Thursday, October 28, 2010


It's that little button we all hate, but have to include with any email communications.


I had a colleague recently mention that she spent part of each day unsubscribing to email communications that she gets. Her goal was to unsubscribe from 5 e-newsletters every day. Ouch!!

But it's a real problem. She's not the first person to talk about email inbox overload. And we all see it each time we send out a newsletter and a few more people unsubscribe. Little by little, our subscriptions dwindle.

So how many readers are we losing every day because of email inbox overload? Or because our newsletters aren't a "value add"? And what makes an e-newsletter one that you want to read?

Is it that it keeps you up-to-date with what an organization is doing? Or is that not enough? Does there need to be some "news you can use" to make you keep reading instead of unsubscribing?

I have my own thoughts. I think a good e-newsletter should be:
  • Short. That's why mine only gives the first paragraph of a story and then links people back to my website for the full story. That said, I fully admit that my last issue was waaaaaay too long, but that's only because we'd been on a three-month hiatus while I was on maternity leave, so there was a lot of news to share.
  • Visually attractive. I think I do okay here, though I'm not too proud to admit we could do better. At least I've done a good job at keeping a color scheme with three primary colors used and in including pictures.
  • Useful: There has to be something in it for the reader, and in most cases, just being informative isn't enough. Maybe you provide an events calendar. Or maybe you provide a "top 10 list" each time with hints on what people can do to improve their business.
What about you? What makes you keep reading or come back for more? What triggers the "unsubscribe"? I'd love to learn...

Monday, August 30, 2010


Reserve you ticket today for the 42nd Annual Thoth Awards Reception and Gala on September 23rd. The winners of this year's 42nd Annual Thoth Awards will be unveiled at the historic Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. from 6 - 9 p.m.

Special guests Chris Hansen, "Dateline NBC" correspondent, NBC News and Greta Kreuz, veteran reporter and Maryland bureau chief for ABC/WJLA-TV, will be onhand to help present these distinguished awards, which recognize outstanding PR achievements.

The evening will kick off with drinks and appetizers, a charity raffle and networking event. This looks to be a great night to meet the movers and shakers of the Washington D.C.'s PR community.

Ticket prices are $85 for PRSA, DC Ad Club and WWPR Members. Non-members prices are $105, and students/retirees are $55. Tables can be reserved for ($1,000 - 1,200). Register at

For ticket information; call Sherri Core at the chapter office at (703) 681-8733, or for general information contact Jennifer Balios at (703) 815-8079 or, or Susan Matthews Apgood at (301) 664-6448 or

Hope you enjoy the Thoth Awards this September 23rd!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Annual CCG (DC) Happy Hour
Well, our much anticipated Annual Capital Communicators Group (DC) Happy Hour has finally come together.

So, to switch it up a bit in our 10th year -

Our Happy Hour will be next Thursday, August 26th at Nick's Riverside Grille on the Georgetown Waterfront in Washington, D.C from 5:00 - 7:30 p.m.
(I'll get there early to 'reserve' some space).

Parking is available at various garages, or at the meters along K Street.
Drink specials are $3 beers and $4 cocktails.
Depending on the CCG (DC) fund, we might order some appetizers as well.

Please come out!! Feel free to invite others, bring some business cards, discuss future lunch topics, enjoy some libations and meet some of your fellow CCG friends.

(as I am new to posting on this blog, please RSVP to me at: so that we can have a rough idea of attendees.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Job Opening: Public Relations Specialist for the Humane Society of the U.S.

ORGANIZATION: Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
JOB: Public Relations Specialist

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the nation’s largest animal advocacy organization, is seeking a Public Relations Specialist for its Public Relations department. The main responsibilities of the position include:
  • draft and edit press releases, advisories, letters to the editor, pitch letters and other collateral material for the news media
  • distribute collateral materials for review and incorporate feedback in a timely manner
  • develop targeted media lists with strong knowledge of media outlets and opportunities to position animal protection issues
  • field media inquiries and route to appropriate spokesperson to best position the HSUS in the news
  • distribute press releases utilizing best available resources
  • represent the department as a member of internal and external teams
  • coordinate efforts with other departments and organizations
  • pitch issues and events to reporters with strong knowledge of animal issues and how they can be placed in the media for maximum impact
  • respond to inquiries from news media
  • supply reporters with background information, video, and schedule interviews with HSUS spokespeople.
A Bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism or mass communications along with four to six years of experience in a public relations environment highly desired. Strong written and verbal communication skills and working knowledge of various media directories and public relations computer programs and processes preferred. The salary range for this position is from the high $30’s to the low $40’s.

