Archive for the ‘young professional’ Category

Client-based marketing: What’s in it for them?

Sometimes we all get stuck in a creative rut. With the small stresses each new day brings, it’s easy to get wrapped up in tasks and forget why we’re doing what we’re doing. That’s why every now and then, I like to refer to the “old greats” for inspiration.


Lately I’ve been revisiting How to Win Friends and Influence People, and one principle that’s really struck a chord with me  is “Arouse in the other person an eager want.”

Hmm. That’s obviously what most marketers are aiming to do when they reach out to clients or prospects, but how many of us are actually achieving that goal?

As you may know, in January I started working as Director of Communications at an architecture firm.  I recently received an e-newletter from a vendor that went something like this:

<Vendor Name>

Check out our website!


We have an updated website!

Our workers are very experienced and take great pride in their work. We will be happy to give you a free estimate, so feel free to call us at <phone number> to schedule a time for us to bid.

<Pricing list>

We provide our customers with innovative materials…we offer quality installations…We are committed to enhancing your ability to achieve the goal of your building project through our desire to excel…

We would love for you to stop by our showroom. <Address and hours>



My first reaction was to delete this email. They were asking me to visit their website, but why would I want to take the time to do that? I am too busy trying to figure out how to drive people to my own company’s website! And what will they have to offer that others don’t?megaphone

Lots of people say they have high quality products and good customer service. These things just look like empty brags.

Finally, in the last paragraph, they mention my needs, the “ability to achieve the goal of your building project” but even that is vague and they start right back into talking about their own desires for us to come visit their showroom.

So I started thinking, what does our newsletter look like? What do our proposals communicate? What messages are we sending our clients? While I am glad to say I think our messaging focuses on answering concerns of the client, I was able to think of ways that we could be even more client-centered.

Take a step back and look at your marketing message – your e-newsletter, your flyer, your website. What message are you sending? Is it focused on your company’s desires, or your clients’ needs?

After all, as humans, we are all focused on our own needs. No one is going to use my services or go to my website just because I tell them that I want them to. What value am I really offering? How can my business make things easier or more efficient or higher quality for them?

In an effort to keep this question at the front of my mind, I printed off this label and stuck it to the top of my work laptop (sorry boss!) 😉

Have a great weekend everybody!



Joining the Smirk team: We go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong

 Chips and salsa. 
Angelina Jolie and little third-world orphans.
Olivia Newton-John and black leather pants. 
That’s right, I’m the newest member of the Smirk New Media team, and I couldn’t be more excited.
I’ve got a public relations background, and I’ve always felt strongly that PR and social media go hand in hand. After all, with social media, you can not only monitor what others are saying about your industry and brand, but you can speak directly with a group of people who have willingly opted to listen to what your organization has to say, and who can provide value in communication back to you!
Basically, social media is a huge PR opportunity that many businesses do not always have the time or know-how to get started.

That’s why I love the mission behind Smirk New Media – to help businesses grow relationships with their key audiences online.
I had the opportunity to work with the CEO and chief strategist Mike Koehler in 2009 as an intern at Schnake Turnbo Frank | PR, and since then I’ve jumped into the PR game, specializing in strategic social media for businesses.
The past few years, I’ve gained invaluable experience in social media strategy and management for campaigns, fundraisers, promotions and events, working in many different industries including technology, restaurants, retail, nonprofits and more. I’m thrilled to become a part of what Mike has created in Oklahoma City and to help bring it to Tulsa.
This is the beginning of what I hope will be a beautiful and lasting relationship.
**This post was originally created for Smirk New Media. See the original here.**

Generation Telephonophobic?

“Allison,” my supervisor said, “can you please call this list of organizations, and see if they’d like to be involved in our event? See if you can schedule a time for us to meet with them next week.”

