MNPR Blog

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hi Everyone,

I know you have seen this before but the last case study (which had lots of comments) was pulled down due to a client objection but I would really like to continue with these in an attempt to infuse more strategy into the blog. Send me your case studies! These case studies will create an opportunity to showcase:

1) What was your communication challenge.
2) What you did
3) What was the result
4) Finally, get comments, critiques and recommendations for next steps from the blog readers.

To keep this going I would love volunteers - do you have an example you are particularly proud of or a challenge that requires input/suggestions about? Please let me know by sending an email to catherine@kohnstamm.com or comment and leave your contact information.

Thanks!

Pirates and PR

As the music industry struggles to harness the innovations of modern technology, recalcitrant robbers seize valuable digital information through file-sharing. These peg-legged criminals seem to be ignored by the communication professionals that represent the music industry. Pirates should not be underestimated.

The message makers for digital providers of music should pro-actively accept the fact that a large population of the internet-savvy are used to file-sharing and will be reluctant to pay premium prices for something that was previously free. To instill a sense of justice, the industry needs to alter its approach. But while most large music corporations are quick to assess the situation as black and white, some artists realize the disconnect between users and method.

One such artist to realize this is Oxford-based rock band, Radiohead. Previously fulfilling their contractual obligations, they released their latest album, In Rainbows, on-line and 100 percent under their control. They allowed users to download a digital version of their album from their website for whatever price each individual fan saw fit. If someone only wanted to pay 25 cents for the entire album, so be it. If another wanted to pay $100 for the album, more power to them. It was a potentially risky move, enabling the swarms of pirates in cyberspace to confiscate a copy of the album for free and to place the ethical responsibility solely in the hands of the consumer.

The risk proved to be a brilliant PR move, as not only word got out that Radiohead was sticking it to the money-grubbing record companies, but they were also making large profits - larger than their cut would have been from a record contract. The album soared to the top of the charts and received an abundance of critical acclaim. Because of In Rainbows' digital strategy, Radiohead's reputation as the people's band quickly spread and further reinforced their place in music history.

Since In Rainbows' October 2007 release, other bands have followed suit, breaking-free of the strictly land-lovers' method of doing business. The rest of the music industry needs to communicate to the pirates that they, too, have a place in legitimacy. If the laggards don't rethink their heavy-handed approach to digital piracy, they may be the ones that ultimately walk the plank.

Matt Barthelemy
JOUR 3279
Blog Assignment

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Day that Printing Died

Take a look at this link, then read Ryan's post below. How does The Capital Gazette going exclusively online impact PR? how does it impact readership? What does the changing of how we get news mean for our jobs? Our clients?

Please comment.

MinnPost Report - Strib circulation falls again; PiPress steady

From today's MinnPost online.
Despite pledges to the contrary, the Star Tribune continues to hemorrhage print readers, according to an Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) report released today. During the same period, PiPress circulation was essentially flat.

The Strib lost 7 percent of subscribers on Sunday and weekdays between March 2007 and March 2008. That means 40,000 fewer people bought the lucrative Sunday paper; the drop was 24,000 on weekdays.
Get the full story here.

What does this mean for the PR industry? Add your comments below.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

CLS Hires McNeil as Senior Principal

Sarah McNeil has been named senior principal and chair of the business-to-business and technology practice groups at public relations firm Carmichael Lynch Spong and will be based out of the Minneapolis office. Besides her role as chair of the two practice groups, McNeil will help lead clients Digital River and Foresters.

McNeil comes to Carmichael Lynch Spong from Fleishman-Hillard where she was a senior vice president leading its Minneapolis / St. Paul Technology and Business-to-Business practice. McNeil brings expertise in brand development, media and analyst relations, corporate reputation, and extensive experience leading international, category-leading accounts. She’s also experienced in global communications programs, including preparing companies for IPOs, acquisitions, divestitures and crisis issues.

With 15 years of experience, some of her former clients have included CommVault, Imation, Fair Isaac, GlassHouse Technologies, Sistina Software, the Association of Storage Networking Professionals, and I-TECH.

"Sarah is a star asset for Carmichael Lynch Spong," says Douglas K. Spong, APR, president of Carmichael Lynch Spong. "Not only does she have an exceptional business-to-business and technology pedigree, but she’s also a proven leader and will contribute greatly to the firm’s continued success. We feel fortunate to have her on our team."

Prior to joining Fleishman-Hillard, McNeil was an account executive at Kathleen Davies & Associates for five years. There she managed media relations programs for companies such as Plasmon IDE, Microboards Technology, Rimage, Taiyo Yuden and Ricoh DMS.

