Friday, October 31, 2008

LinkedIn to Launch New Platform Featuring InApps

Posted by Katie Noonan:

According to an article by Business Week’s Tech Beat blogger, Rob Hof, LinkedIn will soon follow in Facebook’s footsteps by offering a new InApps (Social Networkese for Intelligent Applications) platform to its 5.5 million users.

For those of you wondering if your Facebook bumper stickers will transfer over, not so fast. Just as LinkedIn is a more professional, grown-up, social networking site, so too are its new applications, according to Jamie Templeton, LinkedIn’s vice-president of platform products. LinkedIn’s new platform will focus more on utility than entertainment value, and at the outset, it will only offer about a dozen applications versus Facebook’s thousands.

Some of the more notable applications are Google Presentations, for users to share recent presentations with LinkedIn contacts, a Wordpress application for users to sync their blog to their LinkedIn profile, and Company Buzz, an application which will allow LinkedIn users to keep up with what people are saying about their company on Twitter.

According to Templeton, all InApps will be in Beta version at the launch of the new platform, so there may be a few kinks to work out, but the new platform has the potential to really optimize LinkedIn users’ networking capabilities.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

American Consumers Demand Their Own Bailout from Companies

Posted by Katie Noonan:

With the U.S. economy in turmoil, many Americans are pinching pennies where they can. According to a recent article in PR Week, this has resulted in companies modifying their public relations and marketing campaigns to emphasize value-based offerings.

The article highlighted ConAgra and its Healthy Choice brand, which recently released a new line of frozen meals that it will market as an office alternative to going out for lunch or buying lunch in the company cafeteria.
Kmart has started pushing its layaway electronics program especially as the holidays approach, and according to the article, Denny’s has launched a new ad campaign asking “Who's Bailing You Out?”

During economic downturn, businesses and their marketing teams should address consumers’ concerns. Since businesses too are cutting expenses where they can, public relations and marketing firms would be wise to pitch similar ad campaigns that emphasize clients’ value-based products. It’s a good way to keep their business and show clients why effective marketing campaigns should be seen as a necessary investment in both good times and bad.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Brand Reputations Need to be Monitored on Web Blogs

Posted By Amanda Walsh

This article, "Boring Old Values and the New Media" by Edward Wasserman from MiamiHerald.com was an interesting commentary about journalistic practice and the embarrassing consequences when those practices are ignored on the Internet. According to the article two "big news names" affiliated with Internet operations have been ridiculed for not applying these basic principles to their Web sites.

CNN's iReport.org
is a Web site set up to foster citizen journalism. Citizen journalism is about engaging the public to offer information and observations of their own concerning the world around them.

According to Wasserman's article, a post on iReport.org earlier this month, by user "johntw" reported that "Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple Inc., had suffered a 'major heart attack.'" The story was false but the damage had been done. As a result, the jumpy economy was affected and the market share for Apple dropped to "its lowest point since May 2007." For years, rumors have had effect on economic markets but the power of the Internet and the instantaneous exchange of information has proved to be an interesting new change.

The other questionable journalistic practice was on PBS.org, which hosts a blog called MediaShift. A journalism undergraduate student from New York University posted a first-person, scathing recap of a class at NYU called "Reporting Gen Y."

What does this mean for public relations?

These instances have proved the need for transparency, accuracy and fact checking. Basic journalistic practice applies to PR professionals as well as journalists. Especially on the Internet when your company's name is linked with the content on the Web site. Basic journalistic principles of transparency such as who you are, who you work for, and what you are doing are all objectives that should continue to be followed despite the medium of writing.

In today's blogging world, these standards may not always be met but ethical professionals need to be aware. PR professionals need to constantly be on top of what is being said about their clients and their industries. For example, the false rumor about Apple affected the company's market shares. It is imperative that businesses monitor the Internet, not only news online but social media outlets as well, to ensure that false rumors are corrected as quickly as possible.

The foundations of journalism seem to go against the free form, say-anything ways of the Internet and blogging. Even at Furia Rubel there is a fact checking and revision process that goes into all of the blog entries posted on The PR Lawyer. For large corporations to put their name on a Web site that they are not monitoring is a dangerous decision to make for their brand reputation and management.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Twittering Fool

From Katie Noonan – In recent months, I have become a major Twitter fan. Initially like many people, I was unsure how best to use Twitter, or what, if any, purpose there was in posting an update with a max of 140 characters. Now however, I am completely onboard the Twitter train and offer the following reasons why you should get onboard too:

This Just In…

Twitter has given new meaning to the term “breaking news.” When I want up-to-the-second national and local headlines, instead of clicking “refresh” on CNN or PhillyBurbs, I now log in to Twitter. Why? Journalists are now tweeting while news is breaking. It may take time to break a news story, but a 140-character Twitter update takes 2 seconds and members of the press can even include a URL link when the full story breaks.

In the last hour alone, I have received breaking news Twitter updates from Reuters, the New York Times, NPR, BBC, PR Newswire, Barack Obama, John McCain, and Dave Matthews (admittedly his life does not classify as breaking news, but I do like to know what my favorite musician is up to…)

In that respect, Twitter is a lot like RSS feed or Google Alerts, it allows you to narrow your news consumption to topic-specific areas. You can follow NY Times health news but not business news, all breaking news, and even all the news that’s fit to print…or Tweet, if you so choose.

Developing Professional Relationships

What really sold me on Twitter from a professional stand point was a Tweet from a local news outlet this morning. They were searching for local news stories on how Philadelphia Phillies fans were celebrating last night's World Series victory against the Tampa Bay Rays. For a public relations practitioner, this would be a perfect opportunity to cultivate a relationship with a member of the media if you knew of a client or colleague who had a relevant and interesting story. Helping out a member of the media with a news story even if it’s not news you intended to pitch could result in a long term relationship and favorable coverage in the future.

Issuing Product or Company News

An obvious public relations perk to Twitter is the opportunity to release product or company news. Tiny URL makes it easy to remain within the 140 character limit and also inform consumers of product releases, new hires and even fun company news to help establish your company’s personality. See The PR Lawyer’s previous post on Twitter and customer relations for more on this topic.

