixed form to digital media.

Focus for PR Performance
This is a background piece that can help the foreground become more sharply etched. In other words, guidance on how we can become more effective in our daily routines. Good PR begins with effective rounds. Tony Schwartz, of The Energy Project, writes on "The Only Way to Get Important Things Done." And what's that? Have "rituals" for doing them. The brain is a mechanism, not entirely so, but enough so in key ways. Random acts of engagement don't get us very far. Tony's five rituals "that have made the biggest difference to me" are included here. We need to design our goals steadfastly.

Trends Of Our Times With PR Heft
It's a day out there for talking about trends. We've spotted two Web allotments trying to piece together what's coming on the basis of trendspotting. The currents detected have much to do with technology and the disappearance of trust beacons, or put another way, the dispersal of trust. It's an increasingly complex world, but with complexity comes PR opportunities. See what Marian Salzman and Ken Makovsy have to say about that.

Empathy Ignored at a Dress Shop's Peril
We're not on the scene, only judging by the Internet "clips," but that's how reputations can be made or blighted. So we don't hesitate to question a New Jersey dress shop's grasp of a cardinal principle of PR - empathy. Being willing to walk in someone else's shoes — empathy defined — is a relational value that seemed ignorned when grief-stricken Jackie Genovese returned to a New Jersey dress shop with her prom dress.

'Forget Embargoes, Just Relate'
There's less and less room for formality in today's crowded, untraditional, media market. Like placing embargoes on news releases, says Wade Roush on the Xconomy blog. Instead of setting a release time that's likely to be broken, Wade advises, "Trust me to be alert to good stories, post the news on your blog, e-mail and tweet your announcement, put it on a PR wire service..." or... And here's the really radical notion: "Stop worrying so much about making 'news' and just cultivate relationships with individual reporters like me. Invite me in for a meeting. Demo your product. Take me on a tour of your office or plant. Schedule a phone call just to catch up. Be available as an outside source for stories that aren’t about your company."

More About Newspaper Omens
It remains a dicey time for newspapers. The New York Times put up a paywall for serious subscribers at the end of March and, with all it's wrinkles, it's too early to tell whether paid Web subscriptions are the likely answer for sustaining print media in the Internet age.

Tips On Talking To The Media
Assuming there are, and will continue to be, newspaper reporters in your neighborhood interested in hearing what your or your clients may have to say, Kevin Sangsland, of Airfoil Public Relations, a tech PR firm, offers six tips for successfully interacting with reporters. These are for folks who can't afford paid PR counsel — and maybe a brushup for some counsellors themselves. Kevin's headings are Be available, Prepare for the interview, Maintain the appropriate attitude during the interview, Focus on the story you need to tell, be credible and honest, Know the basic rules of engagement, and Be interesting and engaging, not controversial.

LinkedIn On the High Road
Impressed as one might be by LinkedIn's first-day $9.1 billion stock market valuation, it was heartening to hear the social network's management sticking to the high road amidst talk of an unsustainable new market "bubble" (which hopefully social media isn't).

What Cats Can Teach Bloggers
Blogging, whether the business or personal form, requires a mindset. You've got to have confidence in who you are and where you're coming from, what your interests are, to be a successful blogger. This holds, of course, for all writers. And inspiration comes from many sources. But how many of us get inspiration from our cats? Brad Harmon, of the Big Feet Marketing blog, does — and offers "9 Lessons Bloggers Can Learn From Cats."

Social Media Demos From Two Iconic Locales
Here's a terrific example of how, and how not, to conduct social media relations out in Minnesota, or anywhere. Marty Weintraub on the aimClear blog takes us via his Twitter feeds from each to the Mall of America and the Mayor Clinic, both "iconic Minnesota brands." Guess which one excelled in social media interaction! At the Mall of America, Marty tweeted a picture of a two-story Lego robot on his way to find some pistachio ice cream. A few minutes later a mall community manager got back to him.

Inc.'s Counsel on Employee Satisfaction
Because good external relations begin internally, it's helpful for PR practitioners to have familiarity with employee relations and communications in their kit bags. Clients will appreciate the added depth should employee elan become important to their market standing, as it easily can. So we refer you to a helpful primer on employee relations included in the May Inc. magazine. Entitled "7 Ways to Improve Employee Satisfaction," the article refers readers to "Delivering Happiness," the book by Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh and The Happiness Project blog of Gretchen Rubin, as well as providing its heralded seven suggestions.

From the Crisis Front Lines...
For those of you with crisis communication responsibilities (in PR that's just about everyone in one way or another), we've come upon a treasure trove of crisis-related blogs.

Take Time to Recharge
Allow us a time-out moment. How many of them are we takining these days? Most likely you'll answer, "Not enough." But you'll probably agree that it's important to step back occasionally from the onslaught of events, devices and opportunities to recenter, reframe, refocus, call it what you will. It's the place where true creativity, freshness and newness, comes from. Pondering is one of the most important relational states of all.

'Stealth PR' Was on Facebook's Behalf
Here, from the San Francisco Chronicle, is more information on the May 10 post Flack Me did on Burson-Marstellar seeking to place an op-ed piece on behalf of an unnamed client. Turns out, it's a fracas between Facebook and Google — one that could have been aired (like anything else) without resorting to shady PR tactics. B-M acknowledges as much.

Four Social Media Guides Focused for Use in PR
Here's a one-stop post for introductions to using key social media — blogs, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter — as PR outlets. Mynewsdesk recently sponsored the separate pieces on Mashable, but here they are together for one-stop social media tutelage.

Formatting Key to Press Release Mileage on the Web
Press releases distributed via the Web need special attention to web-powered reading and retrieval values. That's probably not news to most of you, but just what a web-friendly release should look like may be of greater pertinence.

PR's Supporting Details, Crucial for Full Impact
What distinguishes a PR plan from running in place is the depth and subtlety of the PR component of an organization's reach. Beyond marketing, as important as connecting with potential customers or users is, PR considers all the publics involved and allows for contingencies that might suggest a change in course. Good PR planning takes more time, but can produce deeper impact.

Op-Eds Aren't For Phantoms
Disclosure is, or ought to be, a prime tenet of public relations. Contacting a writer to ascertain his interest in doing an op-ed piece on behalf of an unnamed client isn't a sterling example of responsible PR. Instead, it's the sort of thing that gives the craft a murky name. In this instance, the errant practitioner works for Burson-Marstellar. If you think an op-ed piece might be a good idea, at least let the prospective writer know whose interest might be involved.

Web-power Behind a Playground Rebuild
How many community projects are there in which participation could be enhanced with a website of their own? No doubt a lot. The web's close-in community relations aspects were clear in the plan to rebuild the the Cedar Hill Park playground in Oak Ridge, TN.

Watch Those Dim-Witted Headlines
It's time for a lively, fun-filled weekend, so let's spike the cavalier headline, "PR Is Dead," that we just found on a Forbes column by Jim Nichols, Vice President - Digital at Stern + Associates. Headlines are supposed to have some relationship to the subject they proclaim, if not to reality itself. The kind of PR Jim Nichols is advocating, and is supposedly unrecognized and unpracticed in many quarters today, is what we've been doing for a generation or more.

Relational Trends: An App that Leads to Water
Talk about relational communities — we've found an app that leads to drinking fountains, eventually everywhere, once the followers line up to extend it. This app business is becoming astounding. Have an idea for a community, like getting a good drink of water almost anywhere? Create an app for it, and apparently they will come. WeTap looks like a great example of an app-propriate new PR trend. In this case, the man with the idea was Dr. Peter Gleick, "a water expert and president of the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit research organization focused on sustainability."

Your Own Blogging Beat
Whether for business or personal aims, maintaining a blog can get you a lot of relational mileage. But blogging is a discipline. What sort of discipline? Well, it brings to mind the beat reporter — from a time when many more reporters than today had subject-matter beats — like crime, labor or religion — to pursue.

Danny Brown's 'Bloggers Who Won't Bore You'
There's so much available for reading on the Web, it's hard to know where to turn, especially in the fields of PR and marketing. Danny Brown is trying to be helpful in this respect with his blog post, "The Mind-Numbing Banality of Sameness." He lists 13 fresh blog voices and provides a further link to "many more like them." Get introduced to some writers you may not know.

Read All About Them (Your Would-Be Contacts)
Lois Paul sounds almost exasperated in writing, on her firm's Beyond the Hype blog, about the basic importance of PR people knowing something about the people they hope to connect with. "Don't cold pitch" is so fundamental you'd think it wouldn't need any emphasizing.

Old PR Dogs Need to Learn Online Skills
Teaching old dogs new tricks is a tired metaphor. But it does alert people, older ones at least, that there are new things they ought to know. For PR people, that definitely includes relating online, which brings us to techniques for search engine optimization (SEO) and other forms of Web discovery.

Keeping Up With Social and Search
The PR environment has been changing drastically with the rapid evolution of digital media. Lee Oden has a timely blog post on "the importance of Social Media & SEO for public relations." The new media can extend your reach and build your clients' identities. But they need to be followed fairly closely and understood well. Hence this advice from Lee.

'A Zone We've Never Seen Before'
From Pro Publica comes one of the fullest treatments we've seen of the changing of the nation's information guard, from the print media to the Web, PR, whatever...This piece is headed "PR Industry Fills Vacuum Left by Shrinking Newsrooms," but it's a transition in progress with the ultimate phase unclear.

Questions Would-Be Clients Are Likely to Ask
American Express has considerable reach, so the 10 questions on its OPEN Forum that it advises prospective clients to ask PR firms are likely to be coming your way. Got ready, persuasive answers for them? AmEx includes some prompting on each, but these are certainly reasonable questions. They may already be the focus of your practice, but we pass them along.

A Lady Shows How to Own Up
PC World takes advantage of some recent cyber upsets to lay out a spectrum of responses to PR crises, from Apple to a lady inTexas. The lady, Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs, wins for demonstrating how empathy with the public needs to be the core element in crisis communication.

LA's Twitter 'Newsstand' Worth Copying
Are people trending from newsstands to Twitter, or is Twitter itself becoming a newsstand? This may be splitting hairs; something of both is occurring. The important thing is that Twitter is a ready outlet for emergency information, or simply material that's important for managing communities well. Some organizations don't understand Twitter's "newsstand" role; a chamber of commerce we used to belong to comes to mind.

TEPCO Tosses In Its Spokesperson's Towel
Shades of Harold Denton at Three Mile Island Unit 2 in 1979. The Japanese government has taken over the spokesperson's role from Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex. "Tokyo’s intervention in Tepco’s public-relations arm came after several briefings that sowed confusion, with Tepco issuing statements on radiation levels that it later rescinded or revised."

Get Out and Meet the 'New Journalists'
Mike Mulvhill summarizes it well in a Buzz Bin post - "Traditional media relations no loger exists as we once knew it. In its place is a mash-up of traditional media outlets, news aggregators and social media that morph, feed off of — and upon — one another ."

PR Newswire Posts an Infographics Manual
Pictures are worth lots of words, in social media or elsewhere on the Web. Most of us aren't artists, though, so what do we do to enliven our sites. Clip art becomes tiresome. Gee, if we only could create an occasional infographic all our own. Well, PR Newswire, of all places, has heard our prayer. It's just issued a release of its own on "Creating and Using Infographics".

Saying 'Thank You' to Reporters
There's a burst of controversy on the eReleases blog over the post "How to Thank a Reporter Who Covered Your Press Release." Since good media relations are an important aspect of PR, the perspectives involved are worth some attention. eReleases suggests you thank a reporter, in effect, by buttering him or her up. Or, as eReleases puts it, "promote their work." We don't buy that.

Spokespeople Need To Know About Beavers
Here's why organizations shouldn't let untrained, unauthorized employees take media calls. In Harrisburg, Pa., the state capitol, the downtown area, including the capitol complex, was without water for several days last week after a demolition contractor ruptured a water main by accident.

What Counts In a CEO For Good PR?
What qualities do you want a CEO to have to insure great PR for your company or organization? We'd list humility, which may be surprising to some folks. But Andy Beaupre has a longer list, and his CEO qualities are all valid, too. He names them as: Mr. Engage, Mr. Credibility, Ms. Social, Ms. Caring and Mr. Genuine. Sounds like Andy's CEO's are paragons? Maybe, but we'd prefer to see them as decent human beings.

Crisis Communication: Heed What We're Hearing from Japan
It's easy to zing Japan and Tokoyo Electric Power for lapses in their communication of the earthquake-induced Fukishima nuclear plant disaster. Chalk it up, basically, to cultural differences, writes Doug Tsuruoka, of Investor's Business Daily. And it's true that the Japanese weren't well-served by "cultural preferences for understatement and speaking indirectly."

