Category Archives: PR

The Jokes on General Petraeus

If you’ve turned on any news station within the last week, you’ve heard of the General Petraeus scandal. General David Petraeus, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq resigned as the CIA director due to a pending FBI investigation. The investigation started because of email messages stating the General Petraeus was having an extramarital affair with his biographer. The General confessed to the affair but still testified in Congress about the attacks in Benghazi, Libya on September 11. Additionally, esteemed General John Allen is also under investigation for sending inappropriate messages to another woman. Thanks to this investigation, General Allen’s nomination for NATO’s supreme allied chief has been put on hold by the Obama administration

General David Petraeus.

This is not the first time powerful, political figures were involved in scandals. However, both Generals are known for their moral character and giving speeches about integrity and honesty. With the new information about both, people will begin to question their reputations and legacies. While I do not condone any kind of infidelity, I wonder how public a political figure’s life needs to be. Granted, this person chose to be in a position of power that came with fame and media attention. Because of this, every move this person makes is viewed under a microscope. More than likely, people in the spotlight do not think through the consequences of their actions before participating in less than desirable activities. I do believe that is what happened to both General Petraeus and General Allen. Perhaps they forgot that their private lives can be made public very quickly.

The question now is what to do next. From a public relations or crisis communications standpoint, both Generals need to sincerely apologize to the public and admit their wrongdoings. They need to concentrate on spending time with their families and going through the healing process. Any statements sent to the media must focus on regaining the trust of people and recovering with their families. Humans are not perfect and they do make mistakes. Generals are not exempted from these mistakes.

General John Allen

Infidelity is a problem that plagues society today. The scandals involving General Petraeus and General Allen can serve as teaching moments for all Americans especially the younger generation. Cheating is wrong and if the CIA Director can get caught, so can any average American. While it’s true people do make mistakes, everyone must strive to protect their marriage vows. These political leaders and others in the spotlight are examples of what not to do. We shall see if these generals can recover and continue their careers in Washington.

Legends of the Hidden Pinterest

I confess more things on this blog that I do anywhere else. In the spirit of honesty, here’s another confession: I am a Pinterest addict. I check the website multiple times a day and have completed a few D.I.Y. projects inspired by Pinterest. I became interested in the site for both professional and personal reasons. Recently, Pinterest announced a new feature called secret boards. Immediately, I was intrigued.

For those who don’t know, Pinterest is a social networking site where people can create different boards and pin items that follow the board’s theme. People can follow each other’s boards and repined pins off of them. Pinterest now allows their users to create three secret boards that no one else will be able to see. Additionally, pins on these boards do not show up in the categories when searched. You can also be invited to participate in other people’s secret boards and can delete them whenever you’d like.

As an aspiring public relations professional, I can see how Pinterest’s new secret boards would be beneficial to the industry. Professionals will now be able to create entire boards focusing around a campaign before the campaign is released. It gives them more time to create thoughtful, intentional boards and plan for future pins. Having secret boards as part of a campaign also gets users excited for their release. Companies could have posts leading up to the release on other social media sites too.

For personal users, the option of hidden boards also has its advantages. Many Pinterest members have party planning boards or boards with possible wedding ideas. With secret boards, people can keep party ideas hidden, allowing for a surprise. Future brides and grooms can make entire boards filled with wedding ideas without their future spouse knowing. Users can pin gift ideas for birthdays or holidays without ruining the surprise. As someone who is in two weddings during the next year, I am overly excited to now surprise my brides with a bachelorette party inspired by Pinterest!

Pinterest is a great site for any company with a very visual product or service. Student organizations, tourism websites and fashion designers utilize Pinterest by creating unique marketing content. Now with the new feature of secret boards, companies will have more time to plan their boards while personal users will be able to surprise friends and family.

I hope you take a look at Pinterest’s new enhancement and enjoy some of my favorite silly pins shown above.

Learning From Sandy

Thankfully, I got my power back today and am able to post this blog. Hurricane Sandy has left most of New York and New Jersey in shambles. I am beyond grateful to have only lost power. While sitting in the dark, I thought about what Sandy thought us from a crisis communication standpoint.

