Category Archives: Public Relations

Student and PR Pro Mixer April 13!

Want to network with PR professionals from the Detroit area AND win a free PRSA Detroit membership upon graduation? Come to the Student and PR Pro Mixer on Thursday, April 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. located at the Local Kitchen & Bar at 344 W. Nine Road in Ferndale, MI 48220. This event is free and will have complimentary appetizers and a cash bar. Please RSVP at www.PRSADetroit.org. If you have any questions, please contact Nancy Skidmore at 248-545-6499 or nskidmore@earthlink.net.

Student and PR Pro Mixer_022717B

5 things I wish I had known before choosing public relations

By: Hope Salyer

Every day I’m in the Public Relations Program at Eastern Michigan University makes me love my decision to major in PR even more. However, there are a few things I wish I had known beforehand. Here are five things I wish I had known before choosing to major in PR.

  1. PR is not a 9 to 5 job.

If you want a 9 to 5 job, PR isn’t the best choice for you. Part of your responsibilities as a PR practitioner is to do what your client asks. This can mean attending events late into the evening, getting up early for a meeting, or waking up to a crisis at 2 a.m. Things happen every day, and as social media continues to expand, a crisis is bound to happen. It might not be as big as Donald Trump’s tweet at Boeing, but even a small crisis needs to be handled immediately. This means you need to be prepared to have unconventional, unexpected work hours.

  1. Networking is VITAL in this field!
live-books

Source: Live Books

Don’t get me wrong. Networking is important in every profession, however, it is one of the most important things to remember when joining the PR industry. Public relations is a growing industry for college graduates, but it is also a very competitive industry to break into. Having contacts to help you get into the field is so important. On the other hand, in order to get the best coverage and meet the goals of your client, you must have connections. PR is all about building mutually beneficial relationships. This means you need to build and maintain your relationship with journalists, and your client needs to build and maintain his or her relationship with the public. Having a network of professionals you can turn to when you need help is paramount in this industry.

  1. If you don’t love writing, PR probably isn’t for you.
kermit-the-frog

Source: Giphy

If you ask any PR  practitioner what the most important skill is for someone in the industry to have, I guarantee they will say strong writing skills. Writing is key in PR. If you can’t write a compelling pitch email free of grammatical and punctuation errors, you’re never going to get any media coverage for your client. Journalists are extremely busy, and they don’t have the time to decipher the message from a terrible pitch email. Additionally, every time you send out a press release, get quoted in the media, or click post on your client’s social media page, you represent that client and the company you work for. If you don’t have good writing skills, it’s going to be an embarrassment to everyone. Writing skills can be honed in on and perfected if you practice, but if you don’t enjoy writing, PR isn’t going to be enjoyable for you.

  1. Take advantage of the services and organizations offered to you.
prssa-graphic

Source: PRSSA

As PR students, you have services and organizations to help you out. Taking part in organizations like PRSSA will help you build connections with professionals that you can use down the road for job interviews, references or contacts in the field. It’s better to start using these opportunities now than to not know where to go when you need them after you graduate.

  1. Know that you will almost always get asked what PR is.
blonde-girl

Source: Giphy

If I had a dollar for every time someone asks me what PR is and what PR practitioners do, I would be a millionaire. When you tell someone you’re going to school for PR, it will become second nature to you to explain to them what PR actually is, and what PR practitioners do on a day-to-day basis. On the off chance that someone does know what PR is, they are probably going to say something about spending your time covering up mistakes or planning parties. While yes, planning events is oftentimes part of a PR campaign, and sometimes a crisis will happen that you need to handle (by being truthful and honest about the situation rather than covering it up or lying about it) most people don’t understand the actual purpose of PR. PR is all about building mutually beneficial relationships with stakeholders. This could be between a client and his or her publics, a PR practitioner and a journalist, or a client and his or her employees. A PR practitioner’s job is to communicate information on behalf of the client. Sometimes, that is through hosting a fun event, and other times it’s by sending out a press release.

These are just a few things I wish I had known before choosing PR. Not a day goes by that I regret my decision, and I know that PR is the absolute right choice for me. What are some things you wish you had known before choosing PR or choosing your major in general? Let us know in the comments below!