In Oshawa, Print or Digital? A Question Lots of Communities are Facing
First, it's great that Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, a city of around 150,000 residents, has an annual newsletter (Inside Oshawa) at all. But which medium should it be in: print or digital? That's a question that's facing a lot of communities and organizations these days that are interested in informing their publics at an affordable cost.

PR Role 'Reversal' Enlightening
Katie Schutrop in the Minneapolis area used to be trying to connect with the media; now she's more of a media outlet herself, handling the Metromix.com events/social media/traffic/weather site in Minneapolis-St.Paul. "I've noticed that certain best practices I thought were common knowledge throughout the (PR) industry don't always shine through."

Email Only Those You Know, Or Else...
Thanks to Jason Falls for providing a primer on a subject we've been curious about for some time - the use of email for PR purposes. It can get vexing. For instance, email for commercial purposes is covered by the CAN-SPAM Act, a federal law all its own, with hefty penalities to prove it.

Don't Let Fundraising Subvert PR
William Swanger, a PR veteran in Central Pennsylvania, has an article on PRSA's Public Relations Strategist that sorts through the differences between public relations and marketing/fundraising. They're important to recognize, because the pressure to raise dollars can subvert the relationships needed to keep dollars, and other forms of support, coming in. Viewing PR as subordinate to fundraising can be self-defeating.

Henrietta Lacks' Story: A Case of PR Malpractice
In addition to medicine, science and race relations, Rebecca Skloot's 2010 book, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks", should become a classic study of public relations malpractice, so long as the word gets around about that aspect of its story. The PR staff at Johns Hopkins Hospital in East Baltimore, Md., is no doubt mindful of that. The heart of good PR is taking people seriously. Neither Henrietta Lacks nor her family were taken seriously.

Good PR Starts Internally, Among Employees
Businesses need to realize that the best public relations start internally: in communicating persistenly and well with their employees. You can't go wrong giving that sound advice to any business you might be working with. As evidence, if any is needed, the Chicago Tribune has a story on two companies with strong workplace relationships.

Twitter's Relational Ups and Downs
To demonstrate our impartiality (as well as our surfing patterns today), we move from promoting Twitter media training to noting that Twitter's relational influence may be ebbing. BlogHer just posted a report on how people are using various Web platforms. It shows a preference for blogs and Facebook over Twitter. Twitter "has increasingly become a broadcast channel vs. a relational one," BlogHer says.

A Mashable Tutorial on Twitter as a PR Tool
Mashable provides a great service to PR people by running a "PR Pro's Guide to Twitter." We keep hearing about how Twitter has been used in crisis situations or is great for keeping in touch with professional contacts. This Mashable post gets down to cases on how that's done, # by #. A great tutorial on a communication tool we all need to know about. Mashable notes that "a 2009 survey found that more than half of all journalists turn to sites like Twitter for story research."

Pulling Back a Bit: Where's Language Headed?
Time to pull back for a moment and consider where we're heading in "expressionist" terms, that is, are we becoming more or less literate, more or less profound, in this unfolding era of digitally abundant information? This important question is raised in Nicholas Carr's new book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, and more accessibly, at the moment, in a blog post from Malta by Conway Wigg. He writes about linguist David Crystal and some remarks he made recently in that Mediterrean republic on texting.

Always, What's Your Focus?
Good PR is about focus, always focus; it's not about schoomzing or networking, unless they're part of a focused effort to accomplish a goal. There isn't time to be anything more, or less, than clear and reasonably precise about what your objective is and how you intend to accomplish it. Really, PR isn't about circulating without a plan. That's been reaffirmed, yet again, by an eReleases post, "5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Launching a New PR Campaign."

Leading Wall Street PR Firms
When you hear of the banks involved in big Wall Street deals, you don't usually hear of the public relations firms that work along with them. Here's a quarterly listing of some of them, from the Dealbook site. The Abernathy MacGregor Group heads the list, having "advised on the biggest volume of eals worldwide in the first quarter, at $73.3 billion worth of transactions."

Timely Topics at an Upcoming PR Conference
We're not in the business of promoting conferences, especially big-ticket ones, but we note the 2nd Annual National Summit on Strategic Communications sponsored by the Institute for Public Relations, Ex.L. Events, Inc., O'Dwyers and PR News and coming up in Arlington, Va., on June 6-7.

Brushing Up on PR Concepts, Via PRSA
For any of you looking to learn, or brush up on, PR skills and techniques, here's the heart of the craft as offered by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in its accreditation study materials. These resources, says Edward Bury in a PRSA post, haven't changed much in 30 years, except they're now online (they used to be in a three-ring binder). That means they're available to all of us, a great resource for learning communication concepts, brushing up on them or "going for the gold" of accreditation.

YouTube's Going Live
This may be more in marketing's purview than PR's, but it's communication news well worth sharing on Flack Me. YouTube is going live. The online video channel is rolling out YouTube Live to provide live coverage of concerts, sporting events, interviews and even conventions and professional meetings. You can get a sense of the possible offerings here.

Don't Be Wed to a Name, 'PR' Or Any Other
We need to be clear about this. Flack Me is a blog about public relations, for now. "For now? What's that mean?" Simple. A post by Gary Goldhammer brings home that, with communication modes changing as rapidly as they are (51 percent of all Americans are now on Facebook, we read earlier today), "public relations" is a moniker that might not stick forever.

Try Writing a PR Column In Your Locale
Considered sharing your PR expertise via a column in your area's business newspaper? Willy Gissen, President of Cut-It-Out Communications, is doing that in the context of search engine optimization and social websites. He's happy for the exposure. And the editor of the papers his column appears is pleased to have him contributing topical information.

'Psychobabble' or Relationships for PR?
From Zurich, Switzerland, Paul Seaman, of West PR-Seaman, writes about the tension in PR between science-based techniques ("getting into neuro-science and algorithms to improve, for instance, stakeholder relationships") and shoe-leather interaction with clients and their interests. He subscribes to the latter, and provides a lengthy, challenging post – "Psychobabble will not make PR credible" – to explain why. It's a dispatch from PR's frontier, well worth digging into and pondering.

For PR's Standing, 'No Comment' Doesn't Work at Any Speed
Two words that give PR a bad name are "no comment." We regret seeing Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide all but using them in connection with its $9 million contract with the California High-Speed Rail Authority. "Michael Law, Ogilvy’s managing director for the western region, did not want to comment on Kopp’s claims yesterday."

Beware of Social Media 'Opportunists'
Brian Carter calls his lengthy post "a rant" and says it's not aimed at all PR people, just many of those who have gotten into social media lately, mainly via Twitter, and have no background in web analytics or marketing. The post on the Search Engine Journal blog deserves attention because it is easy to become beguiled by social media as the hot new form of relational communication and to overlook the discipline it requires to be an effective part of corporate strategy.

Twitter Hashtags for PR Outreach
We started on our first Twitter book a couple of years ago, but don't recall that it had much to say about hashtags (#) or maybe we didn't get that far. Anyhow, Adam Kress on the Minnesota Public Relations blog is making up for that dereliction on our part. Twitter Hashtags, he notes, are an important PR tool and cites Shel Israel's book Twitterville: How Businesses Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods, for inspiring his use of PR hashtags.

Revving Up for Social Media: Tips From Deirdre Breakenridge
We've noted the importance of getting organized internally to do social media externally to its best advantage. Coordination, message development, process, and archiving are important aspects for your organization to work through before going live on Web message streams. Deirdre Breakenridge adds depth to these needs with five commonly overlooked social media checkpoints based on her work with companies and organizations. Deirdre advises getting these capacities in order for social media success, starting with company policies. What other departments have concerns that possibly bear on doing social media effectively?

Slides For Making Things As Right As They Can Be
Feeliing antsy about the state of your risk/crisis communication preparation? Want to do some training to insure readiness? From Canada, Ontario's Public Health Agency provides an excellent set of slides on "Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication" to meet your needs. If you're not training tomorrow, keep them on hand after downloading. You'll be reminded in paging through them that people and how to help them cope are the core focus of an effective crisis/risk response.

Blogging's Not for Space-filling
We're wondering how you feel about this; we don't like it. We were checking out the website of JoTo Extreme PR, a seemingly lively PR firm in Clearwater, FL, and went to the blog of Karla Jo Helms, JoTo's CEO.

How're You Doing on the Web?
This is no April Fool's joke. How PR is practiced on the Web may now be more important than contacts with live newspeople. Google rankings matter greatly for all sorts of businesses. Your clients want to be discovered via links and Google searches. So how do you proceed to build a client's Google presence? Some firms are further along on that than others, and Jeremy Bencken of Search EngineWatch is here to help. Jeremy has posted a lengthy "Open Letter to Public Relations Pros" listing "myths" and "truths" about how the Web relates to print coverage in terms of value to clients.

Communication Planning, Staffing Key to Crisis Management
The continuing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has brought to the fore again risk and crisis communication as public relations disciplines. Harvard's David Ropeik argues in a lengthy post on the Psychology Today blog that the communication aspects of the nuclear disaster got off to a rough start.

GE's Inept Tax Tweets
If a corporation is going to use Twitter to respond to a factually complex situation, it needs to be more adept at tweeting than General Electric has been. GE has, instead, demonstrated the hazards of social media if you're a global giant, or perhaps anyone with a complex story to tell.

As INK, Smeared, Responded Belatedly...
Oh dear, when you loosen up, someone may take it amiss. Then it's time for a real-life PR response. So, how's it feel when it happens to you? That's what Star Million Baker's reflecting on in her "Lessons Learned" blog post after "tip cards" that her firm, INK Public Relations, distributed at SXSWI earlier this month raised some eyebrows there.

Todd Defren Aiming to Streamline RFPs
To all of you who have spent too much time coping with requests for proposals (RFPs) in vying for PR work, Todd Defren, a principal in SHIFT Communications, is on your side. The veteran new media strategist has launched an intended dialogue to consider how RFPs might be streamlined by something like "a 10 question RFP template that should reasonably satisfy any marketer looking to hire an agency," Todd's RFP streamlining proposal is presented on his PR Squared blog. For him, the question is: "How do agencies make marketers look smart while dramatically reducing the tedious and often redundant work of today's RFP?"

'Get With Social Media,' IT Folks Told
Information professionals for public and private organizations were advised at the info360 conference in Washington last week to forget about blocking access to social websites at work. Instead, they were told, provide "a governance framework so people know what's expected. Not just what you can or cannot do, but how to use it effectively."

Short Form PR Brush-Ups From the Web
Yes, flitting around the Web can be distracting. Nicholas Carr has the word on that in his excellent book, The Shallows. But occasionally you'll alight on a site like this one on Business Insider: "10 Easy Ways To Get Amazing PR." And you'll have at hand a short refresher course on media relations – tips about knowing your market and dealing with reporters.

Think You're Up For 'Root Canal Week'?
When you're taking a break, consider what you'd do with this PR opportunity: Root Canal Awareness Week starts Monday. The American Association of Endodontists has issued a penetrating press release on this much-anticipated event. There's also a video, "Endodontists Put Root Canal Patients at Ease." Somehow, though, there must be further opportunity here. Open wide – the ideas file, that is. The occasion marks the resolve of endodontists to take the pain out of their work. Give them a hand at it. You know the drill.

Crisis Response Via YouTube
If your organization hits a rough spot with its publics, go on television. But on YouTube, not necessarily the networks. A YouTube video is part of a crisis response strategy for social media recommended by Robert Speyer and Justin Delos Reyes on the Web Success Team blog. A one- or two-minute video featuring the head of the function that went awry can help placate customers. The Success Team urges a video as the heart of a social media acknowledgement package that would also include responses on Facebook and Twitter. The boss's video should be promoted on your postings and circulated via social bookmarking sites.

Pondering PR's Future – As 'Curation'?
The problem with a jaunty writing style is that sometimes it's hard to get what it's actually saying. Witness a post by Chris Lewis on the LewisPR360 blog. Maybe we're just stuffy, but we don't quite get it – yet we sense there's something really important here. Lewis is writing about "A brief history of the future of PR."

PR Tutoring by Web Colleagues
We've come upon two Web postings that amount to a short, but challenging, course in entrepreneurial priorities. If you don't have a college PR course nearby that you can afford, or a professional association to tutor you, build sites like these into your self-development program. They'll help you grow a profitable business. And here they are, right at hand. Isn't the Web wonderful?

Doing Well in An 'Open Information Culture'?
Pull back a bit for some big picture musings on the world's changing communication environment. Alastair Campbell, who was Tony Blair's information director in Great Britain, sees "an underlying trend of nations today moving – whether willingly or reluctantly – from a closed to an open information culture." And what are the implications of ever-increasing openness not only for governments, but corporations and organizations of all sorts?

