Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!

As the holiday season nears its end and we gear up for a brand new year, the PR/PR family wants to extend our wishes for health, happiness and success to you and your families.  Every turn of the calendar is brimming with possibilities; be it personally or professionally.  May you ring in the New Year surrounded by those you love and cherish, celebrating the conclusion of 2011 and anticipating the wealth of opportunity that awaits in 2012. 

Happy New Year from Russell, Amanda, Lindsay, and Carter.

Monday, December 19, 2011

VisualCV Couldn't Make the Connection

The transition of the corporate realm from physical to online has been anything but business as usual.  Companies have scrambled to harmonize with an unfamiliar world that has, by all accounts, become the most important platform to recruit customers and clients, as well as employees.  The progression of the Online-Era saw the inception of scores of corporate-oriented social media websites, but two quickly established themselves as top-dogs: LinkedIn and VisualCV.  One continues to flourish and expand, and the other is quickly becoming an afterthought.

LinkedIn is trending upward in the corporate arena, with new users signing up in droves daily.  The prevailing reason for the site’s alpha-dominance boils down to involvement; along with crafting a qualifications-based profile, users have the ability to connect with others in their field; including prospective clients.  VisualCV is essentially a static online résumé which does not offer the interaction available with its strongest competitor. 

In many circles, shaking hands with the right people and corporate networking is as (or even more) important as your accomplishments and credentials.  LinkedIn is serving as an online 18th hole; where connections are made and deals potentially consummated.  VisualCV allows you to merely project your career-qualifications; LinkedIn provides the capability to discuss them with decision makers.

A tip of the cap to Visual CV, however; they trumped LinkedIn in the multimedia game, as they allowed the hosting of YouTube and Vimeo videos: a functionality LinkedIn does not support.  For those looking for self-promotion, especially for speaking engagements, there is no better evidence of your aptitudes than a video confirmation.  Unfortunately, their visual capabilities did not translate into success.

The world of social media oft acts as a world of social Darwinism, and LinkedIn’s massive popularity and effectiveness is spelling the extinction of VisualCV.  It goes to show that online success begins and ends at the ability to interact, and while LinkedIn has established itself as the destination for the corporate world, VisualCV is looking more like Social Media Siberia.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Friday, December 9, 2011

Preparedness is Next to Godliness

A colossal determinant in prolonged success is the ability to stay out of your own way.  As far as shooting yourself in the foot is concerned, Herman Cain may as well have been at the controls of a computer-guided missile zeroed in on his own wingtips.  After dodging numerous tripwires in the form of sexual harassment accusations, his presidential campaign was driven into the proverbial ditch amidst extra-marital affair allegations.  With enough loose ends to construct a ropes course, Cain was ill-prepared for such a lofty venture as running for the highest office in the United States.  As far as PR is concerned: bookmark Herman Cain’s campaign as a prime example of what NOT to do.

In the Bible of public relations, preparedness is next to Godliness.  There is no use investing your time, money, sweat, and tears into an undertaking to be the arbiter of your own unraveling.  Fools rush in might be the appropriate adage.  Cain’s misstep was not properly evaluating every aspect of his own life (including what appears to be a Himalayan-sized hamper of dirty laundry) before throwing his hat into the ring, the outcome of which has resulted in his public political undoing.

Prior to embarking on any endeavor, brace yourself for the possibility that it skyrockets.  Sudden, overwhelming success can make unintentional martyrs of the unprepared.  When your name or business gains household notoriety, so do the crumbs and scraps you’d rather leave under the rug.  Keep your damage-control PR at an absolute minimum so you can focus on newfound success and longevity.

The bell has tolled on Herman Cain’s presidential aspirations, but by vetting yourself and your constituents you can avoid paralleling this slow and embarrassing descent.  With a concise level of preparation there should be no surprises or curveballs to impede your pathway toward success.  Do not become the pilot of your own corporate kamikaze; preparedness can keep you flying high.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Friday, December 2, 2011

Cyber Monday's Meteoric Ascent

I’ve never been Black Friday shopping, but I like to imagine it’s something like a swarm of pre-teen girls hopped up on Redbull trying to be the first in line to purchase Justin Bieber tickets.  A swirling mass of bleary-eyed shoppers working off their tryptophan hangovers at 2 a.m. with the promise of discount televisions and ten-dollar seasons of Breaking Bad, ready to annihilate anyone who stands in their way.  Cyber Monday renders all of this rigmarole and physical danger obsolete, and in 2011 it eclipsed the profits turned in on Black Friday, hopefully spelling the extinction to the mob mentality that often accompanies this mainstay of cutthroat consumerism.

Sales turned in on Monday, November 28th were 17% higher than on Friday, November 25th, to the tune of $1.25 billion in total.  This massive number conveys the upward trend of consumers foregoing the deal-possessed hordes on Black Friday and instead conducting their shopping online, from the comfort (and safety) of their own homes.  Social media was an important player in this year’s Cyber Monday, with companies taking to their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds with discount proclamations as opposed to commercials and customary ads. 

