Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Credibility and Strategic Planning in PR

According to a Keller Fay study of US internet users, moms are more likely than other adults to share brand messages through word of mouth, mainly due to the credibility of this traditional, age-old medium. This is a truth that marketers and PR pros have a hard time accepting, especially in the realm of Twitter, Facebook and other tech-savvy social networks. After all, word of mouth is harder to fuel and more difficult to measure than other media outlets, even if it is a more trusted and credible source.

So how then, shall we build credibility fueling the message not only with new social media outlets, but also with traditional word of mouth? The start of building this credibility can first and foremost start through creating an overall strategy based on messages that clearly and precisely spell out what the client does and how they can help the audience and build trust, instead of solely focusing on the outlet itself. The answer may seem simple, but is often forgotten during overall strategic planning for the year ahead.

So whether you’re building a brand, concept or hoping to gain coverage for your B2B or consumer-focused client through social networks and media outlets in 2011, remember that the overall strategic message is the basis of credibility, and word of mouth combined with media (social or traditional) coverage is an unbeatable combination for building awareness.

Access the post here.

This post was contributed by Lauren Venegas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reputation Management Mistakes

As the year winds down, it's a great time to reflect on some of the successes in the industry. However, it's also a great time to take a closer look at some of the mistakes made this year, examining what went wrong and how to avoid a similar gaffe yourself.
The ReachCast Blog compiled a great Top 10 list: #Fail: 10 Online Reputation Management Mistakes from 2010. We recommend you take a look at the blunders and the "take away" advice to make sure your company is prepared for the year ahead.
Access the post here.
This post was contributed by Vicky Smithee.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Social Media Tool for Charities

With the constantly evolving realm of social media, PR execs are now charged with keeping up with the latest and greatest social media sites and tools.  Today's New York Times talks about the newest social media venture that the PR industry should take notice of. Jumo, created by a Facebook founder, launched today in an effort to connect people with nonprofits and charities. As stated in the NYT article, Jumo is aimed at doing the same thing for charities that Yelp did for restaurants and the retail business.

So, if you are tasked with handling community relations for your client or if you work for a nonprofit, or even if you're simply trying to spread the word about a cause you are personally vested in, this site is something you need to explore.  While there is no telling how successful this site will be, my hope is that it will create increased awareness for all those local charities out there that don't have the resources or deep pockets to generate awareness as well as increased donations for their causes. One thing is for certain, you don't want to get left behind in the next wave of social media tools. Our team is always trying to stay ahead of the curve, proactively looking for opportunities for our clients' next community outreach campaign - Jumo is just one more social media site we'll be researching.

This blog was contributed by Leah Ekmark. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

PR in the Postseason

Last month, the Texas Rangers made it to the World Series for the first time since the team’s inception 38 years ago. Okay, so I know this is old news, and don’t worry, I’m not going to rehash the entire goings-on of this year’s postseason.  In a nutshell, the Rangers lost in five games to the San Francisco Giants. While it was a hard loss for long-time Texas fans, we couldn’t stay sad for long since the loss came after a career season full of ups and more ups. So, why am I writing about this? It’s been over for a few weeks, after all.

As a PR student, what I realized while watching (mostly in disbelief) this postseason is how the 2010 Rangers squad must have been a PR practitioner’s dream. Think about it. The Rangers were the underdogs of the American League. And people love the underdog, especially in sports. This makes PR efforts a breeze, right? When the Rangers beat the Yankees in the American League finals, excitement roared across the nation. Why? Because, in general, people would much rather support the underdog. Support the little guy. Support the mom-and-pop store over the international big box. And since people love the underdogs, the media loves covering them.

Did that make this season a free ride for the Rangers’ folks in charge of media relations? As a PR pro, when your client is an underdog in the business world, you have to work much harder to get media attention for the client. But, when your client is the underdog in the sports world, media attention automatically follows. Your job is finished!

No, of course the job doesn’t end there, and I am not discrediting the Rangers’ PR crew. Just because the Rangers received a lot of media attention, does not mean their PR people just sat back and watched it happen. They still had to manage the attention and coordinate with a lot of reporters, camera crews and even bloggers, which can certainly be a difficult task. Plus, they also dealt with some negative media attention stemming from players’ personal issues and season-long changes in ownership and management. But, my point is that representing a team that the media itself is rooting for must be easier than representing one that the media or the community doesn’t support.

