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How ‘non-sexy’ businesses succeed on social media

By Kevin Allen | Posted: February 25, 2014
There are some brands for whom social media is easy. When I was managing the Cinnamon Toast Crunch account, all we had to do was show the product and the crowd went wild. It helped that my team and I liked the product as much as the fans.

It’s not so easy for other brands.

Dockers are synonymous with “boring dad.”

Staples sells office supplies. Lame.

There’s absolutely nothing sexy about any insurance company.

What about tampons? My wife once sent me to quickly grab an enormous box of tampons at Costco, and then I walked around the entire expanse looking for her with the box of tampons under my arm. I can tell you, there’s nothing cool about tampons.

And yet, all of these products and brands have to have a presence in social media. Some are surprisingly successful.

How do they do it? Well, click here for the answer in this handy infographic:

Media Insight On ... The White Plains Examiner

Andrew Vitelli, White Plains Examiner, editor-in-chiefAndrew Vitelli, Editor-in-Chief, The White Plains Examiner

 Andrew Vitelli has been the editor-in-chief of The White Plains Examiner since helping launch the paper last August. Prior to that, Vitelli was the editor-in-chief of Examiner Media’s Putnam edition, which he helped establish in March 2009 and interned at The Baltimore Examiner, a daily newspaper unrelated to Examiner Media.  Vitelli, a Hastings-on-Hudson native, holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Maryland.

Q.  Congrats on your new role heading up the brand-new White Plains Examiner!  Why did Examiner Media want to expand into the City of White Plains?  What sort of perspective and insights do you hope the publication will bring to the region?

A.   Before The White Plains Examiner launched, Examiner Media covered two counties, 14 towns, eight villages, one city, and countless communities. It didn’t, though, cover any cities quite like White Plains. The fact that White Plains is the county seat and the business hub of the region definitely attracted us, but it was more than that. For such an important city, it’s also a tight-knit community; when you see the tall buildings and packed parking garages, it’s easy to forget that the population is less than 60,000 (only the fourth largest city in Westchester).

When The White Plains Times stopped publishing this spring, Adam Stone (Examiner Media’s publisher) and I felt there was a real need for a print publication and a great opportunity to succeed here. When Pat Casey, who had been publisher of The White Plains Times, said she would join our paper, we saw that we had a great opportunity to come into the city.

In other communities Examiner Media has covered, we’ve consistently heard from our readers that they appreciated our thorough and unbiased coverage of local issues. When it came to local political and governmental issues, they felt that we gave them the facts and let them form their own conclusions, keeping our opinions to the editorial page. We also try to give a sense of what’s happening on a community level; for every local business, community fundraiser or high school sports game, there’s a story to be told.

Q.  Does The White Plains Examiner focus solely on White Plains?  Or, does your coverage extend to any outside towns? 

A.  Examiner Media has three newspapers in Westchester (also The Examiner and The Northern Westchester Examiner) and one in Putnam. Sometimes, an event that takes place in one of the other Examiner coverage areas might have a direct effect on White Plains residents. If Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino holds a press conference in Pleasantville about a countywide initiative, White Plains residents will be interested in reading about it and it will likely run in our edition. We call these “crossover” articles.

The 18th Congressional District, 89th Assembly District and 37th Senate District also are in the coverage area of multiple editions, so this allows additional crossover opportunities.  As a rule, though, we focus on publishing only articles relevant to the White Plains community. You won’t read about a Greenburgh Town Board meeting, and we won’t cover an event taking place outside White Plains unless there’s a direct White Plains connection. In our Happenings page, we do list some happenings taking place outside the city if it’s something we feel city residents might have interest in.

Q.  Please describe your new role/responsibilities as Editor-in-Chief.  What’s a “day in your life” like?

A.  As Editor-in-Chief, I’m responsible for everything on the editorial side of the newspaper’s production. I cover or assign the stories, assign photographers, decide what runs where, decide which pictures to use and how large they should run, decide what the headlines should be, etc.  As the editor of a local paper, no two days are the same. One day, I might be running around from event to event, whether it’s a press conference or an interview with a local store owner.  Another day, I may spend most of the time at my computer writing.  I often can be found at Starbucks or anywhere else there’s free wireless. 

