“Help me, Help myself”

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Crisis management is no laughing matter, it’s fast, concise and quite exhilarating. PR expert Ian Hamilton personally joined us at St. Lawrence College and shed some light on the PR industry and making sure all the good we’ve learned, is balanced out with the bad. He provided us with some hearty advice in order to help prepare us for matters of crisis and how to react when in a communications role.

Ian is currently acting as one of the Founding Principals at DFH Public Affairs, in which deals with acquisitions, media relations, proxy contests and more. These are the three major points he shared with us when managing a communications crisis.

1. Recognize and identify a crisis that no one else can see

It all comes down to a simmering vs. explosive crisis. The simmering crisis is all about the act of building up to something that will essentially create a crisis. To be able to recognize, understand and fully expect that the small occurrences have potential as a crisis, or be perceived as such from the public point of view. It is essential to place importance to deal with these issues as they arise, rather than wait until they become explosive.

2. Understand your communication goals

It is essential for transparency and allow the public to be aware of the situation and that the stream of information will be open until a resolution is made. Being able to recognize how the public perceives the situation and the company in a positive way is essential to maintaining the attitude of how your public will behave towards your company.

3. Understand the principals on behaviour during a crisis

First and foremost, don’t be the person who says “don’t panic”. Most, if not all people will panic when told not to. It’s essential to control your own emotions and behave in an appropriate manner. Again, believe in your gut. Stop and think about how to address the situation instead of acting immediately.

 

Always have compassion, show respect and answer questions. One of our first PR experts; Stephanie Minna-Cass, put it in the most simplest ways and said to always ask yourself “What would Mom say?” and run with it.

 

 

 

From Behind the Podium

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It’s a good thing that the Honorable Glen Murray; Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure for the Government of Ontario has truly inspirational people helping him to support the public of Ontario. The Minister has a variety of agendas he has to cover at the beginning, middle and end of his day. With that said, his communications team provides him with a high velocity of information to best prepare him for every media outlet in order to get ‘hot’ topics covered in the course of a day. Through a quick search on Minister Glen Murray, he appears to be a smart, forward-thinking and genuine Minister.

Our latest PR expert panel participants; Annette Phillips; Chief of Staff and Patrick Searle; Press Secretary and Communications Advisor for the Minister of Transportation and Minister of Infrastructure,  contribute to the success of telling the story to the public and making  it clearly understood in a variety of efforts. It is their job to find out what’s going on in the relevant sector of the ministry and help tell the story in order to inform and educate the public.

Making sure that the Minister is prepared for the media is only a portion of what they do in the course of a day. Patrick shared with us the intricate details in which take place in order to execute a media press conference. All the way from the timing to the positioning of the microphone on the podium. More importantly, the backdrop is a key component in telling a story. When you make the 12 o’clock or 6 o’clock news it is imperative that you display your background that will set the purpose on what you’re covering in order to grab or allow the public to understand what is going on as they flip through the channels.

There was so much amazing information that both Annette and Patrick shared with us this past Friday afternoon. They were fun and absolutely enjoyable people that made me truly consider walking down a path towards public relations. I’ll definitely have to brush up on my politics, but it’s really about serving the public and making sure they gain more out of what is being told, than the antics of what some (do I have to mention his name) portions of the public sector dish out.

I’d like to Thank both Annette and Patrick for the wisdom they shared with us and hope that we can have as much passion, determination and pride in our future endeavors that will enables us to take strides in doing the absolute best in all that we do. Kudos.

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I hope Patrick isn’t too upset about me posting this! It was too amazing to not show the world. This panel definitely makes it to the top three…and seriously, Patrick really rocks out! It just goes to show that politics can be fun! Enjoy!

“Hunch that Makes a Punch”

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Sometimes it’s that gut feeling, a flutter of certainty, or maybe it’s just on a whim. Whatever it is. Go with it, because it might just take you further than you’ll ever know.

Founder and CEO of Salt & Pepper Media Inc., Paul Fitzgerald shared a story of experience on following his own intuition in our recent expert panel. “Exposure brings success” is one of the first things Paul said that definitely set the tone for this experienced journalist. He recounted a story about a new mouthgaurd with technology that enhances athletic performance. In the early stages of the PR campaign, a small local newspaper from Massachusetts was intrigued by the product and also wanted to write a story. Paul notified the company in hopes that they would consider this an opportunity, but it looked like it would have to take a little more for them to jump on board.

