Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Few tips...

What are the best practices in public relations? After a semester of learning about blogs and other upcoming social media trends, there is a lot to reflect on. Of course those who have been in the PR business for many years have many tips for young graduates. Here are a few tips that I feel might be helpful.

1)Research- Research pretty much sums up an intern’s job! Research is one of the most important elements in public relations. Although meticulous, research unveils key aspects about a client such as its’ relationship with the public and media and position in the marketplace.

2)Knowledge of business skills-
It is greatly beneficial to know basic business skills in the PR industry. Dan Wool comments, “If you don’t know how business works, and especially, how it makes money, you cannot success in PR”(Valley PR blog). How can you help your client if you don’t understand how their company operates?
For example, the term rate of investment or ROI, is an important concept to understand. In the corporate world companies measure the success of investments based on ROI, the ratio of money gained or lost in an investment. If a company seeks the help of a public relations firm corporate executives will most likely evaluate you and your services based on the ROI.

3)Be in the know-
I can't tell you how many PR professionals have expressed the importance of reading the newspaper. When PR legend Harold Burson spoke at SMU he repeatedly advised us to read the newspaper daily. PR professionals must always be up to date on what is going on, especially if you are involved in issues management. It would be beyond embarrassment if you had to represent a company such as Diamond Pet Foods and had no idea their product was recalled.

4)Monitor your own performance-
Besides counting how many media clips you have, it may be helpful to evaluate your own performance. suggests developing a score system to rank the quality of media coverage and to examine how well key messages were conveyed to target audiences.

5)Build a solid relationship with the media-
A solid relationship with the media is key to running successful PR campaigns. If a favorable relationship is established then there is a greater possibility that your pitch might be chosen over hundreds of others. highlights the importance of a relationship with the media because if you consistently provide well-written stories, then it is likely that the journalist will come back to you again and again.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Look-Look Challenge

Look-Look, an LA based company that researches the trends of today’s youth culture, recently presented a challenge to our class. Look-Look asked us to research the "new entrepreneur," and examine why this is such a trend among today’s college students.

So who is today's "new entrepreneur?"
Of course today's entrepreneur must have the drive,dedication,and the cash flow to turn their "idea" into a successful business opportunity. Some people may have the idea of starting their own business, but have no plan whatsoever. Today's entrepreneur is one step ahead and is raring to bloom.
As a side note, our professor asked us to raise our hands if we wanted to be an entrepreneur. I was among the half of the class who didn't raise their hand. I consider myself an ambitious person, but not down right competitive. For me, I will take pleasure in my structured 8-5 job. So maybe it comes down to more than just having the right qualities.

Why does the new entrepreneur flourish at SMU?
-For one thing, location. Nestled in Highland Park, an extremely affluent neighborhood,SMU exists in a somewhat exclusive bubble.
-SMU is a "can do" city. Dallas Convention and Visitor’s Bureau recently launched a new slogan: “Live Large, Think Big”
Although often characterized as a school for rich kids, it is hard to refute such a stereotype when the student parking garage is filled with BMWs, Mercedes, and Audis.
- a curriculum devoted to entrepreneurs and draws ppl to campus.
SMU is a "can do" city. SMU is known as a school for rich kids.-
SMU established The Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship in 1970 as an addition to the Cox School of Business. Now thirty-seven years later, the institute ranks 5th among the top 100 entrepreneurial schools in the country.

In order to get an accurate insight into the “new entrepreneur” at SMU, I immediately thought of my friend Scott Sumerall. Scott, a 21 year-old junior at SMU, is essentially living the entrepreneurial dream. Yes, I am envious of his red Lexus convertible he drives, but he definitely earned it. Scott started on his own and invested well in real-estate. When I asked Scott why he wanted to be an entrepreneur he replied, “It’s in my blood, I come from a family of entrepreneurs all the way back to my great-grandfather”. Scott says it is the only way he has ever known since no one in his family has worked for someone else- they have all become successful on their own. Scott feels that as an entrepreneur he has the freedom to have creative discretion and control over his own life. Regarding the new entrepreneur trend, Scott believes there is a different shift in attitudes towards work. Our grandparents stayed with a company for decades, but now the instability of corporate America isn’t appealing, comments Summerall. Summerall also addressed how the trend of being an entrepreneur might affect businesses in the future. He proposes it might become saturated- people will work for companies until they come up with their own idea and peace. Perhaps young entrepreneurs should take note of Sumerall’s philosophy: “I look for ways to start an empire and anywhere I can be that touches fun, I go for it!”

Friday, April 6, 2007

YouTube- You Choose '08

Hats off to YouTube for launching the channel "You Choose '08" in early March !! I spoke about YouTube debuting presidential campaign videos in a previous blog entry, but had no clue YouTube would start their own "campaign". Presidential candidates like Barack Obama, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain have all collaborated with YouTube to create their own personal channels for YouTube members. Candidates can post their own videos addressing certain issues and YouTube members have the chance to respond by posting their own video as well. Take caution though, because this is not a free for all for angry voters to post comments.Candidates have complete control over what is posted on their channel;therefore, the cite is strictly professional. I think this is a great idea and explores a new level of personal interaction between voters and potential presidential candidates. Jordan Hoffner,YouTube director of content partnerships,comments,"I think the politicians will be better served by letting the dialogue with the public take over," said Hoffner. "Our users are very smart and savvy and they can see through something if it's not genuine."
So thanks YouTube for giving those who are interested a new way to be a part of the election.

