A Look Back on 2011

As the end of the year approaches, it seems that most of the articles are reflecting on the last year. Journalists write about the best campaigns of the year, and the worst campaigns of the year.  They write about the most memorable parts of the year, and the most painful moments of the year.  Last year I wrote a post called the Final Post of the Year that went month by month through the best parts of 2010.  I really enjoyed writing that post and looking back on my past year so I figured I would do the same thing for 2011.

January

In January, I went to the Dolphins/Patriots game in Foxboro which is something I have wanted to do since I moved to Boston.  The Dolphins obviously got killed, but it was still a great time.

I also started my last semester of college at Boston University.  They had a few celebrations for seniors.

With Dean Elmore and John Battaglino

February

I had some exciting trips in February.  First, I went to Chicago for the first time.  I went to DePaul University’s PRSSA conference.  I wrote about it on an older blog post.  Then I spent the rest of the weekend exploring the city with my awesome tour guide, Nick Lucido!

Sky Deck!

The Bean

Deep dish pizza!

A week later I went skiing for the first time at Mont Tremblant.  It was definitely scary learning how to ski at first, but by the end of the weekend I was getting the hang of it.  But I have heard that your first time skiing should not be on this mountain.

March

In March I did something I had been looking forward to since I heard it opened.  HARRY POTTER WORLD!

April

This month started off bittersweet.  I went to Seattle for the PRSSA National Assembly.  I always looked forward to my PRSSA trips, and this one was my last.  The next committee was elected, and I was so excited and proud of them.  But it was also (potentially) the last time I was with everyone in my committee at the same time.  PRSSA continues to mean the world to me and truly made a huge difference in my life and my career.  I was also awarded with the Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award.  Oh, and I caught a fish in the Seattle fish market!

The 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 PRSSA National Committees

The 2010-2011 PRSSA National Committee Saying Goodbye

Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award

May

In May, I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Public Relations from the College of Communication and a degree in Business Administration from the School of Management.  I also received the Gerald Powers PR Scholarship, Blue Chip Award and Scarlet Key.

Scarlet Key

Blue Chip Ceremony

June

Even though I officially starting working on May 31, my new hire training at HubSpot started on June 6.  After six months of working, I can still say I love my job!

July

In July I spent a lot of time working and a lot of time enjoying Boston and getting together with friends.

BSMA Brunch

August

In mid-August, I co-founded a Young Professionals Network for the Public Relations Society of America in Boston.  Then at the end of August, Dreamforce, Salesforce.com’s annual conference that included 45,000 people this year, began.  My responsibilities at HubSpot all summer consisted of working on our presence at Dreamforce and planning for our HubSpot User Group Summit.  David Kirkpatrick of MarketingSherpa wrote a case study about our presence there.  It was memorable, exciting and turned out very well despite Hurricane Irene’s attempt to keep the HubSpot team in Massachusetts.

September

September was the HubSpot User Group Summit (HUGS) in Boston with 1,000 customers.  It was inspiring hearing many of the HubSpot customer stories and seeing how excited the customers and HubSpotters were to meet each other and learn from one another.  And I cannot leave out the balloon sprocket at the opening reception.  I had honestly wanted to do this since my first day at HubSpot!

October

October started off by going to Maine for the first time!  I have wanted to see more of New England since I decided to stay in Boston after graduation, and this was the first step.  I also had lobster for the first time.

Then all my dreams came true, and I FINALLY got the Verizon iPhone!

And I, of course, had to highlight it on my Facebook Timeline:

November

This month was busy, but at the end of the month, I went with HubSpot to Cloudforce.  It was great to see everyone who I had worked closely with all summer for Dreamforce.  And it is always fun to meet HubSpot customers and talk to other people about the company!


December

At HubSpot, not only are we around some of the greatest marketing professionals in the industry, but they constantly take the opportunity to teach us as well.  HubSpot, therefore, set up a program called HubSpot Fellows.  The CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, Brian Halligan, teaches a bunch of classes on leadership and helps us become better leaders at HubSpot.  It is an awesome chance to learn from Brian but also interact with other HubSpotters who are part of the program.

Happy New Year to everyone!

PRSA Boston’s New Young Professionals (YPN) Section

Great ideas are often created in the most casual situations.  Laura Schroeder and I met regularly for dinner after she graduated.  We had worked together at Boston University on the PRSSA executive board.  We missed those times and decided then that we had to work on something together in PRSA Boston.

One of the things that made me want to stay in Boston is the strong networking and PR community. PRSA Boston took an active role with students, and you always felt welcomed when you went to their events.  However, there are a lot of young professionals who may be intimidated by going to these events. BUT there are so many young professionals in Boston and many who could benefit from an organization like PRSA.  So Laura and I decided it only made sense to start a Young Professionals Section (YPN) as part of PRSA Boston.

So we pitched the idea to the board and got more support than we even thought possible!  So our first event will be Tuesday, August 23 at Tia’s on the Waterfront to kick off an exciting addition to an already great Chapter and city. So now is the part we need YOUR help with.

Our social media channels are set up: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  But we have to spread the word.  Our kick off event is going to be the start of a great social and learning experience.  We will alternate between having social events and workshops.  If you want to be more involved, we have positions on our committee for that.  If you simply want to enjoy the events without spending additional time, that’s fine too!  We are simply excited to build a network for young professionals in a city that thrives on young professionals.

So come to our event, invite your friends, tweet and post about us!  But most importantly, tell us what YOU want to see in a group like this.  What do you want to learn about?