As a Mac user, I take a great deal of pleasure in the fact that I can follow Steve Jobs and Mac World for the latest Apple news and consequently forward any iPhone news to family members as the holidays approach…

Entertainment Value

Twitter is also a great way to keep up with friends and family, pop culture, (Stephen Colbert and Borat Tweet regularly) hobbies and more. If you’re interested in politics, technology, cooking, movies, etc., Twitter is an excellent tool to use to stay connected in those areas. It’s also a great way to plan your weekend, as many city newspapers and events websites will have their own Twitter handle to list upcoming events.

Essentially, Twitter is what you make of it. Even if you choose not to Tweet, following other Twitterers is a great way to stay in the know, both professionally and personally.

Friday, October 24, 2008

PR Firms Can Be Trusted Consultants

Posted by Amanda Walsh

I thought this article from Keith Regan at the Boston Business Journal, titled "Good PR Firms Can Make Valuable Business Advisers" gave some good advice regarding what to consider when searching for a PR Firm for your business as well as the benefits of PR industry experience and a positive working relationship with the your chosen firm.

Typically when a business decides to consider working with a PR firm, they are looking for more than just a media expert, they want a trusted consultant. Especially in today's tumultuous times, a PR firm can be a steadfast partner that knows its clients' industries inside and out.

A good working relationship with any business advisor is a valuable asset. When beginning a search for a firm to assist with public relations, obtaining recommendations and reviewing client lists is a great starting point. Keep in mind, although a firm's existing portfolio is an excellent indicator of their capabilities in assisting with future projects, it is just as important to consider the ability to work effectively with one another. After a good fit is found, the PR firm can become just as vital as an attorney or an accountant.

In times of crisis or uncertainty, the PR firm can be a valuable asset to getting your message out but also as a consultant for internal issues like employee management (Link to my past blog) and communications as well. This is when the PR firm's industry experience and years of knowledge come into action. The article quotes Marcia Brier, founder and principal of Massachusetts' based- MCB Communications which has built relationships with reporters in order to become a valuable and trusted resource for them. Brier said, "The real key to public relations is contacts and connections, being able to have phone calls returned."

Companies like Furia Rubel Communications take those connections seriously. I loved working with skilled professionals in the office. I learned so much from the experienced women there regarding relationship management both with clients and the media. The client-firm relationship was always top priority and it truly showed in each and every project.

Regan's article includes a quote from PR professional, Greg Bishoff, which sums up the article."If it's done right, public relations should pave the way for any branding effort and support those other marketing avenues. If it all fits together, the message becomes more powerful."

CMOs at the Association of National Advertisers’ Annual Meeting Choose Barack Obama as Year’s Top Marketer

From Katie Noonan – This week’s Gallup poll has Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama leading Republican candidate John McCain by seven percentage points, and according to the current issue of Advertising Age, an effective marketing campaign may deserve some of the credit.

At the 2008 annual meeting of the Association of National Advertisers’, a group of marketers, agency heads and marketing service vendors, Barack Obama was named Advertising Age’s Marketer of the Year. With 36.1% of the vote, he trumped the multi-million dollar marketing campaigns of companies like Apple, Zappos, Nike and Coors.

Regardless of how the election turns out, PR and marketing practitioners and businesses alike could benefit from adopting Obama’s Web 2.0 and marketing strategies.

Internet-based fundraising

First launched by Howard Dean’s campaign in 2004, Internet-based fundraising has revolutionized fundraising in United States’ politics. Gone are the days when politicians could raise the majority of their campaign funds by making appearances at fancy dinners with party big wigs and funders. Dean and Obama’s campaigns have shown that utilizing Internet-based fundraising to cultivate and maintain a bank of small donors is now the most effective way to raise money.

From a marketing standpoint, one of the most effective ways the Obama campaign has done this has been to reach out to small donors via e-mail at pivotal points in the campaign. When McCain angered Obama supporters by comparing him to Paris Hilton in a TV ad, the Obama campaign immediately sent out an e-mail asking donors to give as little as five dollars to “clean up” politics, thus capitalizing on supporters’ emotions. The Obama campaign has also appealed to donors throughout the campaign by offering free magnets and t-shirts with each donation of $25.

Web 2.0 marketing

What first struck me about Barack Obama’s Web site was it’s similarity to social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. This wasn’t a coincidence, but rather a strategy on the campaign’s part to draw in supporters by modeling the site after those with which users would be most familiar.

“On one hand, it’s intimate. The language is informal. Personal. It has an inviting matter-of-fact appeal,” said Brian Collins, founder of the Collins firm. “On the other hand, it looks like it has scale and momentum. It’s instantly appealing”

The campaign was able to optimize its social networking capabilities when it hired Chris Hughes, one of the founders of Facebook. As a result, the Obama campaign had an early Facebook and MySpace presence and effectively made use of Facebook and MySpace features. The Obama campaign had its own applications on both Facebook and MySpace, listed all local and national campaign events on Facebook city/regional network pages, and launched both broad and targeted side bar advertising campaigns on Facebook and banner advertisements on MySpace.

Message consistency

The Advertising Age article highlights another crucial aspect of the Obama campaign’s marketing strategy- message consistency. “Across towns, counties, states-and with thousands of volunteers no less-across multiple media platforms, they’ve managed to drive a potent, single-minded design and messaging coherence that should shame many national brands,” Collins said.

While the Obama campaign may receive some flak for the “hope” and “change” rhetoric, there is no denying that the consistency with which they have driven home those two themes has positioned Obama, whether rightly or wrongly, as the candidate who can bring change to Washington. This is a message which Gallup shows is really starting to resonate with voters.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Getting to Know Philadelphia's Latino Media Panel - October 27

For those of you who will be in Philadelphia on October 27th – this media event should not be missed!

The Philadelphia Bar Association’s Bar-News Media Committee is hosting a media panel titled “Getting to Know Philadelphia’s Latino Media” on Monday, October 27. The event will take place in the Bar Association’s 11th Floor Conference Center at 12pm.