Q.  How and where do you gather most of your story ideas and find your sources? 

A.  Some stories come pretty easily – I’ll go to a municipal board meeting and write what took place, or I’ll get an e-mail that someone is having a press conference. Some, though, require a little determination, creativity and even luck.  A reader might contact me with something he or she thinks should be investigated, and I’ll have to decide whether it could be a story or whether I’m spinning my wheels.  Sometimes it’s looking deeper into something than I may have to just to get the bare bones story.   

When it comes to feature stories, it’s usually an individual reaching out to me.  The most important thing, I’ve learned, is developing a lot of relationships with a lot of people and talking to people who know about the community I’m covering.  The more people you talk to, the better the chance one will tell you something really useful.

Q.  What do you like best about working with PR professionals?  And, what are some of your pet peeves about them, if any?

A.  In all my experiences, PR professionals have been among the most enthusiastic and energetic people I’ve worked with. They always go the extra mile in getting me in touch with an additional source I need for a story or getting me one last piece of information, even when I ask them 30 minutes before my deadline.

Q.  How do you prefer PR people contact you? (via email, phone, social media)

A.  The best way to reach me is by e-mail ([email protected]) but it never hurts to call too. Social media is a great way to reach out to someone when you don’t have his or her contact information.  I’ve used Facebook to find people for stories many times – but journalists don’t check their Facebook posts or Twitter mentions nearly as obsessively as they check their e-mail.

Ask The Expert About... Crisis Communications

Kathy Lewton, APR, Fellow PRSA, is a Principal of Lewton, Seekins & Trester LLC and has spent more than 35 years in health and science public relations. She has worked with healthcare institutions including Columbia Presbyterian in New York and University Hospitals of Cleveland, as well as physician associations and managed care plans. She was also a senior executive at agencies including Porter Novelli and Fleishman Hillard. In her Kathy Lewton

current  role she provides strategic counsel to leading hospitals, academic medical centers, medical schools and physician associations. She is also the author of "Public Relations in Health Care: A Guide for Professionals" and is a past national president of PRSA. She has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism and a master's in healthcare administration from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. She is a winner of the PRSA Health Academy's Frank J. Weaver Lifetime Achievement Award.

Our "Ask the Expert" editor Christina Rae recently caught up with Kathy for some insight on the latest in managing crisis communications, and here's what she had to say:

Q. What do feel actually constitutes a "crisis" for an organization?

A. A crisis is any situation that could materially damage the organization's reputation. This can be something the organization has done itself (Toyota, Johnson & Johnson), something that happens to it that results in findings that the organization was at fault (BP), or even a situation in which it was not at fault, but is harmed by the actions of another party (Tylenol).

The latter is the easiest to manage (if handled properly with transparency and prompt action), compared to situations where the organization's clearly at fault. It's interesting to see that J&J, long the "gold standard" for crisis management (dating to the classic case where an outside party tampered with its flagship product, Tylenol), is now a textbook case of poor crisis management. J&J now has numerous problems with product quality and safety and a crisis response that has ranged from deceptive - sending people out to buy the bad products off the shelf - to opaque and unresponsive.

J&J's stock and reputation with a key audience - mommies and mommy bloggers - are being battered. This spotlights an important lesson to be learned: just because you manage a crisis right once, don't assume it is in the organization's DNA.

With J&J, the Tylenol crisis resulted from an outside's harmful actions; the company was wronged, but did the right thing to protect customers. In today's multiple situations, it's J&J that did the wrong thing in terms of company operations, so it's obviously much harder for them to figure out how to defend themselves.

Q. How can communicators best persuade management about the importance of being proactive? What should organizations have in place to proactively help protect themselves before a crisis of any sort occurs?

A. The best way to persuade management about the importance of having a solid crisis plan in place AND to rehearse scenario drills (at least quarterly) is to hand them the headlines. Show specific examples of "this happened to BP and Toyota, and it could happen to us." Discuss what would happen to your company if you reacted as they did, how much damage could/would be done.

There's a lot of good publicly available research that demonstrates the material value of reputation, and how it can be damaged. Literally sketch out the story to management: "Suppose this happens here, we're slow to respond, we dissemble, we have our facts wrong - and HERE is The New York Times headline. Like it? No? Okay, then here's how we're going to avoid it."

