Finals week is almost over. Congratulations to the graduating seniors! PRestige will be taking a short hiatus, but we will return in the future.
The Fair Media Council (FMC) is a not-for-profit media watch organization that encourages quality local news. Thirty years ago, a group of concerned business and community leaders created FMC to educate local consumers on how to decipher important news. Jaci Clement is the Executive Director of this organization and has a notable background in journalism and media, which is why she is such a strong advocate for quality local news coverage.
The Fair Media Council hosts various events to educate organizations on how to be a part of the news ecology. Connection Day is an event the FMC hosts where communicators and leaders are invited for a day of networking and education. The event features workshops and panel discussions regarding news media, social media, story-pitching, presentation skills, crisis management tips, ways to establish media relations, how to create video messages, and more. It is also a great way for local businesses to meet with local media professionals and/or pitch stories.
On October 27, 2011, myself along with two other students attended the Fair Media Council’s Connection day at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, NY, as research assistants for Hofstra’s very own, Professor Jeff Morosoff. As students of his, Professor Morosoff offered a unique opportunity to Lauren Katz, Christopher Scheben, and myself. We were asked to help him with his research project pertaining to how not-for-profit organizations do PR. We went to Connection Day to help Professor Morosoff hand out surveys to not-for-profit communicators in order to achieve his objective.
I met professional communicators from various different fields and organizations, including both for and not-for-profits. What I thought was going to be “just another thing to put on my resume,” turned out to be the experience of a lifetime, and one I will never forget. There were representatives from FOX5, CW, CBS, ABC, Newsday, and other local news stations along with colleges such as St. Josephs and of course Hofstra. This was my first experience networking and I was very intimidated at first, but gained comfort as I realized how approachable the professionals in the room were.
In between handing out surveys, Professor Morosoff encouraged us to sit in on some of the panel discussions and workshops. Chris and myself sat in on a very interested panel discussion called, Social Media for Small Business. I enjoyed listening and learning from the panel members, but my favorite part of the day was getting to network with the people that I will hopefully one day work with.
Taking advantage of Professor Morosoff’s opportunity was one of the best decisions. Not only did it lead to internships for other students, but also it increased my knowledge of public relations in general as well as adding some experience to my resume. Hofstra students do not always realize the vast amount of opportunities offered here at Hofstra. In my experiences over the past four years, I have come to learn that the teachers here are very able and willing to help us in either getting internships, jobs, or other experiences associated with our desired department of study. If I did not open my email and reply to Professor Morosoff’s unique opportunity, I would not have met Jaci Clement and other professional communicators, Lauren may not have snagged her internship from CW11, and most importantly- I would not have obtained networking experience. Hofstra professors can offer a lot more than grades, but experience and mentoring too.
The Fair Media’s platform to bring local communities and news outlets together is a great message for students studying PR because it is important that we stay up-to-date with current events. To learn more about the Fair Media Council and Jaci Clement’s goals for the future of our local media, you can check out http://fairmediacouncil.totalcomputersusa.com/. FMC is a patron of Hofstra and has even offered internships to Hofstra students in the past. Whether you are majoring in Journalism or PR, the Fair Media Council can teach you. I learned a lot from Connection Day and cannot wait for more networking/learning experiences like this in the future!
Hofstra Public Relations Student
After several grueling months of watching Herman Cain’s political campaign struggle through numerous PR nightmares, the mess is finally over. At least it can be used as a learning experience for current and future Public Relations practitioners. There are three important lessons we can take away from this giant failure in issues management and crisis communications:
1. Get ahead of the story. This does not mean denying things the day before the story breaks and the accusers come forward. Telling the media, your fans and your opposition that some women are going to make accusations and they’re definitely not true so don’t worry about it everyone does not make you seem like you’re being forthcoming and transparent. In fact, it made Herman Cain seem even guiltier, at least of a cover-up.
Cain would have been better off addressing the accusations long before they became an issue. His team had to have known that someone, whether it be another candidate, a member of the media, or a blog-poster with a grudge, would have eventually brought the accusations up. And yet, no one had even had any plan. It seems like everyone on Cain’s team just crossed their fingers and hoped no one would talk about it. No such luck.
