Category Archives: PRSA-NCC

For your calendar — upcoming PR and business networking holiday events

Tuesday, December 4

IPRA Holiday Luncheon

Maggiano’s, Tysons Galleria, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Network with independent public relations practitioners in the DC area over chicken parmigiana and ravioli at the annual IPRA holiday luncheon.

Tips: This event typically draws around 40-50 independents in their 40s to 60s who have known each other for several years, and attend the lunch annually, as well as a few sponsors and the occasional newcomer.  Men wear dark suits and Christmas ties, ladies wear festive suits, or holiday sweaters.  A collection is taken for charity, so bring a checkbook.  Good networking and terrific food, and almost no one checks their Blackberry at the table (refreshing).  Register for the event ($35/$45).

WWPR Chocolate Holiday Party

Co Co. Sala Lounge and Chocolate Boutique, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  Join Washington Women in Public Relations for their Chocolate Holiday party in Washington, DC, featuring drinks, appetizers, and chocolate!

Tips: Both men and women attend these events, but they’re usually attended primarily by fashionably attired, well-heeled female PR pros in their 20s and 30s, as well as a few seasoned pros with great connections.  A mannerly bunch, and a friendly crowd to newbies.  Register for the event ($12/$25).

Wednesday, December 5

The One Party

Current, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.  Tonight is the local PR/Advertising industry’s biggest holiday bash, The One Party.  The multi-sponsored party typically draws about 200 people.

Tips: It’s loud and the drink lines are long, and no one ever dances, but it’s the event to see and be seen, and admission includes two drinks and sushi.  A mix of ages and backgrounds, this event skews  to the young and hip advertising/creative set.  Almost everyone behaves.  Bring cards, but this one’s mostly for the photo-ops.  Register for the event ($45/$55).

Monday, December 10

PRSA-NCC Holiday Party

Carmine’s, 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.  Join the National Capital Chapter of the PRSA for holiday networking, drinks and Italian hors d’oeuvres in Washington, DC.

Tips: Expect to network with a suited and mature crowd of about 50 PR professionals who know each other well.  There are typically chapter award giveaways, as well.  Better for chapter insiders.  Register for the event ($40/$55).

Wednesday, December 12

AWC-DC Holiday Tea

Willard Intercontinental, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Indulge in a Holiday Tea, including vanilla cranberry scones, tea sandwiches, and petits fours, in the Peacock Room with AWC-DC (Association for Women in Communications, DC Chapter) PRofessional Solutions, LLC CEO Kate Perrin will be the keynote speaker.

Tips: A powerhouse of influential and classy women at all stages in their careers in the most refined setting in Washington.  Dress to impress, and mute your mobile at this one.  Register for the event ($45/$55).

Washington Network Group Holiday Networking Reception

Lima Restaurant and Lounge, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.  Cash bar and complimentary appetizers.  Register for the event ($15/$30).

Wednesday, December 19

Social Media Club DC Holiday Happy Hour

Cause-The Philanthropub, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.  $10.  Millenial group.  Information and registration.

Check out these other business-related holiday events in the Washington, DC area

Saturday, December 1

Ad2DC Holiday Pub Crawl and Ugly Sweater Contest

Various locations, 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. Free; buy your own.  Millenial group.  More information and registration.

Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce 30th Anniversary Celebration

Sheraton Reston Hotel, 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. $175.  More information and registration.

Tuesday, December 4

Arlington Chamber of Commerce Holiday on Tap

World of Beer, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. $20.   Information and registration.

Loudoun Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Networking Social

O’Malley’s Pub/Holiday Inn, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. $15   Information and registration.

What’s Next DC Holiday Meetup

Public Bar in DC, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. $15.  Information and registration.

Wednesday, December 5

Washington DC Chamber of Commerce Holiday Business Networking Reception

Hay-Adams Hotel, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. ($40/$65).  More information and registration.

Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce Holiday Reception

Hilton McLean/Tyson’s Corner, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. ($50/$100).  More information and registration.

Tech the Halls Holiday Party (Multiple tech organization sponsors)

Opera Ultra Lounge in DC, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.  $25.  More information and registration.

