Monday, November 26, 2012

Continued (Again): Take-Aways from @PRSADallas Comm Summit: The nitty gritty on #social media, #digital and #CSR

Today I am sharing the third and final tip I learned from PRSA Dallas Communications Summit. This very well may be the most talked about topic in PR today: social media. As the digital world continues to change, it is key for PR pros to stay on top of trends and best practices so we can advise and help our clients accordingly.

But first, in case you missed my previous blog post, you can check it out here. Taking the time to get to know your targeted media is another important part of PR that is often undervalued by practitioners. If you do overlook the value of media relationships, that will be the final nail in your coffin.

Take-Away #3: Your PR plan should incorporate traditional, social and digital media – but only if you’re ready to make the commitment.

This is probably one of the hottest topics in PR right now: how should businesses develop and execute their digital PR strategy? As C. Pharr’s Leah Ekmark Williams wrote recently, this is particularly tough for the B2B sector, which is still struggling to find its best medium of communication online. With the world of social media, mobile and online channels constantly changing, it is imperative to take a close look at your organization and analyze how you can best communicate with your constituents. Even more importantly, it is a “must” to evaluate your resources and determine if you’re ready to take-on the beast that is social media.

Here are some quick tips and insights I took away from Comm Summit’s “Creating a Digital Strategy” session:

  • Social media is the best engagement tool for the price, but you must dedicate resources to make your social campaign successful. Before you embark on your social media journey, take a step back and look at where you want to take your company. Can social media help you get there? Know where you’re headed before implementing a social media plan.
  • How we engage through social media can help (or destroy) our brand. Social media is unique in the way that it can break down the barriers between businesses and the public, but it is important to create and share compelling content that earns us the right to have a social presence.
  • Get the most out of your PR and marketing efforts by promoting content via your social channels. With the growth of digital, news is able to hang around for a lot longer. Digital records will always be there, so be creative and think about creating “timeless, evergreen news.”
  • Social and digital worlds are still evolving. No one is a social media expert yet.
This blog was contributed by Britney Schaeffer @baschaef

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Continued: Take-Aways from @PRSADallas Comm Summit: The nitty gritty on #social media, #digital and #CSR

In my last blog post, I talked about corporate social responsibility (CSR) and community involvement. So many companies these days are touting their goodwill, so it’s important for PR pros to get creative about how they promote clients’ CSR. But, don’t forget motives matter! Always keep the Southwest vs. American analogy top of mind. Here is my second tip from PRSA Dallas Communications Summit:

Take-Away #2: Take the time to get to know your targeted media.

During Comm Summit’s morning session, I was able to participate in what PRSA Dallas calls “media roundtables.” In these media roundtables I sat face-to-face with reporters, editors and writers in the Dallas area, many of which C. Pharr pitches on a regular basis, and learned what makes them tick. I’m not sure what I thought was going to result from these candid conversations, but I did not walk away with an equation about how to reach out to mass media and guaranteed client coverage. What I learned is there is no formula, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to media relations.

Some reporters are interested in human interest stories, others want statistics and data, and others still are looking for the latest trend. The only way you can really discern what a reporter covers is to follow them, read their articles and interact with them when appropriate. More specifically, social media is an area that has really changed the game for PR pros and is allowing us to interact with media on a new level. We can follow our targeted reporters on Twitter, read their commentary via social media channels and respond to them, generating meaningful conversation and relationships.

Relationships with media are key. Once you have established your credibility and resourcefulness, many reporters and writers will add you to their “short list” of contacts when they are looking for article resources. This is the holy grail for PR pros, but it can only be achieved if you take the time to get to know your targeted media, whether it’s at the international, national or local level. Maybe surprisingly, the media actually wants to get to know PR practitioners and our clients, so it’s worth the time to do your research and learn how they want to interact with you.

My third and final tip from Comm Summit is coming up next week. Stay tuned…you’re not going to want to miss this one! (Spoiler Alert: it’s about social.)

