Client Blog: Green Remodeling Expert Lands National Awards

National Association of Home Builders Honors Philip Beere, Green Street Development

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) named Philip Beere of Green Street Development as the “Green Building Remodeler Advocate of the Year,” and named one of his company’s residential remodel projects, 150 West Elm in Phoenix, as “Remodel Project of the Year.” The association honored Beere with these two prestigious awards at the 12th Annual NAHB National Green Building Conference in Raleigh, N.C on earlier this month.

“It is truly an honor to be recognized by NAHB with these awards,” Beere said.  “It was a privilege to be nominated along side many national leaders in green building and sustainability; together, we all make an impact through our work, both in our communities and for the greater good of the entire nation.” [Read more…]

Client Blog: GlobalTranz Success Creating Jobs

Transportation firm founded by 24-year-old soars to $80 million in annual revenue

GlobalTranz, a Phoenix-based logistics management firm which specializes in carrier, supply chain and warehouse management has seen tremendous growth since its inception; the company announced expansion plans that will almost double its Arizona workforce with some 35 new positions at its Phoenix headquarters and more than 75 positions in Prescott, where the company’s customer service call center is located.  These new positions include call center management, customer service, sales, accounting and freight brokerage with average starting salaries from $50-75,000 per year.  GlobalTranz is also hiring at its regional offices in Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles.  [Read more…]

Nielsen; Facebook and Twitter Post Large Year over Year Gains in Unique Users

According to a report released by Nielsen today, the total time spent on social networking sites by users worldwide grew more than 100% over the past year, as Facebook and Twitter posted massive gains in unique users.
Traffic to was up 69% year-over-year through March, while Twitter saw a 45% increase in site traffic during the period.

Globally, the total minutes spent on social networks monthly saw a more than 100% gain over the same time last year, driving the average time per person spent on social networks to over six hours per month.

View the report at

Dear U.S. Airways: WTF?!?! Epic PR fail

Whoever manages email marketing at U.S. Airways must have been asleep on the floor next to that air traffic controller.

I fly U.S. Airways almost exclusively because I like to support my “hometown” airline. For the past several years I’ve participated in the airline’s Dividend Miles, a frequent flyer rewards program. I was delighted to get this email from U.S. Airways on April 4 with the subject “They’re waiting in your account…”


YES! How cool, I thought. I do love reward travel. Sure 1,000 miles is not a lot, but it was a nice gesture that made me feel happy about supporting my hometown airline and participating in the program. I considered it an excellent customer relations strategy and I told several people about it. But much to surprise, confusion and utter disappointment, I got this email from U.S. Airways today with the subject line “Oops” (yes really, that was the subject line).  

REALLY, U.S. Airways? I mean REALLY?!?! Everyody makes mistakes – I get that. What’s the cost of this mistake and subsequent horrible mishandling? The cost of my business – and it would appear others feel the same way.

I’ve always been loyal, even with the escalation of various fees (and cuts to service) over the past few years – I’ve spent thousands of dollars on U.S. Airways. I have the U.S. Airways Visa card and use it frequently so I can earn miles. I now welcome suggestions for a new airline loyalty program.

U.S. Airways should have accepted the error and kept the miles in the accounts of those affected – especially considering it went to loyal customers (participants in Dividend Miles). It takes at least 12,500 miles to purchase a one-way ticket, so 1,000 bonus miles is no big deal; I find it hard to believe they would incur any significant financial losses by honoring the original email without any notification there had been an error. I called the airline asking for an explanation but customer service agents in the Dividend Miles departent didn’t have a clue as to what I was talking about. I also contacted the PR department asking for an explanation but did not get a response.

I’ve decided to end my participation in the program and choose another airline for all future travel because apparently, U.S. Airways doesn’t want to see me happy (as they lead me to believe in the first email). This is an epic FAIL and example of bad P.R. in today’s social media age.