Recent studies have indicated that social media marketing has surpassed traditional advertising; to the point that Cyber Monday’s growth actually mirrors Facebook’s growth.  This is no shock at all, as more and more corporations are abandoning the deserted marketing paths of old and adapting to more visible and cost-effective methods utilizing social media.  Allowing for customer interaction and a more personal experience, social media has proven a potent sales tool. 

Twitter trends and shares on Facebook allow for your product to essentially go viral; whether it’s a dirt-cheap toaster oven or your new book release.  Businesses’ spend an exorbitant amount on marketing themselves, and in years past most of this budget was allotted towards now near-obsolete means: billboards, radio and television commercials.  With the point and click convenience of broadcasting your product or brand via social media, you reach the customer quicker, more efficiently, and cheaper.

The success of this year’s Cyber Monday is a testament towards how the Social Networking Age has rewritten the business arena’s playbook.  Your holiday shopping can now be completed while browsing Facebook as opposed to in lawless shopping malls under the threat of a stampede.  With millions logging on and over a billion in sales on Monday, it shouldn’t be too much longer until Black Friday is finally waving the white flag. 

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from PR/PR

So the holiday season has officially kicked into high-gear (although I feel like I began seeing Christmas decorations in my peripheral back in August, but this may just be a personal problem.)  With Thanksgiving a day away, I’ve decided to mix things up a bit: I present to you a comprehensive list of things that we at PR/PR are thankful for:

Russell Trahan:

In no particular order, the top three things I’m thankful for this year are:

1.  My health, I’m relatively healthy for my age
2.  My relatives, they are a healthy distance away
3.  Amanda, Lindsay and Carter.  Without these three, I wouldn’t have all the other things (like happy clients) I’m thankful for but can’t mention since we’re limiting this to three.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Amanda Tucker:

1. My health
2. York peppermint patties* (blog manager's note: this is no surprise)
3. Friends & family

Lindsay Durfee:

I am grateful:
1.  (This time of year especially) for the great weather in FL.  No snow!
2.  That my family all live close by (but not too close!)
3.  That my husband likes to cook

Carter Breazeale:

1.  Manning the blog means I can list as many things I’m thankful for as I want and elaborate ad nauseam.  Take that, office-mates! 

2.  Jason Segel championing for and writing a brand new Muppets movie.  Seriously-this just may make the holiday season for me.  Nothing says, ‘great time’ like Animal.

3.  Energy Fusion coffee at 7-11.  Extra caffeine AND Guarana?!  This rocket-fuel analogue is a certifiable godsend.  Expense reports never seemed so exciting at 9:00am!

4.  The Internet!  A never-ending channel for information, inside jokes and the panacea for my directional maladies.  A man never asks for directions.  When in doubt: Google it.

5.  My nephew and niece.  Little balls of energy.  They both keep me entertained and exhausted for hours on end.  Watching a child figure the world out one moment at a time is astounding.

6.  Chipotle burritos.  Take everything that makes you happy.  Put it in a tortilla.  Adorn with copious amounts of Tabasco sauce.  Smile for the remainder of the day, even if someone cuts you off in traffic.

7.  My PR/PR family.  What an enjoyable work environment.  The lighthearted environment I walk into every morning makes coming to work a blessing; something everyone should be lucky enough to experience on a daily basis. 

8.  The Atlanta Braves.  The bane of my existence year in and year out since I was old enough to comprehend what ‘failure’ was, and yet I cannot help feeling a renewed sense of hope come every April.  By July I will be cursing their name far and wide and regretting their inclusion on this list.   

9.  Jeff Mangum and Neutral Milk Hotel.  This man’s music was the soundtrack to my high school years.  Everyone should own a copy of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, or at least listen to it once in their life.  Thankful he got over his agoraphobic paranoia and has begun playing live music again.  See you in Atlanta in February!

I sincerely hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving. 


Friday, November 18, 2011

Communication is King

The manner in which you communicate can transcend gaps and torch bridges.  Interpersonal communication is an integral facet of corporate life; it is the difference between lost contacts and signed contracts, and effective communication in every level of your operation should be your first-step to ensuring quarters in the black.   Whether it’s timely client follow-up calls or confirming that your supervisor actually received your time-off request, communication is the oiled cog that keeps the wheels of business turning.

I consider myself a ‘swing-man’ of sorts in our office.  I’m always open to assisting any of my coworkers in pressing tasks, and this requires a high-level of communication to guarantee the workload is taken care of efficiently and effectively.  Collaborative efforts are a frequent occurrence here at PR/PR, whether it’s crafting a pitch or formulating a marketing strategy for one of our clients.  This demands advanced knowledge and familiarity of everyone’s responsibilities and their respective client’s platforms, as well as clear channels of communication to keep performance at its peak.

