5 Ways Press Release Writers Can Offer More Content & Guidance to Readers & Journalists
As brands strategize about how best to use social media to talk to consumers, they’re also increasingly talking to each other. The hope — whether the banter is friendly or catty — is to capture some recognition for being clever and quick, all the better to get attention and followers on platforms like Twitter.
360i’s Sarah Hofstetter
The practice is not yet widespread, largely because of concerns from marketers’ legal departments. But some are finding ways to navigate that challenge. Charmin, for example, tweets primarily at other Procter & Gamblebrands to keep things in the family, while AMC Theatres and Oreo have tweeted at each other because they’re represented by the same digital agency,360i.
And instances of un-orchestrated, organic social media exchanges have been increasing in the last year or two, 360i President Sarah Hofstetter said. In the case of client Oreo’s exchange with Kit-Kat, the chocolate bar brand started things and Oreo chose to respond.
“A lot of it is about striking the right match,” she said. “The more that brands see others doing it well, the more comfortable they are.”
Some marketers are most at ease responding after another brand initiates contact. That’s been the case with Cap’n Crunch, and the strategy has helped it avoid coming off as grasping and trying to ride on someone else’s coattails, according to community manager Andrew Cunningham at digital agency Huge. “‘Only respond when approached’ has worked to their benefit because we never look desperate,” he said.
Another important tip is to do some homework before jumping into a conversation. It’s unwise to respond to one tweet without looking to see if it was part of a bigger thread that alters the meaning of it, Mr. Cunningham pointed out. In that case, a brand might come off as too aggressive. “One tweet might not be reflective of what you’re replying to,” he said.
Check out our list of brands that engage in banter below.
1. KFC and Cap’n Crunch. Colonel Sanders and Cap’n Crunch acted the parts of grumpy old men when KFC responded to a Twitter user and called the captain a “has been.” Cap’n Crunch took umbrage at that.
Huge’s Mr. Cunningham expanded on the strategy: “KFC came at us pretty hard, and at that point we had full license to zing them back.”
2. Taco Bell and Old Spice. Taco Bell is famously responsive — and often cheeky — on social media. In a May 2012 reply to Old Spice — which had tweeted “Why is it that ‘fire sauce’ isn’t made with any real fire? Seems like false advertising” — the fast feeder had an in-kind response. Red Bull also jumped in, tweeting, “No bull: the original Energy Drink is not made of wiiings.”
3. Bud Light Platinum and Samsung. Bud Light Platinum gave a shout-out to Samsung, linking to a Mashable story on the September release of the hardware maker’s smart watch, the Galaxy Gear.
4. Oreo and AMC. Two 360i clients, Oreo and AMC Theatres, got into a fake beef last September when the cookie brand tweeted the question of whether people had ever brought Oreos to a movie theater. AMC responded with faked outrage, which set the stage for a back and forth.
5. Rice Krispies and Bounty. Kellogg‘s-owned Rice Krispies mentioned P&G’s Bounty last week in a tweet with a picture of a little girl in a high chair, slathered in her favorite cereal. Bounty responded with an assurance that “we’ve always got your messes covered!”
6. Polar and Smirnoff. After Polar Beverages invited it (among other vodka brands) to a hangout with Polar Seltzer in February, Smirnoff responded in kind with a virtual RSVP. It resulted in Smirnoff declaring that they’d collectively invented a new drink: Vanilla Chiller (made with root-beer flavored vodka and vanilla seltzer).
7. Kit-Kat and Oreo. Oreo has been part of a few brand interchanges on Twitter, but this one in March was initiated by Kit-Kat. The chocolate bar challenged the chocolate cookie to a game of tic-tac-toe with a specific fan’s affections at stake.
8. Oreo and Honda. Honda is the most recent brand to strike up a conversation with Oreo. It posted a Vine video earlier this month showing a white SUV sandwiched by two black ones in the genre of an Oreo cookie. The cars vanish one at a time.
9. Tide and Charmin. Charmin is prolific on Twitter — often venturing to tweet about the seemingly random, like the sci-fi fantasy convention Dragon Con — and sometimes it also tweets shout-outs to P&G siblings. It sent congratulations to Tide for its Super Bowl TV spot and recently tweeted a link to a story about a bathroom for canines to Iams.
“I was wondering what the best degree is to go into public relations? Should I study communications? Is a degree required for public relations?”
[RELATED: Learn to write smarter at our PR Writers Summit.]
As you can imagine, there was a rift between those who feel it is best to jump right into the trenches and work your way up and those who advised taking the time to get a formal education and training.
I fall into the latter camp for the following reasons:
The times they are a-changin’
Back in the olden days—you know, before the Internet, personal computers, and even fax machines—bright-eyed, bushy-tailed kids could jump headfirst into the industry and work their way to the top. Keep in mind that a college degree wasn’t necessary to make your way in the world only a couple of decades ago. Formal public relations programs were only broadly adopted by most schools of communications in the past 15 to 25 years.