Featured media panelists include Napoleon Garcia, Publisher of Impacto Latino Newspaper; Cesar Lopez, Philadelphia-based Journalist and Photographer; Ricardo Hurtado, Publisher of El Sol Latino Newspaper; Milca Madera, Program Coordinator of WUBA Rumba; Jose Irizarry, News Director of Univision 65; Gustavo Martinez, Journalist of Al Día Newspaper; and Dwayne Parker, News Anchor of WFMZ Noticias en Español.

Yolanda Jimenez-Colon, Director of Marketing Communications at Taller Puertorriqueño and Gina F. Rubel, Esq., Bar-News Media Committee Chair, played a key role in organizing the event and Yvette Nunez, President of the Philadelphia Public Relations Association will serve as the media panel moderator.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Philadelphia Lawyers Win $31 Million Jury Verdict Against the County of Camden, New Jersey

Philadelphia Lawyers Win $31 Million Jury Verdict Against the County of Camden, New Jersey

On October 17, 2008, a Camden County jury returned a unanimous verdict for $31,295,007 to Nicolas M. Anderson against the County of Camden, New Jersey for their failure torepair a highway and guardrail that they knew were dangerous. Anderson was represented by Philadelphia personal injury attorneys John Dodig and Jason Daria, both of the Feldman, Shepherd, Wohlgelernter, Tanner Weinstock & Dodig law firm (http://www.feldmanshepherd.com). The jury verdict from the Superior Court of New Jersey Law Division, Camden County may represent the largest such verdict ever from that Court in any motor vehicle accident case.

Tough Financial Times Cause Problems for Management

Posted by Amanda Walsh

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article by Sarah Needleman, compiled for PR Tactics and The Strategist Online by Greg Beaubien, managers are now dealing with the difficult challenge of maintaining worker productivity and morale.

Needleman's article stated that, "Ceridian Corp., an employee-assistance provider in Minneapolis, saw a 30 percent jump last month in calls from managers seeking help with
uneasy workers, compared with September 2007."

There has been an increase in employee personal calls, unproductive online time, late arrivals, and rumors about the companies' fates. Continuing to do their own jobs as well as managing the stress of employees has caused managers to reach out for assistance during these tough times.

Experts interviewed in the Journal offered the following advice for managers:

• Be as candid as possible about a company's prospects - good or bad.
• Tell employees that the best way to safeguard their jobs is to boost the company's prospects by staying productive.
• Maintain productivity and buoy workers' spirits during the financial crisis by sticking to routines, moderating discussions in which employees can express their emotions, being reasonable about work expectations, and offering outside help from available support services.

Keeping employee spirits up in tough times may be a difficult task but the above tips should help. This situation calls for the same principles that apply to crisis communications, relaying factual information quickly and efficiently and sticking to information you know is correct.

Book Promotion Ideas for Chris Brogan's Trust Agents

Chris Brogan posts some great ideas about how to promote a book online. He and Julien Smith writing their first book, Trust Agents, about how the social web helps turn relationships into serious business (or some such). So now, they’re thinking ahead about their strategic public relations plan. Brogan also asks a great question about what else you can do to promote your book online (other than the ideas he’s outlined). That is a great question. Here are a few things we did to promote my book, “Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers” that worked well:

*Issue search engine optimized press releases via Business Wire’s EON (enhanced online news) service.

*Create a blog for the book and link the blog to the authors’ websites, other blogs, etc. Then add a hyperlink to your email signature, on your Social Networking sites, etc. – In this case, we already had “The PR Lawyer” blog so we used this is a way to share the story about our book too.

*Ping the blog - To keep SEO high, “pinging” allows the Internet provider to refresh the status of your blog whenever an entry is made or related searches are entered in the search box.

*Register the blog in Weblogs, Pinggoat, Technorati, Daypop, Blogdex, Popdex, etc.

*Add your book to Amazon and actively seek reviews from readers. Here’s a link to some of the reviews for our book: http://www.amazon.com/review/product/098017190

*Add book URL or blog to online book directories and listing sources:
1. Independent Online Book Association
2. Top 101 Book Marketing
3. DearReader.com
4. Shelf Awareness
5. Bookmovement.com
6. Author Reviews
7. Authors and Experts
8. Author-Reviews.com

*Send an advance copy to other industry bloggers for endorsement and mention on their blogs.


*Submit for Book Awards. Here are a few for independent publishers:
1. Annual Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book Awards - www.writersdigest.com/contests
2. Best Book Awards - http://www.usabooknews.com/
3. ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award - www.forewordmagazine.com/awards.asp
4. Indie Excellence National Book Awards -http://www.wmaconnect.com/

5. Independent Publisher Book Awards - http://www.independentpublisher.com/

6. Writers Notes Annual Book Awards - http://hopepubs.home.comcast.net/awards.html

7. Axiom Book Awards Entry Form - http://www.axiomawards.com/entry.php

*And I love Brogan’s idea of Trust Agents. It’s fabulous!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Good Work is Not Enough to be a Law Firm Rainmaker

I read an article today titled, Do Good Work, and Business Will Bring Itself In, Rainmaker Says. ABA legal affairs writer, Martha Neil, shared Larry Bodine’s sentiment that “if your work is good enough, it will speak for itself.” Larry Bodine is the editor of Originate!, the business development newsletter located at http://www.pbdi.org/originate/.

The original article, A Portrait of a Rainmaker Peter Klee, is chock full of useful information about how Klee does his own law firm marketing and PR which sets him apart from the competition.

--Showing clients that he likes them. … This approach has a way of cementing the relationship with the company that turns into new business," he said.

--Not charging for travel time.

--Devoting 500 hours a year to business development. "I take trips to visit clients for nonbusiness purposes, to maintain the relationship. …I also speak at seminars, which is an effective way to have nonclients learn about who you are and what you do. I do meet existing and potential clients for lunch and dinner from time to time," he said.

--Not charging for giving quick advice. Sure, it takes up time, but it's a form of marketing. It goes a long way to establishing a relationship, and I don't just limit it to the person I work with.

--Treating every minute with a client as a marketing opportunity.

--Joining key organizations of referral sources. Klee is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. … They're a very good source of business."

