Category Archives: PR Tips

“Chef” Movie: 3 PR Lessons And A Lie Wrapped in a Chef’s Coat

Chef-2014-Movie-Poster1-650x955By Tanaya Ghosh, Communications Co-Chair

While watching the much-lauded film, “Chef,” I noticed that a lot of things actually made sense about the film. Not just the accuracy of the culinary scenes (which, too, were spot-on), but also a few aspects related to public relations. Being a PR strategist but also having worked on the journalism side, I found myself cheering the film on for some very important points it successfully illustrated. My hope is that this will help those not in our industry to better understand a few things about our work as well.

Not to fear, I won’t give away any critical parts of the movie. “Chef” is not strictly for foodies, because the human element of the film also resonates strongly. But seeing as we are PR folks who view the world through our uniquely strategic lenses, here are the 3 ways “Chef” draws attention to some important PR truths:

1. The Dangers, Benefits and Viral Powers of Social Media

When a prominent public figure presses the “Tweet” button after furiously typing up a heated 140-character-or-less message, all hell can break loose. Especially when they don’t fully understand their audience, nor the intricacies of how the social media platform works. That’s where we, the PR experts, step in and help the person or organization figure it all out before sending something out into the Twitterverse (and beyond) that can never be undone. The film also clearly conveys the potential for PR greatness via social media, but with one caveat: the little kid running the food truck’s PR doesn’t need the strategic planning that a majority of organizations do, because the average organization doesn’t have massive notoriety to begin with… as opposed to this world-famous chef, who is the main character in the movie. Most people actually need someone to help them maximize the potential for social media success, and those who scoff at the idea severely underestimate the task at hand. So no, managing a personality or brand on social media is not as easy as the film makes it look. But it can be as nightmarish as the film portrays.

2. Good PR Often Goes Unnoticed

Oftentimes, “good PR” means being proactive and keeping your clients out of the news, when there is potential for them to be in the media for the wrong reasons.You want to squash an inaccurate and negative story before it gets out there, and be able to tell the organization’s side of the story before a one-sided attack on you our your organization has a chance to get out there. So really, great PR is often what doesn’t get written about, and what you don’t actually see. Furthermore, the public is quick to point fingers to and put the blame on “bad PR” when a crisis hits an individual or organization. : 1. CEO’s and other leaders chose not to heed the PR team’s advice early on and went “rogue”; 2. It’s an operational or service issue that is not rooted in PR; 3. The person or organization didn’t have a proper PR team in place until the crisis got out of hand. If you come running to us, like in the movie, when it’s already hit the fan, we realistically can’t undo the damage so quickly, if at all. We may work wonders with our expertise and media know-how, but unfortunately not even we are full-breed magicians.

3. Egos Must Take A Back Seat to Bridge the Communication Gap

Whether it’s a food critic or business media, sometimes writers don’t know the full story of their subject, and they unfortunately go for the angle that will make the biggest headlines, or boost their image as a discerning critic, for example. As the film shows, understanding that communication is necessary for both parties is essential for mutual success, instead of allowing egos to make us defensive, confrontational and uncooperative. The best PR folks are those who understand both sides of the PR-journalist relationship and try to find a mutually beneficial way to work together for the long run. Instead of secretly despising reporters, some of us not only like getting to know them, but also respect their craft and understand what they need to do their job well. This is one way that coming from a journalism background helps you in PR. If you haven’t worked on the journalism side, I’d suggest meeting with a journalist friend and really picking their brain on what the working relationship is like for them. Ask them honest questions, and expect honest answers. Ask them what irks them, and what catches their eye. It will open your eyes to the world beyond your and your clients’ interests, and help you do your job better, as well.

And now, for the one PR lie in “Chef”…

The publicist portrayed in the film was a stereotypical, comedic caricature that was a misrepresentation of the majority of people in the industry. Yes, we are fast-moving and efficient, and yes, we think out of the box and often urge the client to go beyond their comfort zone. But we ultimately do want what’s best for the client, instead of pushing half-baked ideas on them as portrayed in “Chef.” You’ll have to see the movie, but I can tell you this much… not all PR folks are pushy, high-strung, or just plain crazy. We build relationships with clients, their audiences and the media. And those of us who succeed in the long run are the people who have mastered the art of listening, interpersonal communication and relationships.

Tanaya Ghosh, a PRSA-LA Communications Chair, has worked as a PR and branding strategist since graduating with an M.A. in Strategic Public Relations from USC Annenberg. To connect with Tanaya go here, or follow her blog, Tanaya’s Table. You can also follow her on Twitter @TanayaG.