Active in the community, McNeil is the marketing chair for ProjectLead!, an advisory board of Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest . She’s also a MENTTIUM 100 mentor, which is a one-to-one mentoring program designed to accelerate leadership learning for high-performing female talent. In addition, she’s served as an advisor to the Peace Maker Foundation, a Minnesota-based organization that provides Minnesota schools the tools they need to stop violence and is a resource for people interested in creating safe school environments and helping kids reach their full potential.

McNeil has also received several professional honors. In 2006, she received the John D. Graham Award from Fleishman-Hillard, which recognizes employees who excel at public relations while being an exemplary leader and team player. She was chosen from more than the 2,000 employees worldwide and was one of only 14 employees to receive the award. McNeil also received a first place award in the category of “Investigative Reporting” from the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest.

McNeil received her bachelor of science degree in mass communications from Bemidji State University .

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

KOHNSTAMM RELAUNCHES WEBSITE FEATURING PR CAREER SECTION


Kohnstamm Communications relaunched its PR agency website this month (www.kohnstamm.com) featuring a career section with direct connections regarding current position openings, internships, informational interview requests, and a way to inquire about employee benefits for serious tire-kickers. Current position openings include: Account Manager, Account Executive and AAE. The website, which also can be accessed via www.roosterPR.com, provides in-depth background information regarding Kohnstamm’s key business sector strengths.

*Register Today* - Green Lights & Red Flags: FTC/BBB Rules of the Road for Advertiser

On Thursday, April 24th, national advertising experts will gather in Minneapolis for Green Lights & Red Flags: FTC-BBB Rules of the Road for Advertisers, a dynamite advertising event highlighting the ‘how-to’s in complying with federal and state truth-in-advertising standards. Sponsored by the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota and the Federal Trade Commission, Green Lights & Red Flags will feature knowledgeable speakers discussing what you need to know about:

Advertising Law: Understanding the Rules of the Road – The FTC’s approach to ad claims, disclosures, endorsements, and substantiation

Avoiding a Promotion Commotion – Complying with new standards for rebates, gift cards, commercial email, and other promotional practices

The Secure Entrepreneur: Data Security & Consumer Privacy – Best practices to avoid, assess, and address a data security breach

If the Government Comes to Call – An inside look at federal and state consumer protection investigations

When Your Competitor Crosses the Line – Self-regulation or litigation? Weighing the options when a competitor’s practices violate the law

Presenters:
  • Honorable Lori Swanson, Minnesota Attorney General
  • Bert Hubbell, President, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota
  • Lesley Fair Attorney, Federal Trade Commission
  • Jim du Bois, President & CEO, Minnesota Broadcasters Association
  • Charles Weier Corporate Counsel, Best Buy Enterprise Services, Inc
  • Maureen English Carroll Advertising Attorney, ShopNBC
  • C. Steven Baker Director, Midwest Region, Federal Trade Commission
  • Rolando Berrelez, Deputy Director, Midwest Region, Federal Trade Commission
  • Paul Luehr, Managing Director & Deputy General Counsel, Stroz Friedberg, LLC
  • Prentiss Cox, Associate Clinical Professor, University of Minnesota School of Law
  • Karen Olson, Deputy Attorney General, Minnesota Attorney General’s Office
  • Rachel Williams, United States Postal Inspector
  • Steven Wernikoff, Attorney, Midwest Region, Federal Trade Commission
  • Lisa Jemtrud, Trade Practices Manager, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota
  • David Mallen, Associate Director, National Advertising Division, Council of Better Business Bureaus
  • Stephen R. Bergerson, Attorney, Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.

  • Event Partners:
  • Advertising Federation of Minnesota
  • American Association of Advertising Agencies
  • Department of Ethics and Business Law of the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business
  • Greater Metropolitan Auto Dealers Association
  • Metropolitan Independent Business Alliance
  • Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association
  • Minnesota Broadcasters Association
  • Minnesota Journalism Center of the University of Minnesota
  • Sales and Marketing Executives Association of Minneapolis/St. Paul
  • LAST DAY TO REGISTER IS WED., APRIL 23rd
    Click Here to Register

    Friday, April 18, 2008

    CLS hires Ellis as Director of Talent

    Tracey Ellis has been named director of talent at public relations firm Carmichael Lynch Spong and will be based out of the Minneapolis office. Ellis will lead all human resources initiatives and professional development responsibilities.

