PR Niblets

Monday, August 6, 2018

Small Talk is Big for PR Pros


I remember how my professors at Syracuse University would bristle when they heard a student say the reason they selected PR for a career was because “I like people.” They were offended at the implication that PR is merely about shaking hands, smiling, slapping backs, etc., rather than a serious practice within the communications field.
That said, liking and taking interest in people is not a bad thing for the PR professional. After all, the cornerstone of what we do revolves around creating and maintaining relationships. While these are mostly professional interactions, the personal side of the equation should not be overlooked.
We’re all aware that just about any meeting we participate in will start or end with small talk. It could be a discussion of the weather, weekend plans or a shared interest. This banter is a natural warm up and cool down to the business at hand and makes the work day a little more pleasant. However, it can represent more—an opportunity to learn more about your clients and co-workers. Do they have kids or play a musical instrument? Are they health nuts, foodies or travelers? These casual chats can forge important connections that will likely serve you well over the course of your career.
For example, I have a colleague that is a hardcore biker. We worked with a client that was also a biking fanatic, and the two of them would have intense exchanges that would cover all manner of bike equipment and the ungodly numbers of miles they each biked the previous weekend and for the year-to-date. While I never felt as out of shape in my life as when I listened to these discussions, I could appreciate the friendly connection between the two of them. This client has moved on, but they remain friendly and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were to find occasion to work together again.
Personally, I look forward to being one of the first on the line for the conference call to chat up the client before we all roll up our sleeves to pay the bills. However, small talk comes more naturally to some than others. Case in point: I have a friend in the business who used to drive to client meetings with his boss. On the way, he’d be asked about his family – where did he grow up, where did he live now, did he have any brothers or sisters, etc. This is nice, right? The problem was that over the course of 10 to 12 of these trips – he’d be asked THE SAME QUESTIONS EVERY TIME! It was clear his boss was going through the motions and didn’t really care to know anything about him. Not a great way to forge a connection. (While this disingenuousness would seem an unfavorable trait for a PR professional, it occurs to me that this person is one of the most successful PR people I know of. So what the hell do I know?)
Regardless, I’m going to stick with my premise that PR is a “people” business and that it is worthwhile to make the effort to get to know those with whom you associate. More often than not, you’ll find it will add enjoyment to the job and may even lead to your professional enrichment and advancement.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Public Relations: The Next 50 Years

Recently, the editorial team at O'Dwyer's approached a group of PR industry veterans and asked them to contribute articles, tributes and comments regarding the approaching 50th anniversary of the PR industry publication family.

Though the years are ticking by, I surely didn't have first-hand insight into the O'Dwyer Newsletter's
first decades. But I have been in the journalism industry (briefly) and PR for nearly 35 years. That's long enough to have watched the profession -- and the O'Dwyer editorial franchise -- change and expand.

In my guest article, featured in the O'Dwyer's July 2018 50th Anniversary Magazine,  I wrote about my personal interactions with publisher and editor Jack O'Dwyer. The article went on to look at changes over the past 50 years in public relations, and then, through the thoughts of some industry experts and friends, it took a look at what the next 50 years might bring.

The Feintuch team welcomes your reaction to those forecasts and opens the pages of our blog to your own thoughts and forecasts -- script a paragraph or a column and send it over.

Let's all meet up in another 50 years and see how we did!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Trade Show Reflections En Route to - of Course - a Trade Show

It’s a Saturday afternoon and if it were my regular weekend routine, I would have worked out with my trainer at the gym, paid some bills, gone shopping with my wife and would be making plans for dinner out.

But instead, I’m 39,000+ feet above the Rockies headed to Los Angeles for a major e-commerce trade show called Shop.org, sponsored by the National Retail Federation




Our client, Klarna, is an online payments company that provides innovative ways for merchants to make the online checkout experience “frictionless” and “smoooth.”  They’re a big deal globally – the financial community calls Klarna a unicorn due to its private valuation in excess of $2b.

At the show, Klarna will have a booth (where I’ll be living during show hours), is a sponsor and will be speaking on the show stage with one of its client partners. Our team will put out a press release for Klarna Tuesday morning and I’ll be handling media relations for Klarna’s North American CEO and the company’s featured client. Over the course of the next few days, there will be informal company meetings to attend, press materials to print and assemble, participation in an industry party on Monday night, long booth hours, visits to the press room, press interviews, industry analyst meetings, planning and more.

I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years and know what? It hasn't grown stale. It’s every bit as exciting as my first trade show, though perhaps a bit less scary.

