Setting Professional Development Goals in 2013

PRESIDENT’S COLUMN – Chris Smith, Greater Fort Worth PRSA
If you aren’t constantly learning something new, you can lose your competitive advantage rather quickly in our fast-paced profession. So even if you don’t make New Year’s resolutions, you might consider at least setting some professional development goals in 2013.

Luckily, PRSA makes that easy. Each month except July, our Greater Fort Worth Chapter offers a luncheon program on a timely topic, including two half-day professional workshops planned this year. Already an expert on that topic? Go anyway. Members say they often get valuable tips simply from sharing a conversation at the table.

Can’t make a midday program? Try one of our evening mixers, primarily designed for networking but also to inform.

Senior-level practitioner? Go anyway. Giving back to your profession not only offers intrinsic rewards, but some senior members suddenly out of a job have learned the hard way that networking isn’t just something you do when you’re looking for work.

Feeling on the fringe? Get involved. With numerous chapter committees, there’s something for everyone to do. The important thing is to stay connected.

You can’t afford not to in 2013.

The Agency of the Future

by Margaret Ritsch, APR

What do the decades ahead hold for the Edelmans, Richards Groups, and other agencies of the world?

Four top agency CEOs shared their outlook at PRSA International Conference in San Francisco in October. Fred Cook, CEO and president of Golin Harris, completely overhauled his 700-employee global agency to adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace.

“As our world evolves, so do the needs of our clients,” said Cook, according to the Holmes Report from June of last year when the 55-year-old agency unveiled its restructuring plan. “Clients look to us for one: insights; two, ideas; and three, engagement,” Cook explained last week to a packed audience at the Marriott Marquis. “We’ve reorganized the entire company around that.”

Golin Harris abolished the traditional agency hierarchy and replaced it with four communities of specialists: Connectors, Creators, Catalysts, and Strategists, he said. Connectors handle traditional and media engagement; creators create; catalysts lead accounts; strategists plan, conduct research, forward big ideas. The agency of the future will have a much broader suite of services and new skill sets are needed, he said.

Colleges and universities are turning out thousands of generalists every year and there are not enough jobs for them, said Rob Flaherty, APR, Ketchum’s CEO and president. He encourages students to specialize in an area such as research, media relations, video, digital or writing. His agency no longer hires generalists, but instead looks for new college graduates who already have specialized skills.

At Ketchum, new jobs and titles reflect the rapidly changing needs to the marketplace. Community and conversation manager is one example. “Storyteller” is another, he said.

Flaherty said the availability of so much consumer data augurs a sea change in how the agency advises its clients. “Big data allows us to market to the individual,” he said. “There are a huge wave of new jobs at Ketchum around this.” The employee of the future, Flaherty said at the conference, “understands the power of data, is a connector, digitally nimble, and believes in the power of community.”

One way the agency is tapping the boundless creativity of digital natives is Ketchum’s new crowd-sourcing idea site, MindFire. Originally envisioned as a tool to solicit creative ideas from college students for Ketchum’s clients, Mindfire has now become a talent recruitment site, he said.

Hill & Knowlton’s Jack Martin said his agency is investing heavily in research and digital. Measurement is very important – one of the most critical things in the business, he said.

The client of the future will unleash the power of big data, desire transparency, appreciate smart risk-taking, and be willing to turn over its brand to the community, Flaherty asserted.

The good news for our students is that public relations is one of the top 10 careers with a future, Flaherty said. “The most valuable media in the world is something you can’t buy: earned conversation, word-of-mouth, face-to-face,” he said.

Margaret Ritsch, APR is director of Roxo, TCU’s new student-driven agency for strategic communication. Formerly director of public relations at the Balcom Agency, then owner of her own firm, Perception, Ritsch joined the TCU faculty in January 2012. She and five Roxo interns traveled to San Francisco for the PRSA and PRSSA annual conferences.

PR lessons from ‘Kate’ and Tarrant Area Food Bank’s hunger campaign

The billboard asks a compelling question: What does hunger feel like? JustAskKate.org 

It strikes me that putting a (cartoon) face to hunger with a compelling narrative is a creative way to generate curiosity and hopefully leads to awareness, donations, volunteers, etc. The video component is simple but effective:

I reached out to Andrea Helms, Director of Communications for the Tarrant Area Food Bank and a Ft. Worth PRSA member for some insight into the campaign. I’m so thankful that she was wiling to share since I believe there are some interesting lessons and processes from this effort for PR and communication professionals:

Why did TAFB implement the ‘Kate’ concept campaign? 
Akron Canton Regional Food Bank in Ohio shared the Kate video concept with the Feeding America network of regional food banks, to which Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) belongs. TAFB decided to customize this video for the organization not only because of the impact of Kate’s message, but to also join in creating a sense of unity across the network.