Nine Gadgets for PR Pros
We're grateful to Ragan's PR Daily – and to Adam Vincenzini who provided it – for this post on "9 essential gadgets for PR and media pros." They'll all fit into an attache case – and what a handy powerhouse it will become! Sound, camera, presentation, whatever – most of what you'll need to visit clients or be out on the road is in this tuck-away kitbag.

Twitter Is Five – Only Five
Twitter is five years old, just five. But the people using it – amazingly, not everybody, yet – send 140 million Tweets a day, or a billion every eight days, notes the Best Article Every Day blog. Here's a list of the "Top 10 Tweets of the Past 5 Years," though other lists would likely differ.

How Blogs Can Be Botched
A blog can be helpful to your business or organization, but botched, it could be hurtful. Be mindful of the difference by considering these "Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Company Blog," provided by Mashable. There's peril in starting without a strategy, making it all about you, failing to link, and more.

Communication Prescriptions for Doctors – and Us
We've been hearing for a long while that there aren't enough family practice or emergency room doctors. Everybody wants to be a specialist, medically speaking. That leaves existing general practitioners and emergency room physicians overworked, and that can have communication consequences. How often do other busy people you know – yourselves, maybe – find that relational consequences arise from being harried?

Responding to Crisis Challenges – of All Sizes
Via the Japanese nuclear power plant emergency, we're being exposed to the stresses that crisis and risk communication can bring. Nuclear power and the manner in which its problems are communicated are, once again, in the dock, this time at Fukushima, Japan.

All Aboard for Explaining Transportation Options
Looking for a PR challenge? Why not call up Amtrak, or whomever you know in travel circles, and sign on to help explain the merits of high-speed rail service. As a reflection of our polarized national dialogue currently, the subject, as introduced by President Obama, isn't doing too well. Virtually all we've heard about expanding the high-speed rail network has been negative.

Where to Revel on Spring Break?
Here's a story from a difficult PR setting indeed. We don't envy the Mexicans' challenge in attracting spring break revelers amid all the news of drug-related violence south of the border. But they're trying. And the Texas Department of Public Safety is looking out, appropriately, for its own publics.

Web Tops Print for News Readership
If you're not already, get used to dealing with TV news directors and webmasters – they've been shouldering aside your print media contacts. And now, reports Mashable, more people are getting their news, not only from TV, but from the Internet than from newspapers. The papers may still be providing more depth and range, but they're steadily losing eyeballs. "As of the end of 2010," says Mashable, "more people get their news from the Internet than from newspapers – and more ad dollars went to online outlets."

Travel Agents Getting a PR Booster
Travel agents (now they're "travel advisers") want to get more into the travel picture again, now that consumers are discovering the complexities of using websites for planning trips and booking fares. An airline like American wants to do its own booking and that's causing complications on sites like Expedia, say. So there's a role for travel agents after all, but how to make up for possibly neglected public relations to get that across?

Social Media Educational Stalwarts Needed
In all that's being written about the revolutionary field of corporate social media (and it is that), you can wade through pages of discussion without getting a clear idea of how the SM function ought to be organized and run. Fortunately, though, some clarity is emerging, as toward the end of a lengthy analysis in a Holmes Report post by Arun Sudhaman.

Football Flubbers on the PR Front
They're at it again. This isn't of the greatest moment, unless you desperately want to attend a National Football League game this fall. But the players and owners are roughing each other up in contract negotiations and, at least today, the players are making some flubs. We remember this sort of thing from the last time. Insensitivity makes for losing PR – don't they learn?

Deeper Insights From PR Under Stress
We're not suggesting that war in its various phases is a prerequisite for effective PR practice, but there's something about dealing with hostility that both sharpens the senses and prompts creative awareness and humility. Frank Strong, who's the PR director for Vocus, shares some thoughts on relating well under stress – maybe the only way to relate well.

Google as a Crisis Responder
Here's something that crisis managers will have to sort out as fallout (please excuse that term, but it's appropriate here) from the Japanese nuclear power emergency – the role of Google vs. the established Joint Information Center (JIC) emergency public information system.

Red Cross Redresses a Rogue Tweet
The Red Cross was subject to a hazard of social media – an inappropriate tweet that shouldn't have been "out there." Yet it kept its cool and provided a model response to what, in some minds, might have prompted the reaction: "What are we doing on social media?" That would be the wrong response, however understandable.

A 'Tone-Perfect' Response to a Bus Crash
Brad Phillips on his Mr. Media Training blog cites the prompt, "tone-perfect" response that was issued by the company that operated a bus that crashed, killing 14 passengers, in New York City this past weekend. It does, indeed, wrench your heart both for the victims and the bus company management. Brad provides insight into why that's so.

Nuclear Crisis: What the Japanese Are Dealing With
The Japanese appear to be using a centralized approach to crisis communication (from Tokoyo) rather than a joint information center closer to the stricken plants, as would be the case in the U.S. Yet a severe earthquake, devastating tsunami and electric power problems might have made the closer-in alternative unworkable in this situation anyway. Here's the most complete account we have seen of what's likely occurring at the nuclear plants.

Research Counts More than Instincts
From Brigham Young University comes an example of how research trumps instinct in developing solutions to PR challenges – it helps insure that you're focused on the real need, not a perceived one. Don't neglect shoe-leather research. Professor Brad Rawlins, chair of the communications department at BYU, tells how a student team was working with a local hospital to research ways to increase in-patient services there. They thought the problem was clear enough.

More From the 'Squash Court'
We wrote the other day about how PR's standing as a communication discipline keeps getting squashed. Here's another example, supplied by Richard Edelman, CEO and president of Edelman, on the Edelman blog. It takes issue with a new book, "Marketing 3.0", by Professor Philip Kotler of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern Business School, and two associates, Iwan Setiawan and Hermawan Kartajaya. Edelman has no problem with the Kotler book identifying a third phase of marketing – after a transaction and then a relationship focus – moving to a collaborative one with stakeholders, employees, partners and consumers. He notes that "The American Marketing Association's definition of marketing in 2008 now calls for 'creating, communicating, delivering offerings that have value for consumers, clients, partners and society at large.'" Fair enough. But...

PR Newswire Distributing Earthquake-Response Releases Free
Sometimes on TV you can't tell a disaster for the commercials. But PR Newswire is putting first things first in the horrendous Japanese earthquake and tsunamis. It's waiving any fees for the distribution of news releases relating to rescue and recovery efforts in Japan. A great, timely move, guys.

Tweet Like an Editor, Not a Bozo
Here's a cautionary tale from Drew Voros at The Oakland Tribune on the advisability of thinking twice before you send your Twitter or Facebook post off to the masses. Is it accurate? Is it going to embarrass you? Being on social media with the sensibility of an editor, not an exhibitionist, is truly important. "Direct communication is a great thing," Voros, The Tribune's business editor, writes, "but rarely is it effective coming from 'big egos with little ears.'"

Preemptive PR Can Matter Greatly
Whether one agrees with their religious position or not, you've got to credit the editorial board of the student publication at Abilene Christian University for the advice they've provided to other Christian schools on preemptive PR: Practice it, unless you want to seem plagued by misfortune.

31 Varieties of PR
Heidi Cohen provides a post containing 31 definitions of public relations. Why? Because, Heidi says, people "are liable to have vastly different perspectives on the topic." But PR's role has evolved "and become more integrated into an organization's overall marketing and communications."

Being Prepared for Opportunities
There's so much value in having easy confidence about what you do in PR or in life, and confidence comes from being prepared and letting the world roll on. Jeff Haden on his Bnet Owners' Manual blog rues the fact that he wasn't entirely ready when a Howard Stern staffer called for an interview, though Jeff probably did pretty well anyway. Yet keep his pointers in mind. 1) Don't ignore the medium – Jeff did the interview in "my cavernous office" on a cordless phone rather than a land line.

Five Social PR Campaigns to Learn From
PR campaigns on social media have lots of possibilities in terms of concepts and engagement techniques. Here, Mashable, in cooperation with Vocus, provides five examples – "5 Smart Social PR Campaigns to Learn From." The aim is to take you "beyond the basics to some of the more inventive approaches out there." Definitely worth some of your time.

PR's Standing Keeps Getting Squashed
Public relations, unfortunately, has an endless challenge to gain the high ground as a respectable field of practice. Here are a couple of examples of the sort of hindrances that regularly crop up to plague the best efforts of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and others.

iPad-Induced PR Productivity
With Apple's iPad 2 about to debut, it's clear from the original model that iPads, and, very likely, tablet computers in general, are going to yield productivity enhancements in PR routines, presentations, and general creativity. Our iPad has freed us from the desktop; downloading – that is, printing – RSS feeds to our main Mac from the breakfast table or living room sofa gives us a head start on business functioning. And that's just one example.

Staying Hip on Media Relations
Elena Verlee, an entrepreneur who made a bundle selling men's socks online, offers a heads-up course in media relations in two posts on her PR In Your Pajamas site. She offers guidance on reasons the media may be ignoring you and on creating an online media center. There could hardly be more timely PR information anywhere. Thinking media, virtually all the time, is what it's about .

Charities on Social Media - Be There
We used to take a couple of weeks envisioning, writing up, making up, and issuing a newsletter for a charity we worked for. Now we could accomplish effective charitable outreach via social media on a continuous-flow basis. Charities should be as conscious of the appeal of social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook as any other organization, maybe more so. Abe Jackson, Jr. provides some pointers on the Everything PR blog. Abe's a communications student and a car-lover.

Money Streams for PR Ed
Money is streaming back into colleges and universities for educational support, $28 billion last year. Kathleen Kelly identified $15 million that went into 64 major gifts – from $10,000 to $2 million – for PR education. She lists some examples and provides a link to the rest at the Institute for Public Relations. The PR ed money stream isn't as deep, though, as it could be, Dr. Kelly feels. Dr. Kelly is a professor in the Department of Public Relations, College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida.

Making TV Clips For PR Use
We've mentioned TV as a component of your PR strategy, but here from Willy Gissen are some details on creating TV clips and adding them to websites. Willy lists animoto.com as a place to go to learn video production. You can create a 30-second video there by choosing a presentation style, images and even a musical selection. Then email the video to yourself. Willy also discusses whether, and how, to embed your video in your site or download it from YouTube.

Harvest Your Internal Buzz
Here's a terrific concept for giving focus and identity to your organization's efforts and energies. Jay Baer and Amber Naslund, authors of The NOW Revolution, suggest you to create an internal social network to collect and distill your daily happenings. At the end of each day, convene a group to sift through them briefly for "a message for tomorrow" on your external social media channels. There's nothing like treating an organization as a system of information.

Questions Would-Be PR Clients Are Likely to Ask
American Express has considerable reach, so the 10 questions on its OPEN Forum that it advises prospective clients to ask PR firms are likely to be coming your way. Got ready, persuasive answers for them?

Avoiding a Contracting Circus in Kansas City, or Anywhere
A crisis communication contract became a crisis itself for a Kansas City, Mo., PR firm as the focus of a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing. Surely, even under crisis pressures this kind of situation can be avoided with careful agreement on a reasonable work plan. Instead, we have this e-mail quote from Jane Mobley of Jane Mobley Associates: "Pls get Jenny and execute asap:-) before it's wake-up time in Korea."

Secretary Clinton: 'We're Not Coming Across Well Overseas'
Here's as profound a relational challenge as you can imagine: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. isn't getting its message across to world opinion. America frequently is viewed as a land where the women wear bikinis and the men are wrestlers. "We are in an information war, and we're losing that war," Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Oh My, the Palmyra High Cougar Has Gone Online
A high school student newspaper near us has gone online. The Palmyra (Pa.) Area High School's Cougar Chronicle is now online only in a WordPress blogging format. "No big deal," you say? We think otherwise.

'Covering Up' Is Madness
Discussion continues in Great Britain over the news-monitoring site. Churnalism.com., that was launched there last week. Inserting a string of 15 or more characters from a news story in the British press supposedly can detect whether it's been based on an insidious press release or on enterprise reporting. Probably, it's had a bit of both, that is, PR input as well as reportorial questioning.

PR Expectations and Reality
PR is a tough field to master because of the difficulty of fusing client expectations with reality. What matters in PR is not meeting rosy expectations but building credible relationships – building stature. And that takes time, as well as clarity and forbearance between PR providers and clients.

Hiring's Happening Again in PR
At some of the networking events being held to celebrate the first anniversary of HAPPO (Help a Reporter Out), recruiters are nearly matching the number of attendees. Talented young people looking to get started in PR may have reason to feel cheered. Good advice as PR people, present and prospective, begin to feel a more buoyant again.

Maintaining Good Relations With Bloggers
We're just catching up with it, but we're cheering Ogilvy's PR Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics as a tangible reminder that bloggers aren't to be pestered by PR people if they don't want to be. These days, it's too easy to maintain a list of bloggers and send them promotional emails on behalf of a PR firm's clients.