Any communicatory lapse, especially those you may deem ‘rudimentary,’ can lead to the proverbial wheels falling off.  Nothing spells incompetence like rushing out the door on Friday afternoon before responding to a time-sensitive email or returning a phone call.  Errors of this nature can create a snowball effect, leaving an avalanche of clean-up required on Monday.  Limit them and you’ll notice an increase in productivity, as well as a tangible decrease in company-wide Advil consumption!

Keeping a tight lead on your business begins with indoctrinating everyone involved with the mind-set that effective communication is king.  When questions or issues arise, do not go it alone: convey your concerns to those around you, and create a forum for collaborative solutions.  The corporate machine only runs as smooth as its operators’ allow, and communication keeps the joints and pistons greased so breakdowns are few and far between.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Friday, November 11, 2011

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Verbal Gaffes

Verbal gaffes can sink your efforts like a lead balloon.  There’s nothing that spells ‘ineptitude’ like misspeak, factually or politically incorrect statements, or as President Barack Obama and French President Nikolas Sarkozy experienced this week – getting caught making disconcerting remarks on a live microphone.   It can take what feels like eons to construct a profitable career and mere seconds to tear it all down.  In the instantaneous information age, maintaining composure and putting your best face forward at all times is paramount.

It seems like yesterday when the world was enthralled with the prospect of a telephone you could take with you, let alone the idea that a phone would contain a camera where photos could be captured and immediately shared via text message and across social media platforms.  These innovations immediately transformed the way we interact, but also allowed for our ‘lesser’ moments to be recorded and distributed in seconds.  The days of the incognito gaffe are over: everything you say and do has the propensity to end up online and potentially ruin you.  Tread lightly.

Rick Perry experienced one of these ‘oops’ moments two days ago during the Republican debates, confusing his own policies and fumbling over his words.  In many pundits’ eyes, this colossal episode of ‘verbal 52 card pick up’ spelled the end of Perry’s nomination run, regardless of any political damage control conducted after the fact.  The video went viral on YouTube and Facebook, generating thousands of hits in a matter of minutes.  Suffice to say; at this point Perry’s political aspirations now look more like the Hindenburg than a viable campaign.   

It should go without saying that you should always strive to be on point and maintain your message, but sometimes in an effort to show candor or a moment of confusion, verbal gaffes may occur.  The key is to minimize them and the subsequent fallout which may occur and tarnish what you’ve painstakingly built.  Your name, your brand and your livelihood depend on it. 

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Friday, November 4, 2011

Print Media: The Bastion of Publicity

We’ve all heard The Buggles song, Video Killed the Radio Star, but in the world of PR: have radio and television killed the value of print media?  Do the benefits of voice and facial recognition across radio waves and TV tubes dilute the worth of name branding and article placement in newspapers and magazines?  The immediate answer can be summed up in a resounding, unequivocal ‘no way;’ and in the world of publicity, it’s actually quite the opposite.

Here at PR/PR, we field a great deal of calls relating to potential clients seeking publicity via television or radio exposure.  Whether it’s a career financial consultant looking to break into the realm of professional speaking or an author with a forthcoming book release, we receive queries about radio and television PR from professionals across a broad spectrum.  While there are certifiable and quantifiable merits to exposure through both of these mediums, the probability of sustained visibility is simply not as high as print. 

Radio and television may provide measurable spikes in phone calls and buzz surrounding your platform or topic, but they do not deliver the publicity plateau that published articles in newspapers and trade and business magazines will.  With print media, you are forever emblazoned within those pages, which reach the hands of industry leaders and event planners seeking keynote speakers for their annual meeting.  There will be no struggle to recall the name behind the refreshing ideas, as it is right in front of the reader, along with contact information and links to your information online. 

Music videos did not spell the end of the radio star, and television and radio have certainly not started the doomsday clock for print media. Remaining relevant in a world of fleeting attention spans is a challenging proposition, but having your articles in board rooms and in the hands of professional decision makers definitely makes the course less daunting.  Publicity is about constant, focused visibility; and the base of sustaining your brand and name starts on a newsstand or between the covers of a magazine.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Twitter: Your Customer Service Renaissance

Outstanding customer service recruits and retains business.  There’s nothing like walking into a convenience store and an associate greeting you by name; your regular purchases already at the counter waiting for you.  In the interpersonal disconnect that exists in the world of emails and text messages, a sterling level of customer service may be difficult to come by as opposed to years past.  Thankfully, the realm of social media – specifically the Twittersphere – has allowed for one-on-one interaction, creating a channel where companies can reach their clients and customers instantly and efficiently, ushering in a new era of corporate-consumer relations.

In her new book, Thumbonomics, PR/PR client Heather Lutze describes the evolution of Comcast Cable’s customer service, which was perennially viewed as one of the worst in the business before it implemented a social media component.  ‘Comcast Bill,’ as he is colloquially known, maintains Comcast’s Twitter account: @comcastcares, and interacts with customers and addresses cable problems in real-time.  Utilizing a social media vehicle for client relations has allowed users to put a face to a name, and ensure customers that their issues are being handled by a real person, not some autonomous robot on a phone system.  Comcast, previously a customer service pariah, has now garnered over 50,000 followers on Twitter, all eager to join in on the conversation.

