Survey results provide roadmap for 2013 programming activities

In January, the Greater Fort Worth PRSA chapter surveyed its membership about expectations and interests for 2013 programming events including luncheons, professional development workshops, mixers and more. We sent out 182 invitations to the survey, and 57 of you responded, giving us a healthy 31 percent response rate. First, thank you. And second, please know that your chapter leadership has taken your comments to heart.

We learned some interesting things about what’s interesting to our chapter members. Nearly 75 percent of you say you’re looking for education when it comes to your local PRSA programs; while networking and interaction with our peers is important. You’re also looking for the “how-to’s” and those nuggets of wisdom that push you to pursue your career even more effectively and passionately.

When it comes to luncheon programs, some of your top interests were social media strategy; case studies / war stories from our chapter members; promoting digital literacy within our organizations and developing our own personal brands and career paths as public relations professionals.

For professional development workshops, again respondents stressed the importance of learning more about social media strategies and measurement techniques. Our members are also interested in hearing from local media about the state of the newsroom in 2013, along with making more effective presentations and training others to do the same.

In addition to providing feedback on topics for speakers and workshops, respondents also provided valuable feedback about timing of evening events and mixers, which will help several of our committee chairs plan appropriate events that generate value for our members.

Please know that we’re listening, and so far we’re on the right track for 2013. Our first professional development workshop, held last month, focused on the intricacies of social media and was a great success for our chapter by all measures. You can also rest assured that the next half-day workshop, scheduled for October, will certainly focus on one or more of our membership’s top recommended topics. And this month’s luncheon program focuses on how public relations professionals can develop crucial internal relationships that earn them a seat at the leadership table – another key area of interest.

Moving forward, our chapter’s board of directors will continue to use your feedback as our guide for planning effective programs and events for the rest of the year. We’ll also report back to you at the end of 2013 for an assessment of how we measure up. And in the meantime, if you’re struck by an idea for a great program, send it my way: clarkm@trinityra.org. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

President’s Column – March 2013

Chris Smith, Greater Fort Worth PRSA President
csmithcommunications@gmail.com

ChrisSmithPortraitLRAre You Worthy?

Do you have what it takes to be a communications professional?
Long hours, lots of meetings, emails, phone calls, computer desk work and unnerving presentations may eventually earn you that paycheck – always a good thing – or maybe even a pat on the back from the boss via an email you’ve saved for posterity. But what else? What about professional acknowledgment for that portfolio you’re constantly nurturing for that next big promotion?

Do yourself a favor: Get some professional “street cred” and earn some recognition from your peers, where it really counts. Enter The Worthys, an annual communications awards program with entries reviewed and judged by your peers in another state.

Maybe you’re like I was for the past several years, always delaying the task of entering competitions until the deadlines passed. Takes too much time. The boss probably won’t want to fork over $75 for an entry. I’ve already proven myself. Sound familiar?

As a PRSA board member though, I felt an obligation to support our first competition and accordingly, found an hour or two to grab just one thing I did in 2011 and enter. Thanks to the guidelines written by PRSA Fellow Carolyn Bobo, APR, my entry was organized and thought-out. I had done my due diligence as a responsible, supporting board member and maybe even learned something in the process. Then I won. Just one entry in one category and now I could show clients (and potential clients) that my work had merit beyond what the resume showed. My peers had deemed it so.

Board members Gigi Westerman, APR, and Sandra Brodnicki, APR, are firm believers that entering competition is worth the time and effort. Their entry, “Money School,” a financial education program offered by two prominent local non-profits, earned the Worthy’s inaugural 2012 Best of Show award. Gigi says that just the application process alone requires a good amount of self-reflection in order to present judges a compelling entry. “You have to cut to the chase and explain what you did and why you did it clearly and concisely,” she said.

VP of Membership Richie Escovedo adds, “It’s a smart way to see where your materials might be lacking or where there are areas for improvement. The recognition is great, but the analysis is also a worthy endeavor.” No pun intended.

Convinced? Good. Time to look back at your 2012 accomplishments and enter NOW. The deadline is right around the corner on March 8. To enter, visit: http://www.worthyawards.com.