That’s when Paul’s intuition kicked in. He encouraged the company in taking the offer and advised; like any good journalist and PR practitioner that “any media is good media.” The company finally agreed to work with the smaller newspaper and in the matter of hours after hitting the press, Paul was receiving a call from The Boston Globe! Apparently,  that small newspaper was local to the Globe’s editor who happened to pick up the paper that morning.

After only a few weeks of launching the campaign the story has created a domino effect in the media. ABC News, USA Today and other larger media platforms were picking up the story and sharing it around the globe. In turn establishing the product as the newest “need-to-have it” piece among professional athletes.

Paul definitely showed us that perseverance and intuition can truly pay off in the end. The best decision that Paul’s client did, was hire him. With his in depth knowledge of the industry and how media works plays a huge role in understanding his own intuition and when to follow it. As one that leads with the heart, I certainly agree with Paul and found this quote from Steve Jobs that was resonating. I’ve now just realized that being here was one of my greatest hunches.

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Passion to Purpose

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It’s nearly impossible. Impossible to fit the amount of incredible insight that our recent “meet the PR expert” speaker provided us this past Friday via Skype. Paula Worthington currently acts as the Vice President of Brookline Public Relations in Calgary, Alberta. Paula exuded passion for PR in the most amazingly confident and cool demeanour that made me insanely jealous for anyone that works for her. She spoke on a variety of topics that fit at least four pages of handwritten notes  in under 30 minutes. I hope to capture parts of that conversation in hopes to spark the same inspiration that she did for me, for you.

After a impressive background history, Paula addressed the most important life’s lessons and skills needed when entering PR. As a student who is currently seeing the light at the end of this educational journey, I found this piece to be most relevant. Paula struck her first chord with “find your compass – something that will resonate with you. Work with passion and follow your heart.”  I’ve had a few life experiences to know that if you don’t follow your heart, then you’ll never give 100% and never be truly happy with the work that your doing.  A recent article I found by Kurt Mortenson states that passion is influential. It motivates people emotionally to join others who are passionate, creating a contagious energy that in turn can provide a more proactive environment. Establishing passion creates enthusiasm that can reduce fear or worry, in turn replace it with confidence and compassion. Isn’t that what PR essentially is all about? Creating an environment of acceptance in a brand that everyone can feel good about and resonate and share similar values. It’s important to exhibit passion not only in your work but at work too.  Kurt provides some great tips on how to increase passion in your life: “read more, join clubs and spend more time on personal development.”

The second chord Paula hit was about risk, the ability to take risks and jump in with both feet is essential to get out of your comfort zone and experience new things. I know I personally have struggled with stepping outside my comfort zone, and this past year I promised myself to try new things and take new risks, and not to have the fear of failure holding me back. When I did take the risk, it not only showed others what I was capable of, but taught me a heck of a lot about myself and established new skills that I never thought I could accomplish. 

Paula provided us with an entire set list of insight that will surely last a lifetime. I hope that in sharing my personal experience will ignite you to also take risks and find your passion in life that will undoubtedly make life much more interesting.

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Happily ever after: 4 steps of a PR strategy

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This past week we welcomed Theresa Macbeth into our classroom as one of the eight experts in our weekly panel. She was able to share her experience and thoughts on public relations as a strategy. She expressed this strategy in a series of four steps.

BC-10-routes-to-coverage-picThe first step is to know your purpose. Without knowing your purpose, it can lead to devastating results. Knowing exactly what you need to do, will help guide you to the strategies in which you want to accomplish. The way I look at it would be like reading the ending of a book first so that you know exactly where the story is going. 

After finding your purpose, you want to be strategic, create a clear path to what goals need to be achieved in order to reach your ultimate goal. This can mean a variety of things. Whether it may be research, understand the message you’re sending, who it is for and where your message will be distributed. This would be like the build up within a book, leading its way up until the end.