Now that the season is complete, uncertainty looms overhead. What will happen next year? Sure, it’s up to the team to determine how much media attention it will earn, but I have to think that the PR people behind the Rangers have another long, fun (hopefully drama-free) season ahead of them. Working for any organization with a large public following has to be a lot to handle, especially a successful sports team. In addition to added media attention, the Rangers now have a plethora of new bandwagon fans, maybe from younger generations who are reviving their baseball fandom. This creates an entirely new challenge for the PR people behind the organization.

No matter what happens I wish the team―and its behind-the-scenes support― good luck this next season—hopefully the Rangers will win the whole thing this year, even if it means giving up that the coveted underdog title while trying to stay on the front page and the center of the attention.

This blog was contributed by C. Pharr's fall intern, Carrie Rodgers. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Seeking Spring Intern

Addison-based C. Pharr & Company is seeking a dynamic intern for spring 2011 to assist with a variety of accounts ranging from real estate and construction services, to retail and healthcare. Junior and senior-level students studying journalism, public relations or marketing communications are encouraged to apply.

Candidate must be a resourceful self-starter with an understanding of media relations and AP style. Outstanding written and verbal communication skills, along with an eye for details and the ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment, are musts. This is a great opportunity to work in a client-focused team setting, interacting with all disciplines within the agency to gain real-world experience and view the collaborative nature of the agency environment.

To view a list of responsibilities, click here.

If interested, please send a cover letter and resume with current GPA to

Friday, November 12, 2010

‘Tis the season… the charitable season

November and December are popular times for nonprofits and charitable organizations to ramp up their efforts in order to coincide with the holidays. Not only is this a great time of year to get personally involved with a cause you care about, it is an opportunity to evaluate how your for-profit clients are interacting with the community’s charitable organizations.

Cause marketing can be an essential part of any reputation management endeavor for a client. Donations in the form of time, services or money can be a positive way to build your client’s “character.” Adopting a nonprofit partner shows your employees, customers and everyone else that the company values more than just the bottom line.

When looking for your next cause marketing idea, keep these things in mind:
  • Pick something that makes sense—Find natural relationships between your client and a potential cause.  We could see the hypocrisy of Phillip Morris partnering with American Cancer Society, so seek out a nonprofit whose goals line up with your own. A local restaurant and The North Texas Food Bank? That sounds more like it.
  • Try it out—There’s no rule that you can’t make a one-time donation, or that you have to pick only one group to work with forever. Recently, the PRSA-affiliated networking group Dallas NuPros spent an afternoon serving lunch at The Salvation Army. No formal relationship or schedule was decided, but this single activity got the ball rolling on establishing a formal community service project.  Establish a connection between the two organizations, and see if additional connections among the people of both groups develop. 
  • Be sincere—Consumers and clients can tell when they see something fake or forced. (See some of the worst here.) Don’t seek out a nonprofit for the sole purpose of advancing your own reputation. Remember the reason you are working with a charity: to help a good cause. Hang on to that, and it will provide a good guideline on how to develop this relationship, how to promote the cause and the appropriate way to weave your own client’s name into that story.
Doing “good” makes you look good, right? More importantly, it can make you feel good, so make an effort this holiday season and encourage your clients to do the same.

This post was contributed by Vicky Smithee.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

We're Hosting An Event...Now What?

I'm sure many of you have been experiencing party overload this fall, as we have here at C. Pharr PR. Amidst countless client events, media sponsored parties and fundraisers with no end in sight due to the onslaught of upcoming holiday parties, we decided now would be a good time to take a moment to discuss getting PR for your events. Like many PR agencies, we are tasked with capturing both our client's audience and the media's attention for all of our events. We are often asked what is the best way to secure pre- and post-media coverage for any events we are involved in.

Rather than re-invent the wheel and write another blog post, we decided to share with our readers a recent  post from Brooke Nolan's PR Blog about garnering PR coverage for your event. This blog post is full of great tips and reminders for all of those PR professionals out there trying to figure out the best way to capture the consumer's and the media's heart! Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Making Lemonade

During the middle of summer’s triple digit heat, few things sound more refreshing than a cold glass of lemonade. And for some reason this summer, more so than in summers past, I can’t get enough of the stuff –preferably the pink variety. But either way, the thought of lemonade always brings to mind the saying everyone has heard a thousand times, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Although somewhat tired, the adage is still a very applicable piece of advice. I’ve thought a lot about this saying as it pertains to businesses dealing with the piles of lemons brought on as a result of the poor economy. As PR professionals, we know what to do with good client news, but it’s times when those good news announcements are few and far between that we really have to get creative. We sometimes need to find the good in not-so-good news. In other words, we make lemonade.