Blogger and social media extraordinaire, former PR/PR client Peter Shankman was the recipient of one of the best examples of sparkling customer service derived from Twitter, as he jokingly tweeted at Morton’s Steakhouse that he would like a porterhouse waiting for him upon arrival at the Newark airport.  Much to his surprise, a server from Morton’s was waiting for him at the arrivals gate, porterhouse in hand.  The move provided a boost of publicity for the steak restaurant, as Peter dedicated an entire blog post to their inventive use of social media to make someone’s day.  Experiences like Peter’s build life-long customers, and the opportunities for these experiences have increased exponentially since companies jumped online. 

Twitter is a powerful tool when used correctly, and can be a sinister one when used against you.  Separate yourself from your contemporaries by engaging in person-to-person conversations; assist your clients in rectifying their problems and answering their questions.  The Halcyon days of superior customer service have not gone the way of the buffalo; they are alive and well with one click of a button. 

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Friday, October 21, 2011

Find Your Audience and Stick to It

As a self-proclaimed product of the ‘MTV-generation’ I vividly remember Everclear’s album So Much for the Afterglow dominating the airwaves in the mid-nineties.  The band’s infectious take on radio-friendly alternative rock music was inescapable; you simply heard it everywhere.  The smash lead-single Everything to Everyone propelled the group to superstardom, and provided a musical commentary on people-pleasing and spreading yourself too thin.  With the song’s nostalgic melody echoing in my memory this morning, I realized how appropriate and applicable the lyrical content is to the world of public relations.

It’s basic human nature to strive for acceptance and widespread approval.  From childhood achievements placed on refrigerators to a boss’ handshake after securing a high-profile client, the desire for recognition is ingrained in every one of us.  It’s one of the motivating factors that acts as a propellant to success, but acting overzealously can cause a loss of focus and prove to be an obstacle professionally.

With PR/PR’s extremely diverse client base there are many precise markets that are targeted. Izzy Kalman, for example, is making immense inroads in the management and prevention of bullying, and Jen Fitzpatrick, an author and expert in the field of early onset Alzheimer’s disease.  Each of these clients has enjoyed tremendous success by aligning their brand and message with their specific audience and avoiding extraneous niches which would not provide tangible results.

While widespread exposure is always the name of the game, the key is to hone in on the market that will be most beneficial to you and your business.  There will always be detractors from what you do; those who do not appreciate your take on a particular topic or stance on an issue.  Adjusting your brand in a feeble attempt to recruit those from the ‘other side of the fence’ is a foolhardy venture, and will surely muddle your message and set you back (not to mention act as an albatross on your resources.)  Some people simply cannot be swayed, regardless of content, intent, or integrity.  Accept this fact, move forward, and shake hands with the correct crowd.

It’s often astounding how the subconscious mind works, and how simply humming a 90’s tune became an issue of relevance in the field of PR, and the subject of this week’s blog post.  It’s often difficult to ‘censor’ yourself, so to speak, but you should fortify your efforts around feasible opportunities, not simply grasp at the wind in hopes of a lead or break.  With pinpointed PR and name-branding that highlights your message and business, you will be heard and recognized by the right people. 

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

#Occupy Orlando: My Take

There were clear skies, a gentle breeze, and thankfully, a lack of humidity as I left my apartment on Saturday morning.  Throughout the United States and elsewhere across the globe, however, the political barometer was approaching critical mass.  With coordinated efforts in various cities over the weekend, the Occupy Movement gained momentum, and protesters led their first march into our hometown of Orlando, Florida.

I made the short trek from my downtown apartment to City Hall, equipped with copies of PR/PR client John Strelecky’s book, The Why Café, to distribute to the masses; a quick read that echoes the idealism and forward-thinking sentiments at the heart of the Occupy Movement.  There were varying estimates as to the number who would be attending the Orlando protest, and all conservative approximations were proved inaccurate when I turned on Magnolia Avenue and observed the immense congregation.  A deluge of decorated signs with proclamations of dissent against government and big-business, masses toting megaphones giving impromptu speeches, and even a guy dressed as Robocop meandering through the crowd.  The scene was overwhelming: in a good way. 

The common theme purported amongst the media is the disheveled and disorganized nature of #Occupy; the scourges of society ‘uniting’ underneath the black flag of anarchistic ideals with no focus or plan for moving forward.  They were merely occupiers, and in the worst sense of the word.
What I observed were individuals from all walks of life joining to voice their opinions on perceived corruption and misappropriation of tax dollars and misuse of political power.  Elderly marched arm in arm with America’s youth to finally stand up to the corporate machine and say, ‘enough is enough.’ 

