Dude, Where’s My PR?

•February 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Ahhh young love.  On this weekend of romantic celebration it seems only appropriate (though slightly depressing) to dive into the issue of public love gone bad.  Pop singer Rihanna and her boyfriend of over one year, R&B singer Chris Brown, known for his ‘nice guy’ image in a world of womanizers, were slated to perform at the Grammys last Sunday, though neither made it to the awards ceremony. So what got everyone talking of about trouble in paradise?

picture-22Initial rumors of  of a domestic disturbance turned violent between Brown and Rihanna, then confirmed reports of a domestic violence felony battery charge involving the couple, created quite the media frenzy.  The question on my mind amid the “disturbia” is where are the young artists’ representatives in all of this.

Yes, perosonal matters must be difficult to deal with in the public eye, but Rihanna’s notorious jeweled eye-patch at the American Music Awards left the public wondering what was hiding under the media ‘umbrella.’

It is time for the stars to come clean.  MTV has even scheduled a prime-time program titled “Chris Brown & Rihanna: Love in Trouble” Monday night at 6 p.m. ET/PT,” to provide viewers with an “in depth examination” of the couple’s ups and downs.  Though as of the evening of Saturday, February 14 neither star had provided comment on the situation.

So the question remains, “Dude, where’s your PR?” I mean really, why hasn’t someone on Brown’s team provided some confirmation or dissent regarding the allegations?  Oh wait, they did: today!  A week after the incident, Chris Brown finally issued a statement apologizing for his actions and asking for forgiveness from his fans.

Hmm, good idea, but might that have been a bit more effective prior to the verbal attack from bloggers, enraged fans and the media over the last week? As Brown said “Much of what has been speculated or reported on blogs and/or reported in the media is wrong.”  So why didn’t Brown’s rep make a statement earlier to avoid such falsaties?

Beyond the gossip that surrounds celebrity couples, the message that should resonate from this public relations mess is: the sooner you attack the issue, the better. Honesty is key. Do not wait for a crisis situation to get picked up by the mainstream media and bloggers before making an attempt to control the situation.  Take charge, take responsibility (if necessary) and remind your client that ‘no comment’ connotes fault without explicitly saying so.

Chris Brown, thanks for admitting you acted like a first-class jerk. Rihanna, you are a star example for taking charge of your life and personal safety. From a public relaitons standpoint I can’t help but wonder what ramifications this incident will have on each artists’ career.

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Twitter Transparency

•February 11, 2009 • 2 Comments

Twitter, a well-known tool amongst the social media gurus of the world, can now claim the Dalai Lama as one of its followers.  Or can it?  I had intended on blabbering about what a fantastic social media strategy the Dalai Lama’s PR people had come up with and how Twitter made him so much more accessible and ‘human’.  Turns out he is just a big fat faker – or rather the person claiming to be the Dalai Lama is.  What does this mean for the religious community?

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Well, the real question is that if the fake Dalai Lama gained more than 20,000 followers in 48 hours, why hasn’t the real Dali Lama’s team gotten with the program.  I mean seriously, some goofball proved it will work.  With actual content generated from the mind of His Holiness, the following is sure to soar.  More importantly, it means that the Dalai Lama can be a person, more than a distant religious figure.  It would provide a man with an incredible level of mystery and admiration with transparency, and subsequently with the trust of thousands.  So, wherever you are Dali Lama, please, pray for assistance from your media team or for divine intervention, because at this point, not responding to the Twitter fiasco with an account of your own seems a bit silly. 

Twitter = transparency.  By updating your flock of followers with daily tweets – thoughts and tidbits of news you find interesting or pertinent to your field – you are in turn providing insight into your personal brand.  The Twitter community gets a pretty good idea of who “you” are by looking at your followers,  checking out who you follow – not to mention following your tweets.  

You certainly don’t have to be a professional to utilize Twitter, but if that is your purpose, you should leave it at that.  Don’t tweet about random personal info that simply creates “noise.”  Make your Tweets mean something, but be real.  Use a voice that is authentic. Allow your individual personality to shine though. Its okay to mention that your dad is coming to town, that you had a great client meeting or that you believe chocolate cake is a nutritious dinner  (I do), but keep the majority of your content focused on whatever it is you hope to achieve.  

Honesty leads to transparency, so type it as you’d speak it.  I am certainly no pro, but from my brief interactions on Twitter is has become obvious that the Twitterers with the most followers are those whose writing is engaging, honest and lets the reader see the person behind the keyboard.  

Bottom line: no one cares what you had for breakfast… but beyond that, anything is game so long as it is varied and contributing to a conversation.  If no one is following you or if you are a big fat liar, rethink your tweets.

Cross Contamination

•February 10, 2009 • 1 Comment

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Don’t lie, you have done it. We have all done it.  Googled our names.  Is it egocentricism, curiosity, or as it is for me, the sheer shock factor associated with seeing your name in the annals of the Internet? 

Much to my dismay, my admittedly under-utilized LinkedIn profile is the first result, while my overly trafficked Facebook page comes in at a close second.  Crap. At this point, neither of these tools is being used to its ‘full potential’.  This isn’t to say that I am not an avid Facebook fan, but that for professional reasons I wish work from previous and current internship positions that is lost in the inner-workings of the web would climb its way to the top and squash Facebook entirely.

Unfortunately for myself, and many other Gen Y-ers, the world of social media began as a right of passage to college – a venue where my worst, most embarrassing moments can be memorialized in the humiliating, yet hilarious, albums of my friends.  While the tributes to ‘last night’ are good for kicks, they do little to bolster your resume.