The third step is to live the message. As Theresa simply stated, ”you have to walk the walk.” You can’t jump into it half-heartedly; you have got to get both feet wet. The entire organization should resonate with the message; otherwise it’ll quickly become a sinking ship. Most importantly, the message must be genuine and true. This will be the only way to truly connect to the public in a way that benefits the people, which will then benefit the organization.

Finally, allow it to all fall into place, which strangely reminded me of Paul McCartney’s wise words in the song “Let it be. It’s true, you have to let the work, work itself out. Be confident that the steps you’ve taken will lead to your end goal, but getting there takes time. It’s ultimately up to the public to decide, after all it is public relations. Even though you’ve read the ending of the book, you can never be too sure until you’ve gone through it to truly understand the story. It’s really about the story and how it will connect everyone in the end.  

The expert panel is an experience that not every student has the opportunity to have in the classroom, and I am lucky to have this opportunity. Public relations can be a risky business and it can be fulfilling as well. To create a story that resonates with a population of people that gains acceptance and understanding is what I believe Theresa felt most rewarding about her career. She taught me a lot of the industry but most of all she taught me how to live outside of myself. It is of high importance to act quickly and guide through truth, trust and transparency in order to get our own happily ever after.

Gone in 60 Seconds

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This past week I had the experience of doing my first-ever elevator pitch. I find that even after spending a good part of my life in musical theatre I still get nervous before a performance. I was so anxious that upon being called into the room I dropped my coffee, soaking my practice buddy Emm and covering the floor. Although I could tell she was irate, she continued to keep me calm with words of encouragement. To say the least, I was a hot mess, no pun intended.

In an elevator pitch you are to build a case to why your product or service would best be suited for your intended targeted audience. This goal is to sell your idea to the target audience in the time it takes for a one-way elevator ride which is assumed to be sixty seconds.

Despite being my first elevator pitch I was able to overcome my nerves and perform surprisingly well. Hence, I thought it fitting to give a few pointers of my own that I learned during this experience, here are my top three:

  1. Be Passionate!  There’s nothing more memorable than hearing from someone who is passionate about what they do. Make your elevator pitch memorable and unique to your intended audience, so that you make an everlasting impression.
  2. Don’t forget to breathe… literally! It sounds harder than you think. In this particular experience I had trouble catching my breath. A tight deadline of sixty seconds was a bit overwhelming and was quite stressful. That being said, timing your pitch allows you to take time for a breath or two. If you don’t know what I mean, my friend and classmate, Brandon, had a most entertaining and informative way of explaining it in his video blog.
  3. Practice, practice, practice! To reduce those pre-jitters it helps to practice the pitch out loud. Try practising in front of a mirror first, if you can’t look yourself in the eye, you won’t be able to do it with a stranger and really connect to your audience. Lastly, practice in front of friends or family so that you can get comfortable standing in front of an audience.

Use these pointers on your own elevator pitch and you are sure to succeed. Be confident and if you mess up, improvise. You may actually be surprised with how much you really know. Good luck!

Love To Hate It

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Why is it that we most often remember the advertisements that we dislike the most? In a couple of classes this week at St. Lawrence College we discussed TV and radio ads. Most of the advertisements students had recalled were ones they were unfavourable of.

One of the most “hated” ads that were mentioned during class was the radio ad mycar.ca ad which features a catchy jingle. I love to hate this ad, and usually when I hear it on the radio I quickly change the station because I know if I hear that song it will be stuck in my head for the rest of the day. But sometimes this ad can sneak up on you and the next thing you know you’re jamming out, singing at the top of your lungs, making the beat on your steering wheel…okay maybe that’s just me. However, if I was looking for a used car, I would probably go to mycar.ca first. Although the ad may be disliked by many people, it doesn’t necessarily hurt the brand, it makes it memorable, and that’s what most marketers are looking for.

It’s easier to say you don’t like an ad then to try and make it better, which may be why some people find they recall the bad ads first. We don’t really understand the ads so we spend more time trying to find out exactly what’s wrong with it which deeply roots the ads in our mind. Furthermore, I would like to know if an advertiser knew that the public is going to dislike an ad, would they still choose it because it’s hard to forget. It’s a lot like that episode of Seinfeld where George creates a jingle for his answering machine, I bet it’s stuck in your head now.

