PR Brain

As a recent college graduate, the marketing and PR world is new and exciting to me. And after working at Bottom Line for almost a year, I’ve found the word used most in our office is strategy

From writing a news release to planning the roll out of a new brand, it’s important to keep strategy top of mind. Each marketing and PR tactic should connect and support the client’s overall goal, whether its raising awareness of a new product or service, strengthening a company’s brand reputation, or attracting more customers/members. 

Here’s a glimpse of the most common words floating around in our PR brains that we weave together on a daily basis to form an integrated marketing and PR strategy to achieve, and exceed, our client’s goals and objectives. 

PR wordle

 

- Katie Koeppel, PR Assistant

 

PR’s Next Generation

As most schools get ready for mid-terms or spring break, it’s refreshing to look at PR from students’ perspectives. They typically are energized, eager to learn, and ask great questions! I have the privilege to teach PR Writing at Marquette University, and here’s what I’ve observed about incoming students in our profession:

They’re passionate about writing. I ask my students at the start of each semester what writing means to them. I’m always humbled by the responses.

  • Writing means so much to me. It’s a chance to change people’s minds about something, it’s a way to spread information, it’s a chance to tell stories and it is a chance to leave someone different than they were before.
  • Writing is an incredible means of communication. It is a way to connect with other individuals and organizations from around the world. It is a way to learn and a way to teach. It is an art as well as a necessity.
  • Writing is no longer a skill but a necessity in order to succeed in the 21st century. By the way you express yourself or the company you represent, you must be careful to choose the right words to get your point across.

They’re new to AP Style. Remember when the only option for state names was postal abbreviations? Those were the days! PR students, who are just learning AP style, ask excellent questions about why the industry applies style like we do. It’s a good reminder for those of us who’ve been doing it for years about why it’s still important and the accepted standard. (It also points out some pretty hilarious instances where AP Style doesn’t make much sense at all!)

They’re savvy at integrating written and visual mediums. More and more curriculum paths incorporate both the writing and design elements of PR. Today’s students catch on quickly to tactics like infographics, collateral pieces, or even creative planning for accompanying voiceover visuals.

They know social media platforms and WANT to grow in social media strategy. Students already are familiar with how to use most social platforms, and they’re on the cutting edge of emerging trends. What they’re beginning to develop as they learn PR is the strategy side of making those platforms work for a specific client, product or campaign. Since their foundation in social media is strong, they’re eager to figure out that next step.

They’re curious about the strategy behind the latest PR stories. Every year, a few PR stories make the jump to prime time headlines—think BP or Penn State. Students want to know, “How would you have handled those situations?” “What should have happened differently?” or “How do you avoid those PR messes?”

They recognize the importance of internships and job experience. Internships and job experience are, perhaps, more important now than ever. Students realize this and are hungry for advice on how to land the best opportunities. Everything from resumes, to cover letters, to writing samples — they’re eager to learn and advance.

Overall, I’d say the future of our profession looks pretty bright!

 

- Nicole Singer, Senior PR Counselor

Strong Leaders Face Their Failure

Leaders don’t always get it right. Good leaders almost always get it right – and a good indicator of their leadership ability is how they manage failure.

As a member of several nonprofit boards, I watch, support and encourage executive leaders who have to make tough choices day in and day out. Usually, to their credit (and the board’s, since we hired them!), they lead with purpose, vision and wisdom. I see it in big ways, like when they cast a vision for expanding a program or lay out a strategy for long-term facility improvements. They’ve done their homework, prepared for the challenging questions and are passionate in their appeal. They’ve anticipated the risks and have a plan for managing them.

I see it in small ways, too, but honestly, it’s the small ways that tend to trip them up. Most often, it’s a people situation that goes awry. Sometimes it’s a poor hiring decision. Sometimes it’s weak management of people, even those who are competent and trusted. Sometimes it’s lazy communication, or worse, silence. Both allows rumors and negativity to grow into a crisis.

Leaders make these kinds of mistakes. They miscalculate risks small and large, just like the rest of us. But the strong ones manage failure differently. There’s not a formula for how they do it, but there are a few principles they demonstrate that we can learn from, no matter what our role.

  • First, they confront their failure. They self-assess – not to beat themselves up, but to learn, to do better next time, to mature in understanding, to keep themselves honest and authentic. Depending on the gravity of the situation, this can take some time, and sometimes, time away and time spent with a mentor or trusted colleague.
  • Once they’ve looked themselves squarely in the mirror, they apologize. They apologize to whomever they hurt or wronged or failed. This is most often their own team, and sometimes it’s the board. If it’s a donor or other key stakeholder in the organization’s network, it’s harder – but they do it then, too. An honest apology goes a long way in helping people understand, heal and forgive.
  • They also look for opportunity in the mess. Does the situation point to a needed change in the organization’s structure? Is it an indicator that it’s time to revamp a process, or a program or a department? Is there a challenging relationship that needs attention? Is there something new that needs to be explored? Strong leaders take the next, forward-looking step.

Whether you’re a leader professionally, in service on a board or in a volunteer role, consider how you manage failure. Like those I support in my board roles, I seek to apply these principles in my own life. Some situations are easier than others. Some situations are downright rocky. But, I don’t know of a better approach for growth in leadership. Like most of life’s lessons, the hard road is often the most formative. 

- Beth Fredrickson, Sr. PR Counselor

Rotary Service

Rotary is a world-wide organization of 1.2 million people who meet weekly in 34,000 clubs around the world. The Rotary four-way test guides members in their work and personal lives:

  • Is it the truth?
  • Is it fair to all concerned?
  • Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  • Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

A key component of Rotary is volunteer service to the community, and that opportunity changed my outlook on life.

My first service opportunity was helping a young man learn to read through a local literacy group. I went in motivated by the opportunity to make a difference.

The initial training was fun. I re-learned phonics, why “i” before “e” and any other reading skills I had learned decades ago, but probably forgotten. The training taught me a few new things as well, including the fact that nearly 160,000 people in the greater Milwaukee area are functionally illiterate.

Jessie was the name of the young man I first tutored. I told Jessie I was surprised a 23-year old man who had graduated from high school and held a regular job could not read. How did he read street signs? How did he fill out the job application? How did he read the paper? How did he get along? Jessie’s reply: “You learn different ways to get along.”

As Jessie read his assignment for the day, he stumbled across a multi-syllable word. He did a great job of using his phonics to pronounce the word. He looked and smiled, seeking acknowledgement that he had done right. I smiled, and he continued with the reading, but he still had that look in his eye that something was missing.

I asked Jessie if he knew what the word meant. His proud reply: “No, but I was pretty happy just to sound it out.” We used a dictionary to look up the word’s meaning. He smiled in a knowing way. He had that same look my children frequently had as I read to them before bed time.

As our session ended, I asked Jessie what motivated him to learn how to read. After all, he had a high school diploma and held down a regular job for nearly five years.

Jessie’s reply: “My two-year old daughter asked me to read her a book at bed time. That’s why I’m here.”

For as much as we are different; for as much as we come from different backgrounds, with different means and opportunities, we are all the same.

- Jeffrey Remsik, President and CEO