Thursday, December 6

Prince William Chamber of Commerce Silent Night and Holiday Auction

Old Town Manassas Candy Factory, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.  More information and registration.

Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce Holiday Mixer

Community Business Partnership, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.  Free.  More information and registration.

National Association of Women Business Owners, Greater DC Chapter, Holiday Party

Tysons Corner Marriott, 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. $75/$90.  More information and registration.

Alliance for Women in Media, National Capital Area Affiliate, Holiday Affair

NAB Broadcasters Hall of Fame in DC, 6 p.m. $20  More information and registration.

RefreshDC Holiday Happy Hour

Bread and Brew, Free.  7 p.m.  More information and registration.

Friday, December 7

TIVA-DC Holiday Party

Wisconsin Place Community Recreation Center, 7 pm – 10 pm, $25.  More information and registration.

Tuesday, December 11

George Mason University Business Roundtable Holiday Happy Hour

Pomodoro in Vienna, 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Free.  More information and registration.

Thursday, December 13

Greater Merrifield Business Association Holiday Luncheon and Auction

Courtyard by Marriott/Dunn Loring, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. $25. More information and registration.

SMPS DC Holiday Party (Society for Marketing Professionals, DC Chapter)

Bistro Bis at the Hotel George in DC, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 pm.  $75/$95.  More information and registration.

Women in Technology Holiday Party

Gannett Building, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. ($45/$65) More information and registration.

Saturday, December 15

Online News Association Holiday Party

Solly’s in DC.  7 p.m. $5.  More information and registration.

Tuesday, December 18

Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce VA Holiday Event

Sheraton Pentagon City, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  Free.  More information and registration.

For more holiday events in the Washington, DC area, refer to my holiday event listing on my other blog, Cool Yule.

Mark your calendars for these August events, DC communicators!

Think nothing happens in DC in August?  Think again!  There are plenty of educational and networking events coming up this month for communicators, and people interested in learning more about PR, marketing, and social media!

Click each event for registration information.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 6 pm – 8 pm  “Second Annual PR Community Mini-Golf Tournament”

Sponsored by: PR Community (and you know who)

Where: Jefferson Falls Miniature Golf Course, 7900 Lee Highway, Falls Church, VA

Fees:  Self-pay ($6/game). Call (571) 269-7559 if you want a $5 Red Hot & Blue BBQ platter (Pork BBQ sandwich, cole slaw, red-skinned potato salad, pickle and sweet or unsweet iced tea)

Wednesday, August 3, 12 Noon – 2 pm  “Executive Communicators Summer Idea Swap – Discovering Solutions to Your Biggest Challenges”

Sponsored by: Washington Women in Public Relations

Where: Hager Sharp, 1030 15th St., Suite 600E, Washington, DC

Fees: Free for WWPR and PRSA members; $15 for non-members. Bring a bag lunch.

Tuesday, August 9, 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.  “Top Tech Trends PR Professionals Need to Consider” 

Sponsored by: Public Relations Society of America, National Capital Chapter

Where: Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center, 901 K Street NW, 11th floor, Washington, DC

Fees: $35 for PRSA and WWPR members; $55 for non-members; $10 for students and retirees

Tuesday, August 9, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.  “After Hours Mixer”

Sponsored by: DC Ad Club

Where:  Jackie’s Restaurant, 8081 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD

Fees: Free. Buy your own drinks.

Wednesday, August 10th, 8 a.m. – 10 a.m  “Monitoring and Analytics” (breakfast and presentation)

Sponsored by: The Association for Women in Communications-DC Chapter and Burson-Marsteller Digital

Where:  1110 Vermont Avenue N.W., 12th floor, Washington, DC

Fees: $25 for members of AWC, WWPR, BPR and CPC; $35 for
non-members.

Thursday, August 25, 12 Noon – 2 p.m.  Brown Bag Seminar: Presentation by Tammy Gordon, Social Media strategist for AARP

Sponsored by: Washington Women in Public Relations

Where: TBD

Fees: Free for WWPR and PRSA members; $15 for non-members.  Bring a lunch.

I stand by my words, not your feelings

Mary Fletcher Jones

Today I received a call from Brigitte Johnson, PRSA-NCC President, about my recent commentary in Examiner.com suggesting changes for Thoth, based on my experience with the DC Ad Club’s ADDY awards.  The commentary also appeared on this blog.

