2 Races, 1 Weekend

Phew, we’re back from a pretty busy/nonstop weekend. The past few days have included some good meals, some art, a comedy show, and two races (including one PR!). Here are some picture to give you an idea:

Our weekend “started” on Thursday with a night at the Cleveland Art Museum with B’s work. We were treated to a peek at their Van Gogh exhibit, appetizers, and drinks in the gorgeous Atrium.

Checking out the pretty awesome Van Gough exhibit at the Cleveland Art museum

Checking out the pretty awesome Van Gough exhibit at the Cleveland Art museum

Friday night included another Flaming Ice Cube meal AND another comedy show, this time we saw a “Mom-ic” (mom-comic) who was a lot funnier than I expected.

Saturday morning was an early one – we started with the Cleveland 10 Miler!

hermes 10 miler cleveland

B and I post Saturday’s 10 mile race. Feeling good! (and there’s a photobomber!)

Oh yeah, and B and I PRed in our Cleveland 10 miler time. It wasn’t our best pace ever (it wasn’t our half-marathon pace) but apparently the past few times we’ve done the 10 miler we were a lot slower. Check out the difference:

Past years:

Past few years' times

Past few years’ times

This year my finish time: 1:31:43. Yes, that’s more than a 10 minute PR. 

Rothschild Farms

post-run yumyums – my favorite salad at Rothschild Farms

That was just race #1 of the weekend. Saturday evening we headed down to Columbus and Sunday morning included Race #2: a 5k in Columbus to participate in a race B’s aunt was organizing that supported the local autism society.

the whole group of us at the race

the whole group of us at the race

Autism awareness 5k

Autism awareness 5k – me and my “cousin-in-law” Steph – check out her cool socks!


B's aunt took this photo of me crossing the finish - I took First Female!

B’s aunt took this photo of me crossing the finish – I took First Female!

after the race we enjoyed a nice light meal. KIDDING. My brunch was pretty delicious!

after the race we enjoyed a nice light meal. KIDDING. My brunch was pretty delicious! That may or may not be Irish coffee in the background …

That’s about it! How was your weekend? Some questions for you:

  • Have you run 2 races in one weekend? First time ever! And it wasn’t sooooo bad (though I may be in pain today …)
  • Favorite brunch food? I prefer eggs (over easy or sunny side up) to sweet breakfast items like pancakes or french toast. 
  • Favorite post-run food? I typically crave salads with tons of toppings and of course a hunk of bread. But eggs are nice too 🙂
  • Last art exhibit you went to?
  • May is THIS WEEK! What’s something fun you’re doing? Running the Cleveland half marathon; seeing my brother graduate; seeing my family in NY AND in Cleveland … so much fun stuff going on!



Holiday Gift Ideas for the PR Pro in Your Life (and you know you have one)

It’s that time of year again – holiday shopping! In my quest to put together my holiday list/wishlist, I’ve put together a roundup of gift recommendations if you’re seeking ideas for the young PR pro. Again, these are just my recommendations* and many of them skew toward my (selfish) interests (and thus skew female as well), so take these with a grain of salt. Also, I’d love to hear if you have any others to add!

Gifts for the young PR Pro (in no order):

A gift certificate to Starbucks / McDonald’s or wherever your PRo purchases her caffeine of choice:  PR pros work long days, stay up late, and sometimes keep crazy hours. Also, a recent study showed PR is the second most caffeinated profession! You can’t go wrong with a gift card that you know will be used.

A reusable coffee thermos: To be used during said caffeine purchases. Everyone likes to be green/eco-friendly, and most coffee houses provide discounts for those using their own reusable mug.

A purse that can serve as a laptop bag: Is any explanation needed? Really, for travel, daily walking to and from work, and heading to business meetings – who can say no to a stylish, professional laptop bag that fits more than just your laptop (but also your iPad, phone, lunch money, notebook, extra pair of pantyhose, etc.)? Here are a few I like:

Business Card holders: For your desk or your purse, these are a must. I currently have a Vera Bradley one (no longer available, similar, here), but any that are functional and stylish and good for on the go (read: fits in above laptop bag) would be appreciated. Big spender? Check out this Tiffany one.