The End of an Era – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I recently wrote a post on the HubSpot blog about marketing lessons from the Harry Potter series.  However, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass to get into what this series REALLY means to me.  You have probably seen a lot of tweets and Facebook posts and heard a lot of people talking about their childhood ending with the ending of the series.  And I think that really captures what this series means to me.

I have always been a bit overly excited when it comes to anything Harry Potter related.  When the 7th book came out, I took off of work, got the book at midnight, read until I fell asleep that night and finished the book by the end of the day.  I always saw the movies as soon as they came out (gotta love the midnight premieres) and was beyond excited when I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.

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I also wrote a blog post after I saw Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.  I think the last paragraph will give you a better idea of my excitement:

I guess all I can say now is 492 days until Part I of the 7th book comes out in theaters, and 730 days until Part II of the 7th book comes out in theaters!  Then we can finally hear Molly Weasley say “Get away from my daughter, bitch!”

So between the trailer and this Hillywood spoof of Harry Potter and “Friday,” I was counting down the days.  Better yet, my birthday is July 14 so right as my birthday ended at midnight, the premiere started.

I was first in line for the premiere (IMAX 3D of course), but I do have to say I’m not the craziest person out there.  I love that everyone dresses up, but our theater was crazy to the point that someone who was dressed in an owl costume (as Hedwig) was flying around the theater for a good amount of time.  Someone else also hushed the theater and then ran in yelling TROLL!  TROLL IN THE DUNGEON!  And the theater started singing Harry Potter Puppet Pals (I may have joined in with this one.)

And a big thank you to Foursquare for creating a Harry Potter badge!

So now for some of my thoughts on the movie.  SPOILER WARNING RIGHT HERE!

I wasn’t sure how they were going to pick off after the previous part, but I think they did a great job of getting right into it (instead of showing flashbacks from previous movies).  The first half had left off with Voldemort getting the Elder Wand, and I think it was right to start there.  At first, there was more talking than action in the movie, but that quickly ended. Harry, Hermione and Ron were quickly escaping death at Gringotts.

I didn’t realize how quickly Harry returns to Hogwarts, but I was excited that the movie got right to it.  I would have liked Harry and Dumbledore’s brother to go into more details about their history, but I understand that needed to be cut from the movie.  Harry confronting Snape soon after that scene definitely made up for that!

But the greatest part of the movie wasn’t the battle between Voldemort and Harry or event their encounter in the forrest. The movie completely overtook me when Snape was killed and Harry went back in his memories to find out the truth about his destiny, Snape’s love for his mother and why Voldemort has been after him.  I could hear everyone around me sniffling (including myself).  It was just such a beautiful portrayal of the Harry Potter story.

There were also many characters who really developed so well in this movie in comparison to previous ones.  Neville Longbottom was the perfect portrayal of a character who went from a scrawny, helpless boy to someone who could look evil straight in the face.  The scene when he stands up to Voldemort is overpowering and inspirational.  Ginny Weasley is also someone else who came into her character very well.  She is now 20 and began filming with the Harry Potter series at age 9 so we really saw her grow up.  But seeing her mourn when everyone thinks Harry Potter is dead was one of her greatest scenes.

Now I know a lot of people did not like the epilogue to the series, but I always loved it.  I loved reading about their lives in the future after the craziness of their years at Hogwarts.  It was AMAZING to see what they would look like in 20 years (and a bit funny for characters like Draco and Ron).  But watching Harry give advice to his son as he embarked on his journey at Hogwarts and seeing him reunite with the now married Ron and Hermione was the perfect way to end the book.

So to J.K. Rowling, thank you for 14 amazing years of Harry Potter.  Like many other people, I feel like I have grown up as Harry has grown up.  And I think I speak for everyone when I say, I cannot wait for Pottermore!

Enchantment

I finally had the chance to read Guy Kawasaki‘s Enchantment, a book I have been trying to read for awhile now.  I wrote a post on the HubSpot blog about enchanting your audience using marketing techniques that he discusses in this book.  But one thing I did not include was how I have been enchanted in the past.  At the end of every chapter, Guy ends with someone else’s personal anecdote about how they have been enchanted.  It may have been something special that happened in their lives or witnessing someone else doing something extraordinary.  I originally thought I was going to write about how I have been enchanted by PRSSA, but let’s face it, if you read my blog, you already know about that.  So instead I thought it would be appropriate to talk about how I was enchanted my sophomore year of college which led me to write this blog.

When I first started college, a lot of people talked about blogging, but I didn’t really see the point or understand it.  Then I had another student come to my class and speak about his experiences blogging on his blog, The Personal Blog of AJ Vaynerchuk. He spoke about all of the opportunities he had as a result of his blog including networking opportunities, learning experiences and even making a small profit.  I was completely enthralled and wanted to learn more.  I decided I couldn’t use the excuse that “I was too busy to learn how to blog or consistently blog” since he was constantly traveling and networking in addition to school and still made time to blog.

So I figured, what do I have to lose, and I messaged AJ asking to help me set up my blog.  He met with me a few weeks later, set me up on Rachel Sprung on PR, and the rest is history.  I try to blog 2-3 times per month now (even though it is sometimes less) and have engaged with many interesting people as a result of it.  My blog has been a great conversation starter and really shown others that I care a lot about this industry and love learning more about it.