First of all, I would like to present the two comments I have received on this article:

Excellent post Mary. It’s a yearly challenge figuring out which award competition (if any) makes sense to enter. This was a previous lunch crew topic, and you’ve done a great job vocalizing many of the concerns and question marks that came up in our discussions. Well done!

And this:

I agree with you completely – local judges with a vested interest in their work and those of others they work with, should not be the judges of awards competitions. The tendency towards bias is just to strong. My experience with the Thoth awards has been that it’s expensive, and we have entered work that literally built new brands and markets, and not even made it past the first cut. We were given the judges remarks, anonymously of course, which was useful.

But to me, the biggest problem with the Thoth awards is that everything has to be submitted on paper which seems completely archaic in today’s PR world. When your entire program was conducted online, how can you fairly judge work that is then printed out and put in a binder?

The Addy’s are prestigious and their judging is a much more sophisticated system. As for IABC, I have judged their national awards programs and found the judging to be systematic and very professional. Entrants can submit either on paper or electronically or both, which is a much better way to showcase work. IABC has a multi-tiered system as well. There is a first layer of judging that wades through all the submissions, and then there is another round to pick the winners with a second group of judges. I’ve seen judges opt out when they have a vested interest or bias against an organization submitting work.

I don’t know if I have an answer to your bigger question, but at this point, we’d rather satisfy clients than judges. There’s no better recommendation than someone you’ve done great work for.

I want to summarize the content of this call for three reasons: first I want to clarify any misinformation that may be alleged about my article and its claims.  Secondly, I like hearing other people’s opinions, but I don’t like getting calls like this one.  Thirdly, I want to again invite comments on my blog or my article.  If you have something to say, go public!

So, the purpose of the call to me was this: she wanted to express to me that there were inaccuracies in the article.

I was ready to listen to her.  I am not infallible.  I can be wrong about things.  I was curious to know what she had to say.  I also pointed out that anyone is welcome to comment on the article, or on my blog, and that I had contacted the Thoth chairs with questions prior to writing this article, but had not received responses to my questions.

Brigitte’s first issue had to do with my discussion of transparency in my article.  In comparing the competitions, I noted that the Ad Club identifies the judges.  The PRSA-NCC does not, nor does it state how the judges are selected, or which categories they judge.  I said that in comparison, that disclosure was not transparent.  I did not say: the PRSA-NCC was trying to hide something.  Brigitte thought I was insinuating that in my article.

Saying something is not disclosed is not the same as saying someone is trying to hide something.  I didn’t say that and I didn’t allege it.  I can only stand by what I write, not what others suppose I may be implying.  That is entirely subjective.  I don’t have any control of other people’s opinions.

If I’m going to say something, I will say it.  I don’t mince words or beat around the bush.

Which brings me to the next issue of impartiality. I stated that the PRSA-NCC way of judging the competition with local judges did not ensure impartiality in the same way the DC Ad Club competition, which is judged by non-local judges.  It would be hard to argue with that statement. She felt it was inaccurate.

I did not say the Thoth judges were partial.  I don’t have the information to make that claim, and frankly, I would be loathe to make a claim like that even if I knew for a fact they were.  I don’t have an issue with the Thoth competition as an entity.  I stated the system of judging could be improved, to ensure impartiality.

However, it would be truly hard to support the assertion that the PRSA-NCC way of selecting judges is truly better than the DC Ad Club way.  I think it would be really difficult to say it would be impossible for the judges to be partial with this current approach.  And that was my point.  As much as I support the PRSA-NCC, the chapter has to be open at least to the idea of discussion of improvements.  Personally, I don’t feel I could impartially judge entries from PRSA-NCC members myself, as much as I would try to, because I know so many members so very well. And if I won a Thoth award, and then discovered that two of the judges on the panel were my friends or clients — which in my case would not be a far stretch — I think I would always wonder (even just a little) if that had anything to do with it.  That’s why I don’t enter!

Why not just eliminate that worry and go with non-local judges?

I don’t have that worry with the DC Ad Club.  So I think it’s better.  I wish PRSA-NCC did it in a similar way.  Argue with that, if you will, but first support your opinion with why the PRSA-NCC way is in fact better.  Because so far, I don’t see it.