Regardless of your political stripes, the Occupy Movement is a refreshing departure from the culture of somnambulist acceptance that has dominated our nation.  This country was founded by a likeminded few who realized their best interests were not being satisfied; that they were playing second fiddle to a monarchy an ocean away.  The roots of rebellion snake their way beneath our land; from coast to coast, from border to border, and these protests are another extension of our nation’s rich history.

With all of my literature distributed and my backpack empty, I walked home with a newfound appreciation for the possibilities afforded to us in America.  I had seen the newscasts and heard each side of the argument, but I had witnessed something special first-hand: the rebranding of ‘The American Dream.’  Not the folksy passages about amber waves of grain and shining seas; but empowered citizens holding lawmakers accountable.  Reminding them they are beholden to the peoples’ interests, not special interests, and the tradition of tolerance to greed will be tolerated no longer.

Friday, October 14, 2011

#Occupy Wall Street: A Case Study in Grassroots PR

The brushstrokes of revolution are interwoven throughout the mosaic of our country’s history.  From the dumping of tea crates into the Boston Harbor to Abbie Hoffman’s rousing rhetoric on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, social activism has embodied the American spirit and molded the American story; the wellspring of which evolved at a grassroots level.  The Occupy Wall Street protests have captivated the nation, and fostered a movement focused on rejecting the status-quo and demanding true revolutionary change.  Beneath the signage, soapboxes and megaphones, there is an undercurrent of public relations strategy flowing through this mission to achieve a more perfect union.

The architecture of having your message heard is an evolving one, to say the least.  Relentless focus and effort is required to promote -and most importantly- sustain your thoughts and ideas.  As was the case with the Occupy Wall Street protests, Twitter hash tags and Internet organization were instrumental in rallying the troops, but unyielding dedication spurned its growth and notoriety nationally.  On September 17th, the first day of protests, scant attention was paid to the events in Zuccotti Park by the media or public.  On October 5th, Keith Olbermann read the participants’ mission statement on his evening news program.  The publicity process is an organic groundswell that begins from the bottom up, and does not occur overnight.

The desired result is a snowball-effect, gradually gaining momentum as your brand and name grace the pages of daily newspapers and magazines throughout the country.  Occupy Wall Street was born of a simple email blast in mid-2011.  By October the world was watching the fruits of their efforts unfold on the national level. 

“I’m incredibly humbled by the college students, the young people, who have built a movement from an interpersonal and social media foundation and forced the nation to pay attention,” says Sandy Dumont, author and The Image Architect, who attended an Occupy protest in Norfolk, Virginia.  “I immediately thought of the ‘American Autumn’ and how I wanted to be a part of something special.”  Sandy was informed of the happenings on television; weeks after the original seeds were sewn and the operation was still in its infancy. 

Regardless of which side of the political fence you find yourself, whether you agree or disagree with the movement that is now sweeping through many major cities in our country, you cannot deny that the nation’s collective ears have perked up, and steadfast commitment to the cause is the reason.  Organization on the ground floor, cross-posting of articles on various social media clients rendering them viral, articles placed in news publications that were initially resistant: it’s paying dividends.  The Occupy Wall Street movement is a statement of solidarity, an uprising against perceived injustice, and a cleverly run PR campaign at its core; devote yourself wholeheartedly to your own personal crusade, and people will begin to listen.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Friday, October 7, 2011

PR Landmines: Can They Blow Up In Your Face?

Millions and millions of dollars are funneled into accounts funding presidential campaigns.  Literally an incomprehensible amount of dough; I’m talking “Scrooge McDuck diving into a swimming pool full of gold” level of cash.  In spite of this monolithic monetary investment, seemingly every four years a fringe element or associate of a candidate comes to light and threatens to derail the entire operation.  This week we learned of Rick Perry and his errant (and frankly, abhorrent) judgment regarding namesakes of his personal property;  in 2008 the upheaval surrounding Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers jeopardized Barack Obama’s historic campaign.  When investing multiple lifesavings in such a massive undertaking as public office, why wouldn’t you properly vet your constituents?  The same principles apply in publicity, and they can make or break your career.

The old adage, ‘guilty by association’ is the most succinct and accurate way to convey this point.  The people around you can sink you just as quickly as they can lift you up, and the media’s magnifying glass intended to promote you can easily turn you into a mere sidewalk ant on a sweltering summer day.  Before you embark on a public relations campaign and place your name (and finances) under the microscope for the masses to scrutinize, ensure you have your proverbial ducks in a row, including those you align yourself with.

In our instant-update, smartphone-dominated society, one casual misstep or verbal gaffe can send a burgeoning career into a tailspin within minutes.  The funds allotted to promote your image become your financial lifeboat designed to defend it.  Suffice to say, it’s not an enviable position to find yourself in. 

When Howard Dean went on his infamous vocal rant in 2004 describing his Sherman-esque scorched-earth march to the White House, he only had to stare into the mirror to view the arbiter of his political unraveling.  After adorning a Kevlar helmet and resembling a mystified child playing tank gunner in 1988, Michael Dukakis’ first step should’ve been to eliminate every handler who felt this harebrained photo-op was a good idea.  Although juxtaposing instances, they share a common thread: ultimately, at the end of the day: you possess the final word in the decision making process, and if faulty, you will be the one who takes the loss.