Answering Machines Are a PR Menace
We suppose it's possible to conceive of an answering machine being used effectively for good public relations. Too often, though, the approach to answering machines – like almost any machine – is simply "set it and forget it." Ed Gebhart describes in anguishing detail how that plays out at the local oil company, Sunoco.

Being Available Counts
Leslie Levine is blogging about the importance for PR people of being connected in mobile terms. PR pros, she notes, are always on call. Cell phones are important to keep with us. Don't want to miss an urgent phone call from a client or prospect, right? "It can be a little crazy-making," Leslie says, "especially if the grocery store you happen to be strolling through has some issues with cell phone coverage, but for the most part wireless technology can be very effective for continually clearing off your plate."

Keep Tweeting Your Critics
We haven't heard the other side of this, but it seems rather petulant for Twitter's PR chief to unfollow a web reporter who criticized the tweetmill for angling to reduce the payroll taxes it pays San Francisco for its headquarters there.

Hellbent in Harrisburg...On What?
We don't normally track political PR, but if you've been hearing about the doings in Harrisburg, Pa., the state capital, you've got to be wondering how long really bad PR can be weathered. Embattled Mayor Linda Thompson is providing a demonstration. A week ago she gave it right back to protestors with defiant gestures from her City Hall office window.

Britain Turns to Churnalism.com To Track Insidious Press Releases
Wonder what you think about the website Churnalism.com that's just been launched in Great Britain. It's intended, says its sponsor, the Media Standards Trust, to help the public "distinguish between original journalism and churnalism." Is such a distinction all that hard to make? Or has PR become so pervasive, at least in Britain, that folks need help to sort news from...what?

Online Newsrooms Are PR Places
There's so much capability these days to represent an organization well via a website that PR people ought to be busy as the dickens designing and maintaining online newsrooms. Yet the complaint, as witness a Rich Teplitsky post on Beyond the Hype, is that PR often plays second fiddle to IT and marketing on newsrooms intended to attract media and other interested web travelers.

PR As It Really Is – In Florida and Elsewhere
Brittany Brave, pseudonym or not, is a blogger for the Florida Alligator who's got it right. PR is a more variegated and slogging, more enterprising and dauntless, field than a lot of people imagine. "Unfortunately, the entire field of public relations," she writes, "is ridden with, and often defined by, myths, rumors and misconceptions." Here's some beams of reality from sunny Florida. Thanks, whoever you are, for getting it right.

Corporate Blogging a PR Challenge In Itself
Here's a great splash in the face to help you get rolling on corporate or organizational blogging – any steady, regular writing for that matter. If your "online content factory is broken," says Kate Schackai on the Customer Think blog, rev it up. Brush impediments aside (at least meet with them) and don't get so pretentious about writing – a blog is only "a blog post, not a legal treatise." (Today isn't really Be Nasty to Lawyers Day.)

Make It Clear: 'Sock-Puppetry' Is Wrong
PR veteran Shel Holtz is concerned about something big and important – insuring that online identities are authentic and not produced by fraudulent means. He writes on his A Shel of My Former Self blog about the perversion of "sock-puppetry" through which interest groups or individuals can multiply their messages on social media via automated, fabricated identities. That sort of thing represents a threat to the Internet's very capacity for meaning-making. And it will be viewed, Holtz warns, as a damning tactic in a PR industry with lots of alleyways.

Social Media Require a Strategy
It's amazing how generous web writers can be. What a fraternity! Here, for instance, is Lisa Buyer on SearchEngineWatch.com laying out one of the most cohesive social media strategies for a business we've seen. And without an overall strategy, social media is of little actual use to a business. Lisa's 10 points come, no doubt, from a lot of experience and reflection. And she's graciously sharing the benefits.

Cheers: #HAPPO's a Year Old
Many of you probably already know about #HAPPO, the tweetstream for public relations people. But Valerie Simon, of National Public Relations Examiner, notes that #HAPPO will have its first anniversary on February 24. Followers around the country will he holding #HAPPO happy hours to celebrate the professional online fellowship. Happy anniversary, all!

Keep Lawyers at Bay – If You Can
There's a lot of tension in PR between lawyers and publicists. Lawyers, unsurprisingly from their edgy perspective, are more leery of what a crisis-beset organization should be saying than its PR people. T.J. Walker on his Inside Communications blog provides an example of when an organization, in this case an unidentified Los Angeles hospital, should be forthcoming – and the lawyers are likely to blanch.

PR for Terrorism Awareness
Here's a PR opportunity – both local and national – in about as dire an area as we can imagine: the prevention of terrorism. How to prompt the public to be alert to potential terrorism or, put another way, to engage the public in counter terrorism. The color-coded U.S. terrorism alert system will be replaced in April.

Forget About Message Control
Executives who spend money on communication want it to be spent effectively, understandably. But these days the communication environment is far from controllable. And that's good, because it's more open, honest, diverse, and credible, if you listen hard enough. The first thing to do is to give up aspirations for control, and the next is to listen, actively and well. To pay heed, you might say.

Edelman: PR's No Patsy
Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, thinks the public could use a more balanced perception of public relations in the face of attacks like that from former Cigna PR head Wendell Potter in his book Deadly Spin. And, indeed, that's so. Interviewed in Canada during a tour for his firm's Trust Barometer, Edelman was asked why PR firms shun controversy instead of speaking up.

Personal PR for 'Brand You'
With the Internet serving as a great democratizing force – a point of entry/dispersion for talented people – the thinking about personal public relations found in a Fast Company blog post by Glenn Croston is highly pertinent. The photo that accompanies the blog piece shows stones in a seemingly windswept grassy field.

Labor, Management Going At It On The Web
A great PR clash of our times is occurring between the labor movement, which hopes to be known as the resurgent labor movement, and business interest groups opposed to that aspiration. With income distribution in the U.S. over the last quarter century or so becoming increasingly skewed toward the higher end, this is a clash of real moment for lots of people.

Sizing Up CEOs
We've been writing on Flack Me mainly about public relations practitioners and aspects of their craft. Time to change the focus a bit to the CEOs they work for. Chief executive officers set the tone for their organizations and aspiring public relations people should be clear about the style of the person they may end up working for or, hopefully, with. The culpwrit blog has some pertinent thoughts on CEOs plus a tip to a New York Times column on CEO mindsets. It's certainly true that a CEO's style means a lot, if not everything, about how his or her organization is perceived by its publics, starting with the community in which the business is located.

Seeing a Social Media Practice Whole
As we keep fleshing out the progress and parameters of social media as an area of PR practice, we get a big assist from Lee Traupel, of the Linked Media Group, who has been at this sort of thing since 1990. Under the heading of Social Media Strategist, Lee provides a list of "16 critical skills" for the job title. They don't all have to be held by a single individual but an agency, Lee says, should have them all.

Streaming Communication in Fashion
We don't know of any other such lists, but that doesn't mean anything – they may well exist. Yet this Fashion Industry Network list is great! A discussion stream like this would be a great way to share notes and ask help from colleagues in your own area of practice, whatever it may be.

A Valentine to PR
Members of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) sent a Valentine to the profession via a blog post on what they love about what they do. It's a spirit booster for anyone in the field. Influencing audiences – internal and external, interpreting corporate goals, influencing the public's perceptions of organizations, and being creative about communicating – these are all traits of the trade.

Discounts for 'Likes'? Wait a Minute
There appear to be enough things to enjoy about the Spot Dessert Bar in New York's East Village district that you'd think they wouldn't need to be offering "discounts to people who 'like' the place." Yet that's what The Wall Street Journal reports the trendy bakery is doing, among other promotions, thus raising a question of tactical ethics in an otherwise upbeat example of social media PR.

Solidarity With Our Egyptian Colleagues
Here's a dispatch reporting on how public relations practitioners in Egypt have been weathering the turmoil there. We can only join with Sherry El Kilany in trusting that the Egyptian firms will be contributing mightily to the renewal of their country "once everything starts to boom again." Democracy can be a great spur to relationships everywhere. Especially, may the days of working from home be decidedly over for our Egyptian colleagues who have their offices to return to. Especially may the days of working from home be decidedly over for our Egyptian colleagues who have their offices to return to.

PR Isn't a Shell Game
From Tennessee and China come a couple of examples of public relations abused and misused. We point out instances like these when we come across them, not because we like to, but because PR needs to be worthy of professional standing. Both of these situations are deplorable examples of the kind of tactical hijinks that, when exposed, as they should be, give public relations a sleazy name. We note them to add to help disclose such degrading impersonations.

Getting Help With Social Media
Applying social media to public relations—desirable as that is—isn't that easy to do or, especially, to sustain. What channels, what messages, where to get fresh ideas? All the old questions have new urgency with the Web streaming by. We've found someone out there who can help.

Social Media Spurned for Media Pitches
The more things change, the more media relations seem to stay the same. Not surprisingly, because reporters and editors are people who don't like to be bothered unnecessarily. Martin Keller, host of the Public and Media Relations blog, digests the insights from a media relations conference call held by Help a Reporter Out and finds them familiar but worth reinforcing. His most surprising insight came when the media panel "turned thumbs down on pitches made through social media like Facebook and Twitter, Fax and the U.S. mail...Use their email first....," he found.

PR Want Ad for Our Times
Thought you might be interested in a tangible indication of where the PR industry is at with respect to the Internet and social media. Here's a want ad from a New York PR firm for a SocialMedia Strategist/Account Executive. Note the stress on facility in such social media as Twitter, Facebook et al. Planning for PR campaigns has a heavy social media emphasis.

Confessional Relations on the iPhone
We just posted on the growing presence of social media and mobile messaging in public relations. Now we note that the Catholic Church in the U.S. has approved an iPhone application designed to assist Roman Catholics, particularly those who have lapsed, through confession. The $1.99 app, "Confession: A Roman Catholic App," works on iPhones, iPads, and iPods. We hope we're not sounding irreverent, but this seems an ultimate form of digital relations. The app isn't intended to replace the confessional booth itself, simply to prepare for confession.

Golfing PR: Should Crisis Strike the Links
Can a golf course, a place to go for relaxing, socializing, and exercising, be subject to a crisis? Of course it can; any setting can. It's to the credit of Golf Course Industry magazine that it has a lengthy piece on developing a crisis communication plan for its own rolling locales. Pay heed. The prompting for the piece, you might expect, has been the recession. Golfing revenue streams have slackened a bit, making staff and course maintenance reductions likely at many golf clubs. Even when skillfully handled, cutbacks can readily impact on the perceptions of members and their foursome guests.

Smudging Tibet: A Crisis Corrective
Groupon's Super Bowl commercial appearing to trivialize Tibet has produced, among many other reactions, a critique of the web company's approach to crisis communication. On her Honestly blog, Cindy Ronzoni isn't impressed by Groupon's response, and we don't blame her. Cindy suggests a more relational version, which deserves attention by PR people as a crisis corrective.

Tablet Journalism Landing on Our Screens
It's not tabloid journalism any longer that will be producing media for the masses, but tablet journalism with a social emphasis. That's pretty clear from watching the debut of Rupert Murdoch's iPad newspaper, The Daily. And even more so from envisioning what AOL will be doing with The Huffington Post now that Arianna Huffington is, as Mashable puts it, anchoring AOL's media strategy.

Ready for a Crisis? These Slides Will Help
Good crisis communication is an imperative that, nonetheless, may not get much attention until a crisis arises, and then it will be too late to communicate effectively. Crisis communication is like good musicianship—it needs to be in your hands beforehand. A comprehensive crisis communication plan should be at the ready. As it happens, here's one...

Traditional Tools for Frontier PR
Lee Odden on his Media Relations Blog offers eight tips for applying a classic public relations planning approach to the new frontier of social media and search engine-based Web relationships. And make no mistake about it, we shouldn't be getting into social media/SEO without developing a Web plan first. Objectives, strategy, and tools, those traditional PR touchstones, all apply very nicely to social media planning.

A Mobile Web Design Offer
We've been wondering how we'd go about building a mobile version of a social network we're designing, and along comes Ur Mobile with a special 60-day offer for for its drag-and-drop approach to mobile design (Mob Builder). The offer is available to firms offering consulting services.

The Lay of PR's Land
We're not proposing you spend $129 for a 10-page report from First Research, Inc., to gain further insight into this, but an abstract of the firm's report on the U.S. public relations industry is an interesting overview of PR's terrain. Right off, "the U.S. public relations industry includes about 6,500 companies with combined annual revenue of about $9 billion..."

Tactical Uses of Content
Content is king on the Internet, and it can be very helpful to PR firms in promoting themselves anywhere. PR 20/20 provides a post on approaches to "using content to propel public relations." It's a good reference to use in focusing strategies and tactics. PR 20/20 suggests four uses for content as a means of PR self-promotion.