What was interesting is that she shared that in the past, some Thoth judges didn’t want to be identified publicly, because they were afraid of members contacting them, or walking up to them at the ceremony, and saying “Why didn’t I win?” I felt that only point only reinforced my suggestion of using non-local judges for the competition.  That only served to illustrate the possibility that using local judges may create a situation that is too close for comfort.

The third way my article was inaccurate, Brigitte wanted me to know, was in implying that the judges were, or had been in the past, unethical in some way.

I will confess, this is where I lost my temper with her, and asked her to stick to the statements made in my article.

I have not implied the judges were unethical.  I have not alleged it.  I have not stated it to be so.  And I do not believe it to be so.  No form of the word ethical is included in my article. I resent this very, very much.

All I can stand by are my own words.  I can’t control what someone else feels I am implying, especially if they are an interested party.  If anything, I am candid to a fault.  If I think something’s unethical, I will say so.  But I didn’t say it, I didn’t suggest it, and I didn’t write it, and again, I can’t control what she thinks of me.  I ask to be judged only on what I write.

The fourth issue where she said there was inaccuracy was my assertion that Thoth brought in revenues for the chapter.  Now, here, she might have a leg to stand on.  I’m not privy to chapter financials.  I’m willing to present that Thoth loses money, provided with that evidence.

But I did not claim Thoth makes or loses money.

I stated Thoth brings in revenues for the chapter.  The definition of revenues is income received from activities, services, or products, and the chapter charges for those entries.  I have also heard leaders in board meetings talk about the importance of bringing in revenues from Thoth entries.  It is inarguable that Thoth brings in revenues.

It is also indisputable that it costs 50% + more to enter Thoth than the ADDYs.  And in my opinion, the ADDYs delivers more value because it is a tiered competition, the work is judged by non-local notables in the field, and the winning entries are displayed, gallery-style, and publicized.  I believe that value is something PRSA-NCC and PRSA should emulate.

Hey, I knew I was going out on a limb with this one.  Politically, sure, it doesn’t make sense to voice your opinion about these kinds of things.  After all, some of the people involved with Thoth are my acquaintances and my friends.  They want to promote Thoth, and I want to promote Thoth, too.  I just want it to be better.  I knew it was possible they would get defensive, or take it personally, instead of recognizing that I am suggesting changes that would benefit all members.

So, I am open to criticism of my own opinions.  Just, please, support your own opinions with facts, as I have tried to do.

Try to keep an open mind about changes that may benefit the chapter.

And please! Take my words for what they are, and not what you imagine them to be.

Mary Fletcher Jones is a member of the PRSA-NCC and has volunteered for PRSA-NCC in past years.  She has also volunteered for the DC Ad Club and worked on the ADDY awards.

To Thoth…or Not?

Getting an award for your communications work is a real feather in your cap, second in value to your business, I would think, only to landing a great client recommendation or testimonial.

Area communications organizations know this, and capitalize on this.  The annual awards programs are major revenue-builders, as the leadership will readily admit.  That’s one reason why there are so many categories!  More entries, more chances to win, and more revenues.

That’s not to say awards programs are not valuable endeavors, even to those communicators who don’t win awards.  I enjoy the awards programs because I like to see what kinds of approaches are being used by communicators — when that observation is provided for.

Locally, DC communicators have a variety of awards from which to select — PRSA-NCC has the Thoth Awards, The DC Ad Club offers the ADDYs, and IABC-DC has the Silver Inkwell Awards.

Honestly, I don’t know much about the IABC-DC awards.  I’m not a member.  But I do know about the PRSA-NCC and DC Ad Club award programs.  I have worked to promote both in past years.

But I have only entered one of these competitions.  Can you guess which one?

Nope.  Not that one.

Although I identify primarily with the public relations community in the DC area, the awards competition I care about enough to enter is the ADDYs.