I remember my first trade show, in Miami, when I was a younger pup working for a small PR department in an ad agency called Paul Kaufman Associates. I was the lead account executive for a company called Periphonics, a mainframe computer, voice response technology company (and small subsidiary of Gilbarco, which in turn was an Exxon portfolio company) that was pushing its way into the banking industry. It was Periphonics’s vision and plan to support a then new concept called banking by phone. They would do that by making it easy for consumers and business people to call their bank’s computer, and by pushing touch tone buttons, find out their balance and complete simple banking transactions.

Similar to what I did last night, I packed for my trip, clutched my press kits close to me to ensure they would be with me in Florida and headed off to the American Banking Association’s National Operations and Automation Conference. The "big time" for a kid growing up in Coney Island!
But concerns overtook me: Would I embarrass my agency in some way? Would the media show up for their scheduled interviews? Would my client take me seriously? Would I fit in with its booth staff?

The show and my efforts turned out well. We handled many trade media interviews and I politely nagged all Miami-area reporters including the local AP correspondent. And surprise, AP ran an item and it was picked up by the New York Times. I returned to New York standing a little bit taller – a conquering business war hero and a little bit more experienced in the ways of PR.

Between then and now, I’ve attended several hundred trade shows in banking and financial services, consumer electronics, AV, oil and gas, food products, dairy products, packaging, paper and plastics, insurance, photography, e-commerce, aviation, mining, advertising, public relations, ergonomics, electrical and electronics and more. Trade shows provide the opportunity for PR practitioners to learn more about their clients, their clients’ industries and emerging issues; meet the media in person; interact with customers and prospects; and for a while, immerse into another world.

It never grows stale! Wonder what I’ll learn this week…

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A New Kind of City


As a native San Franciscan, I assumed my transition to New York would be relatively easy. I grew up going to the city often, well-acquainted with the multitude of people, high-rise buildings and active public transportation systems. City life has truly never been a stranger to me. However, for the last three years I have been living in Dallas and studying public relations and strategic communications at Southern Methodist University.

While Dallas is still very much a city, there are many notable differences when comparing it to metropolises such as New York and San Francisco. In Dallas, everything goes at a slower pace: business, nightlife, even speech patterns. The people also have a southern charm I have unknowingly adopted and have come to expect in most day-to-day interactions. In short, my first few days in New York have been shocking.

Although I've visited many times, the sheer scale of New York City never ceases to amaze me. The amount of people here makes it feel as if during the day everyone is stacked on top of each other in sky high buildings until breaks in business hours where people in suits flood the streets and filter into one of the seemingly millions of restaurants and bars. On top of all the working people, I've noticed that for each person rushing to get to work there is a touring family of five strolling down any given street taking in the scenery. This pedestrian traffic often doubles or triples my projected 10-minute walk to our Park Avenue office.

Since arriving in New York, I have enjoyed the walkability of this city. I find myself walking on average six miles a day without even realizing it. Typically, I Uber everywhere, so this is a huge change of pace for me. Walking so much has inspired me to start running again. Upon visiting Central Park, I find it interesting that a city this dense has preserved a huge piece of natural real estate amid shops, apartment buildings and commercial buildings that have taken over this city. I also appreciate how the park sits in the center of the city as opposed to other cosmopolitan areas, such as Dallas, where the only scenic, open areas are a 20-minute drive outside of the city. There is something to be said about a place where you can run through the hills and the trees and then across the street for a donut.

By the end of each day, I'm so tired. New York produces a new kind of exhaustion for me; it's not your end-of-the-day weariness, but head-to-toe fatigue from walking, running, working and socializing all over Manhattan in a single day. For “the city that never sleeps,” I don't know how anyone can stay up past 10 p.m.!

In just a few short weeks, I have started to adjust to this new way of life. In my first few days I thought New Yorkers were unusually abrasive, but after adjusting, I have come to realize that the lack of outward charm says more about New York's culture rather than its residents’ attitudes. I've come to accept that people here are just more in their own heads, trying to get from one place to another without slowing down or interrupting the thoughts and lives of the people around them. But while New Yorkers seem more closed-off and poker-faced than the cities I’m used to, I have learned that everyone here is just as friendly as other parts of the country, but they certainly do not go out of their way to show it. 