Also, be sure to show management examples of where companies have done a particularly good job of being transparent and have lived to thrive and prosper. I find all-hands-on-deck scenario drills - lock the doors and really role play a horrible crisis - invaluable. You work through all conflicting views that exist, with your lawyers and CEO sitting right there, and hammer out agreement such as you'll never say "no comment," etc.

Q. Why is it critical that management properly communicates during a crisis? Are there times when an organization should NOT communicate publicly during a crisis?

A. You have two choices: (1) silence or (2) tell your story, honestly and openly. Silence is assumed by the public (all of your publics) to mean one thing - you are guilty and hiding. Or, possibly worse, that you don't care enough to be honest and open.

What's so ridiculous and counterproductive about silence is that, by and large, the public will forgive even the most horrible lapses if you acknowledge the situation, take responsibility, apologize where it's needed, address the needs of the injured parties, and explain how it happened and what you're going to do to make sure it doesn't happen again.

For example, look at Chrysler's odometer tampering scandal decades ago. People all over America were wondering Can I trust that this Chrysler I'm buying hasn't been driven around for months? Lee Iacocca stepped up as the spokesperson and said, in essence, we did this; it was wrong; it should never have happened; it will never happen again on MY watch and we'll make it right for any customer who was affected or has concerns. The crisis was over in a matter of days, and people admired Iacocca for his honesty and his action.

Do the right thing by your employees, your customers, and your business partners, and they'll forgive even fairly egregious errors.   If you hide, lie, dissemble, distort, whine, they'll hate you first for the error, and hate you again for how you tried to weasel out of it. (No offense to weasels!)

Q. What are some of the first steps that communicators should take during a crisis?

A. Breathe!  Senior management wants to see cool, calm, competent counsel on the scene (that would be YOU). Ideally, bring in outside counsel ASAP because you'll need the dispassionate, "my ox is not gored" counsel from an outsider. An outsider can also look executives in the eye and say "NO, you cannot say NO COMMENT" without worrying about losing their day job.

Also, get the facts as fast you can find them. With a 1440/7 news cycle, you can't wait to gather all of the information. Go with what you have and craft (not just write, craft every word) your first statement so that the story isn't out there for hours with "representatives from Company X failed to respond to our repeated calls."

Failure to respond looks like (1) We don't know what's going on in our own company; (2) We don't care enough to tell the world, or (3) It's a HUGE scandal and we're desperately shredding papers as fast as we can. When you do go out initially, at that point, be sure to say "this is all that I currently know, we will continue to update you." Then, use your website, email, tweets, Facebook, etc., to update, update, update.

Q. What are some of the biggest mistakes that management tends to make with regard to crisis communications?

A. Some of the biggest mistakes are:

  • Forgetting to talk to your key audiences - employees, customers, partners, stockholders, etc. - directly and continuously, with YOUR story. It's so easy today to reach out to your key stakeholders, under and around the media firestorm, and make sure they have all of the information and understand your point of view. THEY are the people you care about most, and often they are utterly ignored and left to read the story on The Huffington Post.
  • Dithering around while Bloomberg posts the story with no comment from your company.
  • Allowing lawyers to put duct tape over the corporate voice by saying maybe this will be a lawsuit 10 years from now. The response to that is, "Look, it's in the Court of Public Opinion RIGHT NOW -- and our reputation is at risk". If you've been doing management education and scenario drills all along, hopefully you have already worked out how to handle these situations, so the lawyers may not play their trump card. But if they do, senior management won't buy it.
  • Being afraid to just tell the truth up front and right away. At some point, it will "all come out" anyway. And then not only will you have to confront the truth, but answer the questions about why did you lie, why did you hide, etc. The medicine is bitter whenever swallowed, but getting it down immediately means you can spend your valuable time cleaning up and rebuilding confidence, etc. Conversely, stalling just means you'll waste time that could be better spent and you make your audiences dislike you. The ultimate mortal sin is simply lying - and yes, the company will always eventually get caught and if you're the PR person who lied and knew it, you're toast.

Q. How has managing crisis communications changed over the past ten years?

A. The time frame compression is the most obvious. When I started in crisis work, we'd say "Well, we have till 4 p.m., when we have to get back to the local paper and TV stations, so we've got six hours here . . . .. ." Now, you can hear the reporters typing and filing the story as you speak with them during the first phone call about "Did you know that your plant just blew up."