You lost me at “oops” – some advice for U.S. Airways
Lesson 1: Have a system of pre-release reviews in place if you are sending correspondence to thousands of customers. Anything going out en mass over email should be given as much importance as the CEO being quoted in the New York Times.

Lesson 2: If somebody screws up big time, eat it internally and don’t broadcast to the world that somebody in your marketing department has sh*%t for brains.

Lesson 3: When sending an email en mass to soon-to-be-pissed-off loyal customers, don’t try to be cute in the email subject line. “Oops” made me believe you didn’t really care that you screwed up.

Lesson 4: Hire people with competence in customer perceptions.

U.S. Airways 1000 mile screwup

Seton Hill University to give a new Apple iPad to every student

Seton Hill University wants to give students the best in technology and collaborative learning tools so they will be uniquely suited to whatever careers they choose.  As part of the university’s Griffin Technology Advantage program, every full-time, undergraduate and graduate student will receive an Apple iPad, starting in the Fall semester of 2010.

[Read more…]

LivingSocial’s ‘Pick Your Five’ Surges On Facebook

 LivingSocial, the social discovery tool for reviewing, sharing and organizing favorite things, today announced its new “Pick Your Five” feature, a viral phenomenon that has soared at a rate of up to 150,000 new users per hour, with more than 6 million new users creating 9 million lists in the first week since launching on Facebook.

[Read more…]

Join Us in Celebrating a New Pet Adoption Center & Boutique

The Arizona Humane Society (AHS) has a fashionable new way to find animals a loving home, thanks to the Westcor Corporation. Petique, a new adoption center and pet boutique at the Biltmore Fashion Park, utilizes an empty retail space provided rent-free by Westcor and a community celebration is being planned for this Saturday, March 20, from Noon – 2:00 p.m. at the Biltmore Fashion Park.  A book signing by animal artist Ron Burns is planned along with the opportunity to meet special guest Asher, a young pit bull mix who lost his leg and was given a second chance at life, thanks to the AHS and its Second Chance Animal Hospital™.

Asher’s heartwarming story is the perfect example of the important work that AHS is doing; proceeds will go to support their Second Chance Animal Hospital, which saved Asher and found him a loving new home.  Burns will also be there to unveil his painting of Asher and judge an animal art contest for youth from Starshine Academy.  This event will have great visuals with animals, kids and artwork and AHS’ Emergency Animal Medical Technicians™ will be on hand to greet visitors.

More Americans Turn To Internet For News

The overwhelming majority of Americans (92%) use multiple platforms to get their daily news, according to a new survey conducted jointly by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The internet is now the third most-popular news platform, behind local and national television news and ahead of national print newspapers, local print newspapers and radio. Getting news online fits into a broad pattern of news consumption by Americans; six in ten (59%) get news from a combination of online and offline sources on a typical day. [Read more…]

Social media viewed as a relevant part of journalistic research, study reveals

Poll Finds 89% Use Blogs, 65% Use Social Networking Sites, and 52% Use Microblogging Sites — but Reliability is a Major Concern

A national survey conducted by Cision and Don Bates of The George Washington University’s Master’s Degree Program in Strategic Public Relations found that an overwhelming majority of reporters and editors now depend on social media sources when researching their stories. Among the journalists surveyed, 89% said they turn to blogs for story research, 65% to social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and 52% to microblogging services such as Twitter. The survey also found that 61% use Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia.

[Read more…]

What Happens to Your Facebook if You Die?

This blog was written and posted online for client Nagle Law Group. Resulting story pitch and media pickup generated multiple TV segments across the country.

Including your “digital assets” in estate planning is vital in today’s social media age.