To avoid potential public relations landmines, meticulously evaluate every nuance of your campaign - from the semantics of a prepared statement to rogue former alliances - which may contribute to your downfall.  Communicate the importance of brand and name stability to your inner circle, and keep a tight lead on any extraneous variables that may denigrate your marketability: your career and bank account depend on it.

 Carter Breazeale

 PR/PR Public Relations

Friday, September 30, 2011

Social Media: Where Change is the Only Constant

On October 3rd, Facebook will rollout its new ‘Time Line’ interface for all of its users worldwide.  This announcement comes fresh on the heels of the globally maligned ‘mini-feed’ update, which had members inquiring as to why Mark Zuckerberg was making unnecessary changes that rendered his free service difficult and inefficient for many of its users.  Bob Dylan famously sang, “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” which rings especially true in the rapid-fire realm of the Internet, where the environment seems to warp right as it becomes familiar.

Until recently, Facebook was primarily a medium for twenty-somethings and younger people to interact.  Within the last couple of years, the social networking behemoth has undergone a demographic shift that now transcends all ages and generations.  It’s a fairly common cliché that older individuals are steadfastly resistant to change, to the point of outright stubbornness, but the swiftly evolving world of social media has forced everyone to adapt, regardless of readiness or willingness. 

In the business and private sectors, for work or leisure, everyone depends on social networking.  Zuckerberg and Co. have cornered the proverbial market, like great puppeteers in the sky, maneuvering their respective mediums in any way they see fit.  Not a fan?  You can delete your free profile.  Feel the changes are too overwhelming or time-consuming?  There are still 800 million people who will disagree with you (fun fact: if Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populous in the world.)  Like it or not, the social media bigwigs hold the cards, and we can go with the flow or get left down-river.

Relentless evolution encompasses every social network, but occasionally the changes really do undermine the operation.  Myspace was the end-all be-all of leisure-based social media websites prior to News Corp buying it out and flooding the main page with ads and distractions (which led to the rise of Facebook.)  Fast-Pitch was immensely popular in the business world until an influx of multi-level marketers and spam triggered the mass exodus of its core users.  Myspace went from a value of $580 million when it was purchased in 2005 to a meager $35 million when sold in 2011.  Fast-Pitch has recently undergone a retooling in an attempt to garner users, but remains an afterthought when compared to business networking sites such as LinkedIn.

There is only one constant in the domain of social media: change.  Expect to be inundated with new features, new settings and new ways of interacting.  Frustration comes with anything that appears foreign, especially when you’re of the opinion that things were fine the way they were.  As you should with every aspect in life, greet new experiences and opportunities with an open mind, and embrace and appreciate your presence in the moment where all you can expect is that nothing will remain the same. 

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Handled Correctly, Negative Publicity Can Be A Positive

On Monday, Comedy Central aired the Charlie Sheen roast, officially capping a yearlong Twitter-fueled saga and certifiable personal and public meltdown.  There is absolute truth to the old adage, ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity,’ but there is another massive aspect to this cliché notion: the nature in which you handle yourself amid exposure on negative pretenses is as important as the exposure itself.  Sheen rode the hate-train all the way home, but missed the bank on his departing route.  His multi-million dollar an episode acting role was canned, his image is tarnished, and his career is barely detectable amongst the flotsam and jetsam that became his interviews and Internet rants.  Only if you intelligently maneuver negative publicity can it prove a positive.

Owning negativity means never apologizing for what you believe in.  If your editorial is garnering adverse feedback because of content, that is a good thing!  Countless individuals have made careers based off of the negative; Howard Stern and Ann Coulter immediately come to mind.  Although on completely opposite sides of the social spectrum, they share a common denominator: they’re not afraid to push the envelope.  Doing something new and refreshing often means ruffling a few feathers along the way.  Your constituents may not agree with you, but they will respect you for not wavering in your convictions. 

What Charlie got wrong was gunning full-steam on a non-respectable premise with a colossal side-helping of ego.  Everyone was wrong, he was right: end of story.  Negative publicity fosters debate; Composition 101 teaches you that fashioning a credible argument involves acknowledging the opposition, and then refuting it.  A dose of humility goes a long way.  If scores of individuals find your viewpoints conflicting with their own, presenting them in a palatable manner encourages discussion and provides you exposure.

One glowing example of using undesirable press to your advantage was the way David Letterman handled his widely publicized blackmail scandal in 2009.  Instead of hiding behind his many handlers or having his agent release a cryptic press release denying the ordeal, Letterman stood in front of the cameras on his own show and admitted his wrongdoing.  After a wave of initial backlash, The Late Show’s ratings saw a considerable increase.  Dave’s perfidy became a mere afterthought, and many respected him more for owning up to his mistakes.