--Being an expert in his field. "The truly big business generators are known for being an expert in their field.

--Turning down business when it would degrade the quality of his work.

However, law practice managers and legal marketing directors should never tell their attorneys that all they need is to do “good” work. Klee doesn’t only do good work – he’s out there meeting with clients and prospects, developing relationships with referral sources, presenting seminars, and more.

There are tons of lawyers who do good work but have no idea how to network, market themselves, promote themselves or capitalize on their "good work." Good work is no where near enough in today's competitive environment to be a rainmaker. First - you need to do GREAT work and then you need to capitalize on that great work by letting your clients, prospects and referral sources know about it. Good work might have been enough when all we had were front doors and shingles - now, the competition has multiplied exponentially and the front doors are many. Strategic planning, legal marketing and public relations (PR) are essential.

We do not live in a world where "if you build it, they will come." They have to know about it first and then they need to be invited to come to the best party in town.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Measuring Social Media Impact

From Katie Noonan – This week’s issue of PR News has some good insight for PR practitioners looking to measure the effectiveness of social media campaigns for clients.

According to a recent PR News and Burrelles/Luce Media Measurement and Analysis Survey, public relations pros have yet to break through the social media measurement barrier citing a “general lack of knowledge,” and absence of standard metrics for measurement as the chief reasons.

But Curtis Hougland, CEO of Attention PR, doesn’t know what all the confusion is about. According to Hougland, challenges cited by PR practitioners seem more like excuses, because “they don’t take into account the wealth of measurable elements that are intrinsic to these channels.” Some of the tangible benefits Hougland mentions are, “key message pick-up, conversion and traffic to Web sites.”

At Furia Rubel, we certainly advocate for the inclusion of Web 2.0 strategies in the communications mix. However, we also understand the measurement challenge.

The PR News article touches on the benefits of social media, such as traffic via natural search, blog links and conversations, brand advocacy, message and reputation management, word-of-mouth, and social media’s ability to connect with new audiencess to name a few.

While you can accurately measure traffic to a Web site and even message pick-up, it becomes much more difficult to track the effectiveness of word-of-mouth on the Web, and I would argue even more of a challenge to manage your message or reputation with social media. With more and more people blogging today, keeping track of what everyone is saying needs to be part of your “listening” strategy. Managing your message and reputation is time-consuming but necessary. Even Hougland says, “they are conversing about your company with or without you,” which is precisely the challenge of social media.

In a down economy however, measuring social media effectively should be a priority for public relations and marketing pros and businesses alike. If companies are paying for your public relations services you can bet they’ll want to see a return on their investment, and if you’re using social media it’s important to measure ROI as accurately as possible.

Some handy resources to help address social media measurement challenges include:

Public relations practitioners faced similar challenges when the Internet first came into the mainstream. My feeling is that it’s only a matter of time before we conquer the social media measurement barrier, too.

PR Professionals Must be Quick with Responses

Posted by Amanda Walsh

There has been a plethora of news here in Spain about the financial problems facing not only the USA, but the whole world. These issues have caused PR professionals in the banking and financial industry to take a different approach to the way they work.

According to an article, "Response Must Travel as Fast as Bad News" on PRWeek.com by Tonya Garcia, "PR pros that work in the financial sector say that more and more, they have to be ready to go early on a Monday morning after such news breaks to stop any rumors or misinformation from taking hold and ruining already fragile Wall Street reputations."

Experts must hit the ground running on Monday morning. "Sundays have become the new Mondays," said CJP Communications partner, Mark Kollar.

Managing word-of-mouth interpretations to news has become a growing challenge for PR experts. Battling the instant dissemination of news via the Internet and mobile services also requires preparation. One of the most important tips PR experts can learn is how to quickly assess bad news. This skill allows experts to formulate a plan to counteract or respond. Not all of the work needs to be reactive however. If the financial industry changes have been monitored for ups and downs, experts have been preparing for the worst for months.

What does this article mean for public relations? Professionals should constantly be monitoring the industries of their clients so that they can prepare them for the worst news in advance. Keeping a finger on the pulse of changes and new discoveries will help everyone read the warning signs for bad news. This will allow for proactive communications instead of crisis control or reactive communications. With early acknowledgment, more time is available to tailor messages and curb rumors.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cut and Paste PR Quotes - Public Relations and Media

As someone who constantly reaches out to the media for the PR clients of Furia Rubel, some of whom are attorneys, I came across an interesting blog by Michael Doyle. Doyle, a reporter in the Washington bureau of McClatchy Newspapers, says:

“Lawyers want to be quoted. Reporters want quotes. It’s E-Harmony…” He writes that “lawyers, law professors and their public relations allies are sending out information to reporters and embedding quotes that are piping hot for off-the-shelf use.”

I agree. And this holds true regardless of your industry. The press releases and all online correspondence should make it as simple as possible for the media to do what Doyle refers to as “cut and paste reporting.” It is a great way to spread any message, not just ones that are law related. In fact, when you pitch a story or have a comment that you want to share with a reporter via e-mail, be sure to include quotable nuggets (or what some refer to as "sound bites").

And, as you can see, I took quotes directly from Doyle’s blog and plugged them in here!

To read the entire blog, visit: http://mcdoyleblog.blogspot.com/

Economy, Internet Affect AP's News Role

Posted by Amanda Walsh

According to an article by Frank Washkuch found on PRweek.com, tough financial times in the United States have resulted in The Associated Press playing a smaller role in local newspapers. The Associated Press (AP) "is a nonprofit collaborative, owned and operated by its approximately 1,500-member news organizations." The AP subscription is often a large part of a newspaper’s budget and has been vulnerable to cuts despite a recent rate discount in July of this year.

With decreasing advertising revenues and the rise of Internet usage for national and international news, many newspapers are deciding to cut AP subscriptions. "We're going to be much more local…and with the economics, we're going to have to focus on what we do best," says Rufus Woods, editor and publisher of the Washington-based Wenatchee World. Despite the savings with the subscription cancellation, newspapers will have a hard time finding a comprehensive service for state, national and international news according to Lou Ureneck, chairman of Boston University's journalism department.