2. “No Comment” is no good. Following the story breaking and the repeated sexual harassment allegations coming to light, Cain readily played the “No Comment” card. This is an ineffective tactic in public relations, especially crisis communication. It made Cain look guilty, and it made the media all the more interested in the story. And by refusing to comment, Cain effectively disallowed the media from hearing his side of the story.
Second of all, Cain cried “no comment” in a ridiculous way. He didn’t just tell the media that he’d rather not (or that he couldn’t, in some cases) discuss the numerous issues. Instead, he refused to talk about the issue because, apparently, he decided it wasn’t newsworthy. That’s not the way crisis communications works, and it’s certainly not the way politics work. Cain’s “no comment” wasn’t just ineffective, it was insulting to the media and pretty egotistical.
3. Your audience is not stupid. Even if your audience is stupid, it’s a terrible idea to behave as though it is. Cain and his team used several tactics to try to sweep the accusations under the rug. First, he passed blame. Rather than take responsibility for his actions, explain his wrongdoings, apologize and make amends, Cain blamed everyone else: the Democrats, his Republican opponents, the media, and his accusers. No one believed he was the victim, and Cain ended up looking like he didn’t know how to take responsibility for his actions or handle a crisis. These are not qualities that make a good president.
Cain’s second ineffective tactic was pulling his wife into the frenzy. So many politicians have used the “devoted wife” routine that it has become an obvious ploy for sympathy and support.Cain’s third and most amusing tactic is the poor attempt at damage control that is “Women for Cain,” a hastily thrown together web page detailing how Herman Cain has always been an advocate for women’s rights! He cares about women! Look at this picture of him hugging his wife! Read these testimonials from real women who think Herman Cain is swell! It comes off as disingenuous. It’s too little, too late, and it was insulting of Cain and his team to think the webpage would really convince women that Cain is a great guy, despite all of the evidence to the contrary.
The majority of PR practitioners already know exactly where Cain’s campaign went wrong and why it was such a public relations nightmare. Many people who watched the situation unfold knew the mistakes that Cain and his campaign team made and predicted the aftermath. Still, it’s always nice to be reminded how smart you are. For me, it’s a great reminder of why I don’t plan on doing political PR any time in the future.
Hofstra PR Student
At Hofstra PRSSA’s common hour meeting, members had the opportunity to hear from David Chauvin, Director of Public Relations at Zimmerman Edelson, Inc. David, a graduate of Hofstra himself, specializes in government PR and shared a wealth of knowledge and some great anecdotes with the students.
For several attendees, this was the first they had ever heard about the government sector of public relations, and although many may never have a hand in creating a political campaign (or even, unfortunately, set foot in a polling place) David’s advice was relevant and interesting for anyone looking to pursue a career in the public relations industry.
Tip #1: It is still essential to read print
This does not mean you should immediately delete your Twitter and deactivate your Facebook account (more on that in Tip #2). On the other hand, you must balance your consumption of digital and traditional media. David urged students to pick up a newspaper whenever they could get their hands on one. He explained that print publications set the agenda for the day, so it is crucial that you read, understand, and have an opinion on what these outlets are reporting on.
Tip #2: You are expected to know social media
Thirty years ago, knowing how to type may have been a precious skill but today it is an ordinary prerequisite for most jobs. Similarly, being a Gen-Yer who is proficient in all things social media is no longer impressive but rather, expected by job recruiters. David informed us that employers expect students to be active on these platforms and to understand how they work.
Tip #3: Keep showing up, keeping asking for responsibility
This tip is especially pertinent for those of you who are currently interning, or who plan on interning ever (so all of you). I am a firm believer that when it comes to an internship experience: you get out what you put in. In David’s example, he was a volunteer who was not initially given much responsibility. Once he began showing up on a regular basis, and continued to do so, he was given much more challenging and rewarding tasks. As an intern, always ask for additional projects, and be specific. If you want more experience writing press releases, just ask! Your superiors will notice your eagerness and you will receive greater responsibility and a much more worthwhile learning experience.