A recent study shows that more than half of Americans are on Facebook – chances are that includes you or somebody in your family. It is estimated that some 375,000 U.S. Facebook users will pass away this year; a number that will continue to rise as total membership continues to grow. Have you ever thought about what happens to your Facebook profile if something happens to you? Estate planning attorneys are now including instructions for Facebook and Twitter (and other digital assets) in estate plans. For example, when you pass away a family member must notify Facebook to either remove the profile or leave it up so people can memorialize you on your ‘wall’ (Facebook has created this form for loved ones to notify them of a user’s death

But beyond Facebook, it is important to include digital assets in your estate plans to prevent identity thieves from using your personal information after your death. Unfortunately, Arizona is one of the leading states for identity theft.  

Suggestions from Nagle Law Group’s estate planning attorneys:

Designate the person responsible for managing your digital identity in your Will and let them know what your wishes are if something happens to you. This person may or may not be the personal representative designated in the Will. If it is not, the Will should specifically provide that another person has such authority and you might consider granting a limited power of attorney. In any event, the Will should address these types of items because the law has not caught up with technology in terms of predetermined rules. Digital information is not clear in terms of what type of asset (financial, intangible, etc.) or if it even is an asset that would be recognized under the laws of intestacy. Therefore, without addressing these issues in the Will and possibly with an additional written set of directions outside of the Will, these accounts may languish and a personal representative may struggle getting cooperation from the company maintaining the account.

Make some kind of file, whether it’s on a Flash drive, or in an actual physical notebook, with logins / passwords, accounts, etc. Keep it updated and stored securely, and make sure somebody (spouse/partner, loved one, sibling, etc.) knows where you keep it. There are some password storage applications you can use to keep all passwords in one secure place; this is also important so that people don’t steal your identity after your death. A person may want to differentiate between different types of accounts and who is responsible. For example, you may designate one person with authority to contact Facebook, to view personal email to notify friends and colleagues of your passing, and still have yet another person acting as the personal representative administering online financial accounts. Note that it is critically important to provide a list of all accounts (such as a Scottrade or TD Ameritrade account) to the personal representative since a person may own stocks or other financial assets and all communications are online (such as monthly statements); without a list and/or email access, the personal representative might never know about them.

Make sure to include your email password(s) in your file so that your designated person can access your email and turn off accounts. Regularly “clean out” your email rather than storing unimportant messages indefinitely; there is no need to keep 10 years worth of email messages. Create folders for email messages that are important and organize your email account with those.

Make some provision in the Will for disposition of digital assets such as photos. Unlike traditional photo albums, digital photos may be provided to more than one person, so designate all the appropriate recipients. If you decide you want your Facebook profile to remain as a memorial, designate what photo you want used. This might sound morbid, but what if something happened to you and the last profile photo you used was something silly or “just for fun?” Designate which profile photo you prefer to be used.

Blogs and personal websites. If the person maintains a blog, a trusted person should be authorized to not only close down the blog, but also process and/or maintain the intellectual property of the blog. For example, there might be copyrightable material that should be used or maintained in a particular manner for the benefit of the estate.

Planning for the future of your loved ones has become especially important given our current economic climate. Establishing a clear plan for the distribution of your assets (including your digital assets, like Facebook) and planning for your care in the event that you become incapacitated, protects your property, your health and your family members.

Facebook COO Sandberg nominated to Disney board

The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors has nominated Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., to be a new independent director, effective upon her election at the Company’s next annual meeting.

[Read more…]

More Women Engaging Social Media, Prefer Facebook

Among Women, Facebook Dominates and Twitter is Growing Rapidly; But Study Reveals Important Differences in Social Network Usage

Women have truly integrated social media into every part of their lives, from friends and family, to networking, to shopping. SheSpeaks today announced the findings of a new study, revealing 86% of women are now using popular social networks, a 48% increase compared to one year ago. In addition, social networks including Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, have emerged as key drivers of purchase intent among women, with one-half (50%) of social media users reporting they have purchased products because of information on social networking sites, and 40% reporting they have used coupon codes found on social networks.