Dow Jones' PR Numbers Crunch
Somehow, we're not completely impressed. Dow Jones has issued a report on "how well the PR industry promotes itself" based on worldwide media coverage of PR firms in 2010.

WikiLeaks: Notes From a Relational Netherworld
What sort of public relations, or media relations, is involved when "a derelict with a backpack" walks, or "slouches," into a newspaper office "alert but disheveled, like a bag lady walking in off the street..." and unloads a backpack "with a stockpile of laptops, cords, cellphones, thumb drives and memory sticks that held the WikiLeaks secrets?"

First Responders Need Unified Communications
This new year is 2011 and September will bring us to the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. There could be no greater tribute to the rescuers who died in the Twin Towers than to provide their successors today—paramedics, police and firefighters—with the means of a unified emergency communication system that has been long in the planning.

PR's Brave New Digital Media World
A MUST read for public relations and media people alike is the State of the Media Report 2011, Adapting, Surviving and Reviving issued by Vocus, the maker of PR management software. Written by a team of former media people, the report documents how today's media realm is being transformed into a digital one.

'Community Managers' Comfortable on the Web
A community manager, as we've been encountering the term, is a business blogger with status and a wider array of PR/ marketing functions than posting alone. Lisa Barone writes about "8 Ingredients that Make a Community Manager" on her Outspoken Media blog and we're indebted to Tom Webster on Brandsavant for writing about community managers as trust agents and tipping us to Lisa's post.

'PR' Needed to Further the Union
President Obama's glancing reference to "PR" in his State of the Union message last evening indicates the distance public relations has yet to span to be recognized, not as a glitzy technique, but as a disciplined communication process by many Americans. The President was talking about all it will take to insure that U.S. children will be educated for 21st century needs. "We need to teach our kids," he said, "that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline." The line drew some of the strongest applause of the evening.

'Content Curators' Save the (Blogging) Day!
Keeping a corporate blog going, important a mission as that's becoming, is challenging, especially when the roles aren't entirely defined and management wonders, "What's going on over there?" ("Over there" being where the blogger(s) sit starry-eyed at their keyboard(s).) Well, there's a name for people who assemble corporate blogs: They're "content curators."

Search-Engine-Friendly Business Blogs
Lee Odden's Top Rank Online Marketing Blog is a great place to go for guidance on toning up corporate blogs and getting them discovered on the Web. His latest is on the use of keywords in business blog posts. Like any other valued PR tool, corporate blogs need to be understood and used for long-term benefit.

'Entrepreneurial Journalism'—A New Context for Content
It's not exactly a new term, but it's new to us, so we pass it along—entrepreneurial journalism. Producing content with a business perspective—where and by whom will your exemplary writing be consumed?—seems to characterize this emerging craft. Journalists never used to think about business concerns, at least those of their own newspaper or magazine.

Social Media Belongs In Emergency Communication Plans
It's no longer in doubt. Social media as an emergency communication category belongs in crisis communication plans. If you're not monitoring or contributing to social media channels during an emergency, you're not in touch with all your publics and can easily get burned by what you aren't hearing from them. We have the recent flooding in Queensland, Australia, to cite on this.

Good PR Shouldn't Require Prompting
It takes nothing away from the value of Walmart's announcement on providing healthier food on its shelves that it was made in the presence of First Lady Michelle Obama, pretty obviously with encouragement, if not prodding, from the White House. Yet it does besmirch its standing as a public relations move.

Sticking With Priorities—Not Easy But Key
Focus is a key concept in an era when distractions are multiplying at the speed of e-mail. Especially if you're a solo PR practitioner, deciding how to spend your time, every minute of it, and sticking with your priorities is key. So we share a post from Adam Singer on The Future Buzz blog—"The Critical Few." Like the critical few metrics, or the critical few platforms. On platforms, we're torn. Adam notes that "Seth Godin doesn’t spend time on Twitter or Facebook.

Word-Of-Mouth Is Attention You Control (Hopefully)
We're treading on turf of our marketing colleagues here, but marketing and PR are first cousins, and word-of-mouth attention ought to be a PR aim, too. It's an important aspect of reputation management. So here from Richard Becker are some helpful tips on generating word-of-mouth attention. "Generating"—that's something that you do and, hopefully, control. Thus Richard makes an important distinction between word-of-mouth and going viral.

Portents Great For PR Job Growth
Public relations is due for a surge in employment, reports The New York Times. And that's not surprising, adds The Memphis Daily News in an analysis piece. Why? Because businesses, having panicked during the recession, now "have realized the value of a comprehensive marketing strategy."

Keeping Businesses In Gear on Social Media
So how do you keep a social media presence going, once one is started? That's an important consideration for businesses with busy employees—and if they weren't busy, they probably wouldn't be there anyway. How do you get past that one? A good question for PR-conscious business people looking to start those social media "conversations" they've been hearing so much about.

Rebecca Crowley Discusses 'PR 2.0'
The differences between "traditional public relations" and what Rebecca Crowley, CEO of RTC Publicity in New York, calls "PR 2.0" are pretty profound. They're discussed in a lengthy interview Rebecca has with Brenda Krueger Huffman on Axcess News, "News for the X Generation." Don't miss it.

Chinese Firms Weak In PR Skills
Credit the Chinese for recognizing a weakness in their vaunted economy—their public relations/crisis communication skills can use improvement, a research report by a Shanghai university has found. We don't know whether President Obama and China's President Hu Jintao are including corporate PR issues in their talks during President Hu's current White House visit, but U.S. colleagues of Chinese enterprises might consider reaching out to help.

Lawsuit: 'Golden Globes' Tarnished By Improper Campaigning
A lawsuit having to do with the tone of public relations campaigning, at least in the movie industry, has been filed against the Golden Globes award show (held last Sunday) and will be important to watch. The awards' long-time PR firm claims it was defamed and fired for warning repeatedly against the use of "shady practices, " like payola, for promoting movies.

The State of Business Blogging
Here's a checkpoint on the state of corporate blogging—advancing, says Adam Singer on the Future Buzz blog, but "still lightyears behind independent" blogs. The post includes a list from Mark Schaefer of the "10 best corporate blogs in the world." Business blogging is, of course, an important corporate PR tool. But finding a corporate voice and maintaining it consistently—keeping a blog going effectively—is a challenge for many enterprises.

Quora a PR Listening, Learning Place
Quora is a hot new web service that invites you to ask questions on anything at all. You'll likely be answered, sometimes by amazing people. Heather Whaling, president of Geben Communication, writes on Mashable about "9 Ways to Get More Out of Quora." It clearly has possibilities for PR people to extend their reach, web presence, and insights. Founded last year by Facebook alumni, Quora is a community of users that promotes following.

Nuclear Crisis: What the Japanese Are Dealing With
In its nuclear plant emergencies,Japan seems to be using a centralized approach to crisis communication, rather than a joint information center closer to the plants as would be the case in a U.S. nuclear emergency. Yet conditions after a severe earthquake and tsunami might not have allowed a "closer-in" approach in any event. Here's as complete an explanation of what's likely occurring as we have seen. (Yet the accompanying photo seems to be of a burning chemical complex, not a nuclear site.)

CMU: Exemplary Campus Crisis Readiness
We imagine that more and more colleges and universities are including emergency response information on their websites. But it's hard to imagine one doing it more handily and clearly than what we've come upon at Central Michigan University. The CMU postings strike us as a model for campus emergency Web readiness. On the CMU home page, there's a Quick Links section that includes Emergency Info. Go there and you find the university's Crisis Response Plan and a statement by Kathleen M. Wilbur, CMU's interim president.

Solis Sums Up Social Trends, For Now
Here's an interview with Brian Solis that relates to our recent coverage of changing media, in which Brian elaborates on his concept of "attention economics." Gaining productive attention is PR's increasingly challenging core skill. It all begins, says Solis, with a basic PR tool—research or "intelligence gathering"—and "we work backwards from there."

Set For Short Sound Bites?
A reporter's microphone represents an opportunity for a message to be broadcast to lots of people, but the message had better be concise—a jewel of a sound bite. Otherwise, it isn't likely to air. Sound bites are getting shorter, "dropping to a tick under eight seconds," at least for political utterances, reports The Boston Globe, based on research at the University of Nevada.

Social Media Monitoring: Twubs to TweetBeep
We covered this topic just the other day, but B.L. Ochman is tracking social media monitoring tools, too, and lists 11 free and paid ones here. She's betting that, shortly, Google and Twitter will be coming up with the "definitive social media monitoring tools." But, meanwhile, it's important to know what's being said about your and your interests out there, whatever tools you use to find out.

On Social Media: Don't Count Followers, Cultivate Them
Here's a short course in social media metrics. Social media metrics? What's that, and why should we care? Because social media is a hot new PR tool, and its impact needs to be weighed differently than catching eyeballs. How's that? This is exactly why you need Don Bartholomew's tips on social media measurement. Don is VP of Digital Research at Fleishman Hillard. Take, for example, the weighty question of whether you or your buddy have more Twitter followers.

Social Media Listening Tools
Following up on social media measurement, Sorav Jain on the Social Media Today blog offers a primer on SM listening—"25 Ways to Listen to Customers on Social Media." Listening, of course, is a precondition for engagement, and here are tips on tools from Google, Yahoo, and Twitter to Postrank and Guzzle. Guzzle?

Meet Arthur Page, at Penn State
We don't usually hang out on memory lane, but this detour is irresistible. Thirty-eight speeches by Arthur W. Page, starting when he was only three months at AT&T, have been put online by the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication at Penn State University. What a different business climate they depict!

Walmart/New York Should Talk
We know what kind of relational climate is usually created when parties talk past each other rather than together, but in New York City we have Walmart launching a huge multi-media campaign while declining to testify before City Council, which is likely to pillory the big box retailer. With the rate at which New York has been losing jobs, you'd think communication would serve both sides well.

The Times: PR's a Profession Now
A New York Times story about Mary Ellin Arch, a former newspaperwoman who's now a toll road spokeswoman, is timely reading for switching from journalism to public relations. "Working in the newsroom does not prepare you for a job in public relations," says Mary Ellin.

Smudging Tibet: A Groupon
Groupon's Super Bowl commercial appearing to trivialize Tibet has produced, among many other reactions, a critique of the web company's approach to crisis communication. On her Honestly blog, Cindy Ronzoni isn't impressed by Groupon's response, and we don't blame her. Cindy suggests a more relational version, which deserves attention by PR people as a crisis corrective.

Energizing a PR Practice
All PR practices need occasional renewing, and what better time than the start of a new year to re-energize yours? eReleases offers some timely tips on ramping up your efforts. They suggest getting out more, doing some charity work, re-educating yourself, bringing somebody along (tutoring) with you, and to "start up that one thing you've been putting off."

Social Media Policies At The Ready
Need a social media policy? Every organization should have one. The booming communication trend has a lot of booby traps for the unwary. Well, head over to SocialMediaGovernance.com where Chris Boudreaux has created a data base of social media policies actually in force at 164 organizations. Chris is an executive at Converseon, a social media consultancy, and he created the social media governance site "to provide tools and resources for leaders and managers who want to get the most from their social media and social application investments."

United Still Doesn't Get It
United Airlines hasn't been an exemplar of good public relations (remember "United Breaks Guitars" from 2009?) and still seems skittish on the subject. Too bad, for it lends little confidence in an industry in which confidence is just about everything. The latest incident involves the diversion of a United plane after a pilot apparently spilled coffee on a communications panel or other form of electronic equipment and triggered distress alarms, including one for a hijacking.

Impact Makes Slides Shine
If you're not already signed up for Slideshare (it's free at the basic level), check it out. You can view slide presentations posted by all sorts of organizations. One pair of postings we especially recommend is the "before" and "after" set from AlexanderG PR. They're an instant course on maximum impact from a slide presentation—for your firm or a client's business. The difference between the two sets of slides is impact—the new set does it with more art and less type, and it's terrific. When you think about a presentation, it's for focus, not actual listening.

By Contrast, Proactive in the Snow
We wrote the other day of how New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg botched his early response to the Christmas blizzard. By contrast, across the Hudson Newark's Mayor Corey Booker covered himself with glory with his other-focused, imaginative response to the storm, including Twitter communications.

Lawyers on PR Cameras? Come Now!
Jaffe PR isn't being any too clear on its website on how its new PRessPlay™ audio and video service for lawyers works. But any firm that can make lawyers more relational via electronic media (or any other mode) gets at least our momentary attention. The lawyers we knew called you on the phone or whispered in your ear. Jaffe serves legal industry clients exclusively. In a non-informative short video, Jay M. Jaffee says lawyers with smart phones or Flip™ TV camers are "part of a video revolution," hence they should get with Jaffe's PRessPlay™ service.

