Friday, June 20, 2008

The Why and How of Google Alerts

It is just about every day that I tell an attorney that he or she should track what’s being said on the Internet with regard to him/herself, their law firm, their main clients, their competition, etc. It’s really easy, I tell them. Just set up a Google Alert. And then I get the blank stare. So today, I sent a client a link to an excellent article by Adam McFarland on Pandia called Using Google Alerts for Intelligence Gathering. It’s easy to read, easy to follow, and provides the why and how for setting up Google Alerts.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Media Relations on Novocaine

Okay – so, have you ever tried to conduct a media interview after being injected with Novocaine? I would definitely say that this is something to avoid in public relations! I had a few old mercury fillings removed today and I have to tell you, if I never have Novocaine again, that is fine with me.

Here are just some of the adverse reactions listed on almost all of which I experienced: hypersensitivity, idiosyncrasy, diminished tolerance, nervousness, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, tremors, and bradycardia … all this just to avoid pain. Who are they kidding?

So, I’m sitting here five hours later wondering to myself, “What did I say on that interview earlier today.” My media relations advice is: don’t ever talk to anyone after having Novocaine. Go home. Shut your door. And go to bed!

Buona notte.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Online Gaming Increases Brand Awareness

Online Gaming, the topic of PR Week’s May 12, 2008 Inside Information section was entirely foreign to me. The article eludes that PR professionals are using online gaming to achieve their dreams of “captivating consumers with brand messages for hours.”

According to Joe Kessler, partner at SS&K, “success is derived from consumer insight, between the nature of the game and the brand supporting it. It’s never a good idea to do a game just to do one.” The article also states that “online games can increase traffic to company Web sites, and draw attention to other content.”

One example of online gaming that struck me as useful was’s NewsBreaker Challenge. The challenge was launched April 14 and ended May 9, 2008. incorporated a “falling brick” game with featured headlines reporting on varying news from “Britney Spears to the 2008 Presidential election.” The individual players with the highest scores were eligible to win an Xbox 360. Furthermore, at the end of the contest, the media agency with the top average score won a one-day homepage takeover for a national charity of its choice.

Games are typically separated from work, and therefore this approach to PR is refreshing. For more on companies that are using online games or to read “Online Gaming Increases Pitch Time, Brand Awareness” by Nicole Zerillo, click here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert Dies - What a Huge Loss

I can't believe Tim Russert died today. I don't want to believe it. He has graced our living rooms with stalwart, balanced, and pointed discussions for years. He came to Philadelphia in November to serve as the keynote speaker for the national PRSA conference. He was amazing, approachable and pointed. What a shame.

Russert dies after collapsing in NBC News' Washington bureau
Tim Russert, 58, was recording voiceovers for Sunday's "Meet the Press" program when he suffered a heart attack. Howard Kurtz: The Democratic operative turned NBC commentator revolutionized Sunday morning television and infused journalism with his passion for politics. Tom Brokaw tells viewers: "This news division will not be the same without his strong, clear voice."

Health Care Coverage in the Media

The Iraq War and the U.S. Economy are undisputedly two of the most prominent issues of 2008. Amidst all other issues in our society, health care ranks third according to ABC News Senior National Security Correspondent Jonathan Karl. Karl recently spoke at the PRSA Health Academy in Chicago and the PR Tactics periodical covered his research regarding PR practices surrounding health care coverage.

Besides the fact that, “people are clearly fed up with the system,” Karl noted that, “health care is by far the issue that people are most self-centered about. They want to know, ‘What’s going to serve my best interests?’” Nonetheless, PR professionals are challenged by the “dry, academic nature” and lack of “visual impact” health care proposals offer.

Therefore, Karl emphasizes the importance of getting away “from the abstract policy papers” and instead illustrating “a case study with real people, including how it actually affects somebody who’s got a health care issue.” Although Karl warns his audience that often reporters can make mistakes.

“Too many reporters don’t do their homework. Most reporters are generalists, so they often know nothing about a story subject until they cover it.” Therefore, Karl advises PR professionals to double check that the reporter understands the health care story before assembling a package for the reporter.

In the end, Karl reminds us to not get angry but instead be gentle with reporters to maintain a strong relationship. Karl’s speech offers valuable counsel to PR professionals on topics of dealing with the media and health care issues that we thought we would share.