“Of course!” I’d reply. But I dreaded the terrifying task. I would go over and over in my mind what I might say to these unsuspecting strangers. What if I forgot what company they were with, or why I was calling? What if they were rude? My young hands shaking, I’d reach for the receiver and dial, holding my breath, staring at a script I’d made for myself for just about any scenario. And then – I’d get a voicemail. Oh no! I had not prepared for this! What should I say? What information should I give? What if the machine cuts me off? Beeeeeep. Show time. 

These mini panic attacks over simple phone calls were common to me when I first began my internships, despite my college experience as a telephone interviewer. And so, it’s bittersweet for me now to see my interns, who may have even less experience, try to mask their terror when I ask them to make calls.

Is it just me, or does no one know how to use a telephone anymore? Sure, we can use a cell phone to text, email, play games, find information, and so on – but can we still use it to actually call someone? Is my generation so used to zapping information back and forth at the speed of satellite that we are unable have real conversations?

In this information age I am finding myself at a loss. As a PR professional, I pride myself on my ability to communicate both efficiently and politely; however, I am finding myself questioning those skills.

Holding telephone conversations is becoming a lost art, and it is  a skill that young professionals must develop in order to be in the communications business. Check out these phone strategy tips, courtesy of Regina M. Robo. 

Phone strategy

  • Treat the call as if it were a meeting – have a purpose, and an agenda.
  • Decide what you’ll do if someone answers other than the person you’re calling. Would you prefer to leave a message, go to voice mail, or call back later?
  • If you’re on a scheduled call, be at your desk at the appointed time.
  • Learn the names of the people who answer the phones at the numbers you call most frequently. Speak pleasantly to them, and if you talk to them very frequently, send them a card or gift on their birthday or over the holidays.

What do you think? Do you know anyone who is afraid of the phone? What  bad or awkward habits have you experienced during phone conversations? What advice do you have for young communicators?

I freakin’ love my job.

Well, I finally made it. It only took 8 months after college graduation to snag a full time job. Although it felt like ages, I know I’m luckier than many who wait and wait with no new prospects.

So, sitting thankfully in my own little corner, in my own little chair, working as

Media Relations Specialist/Event Coordinator for The Engine Room, a new creative communications firm in Tulsa.

It’s a little crazy jumping into a place that is so new that is has no precedents to go by, no templates and few rules. It’s so different from any other job I’ve had — and because of that, we have so much more freedom to experiment, to think BIG!

And it’s really fun.

So far, I’ve already planned 2 press conferences, 5 big events, many small events, made viral social media videos, been to a big film festival in Denver, CO  (even made it to the VIP lounge!) and more! While doing all this, I’m also helping to build organizational systems, write proposals, brainstorm huge campaigns and I’m learning even more about the ever-evolving world of social media.

It’s a busy life – but it is worth it. When an event I worked on comes together, or when we are talking about ideas for a new client, or even for our own company, and we have that “Ah-ha!” moment, or we realize what we’ve been working on is finally complete and its a success – well, there’s just about no better feeling.

I can’t wait to see what other adventures unfold!

Making Time

PR is a dichotomous profession. We are known for getting to schmooze potential clients at elaborate parties (like Samantha Jones from Sex in the City), drink to excess (charged to the company card, for purposes of “client relations” a la Edina in Absolutely Fabulous) and getting free SWAG from our connections.

And I’ve done it before (kind of…not to the extent Hollywood makes it seem like.) And it’s fun. But that’s only a small part of the job. In reality, there are many tasks that need to be taken care of on a timely basis – tasks that can often feel like part of an ever-growing list, all the contents of which require immediate attention. And it can be overwhelming, stressful and even scary.

As much fun as we are supposed to have in PR, it is also a very high-maintenance job. It’s not simply 9-to-5. You have got to be available to people all the time. You have got to be able to watch the news at 10 and call the station to make sure they’ve got the updated information for their 6 am story, and be ready to launch another campaign in the morning.

It’s hectic and fun at the same time. Laid-back and tightly scheduled. So it’s no wonder that we, as PR professionals, are expected to be both creative and task-oriented. These things don’t always go hand-in-hand.

