PR Niblets

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Popular Business Jargon: How it's Used vs. What it Really Means

Just like every geographical region has their own meanings for words, like “Coke” being a catch-all for soda in the south, different working environments also tend to create their own definitions for common phrases. Entering the B2B workforce, my internal dictionary has received more than a few new entries as I learn the alternative meanings for seemingly common terms. Below are four pieces of jargon that forced me to do a linguistic double-take.

1. Out-of-pocket

How it’s used: Unavailable; unreachable
What it really means: From one’s own pocket; to pay from personal expenses
Example: “Make sure you get the materials over to John, he’s going to be out-of-pocket the rest of the week.”

The first time I heard this phrase used in my office setting instilled a bit of financial fear in me. Suddenly, I had visions of endless accounting reports; not what I anticipated in a communications position. Luckily my co-workers assured me my math skills were safe: it was just office jargon.


2. Evergreen
How it’s used: Content that will always be fresh, not particularly time-sensitive
What it really means: A type of plant that maintains growth all year long
Example: “Let’s publish this particular release now. We have a few evergreen ones we can hold onto.”

I certainly do not have a green thumb, so after hearing this expression, I made a mental note to look up Gardening for Dummies. It turns out in this case, evergreen describes the type of content, not necessarily the subject matter.

3. Silo
How it’s used: Separate from other departments or workers
What it really means: A tall structure used to hold grain, typically found on a farm
Example: “We need to break down these silos and get everyone talking.”

I may be from the Midwest, but I’m certainly no farm-girl. You can imagine my confusion at the mention of farm equipment after making my move to the appropriately titled “concrete jungle” of New York. Though initially confusing, I liked this new term once I understood it. Must be the Ohio in me.


4. Blue Ocean
How it’s used: A new business opportunity, an unsaturated market share
What it really means: Literally, blue-hued ocean water
Example: “There’s too much competition in this area, we need to find the blue ocean.”

Well, we can’t see the ocean, but if you look close enough you can see the Hudson from our office. This one had me scratching my head the hardest until I really thought it through. A blue ocean means open and uncongested water, more of a metaphor than jargon.

Though it took some getting used to, I have embraced the new language I learned during my first month in the workforce. If you’re going to walk the walk, may as well talk the talk.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Can't Tuch This


Last week, the Feintuch Communications team competed in PRSA-NY’s annual summer social, “New York Amazing Race.” Competing as a team of five, Feintuch Communications scurried around the streets of Midtown Manhattan decoding media-related clues and performing challenges.

We began the scavenger hunt a little bit behind schedule leaving from Swift Bar & Grill at 5:45 p.m. Armed with our matching shirts, smart phones and unlimited metro cards, we were prepared to take on the 90-minute challenge. The rules were simple enough: complete as many tasks as possible before the clock ran out and take one picture for each task including all team members. Rather than hand the camera off to a stranger, we opted for the more social-media appropriate solution: team selfies.
One tourist was lucky enough to star in our selfie.

A mere five minutes into the challenge, we all felt like we were truly competing in The Amazing Race. We read through each of our potential clues and attempted to put together a strategic plan to receive the most points in the least amount of time. We decided to start with a journalism legend, stopping by the old New York Times building.

Task #8 – “A unique business card.” How’d we do?
Throughout the race, we wound our way all through Midtown Manhattan. Within an hour and a half, we hit Herald Square, Fox News, Times Square, Radio City Music Hall, the Love Statue and more.

As the time started ticking down, we found ourselves five blocks away from check-in with four minutes to spare. We made a mad dash and somehow made it back with seven seconds to spare. (Personally, I think pedestrian dodging should have counted for extra points.)

In the end we ended up with 275; 75 points behind the winners. Though we didn’t win, the race was a great experience. As I continue to get my feet wet in the crazed metropolis that is New York City, it was a perfect opportunity to explore the area while bonding with my co-workers.

The Life of a High School Intern


 
For years, I knew that my mom worked in public relations (PR), but I did not know exactly what that meant. Before this week, my perception of PR was my mom writing long “essays” about many different things.  This week, I have been lucky enough to help out at Feintuch Communications and had the opportunity to learn about the public relations business and all that goes into it.

