Continuing Education: PRSA Conferences in 2012

In the spirit of where we left off at the end of January, keeping up with the latest PR and communication-related news is essential to success.

The PRSA keeps a list of updated conferences for the year on their website. There is a link available for each conference with additional information about the conference topic and how to sign up. Site visitors may also use the event calendar to scope how to sort their conference search based on conference type (in-person versus online training) as well as whether or not these times work around busy schedules. Because many of the conferences are in months to come, there is time to start planning visits.

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Too Busy to Learn?

For those already established in the PR industry, chances are high you may already be involved in an association. (More than likely, the PRSA). It can become challenging to be more than a fee-paying member of these groups, especially when agenda’s are always full and meetings never stop but it’s important to get the most out of them. Whether your motivation stems from the membership fee dollar amount missing from your bank account or your desire to further your career and perfect your craft (opinionated hint: one motivating factor should slightly outweigh the other), it’s completely feasible to stay on top of what’s new in the groups, networks, and associations you’re apart of without neglecting your immediate responsibilities.

A few ideas:

  • Make an effort, as a team or group within your office, company, etc. to attend seminars, conferences, and/or keep up with industry-related events. By committing  to continue their (encouraged) involvement within groups and associations, all associates are contributing to bringing improvements and ideas to their company/organization.
  • Always keep up with articles/news about the industry. We all learned in school to rely upon scholarly articles and reference material to ensure validity in the information we’re consuming. That’s important; however, it is also important to stay on top of the buzz surrounding the industry for which you work — even if it’s not always the product of an academic journal. Reading what others have to say might spawn ideas for improvement or even bring misconceptions to light. All in all, reading this information may lead to the generation of ideas. Follow a specific industry on LinkedIn or a similar social network you may use regularly to network and read news.
  • Talk to peers in other industries. It’s always nice to hear a different perspective. Involvement in a group or association involving an industry you’re not directly involved with could provide insight to things you may have never thought of seeing life from your perspective (as well as those who work in your field).
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Apps for PR pros

A simple weekend reminder: apps make life easier, so why not take a few minutes to make sure you’re using the best ones out there?

In yesterday’s post on PR Daily, Ronnie Manning outlines several (23 to be exact) that are just a little more-than-good for PR pros to check out.

What are some of your favorite apps and why? Which do you feel are most beneficial for PR professionals?

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Make it Yours: Codecademy

I understand. Most PR professionals are not succeeding because of their top notch Computer Science degree, ability to code or program – but why not?

Codecademy is an interactive web resource for learning how to do basic coding in a fun, almost conversational manner. Upon entering the site, I learned a few simple command lines for basic math.

Why is this important for PR pros to know?

It’s not a requirement, but understanding how to put together a simple website (or how to modify a preexisting template to your liking) is a skill that many PR and Communication professionals do not possess.   This understanding could be useful in determining what needs can be met in terms of a company’s method of web design, promotional materials, etc.  And it never hurts to learn something new.

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Publish, Promote & Manage: Selling Out Events with Eventbrite

If  Skillshare is to education,

Eventbrite is to promotion — and it gets better than this half-witted analogy.

Eventbrite is an online tool people can use to create professional event pages where they can use social media tools to promote the event, and monitor statistics related to the attendee’s opinions, actions, and behavior at the event.  By paying a fee, users of Eventbrite can collect money from attendees via Eventbrite’s credit card system, Paypal or Google Checkout.

PR professionals, though multi-talented, do not need to have extensive site-building knowledge with the use of this service, mainly because the event pages are modifiable in a non-web-designer-user-friendly way. Eventbrite users may also choose to leverage their page’s search engine listings as well as choosing from a series of embedded widgets and customized email marketing templates for promotion purposes. While you are tracking your attendees and planning your next event, you can rest assured people are finding you on Google–with ease.

 

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Education Across Communities

One way to stand apart from the crowd is by offering something no one else can – or at least thinking of it first.

Skillshare is a startup with a mission to make education accessible from anyone, anywhere. By logging in with a standard email account and password or through one’s personal Facebook account, members can access online classes separated by categories such as Creative Arts, Culinary Arts, Entrepreneurship, Lifestyle, and Technology.

Based on the zip code you provide during login and what category you choose to learn more about, members can also personalize their own learning schedule as they select courses or topics that interest them.

For PR and Communications professionals an outlet like this one could be extremely useful for not only giving back by sharing useful information with others, but becoming a go-to source for education based on a particular niche – especially in areas where courses about PR and Communications are sparse or nonexistent.