It's critical to have a solid team of people who can think quickly and get an instant-up plan in place (gather the facts, write the first statement, pick the right spokesperson and GO!). Fortunately, we have instant channels at our disposal, too - our websites (always, always, have a dark site that can go up in five minutes and some great tech guys to make it happen), Facebook, Twitter, online news releases, Skype and on and on.

As we're talking to Bloomberg so they can write their story, we need to be posting that same message, and all the details we have, via our "controlled channels", so that we don't rely on a reporter to translate, interpret and select.

Q. What do you feel are some of the most effective recent examples of properly managing crisis communications? What are some of the worst recent examples? Why?

A. The horror stories are so obvious:

  • BP: horrible spokesperson, either untrained or unwilling to stay on message; company dissembled, hid from the truth, etc.
  • J&J: recent massive product quality issues and slow, disjointed responses (after trying to cover up one problem by buying back the tainted product from drugstore shelves).
  • Toyota: sending the wrong person to Senate hearings, looking guilty (but they're recovering by doing right by their customers and they can build on the tremendous brand loyalty they spent years building up).
  • P&G: their diaper disaster was Mommy bloggers saying a new type of diaper was literally burning babies' bottoms. P&G first denied it was happening, while Mommy bloggers posted photos of burnt baby bums. P&G then said mommies aren't diapering their kids properly (blaming the victim, and insulting their #1 target audience). It continued downhill from there . . . . lawsuits, blogger attacks, boycotts and You Tube spoofs. Highlight (or low light): P&G spokesperson comment: "We're insulted that someone would imply that our products are dangerous."

The examples of good crisis management are harder to find, because when there's an incident and the company handles it immediately and appropriately, it fades away from view quickly. It's an incident, not a crisis.

For example, many hospitals have been faced with patient death situations and have learned to step up, share the facts, take responsibility, express sympathy to the patient's family and offer to do whatever they can.

I also think the food industry has learned (in most cases) how to handle food recalls. They get ALL the information out there instantly, via media, advertising (if needed), and the web, to give consumers everything they need to know to figure out if they've bought or eaten tainted food, and what to do about it. In 1996, Odwalla did a textbook PR approach in regards to their apple juice and mothers who were scared to death.

CEOs and PR people should ask the key question - How would I want to be treated or have my family treated in a situation like this? Then, the "right thing" becomes much easier to see.

Q. Anything else you'd like to share on this topic?

A. I'm always amazed at how many organizations don't have a solid and tight crisis communications plan that aligns with current media, communications and reputation environment. Many organizations also aren't getting senior management buy-in and expertise via scenario drills. If I were a PR director or VP anywhere, that is the #1 thing I'd start on my FIRST DAY on the job, because if you put it off, it's at your own peril.

Having a crisis occur, and the CEO look at you and say "What do we do?"  when you don't have a plan with the first three steps already identified certainly isn't going to be the best day of your career.



Ask The Expert  About... Employee Communications 

Laura Devlin, Principal at Strategic Communications Consulting, LLC, specializes in internal communications.  Laura has more than 25 years of experience in all types of communication and she served as Vice President, Communications, at Pfizer.  We caught up with Laura for some insight on the lLaura Devlinatest in employee communications.

Q. What does "employee engagement" really mean?
A. Employee engagement is really about creating business success.  It's building a level of emotional and intellectual commitment among employees that manifests in discretionary effort to "go above and beyond", a commitment to want to stay and to be a productive part of the organization.  There is an abundance of research that shows companies with higher employee engagement are generally more profitable and successful.

Q. What are the biggest challenges/barriers to getting employees truly engaged?
A. The biggest challenge is that there is no one thing to create engagement - there are multiple drivers.  Building engagement really requires a commitment from the top to do business in a way that considers managing the "people side" of the business as important as managing the other aspects of the business.  

Q. What are the top ways that internal communications help to effectively manage change within an organization? 
A. Internal communications should be part of the change management team.  In developing a change communication strategy some of the things to consider are:

1) Encouraging courageous leadership by preparing leaders and setting expectations for them to engage in face to face communications with employees. During times of change the most credible source of information is an employees' direct manager, so do everything possible to make that leader and manager communication channel effective.

2) Engage employees in the process. It's essential to give employees a voice in understanding and processing the
changes. So, if two-way channels don't already exist, maybe they can be created.

