Fort Worth PRSA January Luncheon Photos

At the PRSA Jan. 9th Luncheon, Phil Beckman, partners in education specialist at Northwest ISD, and Dan Halyburton, vice president of innovation at McVay New Media, spoke about their experiences as public affairs volunteers with the Red Cross while deployed in support of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

A-January Program - Group

Pictured (from left to right) Chris Smith, GFW-PRSA president; Dan Halyburton; Michelle Clark, GFW-PRSA Vice president of programs; and Phil Beckman

January Program - Beckman
Phil Beckman

January Program - Halyburton
Dan Halyburton



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

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.

Why Media Cover the Sandy Hook Tragedy

Students from Sandy Hook Elementary School returned to school earlier this month after less than a month since Adam Lanza took the lives of 20 students and 7 adults in Newtown, Conn. Many people have asked why the media have covered the tragedy the way they have. In some cases the media has followed the debate over gun control, while other media have followed the intimate detail of what happened on that horrible day, including a real focus on the perpetrator – Adam Lanza. As I have learned over the past 15 years, the media covers what they believe is most relevant to their audience.

With a little help from a couple experts that I reached out to, I hope to help provide some perspective on why tragedies like this are covered in the way they are, though each may be covered differently.

The first story the media try to cover is perhaps too obvious, but the “Facts about the case,” is story number one according to Texas Christian University Associate Professor of Strategic Communication, Dr. Amiso George, APR, Fellow PRSA. In this case, one of the first things that were reported was the name of the suspect and a possible motive along with the number of people believed to be injured and killed. George says the public often want to know, “Why the perpetrator committed the crime, the motive for the crime, whether he was apprehended or not. If he is dead, how that happened. If not, from the time the culprit is arrested and brought to justice is of import to the public.”
While putting together the stories, whether broadcast, internet or print, the media consider the 5 Ws and H according to a retired Dallas / Fort Worth television news manager. The first objective is to tell the audience what has happened. She went on to say, no one person says during the daily news meetings, lets cover the killer, they ask what we know and what can we learn today, how does it relate to our local audience.

To help the local audience relate, George says the media, “Look for a similar local case for comparison.” In addition they will look to, “Interview local experts on gun control and related issues and access to mental health. Interviews with psychologists are also important as anxious parents would want to know how and when to talk to their children about the case; what teachers/school officials can do to make the classroom and school premises a safer place for students; what churches or synagogues (especially Sunday School classes) can do to minimize children’s anxiety about such danger.”

In the minutes after the incident and the ensuing hours and days, very specific information can be difficult to come by, so the first piece of information or the most relevant will make the headlines when the deadline is hit. As I read through news comment sections and other social media, I saw a lot of concern that the media was making a lot out of Lanza’s name and perhaps making him a hero to the next killer, but according to George, she believes that the preponderance of that coverage was from the tabloid press, which uses material to sensationalize the story and draw in a larger audience.


As the law enforcement starts to issue reports, heroes and heroines are discovered, but who will talk about their actions? Who will tell the story of those who lost their lives saving the children? Neighbors will be talked to? Friends, family and glory hounds will come forward and must be vetted before they can be quoted or put on air to tell their stories.

The media, by in large cover the incident without bias toward any one side, the simply try to tell a story with information that they have gathered. In some cases, the media have “only seen here” or “first reported here” when a resourceful reporter is able to break a new piece of information based on a quality interview or inquiry to a trusted source. In the end, the media are not trying to champion a cause or publicly convict a suspect. As you take in your news understand what you are reading or watching, is it tabloid – think TMZ, Access Hollywood or Extra; is it an opinion – think O’Reilly, Face the Nation or the editorial section of the newspaper; or is it a news program like the evening news or traditional newspaper.

This post first appeared on the Murnahan Public Relations Blog. Brian Murnahan, President of Murnahan Public Relations, brings more than 15 years of corporate communications experience in multiple different business sectors, including aviation, oil & gas, privacy, transportation and public policy. Murnahan specializes in media relations, crisis communications, public affairs, community / stakeholder relations, international outreach and media training.