Check it out:

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Stay Tuned

Our class is currenly working on an assignment with Stay tuned- more information to come.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Case Study- Odwalla Inc. E-Coli Outbreak

Most food and beverage manufacturing companies pride themselves on using the finest and freshest ingredients available for their products. However, what happens when a company’s product is blamed for a foodborne illness? In October 30, 1996 an E-coli outbreak was linked to juice produced by the Odwalla Juice Company.
Who is Odwalla?
Odwalla Inc. began twenty years ago when three friends used a $200 hand-juicer to deliver fresh orange juice to local restaurants in San Francisco, California. Now earning $19 million dollars a year in revenue, Odwalla combines science and art to create the freshest products available. Odwalla focuses not only on nourishing the body, but also the mind and soul.

The problem?
Health officials in Washington state confirmed a link between cases of E-coli 0157:H7 and Odwalla apple juice on October 30, 1996. As a result, one child died and at least 60 people became seriously ill after drinking the juice.

What to do?
Odwalla Inc. hired Edelman Public Relations, an independent global PR firm, on October 31, 1996 to help handle the situation. Odwalla appropriatley chose CEO Stephen WIlliamson to act as a liason between the company and the public.
Odwalla tackled the crisis head on with open and honest intentions. Edelman strategically and purposely placed Williamson in the spotlight to show that he was involved in resolving the crisis. Williamson cooperated with the media upfront and expressed sympathy for all those affected by the outbreak. Odwalla's visisble and constant presence in the media and firm commitment to resolve the crisis were effective steps to help restore their credibility.

It was important for Williamson to also address the company internally. Williamson directed daily conference calls with employees to keep them posted on the current situation and to squelch unecessary rumors. William’s action to include the employees in the crisis was a helpful step to unite the company as a whole- they were in this together.
Also, Odwalla used a separate website to post accurate information for the public to monitor the status of the crisis. Essentially, Odwalla did everything they could at the time to handle the crisis the best way they could.

It is evident that Odwalla Inc. had no crisis management plan in place. Crisis management plans are crucial and critical to a company's survival. With such a plan Odwalla could have effectively handeled the situation themselves. Odwalla ignored key prodromes, or warning signs, that indicated their juice was contaminated. Customers had complained previously of falling ill before the mass e-coli outbreak, but Odwalla looked the other way. If Odwalla had paid attention to such warning signs they could have enacted stricter health codes and cleaning protocols. However, the company’s honesty and willingness to take full responsibility for their actions should be praised. Odwalla sucessfully implemented a last minute crisis plan and learned valuable lessons. In a statement to the media Williamson commented, Odwalla has been scarred forever by the mistake that we made in 1996. We don't try to hide that scar. We don't cover it up. We keep it in plain sight to remind us of the tragedy that we must avoid at all costs."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Back to Blogging...

Our class recently met with the Heal magazine team to exchange ideas about the blog. The meeting was very helpful because we gained a better idea of what Heal really wanted for their blog. Perhaps the biggest issue is how we are going to incorporate both magazines-Heal and Cure- into one blog. I feel that it almost might be necessary to create a different blog for each magazine because they focus on opposite ends of the cancer journey. Cure magazine deals with life during cancer; whereas, Heal focuses more on the journey after one beats cancer. Essentially, the blog should cover both aspects of cancer- treatment and survivorship.
How exactly should Heal/Cure target the cancer demographic and physiographic?
The Heal/Cure blog should act as an informational resource but also establish communal relationships among cancer patients and survivors.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Heal Magazine- Launching a Blog for a Cause!

Our Advanced Communications Skills class is in the process of developing a blog for the new Heal magazine. Visit Heal Magazine online-

What is Heal?
Heal, a magazine written for cancer survivors, strives to help patients nurture their mind, body, and spirit as they transition into a period of recovery.

The Blog?
There are so many blogs floating around in the blogosphere- how do you make it stand out? Since this blog is written about cancer the content is sensitive, but it should be welcoming-bright and colorful. If the blog is filled with pages and pages of type it can be overwhelming. The blog of course should contain valuable information- but different than what you can find on a bookshelf.
Blogs connect people. A blog should be a place where people feel free and comfortable to exchange information. Connect cancer survivors to other survivors. Many cancer websites feature encouraging stories or patient profiles. Perhaps if there is a daily profile or a documented online journal written by a recent survivor- there would be a steady traffic to the blog. A daily story would keep bloggers interested and involved- there would be constant traffic to the blog because “fans” would often check for updates. Sally Young, a bone cancer survivor, has an excellent blog ( The blog can promote discussion of past articles found in Heal, book recommendations by staff. Blogs are a GREAT resouce for feedback-know what your readers want to know! Since Heal focuses on the mind, body, and soul, the blog could consist of three main sections.

MIND- How much does the mind influence the body? Can mind and body interventions improve one’s wellbeing? Self-image and cancer.
BODY- getting the body back into a healthy state- exercise, healthy food , self image and cancer.
SOUL-dealing with pain, exploring spirituality.
-An interactive platform that allows experts, not just doctors but health and fitness experts as well, to chat with cancer survivors.

Blogs can host many “fancy” features. Videos are an excellent medium to incorporate on blogs. The blog could feature videos detailing how to make healthy recipes, exercise instructions, yoga, etc- all geared towards healing the mind, body, and soul.
Also- many cancer websites have a disclaimer at the top warning that the information provided should not be subsitited for professional medical advice- see ( don’t know if Heal has any plans to reach out to the local Dallas community since the magazine is based here. The blog could have a local section to alert people of upcoming events- fundraisers, marathons etc. Essentially, survivors could connect person to person and create a meaningful support system.

To be continued