During and after the hurricane, I received several emails from Wells Fargo, the bank I use. The emails were reassuring and explained to customers that certain fees were waved on credit cards. Customers were also able to use other banks’ ATMs without paying an additional fee and there were emergency loans granted. They kept messages concise and updated customers daily. While I wasn’t overly concerned about my bank account, it was helpful to know what Wells Fargo was doing and eliminated any worry I had.

Wells Fargo did a good job keeping customers informed and calm. Several companies and government agencies have been required to craft responses to mostly angry, frustrated customers, some who might have lost everything. Delivering these messages to distraught people is not an easy task. From what I’ve seen, the most successful responses had the following characteristics:

  • It is about the people: Governor Chris Christie is one of the best examples of this. He has said in news conferences and on Twitter that the people of New Jersey come first. He is not concerned with the election, but rather with rescuing victims. People and their safety should always be the first priority.
  • Be Concise: The Ladders, a job search company also emailed their subscribers, explaining that their offices were without power because of the storm.  They provided a customer service number and asked for everyone’s patience. They gave customers only necessary information and didn’t bombard them with all sorts of pointless updates. During times of crisis, people need to know facts, not tidbits of information that won’t benefit them.
  • Don’t Lie: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has led multiple press conferences during the last week in order to keep people informed. More than once, Bloomberg admitted that he didn’t know when certain things were happening. He told the people what he knew and didn’t give false information. Lying about when power would come back or when subways would be running just gives people false hope. Bloomberg reported only accurate information and gave updates when he could; definitely a positive way to handle a crisis.

Being able to act and communicate during a crisis is always a challenge. From what I have seen so far, most companies and spokespeople have done a good job at responding during and after Hurricane Sandy. Most of all, people need to have patience and remember that everyone is trying their best.

The Fate of Lance Armstrong

Last week, I wrote a post about the Lance Armstrong scandal and how the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him for life. Within the last week, things have gone from bad to considerably worse for Armstrong.

The International Cycling Union has ruled in favor of the USADA’s findings, officially stripping Armstrong of his titles and banning him from the sport for life. In addition to Nike, both Anheuser Busch and RadioShack have dropped their sponsorship to Armstrong. The athlete changed his Twitter biography, removing information about winning his Tour de France titles. His Livestrong charity is still doing remarkably well, though the website still contains information about Armstrong winning the titles. Donations to the Livestrong Foundation have increased in recent weeks despite Armstrong’s personal struggles. However, this could be due to the organization celebrating its 15th anniversary. There are some who want their donations back, saying Armstrong scammed the organization and is a disgrace.

Without cycling and Livestrong, what is left for Lance Armstrong? His personal brand was built around his career as an exceptional athlete, cancer survivor and philanthropist. His cycling career is now forever tarnished and he no longer runs his charity. Of course, he still beat cancer and can focus on aspects of his personal life, like raising his children. But in terms of his professional career, it seems like Armstrong caused irreversible damage to his brand.

One other big question remains: Will Armstrong ever admit to doping? As of right now, Armstrong strongly denies using any illegal substances. While some Armstrong supporters will always stand by him, the general public cannot refute 1,000 pages of evidence. If Armstrong admits to the findings and apologizes, will his brand recover? An apology would be a great start but Armstrong must rebuild the trust he once had with his fans, other athletes and supporters of his charity.

What do you think about Armstrong’s personal brand? Can he recover? Share your thoughts with me!

On Wednesdays, We Wear Pink

Most people are unaware of today’s national holiday. It’s National Mean Girls Day! Mean Girls, starring Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams was released in 2oo4. The movie centers around The Plastics, the popular girl clique that does ridiculous things like wear pink on Wednesdays. So why is October 3rd National Mean Girls Day? In the movie, Lohan’s character speaks to her big-time crush for the first time when he asks the date, which happened to be October 3rd. After seeing a bunch of #NationalMeanGirlsDay tweets on my timeline this morning, I thought about what the holiday means to me.

Like I said in yesterday’s post, PR professionals must stay up-to-date on current events, including random holidays or days that celebrate a specific thing. Now National Mean Girls Day is an extremely silly example but could work if the movie was being rereleased or if a company was promoting something pink. It’s the job of the PR person to use these holidays in a creative way to benefit the client.