In PR, Process Matters
Mike Hallaron, of Hallaron Public Relations in Woodlands, Texas, has an article explaining PR services for small businesses on Woodlands' "community portal and guide" site. Two opportunities here: relating well to small businesses and interesting your community in a Web display site (portal) if it doesn't already have one. Either way, use Mike's method (below) in the process. Hallaron PR is a small firm that empathizes with small businesses. It advocates basic public relations planning for everyone in business, truly an appropriate pitch.

Oil, and the Web, in the Whittier Hills
A proposal to drill for oil in the hills of Whittier, California, has generated opposing websites that show how the Web has become an important factor in getting information out. Residents opposed to drilling call the campaign by the Matrix Oil Co. "public relations," while Matrix calls it an "informational campaign." However you view it, here's an example of Web presence in a community relations battle.

Snowed by Overconfidence
Crisis communication is a demanding art, even if you anticipate a crisis and put your plan into effect before it hits full-blown, as New York City did not while it was waiting to see if if would be hit with a big Christmas snow. It was. Then, on December 27, Mayor Michael Bloomberg opened a blizzard-response press conference with a statement that was supposed to reflect snow-response efficiency, but came across as glib and over-confident.

Working With SEO Partners
A blog post we just encountered could use some polishing, but wherever it came from it's making an important point: Public relations and search engine optimization (SEO) are closely related crafts and, thus, need to be closely coordinated. SEO awareness belongs in a PR toolkit, not just in those of web designers, marketeers, or IT staffers. Once created, websites often take on lives of their own.

Before We Leave 2010...
Before we exit 2010, it's worth reflecting a bit more about why two premier British companies—BP and Rolls Royce—fouled up so royally on the PR front as crises beset them during the year. The crises, of course, didn't just happen; company procedures had something to do with them.

Generating Ideas—A Key to Good PR
The New York Times Magazine recently published a treatise on ideas and how best to nourish them. It's a lengthy piece, and worthy of direct attention. In short, read it. Consider in doing so your own receptivity to ideas. Where do your best ideas come from? Are there other means of inspiration you could nurture? As a company profiled in The Times piece proves, methodologies for ideas are worth a lot. Creativity is at the heart of public relations. And key to creativity is receptivity to ideas, and the means of generating them.

Deft Mayo Clinic Response on Facebook
For insight into the public relations of Facebook, Shel Holtz provides an example of a deft response by the Mayor Clinic to an attack on one of its doctors. The hospital made its own response, allowed relevant comments to stand on its wall for some 42 hours, then redirected them into a discussion forum. Study of an incident like this should make PR staffers more confident of handling a Facebook "crisis" should one arise.

Each Crisis Requires Fresh Appraisal
When it comes to handling disasters, natural or otherwise, it's definitely true that one size doesn't fit all. The variability of fortune is a point made by Matt Cochran, of Cookerly Public Relations on its PeRceptions blog in the context of the Bush Administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina five years ago. Each disaster is a fresh challenge requiring careful, fresh appraisal. It's not "We've been here before," but "What are we faced with this time?" In his book, Decision Points, "Bush talked about the success he had dealing with natural disasters both as governor of Texas and president," Cochran writes. "He said he thought his administration had disaster response down."

PR is Social at Its Core–the Web Is Proving That
We roam the Web looking for stories and insights for Flack Me. We've been trying to balance our selections so that Flack Me doesn't become a blog on social media almost exclusively. (There's that much occurring in PR related to social media.) But maybe we need to get over that, for social media may well becoming the core PR discipline. That thought occurs again in perusing Leyl Master Black's post on Mashable, "5 Predictions for the Public Relations Industry in 2011."

How to Focus When Your Neighbor's Involved in Mayhem?
A fateful example of how closely linked public relations and marketing are comes from El Paso, Texas, where its "sister city," Juárez, Mexico, is plagued by violence. The El Paso Times provides a lengthy story illustrating how vital focus and effective branding are in such a contrasting situation. Both are elusive in El Paso. The Times' story lays out virtually a textbook example of a public relations planning challenge. Situation: El Paso has profited from its relationship with Juarez and the Mexican-American culture it fosters. But as conditions have deteriorated in Mexico, El Paso is increasingly vexed by the turmoil in Juárez.

'Showing Up': Discipline for Accomplishment
As the year nears its close, it's a good time to think about pending beginnings. So we're going to get personal in this post and offer some guidance on accomplishing big things, words of discipline, and resilience from Seth Godin, actually. "...Make your schedule before you start," Seth writes on his blog.

Web Analytics for PR
"How're we doing?" is a question clients commonly ask, and no wonder. They want to know how much response PR initiatives being taken on their behalf are getting. And these days, responses of interest are increasingly likely to be found on the Web, in readership of blogs and other Web content materials. Thus the need for PR prowess with Web analytics.

A Sobering Site for the Holidays
Note to U.S. police departments: It's too late for this year, but for next year's New Year's period and your concerns about drunken driving, check out the marvelous PR initiative taken by the Greater Manchester Police Group in England: the "Drunken Disorderly Inn" website, a "Premier accommodation with lots of bars." The website mimics sites like Holiday Inn and Ramada's by presenting the "premier accommodations" at Manchester lockups and the the "fees" (fines) for booking them (get it?).

What Grounds PR?
What grounds public relations? Is its province forthright realism—as the Public Relations Society of America would have it—or slippery maneuvering for corporate advantage? Is it realism or impressionism? Two web postings raise that question nicely.

Social Media Trends for PR Folks
Here's one expert's view of trends in social media as they relate to public relations. PR itself has a lot yet to learn about using social media effectively, Brendan Cooper feels, and these year-end reflections are a good place to start. Brendan, who has a PR background, advises that social media require depth and skill and feels that PR agencies still aren't "getting it."

Mark Zuckerberg, Relationship Builder
Time has named Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, its Person of the Year. Zuckerberg has not only created a social network involving more than 500 million people around the world, he's shown how the Internet can be used for relationship building, something that everyone in PR needs to be engaged in. If you're not on Facebook, you ought to be. Read Time's profile of Zuckerberg. Facebook is a great way to build and renew friendships; the next best thing to being on hand with people you know or would like to know better or regain contact with. In PR terms, it's a way of listening to people, and organizations, you want to be in touch with.

PR Principles for Parenting
Here's a neat discussion of how techniques from public relations apply to effective parenting at home. On Ms. Career Girl, Veronica Hunt, who's been in PR for more than 20 years, tells how professional insights are helping her raise her tween daughter. Basically, she needs to keep establishing credibility. Veronica includes further discussion of each of the included principles. A nice effort, one that no doubt will be appreciated by parent practitioners in both home and corporate offices.

Getting Press Releases Read on the Web
Website magazine is an excellent means of keeping up with ever-developing opportunities for creativity on the Web. It's available on a quarterly basis for free, or monthly for a $44.95 subscription. A subscription provides access to all issues and that would be helpful for the current issue, which has an article of optimizing press releases for the Web, but which we can't link you to because we don't yet have a paid subscription. In any event, the message is that "publishing effective news releases online requires a three-pronged optimization approach that consists of search engine optimization (SEO), conversion optimization and editorial optimization."

2010's Top PR Blunders
It's the season for..."Top 10" lists providing retrospectives on 2010. Fineman PR of San Francisco is one of the first to join in, with its 16th Annual Top 10 PR Blunders List.

Listening In the Internet 'Hallway'
You're going to be hearing more about this as we get further into the social media age, but Alex Greenwood outlines the case for monitoring social media as a means of growing a business (or other organization) and protecting its interests. Isn't that what PR is about? And thanks to our colleague Kelly A. Meyers at our sister blog Digital Pivot, we can introduce you to a great monitoring tool for Twitter and Facebook.

Of Course PR Drives Sales
Wendy Marx, of Marx Communications, responds to a muddled recent Hubspot post that contended that public relations "doesn't drive sales."

Business Blogging's a Challenge
Blogging is a traffic builder, and a good tool for enhancing organizational identity and reach. But it's a discipline, too, and not to be undertaken casually. Adam Smith, a social media blogger, has a post warning why "Blogging Isn't As Easy As Experts Think." We haven't met many of those experts, and aren't sure what fields they're in. But Smith's underlying point is well taken: blogging is work.

Putting It All Together
The thing about WikiLeaks is, yes, the purloined cables are embarrassing to the State Department and thus, in some sense, to the U.S., but more to the point of professional mastery—our constant subject here—they illustrate how hard it is to cull connected, focal insights from a deluge of information. Who among us doesn't have this problem to one degree or another?

When Listening Becomes Monitoring
Can we agree that it's not a good idea for public relations firms to be hired to monitor groups about which a client is anxious or unhappy? Gauging the opinion scene is one thing. Being hired to report on the doings of a given organization is another. That's not very relational and contributes to giving PR a shady name.

Social Media Can Work at Work
Oh my, Shel Holtz is positively gleeful in rebutting a piece by the UK's Barclay Communications (picked up in a post from Northern Ireland) that advises against employees using social media during working hours. Social media might appear to be time-wasters at work. But look at the issue in the context of our times – an era in which computers and the Internet have become extensions of human capacity and a new way of listening. Social media then display potential for connection and engagement.

Middle Ground on PR Education
We wrote yesterday on Jane Genova's view that public relations risks becoming trapped in an "education bubble" with costly graduate course requirements for a craft that's best developed in the doing. Today, Richard Bailey, on his PR Studies blog, suggests a middle way – shorter or employer-sponsored education programs or, indeed, an approach to lifelong learning for us all. (Jane would surely be with us here.) "In response to the changing labour market," Bailey writes from England, "let's offer a package that begins with undergraduate and moves through postgraduate, professional and on to executive education. If this journey took twenty years, then we would be halfway to lifelong learning."

How PR Can Be Helpful
There's a bit of glibness in these examples, but they do provide a range of insight into the kind of problems a good public relations sense is capable of easing if not solving. Mickie Kennedy's "5 Problems Solved by Savvy PR" are more on the level of tactical than strategic communication, but they're examples of why PR capacity in virtually any business is well worth having.

PR in an 'Education Bubble'
Jane Genova writes that PR is "trapped in the education bubble," and she may well be right. Young people are urged to get masters degrees in public relations, when the craft is actually a "hands on" one. The result of pushing higher education for a shoe-leather job can be "they could wind up overeducated for the jobs which do exist and deep in six-figure debt from school loans."

'Breaking In' During Crises
An article from Communication Currents, an online journal of the National Communication Association that you should know about, has a scholarly title, "Disasters as Social Interaction". It's about getting the attention of decision makers as a crisis builds. In this case it was Hurricane Katrina. But it could be any corporate situation in which anxiety is taking hold.

Social Media Prompt Response Measures
It never hurts to be reminded that social media have raised the stakes in attentive response to online communications that might be damaging to an organization. Priya Ramesh, social media director of CRT-tanaka, advises that bad news travels quickly on social media. It's virtually a 24/7 challenge. Priva lists "The Ten Commandments of Social Media Crisis Management." They come down to practicing accountable communication—the best kind of PR—but at "lightning speed."

Lists of N.Y., L.A. Practitioners
Don't know whether you need an introduction to the New York PR scene, but if so, here's a list of 82 New York practitioners with their Twitter feeds. It's provided by Sparkah.com, about which we know nothing except that it appears to have offices in New York, Washington, and Los Angeles. Anyhow, it looks like a list worth having. Sparkah also has a list of Los Angeles practitioners.

Too Busy to Listen – Too Bad
Needs seem to be going in a different direction than pressures in the public relations world. According to William M. Murray, president and chief operating officer of the Public Relations Society of America, employers surveyed recently by PRSA said the most important PR skills are listening, second only to writing. Yet our attention is being diverted by everything from cell phones to computers. True, technology can also enhance the ability to focus. The trouble is that listening – gaining insights first-hand – involves slowing down and encountering and learning from clients and others. Yet the "noise" band in the communication cycle is becoming ever more distracting.

An Online PR Toolkit
Sarah Evans, of Sevans Strategy, sends us to online tools for conducting PR campaigns. There's much to consider in terms of adding to Web-based techniques for pitching and prompting. In her post, "5 NEW online tools for PR pros," Evans covers Crowdcampaign, Pitch With Me, Commentz, PR Breakfast Club, Alltop PR News, PR Daily, Tweetwally, and Pingg. Actually, there are more than five here, but Commentz through PR Daily are a group of research sources.

For New Companies, PR Comes Before Advertising
What comes first for a new business: public relations or advertising? Before a start-up company starts shelling out dollars for advertising, it should consider the advice of Ashley Wirthlen on Public Relations Blogger. com. If publicity is what brings a brand to life, says Wirtlen, then advertising is what maintains it. This makes sense in terms of a start-up's promotional toolkit. A new company needs a certain market resonance -- the beginning of familiarity and presence -- before advertising will be of much help to it. This is especially the case at a time when social media is emerging as a new PR tool, one that's highly promising but which, initially at least, can be highly confusing.

