Yesterday, about 300 guests gathered at the W Hotel in downtown Washington, DC to fete three outstanding honorees and hear “Scandal” inspiration, crisis PR expert Judy Smith deliver the keynote.
I was lucky to be guest of gold sponsor PRofessional Solutions, LLC, a Fletcher Prince client. I also lucked out by winning seasons 1-5 of Mad Men on DVD at the raffle.
Fletcher Prince supported the event by purchasing a full page ad in the event program.
2013 Honoree Pam Jenkins, president of the public affairs firm, Powell Tate, was named Washington PR Woman of the Year. She spoke movingly about her career and balancing the needs of her family, and recommended involving children in a mother’s work life. She also emphasized how important it was to leave work behind and foster other interests.
Judy Smith, President of Smith & Company, has written a new book about managing the impact of crises on one’s personal brand. She has worked for clients ranging from Paula Deen to Monica Lewinsky to the family of Chandra Levy, among many other newsmakers. Ms. Smith said she was guided by three principles in her professional life: power, persistence, and preparation. She fielded some questions from the guests in attendance and provided general advice on PR challenges.
Not a huge fan of Miley Cyrus’ new image – but commentator David Johnson has a point — she and the people behind her brand crafted a strategy, carried it through, and stayed on message. That’s the PR/Marketing lesson for today.
Also interesting: Twitter played a big part in bringing her to the media forefront.
According to this author, tweet activity is a factor to sponsors and advertisers now, and MC was the topic of more tweets than any other performer during the MTV Video Music Awards program.
So, we’ve got another example of how branding works, and how to leverage Twitter. PR-wise, it works. But is everything about PR? For that matter, is everything about being successful and a household name?
Doesn’t the music still matter? Or is that a really naive thing to say? Is it really all about twerking now?
It makes me sad to think of all the musicians who have dedicated years to learning and perfecting their craft — who put all their creativity into music, making untold numbers of sacrifices along the way, and they are eclipsed by someone who wiggles their bottom.
I know the music industry is competitive and branding is nothing new to performers. Still, I have to wonder: at what price did her current success come? Will she look back at this time and have regrets about the damage she did to her credibility as a musician? Or is it all about the money?
Sometimes, I think what we learn and apply in PR and marketing can work a little too well, you know what I mean? It can take on lightning speed. Her transformation was meteoric. Perhaps that was the intent.
To illustrate, here are two videos. One is from less than a year ago, December 2012. To me, then she had an image that she could own. Her voice is not spectacular, and the song is Dolly Parton’s, but she could have built on this.
And this is Miley, today… Her look and sound seem like a formulaic, success-built hybrid of Madonna/Gwen Stefani/Lady GaGa. Her voice is still unimpressive, she can’t dance, and the video is gratuitously salacious. She has all the presence of a little girl walking around in her mama’s shoes. But she offers shock-value. She got views.
The thing is: where does she go from here? This is flash-in-the-pan marketing, and the only way to maintain it is to just keep dialing up the shock value. Musically, she has nowhere to go, unless she metamorphoses once again, because this is all packaging.
I just question whether a 20-year-old is in the position to make these kinds of life-changing decisions. Maybe she is. Someone in PR and marketing is advising her. Is this responsible? I hope they can live with the results.
I’ve asked some of my favorite bloggers to guest blog and provide us with some of their favorite creative and affordable marketing tips.
In this post, Jay Morris takes a slightly different twist with advice on finding opportunities in adversity.
For most of my career as a public relations and marketing professional, I’ve worked for organizations with fairly small communications budgets. I’ve joked that if you can afford to give me a desk, a telephone and a computer, I can do my job. The truth is, some of the best PR and marketing is done on a shoestring.
Yes, sequestration, furloughs and the gloom of austerity have darkened our doors of late, and PR folks are once again dealing with tight budgets and cutbacks. But I ask you, when have PR and marketing departments ever been flush with money?
In good times and bad, the organizations I’ve worked for have tightened their belts, reorganized and right-sized in ways that have severely impacted PR and marketing. If you want to last in this business, you truly have to be a survivor. You have to be a PR ninja, a marketing guerrilla. You have to think strategically while executing nimbly.
So here are some lessons learned from the austerity trenches:
Let go of what isn’t working or worth doing. In the 1980s, I worked for a large D.C. trade association. We were told that $1 million had to be cut from the operating budget, a lot of money back then. But in hindsight, it wasn’t enough to force us to rethink our business model or make meaningful changes. Instead, we became contortionists in our attempt to maintain member services at a reduced cost. For example, a four-page, weekly newsletter I edited and mailed to 25,000 members was “cut” by going to eight pages every two weeks. Sure, we saved a bundle of money by chopping our mailings in half, but no thought was given to the threshold question of whether we needed to continue the newsletter, much less double its issue size.
