Richard Branson: Investing in PR Saves Millions in Advertising

Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson is known around the world almost as much for his publicity stunts as his corporate (Virgin Airlines) pursuits, philanthropy and epic adventures. In a recent hour-long conversation in Australia, he described the need for all good companies to have a PR person: “The head of PR is perhaps one of the most important people in a company and a good chairman will have them by their side. They are critical for managing the brand and save millions in advertising; people talking about your company is much more important than anything.” Naturally, I agree.

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Freedom of the Press

Arguably the second most difficult position in the federal government is the position of  White House Press Secretary, or spokesperson, for the President of the United States. Currently Jay Carney holds this position and as a former journalist, he is particularly knowledgeable about freedom of the press. That’s why the recent revelation of the phone record seizures of the Associated Press news outlet in Washington D.C. should cause him  pause. Naturally, as an administration spokesperson, he has expressed a very cautious response to the controversy such as saying he “cannot comment on the ongoing investigation.” In light of the recent revelation that the IRS inappropriately singled out conservative groups for investigation, not to mention the congressional review of the tragedy of the  deaths of American diplomats in Benghazi, the White House, President Obama and many leaders in the current administration are under extra scrutiny from the American public. It’s a perfect storm that has leaders scrambling for cover and trying to find an effective response that is prompt, truthful and devoid of politics. Is it possible that our government leaders will be able to admit wrongdoing, take responsibility and then announce changes to prevent a reoccurrence? You be the judge.

Jay Carney

Viral Sensations

A horrifying tale made headlines this week after three women, held captive for decades, were abruptly freed in an escape aided by a neighbor. What we know about the event is that a concerned neighbor, hearing the cries of one young woman and suspecting domestic abuse, kicked in a door to free her. Her subsequent 9-1-1 call and rescue of her and her companions by police made national headlines. The story is still unfolding. The man, Charles Ramsey, is a colorful personality who seems to have a knack for creative sound bytes in news interviews. Even fast-food chain McDonald’s, prominently mentioned as the food of choice by the local hero, restrained itself in turning it into a publicity opportunity–likely out of respect for the families and their privacy. Internet sensations like these seem to pop up regularly and oftentimes a company must decide whether to jump on the publicity bandwagon or to pass up the opportunity in the interest of courtesy or human dignity. As we watch this play out in national media, let’s see who takes the high road.

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P.S. In a recent update, McDonald’s confirmed it will offer him free burgers for a year. (Sensitively handled very well by their PR team.)

New Roles for PR Professionals

Ask a PR professional to explain what he or she does for a living and you’re likely to get some very different responses. The reason is that PR professionals wear so many different hats that on any given day, they could be involved in very different activities. This recent article from PR Daily explains four new roles for PR Pros: Blogger Relations, SEO, Crisis Mgmt and Metrics. It also implies some interesting changes about where the perceived value of PR professionals exists. What do you think is the biggest value of having a PR professional on your staff?

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Career Opportunities: Decline in Reporters Spurs on PR Professionals

A recent news article listed jobs that are on the decline such as Desktop Publisher, Reporter, Semiconductor Processor, Insurance Appraiser…and more. Instead of these four job functions, alternative careers include: Graphic Designer, PR Specialist, Database Administrator and Cost Estimator. For PR professionals, the outlook is good. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the PR field is expected to grow 23 percent between 2010 and 2020. Thanks to the Internet revolution and the growth of social media in particular, the need for communications professionals to be proactive in dealing with bad news or spreading good news is critical. A bachelor’s degree in one of the following areas is the typical entry path: public relations, communications, journalism, English or business.

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Success in the Workplace

I came across a very interesting piece in Talent Magazine that included tips on how to be wildly successful in the workplace. Interestingly, it describes workers in terms of three categories: Takers, Matchers and Givers. These three personality traits describe the characteristics needed to succeed in the workplace. The three trends that shape our relationships and personal reputations are the following: project-based work, the knowledge or service economy and the rise of online social networks. All of these elements combine together for a more interconnected workplace and one in which we must put the team first. This may not be a surprise to most employees, but the achievement of long-term success can now be attributed towards our attitude of working on groups and how we act as either a Taker, Matcher or a Giver? How do you measure yourself in terms of servant leadership?

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Read to Write Better

I love to read. Just about any subject. I’m one of those people who can find something interesting to read from the magazines in the dentists office and the hair salon. Whether it’s Ladies Home Journal, Guns and Ammo, Reader’s Digest, The Wall Street Journal or The Economist, I’ve developed the life-long habit of reading. From monthly book club choices to new reading Apps on my Kindle and iPad, I could simply read all day long – even if I wasn’t paid to do it. One of the best ways to cultivate your writing ability is to read regularly. As I was reading this recent post, I thought this advice was not simply valid for PR and Marketing folks, but for all business people. Besides writing regularly, how do you continually improve your writing skills?

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