Worthy Award Entries Due March 8
Work from 2011 and 2012 is eligible for entry in one of the seven strategic communications programs or 28 tactic categories of the Worthy Awards presented by the Greater Fort Worth Chapter of PRSA. Campaigns, which require evaluation, have a two-year entry time frame, and tactics have a one-year time frame. There also are  categories for academic contributions to public relations. For tips about how to prepare a competitive entry, visit http://fortworthprsa.org/the-worthy-awards-are-back.

The Worthy Awards recognize the very best in strategic communications in our region. The chapter also will honor the Communicator of the Year, a leader outside the public relations profession who exemplifies open, effective communications.

Visit www.WorthyAwards.com to enter your work and submit Communicator of the Year nominations by March 8, 2013. Winners will be announced April 25, 2013 at the Worthy Awards celebration dinner at the Fort Worth Club.

For questions, contact Jahnae Stout at jstout@nctcog.org or Margaret Ritsch, APR, Margaret@prperception.com. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Rita Parson at prsaparson@gmail.com.

Forging Social Media Successes

By: Brian Murnahan

WeberSocial media success has long been a difficult area to quantify for employers and clients alike. Bosses want to know how much it will increase sales, improve branding or assist with customer services and are often worried that because they can’t control the conversation, they see more problems than it is worth. But, on Feb. 13 the Greater Fort Worth PRSA heard from some of the areas’ social media experts on how to set goals, create content and grow engagement!

Measuring social media can be nebulous and precarious for many, but working with tangible and measurable metrics can be the key for success. Part of determining what success is, is determining what level of social media proficiency your organization is working at. For instance, if you are walking, a goal might be to simply increase your brand awareness or increasing “likes” or if you are in the running area you might set a goal related to increasing potential sales traffic by a set percentage.

Cosmin Ghiurau, the digital media strategist for Radio Shack spoke about how they were able to get their message out via digital on Cyber Monday. “I would describe RadioShack as in a jog mode last fall with a goal of being at a run by the end of this year.” This past year RadioShack set up a program to introduce #24dealsin24 beginning at 11 p.m. on Sunday before Cyber Monday. By introducing clues via twitter to what will be coming on scale, RadioShack was able to encourage shopping on the site during the full 24-hour cycle. The program was generating such a good response, the Twitter team actually reached out to RadioShack in part because they saw RadioShack was the only U.S. brand to organically trend, 20 of 24 hours, driving 10 million impressions. Ultimately Twitter wrote a piece on RadioShack’s success.

To that end RadioShack set goals to measure the social media programs success, but some of those are secret, though he did share that Web traffic increased related to these promotional efforts. In fact, RadioShack saw Web traffic increase 14 percent year-over-year. They also saw a more than 1,200 percent increase in social engagement compared to a regular day. Be sure to check out Ghiurau’s presentation here.

Measurement is not exactly easy for most to actually measure, though there are some tools out there that may be able to help. For those larger businesses, services like Radian Six, are available for a price, but for those on a budget there are services like what Catholic Charities of Fort Worth uses such as Sprout, which only costs less than $20 a month for the non-profit.

Brian Conway, an account supervisor with Weber Shandwick’s Dallas office spoke about measurement specifically and highlighted that while working on American Airlines social community, they were able to find brand ambassadors that with some assistance where able to spread AA’s message far better than the brand itself because they appreciated the brand and knew its strengths. When trying to determine what to measure, it was clear that Brian wanted organizations to look at what their core function was and how social media can support that mission. From there, goals can be crafted and then metrics can be formed and measured. Brian also led the group in an introduction to social media with this presentation. To view his presentation, click here.

@CCFortWorth joined the conversation talking about how it is able to be successful from a non-profit perspective, noting that even those agencies that have “no budget” can be successful. Also, it was noted that personnel dollars used on social media is budgetable. Using many of the free tools available from Google and Facebook it is possible to measure impact. @CCFortWorth went through an extensive rebranding of its social media program to align its online presence with its brick and mortar programs.

The question @CCFortWorth had to answer was how to take all the programs available and make a viable social media program. To their credit they went back to the core of @CCFortWorth and set themselves up to be a thought leader of poverty and social innovation. From there they could highlight their programs and comment on other interesting news and situations that dealt with their topic. Katelin Cortney, public relations director with @CCFortWorth said it was important to stay on message or risk losing the audience. “You can’t start posting about a new restaurant just because a friend is opening one up. But say, a restaurant is hosting a fundraiser or doing something that supports poverty that may be a different story.” Check out their Prezi presentation, by clicking here, and use the arrows at the bottom to move through the slides online.