Hope Salyer is a junior public relations major and journalism and communication double minor. Hope is serving as the Chief Financial Officer of EMU PRSSA. This is Hope’s first semester serving for the PRSSA E-Board. A Michigan native, she hopes to start her career working for an agency in the Detroit area. Her dream is to become the public relations coordinator for the Detroit Tigers. Contact Hope on Twitter @hsalyer01 or by email hsalyer@emich.edu.

 

PR from a royal point of view: Q&A with journalist Princess Gabbara

By: Anissa Gabbara

“I don’t write articles. I tell stories.” These are the words of a young and talented journalist Princess Gabbara, who just so happens to be my sister.

princess

Courtesy Photo

Princess graduated from Eastern Michigan University back in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Since graduating from college, she’s been on a roll with bylines in Ebony, Essence, Jet and Sesi magazine, and stories picked up by People.com and Huffingtonpost.com. She currently writes for the Lansing State Journal as the “Things-To-Do-Reporter.” I guess you can say she’s in her prime.

What’s interesting is that as close as we are as sisters, our career choices are known to sometimes bump heads—with her being a journalist, and me being an aspiring PR practitioner. It makes for interesting conversation from time to time, but it’s informational more than anything. We’re constantly learning and seeking advice from one another to better ourselves within our fields. With me still being a student, I learn a great deal from hearing about her experiences with PR practitioners, and it’s always interesting to hear things from her perspective as a journalist. To learn more, I sat down with my sister to gain a better understanding of how the relationship between a PR practitioner and a journalist should function. This is PR from a royal point of view:

Why is it important for PR practitioners to maintain good relationships with journalists and vice versa?

It’s very important for journalists and PR practitioners to maintain good relationships with each other because it benefits both parties in the long run. From a journalist’s perspective, I have kept in touch with many PR practitioners long after the first story we worked on and they continue to be great sources of information as they still pitch me interesting stories from time to time. I see it as a win-win because I get to tell a great story and they get an opportunity to promote their client and/or company.

How do you maintain good relationships with PR practitioners?

One of the best ways to maintain good relationships with PR practitioners is to keep in touch even when you’re not working on a story. Simply checking in and saying hello via email or Twitter can work wonders. However, it’s important to let this happen naturally. Of course, you may not “click” with every single publicist who comes your way, but it makes sense to build on what’s already there naturally.

What’s a good pitch to you? 

A good pitch is something that excites me. So many publicists pitch their clients to be considered for an upcoming profile, but there are a million business owners, makeup artists and fitness experts out there. What’s unique about your client? Spell it out in your pitch. This is key! As journalists, we write hundreds of stories. We want to cover topics that interest us and our readers. Write your pitch so that we cannot say no.

When has a PR practitioner come to the rescue?

Not too long ago, I received an email from my editor asking me to put together a holiday gift guide featuring 40-plus items along with photos. I only had 10 or 11 days to pull this off! After narrowing down the list of items, I was responsible for communicating with more than 40 PR reps to secure a photo for every single gift featured in the guide. If not for the cooperation from the PR reps, the gift guide would not have been possible. Prompt responses were crucial since we were pushing up against a very tight deadline. All of the PR reps I worked with definitely came to the rescue during this short amount of time.

When writing a story, how heavily do you rely on a PR practitioner to get you what you need, when you need it?

Whenever I’m writing a new piece, I tend to communicate most with the publicist when scheduling the interview with their client, sending any follow-up questions, running the client’s quotes pass him or her for review and approval only if the publication requires it, and sharing the completed article when it goes live. To be honest, when PR practitioners are on top of their game, there isn’t the need for lots of emailing back and forth.

Many people believe that there is friction between journalists and PR practitioners. Is it true or is it just a myth?

I think it’s a bit exaggerated. Sure, journalists and PR practitioners work with different goals in mind, but I can honestly say that I have maintained positive relationships with most of the publicists I’ve worked with over the years. Of course, there are some who will ask to see the entire story before it runs. In that case, you simply explain that you are unable to do so, but it’s important for both the journalist and PR practitioner to be mindful of each other’s needs and to meet each other somewhere in the middle.

As a professional journalist, can you give any advice to PR practitioners regarding pitching journalists?