A portfolio: I got a “professional” portfolio a few years ago for Christmas and though I don’t use it daily (I prefer to use fun stationery for notes … see below), when I need it, I’m glad to have it. A good portfolio is professional, will last you through the years, and has pockets for back up documents, presentations, pens/pencils and business cards.

Cute, functional stationery: Whether it’s for thank you cards or for writing to-do lists, PR pros write a LOT and it’s not always on the computer. I’m a huge fan of fun note cards and fun stationery – it’s amazing what a bright colored piece of paper can do to your mood, even when making the most intense to-do list! Again, as a Vera Bradley fan, here are a few I like and may even own (yes, my mom may have gotten me some cool paper last year!):

Smartphone accessories: If the PR pro on your list doesn’t have a smartphone, then definitely add that onto this list as well. But, if she does, some fun accessories can’t hurt! It will vary phone by phone, but some practical items to consider include car dock and/or charger, Bluetooth headsets or extra memory cards.

A tablet AND accessories: I love my iPad. Well, it’s B’s, but if I didn’t have one for myself to borrow, I’d sure want one!  And while I’m at it, of course I’d want some accessories like these cool cases on Etsy: Monster iPad Sleeve, i-Sketch Sleeve (Below) or Polka Dot iPad Sleeve. Outside of Etsy (which has so many to choose from!) there’s the BookBook iPad Sleeve (below), AND for the big spender, there’s the Swarovski iPad case, which is likely worth more than the iPad itself.

What do you recommend? What’s on your gift list this year?

PS – Mom, if you’re reading this post (and you’re the only one who reads my blog), no need to go out and buy me everything here – please consult me first : )

The Changing Face of a PR Pitch

As a PR pro, I’m constantly pitching the media. Writing an email. Follow up call. Follow up email. Writing an email. The cycle is never ending, and unfortunately, sometimes I feel like a telemarketer calling to follow up on a media event I sent a week ago. “Hi, just calling about the XYZ event tomorrow? … What’s that, you want me to send the info again? … You’re on deadline? …” Click.  Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder — is this really the best way to get my story told to journalists? And I know I’m not alone – I’ve heard horror stories from my colleagues in PR and in the media about follow up calls gone wrong (any angry journalist is a force to be reckoned with!) and PR pitches that just plain stink. So what’s a PR pro to do when 80% of journalists still prefer to be pitched via email?

Pitches are changing day by day and I couldn’t help but bookmark, tweet about, email, share, etc. a fun PR trend that came up in my Ragan Daily – personalized, video pitches. This week, Ford released personalized video pitches to share their Ford Focus Global Test Drive Campaign with influential industry reporters. The videos not only show off the product and its features, but are meant to be embedded and shared with their readers. As Scott Monty, Ford’s director of global social media said (the bold formatting was put there by me for emphasis):

“We decided to use personalized video invitations for the Focus Global Test Drive because we wanted to be sure we had the attention of the high-level influencers we wanted to reach. Moreover, we wanted to be sure that it would be in a format that they could easily share with their readers. We believe that video is one of the most personal and intimate ways to communicate online …”

Check a video pitch below and the full story on this blog post.

What do you think? Are video pitches the way of the future? And what about other social media pitches – have you used social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) to pitch a blogger or member of the media? Has it worked?

Mayo Clinic launches a Center for Social Media

Now here’s a cool idea – the Mayo Clinic recently launched a Center for Social Media to teach social media to staff, physicians and patients. Traditionally, social media has been seen as a purely marketing function and under the Mayo Clinic’s PR and marketing team; however, this initiative will take social media to doctors, patients and even other hospitals.

Internally, the Center for Social Media will educate doctors on how they can communicate with their patients via YouTube, blogs, and other social media tools. The Center will also help help other health care institutions learn to do the same, offering use of the Center (for a fee of course) to other hospitals or patient foundations.