This blog was contributed by Britney Schaeffer @baschaef.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Take-Aways from @PRSADallas Comm Summit: The nitty gritty on #social media, #digital and #CSR

If you are even remotely interested in PR, you should know that the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is the largest community network of public relations and communications practitioners in the country. Recently, I had the privilege of attending the annual PRSA Dallas Communications Summit, featuring local, national and international PR pros (including the likes of Mary Kay Inc., Travelocity and a UK-based rep from NASDAQ OMX).

Over the next week or so, I will be sharing some of the key take-aways I learned from “PR’s best” at Comm Summit, so stay tuned! Here is tip number one:

Take-Away #1: Engage and give back because it’s the right thing to do…not because you want a pat on the back.

In Comm Summit’s breakfast keynote, Crayton Webb, director of corporate communications and corporate social responsibility for Mary Kay Inc., walked through the story behind Mary Kay and how she started her portfolio with lobbyists years ago as she was working to increase women’s rights. As Mary Kay Inc. continued to grow and expand internationally, the founder did not let the causes near and dear to her heart slip away. In fact, Mary Kay’s many divisions around the world celebrate International Women’s Day, and Mary Kay lobbyists still campaign for important issues on Capitol Hill.

A huge take-away that jumped out at me during Crayton’s presentation was “good will and the bank of public trust.” Companies large and small are publicizing their involvement in the community, but are they doing it for the right reasons? To emphasize that point, Crayton shared a powerful example comparing Southwest Airlines and American Airlines.

Several years ago, Southwest got into some trouble with the FAA, and they were reprimanded, however business continued as usual. Shortly thereafter, American recognized they had made the same mistake as Southwest, and they proactively admitted their negligence. The response to American was fiercely negative. People wanted to know why American had done nothing about this problem for the past 10 years. When people heard about Southwest getting in trouble, they did not think nearly as negatively about the company, because the airline had already built up significant reserves in the bank of public trust due to its outstanding customer service and support over the years. American? Not so much.

The bank of public trust is a powerful thing that can make or break your organization, and it is something PR professionals cannot ignore. In fact, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming so commonplace that PR pros must get creative with how they promote the goodwill of their clients. But, the requirements remain the same: pure motives and true engagement with your stakeholders.

This blog was contributed by Britney Schaeffer, @baschaef


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

C. Pharr Seeking Spring 2013 Intern

It's that time again! C. Pharr is looking for an intern for the spring semester. Read below for more information!

Dallas-based C. Pharr & Company Ink is seeking a dynamic intern for spring 2013 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


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Digital Direction – Taking Business to the Next Level

Love it or hate it, social media cannot be ignored in the B2B world. But it must be strategic, or you’re wasting your time and resources. So don’t follow the social media herd, creating Twitter and Facebook pages because “everyone else is.” Take the time to identify and utilize the one or two strategies that can truly help make your business more competitive and you more prominent.  C. Pharr is helping clients define tailored “social media roadmaps” to determine which digital platforms are best, from blogging, community building and e-newsletters to Facebook and YouTube. There is no magic bullet in B2B social media, but there’s always room for some form of digital direction in every PR program. 

While social media engagement is obvious for the B2C world, B2B is still struggling to find its voice and best medium online. This is just one of the myriad of reasons why so many B2B company blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages now look like a ghost town. You’ve heard it before – the key is strategy and outlining your goals. To start, many credible, well-known business publications have joined the social chatter. Business and trade journalists are flocking to social media sites to dig for story ideas and trends, mass-distribute their latest article, or simply to find expert sources. They are using social media as a competitive tool to remain in front of their audience 24/7 while making valuable connections online. B2B should take this same approach and determine which digital strategy works best for them.

For instance, some C. Pharr clients have learned the value of increasing their LinkedIn presence to stand out among competitors. Beyond using it as a recruitment tool, some are using it to stay in touch with a distributed workforce and make valuable connections online, yielding increased business referrals. For others, we are using different digital channels to amplify a client’s message or their most recent deal. Clients are no longer at the mercy of the media to broadcast their news. Social media has changed the game, enabling businesses to self-promote their news and serve as their own digital news channel.  This ability to remain top-of-mind as clients and prospective clients encounter your message in different outlets and multiple mediums, helps propel your business in front of the competition.

Our clients have leveraged social media, taking a traditional media relations approach and integrating a social media component for each news item. The key to standing out from the competition isn’t about pumping out “x” number of Tweets per day so you can say you’re “social.” It’s about generating relevant information your clients are passionate about so they actually pay attention and are actively engaged with your news and share it with their own networks.  During the social media bootcamps we lead for business and consumer brands, C. Pharr teaches clients to use social media as just one more tool in their marketing arsenal to stay at the forefront of competition. We always pair it with a traditional media relations campaign while utilizing digital connections as a tool to attract new clients (and media attention – of course!) while reinforcing client retention. 

As another year approaches, so does the onslaught of social media tools and apps that will be touted as the next “big thing.”  We are busy strategizing about what social media approach makes sense for our clients while staying in front of the social media herd.  The question remains, what’s next for social media, especially for B2B, and how do we compete? If I had a crystal ball I would tell you video is next and will soon be commonplace in robust communication and marketing strategies. C. Pharr is steadily guiding clients to identify video opportunities to build upon their thought leadership platforms and social media networking. Staying at the forefront of this trend will help our clients remain competitive in 2013.

This blog post was contributed by Leah Ekmark Williams @leahcpc


C. Suite Strategies – How Competitive are You?

We chose “competitiveness” as the theme of our Fall 2012 newsletter. For most of us in business, it’s one of the key questions on our minds – “How can I become or stay competitive in an increasingly challenging and changing business environment?” A concern for the competitiveness of our businesses underlies every conversation, whether we’re talking about the U. S. national debt, impact of social media or threats from globalization.

Now that the U.S. presidential election is over, most business leaders are trying to figure out what the “new normal” will mean and how it will impact our ability to compete. The phrase “fiscal cliff” is on everyone’s lips and is expected to present the first opportunity for our elected leadership to demonstrate whether they can compromise and find solutions or whether last year’s stalemate will be next year’s disaster.

At the heart of the “fiscal cliff” debate is the national debt, its drag on our economy and inhibitor of America’s global leadership. How can America be a respected global leader if we cannot manage our own finances? How can our businesses be competitive at home and abroad if we are buried with egregious taxes, crippled with expensive mandates and smothered with anti-competitive regulations?

Renowned Harvard professor Michael Porter is leading a prestigious team in devising a plan to “rescue American’s economy.” Porter’s team believes it is completely wrong for most debates on the U. S. economy to focus primarily on action by the federal government. Hmmm. Not sure I’m buying that.

In this project to identify America’s competitiveness, Porter’s “all-star team” is working on a rescue plan for the U. S. economy. The team notes three major ways businesses can lead in restoring America’s competitiveness.

First, pursue productivity. We are encouraged to run our operations well, drawing on unique American strengths. But that may not always mean keeping all operations in the United States. 

Second, improve the communities that surround our businesses. We should appreciate the importance of the local business environment and do what we can to strengthen our communities by helping improve skills, upgrading supporting industries, supporting entrepreneurship and innovation and boosting regional strength.

Third, rein in self-interest. We are encouraged to pursue policies that improve the American business environment, rather than those that are purely self-serving. The tax code, described as a “rat’s nest of earmarks and subsidies in the federal budget,” needs to be simplified and constructed with an eye toward the common good of the economy.

Read the entire article here

In summary, Porter’s Competitiveness Team encourages business leaders to lead in regaining competitiveness rather than wait for Washington.

I’m willing to do my part. I just hope that Professor Porter’s team and all of us business leaders will be able to inspire our elected officials to act as statesmen rather than politicians, and work together toward the health of America – economic and otherwise. 

Let’s hope our leaders step up, figure out how to put partisanship aside and set a direction for our country that will put the United States back on a path of free enterprise-driven prosperity. 

If stepped up PR, social media or marketing can help strengthen the competitiveness of your business, let’s talk. We’re helping numerous clients with powerful social media strategies and integrated communications campaigns that drive business results. Maybe we could help you.

This post was contributed by Cynthia Pharr Lee.