Before we go there, let me tell you how I got here…

During the last three weeks of the school year, my high school hosts a program called “Senior Experience.” This program allows students to choose an internship program at any company to learn about an industry in which they are interested. I chose to do my internship at Feintuch Communications because I knew that I wanted to learn more about public relations and marketing.  

In my first week at Feintuch Communications, Henry Feintuch and his team have shown me how public relations works and everything that goes into it on a daily basis. I have had the chance to learn about many of the different activities that a PR firm can do for its clients – ranging from distributing press releases to working with industry analysts (professionals who provide regular reports on a company and its business). I have had the chance to shadow Henry and the other members of the team including Darby Fledderjohn, account coordinator, and Emily Simmons, senior account executive, to see exactly what goes on.

The Feintuch Communications team has taught me how to do many things in PR that I would have never known such as the correct time to send out press releases and how to help companies build their reputations from the ground up. One of the most interesting things that I have learned so far is from a webinar on social media (The Art of the Perfect Social Media Post). This webinar explained how to use social media websites to a company’s advantage and the best times to use them throughout the week.

My time at Feintuch Communications has given me a greater understanding of the public relations and marketing industry. I’m heading to college at SUNY Oneonta in just a few short months and look forward to the academic road ahead.



Ross Binder is a student at John F. Kennedy high school in Bellmore, Long Island, New York. He currently is working as an intern for Feintuch Communications to learn more about the public relations business as part of his school’s “Senior Experience” program.  He also enjoys studying languages such as Italian and Spanish as well as American history.

 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Toto, we're not in Ohio anymore

If you asked me a year ago what I would be doing after graduation, I can guarantee my answer would not have been working for an award-winning public relations firm on Park Avenue in New York City. But here I am: Feintuch Communications’ latest team member and account coordinator.
My personalized graduation cap: eyes on the prize!

Midwestern born and bred, my transition from graduation to the working world was a little bit more intense than some. Only three weeks after crossing the stage to receive my diploma I hopped on a plane to move 700 miles away from home and join the workforce.


An official Ohio University graduate 
My first week at Feintuch Communications has been a whirlwind of experience that only shows promise for what more is to come. Walking in on my first day, I felt armed with as much information as I could get. As all millennials do, I completed the pre-first-date ritual of social media stalking: actively scouring the company’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blog and any outlet I could find.

Within an hour, I was briefed on a handful of clients spanning all types of industries. I felt like a kid in a candy store. You mean I get to work with all of these clients? Not just one? Of course I have to mention the cherry on top of my first day that confirmed my place as a real professional… receiving my very own business cards.

My second day proved there was no slowing down in this industry. After a shortened work day, I headed over to the Mandarin Oriental for the annual PRSA-NY Big Apple Awards gala. I could hardly believe, on my second day of work, I was mingling with the best of the best of the New York PR scene. The night was perfectly capped off as I cheered on my new team when they received not one, but two Big Apple Awards and an honorable mention.

My view flying into New York from Ohio
In such a short time, I have already begun to see the promise and opportunities available to me as an account coordinator. Though not every work day so far has been followed by a black-tie optional gala, I’ve come to love seeing what each day brings as I learn more about the clients, the company and the industry.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

FC Round-up: Trip to Istanbul; Staffing Up; and Winning Industry Awards


With the help of our staff, clients and industry partners, the first five months of 2014 are pointing to a great year for our firm.  It didn't look so good in late 2008 when we became "accidental entrepreneurs" during the height of the recent great recession. Back then, our boutique firm bled cash as we struggled to market ourselves, attract clients, build our reputation and manage payroll/benefits for our start-up staff.  In 2014, the economy is moving into drive and we now have a stable of multi-year clients, a growing reputation and some visibility into the road ahead.

The year started out with my taking office as president of the New York chapter of PRSA, the third largest chapter in the nation (and the country's largest 'city chapter'). My fairly intense day job multiplied into two as I helped provide leadership to one of the original and most respected PRSA chapters in the nation.  Thankfully, we have a great board with many respected names and up-and-coming superstars in the PR industry, as well as a solid core of volunteers continually raising their hands. That's allowed us to expand our programs, industry activities and community outreach. It's been a blast so far!

Our firm added several new clients to our roster -- CityShares, Worthy, 1st Alliance Lending and Secure-24 -- and thankfully, our free-time diminished.