The Believe in the Cure Cycling Tour Comes to Philly

John Ellis and Jamaal Warren, two 17-year-olds from Pensacola, Fla., have set out on a 1,100 mile journey riding their bicycles from Pensacola to Philadelphia to help raise awareness of hepatitis B. John was diagnosed with hepatitis B in 2006. Instead of being discouraged by this devastating medical diagnosis, John turned the news into an opportunity to raise awareness about the virus. With a passion for cycling and a desire to help raise funds to find a cure for the disease, John contacted the Hepatitis B Foundation with an idea to organize an East Coast bicycle ride, the Believe in the Cure Cycling Tour. Jamaal, John’s best friend and several family members are joining John on his trek to Philadelphia.

John and Jamaal’s journey began on June 2 at John’s high school in Pensacola and will end in Philadelphia on Monday, June 23 – John’s 18th birthday! On Monday morning, area cyclists and supporters are welcome to join John and Jamaal at the Philadelphia Marriott West in West Conshohocken at 8:30AM to cycle the last leg of the boys’ journey. They will ride 10 miles from Conshohocken to Kelly Drive where Foundation members, Philadelphia dignitaries, John and Jamaal’s family and friends and local supporters will welcome John and Jamaal to Philadelphia. Follow John and Jamaal as they ride up the Atlantic Coast by visiting the Believe in the Cure Cycling Tour blog or to learn about donating to John’s cause, visit

If you have any questions about joining John and Jamaal on the last leg of their journey, their journey and John’s story or would like to support the Foundation’s cause – please feel free to reach out to the Hepatitis B Foundation at 215-489-4900 or go to

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

PR Professionals benefit from having MBAs

In this week’s issue of PR Week under The Agency Business section, I stumbled upon an article exploring the benefits of PR pros having MBAs, especially in today’s struggling economy. “PR pros with MBAs are better positioned to make a compelling case for preserving the marketing budget during lean times.”

According to Lori Teranishi, who has earned her MBA and is the CEO of Van Prooyen Greenfield, C-Suite Executives see potential in business degree-holding professionals to be “able to advise on strategy from a business perspective” and to have important “quantitative skills.” For example, Lisa Novak, SVP at Ruder Finn West, recently earned an MBA by attending evening courses and says the most valuable skill she gained was “the ability to demonstrate to a CEO how a campaign will affect the bottom line and measure the ROI for PR Programs.”

Geoff Mordock, VP at Fleishman-Hillard, agrees that “since obtaining his MBA his counsel to clients has become more strategic” and takes “a more holistic approach.” He adds that he finds he’ll “interface with the CFO and general counsel more often than marketing.”

Finally, Kristen Osolind, CEO of Re: Invention Marketing, admits she, “gives preference to candidates with MBAs because of the analytical tools learned and networking connections from MBA programs.”

As a near-college graduate without intention to acquire a MBA, I found this report valuable and noteworthy. Click here to read the entire article.

Monday, June 09, 2008

PRSA Chair and CEO Jeffrey Julin Issues Video Response to CBS News Commentary

PRSA Chair & CEO Jeffrey Julin has issued a video response to CBS Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen's commentary challenging the integrity of the public relations profession. Julin refutes Cohen's irresponsible condemnations through positive affirmation of the industry, and reinforces the fundamental role of the PRSA Code of Ethics as a guide for public relations professionals. The video, which also has been posted on the PRSA YouTube channel, follows a written response to CBS submitted by Julin on behalf of PRSA and its Board of Directors.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Feldman Shepherd's Mark Tanner on Inside Edition

Feldman Shepherd's Mark Tanner of Philadelphia pushes for justice on Inside Edition. Three years ago, Dean O'Halloran was driving a rental truck, making deliveries, near Scranton, Pennsylvania. He crossed into the opposite lane and crashed head-on into Diane Glynn, killing her instantly. He was drunk and never charged because his step-father is a State Trooper. This is a must-read story.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Believe in the Cure Cycling Tour - 17-Year-Old Wisdom

Yesterday marked the kick-off of an 1,100 mile bike trek for 17-year-old John Ellis and his best friend, Jamaal. They are riding their bikes from Pensacola, Florida to Philadelphia to raise awareness for the Hepatitis B Foundation. John will be blogging along the way at Please check it out and cheer him and Jamaal on.

His words are truly inspirational!

Please spread the word and share this great story. And if you're in the Philadelphia area on June 23rd, join us at 10 AM at Lloyd Hall on Kelly Drive (Boat House Row). We want to show John and Jamaal how our City of Brotherly Love comes out and support those who care to make a difference.