Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Evaluating the "Spin Doctor"

I remember when I first became a PR major, and my Dad said to someone (I think one of my aunts???) "Yea, he's gonna be a spin doctor!" I remember thinking "PR has a doctorate?" But since then, I've learned the true meaning of "spin doctor" and it's connotations both within the PR industry and outside of it. 

To those not in PR, spin doctor is both a nickname and a label for stereotyping purposes. It helps the public figure out what exactly we do. But it's inaccurate. The mythological spin doctor swoops in at the behest of some big corporation to sweep under the rug any messes (messi?) that may pollute the company's image to the public. Sex scandals, law suits, embezzlement; all of these things get tackled with efficiency by the spin M.D., and like the Jedi, he waves his mystic hand of persuasion and everything is good and no one remembers bad things. This idea more than likely came from the crisis management element of public relations, but really that is not all PR can do. Big case studies like Tylenol, A.I.G. and Phillip Morris are all examples of great crisis communications that some might simply label "spin." But you have to keep in mind, that people who do these jobs are not trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes, they are just ensuring that their client's bottom line does not unjustly suffer from mistakes or miscommunication. 

Those inside PR cringe when they hear the word "spin." Calling a practitioner a spin doctor is like telling them they have swine flu (too soon?). No one wants to be called that and no one wants to be associated with anyone labeled a "spin doctor." In fact, I still recall quite clearly when Brazen Careerist Penelope Trunk told about 3,000+ PR pros to "Do what you do best; Spin it!" at the PRSA International Conference in Detroit. Luckily, Michael Chrenenson was there to correct her on the organization's stance on "spin" after the gasps, tweets and a few boos. 

As PR pros and future pros, we have to be aware of what others think of our industry. We have to be proactive in debunking myths about our practices and be vigilant in communicating to the public what we are and what we do. Sometimes it's better to say something before it becomes an issue, than to try to explain after it already is an issue.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Congrats to the New 2009-1010 Officers for Ohio Northern University's Chapter of PRSSA!

President-Amanda McKelvey
Vice President-Alyssa Spall
Firm Director-Natalyn Giverson
Liaison-Tegan Ellis
PR Director-Newsletter Editor-Jamienne Scott and Callie Crum
Secretary-Renee LeGendre
Treasurer-Ellen Keough
Historian & Webmaster-Evan Roberts

I look forward to working with you all and continuing the legacy of ONU PRSSA!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Questions: What Did I Learn?

So as I posted earlier, I only asked questions today on twitter. I learned quite a few things even though it was extremely difficult for me not to reply with just statements. But before I tell what those are, I want to give a run-down of the rules I used for this little SM experiment. 

1) Every post had to have a question in it. Even Retweets. I only failed to do this on the last tweet because I had no room.

2) I had to still engage in twitter like I normally do. Still pose and answer questions, still read tweets as much as I normally do, everything. This was really hard because I have some incredibly interesting followers with great senses of humor, and I wanted to joke back. I achieved this a bit with @jocelleuntalan talking about the Cavs and Lakers (GO CAVS!)

So what did I learn? Well besides that it is incredibly difficult to only ask questions, I learned that people will reveal soooo much more information if you just stop talking and let them continue what they are saying. Even in 140 characters, if you weigh in before you take in the full scope of what is being said, you run the risk of misinterpreting what is being said and losing who you're talking with.

I also learned that questions have a pretty significant power. They invoke action, to do something. Be it answering, acting on something, or just thinking about something differently, questions are what make it happen and to better listen, you have to ask questions and get in depth with what's going on. Besides, who really wants to hear you talk anyway?

Can I ask you a question?

Today on twitter, all of my posts or "tweets" will be questions. This is because every public relations social media session/conference/thing I have ever been to says that the first step to engaging in SM is "listening." I feel like I never started on twitter, or facebook for that matter, with listening. And everyone knows that to not creep people out and to show them that you're listening (and that you're in the room...) you ask questions. Asking questions does three things:
  1. Hints at your thought process
  2. Allows others to clarify statements
  3. Helps you remember what was said
Anyone who is an effective listener has to ask questions. So today, I am. On twitter. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

Social Media Strategery

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the 2009 PaRtners Conference, an annual day-conference held at a Central Ohio school by one of the many PRSSA Chapters in the area. This year it was at Capital University and Rachelle Tackach, Cheryl Harrison and the rest of the Capital PRSSA team did a great job! I feel like I learned the most at Jamie Timm's session on social media strategy. What follows are several of the points that I found to be the most insightful. 

  1. Find out where your audience is
  2. You don't have to use/be on every social media tool
  3. Know that the results may not be immediate, because any good campaign still takes time
  4. ROI is still important; Just needs to be explained differently
How to present the campaign to Managers
  1. Structure your presentation
  2. Know the problem
  3. Know the (Manager's/Company's) "hot buttons" (Sales, ROI, Awareness etc.)
  4. Know the competitive landscape
  5. Present the Why, How, and Outcomes in your organization's language
  6. Have reasons and research to back it all up 
  7. Keep it to 1 page (Do NOT brain dump!)
Determine the Outcomes
Do you want to...?
  1. Create Affinity
  2. Diminish Negativity
  3. Position your org. as a credible source
  4. New Product Development
  5. Obtain 3rd Party endorsements
  6. Build trust/strong relationships
  7. Increase exposure/awareness
  8. Trigger a response/action
  9. Meet a budget/timeline
Overall, I feel like I gained a lot of good information that I can use in future classes/campaigns/projects. It's great the Jamie presented this session, especially because as a Millennial, I will be expected to have knowledge of social media tools and it will be even better if I can use them effectively in a campaign. Score 1 for my future!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009



If you can't tell, I'm excited lol. I was actually just talking with my friend Kion Sanders about how sometimes you feel behind when other students have had like 5 internships and you haven't had one. Or you (read me) might feel like a slacker or like you aren't good enough. Well those feelings are gone! I am now a proud intern at Liggett Stashower in Cleveland. I begin June 15, 2009 and I cannot wait! Hopefully I gain the experience and guidance I require to be successful as a PR professional in the future.

WHOO HOOO!!!!! *ahem*...