My enchantment in this case is two-fold.  First, I became enchanted with blogging.  Before my encounter with AJ, I had never really seen its purpose, and I didn’t read other blogs.  But after, I began regularly reading other blogs and commenting on them.  It was so interesting for me to engage with content in this manner.  The other part is I never said no when a student asked me for help.  It was really inspiring to me that despite his busy schedule, he made time to help me buy my domain name and set up a blog, something I don’t think I would have done otherwise.

All in all, I highly recommend reading Enchantment.  It will leave you with hundreds of marketing takeaways but also inspirational stories about enchanting others and becoming enchanted yourself.  Feel free to share stories about how you have been enchanted (or enchanted others) below!

9/11/01 to 5/1/11

They say that you will always remember where you were when you heard breaking news.  My parents remember where they were when they found out about JFK.  I didn’t really grasp the concept of this until September 11.  I was in 7th grade, and I had no idea that anything was going on.  The administration at my school decided that we were too young to be told about the tragic events.  A lot of my classmates were pulled out of school, but there were just rumors flying around about why they were leaving.  My one friend supposedly “broke her ankle” and had to leave school.  When my mom picked me up at school that day, she told me what had happened.  It was my dad’s birthday, and we all felt awkward celebrating his birthday that day.  I didn’t really understand the magnitude of the situation until I went home and watched the footage.

Fast forward 9 years, 6 months and 2 weeks later to Penn State’s Regional Activity.  We discussed the PR issues surrounding Osama Bin Laden.  How could a country as powerful as the United States not know where he was hiding?  With all the military intelligence, did we actually know where he was?  What are the PR issues surrounding this issue?  What would happen when he was caught?  Would he be killed or would his life be spared?  We toyed with the possibility that the country may know where he is but were not prepared to deal with the public’s outcry once he was captured.  We even suggested that there was a possibility that we have known his whereabouts for years.

Well we were wrong about the “years” part, but little did we know that Obama and his team were tracking Osama Bin Laden for a few months.

Fast forward another month and 6 days to May 1.  I’m on Twitter and all of a sudden my stream starts exploding around 10:00 with news that Obama is going to address the nation at 10:30 EST.  A little under a half hour later people start speculating that Osama Bin Laden is dead.  Obviously I don’t believe the news.  I basically have a rule that I don’t believe anything until the New York Times reports it.  Then at 10:44, the New York Times announced it, and my Twitter feed exploded even more.

As I sat and watched the news await Obama’s announcement and watched Twitter, I thought that unless you were on Twitter or Facebook or watching the news at night, you would have no idea.  I called up my family (who often doubts the power of Twitter) to see if they knew about the news.  They were already in bed and had no idea what was going on.  Another family member told me she was taking a walk the next morning and a neighbor shouted to her, “The bastard is dead!” but she had no idea what he was talking about.  It is amazing what the power of social media can do.  Obama’s speech finally came on around 11:45.

I completely support Obama, but I did feel like I was watching a campaign speech.  However, I do feel like he should take some credit for the decisions he has had to make in the past few months that led to these events.  And after a week of being tormented by Donald Trump (whose show was interrupted for Obama’s speech! +1 for Obama), the nation is now applauding Obama.  It is also amazing when you think about the fact that while Obama was planning on capturing/killing Osama Bin Laden, he was dealing with Donald Trump’s petty birth certificate issues.  When Obama said he wanted to show the birth certificate because he had other important things to deal with, who knew it was THIS important.

Even more amazing was some of the articles that came out the next day.  Mashable provided a timeline of the announcement of the news. Techcrunch showed the tweets of a man who tweeted the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden without even knowing it!  The New York Times posted one of the greatest articles ever posted called “Behind the Hunt for Bin Laden” that took you through the past eight months as the White House prepared for this raid.  Apparently, they had been following one of Osama Bin Laden’s most trusted drivers for months.  They also had to be very careful not to tell too many people that they thought they knew where he was in case his followers found out and helped him escape.  Everything had to be very carefully planned.

I did not participate in any of the celebratory rallies, but I do wonder what this will mean from a PR standpoint.  Already hundreds of people who lost family members on 9/11 are being called upon by journalists to see what this means to them.  Do they feel a send of revenge?  Do they feel like they have closure?  Does his death help sooth their pain?

There will also potentially be a retaliation against the country from Osama Bin Laden’s supporters especially if the picture of his corpse is released.  His body was already buried at sea to avoid his followers creating a shrine, but did Bin Laden have additional plans in case he was ever captured or killed?

And what does his death do for the image of the United States?  Does it show that we are a powerhouse?  Or will other countries look down upon us for celebrating with rallies across the country?

There are so many questions to be answered, and all we can do is wait as more details about his death are released and the months pass by to really see the reaction of the world.

PR Advanced: Be the Change (Boston University’s Regional Activity)

Every year Boston University hosts a conference, and every year I have been impressed by the dedication of the conference committee, caliber of speakers and involvement of professionals, agencies and professors.  This year my expectations were completely surpassed under the leadership of conference coordinator, Ginny Soskey.  I have had a different perspective of the conference this year as I worked with PRSSA Nationals to oversee the Regional Activities across the country.  But it was nice to be at Boston University to see the process throughout the past few semesters.  I saw as Ginny dedicated her life and put her heart and soul into this event.  Not a day went by without her working to make it a success, and it was better than I could have imagined.  I’m truly excited to see all the wonderful things Ginny (who is only a sophomore) is going to do in the future with BU PRSSA and beyond.

For those of you who were not able to attend PR Advanced: Be the Change, there were many fantastic speakers who I was able to listen to.