3) Communicate frequently and openly. Let employees know what to expect up front in terms of what will be
communicated when and build trust by delivering on your promise.

4) Demonstrate respect to employees by ensuring they hear information internally first whenever possible - that
they don't hear it from outside first.

Q. What are some of the biggest mistakes that senior management tends to make with regard to internal

A. There are common pitfalls that leaders can fall into as it relates to communicating with
employees. The good news is internal communications professionals can help leaders avoid them. Some of the
common traps are:

  • They tend to underestimate the level of influence direct engagement with employees has on an
    It's important that managers at all levels communicate with employees, but at the highest
    levels, senior management sets the tone by "walking the walk and talking the talk" and holding their
    leaders accountable for the same. 
  • They lose interest in the message and risk not bringing the organization along. Before a new business
    strategy, change, or other initiative is communicated to employees, it is generally discussed for weeks
    or months among senior leaders. Because they have already heard the message and have been actively
    part of the discussion, they already understand and are ready to move on, just when employees are hearing
    it for the first time and are likely far from real understanding and commitment to the change.  
  • They shoot the messenger. Building two-way dialogue in companies is important to generate honest input
    from all levels. How leaders listen and respond is important in order to keep that dialogue open and build
    trust in the organization.

Q. In today's "information overload" world, what are some key things to keep in mind when communicating
to employees?

A. Within organizations there is no shortage of communications. I think the challenge for internal communicators is to
gain some control over all of the messages and materials being directed to employees and coordinate those
communications in a way that makes it easy for employees to absorb them, see how they fit together; and if they are
to take any action, what they need to do. One impactful exercise is to gather all communications going to employees
over one week or one month - put them out on a table and look at them - what are you trying to communicate to
employees? It shouldn't be about volume - it should be about effectively delivering the messages.

Q. From your point of view, what communication channels resonate best with employees today?
A. That really depends on what you're trying to communicate to whom, the culture of the organization, and the
capabilities that exist in terms of infrastructure. It's worth doing some simple research within the organization to know
what works best for it.  That said, hands down, you can't beat face to face communications between employees
and their managers.

Q. Anything else you'd like to share on this topic?
A. Today, more than ever employees are stretched. They are doing more with less and at a very quick pace. Employee
communicators have an opportunity to really show their value to their organization and contribute to their companies'
success by working with leaders to use internal communications as a tool to more effectively manage change and
build employee engagement.

Rob Peterson of BarnRaisers taught us how to Harness the Power of Social Media, and we have his presentation for you. (March 2011).

Need a primer on using Twitter for your business? Here's Nancy Fox's presentation from our December 2009 program.

Check out this latest podcast - Gearing Up for Web 3.0 by Jeffrey Barrett, Chief Web Architect, BurrellesLuce. (February, 2009).

The PR Job Market in the Recession (September, 2008). We called it a recession before the economists did, and asked Julie Jarrett, VP at leading PR recruiter Heyman Associates, to talk about what is going on in the job market and what recruiters are looking for.

8 Top Case Studies in PR: How They Can Work for You (August 2008). This podcast covers our program with Courtney Barnes, editor of PRNews, as she walks through eight case studies included in PRN's "100 Top Case Studies in PR."

Meet the Media luncheon, April 2008. Listen as Liz Anderson, Local News Editor of The Journal News; Dan Murphy, Editor, Rising Publications; Rebecca Surran, Anchor News 12 Connecticut; and  Jim Zebora, Managing Editor, Greenwich Time share tips on what they're looking for and how to work with their media outlets.

Using Social Media to create buzz: Andrew DeFiore of answerYes Interactive shares how to get the most out of this new way of communicating. From our March 2008 program.

"Are You Ready for Google Relations? How Google Changed Media Relations". This podcast of our November 2007 features Marketcom PR president Greg Miller on the far-reaching affects of search engine technology on our profession.   

The New Rules of Marketing and PR. In this podcast of our September 2007 program author and expert David Meerman Scott identifies specific channels and how to use them to reach audiences in the most direct way.

2007 Mercury Awards: the thoughtful and provocative remarks of the 2007 Practitioner of the Year James Lukaszewski, APR, Fellow PRSA, CCEP, given during the awards ceremony on June 7.