My social media has been cross-contaminated.  My friends, colleagues and the people I desperately wish would hire me are all looking at the same picture of me sun burnt, staring awkwardly into a camera and slurping a margarita on some beach, somewhere.  I realize my less than ideal digital footprint is irremovable, so I decided to tackle this little problem with some content creation of my own.  

Upon the instruction of my professor, along with other mentors, I put myself on the map with Twitter, Linkedin and PRopenmic.  These networks have provided me with an outlet to express my more ‘professional’ side, while fostering great relationship with industry gurus I would only have dreamt of meeting before.

So, how do you make the keg stands, mini skirts and Natty Light cans that are synonymous with undergrad years disappear?  Well, according to Wall Street Journal staff writer Julia Angwin, you don’t – you just work around it.  

By creating your own web-based content through social media you can completely transform your search results.  Granted,  Facebook may still top the charts, but consistent activity on Twitter and PRopenMic has the opportunity to trump the others. Make a blog! Link to other bloggers and get the ‘real’ you out there with intentional content.  The key message for today: be the change you want to see.  If you want to optimize your Google search, then change your online activity.

Job? Yes please.

•February 4, 2009 • 1 Comment

I have heard enough negativity.  Isn’t the message of our new administration that we must be the change we wish to see? In spite of this positive sentiment, friends, family members and strangers continue to inform me, and many other soon-to-be graduates, that there will be no ‘real’ jobs available post graduation.   But what these naysayers don’t know is that we have a few tricks up our sleeves.  These tricks include, but are in no way limited to, the following:

1.  Innovation: We look at things differently than PR veterans.  We are the new kids in town.  Granted, we all have much to learn but we are entering an industry  on the crux of change and we may be able to flow the the transition into an entirely digital age more seamlessly than our counterparts ten years ago.  

2.  Networking: As Mike Prosceno said so perfectly to a conference of PR vets, “your kids don’t call it social media, they call it life.”  We are a generation of linkedin, tweeting, Facebook profile checking, consistently-connected, iPhone slinging techies.  We not only understand the benefits of social media, we enlist its Oz-like power every day (Actually, about 10 times a day.  Don’t lie, you know you have a tweet addiction) 

3.  Realism:  We are aware of the obstacles in our shared futures.  We know the economy is in the toilet, that crime is up and that the stock market isn’t forecasted  to skyrocket anytime soon.  The key here is that many of us [soon to be grads] are willing to do whatever it takes to overcome the less than ideal job market and deteriorating economy by continually educating ourselves on technique, emerging social media tool, by employing persistence and, excuse me while I gag a little, tapping into our youthful ‘spunk.’

4. Positivity.  Just believing a job is out there is the first step to finding one…then call in the big guns to critique your resume until it looks like it was tragically attacked by a red pen.  A PR resume should be ‘distinctively public relations oriented (a professor or mentor can help translate what this means.)

5.  Dreams:  We have been taught not to settle, to ‘play to our strengths’ and to follow our dreams.  When you tap into your innermost drives you will blow away the competition.  [This is not a belief, it is a fact.  Read a few of the life stories of prominent individuals in the PR world, most followed the dream before the dollar.]

6.  Initiative:  Many of us have already begun the job hunt.  We will initiate contact, seek assistance where needed and utilize the tools available for success. We will dive deeper into social networking, create  lists of key contacts for employment and aim to create personal relationships with these people.  

Little personal tip, flattery helps where it is warranted.  Be honest, but let your prospective employer know that you admire his/her work and would be proud to become a part of the team. 

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Thanks to Lindsay Olson for her positivity and constructive tips!

Who done it? Accountability counts.

•January 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Accountability.  As a public relations student and intern I am beginning to understand that accountability is the ‘executioner’ of the PR world.  You must be accountable for your work, accountable to your client, and most importantly be certain that any outside sources you are working with are actually accountable for their information. 

Accountable: there, I said it again.  The day following President Obama’s inauguration, I decided to Wikipedia our incumbent president.  I was curious if a devoted individual in the wonderful world of wiki had updated his Wikipedia entry.  Instead, I was redirected to a page that read “the antichrist.” 

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Now, personal political affiliation aside, I couldn’t help but scoff at the negligence of Wikipedia’s site monitoring staff.  I mean PUHHHLLLEASE! Hardly accountable for their work. 

I then emailed Wikipedia alerting it of the heinous misrepresentation and I received no reply, no confirmation.  I felt bereft and alone with my keyboard.   Above all I realized that your public is just as important, if not more important than, your client.  If public opinion is down, so is your client.  One small word can spiral out of control into a claws-out battle.

 I went on to post the link to this nasty little site on Facebook and received 30 messages over the following 2 days.  So eat that Wikipedia.  Take the wrath of social media and shove it!  

Lastly, in the world of PR you just have to take your lumps along the way.  Learn from your mistakes, apologize if necessary (ahem, Wikipedia) and come out more educated and careful because in the digital world, nothing can ever be hidden. 

Hello world!

•January 22, 2009 • 1 Comment

Hello world! Alright.  Let’s be honest here.  This is my first blog, first uncensored shout out to the world and I am keeping my fingers crossed that I have something to say.  

I love public relations, actually, I just love communication.   As a little kid my teachers always said they saw the back of my head more than my face because I was talking all the time.  So, lesson to be learned for the day: don’t punish chatterboxes.  The world needs us. If teachers infringe on the right to blabber they would kill the inner “im-never-gonna-shuttup” of future PR practitioners. 

I am still a proud member of the chatterbox club.  

This blog will serve as an outlet for me to attack those, “seriously, really, no way, how could they be that slow,” moments in PR.