‘Grabbing the fan’ is a unique way of looking at it.  Negative publicity has a way of spinning out of control if you don’t conduct yourself in an agreeable fashion.  Stick to your guns in regards to your message, but ensure that you’re not alienating your base or turning off those who might share your views.  Charlie Sheen may have been the subject of a primetime roast, but because of the repugnant way in which he went about his business, it’s his career that’s really cooked.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Friday, September 16, 2011

Is The World Revolving Faster Around Social Media?

At the conclusion of every calendar year we are inundated with various ‘top ten lists’ and retrospectives detailing noteworthy events.  Here we are in September, and we’re already recounting memorable moments in 2011.  The common thread interwoven in these stories: social media, and how rapidly the globe seems to spin since we all plugged in to Facebook and Twitter.  The interesting twist?  Nearly every notable news story revolved around social networking and how its inception has ushered in a new era in the way we all interact.

News and current events are now instantaneous and comprised of second to second accounts from various social networking outlets.  At times, the 24 hour news cycle can seem exceedingly overwhelming; all it takes is poor cellphone reception and you’re the last one to know.  Clued in bloggers and beat-writers have become as reliable as contemporary news outlets, and considering the vast amount of red-tape required to verify and publish scoops, they’re faster, as well.   

We’ve entered into a realm of uncharted interconnectedness.  You are literally one mouse-click away from locking down that meeting or scheduling that high-profile speaking engagement.  Taking to the pavement and purchasing advertising time has been replaced with Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter hash tags, conference calls exchanged for Skype conversations.   Unquestionably, every business venture has been streamlined for efficiency and cost-effectiveness via social media.  The world simply isn’t the same.

With three and a half months left in 2011, there is still ample time for your endeavors to go viral.  Every tick of the minute hand marks a new happening somewhere across the globe, and with social networking, you can rest assured that we will all hear about it.  Utilize the tools at your disposal, connect with others so your message is heard, and become the person we read about when we refresh our newsfeeds.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Friday, September 9, 2011

Solitary Confinement: Why One Major Placement Won't Make Your Career

The fantastic film, That Thing You Do!, describes the whirlwind story of a fledgling band coping with newfound stardom after the release of their first radio single.  Hoping to avoid the pitfalls of the ‘one hit wonder,’ the movie depicts the background legwork necessary to advance and uphold a career beneath blinding spotlights.  Although a work of fiction, That Thing You Do! practically parallels the daily operations necessary when cultivating a career.

In our recent blog post we touched on the benefits and detractors to one large ‘splash’ as opposed to many placements in specialty publications.  Every single one of us has contemplated the day our big break comes, and how we will handle the influx of attention and the rapid shift in our lives.  The media is a fickle creature; without a constant stream of publicity, there is a tendency for overexposure on a single topic and a quick career flame-out.  When aligning yourself with the, ‘What have you done for me lately’ crowd, the key is to remain relevant. 

A common byproduct of a solitary placement is an unfortunate pigeon-holing effect.  As a professional speaker, author or expert, you should shoot for the widest audience possible to receive your message.  While you may gain notoriety for ‘that editorial in the Chicago-Tribune two years ago,’ the point is moot when the message no longer matters.  Unfortunately, bragging rights don’t pay mortgages.

Do not let fifteen minutes of fame eclipse the potential for a lifetime of sustained achievement.  It is imperative to stay in the public’s eye and remain a viable go-to source in a variety of media.  A page-long article in TIME magazine is an enormous accomplishment, but many of the publications errantly deemed ‘small-time’ have circulations that reach conference rooms and board meetings across the country, as well.

Everyone enjoys the occasional ‘one hit wonder’ shower sing-along, but no one is blasting ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ through their car stereos at major intersections with the windows down.  Your ability to perpetuate your public image is your lifeblood:   don’t make it THAT thing you do, make it THE thing you do.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Friday, September 2, 2011

What's the Cost of Your Pricing Strategy?

Crime novelist John Locke recently perfected the strategy of ‘going it alone.’  Shedding the conventional methods for success, Mr. Locke became the first independently published author to join the “Kindle Million Club” by selling electronic versions of his books for $.99 through their Direct Publishing Program. nets a profit of $.65 for every copy sold, leaving John with $.34 per copy, or a gross profit of $340,000.  It’s evident that this venture has proven profitable, but what is the measure of success?  Is following Mr. Locke’s ‘flying solo’ approach a blueprint for crafting a best-seller or an archetype for selling yourself short?

On the surface, this particular instance presents a classic case of the ‘chicken or the egg’ syndrome.  Did John Locke’s books sell so many copies because they’re fantastic works of literature with a pre-established audience, or were purchases inflated because of the meager price and massive affordability?  If the first proved true, then Locke may have colossally undersold himself and his profit potential for the sake of autonomy.  If the second theory were the case, then abandoning traditional wisdom was the right path to take.

The truth is: there is no right answer.  Your pricing model all depends on your readership and the breadth of your audience.  A first time author might consider following in Locke’s steps and releasing an eBook at a diminished price for the lack of immediate overhead cost and visibility potential alone. 