According to a Wall Street Journal interview with Lee Aase, one of the center’s leaders and currently manager of syndications and social media at Mayo, the focus of this project is to “provide in-depth information for patients in a much more comprehensive way, and to create connections between researchers, physicians and staff.” The Center will employ about eight full-time employees, including a medical director and have $800,000 a year in initial funding.

It’s great to see such a large healthcare institution look to new ways to engage its audiences – both internal and external. I’m really excited to track the progress of the Center, watch it grow and see if any other medical organizations follow in its footsteps and begin offering the same sort of social media education. In the past, healthcare institutions (not including the Mayo Clinic) have been slow to dip their toe in the social media waters, perhaps due to all the issues – privacy, ethics, etc. – and potential repercussions of sharing information online. Still, patients are already using social media to learn more about their illnesses or the conditions of friends and family. A recent Pew Internet study revealed that 8 in 10 internet users, or two-thirds of U.S. adults, look online for health information. People are looking for answers online, and now doctors can have the tools and education to know how to appropriate respond to this growing audience.

Mom Bloggers Participate in PR Blackout

Being in PR and often working with companies that target moms and families, I’ve done my fair share of work with mom bloggers. Whether it’s providing a product to review, a giveaway, or simply building a relationship, I’ve worked with Mom bloggers on quite a few occasions.

Because we’re strategic with our blogger outreach, including researching, targeting and pitching them accordingly as you would with any media (PR 101 anyone?), I can’t recall an incident when I’ve gotten any negative reaction or feedback from the bloggers. I have noticed, however, that recently there have been more and more mom bloggers out there. Some bloggers are being paid. Some are not. More and more of them are providing product reviews and even posting “PR info” on their website to provide tips for PR pros on how to get in touch with them.

So when I saw this posted last week in MomDot, one of the mom sites I’ve interacted with before, I can’t say wasn’t surprised:

MomDot Encourages Mom Bloggers to Join PR Blackout Challenge: From August 10-16, the PR Blackout campaign will encourage mom bloggers to go back to basics.

On Friday Night Live this week we dissected and discussed what we are affectionately calling “bloggy burnout.’ After a lengthy 90 minute conversation with bloggers around the web, we came to one conclusion:

Mom Bloggers are simply doing too much.

With the allure of giveaways, reviews, and blog trips, Mom Bloggers have turned from what they love the most, their family, into working directly as public relations for their captive audience. It boils down to knowing your worth and then standing up for it.

While we adore many of our fabulous PR reps and treat them like bloggy friends, our site, and many others, are inundated with hundreds, if not thousands, of product requests each year resulting in massive obligations and deadline stress equivalent to what the General Motors CEO must feel every time he drives into work. We watch our blog friends strive for the next big review or the next big giveaway, but all the while practically losing

MomDot is challenging bloggers to participate for one week in August in a PR BLACKOUT challenge where you do not blog ANY giveaways, ANY reviews, and Zero press releases. In fact, we dont want you to talk to PR at ALL that whole week.  We want to see your blog naked, raw, and back to basics. Talk about your kids, your marriage, your college, your hopes, your dreams, your house and whatever you can come up with for one week.

We will host a linky during that week for you to link up every post you do. We will also provide some topic suggestions for each day of the week to get your blog blood flowing again.

We feel this is an important challenge to show mom bloggers that what they are doing, the stress they feel, the deadlines, the time away from their family, it has to be worth it. So grab the picture, link to MomDot for PR BLACKOUT week and COMMIT to blogging for YOU and about you for one week this year.

Let us know if you will be participating along side us. We have scheduled it far enough in advance for you to wrap up all your current obligations and look forward to meeting more of our audience, sharing more of our personal selves, and having the TIME to be much more involved with our own community.


I’m not surprised about the burnout. After all, these bloggers ARE moms, which on its own is a full time job. I WAS surprised, however, about the call to avoid PR pros. Do we really contribute to the burnout? Or is blogging in itself becoming too laborsome a task for many? I’ve always felt that PR people and mom bloggers were in some sort of symbiotic relationship — more specifically, a mutually beneficial relationship. We provide a benefit (products to review, prizes for contests, new information for their readers) for them, and they in turn help us out (promoting our products and providing an honest and impartial mom’s review).