Public relations experts will need to target specific publications with tailored, relevant news, keeping in mind that the distribution of important news will be taking different avenues without the active role of the AP in local newspapers.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Study Indicates Consumers Want Social Media Interaction from Businesses

Posted By Amanda Walsh

Last week, the Center for Media Research released a study showing that consumers want to converse with companies via social media. According to a 2008 Cone Business in Social Media Study, 60% of Americans interact with companies on a social media Web site, and one in four interacts more than once per week.

This insightful study indicated that "93% of Americans believe a company should have a presence in social media, while 85% believe a company should not only be present, but should also interact with its consumers via social media."

Below is more of the astounding information from the social media study.

When Americans were asked about specific types of interactions, what they wanted to accomplish through the social media contact with a company:

• 43% say that companies should use social networks to solve their consumer problems
• 41% want companies to solicit feedback on their products and services
• 37% feel that companies should develop new ways for consumers to interact with their brand
• 33% of men and 17% of women interact frequently (one or more times per week) with companies via social media

And eMarketer reports that according to 2008 research from shopping comparison site PriceGrabber, "Generation Y (those born after 1979) online buyers are more immersed in online and mobile activities than any other generation. Eighty-five percent of Gen Y respondents said they participated in social networking, and 57% reported they were involved with blogs."

Results from an August 2008 survey of Web merchants, sponsored by Internet Retailer, found that, of the 39.3% of retail respondents that use social networks, 32% have a page on Facebook, 27% on MySpace and 26% on YouTube.

What does this study from various resources mean for public relations?
The 2008 Cone Business in Social Media Study shows the growing popularity of social media and the ease of reaching consumers online. This research also shows that consumers feel a closer association with companies when they are able to network with them in a social media setting. Savvy public relations practitioners need to acknowledge the preferences of their target audiences and engage in specific social media outlets with them in order to gain feedback and information.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Web 2.0 for Today's Generation of Lawyers

Last week I was published in The Legal Intelligencer with an article titled: Web 2.0 for Today's Generation of Lawyers. In the article, I explain to reader that:

The majority of today's "next generation" of lawyers graduated from high school in the late '90s or early 2000s. These are the "children of the Web." You likely had e-mail, iPods, text messaging, MySpace and Facebook profiles and access to the World Wide Web all before graduating from college. But this isn't so for the rest of us. Many seasoned attorneys have never listened to a podcast, still don't use e-mail, don't know the difference between the terms YouTube and Boob Tube, and believe the words "social networking" refers to cocktail parties and black-tie galas.

If you're a member of the "next generation" (aka a young lawyer), then you need to understand the "old way of doing things" so you can begin to adopt Web 2.0 in a way that is not offensive to your corporate culture. On the other hand, if you graduated from law school in the age DOS applications or typewriters, listen up. You need to get with the times or be left behind.

I go on to explain blogs, RSS feed, Google alerts, social media and more. To read the full text of the article, go to http://www.law.com/jsp/pa/PubArticlePA.jsp?hubtype=TopStories&id=1202425053120

Saturday, October 11, 2008

SpinSpotter Spots Media Bias - New Web Ap

Posted by Gina Rubel – Check it out – what a fun PR application http://www.spinspotter.com/. It’s said to spot spin and bias in news coverage. The “spinoculars” help you spot spin but they’re only available right now for FireFox 3. The site says they’ll be adding the ap for IE 7 soon.

So here’s what the homepage says about the new Internet application:

Spin doesn't belong in the news. It's like putting motor oil in the mojito. We have tremendous respect for journalists, but who would argue that the media circus isn't out of control? A full 66% of Americans think the press is one-sided. Now there's a website and software tool that exposes news spin and bias, misuse of sources, and suspect factual support. At SpinSpotter, you'll experience the news in a profound new way. Yes, the truth is back in town.
My two cents:

Penny 1) This could be an interesting public relations tool to measure the message in media coverage – we’ll have to wait and see.

Penny 2) Don’t mess with the mojito!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tweeting Your Way to Better Customer Relations

From Katie Noonan - An excellent post last week on Oglivy’s 360° Digital Influence blog by Kaitlyn Wilkins offered some great tips for companies using Twitter as a part of their public relations campaigns.

Wilkins interviewed Ginevra Whalen, TypePad’s Community Manager, who handles @sixapart, the company’s Twitter account. According to Whalen, “Web 2.0 technologies allow customers to get superior service without even having to seek it out…but only if [companies] take full advantage of them.”

Whalen uses Twitter to keep tabs on customers’ concerns, frustrations, and general feelings on their products, by following those users and responding to their feedback via e-mail or direct message. This approach allows Whalen and the rest of the TypePad team to reach out to individual customers as well as gauge customers’ overall satisfaction with their products. So far this approach has been met with a great deal of enthusiasm from customers “tweeting” about TypePad’s various products.

Whalen’s best advice for companies just starting out on Twitter is to show personality by not limiting “tweets” to press releases, or company news. According to Whalen, it’s important to show a human side to the company. She recommends “tweeting” about birthdays, events and other fun goings-on. It could mean the difference between appearing genuine and engaged in customer relations, or trying to bombard the Twitter community with shameless company plugs.

The Best Form of Flattery

From Katie Noonan – An old post I stumbled upon from the Blog Herald offered great tips for modeling your blog after some of the most popular blogs on the web according to Technorati’s "Top 100 Blogs" list. I felt these tips were worth sharing because they continue to be relevant today. While it was reassuring to see that the PR Lawyer frequently implements many of the Blog Herald’s best blogging practices, I know I will try to be more consistent with adhering to the following tips:

  1. Publish frequently
  2. Have a team
  3. Offer hot news
  4. Have an attitude
  5. Be visual

Publish frequently

If it’s one thing we do here at the PR Lawyer, it’s publish frequently; partly because we have a great team of bloggers, but also because all of us make an effort to stay on top of industry news whether it be through subscriptions to trade publications, our RSS feeds replete with online marketing, public relations, and social media blogs, or our own insight as we work with clients to address their public relations challenges. As a result, it is typically pretty easy to come up with a topic to blog about -enabling the team to blog daily, and some days post more than once.

