Should PR and Media Pro’s Offer Opinions?

I was recently contacted by Jess Todd about a particular controversy that I couldn’t help but weigh in on. For the entire encounter you can read over his blog, but in a nutshell he was basically lambasted for offering his opinions on a topic that he happened to know something about, rather than go the standard PR route. Those of you in PR know what I’m talking about, something  happens, or will happen and you send a release, the reporters call and you hand them off to an “expert” of some sort, or occasionally just someone else. Well what Todd did was streamline the process by contacting the media directly and simply stating that ” “as a media consultant, I have thoughts and opinions on the story and am available for interview or quotes.”

A few media outlets took him up on his offer and called him. Others however…went off calling his methods into question, accusing him of dictating what they should print, that it was their job to go find the “news” yada yada yada.

So this brings up a very good question. Is there a more efficient way to do things, some of the time? I have never been one to say that just because we have new methods we have to use them exclusively. However there have been many times when I knew I could make the reporter’s job a hell of a lot easier if I simply contacted them first with ALL the info they would need, rather than require them to have to go on a fishing expedition that they most likely don’t have time for anyway. So many story ideas get dropped for this very reason. Tight deadlines and stiff competition for space/time means that the days of the reporter who does all his or her own pounding of the pavement are long gone. PR professionals are here to help…so let us help. So to get back to the particular situation, which was his commenting on the resignation of Rep. Anthony Weiner, he shot me an email saying he wanted my take on the situation and my response to him was this:

“I think you are actually right on the money. I used to work in-house PR sending out the standard releases and when reporters would call, it was always me putting them in touch with someone else, one more step for them to take, and not because I wasn’t qualified but because that was simply how things were done where I worked. We were PR people, and treated by management as having little value – just get the right people to the reporters. Well, having been in the media business myself, having worked as a social media consultant, I too have an opinion on many subjects. Am I always the best? No. Am I an expert at everything I like to talk about? No. But then I don’t claim to be either. I am simply someone with experience that knows a few things about what is going on in the world, especially if it has to do with social media, PR or wildlife conservation.”

Where is the best place for those of us who have become hybrids at what we do? Is there a time when being efficient becomes overstepping our bounds as PR and Media professionals? Professionally I find nothing wrong with what Todd did or the idea of offering our services straight out whether they be quotes, opinions, whatever help we can provide to reporters so that they can get their job done faster, better and with better quality. Isn’t that after all one of the core responsibilities of public relations?

I applaud Todd for staying on top of the newest methods of breaking through to media. In today’s lighting quick world, when a plane crash is faster tweeted than reported on the six-o-clock news, it is all too important that people like him, people like me even continue the all important work of media and social media research to make sure that the public is always well-informed.

Think I’m wrong? Right? Have your own opinion you’re just dying to share? I welcome your comments.

(image courtesy of PRtalknow.com)

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Can Your Online Persona Strengthen Your Brand?

UPDATE:this post first appeared back in November. Due to a wordpress/human (??) error a first draft of it was re-posted on December 26th. I apologize for the double posting – still great info but the November final draft was much better.

Not long ago I was involved in a  discussion  about how many of us bloggers have a unique online persona, one we share with the “world” as it may and one that may be different than our random everyday personality. Good or bad, it does happen and if you do it right, this may just help you to succeed in the craziness of the online social media world.

From the feedback I received I realized that this idea is hardly new. Since the dawn of Hollywood and before, people have been using their public image to enhance their brand. I may not be a movie star, but many of the same techniques still apply. As a PR person, I learned many of these tricks and tips in school and thought I would now share them with you. So here is just a quick refresher on how to use your online identity (public persona) to help solidify your brand.

1. How important is a name? If you make a point to use your full name in all of your online interactions, that’s great…but remember that not everyone will agree and using your real name can inadvertently create enemies. As long as you remain thick skinned, this should be alright though. Another important thing to remember – if you use your name, all of your revelations whether they are professional or a rant against an insane boss are all linked to you. This can come back to bite you so if you choose to use your real name….be aware of the consequences that come with it. It is a good idea to go ahead and purchase your own domain while you’re at it. (oh and if you are curious…Google yourself and see what comes up – apparently I am an exotic dancer/stripper in Texas….who knew?)

2. Always use the same Avatar for all your online networks. We are a visual species. We associate images with ideas and with people, that’s why ads have crazy, easily remembered images that pop out at you every time you turn on your TV. Also if you have the same avatar then no matter where you comment anywhere on the web, people will automatically associate the image with your blog/website. Applications like Facebook Connect and Disqus really make this easy.

3. There are many great resources for additional information about personal branding. The magazine put out by Dan Schwabel is wonderful as is his book, “Me 2.0” – if you are serious about building your personal brand. Take a look around the internet and invest in a few resources.

Have other ideas? Feel free to share!

The Top Five Things You Should Never Discuss at Work

SSHHH…….