Shorter is better. Sometimes, I receive pitches that are two pages long. We live in a fast-paced world and we’re all doing a million things at any given time. Journalists need to be able to read through and understand the pitch in less than a minute. It’s a known fact that employers only spend 30 seconds reading a candidate’s resume to know whether they’re interested. Publicists should take that same approach when pitching journalists. Also, an attention-grabbing opener never hurts.

Read Princess’ work by visiting her site or follow her on Twitter @PrincessGabbara.

Anissa Gabbara is a senior at Eastern Michigan University studying public relations with a double minor in communications and marketing. She currently serves as the vice president of public relations on EMU PRSSA’s E-Board. She has an interest in celebrity PR and hopes to one day work with some of the biggest names and corporations in the entertainment world. She plans to hone her craft while becoming a valuable source of information to others. You can follow her on Twitter @AnissaGabbara.  

 

The Grammys: A golden opportunity for publicity

By: Jordan Ross

j-lo-adele-ceelo

Source: ABC7 San Francisco

The 2017 Grammy Awards will go down as one to be remembered. The Grammys, otherwise labeled by many as the biggest night in music, has grown since its inception in May 1959 to become the spectacle of an award ceremony that draws a television audience second only to the Academy Awards. Many memorable moments occurred during the show that people will be talking about for years to come, from Beyoncé’s pregnant musical number, to Bruno Mars’ Prince tribute and Adele’s George Michael tribute redo.

What goes on during the Grammys ceremony is not the only thing that takes over the news feeds. Much of the conversation surrounding the Grammys is the fashion. The Grammys brings out some of the most prominent celebrities and well-known musicians in the world, and one of the most popular topics people like to talk about is what they are wearing. The pre-show that televised before the Grammys dedicated two hours of showing all the celebrities as they were entering the venue, anchors having a quick chat with them, and letting the public see what those celebrities were wearing.

grammys-red-carpet

Source: CelebMix

In terms of publicity, the Grammys is a huge platform that celebrities can use to capture the attention of the audience. This year, according to Nielsen, which is a company that measures TV ratings throughout the U.S., about 26 million viewers tuned in to watch this year’s ceremony. In comparison, the 2016 Grammys had 25 million viewers, meaning a million more pairs of eyeballs in 2017 were watching all the festivities compared to last year (and not to mention all the impressions on social media that the Grammys received for this year’s ceremony).

Needless to say, the Grammys is a great opportunity for the celebrities who walk the red carpet before the show to get their name into the media. Even celebrities who people have not had at the forefront of their mind can come to public attention based on what they are wearing and if they stand out.

The Grammys is a golden opportunity to get an audience’s attention. This may typically be a figurative statement, but one man took that statement literally, and he may have stolen the show by doing just that.

ceelo-1

Source: Twitter

During the Grammy pre-show, a man dressed in a unique golden costume walked onto the red carpet for the world to see, and see they did. At that moment, all eyes turned to this mysterious golden figure. Sometimes, celebrities dress differently to stand out, but this particular moment was quite different from others.

After a short amount of time, people figured out that the man dressed in gold was indeed singer-songwriter CeeLo Green in costume, but no one understood for what reason or what cause he was doing it for. Regardless of why he was dressed that way, people could not help but talk about it. Reporters at the Grammys were tweeting and writing articles about what was happening, and with so many questions revolving around what was taking place and why, people could not help but follow this story.

All over social media, people were getting involved and trying to figure out what was going on. They were also using their creative spirits to compare CeeLo Green’s costume to other prominent images in pop culture. Here are some examples:

C3PO:

Ferrero Rocher® Chocolate:

ceelo-3

Source: CapitalFM

Drake’s Gold Necklace:

It turns out that the reasoning behind CeeLo Green’s costume was to promote his musical “alter-ego” Gnarly Davidson. Gnarly Davidson is one half of the soul duo Gnarls Barkly, along with the music producer Danger Mouse.

Gnarly Davidson’s appearance on the Grammys red carpet may have been most of the population’s first introduction to Gnarly, but he has existed before this even took place.