Tip #4: The public wants information to find them
This piece of advice is applicable for students pursuing a career in any sector of the industry. It is important to know your audience, and to reach them in places that they frequent. They no longer want to have to search for information; they want it to find them. This is where social media can play a huge role. Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking and micro blogging sites allow companies to reach consumers and talk with them, rather than at them. Don’t just spew out information and promote your brand (or yourself), join the conversation and become a reliable and trusted source of information.
“Without promotion something terrible happens…Nothing!” – P.T. Barnum
Indeed, what a terrible thing that would be for us PR majors- and hopefully one day great PR professionals- if there was no promotion. Companies, organizations, places, products and even people need promotion like a fish needs water. PR professionals use techniques and strategies to help improve the images of these companies and have become an essential part of their business. Everyone needs a publicist, even you. Yes, I said you. It is a reality that at this moment- with the way things are going in this economy- standing out is critical in this competitive job market. You must be wondering, how can I afford to have a publicist? Well, you can be your own publicist; in fact you can be your own best publicist.
Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper are both PR pros who have been in the industry for a combined 30-plus years. Both women realized that even though there were books out that talked about ‘selling yourself’ or even ‘branding yourself’ there really weren’t any books out there talking about building your own personal image from a public relations perspective. Together they have written Be Your Own Best Publicist which is full of tips on how to make yourself stand out using public relations techniques.
The setup of this book is to clearly show you how to do three major things when being your own best publicist and that is to prepare, project and protect. Here is a small recap about the book:
Prepare “A goal without a plan is a wish.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- In order to reach that professional image you want you must build a plan to guide you to your goal. Try building that plan backwards because without knowing where you want to be you won’t know how to get there.
- Once you have set those goals it is a good idea to set deadlines. It will help you push yourself to accomplish them and even if you miss the date you can move it to a new one.
- There is nothing more important when developing a plan than having a back-up plan, or several.
- You should strive to be a know-it-all, but the good kind. Doing your research before meeting a potential employer is critical to feeling comfortable when talking to them. “There’s a reason why Google is a verb.”
- Also, do a little soul searching. You must be able to know yourself- skills, attributes, qualities- and know what makes you, you. Without knowing yourself how will others know you?
Project “Your network is truly your net worth.”
- Building a strong network and cultivating those personal connections is a key element of success in any industry.
- “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” -JFK This is especially true when you’re making contacts. Always try to do something for them, hopefully in the future they will reciprocate.
- Additionally, you need to be aware of what you wear, how you look and how you present yourself aesthetically. You don’t need to be the best-looking or best-dressed just make a statement- a good one- because how you present yourself speaks volumes of who you are.
- Break though the clutter! Try to stay at the top of someones mind whether it be by staying in contact or showing your achievements – in a non bothersome way- you don’t want to get lost in the crowd.
Protect “You shouldn’t put anything down in writing that you wouldn’t want published on the front page of the New York Times.” – Unknown
- Self-promotion is a very important part and you want to be remembered for the right reasons. Being consistently late, wearing inappropriate attire or even acting improper is not the image you want to send out to people. Be aware of how you put yourself out there.
- Never underestimate the power of a thank you note, especially a handwritten one.
- Be aware of your social media reputation and what you put out there whether it be a comment about work or where you check in on Fours Square. One thing is for sure, HR people are going to google everything they can about you.
- “Anything you say and do can and may be used against you in the court of public opinion.” With phones that take great pictures and have great film quality anything you do can be up on flicker or youtube in a heartbeat.
- Problem-solving should be your middle name. When a problem arises don’t see the negative side but view the opportunities that could arise from the situation.
And there you have it, a small recap of the book which contains hundreds of more tips and advice on bettering yourself for the professional world. “Be Your Own Best Publicist” is not your father’s dusty old business book. It is a relatable, inspiring and great insight into the public relations world while helping you discover how to put your best foot forward into the professional world. The book is quite amusing and contains great personal stories from the co-authors themselves- one of my favorites involves an Irish stew and Conan O’Brien incident- and various other stories from different professionals. I highly recommend this book to people who wish to obtain great insight into the public relations world and what it takes to make yourself stand out in the crowd.
Agency Staff Member