What are some of the strategic objectives you hope to achieve?
AWARENESS. We would like Kate’s message to be shared all over our community, through our Partner Agencies, donors and volunteers, and the general public. As part of our annual awareness initiative, we hope the community learns that hunger and food insecurity exist right here in our own neighborhood and we, together, can do something about it.

Through various print ads, billboards, and social media, we seek to increase awareness about hunger and direct people to the Kate video. We hope the Kate video and her message goes viral. The more that people share the video with their networks, the bigger the awareness of hunger we can create within our community. The video not only educates the public about the face of hunger–for example, Kate could be your next door neighbor, a co-worker or friend–but it also educates them about Tarrant Area Food Bank’s role in fighting local hunger.

When did it start and how long will the campaign run? 
The campaign started mid-October and will run through December. We will do another flight of the campaign in the Spring of 2013. The Kate video will remain active on our website and on justaskkate.org and through social media when the campaign is not active.

How would you say your version of the campaign differs from the original version?
We are the first Feeding America food bank to launch a traditional marketing campaign around the video. Up until now, the Kate video has been used as a tool in food banks for educating volunteers and donors and has been used through social media and word of mouth.

What communication channels are you using to share Kate? 
Facebook and Twitter posts, Facebook ads, billboards, print ads in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Fort Worth Business Press, the Just Ask Kate web page, the TAFB website, YouTube, e-blasts, email signatures, volunteer training and exclusive showings at TAFB related events.

We also have several collateral pieces our staff use for various audiences, such as children’s activities and giveaways, including Kate as a fan with suggestions on the backside for taking action to build awareness about hunger.  Our life-sized Kate cut-out is being used for photo opportunities with key people in our community for posting on social media.

How will you determine the success of this campaign?
Because this is an awareness campaign, we are most interested in how viral the campaign becomes. The more video views, shares and likes we get from the Kate video, the more we know the word is being spread around our community. We have been using Facebook and Google analytics to track where our viewers are coming from and what actions they are taking after they view the video, such as visiting our website or liking our Facebook page.

What do you think? Is this a compelling campaign to help generate awareness for the food bank’s fight against local hunger? As always, the comments are yours.

The post is from the Next Communications blog.

PRSA Assembly Highlights 2012 #prsaicon

PRSA Assembly Highlights 2012 
Submitted by Andra Bennett House, APR

National Board 
Even though the PRSA Southwest District does not have a district rep on the board (because no one ran), Blake Lewis, APR of Dallas was elected as National Treasurer. Blake will be an excellent “go-to” person for our district, if the need arises.

PRServing America PRServing America is a competition for the best pro-bono community service project by a chapter. PRSSA can participate as well. For 1st place, the prize is $2,500 and the prize amounts go down from there. Our Chapter could think about a pro bono project that would be a possible submission for this recognition and reward.

Advocacy 
PRSA submitted an op-ed to Roll Call re: Senate inquiry into federal agencies and contractors payments to PR firms.

PRSA advocated on behalf of PR pros being able to edit Wikipedia for clients. The owner of Wikipedia apparently was against this. The name of the Facebook group in favor of it is called Corporate Representatives for Ethical Wiki Engagement (CREWE).

Get more PRSA advocacy news.

Business Case of PR 
PRSA wrote Forbes op-ed for business schools including reputation management in MBA programs. (MBA Initiative)

Commission on Public Relations Education gave a lengthy presentation on the disparity of what colleges require for PR degrees.

Membership 
Currently PRSA National has 21,378 members. This is down from 2008 highs, but steadily climbing back up.

Free webinars this year – 63 have been offered, with 6,500 participants, exponentially up from any previous time.

Chapter resources – document sharing platform is being developed for online. No more chapters keeping stuff in shoeboxes!

Next year, ALL Members will be able to pay dues quarterly for a $15 processing fee. This will be optional for chapters to allow members to do this or not. It may allow more members to join, but could affect chapter cash flow.

Issues & Trends emails have been upgraded to be more user friendly and quickly read.

Priorities for 2013 are Ethics, Diversity, Advocacy and the Brand: One PRSA.

Unconference
Value of Districts – upshot of discussion was that National should look at possibly re-drawing the Districts into smaller territories, separating it from board representation, or subsidizing districts to help pay for regional conferences. There are members who do not belong to Chapters, yet chapters fund the Districts, so some members are benefiting without contributing.

Member Benefits – Districts could help aggregate benefit information for the Districts and provide it in a canned fashion for the chapters for newsletters, luncheon announcements, etc. Districts could help pen op-eds and localize the advocacy efforts of National for chapters to submit to their local publications.

Many topics discussed and videotaped – National to condense and make available soon.

Town Hall
Many delegates expressed concern that the Assembly did not vote on anything except the board slate. We listened to reports and gave feedback, but some did not feel the expense of the travel was worth being there in person, and did not feel the Assembly “accomplished” much.