Here’s a link to a top 10 best commercial ads…enjoy!

Expect the Unexpected

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I had always thought of myself as a tech savvy kind of lady…but this week I discovered otherwise. Our assignments this week were technology-based and I thought I had these projects in the bag, but man, was I wrong.

I normally love putting PowerPoint presentations together, but nothing was going right for me this week. My first issue was my headset which wouldn’t connect to my desktop via Bluetooth. When I finally got it working, up pops a tiny notification window stating, “PowerPoint has found an unknown error, please close this window and reopen the program. Save your content before closing this window.” I attempted to save for an entire hour but nothing was working. I crossed my fingers and hoped to God that Microsoft had enabled the auto save option by default.

Nevertheless, it didn’t save and I basically had to start all over! I redid most of the work and decided to finish the rest of the work at school because I know that my headset works properly there. I soon discovered that my version of office is incompatible with Apple’s version of office. So again, I had to reformat and find a nearly nonexistent music file to complete the project.

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Finally, I handed it in to my professor, but thankfully he pushed the deadline another 24 hours. The class was in an uproar. It seems that I wasn’t the only one to suffer from technological challenges. To say the least, there are many technical challenges a student faces along with learning the class material. This may also be a valuable time management lesson, just because something may seem simple or easy, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold its own challenges, and should not be pushed aside. It’s hard to expect the unexpected.

Bill Clinton Did What?

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Yikes! What a week! This past week has been really tough but I survived and learned a little more about what I am capable of. The most important concept I learned this week was time management! It may seem like common sense to some but I learned that managing time is crucial for both your sanity and success in school.

 

Aside from learning about time management this week I came across an interesting fact while researching information for my minor report. I found Joe Marconi’s book Future Marketing: Targeting Seniors, Boomers, and Generations X and Y states how Generation X is also known as the “MTV Generation”. What is particularly interesting about the MTV generation was that marketers and electoral candidates of the United States were having a difficult time trying to reach this specific demographic.

In order to reach the members of Generation X, Senator Bill Clinton who was running for office that year decided to perform an interview on MTVs “Rock the Vote” campaign. Senator Clinton’s interview was a resounding success and was summarized after the election on Rock the Votes’ website which states:

“Rock the Vote and its partner organizations register 350,000 young people and help lead over two million new young voters to the polls. On Election Day, these young people reverse a 20-year cycle of declining participation with a 20 percent increase in youth turnout compared to the previous Presidential election.”

Wow!  A twenty percent increase! Any marketer would love to make that kind of impact. Now with a new election between Senator Romney and President Obama in the United States I wonder how these candidates have tried to reach the younger generation?

Words of Wisdom

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I might be in love! I am consistently surprised by the way this course is unravelling. It’s inspiring when you can tell the instructors live and breathe their criteria and enjoy teaching it. This isn’t my first run in the college realm, but there is definitely a spark at St. Lawrence College.

Today was the most inspiring day so far. In writing class today we had several guest speakers visit, who are currently working in advertising and are also graduates of St. Lawrence College. The presentation they gave us had an intimate feel, simply by remaining in their seats it felt as if we were all old friends who were catching up.

“Get involved!” they said, this phrase made me think of stepping outside of my comfort zone, taking risks and building my own personal brand. Stepping outside the box can help me define my own personal boundaries and increase the diversity of my brand.

“Never say no to an opportunity” they insisted, and they couldn’t be more right. It is difficult to predict when an opportunity will arise and when it does you can’t let it pass you by. I guess saying yes to an opportunity requires me to step outside of my comfort zone and take a risk. It seems I may have stumbled on an underlying message from the presentation today.

I found myself stuck in a loop, asking myself how can I get more involved and discover more opportunities. I suppose it all comes down to effective networking. Understanding how to network properly and gain the confidence to put myself out there. Jamie Walker who was one of the speakers today reminded me of one key element of networking, “We are all just human.” We’ve all experienced similar obstacles, and networking is just a way to help you through them.

I signed up for this program because it was out of my comfort zone. I used to love science, but I have never felt more at home than I do right now.

Find inspiration here:http://www.ted.com/