Have a team

I can’t agree more with the Blog Herald’s suggestion to have a team of bloggers. I think it’s so important to utilize different team members because it takes the pressure off each individual. If I have a lot on my plate one day, I can rest easy knowing that Gina, Amanda, Leah, or Marisa will be probably be posting on the PR Lawyer.

Offer hot news

Here at the PR Lawyer, I think we try to strike a balance between public relations news and insight and “other news.” It helps that we have Amanda blogging internationally and offering her insight about social media, culture and language; that Gina in addition to being a public relations expert is also a lawyer and former “South Philly girl;” and that I am a self-professed political nerd and C-Span watcher. As a result of all of our individual interests and experiences I think we offer unique perspectives not just about public relations but a wide array of issues that are hopefully of interest to readers.

Though I think in addition to offering “hot news,” it is also important to stick to what your blog is known for. If you have a technology blog, chances are readers read it for tech news and tips. While your political insight may be interesting, it could also turn off your readers if for the month of October you forgo tech news in favor of commenting on the presidential campaign. Bloggers that can somehow tie in hot news to the blog’s primary topic will probably be more successful in engaging and keeping readers.

Have an attitude

I also agree with the Blog Herald’s suggestion that bloggers should have an attitude. This doesn’t mean we should be afraid to run into them in a dark alley, but rather, that they have a distinct voice and unique writing style. From reading the PR Lawyer, it’s clear that we all have our own style of blogging. If you were to remove the names from our posts, chances are you could still pick out which one of us was the author. Certainly the difference in our topics would be an indication, but also our individual voices. Interestingly, Amanda and I went to the same high school, were in many of the same English classes, and still have very different blogging styles. It’s because blogging is so different from academic writing. It lends itself to more personality and less formality, but developing your own attitude takes time and practice. It should always be sincere. If you’re not generally a sarcastic person, using sarcasm may come off as disingenuous to readers.

I would warn though, that too much attitude can be a turn-off to readers. Just the other day I was reading a blog where the blogger’s use of obscenity was over the top, and their cynicism bordered on outright bitterness. It was so distracting to the blogger’s message that I left without a clear idea of what their blog was actually about. Blogs often have a very diverse audience. What may be appropriate for a conversation with your friends in the bar on a Friday night, might not fly on your blog when your readership could be anywhere from 18-55.

Be visual

I know I personally could incorporate more pictures and videos. Blogs that make use of visual media are successful because they are more dynamic and engaging to readers. Plus, they’re usually just plain nicer to look at. A straight page of text can be intimidating to readers who often use blogs for quick snippets of news or information. Using meaningful images or video clips can break up the monotony of straight text and make your blog more interactive.

PR Disasters Blog By Gerry McCusker

I recently discovered a great blog – http://prdisasters.com/. Gerry McCusker’s blog is chock full of what not to do in public relations. His profile touts the site as designed to “help you avoid killing your PR career or crippling your corporate reputation by showing PR counselors and non-PR’s alike, how not to turn a PR job into a PR nightmare.”

He says the site “tracks the real PR cock-ups; the gaffes and howlers made by spin doctors, PR firms and the client organizations they represent while … offering a perspective on PR (mal)practice that, hopefully, helps you in your work.”

Bottom line – I like it. This one gets added to the blogroll too! Way to go Gerry!

Has Social Media Caused People to Be Less Social in Person?

Posted by: Amanda Walsh

I came across a great post the other day on PRNewsOnline by Courtney Barnes, Editor of PR News. She posed a thoughtful question to those in the blogosphere: "Have social media sites made people less friendly in person and friendlier online?" Ms. Barnes described a recent experience at a religious function where the audience was encouraged to break the ice by introducing themselves for two minutes. The results varied. Some people seemed very uncomfortable, as if wishing the two minutes would be over soon, while others couldn't stop talking! Perhaps the façade of a computer and keyboard helps shy people "come out of their shells" while outgoing, friendly people may not participate as much in online conversations?

I have recognized, especially with peers or those of Generation Y, a problem of common misspellings and an overall lack of effective writing skills. Perhaps this is caused by texting and or using shorthand online language. However, I had not considered the implications of social media on face-to-face communication.

For me, social media is an easy outlet of expression, but I don't think it makes me any less friendly in person. My situation is a bit unique however; I am blogging from Madrid, Spain where I am a novice at the Spanish language and a foreigner displaced from my country and culture. Naturally, I enjoy blogging and joining in verbal conversation in my native language. Although I like to consider myself an intelligent communicator in English, my Spanish skills are still a work in progress. When conversing in Spanish, I rely heavily on nonverbal signals, like using my hands or making facial expressions to explain my words. Online and/or written text at times can lose its meaning without the cues such as tone of voice or facial expressions.

On the other hand, my time in Spain has made me realize the importance of effective verbal communication and the social errors that come with uttering the wrong word in person. An insightful comment from Kristie Vento at Marketing That Performs, reacting to Ms. Barnes’ post, touches on the idea that people do not utilize their 'delete' buttons as effectively as they should. At times, that may be a reason for less friendly person-to-person communications.

Social media plays a big role in my life and I will continue to use many sites such as Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch with friends and family as well as to stay abreast of news.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Publicity Hound Shares Important Pitching Tips from NPR

Posted by Amanda Walsh-
An interesting blog from The Publicity Hound was written to give some media relations pitching tips. The author, Carol Klinger, Associate Editor of "All Things Considered" on National Public Radio (NPR), has been working there since 1995. Her experiences have given her the ability to guide PR professionals in the right direction for effective pitching. The main focus of "All Things Considered" is breaking news. This is a departure from other NPR shows that focus on feature stories.

Klinger’s pitching tips are broken down into easy to read bullet points:

Pitches she hates:

* Get-rich-quick products or services.
* Anything diet-related.
* "The next big thing" in the health category.