    Ellis comes to Carmichael Lynch Spong with more than 15 years of experience in human resources management including recruiting, employee relations, performance management and professional development and training. Her professional experience includes a total of five years with The Home Depot in Minneapolis , where she was most recently human resources manager for the Midwest region, and a total of six years with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

    “Tracey has quickly become a key contributor to the growth of Carmichael Lynch Spong, by attracting like-minded achievement addicts and demonstrating a passion for our profession,” says Douglas K. Spong, APR, president. “Her expertise in human resources, paired with her enthusiasm and work ethic, makes Tracey a perfect addition to our leadership team.”

    While at The Home Depot, Ellis managed forecasting, scheduling, and labor management; oversaw compensation guidelines; and managed the recruiting and hiring of associates.

    While at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ellis was the human resources market leader in the Assurance Practice. In this role she was responsible for providing human resources support to 13 partners and 130 staff as well as monthly labor forecasting, preparing annual budgets and managing annual review process. She had previously served as human resources manager for the firm. Ellis also served as human resources manager at Coopers & Lybrand LLP in Minneapolis ; was a recruiter at Pro Staff Accounting/ITMinneapolis; co-owned an export/import start-up business; and also worked in broadcast TV and radio in Georgia .

    Ellis received her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Iowa and she is a member of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Minnesota Workforce Council. She also has participated in the Special Olympics and Relay for Life.

    Job - Haberman & Associates — Web/New Media Design

    Haberman & Associates — Web/New Media Design

    Thursday, April 17, 2008

    Minneapolis business-to-business marketing communications agency Schermer Kuehl has been named one of BtoB Magazine’s 2008 Top Agencies. The 100-agency list was released last week, and can be viewed at BtoBonline.com.

    This is the first time Schermer Kuehl has been included and the agency is one of only three Twin Cities companies on the list. Of them, it is the only privately-held agency. The others are Carlson Marketing and Martin/Williams, both owned by global holding companies.

    “It’s an honor to be part of the BtoB Top Agencies list because it shows we are in rare company locally and nationally,” says Chris Schermer, President, Schermer Kuehl. “BBDO New York, Ogilvy, McCann Erickson, Digitas and other powerhouse agencies are on it, and now we are too. Our inclusion comes from the double-digit growth we had last year as a result of work we won from Best Buy For Business, Compellent and Stratasys. This year, we’ve landed Ceridian LifeWorks, so we’re on a roll.”

    BtoB is a monthly magazine published by Crain Communications for marketing strategists covering all disciplines of business-to-business marketing. For the Top Agency list, published yearly in April, the magazine’s editors examine and rate agencies based on revenue growth, new client acquisition and service expansion. Schermer Kuehl scored high in all three areas.

    Alternative Media Popularity Soars

    Alternative media is starting to make a real presence in America society. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise to many people who are typically bombarded by commercials, billboards and other various advertisements on a daily basis. How many of the hundreds of advertisements that you ran across today did you tune out and how many did you actually remember seeing or hearing?

    According to AdWeek, spending on alternative media rose 22 percent to $73.4 billion in 2007 and is forecasted to grow another 20 percent to more than $88 billion in 2008 despite a sluggish economy, according to new research released Wednesday by PQ Media.

    So what is alternative media and what are some specific examples? Alternative media can be broadly defined as media practices falling outside the mainstream media. In other words, alternative media is often times ignored by mainstream media and is outside the accepted norms of mainstream media.

    Many of the new strategies brand marketers are turning to in hopes of connecting consumers are considered alternative media. PQ classifies alternative media as online/mobile advertising and advertisement and entertainment and digital out of home advertising. In reality alternative media can be found in newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, and on the web.

    For example, the newspaper, The Onion, would fall under the category of alternative media. They use humor as the unusual element to attract their audience. Not all new media falls outside the norms of mainstream media practices are considered alternative media, which is why alternative media practices are so complex and their success is controversial.

    Danielle Pietz
    JOUR 3279
    Blog Assignment

    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    Consumer Education

    Today, when products are introduced into the market they have a slim-to-none chance of actually being “new” and are most likely a spin-off of an already invented product. Technology allows for advancements in product designs and features, but even with these improvements, competition is tough against those with brand recognition.

    For a new product to be successful in today’s market, advertising and marketing are relied on heavily to differentiate the brand from the rest. In order to achieve brand differentiation, advertisers are looking to connect their brand or product with consumers on a personal level. Interactive marketing is one of the trends to achieve brand differentiation and to persuade the buying habits of consumers.

    Experiential marketing is compelling because it is consumer education. Consumers learn about brands by engaging with the products in a practical environment. Experiential marketing reinforces brand recall through a wealth of media and creative approaches. Creativity is the driving force in designing experiential marketing campaigns because it is the route to effectiveness. Developing innovative marketing campaigns to emphasize product attributes is the way to make a break through with an emerging product.

