A Day of Networking for PR Students at Connection Day

left to right: Christopher Scheben, Alexa Sibilio, Lauren Katz, Vania Andre (Professor Morosoff’s grad-assistant)

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!

Alexa Sibilio
Hofstra Public Relations Student

The Cain Train has Left the Station

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.

Jade Keena
Hofstra PR Student

Hofstra PRSSA Introduces Students to Government PR

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.

Rebecca Wool
PRSSA 

The Must Read Bible: Be Your Own Best Publicist

“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.

Shirley Huyhua
Agency Staff Member

12 Must-Have Networking Tips

Tomorrow is PRSSA’s Annual Networking Dinner and what better way is there to prepare for a networking event than to hear from an expert networker, Mindy Ferrentino Wolfe, President of Neptune Marketing LLC.

Mindy has won countless awards including, but not limited to Public Relations Professionals of Long Island Mentor of the Year award in 2009, was named one of the top 50 most influential women in business by Long Island Business News and presented the President’s Award from Soroptimist International of Nassau County both in 2008.

On Wednesday, November 2, 2011, PRSSA and PRestige members got the chance to learn tips and tricks to develop networking skills from Mindy. Don’t worry if you missed the meeting! Below is a recap of her twelve tips to networking:

  1. It’s all about relationship building. It’s not about giving out and collecting the greatest number of business cards.
  2. Follow up, follow up, follow up!
  3. Networking is not pitching- it is all about relationship building.
  4. Gravitate towards other “onezies” in the room.
  5. Effective networkers don’t wait for opportunities to come to them. Bo an introduction facilitator- be proactive.
  6. Volunteerism- altruism has it rewards.
  7. It’s about giving and not getting- payback will come!
  8. Hey, look at me when we’re talking! You can still work the room.
  9. Don’t sit with people you know.
  10. Effective networking requires investment time.
  11. Name tag on the right side.
  12. Never underestimate the value of a thank you.

Whether this is your first networking dinner, or your fourth, you can learn from Mindy’s tips. Make sure to build relationships with the professionals. You don’t need to talk to all of the professionals in the room; it is about the quality of the relationship not the quantity of professionals you speak with. When the dinner ends is when the relationship building can really begin. Email the professionals personalized thank you emails and connect with them on LinkedIn and/or twitter. The professionals attending the event understand the goal of student attendees is to obtain internships/jobs and make connections that can help them reach these goals so do not feel uncomfortable asking about internship programs or job opportunities- the professionals are attending to help you.

In addition to covering networking tips and tricks, Mindy shared with us what students can include on business cards: first and last name, phone number, email address, twitter, LinkedIn, and something to identify yourself (i.e.-PRSSA Member, PRestige Member). If you have networking cards, we encourage you to bring them to the dinner.

This year’s Networking Dinner is taking place today, November 6, 2011 at 8:00 PM. Professional guests include ESPN, Rubenstein, Hunter Public Relations, CJP Communications, Micah Jesse, and the American Kennel Club. I look forward to seeing all of you pro-networkers there!

Kim Caro
President, PRSSA

Bank of America Got the Hint

So after weeks of hearing my friends bicker about Bank of America’s new debit card fee and the viral outbreak against the bank online, Bank of America dropped its plans yesterday to add the monthly $5.00 charge for debit card users. J.P. Following suit, J.P. Morgan Chase has decided to drop its plans to add a fee as well.

The company statement reads as follows:

“In response to customer concerns and the changing competitive marketplace, Bank of America no longer intends to implement a debit usage fee. We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee. Our customers’ voices are most important to us. As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so.”

This story is very reminiscent of the recent Netflix fiasco that erupted: Company makes announcement. Customers across the country are enraged. Customers take their rage to social media. Company realizes the hole they dug for themselves. Company drops plans.

At least we know companies are taking consumers’ concerns on the web seriously and that they are beginning to understand the power of social media more than before. Bank of America better get the word out quickly because I already know a handful of people who are planning to leave the bank soon. I’d be interested to see how many customers they have lost since the initial announcement.

Kudos to BofA for resolving its PR crisis!

Speaking of PR crisis, this would be a nice time to plug my Halloween costume with the rest of the Hunter PR interns. We were struggling to come up with a group costume for the holiday, and I figured why not poke fun at our own industry? I constantly hear about PR case studies every week in class and thought of a fun and unique way to present them. What better way to showcase the case studies than in a #PRFail group costume?

PR Crisis from left to right: BPNetflixMotrinConAgra FoodsWalmart

Sometimes we just have to laugh at ourselves and what goes on in our industry. Happy November!

Nick Schweers

Director

Can Netflix Save Itself?

After the Netflix PR crisis that occurred the past few months after the service’s price raise in July, CEO Reed Hastings recently tried to make things right. He scrapped Qwikster and announced that Netflix would return to the service that everyone has grown to love. While the price raise will stay because “the price change was necessary,” Hastings promises that “we are now done with price changes.”

It is now almost two weeks after Hastings made this last announcement. What can we learn from this crisis? Where does the company go from here?

Carolyn Kepcher provides a checklist in her article, “Netflix provides good example of what NOT TO DO in big business strategic changes.”

DON’T:

• Assume that success is forever: Don’t let your success get to your head because you never know when an obstacle can arise.

• Make a big change without communicating: Kepcher explains that people everywhere need an explanation, a chance to give their own opinions, and some advance notice.

• Follow a mistake with a bigger mistake: When involved in a crisis, make sure you handle it promptly but efficiently to avoid digging an even deeper hole for yourself.

• Do too little, too late: Don’t wait too long to respond to your crisis, or you’ll never recover from it.

I believe Netflix is on the right track to recovery, even if it took one or two tries to please consumers. Hastings hopefully learned his lesson after the heavy public backlash on the Internet and will not act so quickly next time to fix something that does not need fixing. As for the price increase, I do not know if this will continue to hurt the company, but I think everyone appreciates Qwikster’s elimination. Some say the company does not want to be in the DVD business much longer because Hasting wants to move towards online streaming, but hopefully Netflix will survive this rough time to even move in this future direction. With the recent addition of the CW Network to its streaming service though, I see Netflix getting out of this rut and surviving this hardship.

What do you think? Did Netflix dig itself too deep or will people forget about this in a year or two?

Nick Schweers
Director