I predict if there is no “beefy” agenda next year, and only voting on board nominees, many chapters will send proxies vs. delegates unless they are staying for the conference.

Thank you to Andra Bennett House, APR and Holly Ellman for representing the Greater Ft. Worth Chapter of PRSA as delegates to the Assembly during the 2012 PRSA International Conference.

Worthy Award Filing Tips

By Carolyn Bobo, APR, Fellow


The Worthy Awards – a first for our chapter are designed to provide area communications, marketing and public relations professionals with an opportunity to celebrate creativity, strategic thinking and professional ability.


Don’t be hesitant about entering. Think about your activities since 2010 (as a first-time contest, we have a broad entry time frame) and go for it. Here are some tips for preparing your entry.


A solid entry will address these points:

· What was done?

· Why did it matter?

· How was it measured?


Here’s how to prepare your entry.


Carefully read the entry parameters.

The judges (Central Michigan chapter) will look at each required area and base their scoring on how well the four entry areas are explained. Entrants should address each required point, and thoughtfully explain their good work so that it is excruciatingly clear to judges not familiar with our area.


Rationale (Tactics) and Research (Campaigns, Projects)

Explain any type of research, and why it was used. A textbook campaign would include formal, original research, but that isn’t always feasible or necessary. Judges know this, so entrants should clearly describe what was done. For example, a brainstorming session, a review of media clips or discussions with clients may be described as secondary, qualitative research … literature review … content analysis … anectodal reports.


Objective/Purpose (Tactics) and Planning (Campaigns, Projects)

Why did you do this? Possible reasons are to increase sales, raise funds, create name recognition, affect public behavior. Describe any factors about the project/tactic that will help judges understand the purpose and the market. Note that the purpose must – absolutely must – match the outcome. Read on to the Evaluation section.


Execution (Campaigns, Projects)

Explain which tactics were chosen and why. When there are several tactical options, the entrant should state, for example, that “these tactics were selected to expand the reach of our message,” identify and justify each tactic. Remember that the judges won’t know that your decisions and efforts were special unless you tell them.


If your entry states that “TV station XYZ sponsored the event,” you must explain that “TV station XYZ rarely supports activities in Fort Worth.” Or, “TV station XYZ sponsors only three events per year and we convinced the station to choose ours.”

Another hypothetical example: If your target market/public prefers electronic media over print, your entry should state, “Secondary research found that our target demographic prefers to receive electronic communications.” Such data may be obvious to you, but your entry narrative also must make your decision obvious to the judges.

Execution (Tactics)

Here’s where to explain who wrote the copy, designed a magazine, edited content, provided photos, approved the budget and negotiated with a vendor. The tactics section of The Worthy Awards is an explanation of who did what. If an unusual price or component was negotiated, say so, so the judges will understand your extra effort.


Results (Tactics)

Tactics are created to meet a specific need, and are skillfully and professionally prepared. An evaluation of effectiveness and impact, based upon defined objectives, can be simply stated. However, the results must – absolutely must – match the purpose. If the purpose was “to generate five media stories,” the result must show five (or more) media reports. If the purpose is “to raise awareness,” the results must show a measurable increase in awareness.


Evaluation (Campaigns, Projects)

Explain how the targeted market, public or audience responded and how you learned about its response. This is the time to include quantitative data and analysis. Such measures may be a replication of preliminary research or measures of other activities. For example, measures can be election results, a sales increase, ROI, donor or donation increase, or the number of participants/responses that exceeded expectations. Include as much measurable and anecdotal response as possible, and describe future plans. If comprehensive research was not needed, say so. For example, “More than 5,000 people in our target public responded to the activity. We expected only 3,000, so we did not repeat our preliminary research to measure interest in the topic. However, we will analyze the experience of these respondents to plan future campaigns related to this issue.”


Good luck to everyone. See you at the May 31 awards presentation.


(Don’t forget to submit nominations for Communicator of the Year. There is no fee.)


Please feel free to contact us if you have questions or would like more information:


The Worthy Awards Committee

Michelle Clark<mailto:clarkm@trinityra.org>, Trinity River Authority of Texas

Margaret Ritsch<mailto:m.c.ritsch@tcu.edu>, APR, TCU

Carolyn Bobo<mailto:cgbobo6311@att.net>, APR, Fellow PRSA, University Relations, UNT

Allyson Cross<mailto:cross@gcgadvertising.com>, president, Greater Fort Worth PRSA

Liz Heck<mailto:liz@jodesign.com>, JO Design, Marketing, Public Relations

Megan Murphey<mailto:murphey@gcgmarketing.com>, GCG Marketing

Rita Parson<mailto:rita.parson@tccd.edu>, Tarrant County College District