    Toilet paper is one market segment that uses interactive marketing to introduce products into the market. This category relies heavily on interactive marketing because product attributes: ultra soft, extra-strength, quilted, double roll differentiate the different toilet paper brands and strongly influence consumer purchase decisions. Two brands with competitive interactive marketing campaigns are Charmin and Cottonelle.

    For the past two holiday seasons, Charmin offered residents and visitors of New York City a clean and comfortable bathroom experience by creating 20 Charmin restrooms in the heart of time square. The Charmin website is also an interactive experience with song downloads, games and coupons. The Charmin website can be viewed at www.charmin.com.

    Cottonelle’s Website promotes the campaign, “Be Kind to Your Behind.” It allows consumers to customize a personal cottonelle web page and submit a pledge to be kind to their behind. To view cottonelle’s Web site you can go to www.cottonelle.com.

    Take a look at these two sites and you will find something fun and different, and you might even bring home different toilet paper from the store that will either remind you of a comfortable bathroom experience or being kind to your behind.

    Interactive marketing can communicate to the consumer through many approaches. The key ingredient in a successful interactive campaign is creativity. Creativity will result in a compelling and memorable brand experience for the consumer.

    Kelly Magnus
    Jour 3279
    Blog Assignment

    Monday, April 14, 2008

    Atkins names Kohnstamm AOR

    PR Week posted this update on Kohnstamm Communications

    DENVER, CO: Atkins Nutritionals Inc. tapped the Minnesota-based agency, Kohnstamm PR, to serve as its new public relations AOR, after a three-round review.

    The RFP was handled internally and began November 16. Four to five firms were invited to pitch, including CRT Tanaka, Atkins AOR since 2005.

    Starting Feb. 1, Kohnstamm began focusing on the company's rebranding initiative, through media relations, management, and influencer work. Its first campaign will begin in early June.

    Atkins Nutritional filed for bankruptcy in 2005, but returned to the marketplace in 2006. In September 2007, the North Castle Group acquired the controlling interest in the company and began to rebrand.

    According to Collette Heimowitz, Atkins VP of Nutrition Communications and Education, “Now that business has been straightened out, we will reposition [the brand], and with Kohnstamm's help, regain the notoriety and respect we once had,” with repackaging, a new spokesperson, a Web site relaunch, a new diet book, and scientific advisory board of university-affiliated, medical doctors, food scientists, and other experts.
    Kohnstamm has focused on food and nutrition since 1998. In addition, it worked with Atkins CEO Monty Sharma on a Naked Juice account three years ago when he was CEO and EAS of Naked Lunch.

    “We chose Kohnstamm, because we appreciated that they were a smaller firm, with a nutritionist on staff [account director Trish Scorpio worked for the American Dietetic Association],"Heimowitz said. "In particular, they understood the credibility of Atkins, how it has been misaligned, and what needs to be done to regain credibility."

    Josh Kohnstamm, Kohnstamm CEO, said his firm will work to better explain the Atkins message.

    “The new initiatives are really about getting out facts and attributes of what [the brand] is really about," he said. "Eating all bacon and loading up on fatty foods is just not representative, and that will be part of our challenge.

    Networking Site Working PR

    Facebook subscribers are using public relations to their great advantage. The phenomenon that started in 2004 has become one of the largest and most successful networking sites available. With that success comes a new, highly effective way for people to promote themselves as well as organizations, clubs, people, things, etc. Facebook is creating a global tool that is free for its users to position themselves or their preferences to a huge audience. Subscribers may not realize that they are conducting public relations.

    As Ryan, the creator of this blog, told our class, “To be a successful public relations professional, you have to be able to sell yourself." Facebook is a great way for users to do just that. People can use Facebook to sell their story and create their own personal image.

    And there are other alternatives sites to use as well. Since Facebook is not always seen with high regards in the business world, a good alternative is, Linkedin, a professional networking site. Here professionals can stay in touch with former co-workers and position themselves as high achievers and well connected.

    In a world consumed by the Internet, these social networking sites allow you to send your message to a mass audience. People can create groups about anything and everything. For example, fundraising sites such as Free Rice have benefited from the creation of these groups. The Free Rice organization alone has over 500 groups promoting their cause.

    Another example, in 2007, Cadbury reintroduced the Wispa chocolate bar for a limited time due to the groups created on Facebook and other networking sites clamoring for the chocolate bar. See the New York Times article titled, Taste of Victory: Online Outcry Revives a Chocolate Bar for proof.