Even though I still have plenty of adjusting to do, I can already see this summer will be transformational for me. I will be learning so much and working hard while running around and exploring this great city. I can't think of anything I would rather be doing during my last summer before graduation next year!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Growing Older (and More Experienced) with America’s Favorite Trade Show

By Doug Wright

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) celebrated its 50th anniversary last month. This gave me pause, as I figured I must have attended nearly half of these renowned events showcasing the latest in technology and gadgets. I can’t decide whether this makes me feel more “old” or “experienced,” but the fact that I too turn 50 this year…

My first CES experiences were in the early 90s, when the Consumer Electronics Association (now known as the Consumer Technology Association) hosted two shows per year, including a summer expo in Chicago in addition to the winter one we have today. During my career, I have been fortunate to represent many brands at these events, including Sharp, Sony, Maxell, Kenwood, Pioneer, Yamaha, Monster, Acclaim Entertainment and most recently HDMI Licensing Administrator and Healbe.

Over the years, preparation for this highly-anticipated show has certainly evolved. Here are a few pointers to help your company prepare for CES from a public relations standpoint:

Timing is everything when it comes to press releases/announcements.

Where it used to be generally preferred to announce new products at CES, the size of the show today has made it more difficult to break through the noise and clutter of it all. Consider these two alternatives to help your company stand out:
  • Release your news in advance so you can invite media to your booth for more information, a live demo and/or an interview with a company spokesperson.
  • Offer the news to the most important media outlets in advance (but under embargo until launch day) to give your company a better chance at being featured when you want the coverage. I’ve also noticed more recently that editors are writing stories in advance to keep up with the demand for coverage at the show. In these cases, you’re actually doing them a favor.
To press conference or not to press conference?
The vastness of the show and its media days means your company is competing with press conferences for companies of all kinds. In order to stand out among all this competition and noise, weigh your news objectively and decide if it is best suited for a standalone press conference or an editor preview event (such as ShowStoppers or CES Unveiled,) where hundreds of reporters go to learn about all the new products while enjoying a bite to eat with colleagues.

Social media is not optional – it is essential:
When I started out, there was no social media; however, today you must have a plan to engage. Here are some tips to staying social at CES.
  • Post content before, during and after the show with information about your booth, announcements and new products.
  • Share content live from the floor with lots of graphics to show off your displays and booth crowds.
  • Spread information about your company and products using official event hashtags (e.g. #CES2017) and encourage booth visitors to do so as well.
  • Post photos and shout outs tagging press and other booth visitors to increase engagement and attract new followers by soliciting replies and retweets.
For your next big trade show, whether it’s CES or otherwise, consider these tactics to help you secure quality media coverage and get the greatest value out of your time and allocated resources.

Healbe CEO Artem Shipitsin talking about the new GoBe 2 Smart Life Band
with Into Tomorrow Radio's Dave Graveline at Showstoppers.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Setting New Year’s PR Resolutions for your Business

Running a company is a non-stop adventure, both fun and frustrating at times. Business owners are constantly running around doing everything they can to better serve clients or customers.

As critical as it is for you to define and set your marketing and communications strategy for the year ahead, it’s easy to fall victim to your workload and “to do list” and keep shoveling in pursuit of sales and client needs while ignoring your own business development goals.

So here we are in 2017 and perhaps you still haven’t made time to focus on supporting your company’s communications strategy. Sell yourself on the value you bring to your clients by implementing these five things for a focused, prosperous year ahead:

  1. Get on social media. If you aren’t already on social media, set up your accounts and start posting and engaging with your audiences. 
  2. Create a content calendar and start posting. Draft blog posts, compose tweets, update your Facebook profile, connect on LinkedIn, post a photo from CES 2017 on Instagram. Let everyone know you’re still out there and what exciting stuff you’ve been doing.
  3. Register for industry events. Every industry boasts a slew of industry associations and trade shows/marketing events geared towards specific groups of professionals. If you already belong to one or several such organizations, consider attending their next big event or conference to meet prospects, enhance your sales queue and then even set up some media interviews to burnish your company’s brand and awareness.
  4. Draft your corporate communications plan. As the end of each year approaches, you start looking forward to budgeting, planning and goal-setting for company sales for the year ahead. It’s important to do the same for your marketing communications. Invest in your company’s communications strategy to stay ahead of your competition and make your voice heard.
  5. Nominate yourself for industry awards. Research industry award programs that are relevant to your industry and apply. Even if you don’t win, you will have put together an impressive presentation on your greatest work to share with clients and prospects.

The new year is a time for introspection and self-improvement and your PR/communications plans and outreach should be high on your radar. Make time for it; it’ll pay dividends all year long.  And if you’re “buried” with deadlines and other work, reach out to your trusted PR and marketing advisors to help you get there.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tip Tuesday: Integrity Matters

“Don’t lie, mislead or whitewash.  It’ll come back to haunt you.  Integrity is like crystal:  fragile and irreparable once cracked.” – Richard Roher