Why?  Well, for several reasons.  I thought I would take a look at that today, because I think the Thoth Awards can learn a thing or two from the ADDYs.  If the Thoth Awards were structured more like the ADDYs, I would enter my work. Until then, I think I’ll just observe and clap politely 🙂

Reason #1: Significance of Award

The Thoth Award is a great award to have.  But the ADDY Award carries more prestige, for this reason: once you win the DC-based Thoth, that’s it.  You do not go on to win regional or national recognition for your work.  The ADDYs, by contrast, are a tiered competition. DC area winners go on to compete in the regionals.  Regional winners go on to compete for the national awards.  Winning a national award is a big deal. Winning a DC-based competition, not so much.

I believe the PRSA should implement a tiered competition, as does the American Advertising Federation.  The current system is more than a little confusing, and not tied to the local chapters at all.  It would make for a more meaningful and exciting competition, and would also promote national standards of excellence for the profession.

Reason #2: Impartiality of Judges

The primary reason why I have not entered the Thoth competition is because of the way the judges are selected.  I am not alleging that the judges are prejudiced one way or another, and I appreciate the volunteer service of past judges.  I’m sure they strive to be as impartial as possible.  The problem is, the way the judges are selected for Thoth does not ensure impartiality in the way that the ADDYs do, and impartiality is a critical aspect of any awards competition, particularly a local one.

In a nutshell,

Thoth Awards: Local judges.  No transparency.

ADDY Awards: Non-local judges.  Full transparency.

The judges for the ADDYs are selected for their expertise in each category.  Many are known nationally for their work, and no judges within the Washington metropolitan area are included on the judging panel.  An effort is made to create diversity among the judges.  And, while it is a volunteer gig, their expenses are reimbursed, which is important for out-of-area travel and makes the impartial nature of the judging process feasible.  Also the names and backgrounds of the judges are released beforehand.  Walking into it, you know your work is going to be assessed by some pretty incredible folks.  Even if you don’t win, that carries value for the entrant.  But importantly, they’re evaluating the work.  Not you.

The Thoth Awards, by contrast, are judged by members of the PRSA-NCC, usually the prominent ones.  There are only about 1200 of us.  If you’re active in PRSA-NCC, chances are, you will personally know the judges, and they will know you, to some degree.  Possibly a higher degree of acquaintance than name only, if you have created work worthy of an entry.  Not that you know who they are, because the identities are not made public.  But they know who you are.  And just that fact, I think, makes it really hard for them to be impartial judges of the work.  They’re just too close to it.  Also there doesn’t seem to be any established way of selecting judges.  I know people volunteer and I know people are asked.  But what criteria is used?  They appear to be hand-selected by whoever is in charge of Thoth that year.  There is no clear criteria for judge selection for the Thoth awards (at least, none that is publicly available or disclosed) the way there is for the ADDY Awards.

The anonymous nature of Thoth judges presents a problem for many entrants.  You know your work will be judged by your peers, but you don’t know if those peers actually have any expertise for your category.  You’re not assured, for example, that they have experience in, or even an understanding of, the category they are judging.

Honestly, you don’t even know if the judges are entering the competition themselves that year.  (Of course, I don’t think they should, and I don’t think Thoth committee members should enter the competition for the year they serve, either.)  None of that is clear to the entrant.

These factors make their assessment difficult to value, as an entrant.

Reason #3: Presentation of the Work

As I mentioned, communications organizations load competitions with plenty of categories because awards programs generate big revenues.  It gets a bit challenging, actually, when it comes time to actually distribute all those awards on awards night.

Because space and time are at a premium for awards ceremonies, the Thoth Awards tend not to display the work in a way that is meaningful to the awards ceremony attendees.  So you can attend the Thoth Awards, either as an entrant or just as a spectator, and walk away with a bunch of names that evening, but no real demonstration of why their work was considered excellent.  You don’t know why they won.  The learning piece is not there. The award winners are not even displayed on the PRSA-NCC website.

The ADDY Awards, in comparison, is a whole different affair.  Visit the DC Ad Club website and you will see the winners, not just for the most recent year, but for several recent years.  Think what a marketing benefit that is for the award-winner!

But more importantly, display of the winning entries (at the various levels) is an integral part of the ADDYs.  There is ample time to peruse the gallery of entrants, both before and after the awards ceremony.  And during the ceremony, care is given to display the entries, as time allots (for example, videos are shown, and screen grabs of websites and logos are displayed).