PR Going Mobile: Where's Your App for That?
David Meerman Scott has a point. He's making it with the debut of his very own iPhone and iPad applications. "I've done this," he says, "partly as an experiment because I'm convinced that the public relations, analyst relations and investor relations departments of companies need to create such applications to reach their constituents." In his travels, Scott has "noticed more and more reporters and analysts using mobile devices, especially iPads, to take notes during meetings. I've also seen many iPhones, Blackberrys, and the like constantly in use when they’re on the go." He reacted by moving his "on line media room" to a free mobile app and recommends that other PR outfits do so as well. His own app was created by Newstex, "a company I'm an advisor to," so he probably got a break on its cost (or donated some of his time).

Building Your Social Media Standing
Social media is supposed to be truly social, and if you want to improve your standing there you've got to stay mindful of that. Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases, provides some tips on "little things you can do" to mix it up on social media. Read his post for elaborations

Crisis-beset Library Reaps Funding Via Social Media
Need we say any more about the power of social media in PR? If you think not, we refer you to this "case study" from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina. How about $400,000 raised via Facebook, Twitter and word-of-mouth to lessen a budget crisis?

TSA Ticking Travelers Off
How would you handle airliner security? The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) might like to know. As the Associated Press reports, an agency that was created after Sept. 11 to protect the flying public is now royally ticking a lot of those people off. Passengers are being treated, essentially, as though they themselves are bags. But it's worse than that: bags don't have gender.

PR or Advertising? Insights From New Zealand
From New Zealand comes a cogent update of the perennial discussion of the differences between public relations and advertising and the role of each. Mark Irving, of Range Advertising and Communications, writes in The New Zealand Herald that "A good agency shouldn't have a pre-determined policy of which medium works best."

Regional PR Listserves on Yahoo
If you're practicing PR in a metropolitan area, or anywhere there are colleagues and/or students you want to keep up with, a listserve like this one from South Florida may suit your professional community nicely.The South Florida Public Relations Network maintains it on Yahoo.

'Firebell' Ringing for Web Crisis Training
We don't know whether Weber Shandwick's newly announced "Firebell" crisis simulator is THE answer or not to social media crisis training, but it seems on the right track. We've been wondering how you can simulate corporate social media emergencies, and Weber Shandwick is seeking to provide an answer. A timely contribution to a growing need for Web crisis training.

Medical Shingles on the Web
It's not only newspapers that are being bypassed by the Internet. How about doctors? In this instance, women are turning increasingly to the Web for family health information, according to an online survey commissioned by Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and conducted by TNS. "It seems that the convenience, accessibility and low cost of health information online is providing an alternative to going in to the doctor's office for some women," says Monique da Silva, head of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide's North America Healthcare Practice.

Press Releases Worth Perusing
We don't read as many press releases as the people -- that is, media people -- receiving them. But the ones we do encounter too often have run-on sentences and other types of careless construction. Now G. A. "Andy" Marken, of Marken Communications, has come up with some broad brush numbers to support our concern. Marken folks interviewed "more than 50 business, financial and industry publication editors" and "talked with an equal number of on-line editors." Most of them said they receive "an average of 300+ releases per day over the wire, in the mail and sent electronically."

In a Crisis, Don't Hide Behind News Releases
In a crisis, a written news release alone won't do. The key thing you want to establish is that someone responsible is in charge and willing and able to answer questions. That means providing a spokesperson to explain the situation and answer reporters' questions. Brad Phillips makes this point in a Mr. Media Training post, and he's right on.

Archiving Social Media Utterances
One thing about press releases is that they can be readily archived in three-ring binders. But what about social media releases and your responses to input from them? Social media comments are becoming an increasing part of a company's utterances, and need to be retrievable over time. Tanzina Vega in The New York Times reports on a Web service -- Cloud Preservaton -- that's billed as meeting this need.

Capital One Runs a 'Credit Check'
The U.S. economy, at least as manifest in its banking system, has a public relations problem, and it's not the one you may think. This one isn't about housing and mortgages, but about a family's credit standing and how a bank -- in this case the Capital One bank -- determines it.

A Survey Tool for Relating Well
Jo Ellen Litz is a communication-conscious elected county commissioner in Lebanon County, Pa., just east of the state capital, Harrisburg.

Vulnerable Web-Response Plans
Wow! Here's a taste of what could be in store for agencies that prepare talking points in response to reports in the emerging era of web journalism. Their entire PR plan might be leaked to accompany a hostile story. The Web is just that fluid. Not even the cost of a stamp is needed. We don't know anything about kidney dialysis and have nothing to contribute on the merits of an exposè piece posted on the journalism site Pro Publica.

Fitness for Folks Like Us
The way we practice it, at least, public relations is pretty sedentary work. We make an explicit choice to include exercise in our daily round. Two sisters we've discovered on the Web do a humorous blog -- Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A -- and one of them, Alexandra Williams, offers this post: "Fitness Tips for Public Relations Pros." A true public service.

Talking Turkey at the Salvation Army
This post isn't about technique but a sure-enough PR need the Salvation Army of Tucson and probably other charities have as Thanksgiving approaches next week. Donations have "gone down dramatically" in Tucson while the number of families in need of a renewing holiday meal is increasing.

PR Firms: Smaller More Relational Than Bigger?
True, this is from a press release by the parties at interest -- small, boutique public relations firms. And when you have only 29 members, the situation at Public Relations Boutiques International (PRBI), you're likely to know polling results before the questions are asked.

Amazon's Tone-Deaf PR
Where were Amazon's sensibility screeners when a book promoting pedophilia went on sale at its Kindle store? It took a firestorm of objections to prompt Amazon finally to remove the self-published book, "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover's Code of Conduct." Wouldn't a title like that set off alarm bells virtually anywhere else? This isn't about prudery, but conduct that's either illegal or grossly offensive to most people.

Got a Crisis 'Dark Site' Ready?
You may be far ahead of us on this, but as part of your crisis communication planning, do you have a "dark site" ready to go? Bryan Jordin, of Jackson Spalding PR, notes how fortunate the Georgia Institute of Technology was to have a crisis website -- a "dark site" only in the sense that it wasn't yet active -- ready to go when its campus "samurai sword" attack occurred last February. There's nothing sinister about a "dark site" – this isn't Star Wars, only prudent emergency planning.

'Every Company a Media Company'
Here's a big picture post of utmost importance if you're looking to grow a company or PR practice. Adam Singer argues that "the key area of PR opportunity is staring nearly every company in the face." It's to recognize that every company is now potentially a media company, and to organize around that insight. In addition to coordinating and promoting placed or paid stories/advertising, the opportunity now is to build a community of followers and customers. That makes PR practices potential publishers of their own material. But as in everything else, the first step toward a "media company" vision is to think it through -- strategy again -- and staff properly to accomplish your aim.

Suppose Your Unexpected Crisis Occurs on Twitter?
Here's something to consider about crisis communication. You have a crisis plan, and do regular training under it, for crises that might spark interest in the traditional media. But how about in social media, if you're getting into it? (You should be.) PKA Marketing wonders how agile you might be should a crisis of information/reputation strike your organization in social media. A pertinent concern, indeed.

Timeless PR Precepts From William Marsteller
Leave it to an intern at Burson-Marsteller to do a marvelous thing -- show how precepts laid down by William Marsteller 47 years ago remain applicable in today's social media era. There are indeed constants in the human social and economic condition. The precepts Zack Sandor-Kerr expounds on are from a memo, "How to get promoted," that William Marsteller issued in April, 1963.

For Publicity Results -- Relax, Observe, and Reflect
Here, from Get In Front Communications, is a great list of "easy things you can do right now to get publicity." They come under the heading of being open to new ideas and thinking -- and how to get into that idyllic state. Get in Front's Susan Young, with lots of radio and TV communication experience, starts her list with, "Sit down with your colleagues, staff, or clients and ask them good questions about what they have been doing..." Imagine that. Fresh thinking and awareness starts with listening, observing and being open to new input.

The Big Picture: U.S. Competitiveness Continues to Slip
We're not saddling you with macroeconomics, and we're not turning political, but we thought you ought to know, as part the overall context of your PR endeavors, that the competitiveness of the U.S. on the global scene is officially slipping. Industry Market Trends on ThomasNet reports that, as the World Economic Forum (WEF) sees it, the U.S. slipped from second place to fourth in global competitiveness in 2010.

Social Media Rules of Engagement
Mike Smiley, of PAPA Marketing, calls them guidelines. We call them rules -- for engaging in social media. That's because Smiley's principles outline a relational stance that's crucial to maintain in conducting online dialogues -- honest, responsive and non-defensive.

News Releases Aren't Everything
We just wrote about keeping news release headlines short, so they get read on Google. Now comes a piece noting that even well-used press releases aren't everything. PR is a continuing process. "Management is thrilled about the media coverage and subsequent interest in the company," notes Stefanie Guzikowski in the Portsmouth, NH, Herald.

Shorten Those PR Headlines
With search engine prominence a factor now, , not just reporter and editor eyeballs, headlines on press releases are often too long, thus counterproductive. Google clips them off. So reports Mark McClennan, APR, of Schwartz Communications. McClennan recommends that news release headlines be kept under 66 characters for full display in Google Search. Actually, our count, including spaces, suggested that 60 is a safer limit. The Schwartz counters found that only 18.4 percent of 16,000 news releases on Business Wire during a 31-day period last summer had headlines with 65 characters or fewer.

Naming a Movement: Real-time PR
Our post yesterday was on "Staffing for Social Media." It aimed to help managers thinking about incorporating social media get a handle on how to do that. Today, we cite a name for the social media communication skill set: Real-time marketing. It's thanks to David Meerman Scott and others who are developing the concept.

Organizational Mindsets Matter, Greatly
Effective public relations -- whether they're sought as an add-on or sponsored internally -- start with mindset, what an organization is predisposed to being and becoming. The American Heritage Dictionary's definition of mindset is "A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations," or simply, "an inclination or habit." Being habitually "other focused," is not something that concerns a lot of organizations. Many may think they are, but in reality, they're not.

Polling Needs to Cope With Cell Phones
Here's something to be mindful of if you're considering telephone polling as a PR tool: Younger people may be unlisted because they're using cell phones exclusively. The Pew Research Center advised recently that "a quarter of U.S. households have only a cell phone and cannot be reached by a landline telephone." Savvy pollsters say there are ways around this potential undercounting hazard and The Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News discusses some of them. But, adds The Patriot, future polling, as in the 2012 presidential election, "could begin to shift from telephone surveys to ones that use direct mailings and the Internet to make them more accurate as fewer households have landline phones."

Flying Off the Record (Supposedly)
Oh dear, here's a spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines using flip language when she thinks it's safe, before PR brethren. It's never safe and should never be used, even thought. Southwest's crisis communications plan seems exemplary, but referring to the media as "dogs" before a PRSA chapter, or anywhere, is wrong, period.

Giants Step From 'Consumers' to 'Customers'
As the San Francisco Giants battle for a World Series title, they've already passed a threshold with their fans. Ticket holders at Giants games are no longer consumers of baseball, they're customers of the team.

Nothing So Magical About Disney's Feedback
Stars and Stripes is having fun with this one. CareerBliss.com reports that the military services score much higher than Disney theme parks as workplaces. And Stars and Stripes observes that "though the military features such potential job hazards as incoming mortars and roadside bombs, every single branch -- and the Army National Guard -- ranked above Disney.

Effective PR Requires Sound Communication Settings
It's an anxious workaday world these days, so much so that important relational principles might be overlooked in the anxiety to satisfy customers and close deals, which, of course, can be self-defeating. So we thought a post on the Business44.com site, anonymous though it is, might be worth some attention because its sense of organizational communication is on the mark.

Back to Basics: The PR Verities
It's good occasionally to be reminded of the most basic principles in the successful long-term practice of public relations -- the tenets behind everything else. There are various ways of stating them, but here's Mickie Kennedy's take on the verities, along with a link to his free Big Press Release Book, sample press releases on practically any subject. Kennedy heads the post "Everything I Know About PR, I Learned in Kindergarten."

Up Close on Using Twitter for Business
Erica Swallow on Mashable talks in depth with three small business users of Twitter on how they grow and maintain their presence in the tweetstream and the advantages of doing so. They're Chanel Huston, owner of Boutique de Bandeau, an Etsy shop selling handmade couture-inspired hair accessories; Lev Ekster, owner of the Cupcake Stop; and Alexandra Moskovitz, marketing manager of Epicurean Management, owners of two Italian restaurants and a wine bar. They view Twitter as "another method of hospitality" and feel that it's well worth the effort it takes to build and maintain a flow of followers.