The Twitter page for Gnarly Davidson has been active since October 2016, but in just one day, CeeLo Green found a way to propel himself, and his “alter-ego” into the national spotlight.

ceelo-4

Source: Variety

Probably the best part about all of this publicity for CeeLo Green (other than getting to dress in a pretty sweet gold costume), is that he didn’t have to pay a dime for any of it. Before the Grammys started, realistically the majority of the public did not have CeeLo Green at the forefront of their minds. By standing out in the crowd and doing something that the average celebrity would not do, CeeLo Green was able to grab the attention of millions of people around the world. Without having to create and disseminate any form of traditional advertising, CeeLo Green created a way to induce a conversation about him. Not only that, but he helped promote his own brand as he simultaneously put Gnarly Davidson on the map with all the publicity that came in the aftermath of his debut.

ceelo-5

Source: E! News

Today, if you mention Gnarly Davidson, you may get a different reaction than you would have on February 11, 2017. This just goes to show that in public relations, it’s OK to be different. The world is a big place, and publicity can be hard to come by with so much going on. Sometimes, it takes some creativity and thinking outside of the box to stand out. You never know, even the strangest of ideas can turn into a golden opportunity.

Jordan Ross is a senior at Eastern Michigan University majoring in public relations and minoring in communications. Jordan is in his first semester serving as the vice president of professional development for EMU’s Eleanor Wright Chapter of PRSSA. Jordan is also a member of EMU’s Honors College and serves as the president of the EMU Student Center Student Employee Advisory Committee. You can find Jordan on Twitter @_JJRoss.

3 rules when pitching a story

By: Hope Salyer

clearly-label

Source: Janet Murray

Public relations specialists have to keep up with the latest trends and news going on around the world in order to better serve their clients. They also have to stay current on the latest trends in the PR industry.

One big trend in the PR field that has been going around recently is the importance of knowing how to pitch a story to journalists. This has always been a struggle, but with the ever-growing social media platforms, journalists are now sharing the mistakes that PR practitioners often make when trying to pitch a story. Here are three rules to follow to help you pitch your next story to a reporter:

  1. Know the reporter and his or her target audience.

As PR specialists, we are always told the importance of knowing our target audience. We think about who we are writing a story to, what language we should use for that audience, and even what pictures to include that the target audience would find helpful. We oftentimes are so focused on our own target audience, that we don’t think about the target audience of the reporter we are pitching.

When sending a pitch email or tweet to a reporter on your upcoming story, be sure to do some research on what topics that reporter covers. You don’t want to send a pitch about Kanex’s new GoPlay Series of portable gaming controllers to a reporter who covers the beauty industry. You have to know what that reporter is going to want to cover, and what is going to benefit him or her as much as it will you and your client, otherwise you are wasting everyone’s time.

  1. Know whether your story is actually newsworthy.

PR practitioners spend so much time trying to help build a client’s visibility that they can sometimes get caught up in seeing their client in the news. You have to keep in mind whether your story or pitch is actually newsworthy. Not everything that your client does is going to be important. It might seem that way in the moment, but PR practitioners have to be able to decide what matters to reporters and what doesn’t.

If you are constantly sending pitch emails to the same reporter, he or she is going to get sick of seeing your name in his or her inbox. You have to focus on building a mutually beneficial relationship between you, the PR practitioner, and the reporter.

  1. Know how to send a pitch.
tim-soulo

Screenshot by Hope Salyer

Numerous journalists have been posting photos online of pitch emails from PR specialists. The reporters are unable to tell what is being sent by a PR practitioner, and what is a spam email. Pitch emails that follow the spam format are oftentimes deleted within seconds of opening them because journalists don’t know what email is going to help them cover a story and what email is going to give them a virus.

Pitch emails that begin by saying they saw a link post from the reporter and have a similar story at this link are suspicious to journalists before they even begin to read the email. Try to keep from linking out too much in emails. One link to the story is fine, but you don’t need to link to the reporter’s story from last week.

These are my top three tips for pitching a story, but I want to know what yours are as well. Leave a comment below on what your “Golden Rules” are for pitching a client story to a reporter.

Hope Salyer is a junior public relations major and journalism and communication double minor. Hope is serving as the Chief Financial Officer of EMU PRSSA. This is Hope’s first semester serving for the PRSSA E-Board. A Michigan native, she hopes to start her career working for an agency in the Detroit area. Her dream is to become the public relations coordinator for the Detroit Tigers. Contact Hope on Twitter @hsalyer01 or by email hsalyer@emich.edu.