In early May, my wife and I flew to Istanbul for a meeting of the PR World Alliance, our global network of best-of-breed independent PR firms. Our three-day, semi-annual meeting, hosted by Persona Communications was educational and inspirational. After arriving in Istanbul, we joined our partner Perran Ersu at Boğaziçi University for a Schumann and Brahms piano quartet by visiting renowned musicians. The next day, I participated in our board meeting (I serve as vice chairman of the organization).

On the second day of our conference, we hosted a speaker from the national government who put on his best game face and spoke about the growing positive climate for business in Turkey. We noted the phrase "Taksim Square" was never uttered aloud. Later, a political science professor from an Istanbul university provided the political perspective on what had happened -- and is still happening -- in the country. It was a day of contrasts. Our partners shared case studies and discussed best practices in their home countries.


On Saturday, we wrapped our business by lunch time and set out via mini-bus for a tour of Topkapi Palace, home of the Ottoman Dynasty between the mid-15th and mid-19th centuries. Then, on to Hagia Sophia for a look inside the Eastern Orthodox Cathedral which is both a Roman Catholic Cathedral and Mosque all under one crazily impressive domed roof.  On Saturday night, Perran hosted a bash on a yacht on the Bosporus Strait, sailing up the European coast and back down along the Asian continent.  It was quite magical.

Darby Fledderjohn
Best of all, I was gone for a week and our firm managed well without me -- a further sign of the maturity of our firm.

Shortly after I returned, our newest hire came on board. Account Coordinator Darby Fledderjohn is a recent graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and is providing a welcome extra set of intelligent hands to our team.  On her second day on the job, we closed early for the night and headed to the Mandarin Oriental in New York City for PRSA-NY's annual Big Apple Awards gala. It's a night that honors excellence in the PR industry.

We're proud to announce that Feintuch Communications, together with our client, Convene, the nation's fastest growing network of conference centers, took home three awards. Our campaign entry, called "Reinventing the Off-Site Meetings Industry through the Use of Human-Centered Design," won honorable mention for Marketing Business-to-Business: Campaigns with Budgets of $100,000 or less. We won a Big Apple for Reputation and Brand Management: Campaigns with Budgets of $100,000 or less.

But the big surprise win of the night (see the full list of winners here) was a new industry award recognizing "Best Business/Campaign Outcomes." The award recognizes campaigns whose success is measured by strategic results other than press clippings or broadcast segments.  In fact, our campaign for Convene helped the firm increase revenue last year by 21 percent and speed the close on a $10m fundraising round.

So, as May comes rushing to a close, I'm thankful for having survived our business adolescence and look forward to the next phase of our journey as we continue to deliver results to our clients, build our brand and expand. We promise to share more detail with you in the months ahead.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Student Job Applicants: Grammar, Spelling, Content and Style Matter!

It's that time of year -- the mad race to secure a job for would-be college graduates.  (Side note: I'm familiar; my son Alex, who posted recently and who has been interning with our firm, has been threatening to graduate for some time now. Maybe this year!)

Graduating students are preparing their game plan for May and beyond when their degree is in hand and their future lives await them. I respect the ones who have started emailing their resumes and applications as early as this fall in order to secure an informational interview and determine the possibility of employment.

But, and it's a big "but...," many are more focused on getting something out the door more than they are in paying attention to the quality of their submissions. In public relations, that's a critical mistake.


Yesterday's e-mail brought a note from an Indiana University student
who is a candidate for a Bachelor of Art Degree in Journalism.  Her home address is in "F.L." and her school address is in Bloomington, "I.N."  In her job experience, we note other creative state abbreviations in non-address block areas: Welcome to the states of "C.T." and "M.A."

Followers of AP style will recoil in horror knowing that AP dictates dictionary abbreviations for state names in copy; two letter abbreviations for addresses on envelopes or in a full address context are fine -- but they are two letter combos as illustrated in the adjacent image.

Another graduating senior, this one from SUNY Binghamton, compliments us in her cover letter as one of the most highly regarded PR companies within the PR industry.  Appreciate the kind words but it feels a bit "boiler-plated." She goes on to tell us she is pursuing "duel" degrees in Philosophy, Politics and Law and History.  I hope she survives her undergraduate work.