Pitches she loves:

* Breaking news. “Smart publicists,” she says, “call their authors as soon as they hear about a breaking news event that ties into the client's expertise.” Then they call her and pitch—that day!
* Ones that have "terrific sound." For example, one of her sources who works for a university, pitched a story about how the school was going to drop cars atop a hurricane shelter, as part of an experiment, to see how much strain the shelter could take.
* Pitches from publicists whose clients have JUST had an amazing experience. Call her that day, not three days later.

You can listen to Carol’s tips by visiting the link below for this interview with Eric Schwartzman from On the Record…Online.

NPR has a large collection of archives, so before pitching, be sure to educate yourself on the types of stories that are featured on each show by using the topic search feature on their Web site. This advice is true when pitching your story to any media outlet and a valuable media relations tip. Being familiar with the journalist's past stories will help both of you. They will be happy that you took the time to research their beat, and you won't be wasting your time pitching a story that they do not typically cover.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Gina Rubel Named Philadelphia Business Journal Woman of Distinction

Gina Rubel, Furia Rubel’s President/CEO, has been selected as one of the 2008 Women of Distinction by the Philadelphia Business Journal. She will be recognized at an annual awards reception on December 1, 2008, at the Sheraton City Center.

To register for this event, click here.

Join the Philadelphia Business Journal and National Association of Women Business Owners in celebrating the 2008 Women of Distinction on December 1, 2008. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, “this year's award recipients are 25 of the region's most dynamic women who are making headlines in their professional field and in their community.”

The event gathers over 700 of the region's newsmakers for excellent networking and an inspiring awards ceremony. Winners will also be profiled in a special section of the Business Journal's November 28 issue.

The 25 winners for 2008 include:

Terri Albertson, Grant Thornton, LLP

Donna Allie, Team Clean, Inc.

Diana Bald, Univision 65

Jean Canfield, PNC Bank

Tracy Carter-Dougherty, Lockheed Martin Corporation

Anne Ewers, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

Ellen Fisher, Women's Yellow Pages of Greater Philadelphia

M. Louise Fitzpatrick, Villanova University

Gina F. Rubel, Furia Rubel Communications, Inc.

Susan Jacobson, Tierney Communications

Anne Klein, Grubb & Ellis Company

Susan Lutz, ETSEC, Inc.

Bernadette Mangan, St. Christopher's Hospital for Children

Suzanne Mayes, Cozen O'Connor

Lizann McGowan, CB Richard Ellis, Inc.

Patricia Owens, Decision Strategies International

Kathleen Shay, Duane Morris, LLP

Charlotte Sibley, Shire Pharmaceuticals

Angie Simmons, QVC

Pernille Spiers-Lopez, IKEA

Rosemary Turner, UPS

Tina Waters, Comcast

Melissa Weiler-Gerber, Women’s Way

Jan Weinstock, Gift of Life Donor Program

Binney Wietlisbach, The Haverford Trust Company

The Women of Distinction program is presented by: Wachovia and Sponsored by: AETNA, Ernst & Young, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University. Premium Seating at Comcast-Spectacor and NAWBO.

Contact Jennifer Wolf at the Philadelphia Business Journal for more information at 215-238-5106.

Word for Executives - 5 Tips for Senior Executives Whose Team Members Use Word

Posted by Amanda Walsh

Microsoft Word is a program that I use for a good portion of every day. Even with my familiarity with Word, I'm always learning new capabilities of the software. This Web site is a great resource for veteran Word users and novices alike, in any industry. It provides great tips for senior executives who may not use Microsoft Word as much as their workers. And, all staff members will benefit from advanced knowledge.

The top five tips from the site are:

1. Learn the lingo
2. Make sure that Word is set up on your machines so it works effectively for your team
3. Learn how Track Changes works
4. Be kind to your staff when editing a document someone else has prepared
5. Accept that most things work most of the time in Word

The most helpful tip to me has been learning Track Changes. I use this feature while posting blogs from abroad. After writing a draft, I forward it to my colleagues at Furia Rubel who are then able to effectively edit and send it back to me. Track Changes makes it easy to review the revisions.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Bailout Snafu Shows Government Could Use a Lesson in PR

From Katie Noonan - An interesting article by Michael Bush in AdAge.com this week should be read not just by those in public relations industry, but inside the Beltway, too.

According to the article, and many in the public relations field, much of the reason the Bailout Plan has been so unpopular with the public has largely to do with simple PR miscalculations.

What’s in a Name?

The article highlights what both political pundits and public relations experts have been saying since the bill’s inception. The decision by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and the Bush Administration to call it a “bailout plan” was a critical mistake. The term “bailout” connotes providing emergency assistance to keep Wall Street afloat, which leads the American public to ask why?- when a significant portion of the blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of mortgage companies that made poor investments on high-risk individuals.

In the article, Andrew Benett, CEO of Euro RSCG New York, is quoted as saying that “rescue” would have been a much better term for the plan. According to Benett, "there is nothing redemptive about a bailout. What if this had been called a 'rescue' from the beginning? Or the 'Save Our Homes Act'? Supporting a 'rescue' is a bear of an entirely different species. It is not only a redemptive act, restoring things to their rightful order -- it is heroic." Perhaps a simple change in terminology would have resonated with the American people and garnered more support for the plan early on.

$700 Billion to do…what…exactly?

Another reason the AdAge article highlights for the bill’s unpopularity has to do with the Administration’s failure to effectively communicate to the public why the bill was needed, and why we should shell out another $700 billion, when the federal government is already running a trillion dollar deficit, spending millions each day on the war in Iraq, and many Americans are paying over four dollars at the pump and find themselves struggling to make ends meet in the midst of economic recession.

That’s not to say that a bailout, or ‘rescue’ isn’t necessary, but rather to show that the Bush Administration could have done a better job of communicating why it is necessary, and where our $700 billion would be going in light of so many Americans’ concerns. It’s safe to say that we’d all benefit from a return to economic normalcy, but an American public, always critical of Washington and Wall Street alike doesn’t want to feel as though they’re writing a blank check to Uncle Sam or paying for generous severance packages for CEO’s of failing mortgage companies.