The best and worst PR of 2016

By: Nicole Raymond

best-and-worst-pr

Photo created by Nicole Raymond using Canva

The year 2016 witnessed drastic change throughout the world that will go down in history. There were plenty of memorable PR moments this past year, and I’ve chosen two for us to learn from. Here are my top picks for the best and worst PR of 2016:

In a bold move toward the right direction, Cover Girl, who typically hires female celebrity spokespeople, did something mind blowing when they hired a male high school student to be the newest face of the Cover Girl brand. Although Cover Boy James Charles is not a celebrity in the traditional sense, he does have well over half a million followers on Instagram and 100,000 subscribers on YouTube.

This big decision made by Cover Girl allowed the brand to show their disapproval of the gender stereotypes our culture perpetuates. The year 2016 saw a lot of acceptance and many brands used their platforms to showcase their commitment to crushing stereotypes, which is why I chose Cover Girl for the best PR in 2016 (Safronova, 2016).

Wells Fargo had a heavy crisis on their shoulders when it was discovered that millions of fake bank accounts had been created by employees, in real customers’ names to meet their sales goals. This crisis was huge, and Wells Fargo couldn’t seem to make it out of the headlines.

Initially, the banking giant tried to fix the crisis by firing more than 5,000 employees, but that wasn’t enough. More and more information trickled through their Band-Aid covered wound. They allowed the woman in charge of the employees to retire and keep her millions of dollars in bonuses and stocks, even though she failed to see the misjudgment of her employees and stop their actions.

Furthermore, Wells Fargo’s two CEOs have been signing off on their annual reports, meaning they were either ignorant and weren’t doing their jobs properly, or they knowingly were committing fraud. Their CEO was eventually forced to resign and all the while their PR practitioners were creating videos to tell their public that Wells Fargo was trustworthy, furthering their time in the limelight. Maybe not the best use of resources, which is why I chose Wells Fargo for the worst PR of 2016 (Watson, 2016).

Do you think there was a company with better or worse PR than Cover Girl and Wells Fargo in 2016? Let me know in the comments or by tweeting me @NicoleRaymond74.

Nicole Raymond is senior majoring in public relations and double minoring in marketing and communications. This is her first year serving on EMU PRSSA’s E-board as VP of External Relations. Nicole is a wife, aunt, daughter, sister and friend. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @nicoleraymond74.

PR New Year’s Resolutions!

By: Josie Bobeck

new-year

Source: imnepal.com

The new year is among us and so are the resolutions. Most people want to lose weight, get in shape, and eat healthier. Those are all valid goals, and if these are your goals, I hope you kick butt! I’m usually not one for resolutions, but I have a few regarding public relations, and that is becoming a better student and spreading the word about EMU PRSSA.

  1. Become a better writer. I learned a lot in PURL 314: Writing for Public Relations, but one semester of AP style wasn’t enough for me. I hope to learn more and have the opportunity to write so that when I intern over the summer and get a “big girl” job in 2018, I will be ready.
  2. Enlarge our Chapter. As vice president of member relations, it’s my job to schedule classroom visits and get new people to join PRSSA. I hope to help get the word out about who we are because we are such a small program, yet mighty. We have an awesome set of instructors and student leaders within our program, and I want people to know we exist!
  3. Kick butt at Bateman! We have so many great ideas and I can’t wait to pursue them. Be on the lookout in February and March to see what we have up our sleeves!
  4. Attend conferences. I fell in love with National Conference when I went in October and I can’t wait to go to Grand Rapids, and hopefully Chicago for regional conferences. National Conference 2017 is special to me because it’s in my favorite place in the whole world, Boston, and I can’t wait to go spend time in my city. The possibility of seeing my family has me pumped, too!

PR is an interesting job and I’m beyond excited to pursue a career in it, so hopefully I will  reach my future goals. Now tell me, what are your resolutions? Feel free to tweet me at @Josephine3laine.

Josie Bobeck is a junior majoring in public relations with a minor in psychology. This is her first semester serving as vice president of member relations. She hopes to one day work in nonprofit PR. Josie enjoys spending time with her two dogs, her cat, and her family. Josie can be reached on Twitter @josephine3laine or via email.