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Resume Critique & Informational Interviewing Workshop

Resume critique invite

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October 16, 2013 · 3:11 pm

Polite Persistence: A Guide to Wooing Potential Employers

By Lauren Lewow, Trevett Chair

Oftentimes new grads and college students feel lost as they set out on the path of their first professional job hunt. Here are a few tips that will help you win mentors and friends, even if you don’t clinch the job.

Submitting your resume
It’s easy to fall into the trap of sending your resume and then feeling lots of anxiety. If you sent your email directly to an individual, you’ve got to remember they’re human. We quickly forget that they’re likely juggling multiple projects and reviewing resumes for an open position. It’s best to follow up if you’re really interested in the position. Sending a friendly email every 7-10 days gives the recruiter breathing room, while still showing your interest.

Either way, be sure to proof your text and then proof it again. Even have someone else look over it. You’re looking for grammar, spelling and even formatting mistakes. In PR, your writing must be polished; your ability to express concepts and frame issues is the product clients pay for. If you email a prospective supervisor with errors, they’ll only assume the worst of you.

After the interview
Within a day of your interview, you should send a thank you note. I know this may sound old-fashioned, but do it anyways! Feel free to send an email, or go the extra mile with a hand written note (check out our infographic for more on this). Be sure to add in a few details from your interview to show them that you were listening and interested.

If you don’t clinch the role
Ask where you went wrong. Not many of us like to hear about our weaknesses, but they are critical to our development. Asking where you could improve or what skills you are lacking will help you refine which roles fit you best and how you can obtain them. Asking these tough questions also shows your commitment to your professional development.

Take this one step further and ask the interviewer to coffee or lunch, especially if you feel like you got along very well. Having a mentor who can share insight about the industry is invaluable.

Always be polite and follow up consistently. You’ll build your network and gain insight along the way.

PR_Infographic_1

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Vine: Now a Part of Your Social Media Strategy?

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By Brittany Mehciz, Communications Co-Chair

It’s only been a short five months since Vine made its debut in the app store and it’s already spreading like wild fire. With approximately five Vine tweets being sent every second, it’s no wonder why brands are experimenting with this new social channel. With Vine, you only have six seconds to impress your viewer so it’s imperative that you explain, engage and entertain in those six short seconds.

Check out the brands that have successfully adopted Vine as part of their social media strategy:

If you are looking into creating a Vine account for your brand or company here are a few shortcomings to keep in mind:

  • Vines can’t be saved as drafts, which can be quite difficult for brands that require an extensive approval process for all of their social postings.
  • The Vine app is only available on the iPhone – sorry Android users!
  • Audio can hinder a brands Vine. Unless you have a completely silent setting in which you capture your Vine, you will experience an interrupted audio due to the stop motion video style of Vine.

Looking for ways that your brand can use Vine? Here are a few ideas:

  • How to use your product – give viewers a quick demo of your product in action or in different views.
  • Announcements – if your brand has a new product or a special promotion, Vine is an innovative platform to utilize for those big unveils.
  • Holiday celebrations – creating a Vine to wish your followers a Happy Holidays/Valentine’s Day/St. Patrick’s Day/4th of July etc…is a great idea!
  • Events or premieres – give your viewers a behind-the-scenes tour of your latest event or premiere. They’ll feel like they’re getting the red carpet experience in a short six second clip.

With the rapid growth that the Vine app has experienced in its short existence, it has definitely become another weapon in a brands social media arsenal.

 Are you a fan of Vine?

Resources: Mashable, Ignite Social Media and Kuno Creative.

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Job Interview Tips to Get You Hired

By Kristin Soo Hoo, Treasurer

With summer just around the corner, many of you have already begun the tedious search for an internship or job. You’ve probably spent countless hours perfecting your résumé, crafting a personalized cover letter to each potential employer and nervously awaiting replies.

So what happens when you’ve finally been invited for an interview?

Before you have an anxiety attack, review these interview tips to help you secure your dream job!YP prsa

 Before the interview:

  • Research!

Learn about the company’s history, values, scope of work, case studies, awards/successes and key employees. Identify how the organization differentiates itself in its industry. Then, skillfully tie this information into your interview responses.

  • Remove inappropriate or unprofessional content from your social media profiles.

Employers need to trust their employees to represent the organization in a positive light. Many will turn down candidates because of inappropriate social media content like pictures of excessive partying or posts about participating in illegal activities.

  • Assemble a portfolio for the interviewer to keep.

Insert copies of your cover letter, résumé and relevant work into a solid-colored folder. You can place the papers in sheet protectors to avoid hole-punching.

  • Print business cards.

Use a pre-made design or create your own business cards on relatively sturdy cardstock. You can order them through an office supply store (Office Depot, Staples, etc.) or websites like vistaprint.com. Include your name, phone number, email address, home address and possibly social media links.

  • Review common interview questions, and prepare answers.

