Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Oops... I Forgot my Second Nov. Lunch Recap

Sorry, guys. I got busy. I thought the week before Thanksgiving would be slow. I was wrong. It's been busy, busy, busy. But I'm squeezing in time this morning to share with our readers some of the information I shared during the November "It's Academic" CCG lunch.

Higher Ed Loves an Expert
This probably isn't that big of a surprise. But I've learned to embrace that as a rule. By which I mean, when I wanted my campus to start taking more advantage of the Social Media possibilities, I could have done a presentation myself. After all, I'm using Social Media (Facebook, Twitter -- rferrier, etc.). Instead, I brought in a consultant who is an expert on the topic and had her brief my senior team on the world of Social Media. And now, I'm getting ready to lead a planning session on how we can implement some of the tools she introduced. In the past, I would have cringed at having someone present on a topic I could talk about. But I've learned that it doesn't reflect poorly on me -- or my expertise -- if I bring in someone from the outside to present new ideas.

Media Policies & Higher Ed
Early on, I talked about implementing a media policy to ensure that calls from reporters went through me versus going directly to staff. And quickly found out that's not an option... the nature of universities -- or, at least, the nature of my university -- is such that faculty can talk to any reporters they want whenever they want. My solution: I've tried to make friends with my local faculty so that they see the value in keeping me informed and working through me whenever possible.

Nature of Working on a Satellite Campus
I'm at Hopkins Montgomery County Campus. Because of this, I end up being somewhat of a one-man shop. My job includes: web site, media relations, community relations (i.e., "town-gown" issues), newsletter (both electronic and print), marketing and advertising, special events, alumni affairs (very limited), legislative affairs (again, very limited), tour guide... you get the picture. This is great because every day is different ... and chaotic and crazy. But it's also difficult because you easily begin to feel like you aren't doing everything you should be. After all, I'm just one person.

So there's a little bit about me, my job, and what I presented on at our lunch. If you were there and I said something else "wise," feel free to post a comment. And if you have questions, ask away. I'm happy to answer anything.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Advertising I Just Don't Understand

So on my way to the last CCG meeting, I took advantage of my Metro ride to read The Washington Post. And I noticed what was, to me at least, a very odd ad on the back page of the Montgomery Extra section. I'm hoping someone here can explain it to me.

The ad was for a local bank. The big verbiage at the top of the ad was: "MORE BANK. MORE FOR YOU." At the bottom of the ad was information about the bank... things like "open 7 days" and "legendary service" and "hassle-free banking" along with a listing of the current and new locations. All very normal. Except between the big verbiage at the top and the small information at the bottom was a picture of Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa.

I don't get it. How does the picture connect to the text? Am I missing something? Or is this just gratuitous use of celebrity images? How does this image further the ad campaign and the bank's message? And for the record, while yes, I remember the ad, I couldn't tell you (without looking at the ad again) what bank was being advertised.

So please, someone out there, help me understand this ad. Make it make sense!

-- Robin

Friday, November 21, 2008

November Lunch Recap, Part I

Thank goodness for private venues!

After last month's non-private private-room debacle at Mackeys, I was relieved that this month's lunch involved a private venue -- the George Washington University Alumni House -- that actually delivered on the "private space" promise. And lo and behold... Attendees could actually hear our speakers. (By the way, for those who attended yesterday and are reading this, yes, this month's recap is a little weird to write since I was one of the guest speakers.)

But back to the lunch...

Topic: It's Academic! Higher Education PR and Communications

Guest speakers: Tracy Schario, Director of Media Relations, George Washington University, and me (Robin Ferrier, Communications Manager, Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus)

First off, let me just say how impressive Tracy was. The stories she shared about her "day-to-day" life handling media relations for GW were crazy! It would be too difficult -- and long-winded -- to repeat the stories so I'll just share some of the wisdom she shared:

-- University PR is chaotic. (I can attest to that!)
-- Running GWU is like running a small city, and Tracy's job is like being the press secretary for a small city. She gets involved not just in media relations, but in labor issues, crisis communications, etc.
-- GWU's media relations department gets more than 600 media queries a year, and puts out more than 300 news releases. (Very impressive! She also said she's trying to whittle down that 300 count... which is a challenging thing to do in a university setting.)
-- At many universities, stories printed in the student newspaper stay "campus" news... at GWU, because of its location in D.C., stories from the student newspaper often become local news covered by larger newspapers, including The Washington Post.
-- The blogosphere has (not surprisingly) become central to what Tracy does. 52% of media coverage for GWU now comes from the blogs and 48% from mainstream media.

But perhaps Tracy's wisest words were her closing:

"I'm often asked what is PR? There are a lot of definitions out there. The one I adhere to is that PR's job is to protect and to promote responsibly."