Would being able to offer information in an online class forum about the skill set most related to your organization’s mission be beneficial to your organization’s growth?

Why or why not? Let us know what you think.

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Happy Friday!

Fire PR Group wishes you a happy Friday! Next week’s posts will be centered on new and/or promising start-ups and how PR professionals can use these services to their advantage – or at least learn something new. Watch out for our posts Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

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Startups & the Future of PR

We are always interested in staying on top of what’s trending, original, and ultimately resourceful.

In a recent article featured on Mashable.com, writer Sarah Kessler describes six startups that are beginning to gain popularity – potentially enough to define the New Year for a number of industries.

To gain better insight for how to broaden our resources as PR professionals, which startups do you feel may come to the forefront in 2012? How would these be useful in the PR industry?

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Respecting all Communicators – Wednesday’s Resolution

Because PR professionals and journalists must work together, it is essential for PR pros to know what will make life a little easier for reporters.  To carry on our trend of avoiding potential fumbles in the New Year, we should be aware of the mistakes we make when interacting with journalists as to improve the relationships that could get us the publicity we need.

In Amanda Marsh’s post on Ragan.com she describes “seven common PR sins”.  Though there are seven in total, most of the sinful acts relate to sending reporters press releases unrelated to a reporter’s beat, emailing irregularly (or large) sized files, miscommunication via email, and a lack of respect for the reporter’s time and work.

In order to create positive (and mutually beneficial) relationships, both PR and journalism professionals owe each other respect above all else. As PR professionals it’s important to do research about reporters and what kind of content they cover prior to sending them press releases and other media material.

 

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Customer Dissatisfaction

As we welcome 2012, we should also be wary in what we decide against welcoming during this New Year. As people pack into gyms after work this evening, hold doors, and express gratitude in ways unimaginable on a quest to fulfill yearly resolutions, I will identify a few ways we can improve as professionals for the New Year throughout the week.

It is of no surprise that the words Social Media would be present in this post. It also comes without surprise that one of the most profound issues with a company’s social media presence stems from how we go about responding to complaints.

Complaints are inevitable – no public relations firm is immune to the public’s voice of dissatisfaction every now and then. However, the manner by which PR professionals (or any professional) handle complaints, especially those delivered via social media, can make or break a company’s reputation and future.

Poor Example 1: Asking your customer to remove negative comments (Cursing at them as well)

In Dominique Ellis’ December 27, 2011 post on Social Media Today, she described a scenario where a pair of customers were disappointed a restaurant they wanted to dine at was closed by 10 p.m. To express their sadness, they tweeted the restaurant their sentiments. This situation happens all the time, however, things became a little unordinary when the conversation expanded to a series of tweets between the social media person from the restaurant and the upset customer and ended in the person tweeting on the restaurant’s behalf cussing at the customer and demanding they remove a negative comment they posted to Yelp.com. Throughout the article Ellis describes the back-and-forth dialogue and sums up how to communicate with disappointed customers without seeming petty or rude.

 

Poor Example 2: Becoming a Twitter Sensation – only for all the wrong reasons.

Though direct emails may seem personal, no one should ever trust that email content will stay “private” – no matter how simple or meaningless a message may seem. Ocean Marketing’s Paul Christoforo is probably familiar with this. The string of emails between Christoforo, and a customer inquiring about the order status of an Avenger PlayStation3 game controller, reveal how one should never neglect the power (and rapid spread of information) of the consumer + the internet. After a series of emails riddled with insults between the customer and himself without a clear answer as to the customer’s original question, Christoforo lost support of company’s he once worked with as well as potential customers because information concerning his dealings with one customer began to circulate on Twitter.

 The Lesson: As we do in other areas of our lives, we learn from the criticism we receive from others. Though no one likes to hear or read negative feedback, this feedback can be essential in avoiding stagnation and may be fuel for greater improvements. If you are working in any way that your work may appear in a public forum or be seen, shared, or read by others you are assuming the responsibility of keeping your cool about the fact that everyone will never love everything that you create. Use feedback to improve. Do not lay blame upon the customers or insult customers, especially if you are talking down to them about something completely unrelated to the original problem.

Additionally, if you are hiring an intern or assistant to interact on social media sites on your behalf, make sure they are representing you in a positive light. Though interns will often work without monetary compensation, this does not mean they are always in support of the company’s well-being. Any less-than-positive feedback concerning company actions is not a reflection of one’s personal worth; rather, negative feedback often reflects an area that needs a little extra attention within the company.

 

 

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