While I do not believe in being mean and fake like The Plastics, I do believe in girl groups that support one another. Let me introduce you to Club Rockstar, a group of PR-obsessed, OCD girls from Temple. We started our little group last December and haven’t looked back since. We are certainly not mean girls, but we are powerful and have matching pink ‘Club Rockstar’ shirts. We have a lot of fun and always goof around, but these girls have taught me so much in the last year.

When the club started, there were three seniors and five underclassmen. The five younger girls like to refer to the three now alumni as their mothers. They come to us for a variety of things, both personal and professional. The most rewarding part of my young career has been watching these five young girls grow and mature. Mentoring them has taught me so much and they never fail to give my confidence a boost.

The best part of Club Rockstar is that we are the total opposite of The Plastics. We are upfront and honest about everything and give each other real advice. No one is better, smarter or more popular. We each bring something special to the group and can count on each other for anything.

It’s hard not having Club Rockstar together but it’s clear to see nothing has changed. So on National Mean Girls Day, I must thank my rockstars: Lauren, Niki, Kurie, Mackenzie, Jackie, Marianna, Brianna and Amber, for their brutal honesty and continued support. I am prouder each day of this club and hope you all are wearing pink today!

#StateofPhillyPR

Today, State of Philly PR occurred at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Different public relations professionals spoke about various topics including brand reputation and corporate philanthropy.  Keynote speaker Judy Smith, who inspired ABC’s hit show Scandal, spoke about her crisis communication experience and stole the show. It sounds like I really enjoyed my day there, right? In fact, I was nowhere near the Convention Center today.

Instead, I followed throughout the day on Twitter. The hashtag #StateofPhillyPR was used to create a conversation about the event and breakout sessions. Even though I wasn’t there, I still received public relations advice from some of the most talented PR professionals in Philadelphia. Their tips were helpful and are ideas I will keep in mind for the future.  Check out my Twitter feed for my favorite quotes from the day.

Having a good hashtag is such an important part of events today. It allows people everywhere to participate in a discussion about the event while also helping to monitor who is saying what about the event and its speakers.  Based on my hashtag experience, they cannot be too long or too vague. Using part of the event title makes the hashtag unique and easy to find. Twitter handles were given in the program this morning so attendees were able to find speakers on Twitter and knew the hashtag from the start. I think that was a great way to promote live-tweeting during the event.

I am very grateful many people decided to live-tweet and use the designated hashtag. I learned a lot today and am glad I could follow along. Hopefully next year, I will be able to attend.

Great job to PPRA, PRSA Philly and Philly BPRS, who hosted the event today.

The Right To Be Picky

Job searching is a full time job especially for someone like me. I have an color-coded spreadsheet broken down by location. I have five different cover letters tailored to specific positions. I must apply to at least two jobs everyday and update my spreadsheet weekly. I know it sounds a bit crazy but I need to do everything in my power to get a job, right?

When I look at a position, I envision myself working at that company in that role. Most positions include public relations, marketing, communications, social media or development somewhere in the title. However, after hundreds of applications, I started to apply to anything remotely comparable to my skill sets.

Fast forward to yesterday when I commuted into Manhattan for an interview with American Express Publishing. The position was for a Business Assistant, someone to complete administrative tasks and enter some data into spreadsheets. Certainly, I could manage that. The man I interviewed with, the Director of Finance, thought otherwise.

This man was the definition of honesty. He said my resume was impressive and that he could tell I was eager to learn. He appreciated me coming in on such a miserable day (hurricanes in Manhattan yesterday) but said I wasn’t right for the position. Mind you, I barely had spoken at this point. He offered to hold on to my resume in case a position opened in their PR department. We shook hands, I thanked him profusely and back I went to New Jersey pretty disappointed.

Yes, rejection isn’t fun nor is commuting in the rain. But, I was reminded that I do have the right to be picky when applying for jobs. I am allowed to pass up opportunities that aren’t right for me. I am allowed to wait for the right job to come along. It doesn’t have to be perfect but it can be close. I don’t have much patience so this is hard for me. I am going to try and remind myself of this experience every time I read a job description.

I was also reminded yesterday that being passionate is important. My interviewer saw how passionate I was when talking about the career I wanted. He praised me for it and said it was more important to be passionate then to be employed. That alone was worth the wet commute into Manhattan.

Do recent graduates have the right to be picky? Don’t be afraid to share your opinion!

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