We recently came across an opportunity for the founder and CEO of one of our clients, MileMeter, that demonstrates just this – how to take a business challenge and turn it into an effective PR tactic. The opportunity came in the form of a new feature on, called “How I Saved My Company.” Essentially, the feature highlights business owners via video features, explaining what it’s like to own a company that struggles but survives. In his feature, MileMeter’s Chris Gay shared stories of obstacles he encountered while getting his business off the ground, including the global financial crisis that hit in the early stages of its development.

Fortuitously, shortly after Gay sent the shut down notice to all his shareholders, MileMeter was named a finalist out of 900 entrants in’s first start-up competition. This ultimately resuscitated his young company, making for a great “How I Saved My Company” story.

In the weeks after we identified this opportunity, we hired a videographer and worked with Chris to film a video explaining his experience, and sent it to the producers of this new feature. The video was posted, and in the days and weeks following, MileMeter saw dramatic increases in Web traffic, and the post received a number of positive comments.

NYT reader, Katie from Louisiana wrote, “Awesome idea for a company! As an avid bicycler, I was wishing for something like this the other day. It makes sense both environmentally and economically. I hope that this idea catches on quickly in states besides Texas and that we can foster smart entrepreneurship like this.”

In leveraging its near-death business crisis, we were able to secure national exposure for our client, resulting in increased awareness and attention from consumers all over the world. So, don’t be afraid to talk about a client’s business struggles –  sometimes it’s the secret ingredient for the perfect glass of lemonade.

Click here to view MileMeter’s “How I Saved My Company” video on

Monday, August 16, 2010

The importance of educating college students in public relations

"Today is our intern's last day and in honor of his final hours with us here at C. Pharr, we asked him to write a blog post to tell us about what he has learned and also to impart some advice to future interns and current students. So, let us introduce you to Colton Wright and his PR stream of consciousness..."

I am what they call a super senior, which I’m told is pretty common “these days.”  “They,” being the many students who came before me and gave a good name to not graduating on time.  My last semester is about to begin at Baylor University and I’m about to take my final journalism and public relations classes.  When recalling my undergrad career, I’m constantly thinking “did I do enough?” “Have I learned enough?” and “What can I do this last semester do improve my communication and PR skills?”.  So, did I do enough?  I don’t think so, but I don’t think anyone can say they have done everything possible to prepare themselves during college until they start their career in public relations. There’s always something to learn to better yourself before you get that first job. And for many students, that something is interning.

I didn’t have a clear picture of what the public relations industry was when I chose my major.  I chose something that I excelled in, but my major classes didn’t show me what my future career would look like. I recommend any student going into public relations to obtain more than just one internship to truly see what happens in the day-to-day life of public relations.  There is a whole subset of areas a person can go in to when picking a career in public relations:  corporate, non-profit, government (careful, it’s “public affairs” when dealing with government) and the agency world to name a few.  I didn’t know anything about those areas from school, all I knew was the theory behind PR:  Network, meet the reporters, write, take on the masses and score an “A” on the final.  Well that’s easy.  In theory I can do all of that and, theoretically, become successful in public relations.

But when I started to intern I learned a lot more than writing and networking (those are just perks).  I have interned in the corporate, non-profit and agency spears, and each one provided a new PR lesson; a jumpstart of what PR actually is.  Public relations is more than planning events; trying to spin a disaster (BP Oil); a popular TV show (The Hills, Sex and the City and PoweR Girls – Why aren’t PR males represented on TV?); and a pretty smile.  Public relations is a lot of writing, a time commitment, the ability to improvise quickly (but knowledgeably and calmly), addressing a crisis and reflecting on previous projects.   PR is constantly evolving and a person in PR should be able to adapt to new situations and learn how to engage the target market.

Assignments completed for school (and those I complete during my final semester this fall) are already out of date.  Jeremy Porter, a writer from Journalistics , asked, “Do [journalists] want to receive news releases?  Do they find news releases the best source of information for finding story ideas?”. “No” to both inquiries.  Well that’s scary since I spent most of my college career writing news releases.  Instead of writing “at them,” Porter says to engage reporters in person and have a conversation with them; connect through Twitter and other social media websites.  That seems pretty obvious – humans like interacting with other humans – but apparently it’s not common practice because a lot of PR blogs mention this over and over.

