Saturday, October 24, 2009

Traditional Media is Still the Front Runner for News in America

Where do most Americans get their news? Not the Web like you might have though. I found this bit of information on the Schwartz Communicaions blog, Schwartz Crossroads. The post is "Will IT Spending Impact Tech PR Budgets in 2010" ( Towards the end, they mention that 72% of Americans still get their news primarily through traditional media, according to the First Amendment Center.

At first, I thought this was outrageous, but the more I thought about it, the more I think I understand why it's true. Let's think about who is actually reading the news. Generally, it's not the generations that use the Internet the most. So if they're not reading the news, then they are out of the picture in the first place on this matter. Though they may never pick up a newspaper, they are also not spending their time reading it online. Among those who do pay attention to newsworthy stories, many still prefer to get it from newspapers and television. Still, the news is all over the Web; and it's important to remember that it's not just the original story that's on there.

More than the just the actual story, there are reactions, criticisms, gossip, and all kinds of other talk ABOUT the news. If you want your story to reach as many audiences as possible, it's okay to still use traditional media, in fact, you absolutely should to ensure you are reaching those audiences that will never go to news sites. Just make sure you also use the Web to promote your story and monitor the conversations and feedback about it. That way, you know how your supporters, critics, and everyone else is reacting to the news. That's my PR thought for the day.

Image is taken from Google images

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Whole Family is on Facebook

Remember when us college students joined Facebook a few years back as a way to get to know our other classmates? Was anyone else a little upset when they first started letting other users on there? I know I was one of those people. I joined Facebook the summer before I started college. People from orientation sent me friend requests and I thought it was a great networking site for college students. Then the first time I got a request from someone who was in high school, I was pretty upset. I liked that Facebook set itself apart from Myspace with their requirement of having a .edu e-mail address. I'll admit though, the idea has since grown on me - a lot.

Now, just about anyone can join Facebook, and so many people are jumping on the bandwagon. I really started to like this idea when I started to get updates about old classmates, cousins, or old teammates about things going on in their lives. Honestly, I would have been months behind in finding out my cousin was going to be a father if Facebook Newsfeed hadn't told me! Now, I get to follow along on his fiance's Facebook page and find out just about every step of the pregnancy, as she updates it frequently. I get to see ultra sounds, I know they are having a boy who will be named Tyler, and I know he is due on Halloween. My cousin has a lot going on, especially being a young soon-to-be father, so I know he doesn't have time to call all of his almost 30 cousins and tell each of us the updates of his fiance's pregnancy. This way, he doesn't have to.

About two months ago, my mother finally caved and joined Facebook also. Now this came as a complete shock to me, since she claimed she never would. After chatting with her friends, she finally decided that the benefits were too great to ignore it anymore. All of her friends and sisters-in-law were more well connected and she felt left out of the loop sometimes. She is still having trouble keeping up sometimes, since she is new (and late) to this game. She is definitely trying though. And I've been trying to help her out by sending friend suggestions of family members I know she would like to connect with through Facebook. She may finally be getting the hang of it. She called me the other day to say she was sorry I lost my soccer game, after I updated my status that we had lost.

And yes, even my grandparents have joined the game. My grandfather is quite the avid user of Facebook. In fact, he felt the need to rub in the nice Florida weather he is experiencing, after my status complained of how bitterly cold I was at the bus stop here in Syracuse, NY.

Personally, I'm excited that my family is opening up to the idea of staying connected through Facebook. It makes my life a lot easier to not have to call everyone when something happens, and I get to stay connected with important people in my life. That's my PR thought for the day.

Image is taken from

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Connecting with the Individual American

Are you ready to let go of the "average American" concept? According to an article by Bradley Johnson on, the 2010 Census will reveal a major shift in American consumerism, in which we'll do just that. The article can be found here:

The article talked about the end of "Joe Consumer" aka the average American. What does this mean for PR people? It means that now, more than ever, it's time to really take advantage of your social media and corporate sites. Campaigns to mass audiences will always have their degree of effectiveness, but now, especially with the farewell to Joe Consumer, companies need to be engaged with their target audiences on a more personal level, connecting with the individual.

Companies need to get onto their sites and start interacting with consumers, potential consumers, or critics of the company or product. If consumers have a chance to ask questions, custom make a product on the site, or talk with an employee through blogging or some other medium, they'll probably be more likely to come back to your company again or tell their friends about you.

Additionally, social media sites can act as a way to correct a problem or handle a complaint a company might not have even known existed. For example, it's easy to hate large corporation X if you had a problem with their product. It's harder to hate that employee John Doe from corporation X who responded to your blog post within minutes to offer his apologies, some advice on how to fix your problem, or maybe some sort of compensation for your troubles.

You can't reach everyone; but interacting with consumers on social media and corporate sites gives you a personal advantage. That's my PR thought for the day.