Please send cover letters and
resumes to hrjobs (at) hsus (dot) org or fax to 301- 548-7701. This position is located in Gaithersburg, Md.

More info.

Friday, May 7, 2010

May Lunch: The Link Between Reputation Management and Social Marketing

WHEN: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 from noon - 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Bar Louie, 701 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
COST: $22

The U.S. Census Bureau is currently taking on the massive effort of enumerating the entire American population as is constitutionally mandated. Part of this effort is an unprecedented social marketing campaign to increase awareness of the Census with the ultimate objective of ensuring that people fill out their census forms.

This effort is an excellent case study of the interplay between social marketing and reputation management. On the one hand, the media exposure must be sufficiently consistent to ensure that the message gets across and 'sticks' in people's minds. On the other hand, the messenger must be credible in order to ensure that the message will not be summarily discounted. In other words, social marketing and reputation management go hand-in-hand.

May's speakers will discuss the social marketing campaign being conducted by the Census Bureau and then take a step back to look at reputation and reputation management from a conceptual standpoint, using the 2010 Census as a case study.


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

Thursday, May 6, 2010

April Lunch Recap: Tourism Communications and Reaching New Audiences

CCG members were treated to a lively luncheon talk in April with Pat Wheeler, Director of Marketing, Cultural Tourism DC; Barbara Bahny David, Director of Public Relations, InterContinental Hotel Group and Danielle Piacente, Publicist, & Manager for the National Cherry Blossom Festival who’s with Linda Roth Associates.

All three speakers focused on one of their newer challenges: tourism marketing and communications that no longer focuses just on reaching the out-of-towners. Each shared tips and hints about how they're really rooted in letting locals know what's going on. One reason for the change in focus? All of us locals play host to out-of-town family and friends who want to know "what are you taking me to see and do in D.C. when I visit?"

Pat kicked off by sharing the host of opportunities to experience the history and culture of D.C. and the tactics they employed including visible signs posted throughout the city highlighting the DC Heritage Trails. She also talked about what sort of events the local community turns out for, such as the Passport DC program. A wonderful partnership with Ben’s Chili Bowl owners resulted in Cultural Tourism DC being gifted with space for a visitor center. (You never know how a partnership can benefit you!)

Barbara built on this discussion of partnerships by explaining their anniversary celebration strategy. To demonstrate the reach of the Willard as an icon of D.C. she worked with organizations such as the Shakespeare Theatre Company, the National Building Museum and the American Institute of Architects to host off-site events but all focused on the Willard, including a costume gallery, building renovation talks and artistic photo gallery of the Willard. These events-around-town successfully demonstrated the status and role of the hotel within the D.C. society. Barbara also spoke about keeping this sense of community strong with programming designed to be inviting to all ages from holiday festivities involving local choirs performing free concerts to wine tastings with local bands. She advised leveraging the myriad of talented people in D.C. who could bring something special to your event.

Barbara also addressed using social media (Facebook and Twitter) to reach those in town and out-of-town and advised that communicators pay attention to ensuring a company's brand goes across all channels. For example, on Twitter, each tweet from the Willard imparts the personality of an ageless, worldly, sophisticated grand dame, a hip aunt sharing advice with her circle of friends.

Danielle rounded out the presentations by first sharing interesting statistics about the percentage of people visiting the Festival are actually within the D.C. Region. (Hmmm, I must run into the other 45% who are out-of-towners on the Metro then!) She talked about their efforts to highlight a host of activities under the Cherry Blossom Festival umbrella that appealed to those interested in the history, rich culture of the event but also to all ages from families to the young hipster crowd. Connecting to the community that calls D.C. home, she mentioned tree plantings (hyperlocal!) and the local restaurants embracing of cherry-infused and inspired cuisine -- ingraining the Spring time celebration into D.C. culture.