Jon Iwata, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, IBM


Jon Iwata started off by discussing the strengths of public relations: listening and adapting.  He then spoke about the marketing funnel:

He then split his talk into four sections: Forge a shared belief, Spur people to act, Sustain Behavior and Enable advocacy.

In this digital age, people find out about things almost instantaneously.  During his presentation, he admitted that people were probably posting about his presentation, and he didn’t know what they were saying.  It could be bad things, but he has no control over that.

He spoke about why belief is important.  He used a scenario about bottled water as an example.  It used to be the belief that bottled water was better than tap water, but we now know that isn’t true.  He said, “We ought not to confuse fact with what people believe.”  Belief matters in the public relations field, and it is over predetermined by customers.  It is the job of public relations professionals to distinguish beliefs from fact.

People don’t like change.  Iwata suggested to not try to convince people to change but eliminate the inertia that is preventing them from changing.  He gave the example of hotels trying to convince people to reuse towels.  There was a 26% increase in people who used towels in hotels for more than one night when the signs said “Hotel guests use towels more than once” instead of telling people to use towels more than once to help the environment.

He continued by quoting The Social Network:

He spoke about the multiplier effect and how Facebook was able to grow so quickly.

Finally, he spoke about something everyone was waiting to hear about: Watson.

He told us that he actually competed against Watson (and lost) before they went public with him!  We watched a clip from Jeopardy and spoke about the benefits to Watson.  During questions, he said the next step for Watson would be health care to help physicians stay on top of all the literature.

And did I mention “Jon Iwata” was a trending topic in Boston almost immediately?

The conference continued with two breakout sessions.  I attended both agency panels.

Session 1 – Opportunities Worldwide

This panel covered topics from skills and personality traits to getting your first job to client relations.

Barri Rafferty, Senior Partner and Director, Ketchum New York

She spoke about the importance of being able to translate social media skills to the corporate role.  You might be able to use Facebook and Twitter, but can you use it in a professional setting?  You also need to be a good communicator verbally and orally.  Finally, be open to trying new things.  Don’t be afraid of doing something you have not previously worked on.

Meaghan Smith, Senior Account Supervisor, Edelman New York

When you start a new job, you need to learn other people’s working styles and be organized.  Keeping up relationships when searching for your ideal job is important.  Something may not be available right away, but in a few months you could get something you are looking for.  It is also important to give a business case to clients to convince them it is worth investing in your company.  That’s where business classes come in handy.  Finally, there is not a line between personal and professional social media.  You always represent your company so be careful what you say about the company and its clients.

Katherine Wilburn, Consultant, Gagen McDonald

Resiliency is important.  You may finish a plan for a client and have to redo it.  It is important to try to make clarity out of chaos in an agency setting.  Remember to listen and ask the right questions to arrive at a solution.  Keeping in touch with people is important.  If you see an agency is in the media, show that you saw the article and congratulate them (if appropriate).  Take as many business classes as possible, especially negotiations.  It may come in handy when working with clients to tell them what the consequences of their decisions may be.

Session 1 – Opportunities in Boston

This panel focused more on the Boston market.

Sarah D’Souza, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Edelman

Agencies never know when they will need to hire so it is important to keep in touch with people.  They are looking for interns who will get their hands dirty and work on multiple accounts.  It is important to learn to juggle multiple projects at the same time.  Internships are like long job interviews so it is important to show your best work.

Jason Glashow, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Fleishman-Hillard

The Boston market has an entrepreneurial environment that creates a lot of opportunities.  There is an untapped opportunity as some of these companies try to figure out their social strategies (which will be very important in the future).  Things change very quickly and constantly which is important to get used to in an agency.

Christine Perkett, Founder, PerkettPR

The ways you can reach reporters are now different.  Twitter may be a great resource, but sometimes reporters want to be reached in the “old fashioned ways.”  It is important for interns to learn how to juggle multiple clients.  Interns should take initiative and walk in with ideas.  If you can talk through a strategy for a class project and show you understand strategic thinking, that is great!

Margery Kraus, Founder, President and CEO, APCO Worldwide

The afternoon started off with another keynote address.  She told us about the way APCO has survived and made a name for itself.

  • Be the partner of choice with clients.
  • Push the boundaries of communication.
  • Provide a global service, culture by culture.
  • Do not build an organization by yourself.  Build it with a team of people.
  • Help companies, organizations and governments build, defend and monetize their reputation.

Clients often are looking for a solution but do not know how to get there.  It is the job of the PR agency to think about what they need and how it can be achieved.

The formula that APCO lives by is ROR (Return on Reputation) + ROI (Return on Investment) = Market Share.

They also live by the word passion.

  • Passion provides the fuel for our souls and minds.
  • Passion makes us work better and smarter.
  • Passion makes it more than a job.
  • Passion builds relationships that live beyond the project.
  • Passion is our secret weapon.

Ginny Soskey, Regional Activity Coordinator

I then had the honor of recognizing Ginny for all her hard work on behalf of the National Committee.  Mike DeFilippis recognized her on behalf of the conference committee.

I should also mention that by this time #pradvanced, Jon Iwata and Margery Kraus were all trending topics in Boston on Twitter.  And #pradvanced was a trending topic in the United States on Twitter.

Career Panel

Stephanie Deitzer, Founder and President, Style at Work

She gave advice about what to wear in an interview.  Know your audience when deciding what to wear.  Think of it as a first date.  What impression are you trying to make?  And she said you can never fail with the blazer!