The second annual Social Media Study of the national SheSpeaks membership, yielding more than 1,500 responses, revealed the most dramatic increase in social media use was among women 50+ years of age, whose participation grew from 31% in 2008 to 70% in 2009. Social media participation was up across all age groups this year, with participation among younger women up 10% compared to 2008. In addition, more women are frequently logging into social networking sites since 2008, with 36% more women reporting they log in at least once per day (73% vs. 53%).

“Last year our members were going online primarily to research purchases, but now they are looking to social media to help them research, guide and facilitate every kind of transaction, from social exchanges to purchases,” said Aliza Freud, Founder and CEO of SheSpeaks. “Women have become more comfortable using social media, and for marketers, the overall growth and habitual use of social media represents opportunities to reach and engage women of all ages, and influence their purchase decisions.”

Facebook has dominated social media this year with 95% of those women who use social networks on Facebook, up 46% from one year ago. MySpace participation declined over the last year (63% to 42%), while nearly 40% of the women surveyed reported they have Twitter accounts. Although many women use both Facebook and Twitter, an astounding 80% prefer Facebook. In fact, 25% of those surveyed abandoned Twitter after creating their accounts, while Facebook use only declined 7% for women after creating Twitter accounts. Facebook users also reported they are two times more likely to log in daily (72%), compared to Twitter users (36%).

 “Although Facebook is currently more popular than Twitter among women, they each share a purpose in women’s lives,” said Freud. “Facebook serves women’s need to interact with friends and share photos, while Twitter has become a tool that is primarily used for professional networking and learning about up-to-the-minute news, promotions and deals.”

The study also found online video has grown in popularity over the last year. Almost 40% of the women surveyed reported they frequently watch video and TV content online, and 85% say they watch it frequently or sometimes. A separate poll of SheSpeaks members found that clips from news and TV programming were the most commonly watched type of online video in the prior week (68%), followed by videos that are forwarded (49%), full news and TV programs (40%), and videos posted by friends (40%). Entertaining advertisements were the least popular type of video, but were still watched by one-third of women within the last week.

“Our members are spending more time watching video on the Web, especially now that more premium content is available,” said SheSpeaks CMO Fiona Pietruski. “It is important for marketers to recognize that influential female consumers are spending their time with many types of digital media, where they can be reached with advertising and marketing messaging.”

Additional results from the SheSpeaks Second Annual Social Media Study can be found at:

About SheSpeaks
SheSpeaks is a social media platform that creates and operates consumer insights and influencer communities. At, women members gain access to products and services, and a forum to offer their honest feedback directly to the companies that create them. For participating brands, including Garnier, Heinz, Food Network, Philips, AOL and more, SheSpeaks offers a tremendous opportunity to spark consumer’s interest, obtain candid feedback, grow word-of-mouth awareness and build long-term brand advocates. Clients also work with SheSpeaks to facilitate branded experiences, including home parties and branded online communities. For more information, visit

Los Angeles Children’s Charity Receives National Recognition for PR

Hillsides Wins Nonprofit PR Award for Its Foster Soles Campaign

Year over year, the finalists for PR News’ Nonprofit PR Awards raise the bar for doing well by doing good, and 2009 was no exception. This year’s finalists, which represent industries and interests as diverse as organ/tissue donations, influenza preparedness and hunger prevention, overcame economic, social and political barriers to deliver results that exceeded even the loftiest of expectations. Hillsides, a foster care children’s charity serving families in Los Angeles County, including Pasadena, was among the winners at the Nonprofit PR Awards held at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.
[Read more…]

Microsoft Beats Google, Yahoo in Total Time Spent Online

ComScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, released a study of online engagement at the top worldwide properties based on data from its comScore World Metrix service. The study found that Microsoft Sites captured nearly 15 percent of time spent online worldwide in September, making it the most engaging global property, followed by Google Sites and Yahoo! Sites., which continues to see significant growth on a worldwide basis, was the fourth most engaging destination with visitors spending 1.4 billion hours on the site in September, up 193 percent from the previous year.