    Public relation practitioners would be foolish to ignore the power of Facebook and sites like it. As public relations changes so do its tactics and it is important that we stay updated with the latest the Internet has to offer.

    Kiki Millington
    JOUR 3279
    Blog Assignment

    Sunday, April 13, 2008

    The Future of PR

    What is the future of PR? This question looms in the minds of many students and public relations practitioner’s alike. With my upcoming graduation, from the University of Minnesota, I have been thinking about it more and more.

    The industry has come to a turning point, torn between old practices and new ones. However, the question remains where will it go from here? Since the Internet has been the latest phenomenon to affect PR, I started my search for answers here. For my research, I looked to the Internet for answers and noticed there were three reoccurring themes that seemed to resonate.

    First, new tools will merge with old tools. For example, while it is clear that the press release is here to stay, it is also evident that it must adapt. Unless PR wants to become overlooked by the next generation, practitioners must learn to pitch releases to bloggers. Engaging in non-traditional media forms will require practitioners to understand not only the psychographics of their target audience more than ever, but also to know the most effective sites to pitch these releases.

    Second, the definition of PR is expanding. PR has traditionally been described as putting theories and principles to work along with building relationships. However, it is becoming so much more, as we begin to see marketing, advertising, law, and business utilize PR concepts.

    Paul Holmes expresses the third theme in his article, The 21st Century Public Relations Firm, “Simply put, good people are the foundation upon which successful public relations firms are built. In order for PR firms to face rising competition, especially outside their industry, firms must be recruiting the best possible employees. These employees should bring sound judgment and youthful enthusiasm to the team.”

    The answer to my question would appear to be that PR has nowhere to go but up. However, in order to move forward, PR practitioners will have to become more honest and accountable, leaving fewer places for less than satisfactory practitioners to hide. Increasingly, critics and consumers will be looking for a greater alignment between company causes and day-to-day business behavior.

    One of the best articles that I have read on this subject is the article quoted earlier, by Paul Holmes. He takes a very in depth look at where PR has gone wrong, and what needs to change in order to enhance the industry to make it all it can be.

    Marlys Huismann
    JOUR 3279
    Blog Assignment

    Friday, April 11, 2008

    Minnesota Core Training: Inside the Republican National Convention - April 17

    Want to know how to help your organization or clients work with media covering the Republican National Convention?

    Interested in learning how an organization manages PR and communications logistics for such a monumental event?

    Curious about the ethical and legal issues surrounding a politically-driven event such as the Republican National Convention?

    Then, the April Core Training session is for you. No matter your political affiliation, you are likely to come into contact with the Republican National Convention when it is hosted in the Twin Cities on September 1-4, 2008. Join us as panelists discuss what the convention means for the Twin Cities and our local PR industry, what protocols are in place for communications during the convention and details on the media likely to be in town and the story angles they may be pursuing.

    Panel Members:
  • Tom Jollie, senior vice president, Padilla Speer Beardsley and contributor to the “Minneapolis Saint Paul More to Life” Campaign
  • Matt Burns, director of communications and spokesman for the Committee on Arrangements for the 2008 Republican National Convention
  • About the “Minneapolis Saint Paul More to Life” campaign:
    Minneapolis/Saint Paul residents know they live in an extraordinary place, but many people outside the Midwest still think of it as flyover country. A new branding initiative is working to eradicate those misconceptions. Public relations agencies Padilla Speer Beardsley, Tunheim Partners and Weber Shandwick are leading the effort, which aims to dispel myths and introduce the country to the true Minneapolis/Saint Paul: a vibrant, diverse community with strong businesses and abundant cultural opportunities. The More to Life Campaign was instrumental in bringing the 2008 Republican National Convention to the Twin Cities.

    About the Speakers:
    Thomas J. Jollie, APR has more than 20 years of professional experience in public relations and marketing communications and leads Padilla Speer Beardsley’s consumer marketing communications practice. For consumer products and service companies, Tom has planned and completed new product introductions, promotions and ongoing communications programs to internal, trade and consumer audiences.

    Tom is an accredited and active member of PRSA and formerly served as Minnesota Chapter President and Midwest District Director. Tom is currently the director for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund and is active on the Minneapolis St. Paul More to Life Campaign. He received a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of Minnesota.

    Matt Burns serves as Director of Communications and Spokesman for the Committee on Arrangements for the 2008 Republican National Convention. Prior to joining the convention, Burns served as Press Secretary and chief spokesman for the Secretary of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. He has been a member of numerous Presidential Advance teams, including teams that organized President Bush’s visits to New York to commemorate the one-year anniversary of 9/11 and the Gulf Coast region following Hurricane Katrina. Burns previously held several positions in former New York Governor George Pataki’s Administration – and served as Deputy Director for Transportation at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City, where he oversaw all aspects of planning the mass transportation system utilized by convention attendees.