PR Panic Days: Avoiding Vulnerabilities in the First Place
Most days, we trust, things go well on the job, in business, at the firm. But there can come a day of disaster. It's likely to catch you unaware, or unprepared, and can all too easily stimulate a panic response. Not at all good, we all understand that. But what can be done to head off PR "panic days"? Barbara Friday Schenck has a helpful post on heading off PR disasters, though she calls it "Surviving a PR Nightmare." The point, of course, is to stay awake and avoid a "nightmare" in the first place. Anyhow, she provides a list of behaviors businesses need to avoid to stay in command of their reputations, from a lapse in social responsibility to product failures or malfunctions, natural disasters, and accidents.

Would You 'Guarantee' Media Coverage? Not Likely
From Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England comes word of one of the more dubious PR relational tactics we've seen -- former journalist Adam James is "guaranteeing" prospective clients that his new firm, Springup PR, will land them media coverage or their money back. No matter how experienced in media precincts James may be, guaranteeing press coverage strikes us as manipulative of client aims and a virtual invitation to self-respecting media to turn him away.

For Small Businesses, Degrees of Engagement
From The Toronto Sun comes a helpful discussion for small businesses of the "ramping up" differences between advertising, marketing and public relations. "When social networking enters the conversation," writer Rosalyn Cronin adds, "you can start to wonder why you thought it would be exciting to be your own boss." Cronin advises small business owners to start with networking -- joining an organization "where you know your target market will be on hand" and build relationships personally.

'Braided Journalism' a New Strand of PR?
Valeria Maltoni on her Conversation Agent blog introduces us to the concept of "braided journalism," a term coined by Shel Israel to suggest how writers and public relations people are "intertwining" in the interest of building content-rich companies. Web sites in "braided" settings don't just seek to sell; instead they explain and inform, likely selling more in the process.

Manchester's Cops on Twitter -- Slices of Life
Oh, this is delightful. Raymond Chandler and his Philip Marlowe detective being introduced to Twitter. Seriously, the Manchester, England, police department placed all its calls for a given 24 hours on Twitter, and demonstrated the laconic utility of that social medium, as well as what a police department actually does, day-by-day. A great PR initiative!

PR Newswire Site Wins 'Gold'
Congratulations to PR Newswire, which we first knew from the stream of paper it set loose in The Wall Street Journal's Philadelphia Bureau in the 1970s. Now, PR Newswire is a leader in web distribution of PR-related information, as witnessed by the Web Marketing Association presenting it with its 2010 WebAward for "Best Public Relations Website."

'Seen Our Firm's App?'
Our apologies to the PR firms that were here first, but in our Web roaming we've come upon the first iPhone app we've seen for a PR shop. We don't claim to have everything first here, just to recognize value/interest when we see it. A search of the App Store shows some 45 apps listed under "public relations," but the one we noticed in today's roaming is from the Horn Group, in a Phil Butler post on Everything PR. It's great, like having a PR firm in your pocket, in an inspired sense, of course. Horn is heavily into digital communications and makes that clear on its app.

A Call Center Nightmare Experience
I don't normally trade on personal PR experiences, but yesterday I had one so dismal that it will be a while before I can shake it off. It had to do with a call center and how perversely some companies -- in this case the Dish Network -- are using them.

Do-It-Yourself 'PR'
Here's a service that may have value for some folks in these budget-strained times.

Waving a Wireless Wand
We're hearing this more and more: PR has a great opportunity in helping clients promote their presence on and around wireless communication devices. Jeff Kagan of E-Commerce Times sees it as a period of PR resurgence after the doldrums of the early 2000s. Apple's iPhone and Google's Android operating systems, Kagan says, are reshaping wireless communications. The Blackberry's prominence is threatened. "There are many public relations and advertising opportunities bubbling to the top right now," Kagan feels. "Ideas that don't even exist today will be developed in coming years. Do you have the right ideas to help these companies?

TechOmetr: A Handy Tech Source Tool
Here's a handy Internet pipeline to tech industry news and sources designed for PR professionals. TechOmetr is a free aggregator of information and insights from tech blogs. When you head to techometr.com, you'll find a three-tabbed search window for Buzzing Topics, Prolific Bloggers and Top Blogs. Information is handily packaged around the writers who provide it, enabling PR people to become familiar not only with news of the tools they're using, or tech haunts they want to pitch, but the bloggers who maintain the flow of such information.

Effective Crisis Response in Texas
Students, faculty and administrators at the University of Texas had a crisis communication workout last week when a gunman started shooting with an assault rifle. The gunman, a student, killed himself and there were no other casualties. As the Austin Statesman reported, "UT used everything but carrier pigeons to let its students, faculty and staff know that a gunman was on campus and that they should stay indoors."

PR Training in the Depths
Here's probably a new low -- or high, actually -- for public relations training. The AFP news service reports that communication trainers have begun working with the Chilean miners who have been trapped 2,200 feet underground for the past two months. A rescue rig is expected to be in place in a couple of weeks, and it's anticipated that the miners will need help in dealing with some 700 journalists from around the world who will be waiting for them on the surface.

Meet a 'Communication Designer'
Here's an odyssey in 19 chapters (paragraphs, actually) of how an individual with a flair for writing, relating, and designing decided he (or she) was a "communication designer."

Turning Spammers Into Planners
From England comes word of an initiative aimed at reducing PR spam sent to media outlets by e-mail and other means. It's proposing, in essence, that PR pros act as such and be prompted by research and planning practices.

Social Media Tools for Testing
We've been concerned with moving the ball ahead in applying social media as a new public relations strategy. There are so many tools and techniques yet to be fully understood and applied. How do you make real progress from your business or organizational applications of social media? Todd Defren on the PRSquared blog has a suggestion for the next few social media miles, offering five new concepts to experiment with out on the edge of things.

PR by Insiders or Outsiders?
There's a thoughtful piece by Jennifer Leggio on ZDNet on whether public relations is done most advantageously with an in-house staff or an outside agency. The larger the company, the more likely business units are to work with outside agencies, but there are substantial benefits to doing PR with a collaborative inside staff familiar with outside needs and opportunities.

Getting Coached on Social Media
Here's somebody to talk to about learning social media. Michelle Gilbert of Verizon Wireless in Michigan is profiled on Crain's Detroit Business as someone who is both self-taught and coached in using Twitter and other forms of social media to advance her business goals. It's definitely not just for youngsters. "Tweet-ups are to me what chamber meetings were 20 years ago," she says.

Got a Chief Listening Officer Yet?
With PR gaining scope in the addition of social media as relational tools, what's the role of PR staffers in this new communication setting? Should they be ghostwriting tweets? No, but understanding the new media and advising on their heft is a key function. It's being personified in the emerging role of chief listening officer, or titles to that effect.

Steve Jobs Doesn't Get It
Maybe we shouldn't be taking the bait on this, but, in relational terms, it's too egregious to ignore. It made me wince at my Mac. Steve Jobs on email is simply a boor; he ought not to be using it, or pretending that he relates well to customers. There's always the chance that the e-mails from Long Island University senior Chelsea Kate Isaacs are a hoax, though she insists they're genuine, and considering Jobs' reputation for Internet brusqueness, we're with her unless Apple proves the contrary.

Lawyers on Twitter? Sure Enough
If lawyers can use Twitter for relational purposes, who couldn't? Seriously, the growing presence of lawyers on Twitter indicates savvy use of social media can work for any professional group. Neil Rose, a legal journalist in the United Kingdom, writes that when lawyers tell him that have no use for Twitter, he responds, "I know quite a few general counsel and senior in-house lawyers who now use Twitter and regularly send out messages about what they are doing, what they are thinking, and where they are going; and if my clients were sending out regular updates on their news and views, I would want to be on the receiving end, even if the medium has a slightly silly name."

A Zoo Saved via Relationships
The essence of public relations is relationships and the zest with which they are formed and nurtured. There's no better place to go for a reminder of the vitality of good relationships than The Wall Street Journal's obituary remembrance of Bob Elgin, a public relations man who was hired in 1966 as director of the struggling Des Moines Children's Zoo. He died Sept. 8 at the age of 89. Bob Elgin did it all. He created memorable relationships with both animals and people, and saved his zoo in the process. "He put on his best P.T. Barnum and brought people in," Mark Vukovich, CEO of the now-renamed Blank Park Zoo told The Wall Street Journal. "He kept it alive in Des Moines."

Storytelling in Capsule Form: PR's Social Media Challenge
What differentiates PR in this era of social media? This is an especially important question when potential clients can do Twitter- or Facebook-powered marketing on their own, without PR budgets. Mark Evans in the Globe and Mail looks at this question, as others are doing as well. He decides that, while PR firms may not be able to command their expected rates, they maintain a key advantage: expertise at storytelling. "As practitioners in story telling, there is an opportunity for PR agencies to become vibrant parts of the social media ecosystem," he writes. "The challenge will be to offer services that make economic sense for clients, while still providing healthy margins to cover staff and overhead expenses."

Pass Along Examples of Good PR
Here's a worthy project -- share via the Web examples of good PR that you know about. The idea comes from Mandy Vavinak, who writes the PR-Beyond the Press Release blog. She searched Google looking for exemplary applications of PR -- "best examples of PR," "best in public relations" -- and didn't come up with much. She's asks you, and we second the motion, to provide Web leads to good PR projects. "If you're young and in PR," Vavinak asks, "where are you going for inspiration and to see examples of the best of our craft that make you aspire to grow and stretch?"

All Those 'No Comments'
Here's a wonderful display by Chad Hermann on a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette blog of the insidious nature of using stand-in terms for "no comment," like "I'm not going to respond to something like that." The cumulative effect is to build suspicion, whether justified or not. And who would think it's not justified?

BP Spill Recapped for Its Crisis Lessons
Those who want to strengthen techniques of crisis communication – and that should be all of us – may never stop learning from the BP oil spill. Here, John Moscatelli, APR, Fellow PRSA, senior vice president and chief operating officer at the Anne Klein Communications Group, gives us a dose of insight into how the spill's Joint Information Center worked, until it was subverted by political pressures. The lesson is, use the BP experience to promote crisis communication planning and readiness, continually and forever. Tell your CEO, "Don't ever risk being in those shoes!"

Know a Social Media Director?
"Hey, buddy, want to be our social media director?" It hasn't quite gotten to that point, but a hiring rush for social media directors is on, says Bill Ives on the "Portals and KM" blog. That's not surprising. With traditional PR firms on the defensive against social media outlets, managers are trying to get caught up.

Diagonal Engagement Teams
Technology News, of all places, has a good post on employee communication -- "Five Tips to Engage Employees." It's focused on focus groups, which are, indeed, an effective means of gathering employee sentiment and identifying interest priorities. However, there's a focus group variant that's even more effective in promoting employee involvement in organizational aims -- a Diagonal Communications Team.

Scientific Tone Deafness Hurts
A post we read a while ago in the context of global warming has stayed with us in another context -- the apparent insensitivity of many scientists and engineers to public relations. That produces, in all likelihood, less than fully effective public relations in organizations headed by tone-deaf scientists or engineers. The American Academy of Arts & Sciences has a paper in pdf format, "Do Scientists Understand the Public?," on hand for downloading. The summary, about scientists and public engagement, hits home. It finds a "divide" between the two sectors. "Scientists and the public both share a responsibility for the divide," says an Academy news release. "Scientists and technical experts sometimes take for granted that their work will be viewed as ultimately serving the public good. Members of the public can react viscerally and along ideological lines, but they can also raise important issues that deserve consideration."

Happy Employees Matter Greatly
From Miami comes word of a PR company that has a policy that should be a no-brainer, but, sadly, isn't universally practiced: Happy employees make for success. Apparently, rbb Public Relations has been on an acquisition binge, advises the McClatchy Newspapers, and the single most important factor in its growth has been nurturing its employees.

Relational Interfaith Communication
There's what you might perceive as a gathering wave of public relations currents about how to perceive of Muslims in America. We surely hope it breaks in favor of mutual understanding and acceptance. With tensions in New York and abroad over relations with Muslim communities, open and honest interfaith communication is one of the most important aspects of our times.

Your Online Press Kit? It's Your Website
Press kits used to be in the form of news releases and backgrounders packaged in light cardboard folders. They can still be in that format if you're having a live event that media people want to cover. But more likely today, press kits are found in digital form on websites. They can easily be a website -- an "always on" source of information about your company or organization. So how do you put together a website press kit? We all may have approaches to doing that, but Inc. magazine seeks to save us some trouble by providing a "how to" piece on putting together a press kit.

What's a PR Pro? 'APR' Needs More Recruits
What's it take to be a sure-enough PR professional? Practitioners pondering that question might also be considering whether to invest in "Accredited in Public Relations" (APR) status in the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Yes, it's a worthy investment. No, it's not an end-all determinant of PR smarts.

PR Vibes on Madison Avenue
New York Times advertising writer Stuart Elliott sees a digital edge for