A May 2014 would-be graduate from Indiana University who majors in Arts in Communication and Culture (maybe a friend of the above student), tells us she made the "Deans" list (bye-bye apostrophe) and was a writing assistant to a financial services firm in "Shorthills" NJ.  Residents of that hamlet know their town name is comprised of two words, not one. Cue Governor Christie to shut down the mall there.

A SUNY Stony Brook graduate with a degree in sociology and a minor in anthropology explains why her credentials are relevant to a career in PR: 
"As a former Assistant Manager of The Animal Center of Queens, NY, as well as current volunteer of The Heavenly Angels Animal Rescue Inc, NY, I have experience attending to people’s needs on a daily basis. At The Animal Center of Queens, I: cared for the animals daily, performed secretarial duties as needed, managed the front desk where customers came up to, managed and trained volunteers to improve efficiency of the center, and advertised to the public about animal adoptions. As fast-paced as the environment was, I was able to perform all my duties promptly."
Still trying to make sense of it all; we decided to pass on an interview.

Not writing this to be cruel; rather I'm hoping to send a sobering message to job aspirants everywhere: we need and want you. But you must show you have basic skills and care enough about being considered a professional to ensure you read and proof your copy. If you can't do that when you're on your best behavior trying to land employment, how do you think we feel about entrusting you with the reputation of our clients? Proofread!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Eight Tips to Co-exist in the Workplace While Working (and Living) with a Parent

While completing the six-credit balance of my bachelor’s degree in public relations, I am interning with my father and the team at Feintuch Communications. Below are some first-week musings of the delicate balance that is working and living under the same roof as my dad.
Be sure to check back next week for Henry’s tips on working and living with his offspring.


 1. Wake up before your boss. Nothing says “I’m ready for work” quite like being dressed and ready to go before mom or dad has made his or her way out of bed. Check to see if your parent/boss is awake before jumping in the shower. If they’re still snoozing, take a deep breath and relax under the hot water for an extra few minutes. If mom or dad is up and about, you’re probably playing catch up… so catch up, and fast!

A view from Chappaqua train station
2. Home is not the office and the office is not home. Leave the baggage on the train or you’ll be in for a long day (and a short-lived employment). The moment you allow household fights to migrate into the office is the moment your co-workers become uneasy. No matter how angry you are that your father had the nerve to ask you to clean the basement the night before, your co-workers don’t want to hear about it; it’s just uncomfortable. Debrief BEFORE you get home. Reviewing the events of the day and hearing an executive perspective of them can reveal a lot of valuable insight into how to think more strategically and broad. Not only can you learn a ton from picking your boss brain after hours but it can save you from arguing about the happenings of the day later on. 

3. Remove yourself from conversations about “the boss.” No matter how much you want to be “one of the guys,” you’re not. You may be a member of the team but you’re still the boss’ kid. 

Alex's ankle circa 2012
4. Don’t force the boss’ hand. Would your father understand that you should really get that swollen ankle checked out ASAP? Absolutely. Would your boss? Maybe not. Don’t make mom or dad pick between wearing the boss hat or the parent hat. Sympathy for your health may very well win out, but is it worth projecting to the entire office that your priority is not getting work done and being an equal member of the team? Doubtful. 

5. No complaining to your non-boss parent about the boss! That’s between the two of you and dragging other family members in the middle benefits no one. Balancing the relationship is difficult enough without another family member weighing in.

6. Be honest and realistic about how things are going. No job in the world is worth poisoning the relationship with your mom or dad. If either one of you has concerns, hash it out as quickly as possible (in private). Don’t sweep the issues under the rug because they’re not going anywhere. If the business relationship is truly not working out then drop it before the damage bleeds into the personal relationship. 

7. Keep an open mind. *This applies to all employee/boss relations* While you may not care for your parents’ opinion on what color slacks to put on in the morning, there’s likely good reason why your mother or father has made it to where they are. Take advantage of the resource and learn as much as you possibly can. 

Pictured: Henry (dad) and Alex (author and son)
8. Lastly, embrace it. If your mother or father has provided the opportunity for you to accelerate your career then you've got a real leg up. Be gracious and thankful for the opportunity and do everything you possibly can to prove to everyone that you deserve the position regardless of your last name. 







What tips would you give to your son or daughter if they came to work for you? Let us know in the comments section below.