Kate DiChristopher, HR Manager, Marina Maher Communications

When you go into an interview, show that you are passionate about the agency.  She is looking for people who know a lot about the company and are digitally savvy.  Also, be prepared to talk about the ways you consume media.  You should be able to name a few blogs you read and talk about why you read them.

Eric Leist, Emerging Technology Strategist, Allen & Gerritsen

When people come in for an interview, they are asked three main questions: Are you curious about technology?  What are you curious about?  How do you fulfill your curiosity?  It is good to ask questions that show you know what’s going on in the industry.  Look at your skills and passions and think about what you want before choosing a job.

Maggie Van der Leeuw, Manager of Human Resources, Burson-Marsteller

Show your personality during your interviews.  Does your personality online match with your personality in person?  It should!  It is good to show that you have a life outside of the industry, but also show you have industry knowledge through Twitter.  During the interview, show that you went beyond the basics of the website.  Don’t settle.  As an employer, they want to know you are going to dedicate yourself to your job.

Other Parts of the Conference

There were also many other speakers that I did not get a chance to see including Mariana Agathoklis, Director of Communications, MTV, Peter Stringer, Director of Interactive Media, Boston Celtics and Jamie Thompson, Founder and CEO, Pongr.

Additionally, Twitter was a constant throughout the conference.  Students were tweeting the entire time, but they also were asking questions of the panelists through Twitter.  Questions were answered by people raising their hands but also taken right off Twitter.

The day ended with a career fair with companies including 360 PR, Allen & Gerritsen, Boston University College of Communication Graduate Program, Burson-Marsteller, Cone, LLC, EMC CorporationFleishman-Hillard, Hill Holliday, Ketchum, Lewis PR, Marina Maher CommunicationsMSL Group, NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, Porter Novelli, PRSA Boston and the Publicity Club of New England.

Once again, congratulations to Boston University and the entire conference committee!  Another job well done!

DePaul University Regional Activity

This past weekend I had the exciting chance to make my first trip to the Midwest and visit Chicago.  In addition to going to Millennium Park, the Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower) and Lincoln Park and seeing the Bean and Lake Michigan (I have never seen a Great Lake before), I had the chance to attend DePaul University’s Regional Activity, Transforming Traditional into Digital: The New Ways of PR (@NewWaysPR).  I have worked closely with the coordinator, Jamie Harris, since September, and her hard work truly paid off.  They had a great conference full of agency tours, intelligent and informative speakers and a career fair.  Their organization made the conference flow very smoothly and go off without a hitch.  Jamie and the entire conference committee should be very proud of their hard work and success!

I had the chance to sit in on their keynote speaker, Rick Murray, President of Edelman Chicago, Chris Barr, Yahoo! Senior Editorial Director, and Trent Frager, Senior Vice President at GolinHarris.  All three speakers were very informative and taught us a lot about the changing landscape of public relations.

Rick Murray, President of Edelman Chicago

It was very interesting to hear Rick Murray speak again.  When I was a freshman, he spoke at Boston University’s Regional Activity, and I found it very interesting to hear about the changes in public relations from that time until now.  He started off by telling us that the job descriptions for what we’ll all be doing in five years won’t be written for another five years.  But that’s what keeps the industry exciting – it is always changing, and there is always something new to learn.  As the former president of Edelman Digital, he knows this fact better than anyone.

The three questions that we need to ask as PR practitioners are:

1) What should you destroy?

2) What should you preserve?

3) What should you create?

Public relations is about public engagement and finding out what is important to an audience.  Murray said we play in the space of truth and authenticity, and it is important to blend passion and purpose to reach out and truly connect with an audience.  The content used to reach an audience will vary from person to person.  Some people want their information on their phone, some want it on their iPad and some want it in a newspaper.  In a time when there are so many ways to reach out to people, it is important to focus on media, ALL types of media.  That means new, old, traditional, everything.

To become a successful PR professional, it is important to keep a few things in mind.

1) Stay on top of what influences culture and the public.

2) Live and work global.  (With new ways to immediately reach people around the work, it is important to have a global way of thinking.)

3) Create value every day by thinking about goals you can measure.

4) Find your passion, and chase it.  If you are not passionate about your work, you are hurting yourself, your company and your client.

5) Making mistakes is how you grow.  Don’t be afraid to make them.

Chris Barr, Yahoo! Senior Editorial Director

Chris Barr gave some valuable advice when writing for the Internet versus written publications.  Writing online is VERY different especially when 79% of people scan web pages, and half of adults in the United States read at the 8th grade level or lower.  So in order to keep attention for as long as possible, it is necessary to do a few things.

1) Get to the point.

2) Make text scannable.

3) Write for the world.

When organizing your story, it is important to keep a few things in mind in order to once again keep the attention of your readers.

1) Front-load the most important information.  People will stop reading at some point on the web page so it is important to get as much information up front as possible.

2) You have 3-5 seconds to hook readers.

3) Limit stories to about 300 words per page.

In a digital world, it is also important to think about how the story will appear on a mobile device.  Now more than ever, people are reading news on the go on their cell phones.

Finally, he spoke about headlines and how to write them in a way that will be clear to readers and appear in search engines.  His overall advice for this aspect of writing online was that accuracy and clarity are more important than cleverness.

Trent Frager, Senior Vice President at GolinHarris

The focus of this session was crisis communications.  In particular, he focused on the impact of social media on a crisis, something that agencies have had to learn over the past few years.  There is now a lot less predictability about how your company is perceived in a crisis.  Even so, only 20.7% of companies have social media crisis plans set.  That is very low considering the impact that social media tools have on a crisis.

