PR Niblets

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Social 'Notworks'

First weekend back since my trip to Stuttgart, Germany and a meeting of our international PR partnership organization, ECP Global ( We met prospective partners from Sweden, The Netherlands and Spain. Interesting side trips to the Mercedes Benz Center of Excellence... medieval towns and gourmet meals.
While digging out from my workload, I was seeking inspiration for what to write about in PR Niblets. Make it serious and write about the challenges of growing our firm during a recession? Detail my foreign travels? Comment on alarming uptick in swine flu cases? How 'bout that Obama?
Inspiration arrived in an e-mail from my former colleague Christine Milligan Mulvehill, now living up in Beantown and working for Mullen PR. It appears that my upcoming birthday -- as revealed to 'insiders' by Plaxo Plus -- was the subject of a blog by Peppercom founder Steve Cody (

Steve writes about some of the useless information he is subjected to from Plaxo -- the poster child being my birthday announcement. He has a point. Social networking sites can be totally frivolous or an amazing networking, social or research tool. I'm amazed at how often some of my friends and colleagues "tweet" each day. There are days I have to scramble to find time to hit the bathroom... but there they are... several times an hour.. pointing out some interesting factoid about a disease... a celebrity ... or where they're going to lunch... what they ate... what was discussed... and how much they enjoyed lunch earlier.
Whether you LinkIn, Tweet, catch up with your peeps on MySpace or FaceBook or have Plaxo manage your address book, the 'social notworks' are all the rage. For me, I just want to find out Steve Cody's birthday so I can return the favor.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What's in a Name?

As a young PR pro, you don’t have much time to take the phone away from your ear during prime pitching hours let alone delve into the inner workings of the communications business. However, at the center of a start-up in a rocky economy, I’ve seen firsthand how crucial it is to build your brand no matter the environment. That said, brand building doesn’t start at the corporate level alone – you need to consider your personal brand, your company’s brand and of course, your clients’ brands.

With not as many connections as my lovable (and well-connected) colleagues, I decided to start by working on my own brand – ultimately leading to greater credibility in the PR world. So I Kannekt, Facebook, Twitter, and Link In with colleagues and clients, groups and associations, with aspirations to one day have my name associated with a brand that stands for quality, hard-work and dedication!

It’s really not as difficult as I first imagined. Have a reporter friend? Follow them on Twitter to catch their most recent articles. Have a colleague you worked with at a previous firm? Connect with them on LinkedIn, then offer to meet over a cup of coffee to see what they have brewing in their life. It’s amazing how only one hundred and forty characters can open doors and opportunities.

So even with all of the warnings out there to “think before you tweet,” my feelings are, relax! Before social media, time was spent in idle email chatter and passing news through word of mouth. We’ve just changed our medium a bit to be more Web 2.0 (that’s your sign to cringe)!

So whether you’re @cconte, Joining my network!, or sending a message to your best friend, you’re taking the initiative to build a brand and form relationships.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Practicing PR in Troubled Times … Using Communications to Stave Off the Death Spiral

As Henry mentioned in our first company blog post, we chose to launch our company smack dab in the middle of an economic tsunami. With several clients in the financial services sector, we are approaching communications (ours and theirs) with ample research and plenty of special consideration for the current climate.

The financial markets have never been more volatile. Banks, liquidity venues and broker dealers are all starting to look alike – and sell the same products and services. Mergers and bankruptcies happen every day and the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its lowest point since 1996 last month.

From a media standpoint, the bar for news has become a pole vault. Each time the North American economy underperforms, it sends spasms through the international markets, making it difficult to get clients in the headlines – unless they are getting indicted!

I am presently working on a whitepaper that examines how financial services firms can effectively practice PR during troubled times. Abandoning your communications campaign is never a good idea – but it’s even more damaging during a bad market. Perception is reality and a company must do everything it can to stay in front of its constituents.

Be thoughtful and proactive in your efforts, make sure you have realistic goals and decide in advance how you are going to measure success. Plan for the long haul and decide how to approach your tactics differently than you would during a boom time. Attend trade shows – but host a hospitality suite with a partner instead of renting out a lavish hotel lobby. Put out press releases - but space them out appropriately and rely heavily on the relationships of your PR counsel for coverage. Conduct analyst tours - but be strategic about who gets an in-person meeting with an expensive flight attached and who gets a phoner.

And, most important of all - don’t expect to see results immediately. It takes a while to steer the Queen Mary with an oar!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Best of Times...The Worst of Times

It’s April of 2009 and our new firm is just three months old. We launched in the midst of the economic tsunami that has taken hold of the U.S. and rapidly spread through world markets. Clever market timing for a new flavored professional services firm?

In fact, based on the reaction we’re receiving, our timing couldn’t be better.

We have entered an era of accelerated change – not just in our nation’s capital but throughout local and state governments, the financial sector, the automotive industry, the environmental and energy markets and more – indeed change is underway on a global basis and its impact on business is growing increasingly profound.

So, in forming a new breed of public relations firm, we didn’t want to simply recreate past business models. We decided to create a firm rooted in helping our clients grow their businesses, generate revenue and build their brands. To help accomplish that, we’ve surrounded ourselves with a network of partner firms and associates with whom we have been conducting business for decades. Top notch independent PR firms on every continent. Sharp copywriters and designers. Seasoned ad and marketing pros. Corporate finance executives. International trade law firms. Professionals focused on emerging companies and markets. The smartest minds in search engine marketing. And more.

We know we can’t do it all, but our extended network provides our clients with access to resources that can help them attain the velocity and support they need, through traditional marketing disciplines and beyond. For our new venture, and with a nod to Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”