So, yes, many pioneers in the field did not need a degree in public relations to be successful. I tip my hat to those veterans. It is because of those trailblazers that many colleges and universities have excellent degree programs that include faculty who were initially among the ranks of degreeless practitioners.
The truth is that you often need a degree in public relations (or a related field) in order to even get past most automated application systems today. Most employers won’t consider your candidacy without your meeting their minimum requirements for the job.
With so many great public relations degree programs available throughout the country, why wouldn’t you just go for it and get your degree anyway? This brings me to my next point.
It’s more than just a degree
A degree in public relations is more than just a slip of paper that can help you get past automated application systems. If you choose the right program, you will walk away with a strong foundation based in theory and a thorough knowledge of public relations practice fundamentals. Most important, you will be exposed to all aspects of public relations before being cast out into the cruel, harsh world. (This broad exposure early on will make you a better practitioner.)
The optimal time to get your sea legs in the industry is to do it while in school. You will get countless hours of writing practice, be exposed to numerous internship and networking opportunities, and most certainly experience personal and professional growth. If you are going to make mistakes, it’s better to do it surrounded by the comfort and constructive support of your school.
Don’t worry, you will get the opportunity to commit blunders on the job, because trial and error really is what this industry is all about, but you are expected to walk into an entry-level job in the field already well versed in the public relations skill set. (I don’t even take on interns who can’t demonstrate a basic PR skill set.) Once you land that entry-level job, the learning curve is already steep enough.
My advice is to do yourself a favor and get a degree. Starting behind the curve is just that—starting behind a large pool of applicants who are immediately more qualified than you because they have a degree.
Only you can lead the way
Another reason to get a degree in public relations if you want to seriously practice in the field is because most organizational leaders do not understand public relations. This is a constant battle that you need to be prepared to take on for the rest of your career. (Public relations is not simply media relations.)
I’m not knocking senior managers here. Public relations is a complex and multilayered craft. Sometimes it is even hard for me to explain the full scope of the field to other people who are not practitioners. An organization that is not using all aspects of the public relations machine in its strategic communications strategy is not realizing its potential.
Let’s be honest: You are the practitioner. It is your job to counsel on all communications for your organization. If you don’t even know what it is that you are supposed to be doing or could be doing, you are doing a disservice to your organization.
Now, I realize that may be a little harsh, but we live in a cruel, harsh world.
Whether you start with or without a degree, you are going to have to work very hard to make your way in the industry. The only difference is that starting with a degree gives you a head start. A degree in public relations is like the Yoshi to your Mario. It gets you where you are going faster and proactively helps protect you along the way. I choose Yoshi.
If I haven’t already made it clear by now, go ahead and get that degree in public relations. Where do you fall in this debate?
Staci Harvatin is the digital marketing manager for the Saint Louis Science Center, a free science museum designed to make science fun through informal, interactive learning experiences. She also writes a blog, The Communicator’s Quick Tip Guide, in collaboration with Isabel Pastrana, vice president of Account Services at Tripp Co. Creative where a version of this story first appeared.
First of all, not every difficult person is the same. There are tyrants, curmudgeons, aggressors, the viciously competitive, and control freaks. A psychologist can outline how each beast might be tamed, but on a day-to-day basis, one can adopt a general approach that’s the same. It’s quite a simple strategy, actually, based on asking three questions.
1. Can I change the situation?
2. Do I have to put up with it instead?
3. Should I just walk away?
When you ask these questions in a rational frame of mind, you will be able to formulate a workable approach that is consistent and effective. Most people are prisoners of inconsistency. Think about the most difficult person in your life and how you have reacted to them over time. You’ll probably find that you sometimes put up with them, sometimes try to get them to change, and other times simply want to stay away. In other words, three tactics have merged in a messy way. You wind up sending mixed messages, and that’s never effective.
So let’s consider each of the three questions in turn.
1. Can I change the situation?
Not all difficult people are beyond change, even though they are stubborn and stuck in their behavior. But there’s a cardinal rule here that can’t be ignored. No one changes unless he wants to. Difficult people rarely want to. If you have a close rapport with the person, you might find a moment when you can sit down and have a candid discussion about the things that frustrate you. But be prepared with an exit strategy, because if your difficult person winds up resenting you for poking your nose where it doesn’t belong, trying to effect change can seriously backfire.
Your best chance of creating change occurs if the following things are present.
– You have a personal connection with the person.
– You have earned his respect.
– You’ve discreetly tested the waters and found her a bit open to change.
– You’ve received signals that he wants to change.
– You aren’t afraid or intimidated.
– The two of you are fairly equal in power. If the difficult person is in a dominant position, such as being your boss, your status is too imbalanced.
A final caveat. Difficult people aren’t going to change just to make you feel better. The worst chance of getting someone else to change occurs when you’re so angry, frustrated, and fed up that you lose your composure and demand change.