Image is from

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mark McClennan Offers Advice to PR Students

Last night, I attended the PRSSA Induction ceremony at Syracuse University. The guest lecturer, was Mark McClennan, a Syracuse alum, past president of the PRSA Boston, and VP at Schwartz Communications in Boston. His lecture consisted of his experiences starting out after graduating, and advice for students who will also be starting out soon. He offered a lot of great information and tips that I will definitely be remembering when I graduate in 2010; I'll highlight some of the tips I found most useful.

Mark frequently speaks about social media, including a discussion at the PRSA Northeast District Conference this past Thursday. His advice to students was, not surprisingly, that they need to have a great understanding of social media. He warned that although Twitter and similar social media outlets might not necessarily be around in a few years, that idea of instant information boards and microblogging will be for a long time. Therefore, get familiar with the technology and how it is most effectively used, and be ready to leave it behind for something better.

Mark also spoke about how every company nowadays is jumping on the social media bandwagon, thinking they need to use every social media outlet there is available. Therefore, they have several accounts, and aren't doing much with any of them. His advice - pick the three services that will be best used to reach YOUR audience and be actively involved on those accounts.

Since Schwartz is a tech PR agency, he offered his best advice to students trying to get into that field; read all the industry magazines available and be knowledgeable. You can read every Google alert you get, all your Google reader accounts, 10 newspapers, and every blog you subscribe to and still miss something. No matter how much you're reading now. It's not enough. That goes for any type of PR.

You don't have to be a tech person to be in tech PR, most people at tech PR agencies aren't tech people. You simply have to be a PR person that can speak tech, because tech people usually don't know much about PR.

Additionally, Mark says that if you don't have an internship on your resume, your application is likely to be thrown out, at Schwartz and at many other companies. If you're going into tech PR, you're better off having an internship with a tech PR firm.

Mark also encourages people entering into PR to be aggressive. Silence is deadly - speak up and be assertive. Those are the people that rise to the top faster and the people he says he wants on all of his biggest accounts.

If you're new in PR, and your superior tells you to contact reporters, be assertive and use the phone over e-mailing news reporters. It's still 33% more effective than e-mailing. Pitch your idea fast though, because once you get them, you have 7 seconds to convince them.

Lastly, writing skills are vital to success for any PR person. It is possibly the most valuable skill to master. Practice writing a pitch letter, over and over again. You can never get enough practice and it's an imperative skill. Everyone who works at Schwartz has to write one before they get hired.

Overall, Mark's lecture was beneficial to anyone who is hoping to be successful in public relations. Syracuse offers a lot of great lectures about social media and PR, and my advice is to go to as many of them as possible. Take advantage of these free opportunities because they won't always be there. It's a great way to network and to learn information that you might not get other places. That's my PR thought for the day.

Image is from Google images.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bringing the Doctor Into the Home via the Internet

Have you ever asked your grandparents what they use the Internet for most? Would you be surprised if it was for their health?

I recently read a journal article from Health Communication, written by Wendy Macias and Sally McMillan from the advertising and public relations schools at the University of Georgia and the University of Tennessee. The article was titled, "The Return of the House Call: The Role of Internet-based Interactivity in Bringing Health Information Home to Older Adults." It provided insight on how older Americans use the Internet for health communication, and how reliable they found it.

The study found that 72% of older online women seek health information, while 51% of men do; and of those people 1/3 of them take the information they find to their physician. In a sense, they are beginning their health care at home. They can enter symptoms and find certain treatments for smaller problems, and go to their doctors if they think it might be more serious.

Though the article focused on older adults, online health communication is a service that can provide value to a wide range of demographics; the college freshman who is away from home for the first time and thinks he might have mono or the single mom who just lost her and health insurance but wants to ensure her children are healthy - this service can be useful to just about anyone.

Online health communication makes life easier for the those who seek health information online, and for their physicians. People don't have to wait to make an appointment every time they think something is wrong with their health, so it is more timely for them. Meanwhile, doctors do not have patients calling them and making appointments for every little problem that sometimes turns out to be nothing.

Interestingly enough though, the study found that older Americans consider easily accessible health information not to be reliable or of high quality. So if it is easy to access, they trust it less. This may be an opportunity for health information forums to becoming more credible; maybe they can even charge for a subscription based health Web site, that people will trust more because it's not free.

If not, they can offer free memberships, but require people to sign up and be members to access the health information. This provides them more credibility, and they can offer advertisements to pharmacies and other health services as a way to cash in.

Online health communication provides people with a more hands-on approach to their own health. In a way, it brings the doctor into the home. It is more cost-effective and less time-consuming for the average user. It can be quite a useful tool, even if it's just confirming that someone should make an appointment with their physician. That's my PR thought for the day.

Photo provided by Google images.