Not only does this make for a more interesting evening, but you actually learn something about what constitutes excellence in this area, and for that category.

Reason #4: Cost of Entry

The cost of entering the Thoth Awards has not prevented me from entering.  What has discouraged me from entering is the judging approach.  But I think it’s worth pointing out the Thoth Awards is a pricey endeavor, in comparison to other awards programs.

This would prevent some firms from competing to the same degree as other, more well-heeled firms.  I imagine if you were submitting 10 entries, cost could be a factor.  And there is a marked difference in entry fees between the ADDYs and the Thoth Awards that I can’t see as justified.

Last year, a DC Ad Club member could enter the ADDYs for $100 per entry.  That is the one time fee.  The local winners would not have to resubmit entry fees to compete at the regional and national levels. That is included, if you win.

And let’s face it, the time to assemble the entry costs money, too.  With the ADDYs, you do that just once.

Contrast this to the PRSA-NCC’s Thoth awards.  Not a tiered competition.  Not flying in and hosting judges, like the ADDYs does.  Not renting a space sufficiently large to display award winning entries, like the ADDYs also does.

But in excess of 50% more expensive, per cost per entry: $160, for PRSA-NCC members. How is that justified?

So, thinking about entering the national PRSA Bronze Anvil or Silver Anvil competitions?  You’ll have to enter those competitions separately, and pay separately, too.  In addition to the time you’ll spend preparing your entry, get ready to write a check for $300 per entry for the Silver Anvil, or $175 for the Bronze. But don’t forget to tack on $25 extra if you pay your entry fee by check!

And, tough luck, there are no regional categories for the Bronze Anvil or Silver Anvil Awards.  Nor are there Student Awards (with suitable discounts), as there are for the ADDYs.

Should You Thoth?  Or Not?

The truth is, the Thoth Awards are not the only game in town.  Communicators do have options.  As much as I support the PRSA-NCC in other ways,  I think the awards program requires serious restructuring, from the top down.

It’s time for the PRSA to emulate the American Advertising Federation, and for its chapters to do likewise.

Mark your calendars for these February communications events

Look for Mary at these Fletcher Prince-approved communications events this month!

Dick Keil, managing director of Purple Strategies, is presenting on crisis relations at the Independent Public Relations Alliance monthly luncheon this Thursday, February 3, 11:30 a.m. in Tysons Corner, VA.

Work in video? Looking for your next gig?  Maybe you should check out the TIVA-DC meeting this month on Thursday, February 3, 6:30 p.m. in Arlington, VA.

Interested in getting started with YouTube video?  Become a fan of Fletcher Prince on Facebook and join me for lunch on Tuesday, February 8 to talk about your YouTube video ideas for your business.  Visit the Fletcher Prince Facebook Event announcement to register.

The National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America will present a panel discussion on using Facebook to promote your business, association, government agency, or nonprofit on Thursday, February 10, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. in Washington, DC.  U.S. Navy Memorial & Heritage Center.

Monday, February 14 is Valentine’s Day — Your friends at Fletcher Prince love Facebook ♥ Page Fans!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

The topic of the Washington Women in Public Relations Brown Bag lunch on Thursday, February 17 is “Starting Growing and Optimizing Your Business in 2011,” a panel discussion moderated by fave Fletcher Prince client Kate Perrin of PRofessional Solutions.

Among the featured panelists will be Carrie Fox of C. Fox Communications, an award-winning agency that elects not to pay their interns.  Hopefully, they will change that policy in 2011!

Join PRONet (a committee affiliated with PRSA-NCC) for Happy Hour and network with communicators on Wednesday, February 23 at Piola in Arlington.  Happy hour events will be held throughout the area on the fourth Wednesday of the month, each month through October 2011. $10 in advance; $15 cash at the door, includes drink and appetizers.

January 2011 marketing events and get-togethers in DC area

Did you resolve to market smart in 2011?  Me, too!  I plan to attend a number of marketing events in 2011.  Join me and learn new techniques and approaches, and find inspiration.  (The events in green are Fletcher Prince-sponsored events).