Meet the Media, May 2007. A podcast of good tips from Randall Wolf of the Journal News/ and Bob Marrone of WVOX/WVIP.

Is PR Stealing the Spotlight from Advertising?, March 16, 2007. A podcast with Andy Cooper, principal and co-founder of CooperKatz & Company and former president of Burson-Marsteller New York, on why public relations is overtaking advertising and how the current communications environment plays to PR's unique strengths.

How to Start and Build Your Own PR/Marketing Communications Practice. March 29, 2007. A podcast from the professional development workshop with Meryl Moss, Peter Schelfhaudt, Don Levin, and Tom Mariam.

Search Engine Optimization,  February 2007. Podcast by Lenny Laskowski, LJL Seminars on how to get the most from your (or your client's) website. 

Media Myths and Realities, January 2007. A podcast of Eryn Taylor, Ketchum senior research associate, regarding the results of the media-usage survey conducted by Ketchum and the University of Southern California's Annenberg Strategic Public Relations Center.  Also available is a news story by Richard Lee, Assistant Business Editor of The Advocate and Greenwich Time. Copyright 2007 Southern CT Newspapers, Inc.

Walking the Walk, November 2006. The podcast of reputation management expert and chair of TowersGroup, part of Middleberg Communications. Also read coverage by Richard Lee, Assistant Business Editor of The Advocate and Greenwich Time. Copyright 2007 Southern CT Newspapers, Inc.

Meet the Media, October 2006: Rosemarie Anner, executive editor of Greenwich Magazine and editor of In Good Taste; Frank Brill, business editor of The Journal News; Ed Baig, "Personal Tech" columnist for USA Today; and Robyn Walensky, reporter and anchor for Fox News Radio share what they like, don't like, and how to work with them.

What Journalists Want to See On Your Web Site, a Vocus white paper. This presents the results of Vocus's 2001 study that included 1,000 reporters from print publications, including dailies, newsletters and magazines. It outlines step-by-step what journalists find valuable on web sites, and formed the basis for discussion at our September 2006 program.

Marketing in moving pictures, by Richard Lee, Assistant Business Editor, The Advocate. Read The Advocate's coverage of our June 7, 2006 program, at which Jeff Christensen, managing partner of VideoIntros Plus, spoke about the increasing use and effectiveness of online video for public relations and marketing. The story and photo also ran in the Greenwich Time on June 8. Copyright 2006 Southern CT Newspapers, Inc.

Make Online Video An Essential Part Of Your PR & Marketing Programs - Download the podcast of the June 7, 2006 program presented by Jeff Christensen, Managing Partner of VideoIntros, which offers step-by-step guidelines on how to take advantage of this new technology.

"PR at the Precipice"~ Part I - Panel Discussion & Part II - Q&A ~ Download the podcast of the May 17, 2006 Tavcar Dinner, featuring spirited debate among panelists Jack O'Dwyer of O'Dwyer's Newsletter, Phil Hall of PR News and Sandra Dolbow O'Loughlin of Brandweek, all moderated by Jim Lukaszewski of The Lukaszewski Group.

"Blogs: Success Stories You Can Use" Download the podcast of the April 5, 2006 program featuring blog marketing expert B.L. Ochman, President,

When in doubt, disclose': PR chief urges colleagues to be clear with clients, By Richard Lee
Assistant Business Editor, The Advocate. Read the Advocate's coverage of our February 2006 program, featuring Helen Ostrowski, CEO of Porter Novelli. Copyright 2006 Southern CT Newspapers, Inc.

Meet the Media: RNN, Connecticut Magazine and the Westchester and Fairfield County Business Journals: Download the podcast of the editors and news directors of these operations, who spoke at our March 8 luncheon program.

"Podcasts and RSS: How They Will Change the Way You Do PR"
Marketing communications expert Joan Damico told how to use podcasting to deliver audio and video content to target audiences. Click here for the podcast of her program.

Tavcar 2005: Rita Cosby
Cosby, anchor of MSNBC's "Live & Direct" was the 2005 Tavcar keynote speaker, sharing her first-hand account of Hurricane Katrina as well as tips on how to place stories on her program.

Whiteboard Ideation Technique
Whiteboarding - a type of "interactive suggestion box" - is a useful tool that helps individuals, departments or entire organizations generate "The Big Idea" by stimulating connections among thoughts, facts, insights or idea fragments. Courtesy of Bryan Mattimore and Gary Fraser of The Growth Engine, who led a very popular PRSA Creativity Workshop in September 2005.