What Locke accomplished is truly fascinating and a firm statement regarding the profound differences in the markets of today versus those of yesteryear.  However, another question is raised when considering the circumstances: is there valid career sustainability with one big ‘splash?’  Just like with publicity, large placements are always a wonderful thing, but it is a continuous process with the ultimate aim being professional longevity and relevance. 

Constructing your career model for interminable success is priority one.  With an ever-changing business market, navigating the straights and narrows to a lucrative professional life includes many factors which need to be carefully weighed.  Don’t price yourself out of your demographic, but don’t undersell your potential, either.  The sales and marketing stratosphere can sometimes appear a delicate tightrope act; meticulously consider every decision and opportunity when preparing for your future to ensure maintained success.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sloth: The Deadliest Technological Sin

Our own in-house grammar-guru Lindsay Durfee made reference earlier this week to a recent article that was littered with misspellings and various errors.  Although corrected, the post was met with a litany of user comments as to the carelessness of the media outlet releasing something without a simple proofread.  Their solution: disable the comment functionality, correct the errors, and enter damage control mode.  Was this occurrence a mere aberration or the symptom of a greater problem sweeping the business world?

The Internet Age tore across the globe like a bullet-train through Grand Central Station.  Many adapted to its advent, and many unlucky individuals let it pass them by.  Those who got on board early are reaping the benefits of its capabilities, and those who remained stagnant are trying to retain a firm grasp on their professional lives in this exciting and unfamiliar time.  There’s no doubt the Web has revolutionized all that we do, but in instances as described above, it may prove a hindrance as opposed to an advantage.

One glaring observation is the infiltration of “Internet shorthand” into the business sector.  While appropriate for your Twitter account or a quick text message, “LOL’s” and “U’s” have no place in the email subject line to your CFO.  A lackadaisical approach to the simple matters in business will simply cause your constituents to doubt your abilities and cast you in a negative light.

Our most recent blog post outlined the importance of using social media to craft your brand notoriety and maximize your Internet presence.  There is one other critical facet to this: use your brain!  Smart social media trumps a flood of nonsensical, inaccurate Twitter blasts and Facebook status updates.  Aside from providing a public forum for your potential clients to view your mistakes, it denigrates your message and broadcasts an image of inattentiveness to your affairs. 

With the world at your fingertips, it’s entirely too easy to drift into autopilot and allow technology to do all the work.  As USA Today learned the hard way this week, spellcheck is no substitute for attention to detail and a copy editor with a keen eye.  Rein in every aspect of your corporation that is visible to the public: from pitches and press releases to blog posts and business emails.  The Internet is a magnificent tool; allow it to work for you and not against you.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Key to Social Media: Thinking Outside the Box

Amid allegations of fraud and misuse, on August 14th Starbucks put the kibosh on Johnathan’s Card, the latest social-phenomenon to ignite the Internet.  Working on the long-held, but woefully infrequent practice of ‘paying it forward,’ Johnathan’s Card allowed folks across the country to utilize Jonathan Stark’s Starbucks card to buy each other a cup of coffee.  As drinks were purchased, the account was drained and replenished by its users and the available funds updated in real-time via Johnathan’s Twitter handle: @JohnathansCard.  The coffee conglomerate was silently rooting for the endeavor to succeed, but unfortunate circumstances forced their hand in canceling the account.  Albeit short-lived, this thought-provoking experiment was a testament to the global impact of social networking, and how far-reaching the Internet’s information-rich tentacles can truly be.

By far, the best example of viral Internet marketing is Old Spice’s ‘Mano A Mano in El Baño’ campaign.  The ‘Old Spice Guy’ answering Twitter users’ random questions in the form of a personalized commercial on YouTube cemented Old Spice as ahead of the curve in employing the web for marketing and brand recognition.  Personally, I found myself ignoring all other products on the deodorant aisle and heading straight for the Old Spice.  When an ad campaign compels you to purchase a product simply because you appreciate the commercials, someone in the PR department is doing it right. 

The fact of the matter is that the game has changed.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media websites have turned the advertising game on its head and shifted the way we all conduct business.  Gone are the days of supermarket circulars and cold-calling.  Obsolete and arbitrary are many of the practices once considered the standard in the world of sales and marketing.  Your prime objective should be widespread visibility, and in terms of crafting your brand and name-notoriety, the old way of doing things simply doesn’t suffice. 

Focus on your social-media footprint and maximizing your online presence.  Make a mental note that you are the artisan of your own future successes and profitability, and take advantage of every possible avenue for enhancing exposure.  We are waist-deep in previously uncharted waters in terms of publicity, and the possibilities are virtually endless.  Don’t wait for the ship to sail: take a cue from Jonathan Stark and Old Spice and dive right in.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Up and Running!

Welcome to the brand new PR/PR Public Relations blog!  Check back every Friday for updates on all things publicity.