You can follow our April speakers/organizations on Twitter at @dcculture,
@willardhotel and @CherryBlossFest.

Thanks to our speakers and Elephant & Castle!

And make sure you check out the blog post from member Susan Rink that talks about this lunch!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April CCG lunch: Tourism Communications and Reaching New Audiences

** UPDATE: We're now sold out. You can RSVP to be placed on our wait list. **

Tourism Communications: It's Not Just for Tourists Anymore!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010, noon - 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Elephant & Castle, 1201 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC
Metro Stop: Metro Center

COST: $25
Cash Only. Exact Change Preffered.

MORE INFORMATION: April kicks off tourist season in Washington, D.C., but for many local "tourism" organizations, marketing and communications is no longer just about reaching the out-of-towners. Instead, these professionals are increasingly being tasked with ensuring that they draw a local crowd to events as well. Come learn more about how some of our local tourism organizations are undertaking the challenges of reaching new audiences with their message.


RSVP to: capitalcommunicator (at)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Non-CCG Event: Social Media for Recruiting in Government & Defense Conference

Using Web 2.0 Technologies To Attract, Retain, And Engage Top Talent To Become An Employer Of Choice

WHEN: April 12-15, 2010
WHERE: Washington, DC

WHY: Attend this conference to learn how to incorporate the power of social media into your organization's recruiting strategy.

DETAILS: Hear practical advice, firsthand, on how to attract, retain and engage top talent by using social media from leading government agencies and organizations, including Internal
Revenue Service, U.S. Army, Peace Corps, The Library of Congress, and many others.

Find out more.

Monday, February 15, 2010

February Lunch: Sustainability at the USPS

WHAT: February CCG Lunch -- Greener Than You Think

WHEN: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 from noon - 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: Bar Louie, 701 7th Street, NW, Washington, DC (closest Metro stop: Gallery Place/Chinatown on the Red Line)

COST: $20. (Cash Only. Exact Change Preferred.)

U.S. Postal Service employees are instantly recognizable in their distinctive blue uniforms. But did you know the Postal Service is also earning distinction as one of the greenest "companies" in the country?

In fact, the USPS has been a green innovator since 1899 when it tested it its first electric mail delivery vehicle. That's right - 1899! In addition, the Postal Service is the only mailing and shipping company in the entire country to be Cradle to Cradle™ certified for its environmentally friendly shipping supplies.

Come hear Sam Pulcrano, Postal Service Vice President for Sustainability, talk about what the Postal Service is doing to leave a greener footprint across America, and how the agency is telling its green story, including shouting it from a certain green rooftop in New York City. You'll walk away having learned best practices for "greening" your organization.


Monday, January 25, 2010


One of our members posted an interesting question to our LinkedIn group recently. His company was asked to provide spec work on an RFP for some web design work. He wanted feedback from others in the industry as to whether this was "standard operating procedure" or not.

My resounding answer: NO!

Truth is, I'm wary anytime someone asks for spec work. You want to know what I can do? I'm happy to share examples of media coverage or past PR campaigns I've run. If I was a web designer, I'd be happy to provide examples of sites we've designed or re-designed. But I'm not going to give away my ideas for free. If I do, you can take them and pay someone else to execute. My value isn't just in my execution, but also in the ideas I generate. Why would I give away that sort of intellectual property for free?

Am I wrong in finding this to be a ludicrous request? And do many solo practitioners find themselves being asked for this?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lunch Recap: Deploying with 'New' Gear: How the Department of Defense is Using Social Media

Yesterday was the FABULOUS CCG lunch with Price Floyd, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs for the Department of Defense. I can't say enough good things about this lunch and our speaker. Mr. Floyd captivated our audience for the entire presentation and Q&A session, during which he spoke about how the DoD is using social media tools to get its message to both internal and external audiences. He showed us examples of what they're doing, talked about guidelines he follows, and shared lessons learned.