Check back each month for new event announcements, and send your event information to mary@fletcherprince.com

January

January 11

Need a once-over of your marketing plan?  Need some quick advice as you get started with social media?  If you are a Fletcher Prince Facebook Fan, you can join me for lunch to discuss your year’s marketing plan at Tuesday, January 11. Click here for details.

January 15

Interested in audio or video podcasting? The DC Podcaster Alliance is having their kick-off meeting for 2011 on Saturday, January 15 at 2:00 p.m.  This is a free group that meets almost monthly in Falls Church; friendly bunch of folks.

January 19

Got the night off on Wednesday, January 19?  Join Ad 2 DC and the DC Ad Club at CDIA-BU for a presentation on tips and tricks for being the best creative professional you can be.  Down the hall, you’ll find the folks from TIVA-DC talking about what it takes to win a video competition.

January 20

Then sign up to have lunch with Washington Women in Public Relations on January 20 to hear Shashi Bellamkonda speak on social media. I would love to have you sit with me at lunch!

January 26

Wednesday, January 26 is the first “Watercooler Wednesday” sponsored by Ad2DC and the DC Ad Club.  The networking event (geared toward younger advertising professionals, but all ages welcome) is free and is held each month at a different location.

The same night, the Social Media Club (DC chapter) is having a free event in Arlington about how social media and technology is used in the entertainment industry.  Starts at 6 p.m.

January 28

Have a drink with some amazing creative professionals in advertising who are traveling here to judge the DC ADDYs on Friday, January 28.  More details forthcoming from the DC Ad Club.

Four can’t miss PR holiday parties this week

If you are a DC communicator and thought you could put away your party shoes after The ONE Party at the beginning of this month, you are sadly mistaken.  There are four holiday parties for communicators this week. There’s something right for everyone, so let the networking begin!

MONDAY, December 13

Who: PRSA-NCC (The National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America)

Where: One Lounge, 1606 20th Street NW, Washington, DC (Dupont Circle Metr0)

Time: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Cost: $35 PRSA and WWPR members; $55 non-members

Details: PRSA always puts out a nice spread for their elegant holiday parties.  Their holiday event is most meaningful for PR professionals who are involved in some way with the Chapter.  Most attendees are seasoned professionals (20+ years of experience), with a few younger people also attending.  The recipients of PRSA-NCC’s Young Professional Award and the Diamond Award will be recognized. Cash contributions to the Salvation Army or to Goodwill Industries will be encouraged. Light fare and refreshments will be served.

TUESDAY, December 14

Who: WWPR (Washington Women in Public Relations)

Where: Hudson Restaurant and Lounge Restaurant and Lounge, 2030 M Street NW, Washington, DC (Metro: Dupont Circle or Farragut West)

Time: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Cost: $25 WWPR members; $35 non-members

Details: WWPR holiday events tend to be low-key and right for networking (not noisy, not a huge crowd).  Expect a 80/20 female/male ratio, with ages skewing to 20s and 30s, but men are welcome to attend, and women of all ages belong to WWPR.  Ticket includes one drink and appetizers.  WWPR is collecting gift cards in $10 denominations to grocery stores, Target or Payless, and gently used and new toys and books for all ages, for their charity, Children’s Law Center.

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Who: AMADC (American Marketing Association )

Where: Cure Bar & Bistro, 1000 H Street Northwest, Washington, DC

Time: 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Cost: $25 members; $35 non-members

Details: Includes one drink or wine tasting and appetizers.  There will be a silent auction.  AMADC is collecting toys and books at the event to donate to local charities. AMADC events tend to draw a diverse crowd (different occupations and experience levels).

WEDNESDAY, December 15

Who: SMC-DC (Social Media Club of Washington, DC)

Where: Elephant and Castle, 900 19th St., Washington, DC (Metro: Farragut West)

Time: 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Cost: Free; buy your own beer

Details: SMC-DC will have a designated area at the bar at this fun happy hour event skewed toward younger professionals, many of whom work in tech. There will be karaoke. Expect a big crowd of Millenials, plenty of noise, and beer.

Partying…With a Purpose (plus videos!)

 

Mary Fletcher Jones with PR buddies at The One Party (photo: Metromix)

David and I have been hitting the holiday parties this week (and probably next week, as well).  This week, we networked and socialized at The One Party and the IPRA Holiday Luncheon.