2. Do I have to put up with it instead?
When you can’t change a situation, only two options remain, either put up with it or walk away. Most of us aren’t very effective in getting someone else to change, so we adapt in various ways. We are experts at putting up with things. Adaptation isn’t bad per se; social life depends upon getting along with one another. It’s a reasonable assumption that if you have difficult people in your life right now – and who doesn’t? – you’ve learned to adapt. The real question is whether you are coping in a healthy or unhealthy way.
Look at the following lists and honestly ask yourself how well you are putting up with your difficult person.
– I keep quiet and let them have their way. It’s not worth fighting over.
– I complain behind their backs.
– I shut down emotionally.
– I don’t say what I really mean half the time, for fear of getting into trouble or losing control.
– I subtly signal my disapproval.
– I engage in endless arguments that no one wins.
– I have symptoms of stress (headache, knots in the stomach, insomnia, depression, and anxiety) but have decided to grin and bear it.
– I know i want to get out of this situation, but I keep convincing myself that I have to stick it out.
– I indulge in fantasies of revenge.
– I assess what works best for me and avoid what doesn’t.
– I approach the difficult person as rationally as possible.
– I don’t get into emotional drama with them.
– I make sure I am respected by them. I keep my dignity.
– I can see the insecurity that lies beneath the surface of their bad behavior.
– I don’t dwell on their behavior. I don’t complain behind their backs or lose sleep.
– I keep away from anyone who can’t handle the situation, the perpetual complainers, gossips, and connivers.
– My interaction with the difficult person has no hidden agenda, like revenge. We are here for mutual benefit, not psychodrama.
– I know I can walk away whenever I have to, so I don’t feel trapped.
– I can laugh behind this person’s back. I’m not intimidated or afraid.
– I feel genuine respect and admiration for what’s good in this person.
If your approach contains too many unhealthy ingredients, you shouldn’t stick around. You’re just rationalizing a hopeless situation. Your relationship with your difficult person isn’t productive for either of you.
3. Should I just walk away?
Difficult people generally wind up alone, embattled, and bitter. They create too much stress, and one by one, everyone in their lives walks away. But it can take an agonizingly long time to make this decision. The problem is attachment. The abused wife who can’t leave her violent husband, the worker who is afraid he can’t find another job, the underling who serves as a doormat for his boss – in almost every instance their reason for staying is emotional. Life isn’t meant to be clinically rational. Emotions are a rich part of our lives, and it’s mature to take the bitter with the sweet – up to a point.
Too many people stick around when they shouldn’t. The main exceptions are competitive types, who can’t bear to be dominated or made to look bad. They instinctively run away from situations that hurt their self-image. The other main personality types – dependent and controlling – will put up with a bad situation for a long time, far beyond what’s healthy. The point, in practical terms, is that you can’t wait until you’ve resolved all your issues with a difficult spouse, boss, boyfriend, buddy, colleague, or employee. Vacillation doesn’t make you a better or nicer person. You are treading water, hoping that the dreaded day will never come when you have to sever ties. The thought of separation causes you anxiety.
But as anxious as you feel, sometimes a rupture is the healthiest thing you can do. That’s the case if you have honestly confronted questions 1 and 2. If you know the difficult person isn’t going to change, and if you’ve examined the unhealthy and healthy choices involved in putting up with them, you have a good foundation for making the right choice: Do I stay or do I walk? I’m not promising that your decision will feel nice. It probably won’t. But it will be the right decision, the kind you will be able to look back on with a sigh of relief and recognition that moving on was healthy and productive.
MIAMI | When the bell rang Aug. 19 for the start of classes at Archbishop Curley Notre Dame Prep, it also marked a moment in history: the start of the school’s 60th year. Back in 1953, students carried heavy textbooks and used typewriters. Now students carry iPads with ETexts stored inside.
“We are excited to celebrate our diamond anniversary,” said Douglas Romanik, ACND’s principal. “Our school has endured and flourished long past the merger of Notre Dame and Archbishop Curley. And, with the rapid growth of Miami’s urban core, we are happy to be part of a community that focuses not just on residential and commercial development, but also on culture, academics, and lifestyle amenities.”
From the founding of Archbishop Curley High School and Notre Dame Academy in the 1953-54 school year and through their merger in 1981, the now 6 to 12-grade school has been enriched by the educational traditions and charism of the priests of the Archdiocese of St. Augustine and Miami; Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; Sisters of St. Joseph; Brothers of Holy Cross; and Congregation of Christian Brothers. In 2012, ACND welcomed , Romanik, a graduate of the school’s class of 1983, as its first lay principal.
“Our motto this year is: faith,family, excellence,” said Romanik. “Whether it’s Food Truck Knights, the Hall of Fame Gala, or Heritage Day, our graduates continue to return home. We are family.”