From the company’s perspective, it is important to have a few plans in place in case of a crisis.

1) Assess your footprint.  Figure out where your audience is on the Internet, and make sure you are interacting with them.  When a crisis hits, it will be helpful to have this contact already in place.

2) Find the right team to work on a crisis.  Prepare an advisory group.  Provide social media response training.  Online reputation management requires a strong team.

3) Be able to distinguish “baseline chatter” vs. an escalating issue.  Some people may complain online about your company, but it may not truly affect the company’s overall image.  It is important to be able to discern between the two.

All three speakers truly hit on the changing landscape of public relations.  While it is important to remember to interact with traditional media outlets, it is also important to learn how to converse with an online audience.  Whether writing a basic story or dealing with a crisis, there is a completely different set of skills necessary to succeed with social media.

And once again, congratulations to DePaul University on a fantastic Regional Activity!

Super Bowl 2011 Advertisements

The entertainment during this year’s Super Bowl may have been unsuccessful, but at least the advertisements were great (well some of them)!  Between Christina Aguilera forgetting the words to the National Anthem and the Black Eyed Peas having a total fail for a performance, the advertisements may have saved the Super Bowl (not including the actual game, of course).  Below are my thoughts/reactions to some of the commercials that stood out (either positively or negatively).

First Quarter:

Bud Light: I usually don’t enjoy the Bud Light commercials.  They are normally the same thing: Person 1 is just SO excited that they have a Bud Light, and their entire LIFE is now better.  It is always the same exact thing.  The first commercial was the same theme as well.  BUT the second Bud Light commercial was a change from before AND for the better!  Bluntly incorporating product placement into Super Bowl ads, one of the biggest opportunities for product placement was genius and funny too.  Having a medieval play with random Bud Light product placements…genius…just genius.

Doritos: The first Doritos commercial was pretty elementary, but they definitely made up for it as the commercials continued.  The third commercial with the chip’s crumbs bringing everything back to life was pretty entertaining, and kind of creepy when it brought the kid’s grandfather back to life.  But still a bit more creative than the usual “DORITOS ARE JUST THE BEST” mentality.

Pepsi Max: Now I’m not a huge Pepsi fan (which would normally mean I wouldn’t write about it on my blog), but I have to mention the Pepsi Max commercial with the geek being made fun of by the “pretty, popular kids.”  Definitely entertaining watching the kids get shown up by the geek and his cool gadgets/toys.  Ya gotta love how nerdiness is the new “cool.”

Bridgestone: Kudos to Bridgestone!  I think you tapped into every person’s fear of hitting “Reply All” by accident and sending an e-mail out to many people who were not supposed to read it.  I’m sure everyone has done that once or twice.  Granted, Gmail has an “Undo” button now, but what about those e-mails you don’t realize you sent for awhile?  But anyway, Bridgestone just related to EVERY person who has ever sent an e-mail.  Great job, great ad.

Go Daddy: When I first started my blog, I used Go Daddy.  That year when I saw the Super Bowl commercials, I was so excited because not only did I use this service, but their commercials were so creative!  That being said, that time has certainly passed with the abysmal showing from them on this year’s ad.

Second Quarter:

Coca-Cola: Everyone expects the polar bear in these commercials, especially if the commercial isn’t going to be something unique.  I hate to say it because I am TOTALLY brand loyal to Coke, but this commercial was lame.  It was the same commercial they have ALWAYS had but with dragons, warriors, whatever they were.  I was hoping for something at LEAST as creative as their “Open Happiness” campaign.  I hope they bring something better a bit later.

Volkswagen: This ad was great.  The little boy trying to have Star Wars powers was absolutely ADORABLE.  I have nothing much to say besides good job, Volkswagen.  You got everyone’s attention in a positive way.  No complaints here, and I haven’t even heard any complaints on Twitter (which is even more impressive)!

Snickers: What was that?  Like seriously…you went from Betty White to that?  It wasn’t funny this year, and I stopped watching before I even knew it was a Snickers commercial (I only saw people tweeting that it was a Snickers commercial).  Not impressed.

Chevy: If you wanted to get the attention of any advertising and PR people, well you did it.  There are no complaints from this group as Facebook is more than an addiction – it is a way of life.  The tweets after this commercial were beyond excited as they saw the best possible scenario: driving AND having Facebook statuses read aloud.  Great job, Chevy.

Carmax: This was a commercial that definitely got an “LOL” out of me.  I had never even heard of Carmax before, but it definitely made a lasting impression on me.  Very catchy commercial, and definitely kept my attention the entire time.  “I feel like a kid in a candy store…”  Beautiful start!

Staples: When you think of Staples, you think of the “easy” button and the silly “That was easy” line.  I think Staples did a really great job of showing their products while still maintaining their brand image with the easy button.  Very nicely done.

Third Quarter:

Etrade: Let’s just put it this way, you can never go wrong with a talking baby.  They will be funny no matter what.

Best Buy: Great line: “What’s a Bieber?”  I have nothing against Justin Bieber.  Personally, I think he is a great kid and very talented.  BUT it was a great way to get some attention for Best Buy by making fun of him.

Groupon: I am a big fan of Groupon.  Love the company, love the deals, love just about everything.  But I think they could have been a bit more creative with these advertisements.  They seem to be making light of serious situations around the world.  And while I sort of see their point, I just think they could have been more creative.