  • Ask yourself four questions with any communications / outreach effort: What is the message? Who is the audience? How are you going to reach that audience? Who is the speaker?
  • "Non-approved messaging" -- i.e., letting people onto your website to publicly post comments, respond to questions, etc. -- gives credibility to the rest of your site and the content on it.
  • Make sure you TRAIN and EDUCATE your employees as to "responsible and effective" use of social media tools. One way the DoD does so is via fun (and short) videos, including a popular "what not to do" video.
  • Realize the importance of having personal voices (which can be more engaging) as well as institutional voices (which are more official). One example: On Twitter, he does this via multiple accounts -- @pricefloyd, which is his personal account and is a mix of work and personal updates, and @DefenseGov, which is the official DoD account.
  • Realize your goal... One of DoD's goals with social media was to reach a new audience. The department knew that the website audience skewed "older" (i.e., 50+), so the focus with the social media presence was to reach a new audience (i.e., 18-25).
  • Know that social media is only one component of a larger campaign. The audience on social media channels is growing, but it's still small. (For example, the viewers of the least watched Sunday talk show are more than the numbers you'll reach via social media. But they're different audiences, so you need to be reaching both.)
  • Having problems convincing the boss your company needs a social media presence? Go tell him to himself or the company. She'll see firsthand that the company likely is already there, being talked about. Then ask: "Do you want any say in what is being said about you and the company?"
  • Your social media policies and your general communications policies shouldn't be that different. What that means in the case of DoD, for example, is this: What a soldier can't include in a letter home, can't be online. In the case of companies... what you can't talk about to a reporter, shouldn't be talked about online.
  • There's nothing more credible than the voices of the people doing the work (in the case of the DoD, the people in the field). So make sure your social media voice isn't just the CEO, Senior VPs, etc.
And perhaps my favorite piece of advice from the day, which is advice he gives to DoD employees engaging in social media: "Don't post something online if it's not something you'd say to or show your boss or your grandmother."

Thanks, Mr. Floyd, for such great advice. And thank you to District Chophouse for the great location with the top-notch technology.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Is it really social media if …

A recent move by an online site/service that has received many accolades for being a great “social media tool” for PR professionals and journalists recently underwent an upgrade. (Caveat: There are some who say the tool, while enormously helpful, never embodied the true meaning of social media because it did not include a way for community members to communicate with each other as a group. Please feel free to debate that point, as well, in the comments section of this post, though it's not the direct topic.) Now, let me just say that I’m all about making products, services, social media tools, etc., better; however, the recent upgrade to this service left me a little bit baffled.

The particular service in question helps reporters find sources. In the “1.0 version,” the site sent out emails that included what story a reporter was working on and the reporter’s contact information. The new version – and those of you familiar with the service can debate amongst yourself whether or not it’s truly improved – now masks reporters’ email addresses and instead provides end users with temporary email addresses that stop working after a query deadline is reached.

Which left me wondering…

Is it really social media if the site/service not only keeps its users from knowing who one another are and how to reach each other but stymies future contact between its members? Isn’t the whole point of social media to facilitate conversation? And does this “cloaked email” feature prevent the spirit of social media from being realized?

Weigh in below with your thoughts.

UPDATE: For those of you who know the service I'm talking about, if you have any issues with the new service, make sure you express them at the service's GetSatisfaction site.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Are the Days of Privacy Really Over?

I recently read an article on ReadWriteWeb titled "Facebook's Zuckerberg Says The Age of Privacy is Over." Speaking before a live audience earlier this month, apparently Zuckerberg said that if he were to create Facebook again today, user information would by default be public. He also said, "People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time."

If that's Zuckerberg's stance on the privacy issue, there's no surprise that the alarms have sounded multiple times over the past 6-12 months about changes in Facebook's privacy policies.

But I have to say, his views and my views on this issue are pretty far apart. And I wonder if I'm alone. (Informal conversations tell me I'm not.)