I am a very luck individual, meaning that I am fortunate enough to have one of those jobs that I actually enjoy, even look forward too.

I know how rare that can be for young people so I do not say this lightly. When I was hired I can honestly say I was thrilled and looked forward to a long career with the agency. Since that time, I have had some of my idealism dampened but I continue to look forward to the everyday anticipating what I will learn while coming to the realization that this job may not be my final resting point.

I have however learned a few things on the job these last seven months that will no doubt continue to help me navigate my way through the world of PR for years to come, whether or not this job becomes a long term career or not. I share these things with you in the hopes that you will perhaps have a slightly smoother path than the one I took through the world of government public affairs.

There are some things you should NEVER talk about at work. There are just some topics that no matter how well intentioned you may be or how close you think you may be to a co-worker, you will lose in the end, and sometimes it can even mean your job. This isn’t rocket science and by no means NEW, but some people need the refresher.

  1. Religion – This should be a no-brainer for most. There is just too much volatility and too many people who will not think twice about arguing ‘till they are blue in the face to convince you just how wrong you are.
  2. Politics – some people can’t even live in the same household and discuss politics, so it makes sense that this should be off limits at work.
  3. Personal Finances – Do you really want people to know just how broke you truly are? In my opinion whether you are wearing designer shoes or scrounging to buy a soda, the only one who needs to know what is in your wallet or bank account is you.
  4. Sex Life – I don’t care how hot you think you are, nobody in the office wants to hear about your escapades between the sheets, whether it be your husband or wife or whoever. There is nothing worse than becoming the office slut or player. You might think you are cool, but I guarantee people are either laughing or disgusted whether they say anything to your face or not. Bragging about your after hours excursions will not gain you any points with the boss or anyone else that actually matters so do yourself a favor and keep mum while within the confines of the daily grind we call work.
  5. Personal Medical Maladies – Yes you may have legitimate issues you need to make your supervisor aware of but that is not the kind of thing I am referring to here. I am talking about the things such as ulcers and migraines and chronic fatigue that may make the powers that be a tad bit nervous about your ability to do your job. Unless your issue seriously compromises your work flow, keep it to yourself.

Are there other taboo topics in the work place? There are certainly many things you don’t learn in college, but after nearly a year in the work force are there other things we should just know by now? Of course, but these are the main ones I have discovered since stepping into the crazy working “real world” of PR. Have a thought or want to add one to the list…post a comment.

The Top Five Things You Should Never Discuss at Work

SSHHH…….

I am a very luck individual, meaning that I am fortunate enough to have one of those jobs that I actually enjoy, even look forward too.

I know how rare that can be for young people so I do not say this lightly. When I was hired I can honestly say I was thrilled and looked forward to a long career with the agency. Since that time, I have had some of my idealism dampened but I continue to look forward to the everyday anticipating what I will learn while coming to the realization that this job may not be my final resting point.

I have however learned a few things on the job these last seven months that will no doubt continue to help me navigate my way through the world of PR for years to come, whether or not this job becomes a long term career or not. I share these things with you in the hopes that you will perhaps have a slightly smoother path than the one I took through the world of government public affairs.

There are some things you should NEVER talk about at work. There are just some topics that no matter how well intentioned you may be or how close you think you may be to a co-worker, you will lose in the end, and sometimes it can even mean your job. This isn’t rocket science and by no means NEW, but some people need the refresher.

  1. Religion – This should be a no-brainer for most. There is just too much volatility and too many people who will not think twice about arguing ‘till they are blue in the face to convince you just how wrong you are.
  2. Politics – some people can’t even live in the same household and discuss politics, so it makes sense that this should be off limits at work.
  3. Personal Finances – Do you really want people to know just how broke you truly are? In my opinion whether you are wearing designer shoes or scrounging to buy a soda, the only one who needs to know what is in your wallet or bank account is you.
  4. Sex Life – I don’t care how hot you think you are, nobody in the office wants to hear about your escapades between the sheets, whether it be your husband or wife or whoever. There is nothing worse than becoming the office slut or player. You might think you are cool, but I guarantee people are either laughing or disgusted whether they say anything to your face or not. Bragging about your after hours excursions will not gain you any points with the boss or anyone else that actually matters so do yourself a favor and keep mum while within the confines of the daily grind we call work.
  5. Personal Medical Maladies – Yes you may have legitimate issues you need to make your supervisor aware of but that is not the kind of thing I am referring to here. I am talking about the things such as ulcers and migraines and chronic fatigue that may make the powers that be a tad bit nervous about your ability to do your job. Unless your issue seriously compromises your work flow, keep it to yourself.

Are there other taboo topics in the work place? There are certainly many things you don’t learn in college, but after nearly a year in the work force are there other things we should just know by now? Of course, but these are the main ones I have discovered since stepping into the crazy working “real world” of PR. Have a thought or want to add one to the list…post a comment.