Scott Baradell, founder of Idea Grove brought much of what was said together indicating that no matter where you call your internet home, make sure you are putting up content that keeps your audience coming back. Well worth note was his passion for not losing control of your “field” or internet real estate as he said “You don’t want to get caught in a position where you work real hard to get an audience to follow and then the rules are changed and the work is all but lost.” The reference was twofold, first was his personal experience where a flickr community that he built was removed due to an erroneous complaint (flickr acknowledged the error, but the community was already gone.) Second was the advent of promoted posts and ads on Facebook that will allow you to purchase your way back in front of the fans that you may have already earned. Scott was not a fan of “sharecropping,” but encouraged use of those sites to drive them to your Web site or blog, where you could control the message, look and feel of the site and not risk losing so much! Check out his presentation here.

Be sure to check out these great speakers at their sites and within their social media accounts. Here are the speakers and their handles.

Cosmin Ghiurau, RadioShack – @RadioShack
Brian Conway, Weber Shandwick – @WeberShandwick
Scott Baradell, Idea Grove – @IdeaGrove
Katelin Cortney & Kate Blackburn, Catholic Charities Fort Worth – @CCFortWorth

President’s Column – February 2013

Chris Smith, Greater Fort Worth PRSA President
csmithcommunications@gmail.com

ChrisSmithPortraitLRDon’t know about you, but my February schedule is already jam-packed (what happened to January?).

Last month I wrote about the necessity of always learning something new, and thanks to the planning efforts of our Vice President of Programs Michelle Clark and Professional Development Chair Brian Murnahan (with input from our new Digital Committee Chair Chip Hanna), our February half-day program has the potential to teach us all something we didn’t know beforehand.

Forging Social Media Success, http://fortworthprsa.org/2013/01/23/social-media-success-program, will include knowledge for the novice as well as the expert. Speakers will present case studies from RadioShack and Catholic Charities Fort Worth and encourage interaction during breakout sessions on audience engagement, content creation and metrics. It promises not to disappoint, so sign up soon.

Also, Activities Chair Lisa Albert has been busy planning evening events that might especially interest those who can’t make our mid-day monthly programs. The first one has already been confirmed, so mark your calendars for Feb. 19 when she brings in a speaker to give an overview on The Value of Networking http://fortworthprsa.org/2013/01/23/prsa-after-hours. (Lisa also shared her goal of hosting at least one evening event each quarter this year, so stay tuned.)

Have I left something out? Be sure to visit our website at http://fortworthprsa.org, kept current by our Website Chair Rebekah Moore.

Honestly, who could ever complain of boredom with such an active February agenda?

The Worthy Awards Are Back!

It’s Worthy Awards Time Again!

Worthy-AwardsSiteIn 2012, Greater Fort Worth PRSA’s first regional contest gave area communications, marketing and public relations professionals an opportunity to celebrate creativity, strategic thinking and professional ability.

The contest returns in 2013 with a March 8 entry deadline. The second annual Worthy Awards dinner will be April 25 at the Fort Worth Club.

Think about your activities in 2011 and 2012. We have a two year entry time frame for campaigns, which require evaluation, and a one year time frame for tactical entries. You’ve probably completed several projects solved a problem or met a challenge and have award-winning potential. Don’t be shy.

First, read and think through the contest guidelines. Worthy Award entry standards are based on generally accepted parameters for communications contests throughout the world. There is a common format that lets entrants show an understanding of the marketing communications process, describe creative work and explain market specifics.

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 evaluated?

Carefully read the entry parameters.

The judges (Las Vegas 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 brain-storming session, a review of media clips or discussions with clients may be described as secondary, qualitative research … literature review … content analysis … anecdotal 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(s) 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 and hard work clear to the judges.

Execution (Tactics)

Here’s where to explain who wrote copy, designed a magazine, edited content, provided photos, approved the budget and negotiated with a vendor. The Tactical 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 the entrant’s 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 place 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 a response 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 April 25 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 includes:

Jahnae Stout

Rita Parson

Megan Murphey

Meg Hasten

Megan Force

Chris Smith

Holly Ellman

Margaret Ritsch, APR

Carolyn Bobo, APR, Fellow PRSA