I’ve gotten to do lots of fun, creativity-inspiring things in my line of work so far: attend film festivals, have brainstorming sessions at a bar, create fun contests and more. But sometimes I find myself too caught up in the day-to-day details to access that part of my brain that PR is also supposed to be all about.

It was my supervisor, the super-detail-oriented and also super-creative Erin Conrad who said to me: I know exactly how you feel, but know that there is never going to be time for you. You’ve got to make time. On purpose. Write on your blog! Connect with a friend! Strengthen your relationships with local media!

These things are also very, very important to PR but tend to fall by the wayside. Her true words took me back to that phrase I my music teacher told me long ago, and from time to time ring in my ear: Something’s got to give.

You can’t always do everything, but you need to make time for creativity.

It’s part of what makes me great, in my profession and in my personal life.

I am lucky enough to have a very fun job and I’m passionate about what I do. My resolution (Late, I know!) is too make time for the fun stuff that is going to make me happier AND make me better at my job.

Any tips?

Doin’ it and doin’ it and doin’ it well

I just hung up with an editor who spoke with me very sternly when he heard I did public relations.

**I’m used to PR skeptics as, in college, there was always this holier-than-thou attitude the journalism students had toward the PR students who, as far as they’re concerned, were morally bankrupt sell-outs who wanted to spin the truth to make money. ** (I’ll correct that view in a later post!)

However, this guy was forward with me, spouting out a list of do’s and don’ts of which any good PR professional is already well aware:

1. “If you send me an email and I see that you sent it to a big list of people, I won’t touch it.”

** Because then it’s no longer special. If I want to be cool and different, I’m not going to buy the same outfit all the other girls are wearing. And if you try to make me, I’ll assume you’re just trying to make a buck, and you don’t care whether it’s my style.

Solution: target your media based on the story, send personalized notes with the release whenever possible, and always, always use BCC when you have to send to a big list.

2. “I get hundreds of press releases a day, so you have to call me to make sure I saw it.”

** Yup. My inbox buries emails all the time, so I can’t imagine what it would look like if I were an editor.

Solution: Always do follow-up calls.

3. We prefer exclusive stories. We’ll definitely look at it if it says “exclusive.”

**No shit. Everybody likes to have what no one else does.

Solution: Give a publication exclusivity whenever possible. You’ll strengthen your relationship with that publication and probably get way better coverage.

While the conversation with this naysayer was mildly offensive, I appreciated his honesty- had I not already known these things, it would have been extremely helpful.

Also, it made me proud of myself. If he felt the need to share these tenets right of the bat, there must be lot of people out there screwing them up. It’s good to be reassured that I’m doing it right. =)

Foursquare Love Affair

Today, I joined Foursquare.

I know, I’m a little late for someone who wants to think of herself as an emerging “expert” in social media as a PR tool.

I knew Foursquare could be used to help businesses communicate with their clients/customers, and so I’ve understood a good deal of it’s marketing value. You can reward your loyal customers, make it easy for them to suggest your business to others, etc. It’s a great, organic way to grow and maintain your client base.

However, what I didn’t fully realize until today, is the ironic way that this social media tool actually drives you into real places, real events, real people.

With the boom of social media, critics preached that although people are networking more extensively, they are losing any meaningful contact with others. And to a significant degree, I think they were, and still are correct.

But Foursquare is different. Yes, every entry is recorded online in app-world, but the whole point of it is to encourage you to go out in your community, to get away from your computer and do something real.

Foursquare transforms our technology addiction from something that keeps us in our comfort zone, alone at our desk,  to a facilitator of face-to-face interaction, experience.

Foursquare is a perfect example of how social networking should be used– no, utilized.

Foursquare fulfills not only the PR/Marketing side of me, that wants to see as much of this positive communication between businesses and their audiences as possible, but it also inspires me to go enjoy my city and its people.

Foursquare, I think I love you.