About a decade later, I was at different trade association that was suffering from a precipitous decline in membership. The axe fell again, but this time it was severe and painful. Most of my colleagues in the PR department were let go. Only two of us survived. But in building a new department from the ashes of the old one, a funny thing happened: We scrapped what wasn’t working and only focused on the essentials. We had “permission” from management and our stakeholders to reinvent public relations, albeit at a reduced level. Some of our best work came out of this period.
Jim Collins has said for years that businesses need to simplify and concentrate on what they do best. Great business leaders know when to eliminate those things that aren’t working. Sometimes those decisions are painful, but they almost always result in greater success than sticking with the status quo. Collins wrote an article for USA Today a few years ago about his annual “stop doing” list. It’s a great read and will get you thinking about what you need to really focus on in your life and career.
Leverage the resources you have. One of the organizations I worked for was a federation of about 1,000 state and local associations. In creating a nationwide network of media relations and community outreach volunteers, we were able to accomplish much more than we ever could have done on our own—and at a fraction of the cost. Collaborative thinking, strong volunteer leadership and a unified purpose helped us forge cooperative alliances with our state and local affiliates.
We developed training materials, held workshops and provided numerous “best-practice” examples of good public relations. We also recognized outstanding PR and community service initiatives through a national awards program. The training and recognition ensured that our volunteers were singing from the same songbook. In fact, we wrote the songbook, so in that way we shaped the message all across the country!
Out of adversity comes opportunity. It’s a hard truth to accept, but setbacks can become crucibles for positive change and growth. Anything that disrupts your routine, forces you to reexamine your goals or makes you change course can be a good thing in the end. Early in my career, I was reorganized out of the PR department I loved and into the government relations department. At the time I was upset and fought the change. As it turns out, I had the opportunity to work for one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. In my new role, I learned the ways of Washington, spent time on Capitol Hill, wrote testimony and issue papers, and spoke to reporters about legislative and regulatory concerns. It was a great training ground for my later job as a public affairs director.
Believe in yourself. It often seems that everyone in an organization is a PR pro—except you. Accountants, attorneys, lobbyists and IT people are accorded expert status, but the lowly PR guy gets no respect. Everyone tells him how to do his job or fails to tell him what he needs to know to do his job. Once, when I was working day and night to execute a name and logo change for an organization, the head of IT came by to see me and sketched on a piece of scrap paper the logo that he felt was the perfect solution for us. While well intentioned, his visit reminded me that outsiders tend to view our work as easy or superfluous. This mentality, unfortunately, puts PR budgets and staff at higher risk for cuts. Some of this goes with the territory, but some of it can be prevented by believing in yourself and your capabilities, doing your homework and demonstrating that PR and marketing can make important contributions to the bottom line.
The one distinct advantage that PR and marketing people have (or should have) over everyone else is their creativity, their willingness to think outside the box. That’s huge, and it’s our saving grace when the meat cleaver of budget cuts falls unevenly or austerity comes knocking at our door.
Jay Morris is president of Jay Morris Communications LLC, an independent marketing and PR firm in Alexandria, Va. He blogs at wayward journey.com and tweets at @JayMorCom. He also serves on the boards of PRSA-NCC and the Independent Public Relations Alliance.
The PRSSA chapter of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia is hosting a Communication Career Fair. Companies, associations and government agencies are invited to participate, at no cost. Tables, signage and refreshments will be provided by the Communication Department.
Time: 9:00am -1:00pm
Date: March 21, 2013
Location: Johnson Center, Dewberry Hall
Interview prospective employees, discuss internships, and connect with GMU students interested in PR and marketing careers.
To reserve a table and obtain parking information please email Rasheeda Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia is actively recruiting employers for internships for their students. They are wonderful to work with. Learn more here: http://www.longwood.edu/career/22366.htm
Longwood is hosting a Spring Job and Internship Fair on February 19.
Whichever you work with, remember, pay your interns, even if they are earning academic credit. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s the law.
- Longwood University’s College of Business and Economics Announces Maintaining Prestigious AACSB Business Accreditation (prweb.com)
This 1 minute video shares public relations tips and describes the PR services offered by Fletcher Prince http://www.FletcherPrince.com. Fletcher Prince was listed among the Washington, DC area’s top 25 public relations firms by Washington Business Journal in 2012.