[Read more…]

New Grants for Women Media Entrepreneurs

The Institute for Interactive Journalism at American University has received a $200,000 grant from the McCormick Foundation to fund eight women-led start-ups over the next two years that will generate new ideas in the world of news and information and model a spirit of journalistic entrepreneurship.

[Read more…]

Study: Congress Not Tweeting About Real Issues

A new study by University of Maryland researchers finds a growing use of Twitter among members of Congress, but that the purpose and content of their messages fall short of improving government transparency.

Jennifer Golbeck, assistant professor, a doctoral student and an undergraduate assistant analyzed more than 5,000 tweets sent by 69 members of Congress in February. They found that House and Senate members were using the social media platform mostly to promote themselves, rather than engage in dialogue with constituents and the public at large. [Read more…]

ABC News partners with UNL journalism college to open bureau on campus

ABC News is coming — to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

The college will open the newest ABC News On Campus bureau this month, offering students the opportunity to work with and learn from professionals at a national broadcast news network. The On Campus program is a partnership between the ABC television network’s news division and seven leading journalism schools.

[Read more…]

Follow up on personal branding presentation

Thank you to everyone who attended the IABC Phoenix luncheon today to hear me speak about personal branding.  It was fun to present and I hope you had fun participating. Great questions!

You can download a copy of the presentation at this link:

Unfortunately we ran out of time- great questions and dialogue about social media, branding, and how to approach people for testimonials. The final point of my presentation was cut short, so I thought I’d share it with you now.  As I emphasized in the presentation, it’s important to be visible in the community.  A great way to do this is to be a professional volunteer for a nonprofit organization or charitable cause.  Here are some points I didn’t get to about being a volunteer:

  • Serve on charitable event planning committee
  • Pick a nonprofit you like and reach out to them (NPO’s usually have high profile Boards)
  • Great networking
  • Gets your name out there
  • Don’t be a lazy volunteer – it does more harm than help to your personal brand

If you attended the event I would like your feedback!  Complete this short survey and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win your own customized, personal brand t-shirt!
If you have any comments or additional questions feel free to post them below. Thank you!

Brand YOU: It’s Time To Get Personal

Brand YOU: It’s Time To Get Personal

Whether you are one of the many communications professionals looking for a job in today’s economy or you are happily employed, you need to take advantage of the many online tools available to build your personal brand. You already have an online reputation if you are using any social media or networking websites- what are you doing to manage it? Have you developed a strategy to increase your professional network?

Building a personal brand starts with your digital identity, but it’s more than using Twitter and LinkedIn- you have to be a presence in your industry both online and in the community. I’d like to invite you to join us for the IABC Phoenix luncheon on August 20, where I’ll be discussing personal branding strategies, both online and in-person.

Some of the things I’ll discuss you already know, but you’ll learn some tips and techniques you might not have thought about. It’s a fun and informative presentation you won’t want to miss!

IABC Phoenix Luncheon
August 20, 2009
Joe PR Guy:  Brand YOU: It’s Time to Get Personal!

Thanks to Kevin Horton, tvkevin productions, for sponsoring the event with this video.

West Point named top US college by Forbes

A report released today by Forbes ranked West Point, The U.S. Military Academy, the top college in the country in their America’s Best College report.

“Marked by an intense work ethic and drive to succeed on all fronts, the West Point undergraduate experience also allows graduates to leave without a penny of tuition loans to repay,” Forbes stated in their release.

The Center for College Affordability and Productivity staff gathered data from a variety of sources basing 25 percent of the rankings on seven million student evaluations of courses and instructors, as recorded on the Web site Another 25 percent depends on how many of the school’s alumni, adjusted for enrollment, were listed among the notable people in Who’s Who in America.