    Details & Registration:


    Price:

    PRSA Member $30
    Nonmember $45
    Student $15

    Registration:
    Register online or contact the PRSA office by April 15th.

    Wednesday, April 09, 2008

    It’s a Small World

    It’s a small world and it just keeps getting smaller. Layoffs in the Twin Cities market and across the country are resulting in sparsely populated newsrooms and reporters are now pulling double or triple duty. It is too soon to tell if the traditional media shrinkage is caused by the economic downturn or by the growing popularity of new media. It is certain, however that if trends continue, public relations will be left in a precarious position.

    The Star Tribune laid-off 58 employees in February, WCCO laid-off eight last month, and the Rake is no longer publishing a print version. At this rate, we could be pitching a skeleton crew in no time. While newsrooms shrink, the news hole has remained the same; and public relations professionals may need to pick up the slack. In order to do so, we must work smarter, faster, and more creatively.

    With the growing news crunch, reporters are less able to conduct in-depth research and to leave their desks to track down a story. How can we help? We should anticipate their need for information and include backgrounders with all press materials. Same goes for television reporters, camera crews cannot be everywhere at once. If we can include B-roll with our pitch, we will help fill in the gaps. We need to go that extra mile to make news stories easy to run. That’s fast PR.

    In addition, to ease the strain, we can be more conscious about having available experts and interview opportunities at all times. We can assess if a satellite media tour makes more sense. And we can always answer our phones if our name is on a press release. That’s smart PR.

    Creative pitches are often rewarded with placements, but as outlets shape-shift (like the Rake) or disappear entirely, a new variety of creatively becomes necessary. The well-worn avenues to the media are no longer a sure thing. Traditional media outlets are evaporating, and new media opportunities keep popping up. We are still playing catch up on how to leverage them. Maybe a step outside our comfort zone of standard protocols and an embrace of new opportunities and approaches may prove fruitful. That’s creative PR.

    Of course none of this is earth shattering or new (these ideas have long been have been kicked around for a while) but as the media landscape continues to change, it is important to stay ahead of the curve.

    Allison Dent
    JOUR 3279
    Blog Assignment

    WEBER SHANDWICK ANNOUNCES EIGHT PROMOTIONS

    The Minneapolis-Saint Paul office of Weber Shandwick today announced the promotion of employees in the financial services, technology, corporate, community & public affairs and interactive and emerging media practice groups.

    Jennifer McFadden was promoted to account group manager in the financial services group. Since joining the agency in 1999, McFadden has been providing public relations counsel and support to financial service organizations, as well as government clients, who are looking to raise public awareness and drive behavior change. McFadden is a superior manager of her teams and consistently delivers high-quality work and client service. In addition, she also serves on Weber Shandwick’s internal public relations committee and North American Financial Services practice. Prior to joining Weber Shandwick, McFadden was an investor relations representative for Lutheran Brotherhood Securities Corporation (now Thrivent Financial for Lutherans). A native of Port Byron, Ill., she earned her bachelor’s degree in English and communication from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

    Nora Hayes has been promoted to account supervisor in the financial services group. Hayes specializes in collateral development, media relations and special event planning for clients in the retirement industry. She is a gifted project manager who brings tremendous organization, client service and counsel to all of her accounts. In addition to her work on client accounts, Hayes leads Weber Shandwick’s pro bono work with a local non-profit legal services organization servicing Minnesota’s immigrant population. She is also currently the treasurer of Minnesota Women in Marketing and Communications. A native of Jackson, Mich., Hayes received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., and holds a certificate in business communications from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.

    Jessi Newman was promoted to senior account executive in the financial services group. Newman provides strategic counsel and project and account management for several clients, driving the development of deliverables and managing teams for financial services organization and government clients. She is a skilled media relations professional with a strong work ethic and exceptional client service. In addition, Newman lends her leadership skills to the agency’s office-wide United Way campaign and Employee Action Group. A native of Orono, Minn., Newman holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a certificate in women’s studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Carolyn Parsons has been promoted to account group manager in the corporate, community & public affairs practice. Parsons provides project management, creative and strategic development and implementation of public relations programs on behalf of several clients. In addition to her impressive client work, Parsons serves as a strong ambassador for Weber Shandwick in the community. She has led pro bono efforts and represents the agency in the current class of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber's Leadership Twin Cities. Within Weber Shandwick, Parsons spearheads In Balance, an employee-focused work-life balance program and served a two-year reign as a member of the agency’s Employee Action Group. A native of Stillwater, Minn., Parsons holds a bachelor's degree in communications from the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn.

