Spreading the Virus, Prepsta Style

Sometimes, you just have to remember that this PR gig is just plain fun. You get a chance to be extraordinarily creative, work with some of the best and brightest minds on some of the coolest campaigns (yo!).

The Smirnoff Raw Tea campaign makes me laugh. Download the video and check out the “prepsta guide.” I think I’ll buy some just to reward the ad/marketing agency that came up with this campaign.

viral marketing: Any marketing technique that induces Web sites or users to pass on a marketing message to other sites or users, creating a potentially exponential growth in the message’s visibility and effect.

PR Firms that Blog

The Bivings Report provides a list of PR Firms that blog. If you’re considering a PR Agency career, I’d recommend you check these out. If you’re not considering an agency career, but would like a career in public relations in some capacity, I suggest you check these out. If you plan on coming into contact with PRos sometime in your career, I suggest you check these out. In short… check these out.

I really enjoy Richard Edelman’s Blog: 6 A.M.

And I gotta say that the MWW Groups “Straight Talk” is pretty interesting. Timely and topical with a strong dose of the author’s opinion. Love it! I hadn’t come across it before, but it’s now on my Bloglines subscription list.

What do you think is more valuable to you as a PRo in training? A blog that’s primarily commentary on current events, or one (like The Horn Group), that’s more focused on the agency’s work and capabilities?

Reflections of an AAE

In the first of what I hope will be many contributed posts, Nathan Strauss, a former student and the past GM of Allen Hall Public Relations talks about his first couple of months as an Assistant Account Executive at Edelman in New York.

Reflections of an AAE

Today is the last day of work for Edelman interns. As they begin to pack up their cubicles and eagerly chatter about returning to college, it sets in that I’m not leaving with them. At this time last summer, I too was an ambitious intern. Now, a full-time employee, I reflect on my transition and the career I’ve begun in public relations at Edelman in New York.


Fortunately, my transition from intern to AAE has been seamless. I credit this to my always attempting to work at least one level above my title – a golden rule in agency PR. As an intern I was always persistent in trying to get work that’s usually reserved for an AAE. Now, as an AAE, I’m managing vendor relationships for our satellite media tour as well as for an event at our client’s headquarters – AE or SAE stuff.

At times, it may seem there is little differentiation between interns and AAEs other than a nameplate; however, entry-level professionals must always remember that expectations are higher for them – in terms of the quality of their work as well as in the length of their working day.


While I’ve been able to excel at Edelman, there have also been challenges. Foremost, re-adjusting to the working world – 9+ hour days in an office is a difficult contrast to college life. Even more difficult are the slow days – where account work is few and far between. While in college nothing to do was a rare blessing; sitting idle in a cubicle is a different story.

When things are busy, it’s invigorating. The fast pace and short deadlines agencies are known for isn’t a myth. While this type of working environment is my preference, in my excitement I’ve made careless mistakes that reflect poorly on me – mistakes I won’t make twice. Quality is just as important, if not more so, on a short deadline.


  • Be excited about what you do, for your own sake. Although mundane tasks like media monitoring may seem dull, keep the bigger picture in mind. Take pride in finding that breaking news story and being the first to send it out to your team. If you lose interest, not only will you be miserable, your team will lose interest in you.
  • Listen, listen, listen. Take advantage of who sits around you. At Edelman, where even SVPs sit in cubicles, eavesdropping is not only valuable, it’s unavoidable. Listening to interactions with clients and other execs is always insightful.
  • Image, while not everything, counts for something. This is PR, after all. Come to work looking professional and put-together, every day. Matthew Harrington, one of the most senior executives at Edelman, wears a suit to work every day – even on casual Fridays.
  • Don’t go into debt. You’re not in college anymore; you should be paying off your loans, not incurring more debt. If you’ve chosen to move to cosmopolitan city (like New York) this can be difficult. While it may seem like spending 70% of your income on rent is reasonable, think twice. Stay in the black, even if it means you have to make sacrifices to your lifestyle.

You can reach Nathan at: nathan.strauss@edelman.com or (212) 704-4573

MR 101: Follow Directions

Matthew Stibe at Bad Language vents about public relations PRos (using that term loosely) that just can’t seem to follow directions. I’d like to think this is rare… but I know it’s not. And I’d like to think that none of my former students would do this.

Rule #1: Be respectful. If a reporter is clear about his or her deadline and clear about the preferred contact method, respect it.

Seems pretty basic right?

Tips for Starting Out

From Media Orchard (one of mt favorite blogs): 17 Tips for Those Just Starting Out in Business.

I would like to highlight #13

13. Accept responsibility when things go wrong. Be ready to say that something is your fault and apologize for your error. Do so even if you have to accept responsibility for something that is technically someone else’s error. You’ll earn respect.