"How to Pitch the Media - and Get a Big Hit"
Robin Russo and Alyson O'Mahoney of Robin Leedy & Associates share proven steps for media placements.

Using Technology to Land Placements and Win Business
Tech public relations pro Peter Giles tells how new technologies can help your clients and your business.

Meet the Media: Tips on Working with Westchester/Fairfield Media
Four journalists from print and broadcast outlets share insights on how to get your stories placed.

Ten Signs of Job Dissatisfaction
Career coach Deborah Walker has advice on figuring out if you are
satisfied with your job, and what to do if you aren't!

52 Steps to Start and Build Your Own Communications Practice
Board member Don Levin shares some of the tips he presented at the
November 13 seminar.

2004 Official PR Salary & Bonus Report: A Vital Tool for Job Seekers
Spring Associates, Inc., a search firm, issues its annual report with data from a proprietary database of nearly 11,000 certified PR professionals. Dennis Spring, President, comments on the report and its findings, the job market and the search for PR jobs today.

PR Needs Disciplines: David Finn
David Finn, one of the founders of Ruder Finn, recalls professional highlights from his own career to illustrate how to present a client's case to the public.

Where Do We Grow From Here
Karen Kirchner, executive coach and managing partner of Career Management Consulting, a Stamford-based firm, and Robert Ferrante, Managing Director, The Cantor Concern, a leading Manhattan search firm, offer tips for those searching for a job in the public relations field.

PR Measurement Is Not Just About Clips
Mark Weiner, CEO of Delahaye Medialink, talks about PR measurement as bottom-line measurement based on sales figures and customer behavior.

Crisis Intervention for CEOs in Turmoil
Jim Lukaszewski, chairman of The Lukaszewski Group Inc. in White Plains, has counseled CEOs and senior executives during more than 25 years of troubleshooting sensitive corporate problems. He shares his feelings that in the vast majority of cases greed is the cause of corporate scandal.

"Third Party Credibility"
Jack Trout, author of Differentiate or Die, Big Brands Big Trouble, discusses differentiating strategies, including "third party credibility" that editorial coverage can provide to products.

Personal Networking: It's a Business If You Do It Right
James W. Farnham, author of Developing Mental Shelf Space, tells about the value of treating networking like a business and of establishing mutually beneficial relationships.

Want A Marketplace Hit? Poll The Synthetic Consumers
Winslow Farrell, head of Pricewaterhouse Coopers' Emergent Solutions Group and author of How Hits Happen: Forecasting Predictability in a Chaotic Marketplace, outlines how to make hits happen using an unusual computer-based approach to uncover hidden consumer patterns.

How To Deliver An Effective Presentation
Paul Cahill of Cahill Associates, a firm that specializes in presentation techniques, shares tips on how to deliver effective presentations.

The Return on Investment for Communications - and the Impact of Corporate Relationships
Hans V.A. Johnsson, an international public relations executive and senior advisor to the European strategic communications firm KREAB, talks about the new economy and the "mind-based" assets of a company.

When You (or Your Client) Decide To Go IPO
Tom Vos, President of EDGAR Online, Inc. and Jeff Christensen of the investor relations firm Christensen & Associates, discuss taking a company public and the importance of communications in building relationships with investors.

Strategic Thinking: What It Is and How to Give It
Jim Lukaszewski, chairman of The Lukaszewski Group, Inc. in White Plains, defines strategy as mental energy, a mindset. He gives key questions to ask yourself as you prepare to give strategic advice to clients.

Ways To Work The New York Times Regionals
Sue Keller, supervisor of The Times regional editions, Connecticut, Westchester, New Jersey, Long Island and the "city weekly," offers advice on how to "pitch the regionals."

IBM Web Pro Outlines How to Use the Internet to Launch News and Reach
Will Runyon, director of communications for IBM Enterprise Web Management, talks about how to enhance media relations via the internet and what the media likes and dislikes about internet corporate communications.

How To Please The CEO And Keep Your Job
Robert L. Woodrum, headhunter and former public relations executive, talks about activities and attributes that will help PR executives to hold onto their jobs, as reprinted from The Public Relations Strategist, Fall 1995.