Chrysler: Using Eminem in this commercial was perfect.  “Lose Yourself” playing in the background was a great addition.  The brand was prominent, everyone’s eyes were interested in Eminem (especially since his appearance in the Brisk commercial wasn’t too exciting) and Chrysler got their message across.  Their cars were branded as cool, luxurious and made for a star.

BMW: Who doesn’t like game shows?  And who doesn’t love FUNNY game shows?  “Cram It In The Boot?”  Who thinks of something like that?  But it was complete genius.  It was funny, got the attention of America who loves game shows and showed the purpose behind the commercial: the fact that this car has more trunk space and can really fit all your possessions.  Great use of strategy and humor.

NFL: This was one of the greatest ads I have ever seen.  It may not have been the funniest or best at promoting a product, but it was certainly the greatest ad of the night.  Watching all of the different shows celebrate the Super Bowl was fantastic and so nostalgic.  From the older shows like Happy Days, Full House and Seinfeld to most modern shows like Friends and Family Guy, this compilation of shows was truly top notch.

Fourth Quarter:

Bridgestone: Bridgestone has done a great job tonight.  First with the Reply All and then with the beaver commercial.  Great use of a cute animal to get your point across (kinda brings me back to the Geico commercials that I used to look forward to).  But not only is the commercial cute and well received (at least on Twitter), but it really incorporates the car well.  A lot of commercials are cute and use animals that don’t relate as much to the product they are selling, but Bridgestone is able to do both.

Verizon iPhone: I could probably write a full post on this advertisement.  In fact, I will probably end up writing a post about the Verizon and AT&T ads that have been produced since the iPhone was announced on Verizon.  But tonight…tonight this single ad has made my ENTIRE NIGHT.  Not only does it show the sleek, magnificent iPhone, but VERIZON BROUGHT BACK THE “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW” GUY!  That basically makes all my hopes and dreams come true.  Definitely the best ad of the night.  Perfect advertisement for the Verizon iPhone and PERFECT way and reason to bring back the original face of Verizon with the “Can you hear me now” actor.

And that’s that for this year’s Super Bowl ads.  Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers!  (And me, for picking them to win tonight!)

The Marriage of Verizon Wireless and Apple

On January 9, 2007 the iPhone was introduced on AT&T.  Four years and two days later, Verizon made the incredible announcement that the iPhone will be released on their network starting February 10.

As I said last week, I am very brand loyal especially when it comes to Verizon Wireless.  Yes, I have always wanted an iPhone, but I was NEVER going to consider switching over to AT&T.  Let’s be serious, there is no network that even comes close to being as reliable as Verizon.  Can you hear me now?  Yes, because I have Verizon.  Dropped calls are unheard of on this network!  But let’s get back to what happened today…

There have been rumors for months and months about the iPhone coming to Verizon (if not years).  After all, the iPhone is the phone that single handedly helps AT&T compete against Verizon.  When my phone broke in September (or you could say, drowned in a rain storm), I wanted to wait until the iPhone potentially came out at the beginning of the year.  I even subjected myself to using a Blackberry (see #downwithblackberry) for three long months as I awaited the iPhone.  So when the Wall Street Journal published “Verizon Finally Lands the iPhone” on January 8, I started to take the rumors seriously.  My “Verizon Wireless” Google Alert has been posting stories about the iPhone coming to Verizon for months, but until a reputable source published the story, I was not going to believe anyone.

That’s when my world exploded, and the clues just all appeared.  Fast Company published “Verizon’s iPhone Tomorrow: Everything You Need to Know” on January 10 explaining everything that was going on.  To quickly summarize this article, they displayed the invitation from Verizon to the press event, stated that Gizmodo was not invited (which could possible be due to their disagreement with Apple when they leaked the iPhone 4 pictures) pointed out that Verizon’s official tweets were coming from an iPhone instead of the web and wrote about the design and plan for the Verizon iPhone.  Gizmodo commented in their article “The Verizon iPhone Will Be Announced on January 11” saying they were not invited to the press event even though they are normally invited to Verizon press conferences, but they still love Verizon anyway.  What great sports!

So while I was basking in the glory of all these articles, journalist Jon Swartz from USA Today tweeted “Any Verizon customer who’s been waiting for a chance to buy an iPhone? Can I interview you?”  My fellow Verizon supporter, Jenna Glynn, tweeted back at him saying “@jswartz652 you should talk to @RSprung! She is a Verizon SUPERFAN & tomorrow is her Christmas.”  He immediately got in touch with me, interviewed me and published an article entitled “Would a Verizon iPhone be a hit?” quoting me!  More excitement for my Verizon holiday!

This morning was quite exciting.  I set myself up in front of the computer with multiple websites open awaiting the 11:00 press conference starting time.  Engadget was posting live from the event.  Lowell McAdam, President and COO of Verizon, began the press conference right on time (I really adore him).  Some key highlights:

11:00 am: “Okay, it looks like you’re expecting a big announcement. I don’t think we’ll disappoint. If the press write something long enough, eventually it comes true. We’re very very excited about our announcement today.”

11:05 am: “This is putting us at the hub of the wheel driving this industry. Collaboration is the key to innovation. We’ve worked with partners across the industry.”

And my favorite:

11:06 am: “Today we’re partnering with a giant of the industry, and that’s Apple.”

11:06 am: “Late in 2010 we started offering the iPad… today, we are extremely gratified to announce that the iPhone 4 will be available early next month.”