A Cautionary Tale

The bailout controversy shows that an effective public relations campaign that communicates a clear message to the public is crucial whether you’re in the public or the private sector. In this case, it could have meant desperately needed help to our ailing economy sooner rather than later.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Pet Peeves of the Media

Joe Ferry shares some great insights from yesterday's media panel that I co-moderated with my colleague, Maria Evans. http://prprowess.com/media-members-share-pet-peeves/ My favorite question to ask is, "What are your pet peeves?" The answers are usually the same: irrelevant stories, long press releases, not understanding the format or the medium, not taking no for an answer, sending the same story and photos to tons of reporters, not tailoring the pitch, not spelling the reporter's name right, not providing the media with enought time to plan for and attend an event and not understanding what "news" really means.

Technorati’s 2008 State of the Blogosphere


From Katie Noonan - The state of the union may be up in the air at the moment, but Technorati’s annual report for 2008 has found the state of the Blogosphere to be strong.

Their in-depth report found that blogs are increasingly becoming part of the mainstream, and that a growing number of Americans are now getting their news from blogs.

Here are some important findings from the study:

Who is blogging?

Bloggers may blog about very different issues, but bloggers themselves are not so different. In fact, they make up a very specific group in the United States:

  • Three out of four U.S. bloggers are college graduates
  • 42% have attended graduate school
  • 57% of bloggers are male
  • More than half have a household income over $75,000
  • 37% are 35-49 years old

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to the most bloggers, followed by New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Broken down into specific types of blogs, 79% of bloggers identify themselves as personal bloggers, 46% identify themselves as professional bloggers, and 12% identify themselves as corporate bloggers, meaning they blog on behalf of their company in an official capacity. Interestingly, there is a great deal of overlap in these groups, with some personal bloggers blogging professionally or for their corporation and vice-versa.

What are they blogging about?

As mentioned above, bloggers often blog both professionally and personally, sometimes within the same blog, and sometimes using two different blogs. The topics they blog about overlap as well, with some of the most prevalent topics being, personal/lifestyle, technology, politics, computers, music, film, travel, business and religion. According to Technorati, the average blogger blogs about five of these issues.

Why do they blog?

Technorati’s report found that 79% of bloggers blog to voice their personal views on issues that fall within the topics above. Additionally, 73% say they blog to share their expertise with readers. Other reasons for blogging include, to connect with new people, to update family and friends, to get noticed by the traditional media, and to attract new clients, to name a few.


How do bloggers perceive themselves and their impact?

  • 54% of professional bloggers have found that because of their blog, they are now more well-known in their field
  • 49% of bloggers believe that blogs are as valid of a source for information as the traditional media
  • Half of bloggers believe that in the next five years, the Blogosphere will surpass traditional media and become the primary source for news and entertainment
  • 37% of bloggers believe that blogs are generally better written than news articles.

Personal thoughts on Technorati’s findings

Blogs are definitely one of the most important advancements to come out of the Internet age. They have revolutionized the way Americans, and increasingly the rest of the world, receive and process information. Consider the Drudge Report, which ran the Monica Lewinsky story when the traditional media wouldn’t touch it. For better or worse, this story radically changed the political landscape of the 90s.

However, unlike the traditional media, bloggers are not held to the same standards of ethics. While professional journalists are bound to their own code of ethics which includes truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability, bloggers are bound only to their personal ethics. This places the burden on readers to be critical of what they read in blogs or fall victim to the Blogosphere rumor mill.

Still, bloggers that want to be taken seriously by both the traditional media and readers will probably approach blogging much the same way the traditional media approaches reporting the news. If they want to be an expert in their field, and a trusted source of information, bloggers would be wise to play it straight.

From a Public Relations standpoint

Implications from the Technorati study are clear. Businesses hoping to grow their brand or reach a new or larger audience would be wise to get on board the blog train if they have not done so already. With a growing number of Americans using blogs as a primary source for news and analysis, businesses have an opportunity to create a niche for themselves as industry experts or the “go-to guy” through a medium that is familiar and increasingly vital to readers. Blogging is not right for every business though. For more, read our previous post “Remembering the Basics about Blogs.”

Justinians Honor Chief Justice Castille & Judge Rizzo

The Justinian Society of Philadelphia honored Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille and Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Annette M. Rizzo on Wednesday, October 1, 2008 at a luncheon in Philadelphia. Chief Justice Castille served as the keynote speaker and was awarded The Justinian Society Outstanding Service Award. Judge Rizzo was presented with the Judge Lisa A. Richette Outstanding Woman in the Law Award.

From Left to Right: Edward J. DiDonato, Justinian Society Vice Chancellor; Mrs. Susan Castille; Chief Justice Ronald Castille; Judge Annette M. Rizzo; Gina Furia Rubel, Justinian Society Chancellor; Gaetan Alfano, Justinian Society Past Chancellor; Roberta Pichini, Justinian Society Secretary; Gino Benedetti, Justinian Society Treasurer. (Photo by Mike Mountain)

Founded in 1935, the Justinian Society is an educational and non-profit legal organization comprised of attorneys, judges and law students of Italian ancestry. Located in Philadelphia, the Society's members celebrate generations of involvement within the legal community. To foster a spirit of good fellowship and mutual cooperation among its members, the Society members strive to maintain the honor and dignity required of the legal profession and a high standard of ethical conduct among its members and with other members of the bar. Members also promote and encourage a more profound study of the law, the due administration of justice and reform in the law; and coordinate their efforts in the discharge of their civil and professional responsibilities to the community. For more information, go to www.justinian.org.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Stumbling Upon New Ideas

From Amanda Walsh – Recently, the PR Prowess blog introduced me to a neat new website, Stumble Upon. The plug-in is a special feature that users can download for their Internet Browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc). The Stumble Upon program installs a button on your toolbar when surfing the Web. When you click on it a new Web page is randomly produced for you. You can read more about it here on Joe Ferry's website.

Initially when you sign up with Stumble Upon, it allows you to indicate your interests so it can generate pages that may be of interest to you when you use the program.

I have downloaded the plug-in for my Fire Fox browser and frequently click on the button to generate random Web sites at my leisure. Much like PR Prowess blogger, Joe Ferry, I find a lot of the marketing/communications Web sites to be very interesting.

Here are some of my favorites:

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