    Stephanie Connolly has been promoted to account executive in the corporate community & public affairs practice. Connolly specializes in media relations, public awareness and affairs and tradeshows for her clients. She brings a high level of enthusiasm, creativity and a keen understanding for how to deliver great results to all of her account teams. Connolly also lends her media relations expertise to the agency’s pro bono work with a local non-profit organization providing high quality programs to inner city youth. A native of St. Paul, Minn., Connolly holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and communication from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

    Albert Leung was promoted to account executive in the technology practice. Leung provides project management support and implementation of media outreach programs on behalf of his technology clients. His strong work ethic, exceptional writing skills and calm demeanor have earned Leung distinction among his team members and clients. In addition to his client work, Leung also serves on Weber Shandwick’s internal public relations committee. A native of New Hope, MN, Leung holds a bachelor’s degree in strategic communications with an emphasis in public relations from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minn.

    Josh Purdy has been promoted to account executive in the technology practice. Purdy focuses on writing, analyst relations and tradeshow and media relations for technology organizations. In addition to delivering strong client service, he is a highly successful media relations professional. Purdy is also actively involved in the agency’s Employee Action Group. A native of Ogden, IA, Purdy holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

    Leah Janz was promoted to senior graphic designer in the interactive and emerging media group. Janz designs and produces print materials for clients, including logo designs, event invites and collateral, press kits, brochures, campaign materials, newsletters and signage. Janz’s strong design skills enable her to understand her client’s communication needs and make them stand out from the crowd. A native of Tintah, Minn., Janz holds a bachelor’s degree in graphic design with summa cum laude honors from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minn.

    Tuesday, April 08, 2008

    Damage Control

    The 2008 presidential primary race has introduced a host of new issues facing candidates’ press officers. The Internet and 24-hour news coverage changes the political game each election cycle. Candidates need to be aware of their surroundings and weary of the fact that cameras, reporters, and eyewitnesses are always watching. From Hillary Clinton’s sniper-gate to Barack Obama’s Wright-gate to John McCain’s Iran/al-Qaida-gate, press officers are working overtime just to downplay and deflect each crisis.

    The newest public relations issue has nothing to do with a candidate’s gaffe, but rather a PR strategist’s mistake. While Mark Penn’s departure as the chief strategist to the Clinton camp poses a problem for her campaign in the coming days, it raises important questions for the public relations community. Penn’s exit comes after he was caught on the wrong side of a Colombian trade agreement, one that Clinton is against. Mr. Penn, president of Burson-Marstellar, a worldwide public relations firm and strategist for the Clintons since 1996, was relieved of his position in what was blamed on a “conflict of interest.”

    So what happens to the client/practitioner relationship when a conflict of interest arises from the public relations person? Aren’t they the one who is supposed to know better, especially one that has years and years of experience in counseling clients on similar issues? In a high-profile situation such as Clinton’s, the removal of Penn was appropriate. It would look much worse if she hadn’t removed him from his position. Whether this was a calculated move because of Penn’s unpopularity among other Clinton top aides or really due to Penn’s relationship with the Colombian trade agreement, the public may never know. However, it does introduce ethical implications for PR professionals.

    Is it always appropriate for clients to fire their PR practitioners when conflicts of interest arise? What ethical implications stem from continuing to work with a firm or strategist who is supporting an organization, issue, brand, or idea that another client is against? Does the client lose credibility if they uphold a conflicting relationship? Does the practitioner or firm have a responsibility to disclose conflicts of interest when working with clients?

    These are just a few issues raised from the recent removal of Mark Penn, but similar questions will be asked in the future. Ethical and business consequences are serious issues for clients, and PR professionals should minimize these types of incidents, not initiate them. I would ask the readers of the blog to chime in and provide your thoughts to the students of 3279.

    Tom Sellwood
    JOUR 3279
    Blog Assignment

    Weber to launch online health and wellness program for Blue Cross of Idaho

    The Minneapolis-St. Paul office of Weber Shandwick has been tapped by Blue Cross of Idaho to help launch its new Web-based health and well-being program, Well Connected. The new program provides members with various personal health tools including a cost of care estimate, coverage advisor to compare plans and coverage, as well as an interactive personal health assessment tool that provides members with personalized recommendations on leading a healthier lifestyle.

    Weber Shandwick will develop targeted communication materials for Blue Cross’s key audiences to help promote the new program and drive participation among members and employers. The package of supporting materials includes an array of tools for salespeople and a program introduction kit for human resources personnel to help implement the program, which includes posters, brochures and best practices.