The other half of the ranking were based equally on three factors; the average amount of student debt at graduation held by those who borrowed; the percentage of students graduating in four years; and the number of students or faculty, adjusted for enrollment, who have won nationally competitive awards like Rhodes Scholarships or Nobel Prizes.

To see the complete rankings go to

My Happy Dance for Peter Shankman: “Twiller”

We did this all in one day- we had 12 hours, from 9AM to 9PM to learn as much of the Zombie March from “Thriller” as possible and then go to First Studio in Phoenix to shoot the video. Trust me, every muscle in my body hurt for two days and I have newfound respect for professional dancers.

I’d like to thank all of my social media friends who helped make this happen:

  • Jeremiah Cohick (@JeremiahLee) and Arthur Nicholls (@arthurnicholls) who drove all the way from Los Angeles! I met Jeremiah on Twitter a few months ago and we had only met once in person, yet they were willing to drive across the desert to come and help.
  • Jose Gonzalez (@Jose602) from the Torch Theatre, who graciously provided rehearsal space at Space 55 for us during the day.
  • Kevin Horton (@tvkevin) who I met a few months ago on Facebook. Kevin owns tvkevin productions and is one of the most talented video producers in the area. A veteran news and entertainment photographer with an eye for details that will make your project shine, I recommend you hire him for your video needs!
  • Phoenix dance instructors Andrew Balderrama and Cullen Daniel, who both responded to a posting on Facebook for choreography help- we had never met in person, only knew each other through mutual friends on Facebook. And hey, we are geeks with no rhythm… this wasn’t easy for any dance instructor!
  • Ken and Laurie Easley saved us from the extreme heat advisory (we were orginially going to shoot Thriller outside in a spooky alley downtown). Ken Easley is a commercial photographer in Phoenix and owns First Studio, the very first TV station built in Phoenix in 1949. It has been converted into a unique space for video production and photography. The space is available for rent!
  • Mike Chesworth, a Phoenix-based freelance film producer and editor helped us immensely with costume preparation, studio direction during the Thriller shoot, and editing.
  • And last, but certainly not least, Paul Hanavan (@phanavan) and Kennelle Clark: my two dearest friends and consummate supporters. Thank you for all you do… Paul became a backup dancer when somebody didn’t show up and Kennelle managed logistics and the ever-important food for the day.

Are you a former journalist with a new career? I want to interview you

It’s official. I’ve started writing my first book. The idea came from a surprising media response when I founded “I Should Be In The News” or ISBITN, a modern nonprofit organization that seeks to provide a voice to communities (see

When I launched ISBITN and began promoting it, I talked to reporters all over the country. While I was trying to reach media to help spread the word about ISBITN, reporters started contacting me for “off the record” help. In the press release announcing ISBITN and on the website, I mention that I’m a journalist-turned-PR-pro; a number of reporters who saw that contacted me because they were preparing to transition out of media and didn’t know where to begin. [Read more…]

I owe Peter Shankman a happy dance; what song should I use?

picture-14As you may have already seen on Twitter or Facebook, I told Peter Shankman that if he became a fan of JoePRguy on Facebook, I’d do a happy dance and record it on video. If you are not familiar with Peter and his work you most likely live under a rock. As my friend Taylor Tweeted “isn’t that like getting a hug from the queen of england in US PR world?” An entrepreneur, author, speaker, and worldwide connector, Peter is recognized worldwide for radically new ways of thinking about Social Media, PR, marketing, advertising, creativity, and customer service. He is best known for founding Help A Reporter Out, (HARO). In addition to HARO, Peter is the founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc., a boutique Marketing and PR Strategy firm located in New York City, with clients worldwide. His blog, which he launched as a website in 1995, ( both comments on and generates news and conversation. His book “Can We Do That?! Outrageous PR Stunts That Work— And Why Your Company Needs Them” is a must-read for any PR professional.