My social networking presence related to privacy:
  1. My presence on Facebook is about connecting with people I already know and staying in touch with them. I purposely keep my profile more "private" and I don't friend people I don't know. If I wanted the whole world to know what I was doing, I'd have an open website. If Facebook decided to lift all privacy settings and make everything public, I'd be out of there so fast you'd be eating my dust. And I have to believe I wouldn't be alone. And that Facebook would quickly die...
  2. My presence on Twitter is more public, but it's also less personal. I don't post (much) personal information there.
  3. My presence on LinkedIn is more public than Facebook, less public than Twitter. But my presence on LinkedIn is almost purely professional.
  4. There's a reason I am not applying to be on reality TV. I don't want the whole world to know my business... and I think there are A TON of people who agree with me on this. (So there goes his reality TV theory.)
My point? Yes, we're definitely becoming a "less private" society, but we're not ready to tear down all the walls. And we SHOULDN'T. For one, there are too many safety issues out there, so until you can get rid of all the creeps and predators in the world, doing away with privacy is unrealistic. Second, let's be honest here: We all have heard plenty of stories about friends, colleagues, etc., who can't get jobs because of inappropriate pictures or comments posted online somewhere. (Heck, think of all the politicians / politicos-in-the-making whose careers have been torpedoed because of pics.)

My point? All of these social networking sites should let us choose for ourselves how public or private we want to be. And if they don't, I don't think they're long for this world... (And by the way, I still hate that my list of Friends on Facebook is automatically public and I can't change that setting. Or, at least, I can't figure out how to change it. If I'm wrong and it can be changed, can someone let me know?)

But maybe I'm just hopelessly "old school" in not wanting everything I do to be public. Am I? Weigh in on the public vs. private debate below.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Using the "Competition" to Your Advantage

So the Washington Business Journal recently started sending out a "Morning Call" email each morning. What's so clever about it that I feel the need to write about it?

Unlike their afternoon email, the WBJ Morning Call doesn't just include WBJ stories. They'll link to big stories from the Washington Post, The Gazette, and other local media. And I find that incredibly smart.

Sure, they're sending some of their readers to these other outlets. But they're also becoming a RESOURCE to their readers. It's what reporters always want us PR folks to be -- a resource that isn't just about touting our own products. So it's nice to see this particular media outlet play by the same rules.

Kudos to the WBJ on some smart marketing!

(Geez, I must be in a good mood at this start to a new year. Two posts this week praising what others are doing.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Kudos to Clever Tchotchkes... this year, from Fixation Marketing

Let's face it. Any of us who serve clients -- or attend trade shows -- find ourselves facing a huge dilemma on a regular basis: What do I use as as an end-of-year gift, a customer appreciation present, or a trade show giveaway? There are the obvious answers, ones I admit I've used in the past -- the branded pen, the branded memory stick... I remember when branded stress balls were all the rage.

One company I worked for gave away canvas bags at trade shows -- and people loved them! You saw people walking around the rest of the trade show floor stuffing other companies' giveaways inside, which meant great advertising for us, the "little guys" compared to many other vendors. And people would search out our booth every year, asking if we had the bags because they liked them and used them so much.

All that said, this year at the holidays, I received what I think is one of the best end-of-year (beginning of the year?) gifts yet: greeting cards.

Fixation Marketing in Bethesda, Maryland, created a box of greeting cards for unusual holidays -- Groundhog Day, Arbor Day, Daylight Savings, Flag Day... They're cleverly designed. They have cute sayings inside. And I'll definitely use them... and remember Fixation for sending them. (I've included the front of the card for Tax Day -- yes, Tax Day -- to the left. Inside it says, "Set Your Money Free.")

So kudos to Fixation for getting creative and providing me with a giveaway that is: unique, useful, and will earn them attention not just with me, but also with those to whom I send the cards.

So now I want to hear from you. What is the best (or worst) tchotchke that you've received or given away, and why did you like it (or not like it) so much?

Monday, January 4, 2010

NON-CCG EVENT: Twitch! Public Relations in the Age of Social Media

Twitch! Public Relations in the Age of Social Media

WHEN: Thursday, January 14, 2010 from 6:30-8:30pm
WHERE: Busboys and Poets at 14th and V Streets, Washington, DC

WHAT: A group of D.C. Journalists will discuss how they use social media to source their stories, conduct research and reach audiences.

MODERATOR: veteran newsman Jim Long (@newmediajim) of NBC Universal

COST: $20

YOU MUST REGISTER TO ATTEND. Space is limited. No on-site registration.