I would add to this particular tip – be gracious. Accept responsibility graciously and without excuse, without blame. And you can try this tact even before you go out into the business world. Leave your sense of entitlement that you deserve an A at the door and earn it. As the Media Orchard tip says, you’ll earn respect.

Bookmark This: Web Resources for PRos in Training

Cruising the ‘net and the ‘sphere (as in blog-o-sphere), I found some great links that you should take a look at:

Writing Tools
This blog by Roy Peter Clark at the Poynter Institute has some great tips for keeping your writing fresh and interesting.

The Bad Pitch Blog
A great blog about what makes a good pitch… and what doesn’t from two journalists.

Media Guerilla: The Best of

Some great tips on blogger relations and the tools of doing PR now.

Oregon Blue Book Media
For my students who don’t have access to a database, and you’re building an Oregon media list – start here.

Green Media Toolshed
This site is specifically for grassroots environmental organizations, but has some really great tips that you can use for any campaign.

Kind of a mixed bag of joy for you. Have fun! If you have links you’d like to see on PRos in Training, let me know!

Thanks, Rosina @ Flickr, for a great photo.

Watch What You Say When the World is Listening

I try to communicate the importance of online language and “presence” to my students – in class and as an adviser. The basics of spelling and grammar aside, a recent inappropriate post on Jeff Jarvis’ well-regarded blog, BuzzMachine, brings the point home once again.

An individual named Chris (no last name) recently posted a rather obnoxious comment. Jeff has had some trouble with Dell, as in Dell Computers, which he’s documented in his blog. I loved PR Guru Richard Edelman’s take on this saga. He makes some outstanding points.

My take is this – when you are representing a company, whether you are a summer intern (as “Chris” turned out to be) or you’re the executive of the company, you must conduct yourself online as if the whole world is listening. Chris, I’m sure, has spent his high school and college days learning to communicate online through such sites as MySpace and FaceBook. And the type of comment that Chris left for Jeff may have been acceptable in that realm when talking to friends. But it was wholly inappropriate for dealing with a professional writer.

I’m often amazed at how horribly unprofessional emails from students can be. This is an excerpt from a recent email (name withheld):

I’m sorry about not telling U ahead of time about my unplanned absence. Like
I mentioned I didn’t know that I was gonna be absent that day until the day
of. Our plans were to com back the night before and that just didn’t work
out some how.
I’m really sorry that I walk in late a lot. It’s just really hard for me to
catch the bus on time. I live pretty far out & I know that parking is
impossible on campus. On top of not having a license.
I was wondering if our quiz was a scantron quia or a write in answer or a
paragraph? If it’s a scantron do we need to bring out own? Thanx a ton!

If you were Dell, or even the corner coffee shop, would you want Ms. -xoxo representing you. Is this the way she would pitch an editor?

PRos in training, please remember that what you write in email or online is a representation of who you are and what you have to offer an employer, etc – and – that the whole world may indeed be listening.

MR 101: Is your story newsworthy?

Public relations PRos understand the media – they understand how to help their clients tell their story to the right people. Understanding the media is part of the value that public relations PRos bring to the table.

As a PRo in Training, it may be difficult to figure out whether the story you’re being asked to pitch is newsworthy or not.

Does it have local relevance?

If you’re pitching the local press, you should have a local story. Or if you have a national story, what’s the local angle? Think about why the launch of a new Web site would be of interest to the local press before you pitch it.

A sub-question might be “Is it relevant to the media to which you are pitching?”

You may be pitching a magazine, or a national television show. In that case, you need to consider the story’s relevance to that media’s audience.

If it’s a local issue, how does it stack up against other newsworthy items?

As a PRo, you need to be a consumer of media – particularly the media in which your client, company or organization is interested in being featured. What else is going on in the world?

An editor once told me, “We’ll run the story unless the Pope dies…” Meaning, of course, that your story can get bumped, or get ignored in favor of breaking news. The irony is that just after the story ran – maybe a week – the Pope actually did die. Weird.

Does it tie in with a national or international trend?

If you had any kind of local soccer (excuse, me football) related story in the last month, you were money with the local media.

Is it unique? Or does it involve someone or something interesting, doing something novel?

Your standard “so and so announced today” release isn’t likely to highlight what you know is a unique story about what’s going on in your organization. What IS unique – figure out how to feature that in your pitch.

I’ve got a real estate development client that’s developing, well… some real estate. Imagine that. The marketing director and I have gone to great pains to tease out all the interesting stories about this particular development – the first, the best, the greenest, etc. And we’re getting good response

Does it have to be told now? Is there an immediate hook?

Timing is important. If there is a degree of urgency or immediacy to your pitch – and it HAS to be real (no fake urgency, please!) – your story will be more newsworthy.

Does it involve babies or animals?


*Thanks, Erica!

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