SO…now he’s a fan of JoePRguy and I’ve got to get jiggy with it. I’m going all out! A dance instructor in Phoenix has agreed to work with me and will choreograph a full number for my scrawny white ass… I just need to pick a song. Some fans have weighed in on Facebook already… I want all of you to tell me what I should do! Please vote below (only vote ONCE- that includes you Kennelle).

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs Receives Public Relations Honors From PRSA

On June 5, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) presented its highly coveted Public Relations Professional of the Year award to White House Press Secretary Robert L. Gibbs for his groundbreaking use of new communications techniques and technologies, as well as successful delivery of campaign messages to a broad electorate. The award was presented last night at the annual PRSA Silver Anvil Ceremony at the Equitable Tower in New York City.

“Robert Gibbs and his team revolutionized the way presidential candidates speak to voters by engaging best practices in current communications techniques and technologies,” said PRSA Chair and CEO Michael Cherenson, APR. “He transformed static, one-way messaging into a dynamic dialogue to engage an expansive electorate like never before.” [Read more…]

UNLV segment among Leno’s “Greatest Jaywalking Moments” and other Higher Ed news

A recap of higher ed news stories I Tweeted this week (follow me @joePRguy):

Japan university gives away iPhones to students (it’s really a ploy to track them!)

George Mason University Innovates To Boost Enrollment

University Sues Porn Website Over Name

Down economy means better dorms for these college students

University of Illinois admits it bowed to clout on admissions

And, finally… watching the last episode of Jay Leno as host of The Tonight Show, I was tickled to see UNLV students in the “Greatest Moments in Jaywalking” segment- which I coordinated when I worked in UNLV public affairs under chief Hilaire Grey and former president Carol Harter. Jay Leno came to the 2006 commencement and filmed a “Jaywalking” segment with fresh UNLV graduates (in cap-and-gown) after the ceremony. The typical Jaywalking segment tends to make people look rather silly; I didn’t want UNLV students to look stupid, so I worked with his producers and writers to make it a unique segment: who’s smarter-men or women? Rather than asking questions of individuals like the typical Jaywalking, we had pairs of men and women. They stood in cap and gown, holding bells in thier hands to answer when Jay asked a question. We kept a tally of correct answers for both. The UNLV grad who made the “Greatest Moments” segment was a guy who answered: what are the first words of the Bible? His response was “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” [Read more…]

How Twitter Helped Feed A Lot of Hungry Kids

Twitter is getting a lot of attention these days. It’s not difficult to understand why; as social networking gained momentum with increasingly popular sites like MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn, so did Twitter. The statistics are downright staggering: Twitter’s user numbers have jumped to an estimated 32.1 million from only 1.6 million just a year ago. Today you’ll find famous TV personalities, musicians, actors, sports stars, journalists, CEO’s, corporations, and major news organizations Tweeting to the masses. It’s pretty cool to see what John Mayer or Oprah Winfrey are up to everyday, isn’t it?

But the key to successfully using social media is to leave the race for a million followers to Ashton Kutcher and his celebrity pals; for those of us Joe PR guys, the focus needs to be on building a network of meaningful contacts and getting to know the people in those networks. A recent volunteer project of mine is a perfect example.

[Read more…]

Effective University PR Begins On Campus

Like it or not, working with student media is a regular part of institutional media relations on any college campus; those who do it well minimize reporting of incorrect information and address issues before they become a crisis. The best university PR departments know that relationships with student media outlets are every bit as important as the likes of the New York Times, CNN or The Chronicle of Higher Education- perhaps even more crucial. The primary consumers of student media (students, faculty, donors, alumni and staff) make up your most important audience. And, as many universities have learned the hard way, today’s micro-blogging world means student media outlets have a much wider audience than ever before… people are spreading student media stories across the globe, 140 characters at a time.