With the digital age of micro blogging and other social media tools, PR is changing.  I haven’t seen “social media 101” on a university course listing but can recommend Eric Qualman’s Socialnomics as a good start to learn the potential of social media.  Through an internship I’ve learned how to use TweetDeck, Hootsuite and the crux of those two; Twitter.  Social media is a market that many find confusing when applying it to jobs but the importance of social media has long lasting effects.  Companies have seen this and have started hiring social media experts. @Mashable regularly Tweets jobs in social media – some request 10+ years experience … 10 years? Wasn’t that the peak of Xanga? – and posts these job opportunities to its website,  The need to be flexible and adapting to change is necessary now more than ever, and public relations practitioners need to adapt to remain competitive in the market.  

Understanding what public relations is and how to effectively use it and learning to adapt is something an internship can give a shining hopeful.   Writing skills, interacting with social connections on the Internet and remaining competitive with market trends and experiencing the demand is what an internship can provide.   For my fellow peers graduating in December, let’s find something more to do than Underwater Basket Weaving.  Tempting I know.  Let’s stay competitive and learn something that we can bring to a future career.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Now Hiring: Fall Intern

Public Relations Internship Opportunity

C. Pharr & Company is seeking a dynamic intern for fall 2010 to assist with a variety of accounts ranging from real estate, design and construction services to advertising and retail/multi-family developments. Junior and senior-level students studying journalism, public relations or marketing communications are encouraged to apply.

Candidate must be a resourceful self-starter with an understanding of media relations, AP style and have an exceptional eye for detail. Outstanding written/verbal communications, research and organizational skills, as well as ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment are musts. This is a great opportunity to work within a client-focused team setting, interacting with all disciplines within the agency to get real-world experience and views of the collaborative nature of the agency environment. Please send a cover letter and resume with current GPA to No phone calls please.

C. Pharr & Company is a business-to-business public relations agency that serves a variety of clients. We participate in crisis communications, marketing, various public relations activities, advertising coordination, planning and research. To learn more, visit

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rewarding Dads while rewarding our client

Public relations is all about getting your name out there…the right way. When working in business-to-consumer communications, getting your client’s name out there becomes especially tricky when the products and services you’re trying to promote compete in a large market like Dallas.

With every holiday, there are numerous opportunities to earn spots on gift guides and multiple attempts to come up with the newest way to celebrate annual events. A recent project for our client, The Plaza at Preston Center, took some creative thinking on how we would catch attention for Father’s Day.

We decided to host a contest to honor the deserving fathers and father figures out there. Rather than simply offering up a prize to those who entered, we requested free-form essays and video submissions from children, wives and friends about why the Dad in their life deserved the best Father’s Day ever. We started initial planning for the contest months before the family-focused holiday, and we had to keep a few things in mind to ensure the Most Deserving Dad contest was a success:

  1. Choose a theme. We thought about focusing our attention on the sometimes forgotten dads out there. This year, we wanted to switch the focus, say from Mother’s Day, to a holiday reserved for just the boys. As someone who knows fathers can be just as integral as mothers on a family’s strength, the chance to see how others feel about their father or father figure was intriguing. We expected much different answers and sentiments when asking about dear old dads rather than moms.
    1. Hit your target. By picking a contest that honored male father figures, we were asking their wives, in addition to children and friends, to submit entries. Lots of the shops at The Plaza at Preston Center are focused on selling items to the female demographic, so we were able to capitalize on the audience we traditionally target . By leveraging those who already shop there, we are able to expose the brand to those who might not.
      1. Call in some help. It’s no surprise signing my name on the press release doesn’t make anyone at D Magazine take a special look, but we know finding a way to include the names of some heavy hitters might get their attention. So, we enlisted the help of Kent Rathbun, the famed local chef, Gene Gates, the co-host of The Gene and Julie Show on 103.7 FM, and Eric Nicholson, a local newspaper editor, to help us judge the entries. Our idea to partner with media personalities and local celebrities undoubtedly helped secure quality coverage in print and on-air.
        1. Keep it human. Yes, the purpose of the contest was to serve the needs of our client. Yes, we needed to get the contest promoted in the media. But, in the meantime, can we make really great memories for a family? We had multiple entrants say that even if they didn’t win, they were going to share their essays with their dads for Father’s Day. We were thrilled to provide an opportunity for those people to pay tribute to their fathers or father figures this year. We received a lot of heart-warming entries, and we’re happy to make this holiday special for the recipients. It certainly makes everything easier when you’re working on a project that makes you smile. And in case you haven’t smiled today, check out the reaction of our grand prize winner, Steve:

        Since the contest has closed and the prizes have been doled out, we’re calling this year’s contest a success. We were able to connect with an audience segment we traditionally do not focus on, and we secured multiple media hits for the contest, enhancing The Plaza’s reputation for actively caring about its community. Not only were we able to brighten many families’ celebrations this Father’s Day and remind them of the special bonds many of them have with their patriarchs, we were able to establish a bond between The Plaza’s brand with people we reach… the right way.


        Monday, May 17, 2010

        Turning a client milestone into a media frenzy

        In January, we posted a blog entry highlighting the value of persistence when corresponding with the media.  Ideas included finding news angles to work with, creating a local angle from a national news trend and pursuing the right contact person for the pitch, among others. We noted that persistence is key in any industry and still hold that to be true.

        However, before persistence becomes relevant to your pitching process, a fresh idea must be generated. It’s no secret that we’re in an “information-overload” age, and if there is too much “noise,” value for each piece of information is easily lost.  So, the question is: What type of fresh idea gains attention and, therefore, value?

        (Let’s keep in mind that reporters, on average, get about 200 emails per day – if not more.)

        One fresh idea was revealed last week at an event for one of our clients, Trinity Christian Academy. Rod Morris, head of Lower School, committed to rappel down the Tom Landry Stadium wall as a reward for his students (second - fourth grade) if they read  252 million words by April 30.  Mr. Morris knew that it would take a very creative and exciting reward to encourage these students to read – and this was a reward his students will never forget. 

        As PR pros, it is our responsibility to recognize and capitalize on incredible opportunities, such as this, that our clients present – whether it’s generated from their side or yours.  Mr. Morris’ rappelling stunt not only prompted the lower school students of Trinity to reach their goal (nearly two weeks ahead of time, by the way!), but also resulted in five local TV newscasts that aired that day and another early morning newscast that aired the following day.

        So, the next time you’re preparing to announce a client milestone – whether it is  another award announcement or   a new project – allow yourself, as a PR pro, to think differently (new angles!), be creative and make it visual!

        And in the words of Peter Shankman, “Don’t ever stop. We work in an industry that doesn’t ‘end’ just because we got some media attention. There’s always more to get. Figure out different ways of getting it.”

        This post was contributed by Lauren Venegas.


        Friday, April 23, 2010

        Brand Yourself- Back to the Basics

        Branding is a term close to all of our hearts in the PR industry. On a daily basis, we help maintain our client’s brands: their identity and their story. We want to pitch each of their unique stories to the outside world. Brian Solis, PR guru, recently wrote a book titled “Engage” about how brands and businesses can build, cultivate and measure success in the new web. It is all about what you can do to leverage yourself, set yourself apart from the crowd.

        As a second semester college senior facing graduation in 22 days (but who’s counting anyway) my mind is consumed with branding both professionally and personally. I am constantly reading articles and blogs about the importance of branding yourself, creating your own unique brand. I even follow @brandyourself on Twitter. We all spend so much time consumed with branding our clients, but what about branding ourselves? I read pointers such as, “Make your Twitter name reflect and identify yourself professionally,” but what does this all mean? The same is true for companies, brands and individuals alike; there are several steps that need to be taken before diving straight into “branding” yourself.

        College is often referred to as a time to “find yourself.”  As cliché as this statement sounds, there is substantial truth to it. Understanding yourself is the key to branding yourself. We become wrapped up in creating a perfect tale unlike any other that truly portrays our superior qualities and skills, but it is time to return to the basics.

        Last summer, I took a management course taught by a fantastic professor. On the first day of class, she told us the key to understanding and working effectively with any boss, client, co-worker, teammate or friend is to know their personality type. Before being able to work effectively with others, you must first be aware of your personality. She made us go home that night and take the Myers-Brigg personality test. This single assignment was the stepping stone in the challenge to brand myself.

        The Myers-Brigg personality test identifies 16 distinctive personality types based upon interactions with different preferences, such as types of decision making and information processing.
        "Perception involves all the ways of becoming aware of things, people, happenings or ideas. Judgment involves all the ways of coming to conclusions about what has been perceived. If people differ systematically in what they perceive and in how they reach conclusions, then it is only reasonable for them to differ correspondingly in their interests, reactions, values, motivations, and skills." -Myers-Brigg
        Knowing and understanding my personality type changed the way that I presented myself to others and interacted with them. It helped me better gauge my strengths and weaknesses. Identifying my personality was the best way of getting the ball rolling on branding myself. While I am still in the midst of branding myself, and know I will be for years to come, I constantly stop and ask myself a couple of questions:
            What do I know?
            What skills am I good at?
            What am I truly passionate about?
            What excites me?
        Understanding your personality, as well as others, and exploring both what excites you and what you love is only the first step in branding yourself, but it is important step.

        As the pressure of graduation and starting my career slowly begins to weigh more heavily on my back, I force myself to sit back and take time to brand myself. We all know how important it for our clients, so why not make it a priority for ourselves?

        -Charlotte Robertson, intern, spring ‘10

        Monday, April 12, 2010

        Public Relations Internship- Summer 2010

        Addison-based C. Pharr & Company is seeking a dynamic intern for summer 2010 to assist with a variety of accounts ranging from real estate, design and construction services to advertising and retail/multi-family developments. Junior and senior-level students studying journalism, public relations or marketing communications are encouraged to apply.
        Candidate must be a resourceful self-starter with an understanding of media relations, AP style and have an exceptional eye for detail. Outstanding written/verbal communications, research and organizational skills, as well as ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment are musts. Great opportunity to work within a client-focused team setting, interacting with all disciplines within the agency to get real-world experience and views of the collaborative nature of the agency environment. Please send a cover letter and resume with current GPA to No phone calls please.

        C. Pharr & Company is a business-to-business public relations agency that serves a variety of clients. We participate in crisis communications, marketing, various public relations activities, advertising coordination, planning and research. To learn more, visit

        Monday, April 5, 2010

        Looking for a Senior AE

        Looking for a job in PR or know of someone who is? Keep reading for details:

        C. Pharr & Company is looking for a talented Senior Account Executive to join its North Dallas office. The ideal candidate should be highly motivated and professional, have strong account management and media relations experience and be a self-starter. This position requires the ability to interact effectively with clients, media and account teams.

              -       Creating, managing and implementing communications programs
        -          Conducting effective media relations at local, regional and national levels
        -          Writing news and feature materials
        -          Managing clients, projects, events and junior staff
        -          Contributing to social media campaigns and creative programs
        -          PR agency experience of two-to-four years
        -          Strong written and oral communications capabilities
        -          Communications/PR/Journalism or related undergrad degrees
        -          Professional appearance and poise
        -          Experience developing key messages, media relations and integrated marketing campaigns
        -          Exceptional interpersonal skills
        -          Self starter with high energy, meticulous attention to detail

        All responses will be handled with total confidentiality. Competitive salary plus benefits. No relocation expenses provided.

        APPLY: Qualified candidates should send resumes to If you require more information prior to sending your resume, please email your questions to the same address. For more information, visit


        Monday, March 15, 2010

        Calling All PR Mentors

        It's that time of year again! The Dallas Chapter of PRSA is helping our next generation of PR pros learn best practices by connecting participating chapter members/organizations with eager, young PR leaders who are hoping to gain an inside scoop on a day in the life of a PR exec. All PR professionals can relate to this urge to figure out what a "typical" day looks like in the public relations industry.

        PRSA's annual Pro-Am Day is one event that helps college students figure out just what it is that we do every day. Be sure to sign up to be a mentor.  It doesn't take much time or money on your part...only the urge to help out someone else early on in their career.  This is your chance to help teach Generation Y that a job in PR isn't all about chatting on the phone or Tweeting about your day-to-day activities. Who knows, you might learn a thing or two from this experience as well! 

        Go to the PRSA Dallas Web site or see below for additional details on becoming a mentor on April 9th! The C. Pharr team has already signed on!

        April 9: Annual Pro-Am Day – Call for Mentors

        PRSA Dallas is calling all mentors and students to save the date for the annual Pro-Am Day on Friday, April 9. Pro-Am Day 2010 connects university students with seasoned PR practitioners through “shadowing” opportunities and a special luncheon program.

        Professionals will host students in the morning, providing them with direct experience and insight into the public relations world. Then, participants will come together for the monthly PRSA Dallas luncheon featuring Stacy Cinatl, senior vice president of strategy and operations for the George W. Bush Institute.

        Sign up to host a student!

        We’re currently looking for volunteers. If you’re interested in hosting a student this year, please contact Christi Chesner at

        For more information about Pro-Am Day and the 2010 program, visit


        Monday, March 8, 2010

        D/FW Health Care Journalists Offer Tips to Local Communicators

        The upward shift from traditional media to online – from blogs to social media – has left us with fewer reporters to connect with and more competition for less space in print. To offer local PR pros an opportunity to learn current tips and best practices from journalists first-hand, we recently teamed with our client, Jim O’Gara, president of Dallas-based advertising agency OnMessage and leader of the D/FW American Marketing Association (AMA) Health Care SIG, to organize a panel of local health care journalists for the SIG’s second event: “How Your Company Can Secure Coverage in Healthcare Media.”

        The panel, moderated by O’Gara, included Jason Roberson, health care business reporter, Dallas Morning News; Elizabeth Bassett, health care, science and technology reporter, Fort Worth Business Press; Chad Watt, associate editor, Dallas Business Journal; and Jan Jarvis, health care reporter, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

        Panelists confirmed that when considering a pitched idea, the news that affects the largest number of people with relevancy to the area has a better chance of becoming a story.
        “If a nationwide health trend can be localized, it becomes more significant to our readers,” Bassett said.

        Watt added, “Health care is a complex topic. Bring it home to the people – make it accessible to many and keep it simple.”
        The use of social media in terms of picking up story tips or connecting with PR pros was also discussed. We learned that despite the “buzz,” social media outlets do not rank high as a channel to find sources and story ideas for these individuals.
        “The majority of my stories come directly from readers, so about 75 percent of my time is spent in the office,” Roberson said. “I want to brainstorm story ideas and angles with you on the phone.”
        Jarvis added, “I prefer face to face. I’ve found that some of the best stories developed while I was out of the office, on the ground.”
        As you know, having the opportunity to interact face-to-face with journalists and learn the specific topics that appeal to them individually is invaluable to our business. So, we encourage you to take advantage of these types of opportunities - you never know who you might meet and what tips you'll bring back to the office!


        Wednesday, January 27, 2010

        Persistence is Key

        While there are only four days left in the first month of the year we wanted to share one last blog post about another resolution to consider.

        Working in the PR industry, all PR pros have experienced the feelings of frustration and disappointment when calls and emails go unanswered from reporters and editors. Unfortunately this happens more frequently than many of us would like, but the key is not to give up. So, the final resolution to add to your check list before January is officially over is persistence.

        Persistence is key in any industry, not just for PR practitioners, but before we go any further, we need to outline what persistence is not. Persistence is not bombarding the media with repeated emails and phone calls with the same press release or pitch. Persistence is not making a follow up call to ensure a reporter received the press release you emailed. And persistence is most definitely not getting upset and yelling at reporters when they don’t like your story idea.

        Many times PR pros feel pressure from clients to get stories in the media. With the start of 2010, all businesses are ramping up their media relations efforts again, hoping to make last year’s down economy a distant memory. Persistence is the number one tool all PR practitioners will need in 2010 to help their clients achieve their business goals.

        When you make the first pitch of the year (which I’m sure many of you have already done) and a reporter does not like it or does not respond, try again. Find a new angle to work with. Can you tie your client’s story to a timely event or holiday? Can you create a local angle from a national news trend? The lesson here is to keep trying but ensure that you are sending fresh ideas – if you keep sending the same pitch, your email will most likely end up in the “circular file” as reporters are constantly struggling to fish out the best, most timely story ideas from their already flooded inboxes. The Bad Pitch Blog has some great pitching tips with real life examples of bad pitches. You do not want your (or your client’s) 15-minutes of fame to be on this blog. Just like the age-old saying goes, “think before you speak,” you should also “think before you pitch.”

        One other thought – maybe your pitch is not getting through to the right person. Again, persistence is paramount. When a story isn’t getting through, take a step back and re-evaluate. Did you do your homework? Are you pitching the right reporter? Just because a reporter is listed on Mediatlas or some other online editorial research service does not mean this reporter still covers this beat or is even still working at that publication. Do not rely solely on these services as your research tool – when your pitch is not getting through it’s time to think like a journalist and figure out the missing link. Check out this great article from Bulldog Reporter that provides more tips on pitching.

        Persistence was the key to our success from this recent TV hit on Austin’s Fox network. One of our clients MileMeter is an innovative by-the-mile insurance company that just launched a little over a year ago. Its unique by-the-mile pricing system is no longer new so we had to devise a new angle to remind the media and the public of why by-the-mile insurance is still a newsworthy story. As a first step, we waited – we waited because we were busy doing our homework to figure out which reporter would most likely have an interest in our story. Once we found that reporter, we crafted a targeted pitch geared toward this reporter’s interests and previous story coverage on the Fox network. While we would love to say we got an immediate response from this reporter, we didn’t. Rather than giving up or taking the approach of beating a dead horse, repeatedly sending the reporter the same tired old pitch, we took a step back and re-evaluated our pitch. We followed up again but with a new timely, local angle and bingo, we got a hit! Check out the TV segment below, which was a direct result of persistence.

        Persistence is one trait that all PR pros must possess if they ever hope to succeed, but on that same note, it is our duty to figure out why a story idea isn’t working versus re-sending the same thing over and over. While your job is to sell your client’s story to the media, there are times when a client’s idea just isn’t newsworthy. PR execs are hired for a reason – to provide expert counsel to clients. So if you know a story idea won’t mesh, tell your client why and then figure out another angle that will work. Again, your clients are relying on you to create media-worthy ideas so you have to be persistent in order to find that hidden gem in a story.


        Thursday, January 21, 2010

        Getting More Serious With Your PRSA Chapter

        It’s the start of 2010, which means business and social calendars are starting to fill up with networking events. For many PR pros, between attending several luncheons and panel discussions whilst mixing and mingling with fellow industry colleagues, you might find yourself smitten with your local PRSA chapter. If that’s the case, you are probably looking for ways to get more involved so we wanted to give you a few tips on how to take this “relationship” to the next level.

        Diving in deeper with your local organization can be a bit like taking the next step in a dating relationship—you need to define that relationship and make the move to pursue what it is you want. Here are two things to consider:

        First, decide where you intend for this relationship to go. Would you like a long-term commitment with your local chapter, perhaps spearheading a committee or even starting a new committee for the year? Or, are you planning on a more casual liaison - do you have a great idea for a one-time event? Establishing your expectations up front is the key to avoiding spreading yourself too thin.

        Once you have defined the relationship, perhaps the most important thing you can do is take the initiative in pursuing the project/committee of your “desire.” Would you like to head up the social media committee? Do you believe the chapter needs more diversity programs? Be bold and approach your chapter leadership with an outline of proposed initiatives. PRSA leaders will be able to connect you with the appropriate resources to make it happen and will be thrilled to have another volunteer on board to help generate fresh ideas.

        Here at C. Pharr, we’ve each found fulfilling yet diverse opportunities within the Dallas PRSA chapter:

        Leah Ekmark and Marie Powell - Drinks+Diversity co-chairs
        Katie Flodder and Vicky Smithee - NuPros co-chair and NuPros board
        Shelby Tuttle - Agency referral

        If you have innovative ideas and a desire to make an impact, consider carefully what you’d like to accomplish and then be bold. It’s time to take action in order to create meaningful opportunities for yourself and your local PRSA chapter. As with any relationship – both on a professional and business level – this saying rings true, “You only get out of something what you put into it.”

        Wednesday, January 13, 2010

        January is National Mentoring Month

        During the first part of January nearly the entire world is busy trying to keep their New Year's resolutions while others are still trying to figure out what resolutions to make. The point is everyone is wrapped up in making this year better than the last.

        You know the drill - many of us vow to lose weight this year or save more money in 2010 but how many of us have really stuck to these resolutions? One attainable resolution many of us should consider is becoming a role model/mentor for someone in 2010 whether it is in your professional or personal life. In fact, January is officially known as National Mentoring Month! Being that person others can count on for guidance or lean on for advice is something that brings dual rewards for both involved. Even better, anyone can serve as a mentor or mentee during any stage of life.

        In the PR realm, finding a mentor is the key to success in our fast-paced industry. The path of public relations is diverse, constantly changing and evolving most recently with the advent of social media. There are many career options to pursue making it essential to have someone there to help you navigate the field while introducing you to contacts and telling you which books and blogs to read.

        So when that intern strolls by your desk asking what to work on today, be sure to take a little more time showing him/her the ropes. Remember, they are there to absorb everything they can and to seek your professional guidance - chances are you were in that same position at one point in your career. Who knows, your intern just might have a thing or two to teach you about social media. This role of reverse mentoring is commonplace now so even the most seasoned PR veterans are learning new tips about social networking.

        Don't think you're off the hook if your company doesn't have interns or you're not in a position to manage the intern duties - you can still serve as a mentor for a new colleague (young or old) in your organization. And if you're still making excuses and don't think you have time to establish a mentoring relationship, then how about being a mentor for the day? Dallas PRSA hosts Pro Am day each spring, which allows college students from all over Dallas and beyond to shadow a PR professional for the day. It's a great way to give students a taste of a day-in-the-life of PR. Be sure to check Dallas PRSA - details are coming soon.

        So as you're thinking about all the New Year's resolutions you've already broken, this is one resolution you can keep.