What are your thoughts — Do you think many mom bloggers will participate? What implications does this have for the future of the relationship between mom bloggers and PR pros? What can PR people do to ensure the relationship remains a positive one and help prevent future burnout?

WMJI Rebrands Itself (or has some fun during playoffs)

I listen to the radio in the shower every day – I can’t help it, I’m a shower singer. And I always to 105.7 in the morning. Last Monday, I kept hearing what I thought was a “Beeeeep” on the radio, as if someone had said an expletive. Which to me, didn’t make much sense – as more of a family-friendly program (with interviews with figures such as the director of the Cleveland Zoo) the Lanigan and Malone Show hardly ever have swearing. Was it a part of their “Monday Moaning” feature? Negative. So I ignored it, thinking I was hearing things.

 Then, driving into work, I noticed that each time the station was playing their recording of their jingle “Majic 105.7,” they beeped out the word magic. When they stated station related things, they said “Cavs 105.7” – and that’s when it hit me – they were rebranding themselves during the playoff games!

 I mentioned this to my boyfriend, and he looked at me like I was crazy. “Re-branding? You see things differently – not everything is a PR opportunity,” he said. “It’s just a cool thing they’re doing to support the Cavs.” 

While I’m pretty sure that the marketing people at WMJI weren’t sitting around one day during lunch and saying, “How can we do a mini-rebranding experiment during the Cavs playoffs?” Radio, like all forms of traditional media, can always use a little livening up and I still think this is a great opportunity for them to rebrand themselves. Why?

  • majic cross outFirst, “Cavs 105.7” is memorable and amusing. Using the “bleep” noise traditionally reserved for expletives is both noticeable and funny. 
  • Second, they’re creating an identity for themselves that their audience can relate to. They’re endorsing the Cavs, the team that the majority of their audience supports. I ‘m not saying that Cavs fans by association are now going to become WMJI fans, but having your audience identify with you is always a plus.
  • Third, this mini-rebranding is relevant and timely. The Orlando Magic are playing the Cavs RIGHT now (literally, I’m writing this post during halftime of the Cavs game), and this name change is occurring right now as well. Once the tournament is over, their name will probably go back to as usual.

 To read more about the temporary name change, you can read more about it at WKYC and the Cleveland Leader.

And check out their website (screenshot below) you can see it says “This Is A Majic Free Zone.”


Domino’s : Another case study for the files…

As a PR practitioner interested in social media, I’m always looking for case studies and best practices, so I thought I’d share another case study for your files.

If you’re a social media “junkie” like myself, you probably heard about the Disgusting Domino’s video that swept the Web. If not, here are the basics of what went down:

  • Some Domino’s employees taped themselves tampering with the food
  • The tampering was pretty gross – putting cheese in their nose, doing gross stuff with the meat for sandwiches, etc.
  • The brilliant employees (who identify themselves as Kristy and Michael) posted the video on YouTube Monday night…and by yesterday (in less than 24 hours), there were more than 500,000 hits
  • As far as I can tell, the video has been taken off YouTube – but I’m sure there are some hacker/stalker ways you could find it elsewhere if you looked hard enough! Update: here is a link to a version of the video (it may be taken down at some point, as were most other copies of it).

Well, as you may imagine, the video spread like wildfire and tons of people were talking about it. It was all over the twittersphere, the blogworld and even online news.

Thankfully, Domino’s heard about the incident, and tonight (just under 48 hours after the video was released) Patrick Doyle, President of Domino’s, issued a video response via YouTube to apologize, assure that the facilities of this particular Domino’s were profusely sanitized and state that the employees in the video have been punished (he says they were fired and warrants have been issued for their arrest). Watch the video for yourself and see what you think.