And some quotes from Tim Cook, COO of Apple:

11:09 am: “Tens of millions of customers have purchased the iPhone around the world. Customers have downloaded billions of apps. I am incredibly happy, and I can tell you all of Apple, is very very excited to bring the iPhone to Verizon’s customers.”

11:10 am: “We’re incredibly pleased to give Verizon’s customers the choice we’ve been waiting for. We’ve designed an iPhone 4 which connects to the CDMA network — and it has all the features that you’d expect. Like FaceTime. Features like Apple’s stunning Retina Display.”

11:11 am: “5 megapixel camera, HD video… the custom A4 chip. But most importantly, it provides an integrated customer experience that’s far beyond what anyone else is providing. From iOS, to iTunes, to the App Store — they’re all designed to work together.

And some quotes from Dan Mead, CEO of Verizon Wireless:

11:13 am: “We’ve built our business on building the very best network — and now our customers have a choice for the iPhone 4 on the nation’s most reliable network.”

11:17 am: “On February 3rd our existing customers will have an opportunity to pre-order… on February 10th, everyone will be able to order online, in stores, or in Apple stores.”

And right as this was announced, the beauty that you see below was updated on Verizon’s website AND Apple’s website!

And Mashable posted “It’s Official: The iPhone Is Coming to Verizon.”

Check out the Wall Street Journal’s great recap (and video) at their article “Verizon Wireless to Offer iPhone 4 in February

I’m expecting AT&T to come out with all sorts of insults about how you cannot go on the Internet while on the phone, but the truth is Verizon is the superior network.  They have the more reliable service.  There is a reason Apple felt the need to bring the iPhone to Verizon customers.  AT&T was unable to fulfill all of the needs of the iPhone.  Enter: Verizon!

And that’s that!  The iPhone 4 will be on Verizon starting February 10, and my entire life is now complete!

What are your thoughts about the release?  Disclaimer: Negative comments are not welcomed on #VZWiPhone Day!

Pongr: A Dream for Anyone Brand Loyal

If you read my blog, you know one thing about me for sure: I am extremely brand loyal.  I am brand loyal about everything from what I drink to what technology I use (cameras, phones, etc.) to even what shampoo I will use.  So when Pongr, a game that highlights brand loyalty at its best came out, I knew I had to try it out.

The purpose of Pongr is to show how people interact with a brand on a daily basis.  Everywhere you turn, you are surrounded by brands.  Pongr adds a gaming element to it and has players take pictures of themselves and others as they interact with various brands.  You are then “employed” by the particular brand and move up the ranks from intern to CEO.  They recently added more components to the game which definitely make it more challenging and exciting.  In addition to submitting pictures to the website, you must recruit others to “work” for the brand, promote the pictures you take on Facebook and Twitter and create deals that the brand could potentially use.  For example, if you send in a picture to Pongr for Android, you can get 10% off of an accessory (I think I used this when I was trying to become CEO of Android).

Every brand you can think of needs a CEO.  All you have to do is submit pictures through your phone (yes, feature phones work too which was great for me because I did not have a smart phone when Pongr first came out) or even through e-mail.  You simply send your pictures to the brand “@pongr.com.”  For example, when sending pictures to Verizon, you send it to “verizon@pongr.com.”   When sending pictures to Apple, you send it to “apple@pongr.com.”  You can even send pictures as a JPEG and attach it to an e-mail to send them in.  This way of sending pictures made it really fun for me because I could look back at old pictures of myself interacting with different brands and send them in.  It is always fun to look back at old pictures, and this time you are playing a game while doing it!

To celebrate the holidays, they decided to award a few of the newly appointed CEOs.  The first person who became CEO of a Fortune 500 company was given a $500 American Express gift card.  The person who submitted the most creative picture of their favorite pair of shoes would win free shoes.  And my favorite, the first person to become CEO of Android would receive a free Android phone.  After the death of my Droid back in September that resulted in my hatred for Blackberry (thus, the #downwithblackberry hasthtag I have been using in most of my tweets), I was determined to be reunited with Android again.

So every day since the contest was announced, I recruited others to play Pongr, sent in pictures, created deals and promoted the pictures on Twitter.  Part of the excitement of Pongr is that you never know when you will reach the position of CEO.  At the end of December, I was finally promoted to CEO and won my Android, the Droid X (which I just received a few days ago)!  Pongr has not only combined my love for brand loyalty and photography but has given me quite possibly the greatest gift possible: a Droid!

To hear more about my rise to CEO of Verizon, check out this blog post.

I recruited many people during my rise to CEO of Android.  Some of their thoughts are below!

Amy Bishop: “Some of the things I like about Pongr:

  • The ability to display and promote the brands that you support and use everyday
  • The chance to win contests and deals by just sending photos of your daily interaction with brands
  • Before my smartphone, I also loved that I could upload photos just by sending an email on a regular computer.”

Lauren Gray: “I like that you can win real prizes and submit pictures of what you are doing with the product/brand.  It’s also fun to “recruit” people because not many other geo apps have that recruitment aspect.”

Eric Mendes: “Pongr is an innovative startup that allows users to express their love for their favorite companies to the world.  Personally, I love how Pongr allows users to interact with one another and how the site maintains close contact with their users through social networks such as Twitter.  Always feels like a small connected family.”

Kara Robinson: “Pongr allows consumers to directly connect with and promote the brands they use most often.  It is a win-win situation for the brand and the consumer.  And, it’s tons of fun!”

If you have played Pongr and have some thoughts you would like to share, let me know, and I will post them above with the others!  (More are expected to come later today too!)

Check out Pongr on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube!