Monday, March 23, 2015

De-Cluttering for Your Desk and Your Mind

By Rose Strong

Maybe I was pushing spring, since we’ve had more than our fair share of snow and freezing rain here in the Northeast; the days of walking on ice in my backyard with my over-the-boot ice cleats are getting old. I’m done with winter. So, in an effort to force some movement to a more gentle time of year, I did some early spring cleaning a few weeks ago, starting with my office desk drawers.

Straightening up my desk drawers is one of the last chores I have time for during my workday, but the contents therein are essential to much of my work. Making time to go through and clean out the nonessential debris that seems to overtake these little, slide-out boxes that reside on either side of me would be beneficial to not only my daily tasks, but to my state of mind.

Last year, I read Gretchen Rubin’s book, “The Happiness Project.” We all want to be happy, right? For the most part, I thought the book was full of great ideas, stellar research and mostly simple solutions to some long-standing problems common to us all. One of her theories is how clutter can be a significant inhibitor of a peaceful and productive life. This article from Lifehacker.com reveals the scientific proof and as one who tends to pile “stuff” on nearly every flat surface or keep needless ”stuff” on a shelf, in a closet or in a drawer, I can attest to that.

Although I can be lazy when it comes to making serious changes to my life, Rubin’s “Ten Tips to Beat Clutter,” from her blog are really terrific, and I especially like her one-minute rule, which I find pretty amazing when I stick with it. It’s a very simple action philosophy that rewards big.

Let’s get back to my desk drawers and their interesting contents. Since I’m the office administrator, much of my desk items are things all the office staff uses, like a box of refill staples, envelopes, priority mail and certified letter supplies, a label-maker and refill tape, postage stamps, Band-Aids, packing tape, the storage room key, and desk and file cabinet keys. Anyone may access these items, so it’s pretty essential that they are easily available.

My right-hand drawer is home to my favorite local Chinese menu, various business cards, a Mason jar with ketchup packets, a bottle of White-Out, Chapstick, a nail file, a Starbucks splash stick, a bottle of Ibuprofen, paper clips, a magnifying glass and some sticky notes, binder clips, a ruler, and a lint roller. Although people may need items from that drawer, it is relatively private. I use these things pretty regularly, but I tend to toss stuff into the drawer, making it a disarray of nearly unidentifiable objects.

After cleaning out the drawers and trashing items that I couldn’t recycle or use, it inspired me to declutter my desk as well. Now, I’m amazed at how clear my mind feels and the effect has even given me considerable motivation to work on those tasks I procrastinate most.

A recent opinion piece in the New York Times by Pamela Druckerman gives insight into why clutter is suddenly a first-world problem and how both clutter and the lack of it can affect our minds.

How about you? Are you the clutter type or a neatnik? What do you do to keep your mind and your surroundings clear and organized?

Monday, March 16, 2015

How to Explain Public Relations to Friends and Family: Part I

By Megan Quinn

For the longest time, I've had difficulty explaining the public relations industry to friends and family members. 

I would regularly field questions and comments such as, ‘So you’re a member of the media?’ or ‘Maybe *insert random celebrity here* should be one of your clients!’ or ‘So you’re in human resources?’ 

That would be a NO to all of those. 

A recent article on PR Daily got me thinking that there must be an easier way to explain my job. 

At its core, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” 

That definition comes from the Public Relations Society of America, and is a good, simple explanation of the overall field. But it doesn't do much to explain what we actually do on a day-to-day basis. So here is what I came up with:

The kind of public relations we practice at Furia Rubel is business to business, aka B2B. You know how movie stars and professional athletes have publicists? We are like that, but we’re publicists for businesses. We don’t represent individuals and we certainly don’t go to movie premieres – though we would be happy to accompany Bradley Cooper on the red carpet any time.

We don’t represent just any business, however. We further refine our particular area of practice to professional services. Our clients include law firms, legal service organizations, accountants and tax providers, financial institutions, and more.

In today’s world, public relations can encompass many tactics. One of the tried and true mainstays is media relations. We have offered our clients as experts for print articles, radio features, television interviews and other forms of media.

We work with journalists to provide appropriate sources for their stories. We bridge the gap between the journalists and our clients, working to coordinate interviews, photo opportunities and commentary on issues of the day. To work well and benefit everyone, this requires long-standing relationships with the media and a detailed understanding of how they work. 

We believe in the power of targeted public relations. Blasting out a press release on a distribution platform to hundreds of journalists across the country will do nothing but anger and alienate the journalists for whom that topic is inappropriate.

Instead, we work with our clients to analyze their business and define their target audience, then do research to determine what media that audience commonly consumes. We compile very targeted and specific media contact databases for each client, tailored to reach the audiences that are most important to their bottom line.

We also work with publications to coordinate article submissions from our clients, when the client has expertise that would be valuable to that publication’s audience.

Not only do we keep our clients in the public eye, we also do our best to keep them out of it in times of crisis. When something goes wrong - or has the possibility of going wrong, if not handled correctly - we are the folks working behind the scenes to make sure our clients quickly and accurately respond to the situation to minimize harm and begin rebuilding as soon as possible.

We may not have the simplest job description in the world, and what we do can change by the hour or minute, but any way you look at it, public relations professionals get to share their clients’ interesting stories with the world. That has to be the best part of our job!

This is the first installment of a three-part series of posts explaining the art of public relations. In my next post, I will address media monitoring and reporting services.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Twitter Does Not Give you Carte Blanche to Threaten Rape

A New York Post article detailed the harassment of Gabby Schilling.

By Kim Tarasiewicz

When baseball great Curt Schilling tweeted congratulations to his daughter, Gabby, on being accepted to play softball at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island, he likely didn't expect that the response from some men on Twitter would be to threaten to rape her with a baseball bat. Or their fists. They weren't particularly picky.

He was upset and appalled – and rightly so. Now he is pursuing legal means to press charges. I, for one, am pleased to see someone making it clear that threatening and demeaning online statements are acceptable. Not just the bullying, which everyone agrees is wrong, but the idea of online anonymity and the breakdown of common courtesy and respect. Many of the offenders in this case were not teens, but were young adults who should have known better.

Working in online marketing and media, I wasn't surprised to learn how easy it was for Schilling to track down and uncover the real-life identities of the offenders. We've written about social media “privacy” before on the PR Lawyer, but it’s amazing how many people who use social media do so without truly understanding that nothing is anonymous.

“It was easier than anyone might think,” wrote the New York Post. “Schilling, 48, began Googling their Twitter handles, their online friends, tracking down their Facebook and Instagram pages, following all the little cyber bread crumbs we unknowingly leave behind each day.”

How did these men think they wouldn't be found? But more importantly, how did they think this was acceptable behavior in the first place?

After two of the men were identified, they faced consequences of their own. One, a Yankees employee, was fired from his job, and the other, a New Jersey community college student, was suspended and “will be scheduled for a conduct hearing where further disciplinary action will be taken,” according to a statement the college posted on its Facebook page on March 2.

The public relations fallout for both the men and the organizations to which they are tied is very real. The college had to do damage control by suspending the student, dealing with the police and putting out a statement of apology. Now every time someone runs a search for that college, this will show up in the newsfeed - probably not helping recruiting and, I’m certain, causing long-term public relations issues for the college.

From the liability aspect, the legal rules and precedents of social media are just beginning to be formed, and my guess is much development and change still is to come. Social media is a new focus for law firms and attorneys have begun to caution their clients to refrain from using social media when they are a defendant in a case. Social media statements are also starting to be admitted as evidence in some court cases.

While the full legal ramifications of the Schilling case have yet to be seen, the public reaction has been clear. The general population is fed up with online haters, and it’s time for things to change. My hope is that the courts agree and rule in favor of civility and respect.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Who is in Your Tribe of Successful Women?

By Gina F. Rubel

I am very fortunate to have met some really amazing women along my life’s journey. Last week, a client sent me an email (in response to me saying thank you for a referral) which said, "Behind every successful woman should be a tribe of women who have her back! I'm in your tribe."

I am grateful!

This got me thinking about the women who are in my proverbial tribe and what makes up a successful women’s tribe. It’s like the old adage, “It takes a village.” Yes, it does. And I certainly would not be successful without the women (and men) who have had my back along the way.

Here is my attempt to say thank you, in a small way, to just some of the successful women who have helped the village that I live in to prosper and grow.

Family: First and foremost are family and roots. If it wasn't for my mother who is there to look out for me every day, there to help my husband and me to do everything that it takes to keep a household running smoothly, I would not be a successful woman. End of story. Thanks, Ma.

Friends: Then there are my friends, both near and far, who I can talk to about anything and everything. I can let my hair down, be the personal me, shed the suit for sweats, shut off the electronics, walk along the beach for hours on end, eat, drink and be merry, in our own special way. To my friends from Pennsylvania to the Jersey Shore, Annapolis to the Bahamas, and L.A. to Leicestershire (you know who you are), I say thank you!

Colleagues: It is true that you spend more time with your office mates than you do most anyone. And I am blessed to be surrounded by amazing and successful women, each in her own right! The ladies of Furia Rubel, Laura Powers, Sarah Larson, Kim Tarasiewicz, Rose Strong and Megan Quinn, and the consultants who support us, are the eyes, ears, backbones and brains that contribute greatly to our success. And to the other ladies who have passed through our doors, whether it was for a three-month internship or for a several-year stay, I am grateful to each of you.

Clients: Behind every successful woman are other women. Yes indeed. And the women that I have the opportunity to work with are absolutely amazing; the best in their respective fields. Thank you, ladies. I am in your tribe! A special shout out to a few of those ladies, clients both past and present, who have made a special difference in my life professionally and personally.


Women’s Network: There are also those professional women you meet along the way, perhaps at a networking function, professional association or board meeting. You know instantly that you are attracted to their energy and enthusiasm for life and success (however they define it). You also know that you want to see them succeed because of their brilliance, attention to detail, expertise, and sheer love of life and love for what they do. There are just too many amazing women for me to name them individually, so here is a list of some of the organizations within which I have met women who have made a major difference in my life:

  • Bucks County Women’s Fund (Now the United Way of Bucks County Women’s Initiative)
  • Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce
  • Legal Marketing Association 
  • Network Now
  • Philadelphia Bar Association
  • Women’s Business Forum of Bucks County

Women Trailblazers: Sacrifice of self and service of others: these are two traits that I have consistently found in women trailblazers. One such gamechanger is Nikki Johnson Huston, Esq., a tax attorney and antipoverty advocate who was once homeless. Nikki speaks to and writes for communities all over the world, sharing her story of survival and her message of hope. Most recently, Nikki launched DONAFY, a location-based micro-philanthropy iPhone app that will allow people to easily locate, notify and donate to nearby nonprofit organizations that service those in need of housing, food, medical care, mental health or job assistance.

In celebration of Women’s History Month (March), reach out to and say thank you to all of the women in your tribe. Let’s make history by honoring one another and remembering that none of us can survive alone. Use the hashtags: #WomensHistoryMonth #Women #LeanIn #ChangeTheRatio

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