I think this is a perfect social media case study for the future – the crisis erupted via social media, pervaded the Web via social media and was extinguished a day later (also via social media). Here are 3 lessons we can take away from this event:

  • Be actively involved with and monitor social media: This is so so so so important! If Domino’s employees weren’t active online, when would they have seen the video and the reactions? When would they have responded? (Remember the Motrin Mom’s incident?)
  • Social media happens in real time – and you must too when responding to crises: The disgusting video was uploaded Monday night, Tuesday the Web was on fire and thousands of Domino’s customers watched the video, Wednesday night the President responded. Did he wait until Thursday morning news to respond? No- because with the Internet, news is constantly happening. Should he have responded Wednesday? Obviously, the sooner the better.
  • If the crisis is happening via social media, use social media to respond: Did the President of the company issue a press release or go on NBC Nightly News to make a statement? No (or if he did/does, that’s not his only way of communicating). He went to YouTube, made his own video and is sharing his story that way. His video is just as a YouTube video should be: short, informal and to the point  – not long, drawn out, full of too many details or like a corporate Domino’s video may look like.  Before the YouTube video was created, Domino’s created a Twitter account to respond to inquiries and update users about the crisis.  Should they have already had a Twitter account? Yes…but at least they stepped up to the plate when the time came.

So what do you think? Was the Domino’s response appropriate? What could he have done differently? Will it repair their reputation, and ultimately, will their pizza sales be effected?

Social Media For Small Biz

I am presenting on social media to a group of small business owners in a few weeks and in preparing for the presentation, have come across a lot of good information to share with you.

Like a lot of groups, small business owners are well positioned to gain from using social media. Why? Here are just a few reasons:

Social media evens out the playing field, meaning you can compete with larger businesses

Social media is personal and intimate in nature. Because small businesses are able to act more personally than larger businesses, social media is a perfect tool to take advantage of. Small businesses can also be more nimble and quickly adapt their business to using social media. Larger businesses may take longer to understand how to use it, and because more corporate sign-off is often needed, it may take longer for large businesses to respond and react to conversations.

Social media is affordable and effective

As a small business owner, your budget is never as big as your larger-than-life competitors. Social networking tools are a free or low-cost way of marketing your company and reaching out to your audience. If your audience is online, your communication with them through social media can often be more effective than more expensive means of communication, such as a full-page advertisement.

Social media helps expand your network.

Social media is one of the most efficient, effective and affordable ways of establishing relationships with your key audiences. Unlike many real-life networking opportunities, there aren’t membership dues or year-long commitments. You can use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to find individuals in your field and your geographic location. Once you join these social networks, you’ll find that developing social connections via social media is easy, effective and fun.

Your customers want you to be on social media!!

The Internet is not just for kids anymore. Your clients are most likely online and want you to be too. A 2008 Opinion Research Corporation study (as I mention in this blog post) revealed that 60% of Americans 18 and older use social media to converse, and of those, 93% believed that a company should have a presence in social media. Eighty-five percent of social media users believed that a company should not only be merely “present” but also directly interact with its consumers using social media.

Don’t leave your audience hanging. Get online and join the conversations.

And while you’re online, here are some other great resources to check out:

25 Tips for Small Businesses (Kyle Lacy’s Blog)

Ultimate Twitter Following List for Small Businesses (Smallbiztrends.com)

Top 10 Social Networks for Entrepreneurs (Mashable – just posted today!)

Your Clients Want Social Media

I’m so tired of people doubting social media. I’m tired of people judging whether or not it works or not wanting to use it “because it’s scary/uncontrollable/etc.” I mean really, if we stopped doing everything that was “scary” or only did things we could control, how boring would life be?

Cone, my old stomping ground (I interned there for a while), recently released a study that finally puts it all out there: Your clients WANT social media!

According to the 2008 Cone Business in Social Media Study, 93% of Americans believe a company should have a presence in social media, and 85% believe a company should not only be present but also interact with its consumers via social media.

The time has come people. These conversations are already happening. We can’t just ignore social media and hope it will go away. We can’t ignore YouTube, because of some of the questionable content on there, or ignore twitter because we find it “self-indulgent.” We need to be out there, listening and interacting with our clients and customers. The time is now.

More information on the findings of the study can be found here.