Take the recent debacle at Arizona State University, for example. ASU’s student daily, the State Press, touched off a firestorm when it reported with the headline “Obama won’t receive ASU honorary degree.” Commencement speakers are typically awarded honorary degrees as a sign of respect and appreciation. However, ASU President Michael Crow decided not to honor President Obama. “His body of work is yet to come. That’s why we’re not recognizing him with a degree at the beginning of his presidency,” university spokeswoman Sharon Keeler said to the Associate Press only hours after the State Press first reported the decision. The story became a national issue faster than “the wave” spreads through Sun Devil Stadium, thrusting ASU into the center of a national debate and intense media scrutiny that did major damage to the institution’s image.

With so many issues facing academia and university public affairs, it’s easy to forget about the student writer sitting on the other side of campus. Here are some suggestions on how to execute successful media relations with student media:

Focus on building relationships
Even the most veteran journalists have biases because they are human beings. Most students are not at a professional level where they are able to completely separate their role as a reporter from their experience as a student; they see the world through the eyes of a student first. If I were to go back and review every story I wrote as a student reporter (yes, it would involve microfiche), I’d probably cringe. But, I’d also find articles that helped my alma mater’s administration clearly communicate the right message because the President took time to build a meaningful relationship with me as a senior writer for the student paper.  At most institutions, student media outlets are managed by faculty advisors or an advisory board. The university PR team must foster a strong relationship with the advisor (or advisory board) and make that relationship a priority.

It’s About Learning Good Journalism
Remember it’s not about censoring student journalists; it’s about ensuring accurate information and helping them become better by holding them accountable to factual reporting. This is not accomplished through criticism and your role is not to “grade” their work. By nurturing strong relationships with these budding reporters, you can help students understand the big picture and importance of balanced journalism if they’ve not reported things accurately. And don’t forget it’s important to let them know when they’ve done a good job. Nothing is more rewarding to a student journalist than receiving and email or phone call from a university administrator saying “nice work!”

Get Out of the Ivory Tower
Provide regular, personal access to university leaders, including the President. Because leadership at student media organizations changes every year (some every semester), its imperative to always be focused on fostering relationships with student editors and writers who regularly cover the administration. Schedule a reoccurring time for editors to meet with key university administrators (President, Deans, Provost, etc.). Make these meetings informal and enjoyable. Don’t always meet in the office- schedule some as lunch or dinner at a popular campus hangout. You’ll find that making time for student media away from the administration building makes for a much more meaningful conversation and helps alleviate the “administrator vs. student” dynamic that so often manifests itself in student coverage. Senior administrators should make cameos at campus media staff meetings on a consistent basis, every semester. They need to view their leaders as accessible and visible.

Know their deadlines, and answer the phone!
The best university PR teams provide 24/7 availability to media and student reporters are no exception. Let’s face it, college students procrastinate and they are often working on their stories in the 11th hour of their deadline- ensure that a senior member of your PR staff is available to student reporters who need last-minute information or a quote. Know the deadlines for your student media outlet and be prepared for those calls in advance. During my tenure as university PR guy, I would stay on campus well into the evening on weekly deadline days and student writers knew they could call my cell phone or simply stop by my office.

Let Student Media Break Big News
When your institution has big news to share let student media tell it first. If nothing else, give student media private face time with the president before a major press conference. By working closely with student reporters and editors on major announcements, you’ll build trust, help influence the story angle, and reinforce key messaging in mainstream media coverage. Don’t forget that professional reporters are influenced by student media; in fact, they often cite student-written stories as the general opinion of the greater student body. How many times have you seen a TV reporter holding a copy of the student newspaper with a bold headline as a prop?

Whether you manage PR for a small liberal arts school in rural America or represent the largest university in your state, take a proactive, positive approach to working with student media. It’s a truly enjoyable experience to help student reporters grow into professional journalists… and who knows, you might foster a meaningful relationship that extends beyond campus and proves valuable later in your career. A student editor I befriended while working in university public relations is now at a major news organization; she was largely influential in landing a national placement you’ll find in the Ink & Air section of

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