    "We're proud to help Blue Cross of Idaho launch this important new initiative," said Sara Gavin, president of Weber Shandwick's Minneapolis-St. Paul office. “With the rising costs of health care, we strongly believe in the work that Blue Cross is doing to empower people to take charge of their health.”

    Isabel of Castile: Practicing Public Relations in Medieval Spain

    As a news consuming American, I am currently confronted with the question “are we ready for a female president?” on a daily basis. I would like to live in an enlightened society where gender is a nonissue, but there is no denying that women face unfair biologically-induced obstacles beyond their political abilities.

    Though this posed question has yet to be answered in our modern-day democratic country, I cannot help but applaud Queen Isabel of Castile’s ability to overcome the misogynistic monarchical system of the medieval Iberian Peninsula, which she did with the help of advisors and the bold strategic communication plan, long before the term “public relations” was coined.

    The primitive campaign she implemented included:
  • The meticulously meditative creation of the image she wished to portray, which balanced the prowess of a ruler with ladylike characteristics in a non-threatening manner
  • Propaganda in the form of poetry by influential figures of the time, which sometimes went as far as drawing parallels between the Queen and the Virgin Mary
  • Diverting focus from her “weaknesses” to others she believed were plaguing the kingdom’s progression, which is evident in her Catholic conquests
  • "By crafting an image of her reign that frequently capitalized on the presumed shortcomings of the preceding rule of her half-brother, Isabel’s gender and sexuality and the potential redemptive power of each of these categories were constantly being redefined and refashioned," Lehfeldt writes.

    Ashley Paguyo
    JOUR 3279
    Blog Assignment

    Job - Strother Communications Group - PR Intern

    Strother Communications Group - PR Intern

    Monday, April 07, 2008

    Word-of-Mouth Marketing or Stealth Marketing?

    It is becoming increasingly difficult for the public to distinguish between word-of-mouth marketing and the deceptive communication attempts known as stealth marketing. Public relation professionals are able to draw clear distinctions between the two areas. Therefore, as an ethical standard, it’s the professional’s job to be transparent about their communication practices and to not deceive consumers.

    We see examples of companies tarnishing PR through their shady tactics all too often today. One case study entails "Target Rounders" who were told to keep their employment by Target Brands, Inc. “a secret” while promoting the Target brand on Facebook. Another includes Wal-Mart brand zealots who decided to blog about their adventures “Wal-Marting Across America”, yet failed to disclose that they were, in reality, hired by Wal-Mart’s PR firm. And Proctor & Gamble’s buzz marketing division, known as Tremor , who assembled more than 250,000 teens to “push products on friends and family.” These are all cases of stealth marketing.

    In order for PR firms to distinguish themselves from those participating in stealth marketing there is the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). According to an article from PRWeek, major PR firms are among the biggest backer of WOMMA and its attempts to codify ethical standards. The article further says that firms need to steer clients in a healthy direction. WOMMA’s mission is to promote and improve word of mouth marketing. They state, “We stand against shrill and undercover marketing, whereby people are paid to make recommendations without disclosing their relationship to the marketer.”

    Word-of-mouth is important in an era where people tune out marketing. Word of mouth communication from credible sources leads to beneficial and trusted relationships.


    Mary Hughitt
    JOUR 3279
    Blog Assignment

    Wednesday, April 02, 2008

    PR Firms and the Blogosphere

    New types of media are making news reporting change the way news is delivered. People are looking for other ways to get their news. These include turning to blogs to get their news. In the PR world, some firms are creating blogs on their Web site to inform people on the happenings within their industry. These blogs will bring the information straight from the firm to the consumer. Companies of all kinds are looking for way to reach the media-saturated consumer. Blogs are a good way to achieve this, however it may not be the ideal approach for each company.

    While it is an innovative way to produce information, and some firms are taking this approach, there are still very few blogs being written about their particular industry. According to Ketchum PR, recent estimates suggest that only 4 percent of America's largest companies have outward facing blogs and only 10 percent of small businesses have an industry-related blog.

    One of Minnesota’s biggest PR firms has created a blog on their Web site to connect with their audience and provide information that is accurate and timely. Padilla Speer Beardsley is a national PR firm that uses this new media. This firm prides themselves on being creative and inventive. The use of a blog gives the consumer a snippet of information with links embedded for more information. This provides a quick taste of what is going on within the organization or extended information on a certain topic related to public relations. I encourage people to go to www.psbpr.com and take a look.

    Cristina Reginato
    JOUR 3279
    Blog Assignment