There are only three true job interview questions, according to an article in Forbes:

  • Can you do the job?
  • Will you love the job?
  • Can we tolerate working with you?

But here are more examples:

  • Conduct mock interviews.

They will allow you to assess and improve your verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Practicing will help reduce anxiety and discomfort during the actual interview as well.

Interview day:

  • Arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time.

Potential delays include traffic, parking or finding the meeting location.

  • Stand up and introduce yourself with a firm handshake.
  • Think quickly, but feel free to pause for a moment to gather your thoughts.
  • Support your answers with details and stories of personal experiences.
  • At the end of the interview, make sure to ask a few questions.

Write down questions beforehand, such as “what is your company’s corporate culture?” or “why did you choose to work here?”

  • Send a handwritten thank you card.

Impress the interviewer by mailing a short handwritten thank you note. Employers appreciate the personal touch and thoughtfulness, so it will help you stand out.

Most importantly, remember to:

  • Relax
  • Be confident
  • Be yourself

Also, check out job interview do’s and don’ts for recent PR grads.

Question: What additional job interview tips would you like to share?

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Graduating This Spring – Now What?

By Kaylee Weatherly, Collegiate Outreach

For those of you graduating this spring, the thought of what’s next may cause you some stress and questioning. It’s best to think of this as a time of many possibilities, because it is. There are a lot of different paths to take in public relations – whether it is to find a full-time job at an agency or in-house, try another internship, or go to graduate school. But don’t feel that these are the only directions. You can go into PR indirectly, even if you don’t take a job specifically titled “public relations,” you might even still be performing the basic functions of PR and will get tons of experience there.

  • Full-time job– Full-time jobs are hard to come by these days, and even if you receive an entry-level position, there still might not be much job security. Many people right out of college face the anxiety that they have to take the first full-time position offered to them, even if it’s not what they’re interested in. Keeping an open mind is good, but be careful. If there’s no passion to be brought, then what’s the point of working 40 hours a week at something you can’t see yourself doing? If you still want to shop around, internships and temporary positions can also be a good path for you until you figure out what kind of work you really like.
  • Internships- Internships are always great experiences, but make sure to know your worth. Always go into an internship that will teach you something and will set measurable goals for you to reach. Agencies offer great full-time, paid positions. Nonprofits are usually unpaid, but you’ll get to wear a lot of different hats and work for a great cause. The following Forbes article asks the founder of Internqueen.com how to land a great internship: http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2012/01/31/how-to-get-an-internship/
  • Graduate school- My decision to go straight to graduate school right after my undergraduate career was tough and filled with questions about what I really wanted for a career, what I was passionate about, and whether I could afford more student loans. At the time of graduation, I felt like I wasn’t prepared enough to go straight into the ever-changing field of PR. Sure, I knew how to write a good press release, but I knew that wasn’t the only skill I needed to know. I wanted to also gain a solid background as to why we do the things we do in PR and how to conduct strategic PR, not just tactical PR. Yes, the student loans are expensive (especially because I decided to get a masters at a private school), but my thought is that it’s just going to be like any other bill you will have to pay. Here’s a great article about choosing to get a masters degree in PR and why it will help you. http://prnewpros.prsa.org/?p=1071.

But don’t think that a masters in PR is the only option. You can also choose to get a degree in communication or an MBA.

There are many options you have after graduation. The important thing is to tame your career anxiety by allowing it to motivate you. It’s also important to continue to network and meet people in the PR field, like joining the Young Professionals of PRSA organization. It will help keep your foot in the door and offer you a lot of opportunities to meet other PR professionals like yourself.

Congratulations on graduating – now go show the world what you’ve got to offer!

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Surviving the PR Zombie Apocalypse

As the PRSA Young Professionals group, we are committed to putting you all in touch with the best resources possible.  In the spirit of Halloween, “The PR Coach” has put together 13 signs that you’re a PR zombie.  Take a look.

Bad PR: 13 Signs You’re a PR Zombie

Are PR pros in danger of becoming PR zombies? We may have reached a tipping point caused by Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome. Seriously.

I’m no longer surprised by others attacking the PR zombies among us. Just look at The Economist, the Bad Pitch Blog and any recent examples of airhead public relations, Bad PR, PR Fails and social media snafus.

Here are 13 sure signs you’re a PR zombie suffering from this contagion:

  1. Your news releases are vapid, coma-inducing, Dead Sea scrolls.
  2. Your blog posts reek with deadly slang, buzzwords and  marketing-speak.
  3. Your spray and pray media pitches have caused reporters to run in every direction, slamming doors, screaming in fear, hanging up the phone and deleting your semi-literate e-mails faster than Lindsay Lohan’s fingers in a jewelry store. (more)

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