So there are Tracy's words of wisdom. Tidbits from my presentation will follow next week. So stop back by Monday afternoon to find out more about higher ed PR.

-- Robin

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

November Lunch: It's Academic! PR and Communications in Higher Education

November lunch details

TOPIC: It's Academic!: Higher Education PR and Communications
DATE: Thursday, November 20, 2008, from noon - 1:30 p.m.

-- Tracy Schario, Director of Media Relations, George Washington University
-- Robin Ferrier, Communications Manager, Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus

LOCATION: George Washington University Alumni House, 1918 F Street, Washington, DC (4 blocks from the Foggy Bottom-GWU metro stop)

COST: $25. Cash only. Exact Change Preferred.

RSVP to: CapitalCommunicator (at) gmail (dot) com

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Oct. Lunch Recap: Advocacy PR, take 3

And in our third and final installment, we hear from:

Martin Montorfano, Public Relations Manager, The Humane Society of the United States:
-- "Have a good mission statement. The Humane Society recently adopted 'Celebrating Animals & Confronting Cruelty.' That says it all in terms of what we do."
-- "Be aware of where your communications intersects with your organization's fundraising activities. Because we're a non-profit, donations always have to be back-of-mind in what we're doing."
-- "Know the other organizations in your area and how you stack up against them. Sometimes your job made be made a little easier if you're not seen as the most radical of the organizations out fighting for or against a cause."

Questions for our speaker? Advice he gave that you found particularly helpful? Share now...

And if you didn't see the earlier advice from our other two speakers, make sure you scroll down the page and read it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Looking for Part 3 of our Series on Oct. Advocacy Lunch?

It's coming tomorrow. I figure today people care more about election news. (See fun item below.)

A Decidedly non-CCG Post, But Hey, It's Election Day...

And no, this post isn't a rally for one candidate or another. It's just an interesting voting day fact I heard about on the radio this morning and investigated when I got into work... after waiting 1 hour, 20 minutes to vote. (And listening to some others' stories, I think that might have been a quick vote!)

So on to the fact... Did you know there are 7 states in the U.S. that don't allow liquor sales on election day? (Maybe they're afraid of the inevitable reveling and sorrow drowning that will occur... of course, it's not like people can't just buy their alcohol ahead of time...)

Anyway, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS):

-- Kentucky, Indiana, and South Carolina have a statewide ban on sale of alcohol at restaurants, bars and package stores on Election Day.

-- Utah and West Virginia ban the sale of alcohol at package stores on Election Day.

-- Alaska and Massachusetts ban Election Day alcohol sales, though local governments can provide an exemption from the ban if they choose.

-- Delaware, Idaho, and Utah all relaxed their Election Day sales bans earlier this year. However, while Utah allows Election Day alcohol sales at restaurants and private clubs, it still bans package store sales on Election Day. (I'm not surprised that Idaho relaxed its laws. One web site said that the law prohibiting the sale of distilled spirits on election day costs the state of Idaho $400,000 each and every election day.)

The ban apparently has its roots in the 1930s when saloons sometimes served as polling stations.

-- Robin

Monday, November 3, 2008

Additional Tips from Bill Malone

We're feeling lucky today! Because October speaker Bill Malone, Bread for the World, just sent us two more tips to post to the blog. So here you go:

1. In the practice of advocacy PR, you must do more than just inform an audience. You need to build partnerships so that others will act for and with your organization -- turning awareness into support, and support into action.

2. The key strategy of advocacy is encouraging others to "toot your horn" by showing them how they can benefit by doing so, providing objective, third-party credibility: "WE are not the only ones saying what we're doing is great. THEY also are saying what we're doing is great."

Great advice, if you ask me. What do you think?

-- Robin

Oct. Lunch Recap: Advocacy PR, Take 2

Part II of our installment on October's lunch. Today's words of wisdom come from...

Danielle Roeber, Deputy Director for the Office of Safety Recommendations and Advocacy, National Transportation Safety Board:
-- "Know your counter argument and how you will respond to it. Also anticipate -- and be prepared for -- questions that will be asked in response to what you say."
-- "Don't be afraid of 'I don't know.' Follow that up with, '...but I will get back to you with an answer.' And then really do get back to them."
-- "It's all about relationships. People work well with those with whom they've built a relationship. It goes what I said earlier. When you tell someone you'll get back to them with information, really do get back to them. You'll be seen as reliable."
-- "Find your partners. Find the grassroots people in your area who are lobbying the leaders. We work with a number of grassroots organizations such as MADD and Safe Kids."

And now, the same questions as yesterday:
-- Did I miss anything important?
-- Any questions for our speaker?

If you didn't see yesterday's advice from Speaker #1, scroll down and ready away. And don't forget that tomorrow will bring our third installment.