Still to come: PRSA-NCC’s Holiday Celebration (Public Relations Society of America, National Capital Chapter) on Monday, December 13, the WWPR Holiday Party on Tuesday, December 14 (Washington Women in Public Relations), The Social Media Club of DC Happy Hour (with karaoke!) on Wednesday, December 15, and of course, the Fletcher Prince Holiday Open House on December 22.

Networking at holiday parties is a fun and funny thing.  First of all, the parties are often quite crowded and loud.  You see so many people you want to talk to, but you can often do only quick hits.  You would think that nothing of any business use would happen, or that networking with your colleagues (which some people might call competitors) makes less sense than networking in your own industry.  With the costs involved, you might be tempted to skip it (often around $50 a piece, plus sitters, clothes, and transportation).

But that would be a big mistake.  It would be a big mistake for any business owneror manager, regardless of their industry to pass on these events.

Because, in my experience, in addition to just the fun part of connecting, the parties are really quite a useful investment, so it’s quite important to put in an appearance.  I have obtained a few clients as a result of connections I made at these events.

What’s key to these events? Is it having an elevator speech all ready?  No, not really.  The important thing is to bring a big smile for pictures, because they will published.  Everywhere. Facebook. Industry blogs.

The other thing I would emphasize (which I can always improve on) is being a good listener.  You don’t really have to talk about your business at all IF you have done your homework all year!  And by that, you have dedicated sufficient time to making your brand visible and memorable.  And by that I mean,

  • You have a Facebook Page that you update frequently.
  • You have YouTube video.
  • You have an outstanding website/blog.
  • You commented on other blogs of colleagues.
  • You at least have a presence on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • You took pictures all year round, and talked about your business.

If you have done those things all year, you can relax at the holiday party and listen to other people talk about their business…or their kids…or the appetizers.  Which of course, makes you a much more desirable companion at a party or luncheon.  Sometimes the way to get business for your business is not to talk much about your business! 🙂 Listening is good.

It may seem superficial, but it may also help to wear something that stands out, so people remember you.  I’m not talking about reindeer antlers! But at a crowded event, you may not get a chance to speak to everyone, and you do want people to remember you were there.  From the One Party, I remember Paul Dunning in his black velvet jacket and Eric Frost in a beautiful suit.  I know both of them well, but they looked outstanding that night.  And at the IPRA party, Sandra Remey wore this beautiful winter white suit.  It was unexpected and gorgeous on her, which made her memorable at the luncheon. Image makes an impression!  Whatever you do, don’t wear a little black dress to these things (especially if you are a guy, that just wouldn’t look right).

What’s the must-have accessory (besides a cool business card) for a holiday event?  A CAMERA. Everybody kills themselves to look good and almost no one brings a camera.  You should take pictures and especially track down any professional photographer at these events and BEG them to take your picture!  I cannot tell you how much my online photos have opened doors for me.  Also if you are feeling shy, or you feel like you have no one to talk to (I get shyness attacks all the times), then you can whip out your camera and start taking pictures of everything.  You are never bored with a camera.

One last tip, have fun 🙂

Here are some highlights from The One Party we attended this week…

 

Communicator’s Calendar: November

Look for your friends from Fletcher Prince at these November communications-related events around town — join us!

Thursday, November 4

IPRA Lunch Program – Smart Phone APPS: Do They Add Value to Your PR Tool Belt?

Thursday, November 5

TIVA-DC Panel Discussion: 2D and 3D Animation

Friday, November 5

FotoWeek Opening Reception, Corcoran Gallery of Art

Friday, November 5 and Saturday, November 6

Fletcher Prince Holiday Greeting Video Marathon

Tuesday, November 9

Washington Network Group – The Race to Establish Your Identity Online

Wednesday, November 10

WWPR Washington PR Woman of the Year Awards Luncheon

Social Media Club (SMC-DC) Politics Gets Social Panel Discussion

Monday, November 15 – Friday, November 19

AIGA DC DC Design Week

Wednesday, November 17

Digital Video Users Group Meeting – Pocket Camcorders

And just for fun…

Thursday, November 18

Ladies Night Out at Merrifield Garden Center

Friday, November 19

Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows opens in theaters

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