abbie7I recently had the chance to facilitate a conversation for aspiring high school journalism students.  I shared the responsibility with former journalist, turned PR pro Chris Fiscus.  Our small but mighty group asked great questions about the future of journalism, what we looked for when we were interviewing for job candidates and shared with us their enthusiasm and passion for the written word.

I reached out to my followers on Twitter and asked them to share some of their advice with the students — here’s some of what you said, I took the liberty of editing for clarity: 

badlhoch_sunstv – tell the high schoolers to throw the rope back over the fence and help others once they are successful

Schnepf_Farms talk to them about ethics….Sometimes I wonder if that is even being taught any more????? and good idea about tech

blue22pr tell them to remain focused on their goals and stay up on technology (probably not much of a problem)

Schnepf_Farms for reporters Be Real not emotional; Anchors learn how to be a reporter; PR people how you write your press release is KEY

LindaObele Tell them not to be discouraged. The world — even the print world — still needs media watchdogs who care

bmaack learn to take photos – with better equipment than a cell phone.

I did the same with my friends on Facebook. Again, a little editing was required for clarity.

Sam Alpert Tell them to go into PR instead! 🙂

Stacy Lloyd Tell them it’s an amazing career that will enrich and change their lives forever. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Linda VandeVrede No, don’t tell them to go into PR – we have enough competition in the field already! 🙂 Tell them to refine their writing and interviewing skills.

Charlotte Risch Shaff Remind them it’s not the most lucrative line of work. And need to work your way up…dream jobs don’t just happen…and jobs aren’t just handed to you…get as much experience as possible. Shadow, volunteer, assist!!

Kelly Kribben Mixer Yes, get as much multimedia experience NOW because the journalism world is changing with the times. They need to be able to do it all, including video since everything is online now. Also, get out there and get experience with internships as soon as they start college, not just before they graduate. I could go on but that should help.

Sarah Gatling Tell them to get as much ACTUAL experience in college in college as possible. Intern, intern, intern! It counts so much more than grade point averages and campus clubs.

David Landis Be honest and let them know there’s more of a future in PR than journalism.

Brian Kass Be mindful of your word choice…how you say something affects others in different ways. Document the truth as it means to you. And bring awareness and a voice to those who can’t otherwise be heard…

Anne Buchanan Tell them what you were like in high school; tell them the traits you exhibited back then that ended up being good predictors for a career in PR. At their age, they’re all confused about what they should be when they grow up.

Many thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts with me and the students.  With the future of journalism in the hands of people like I met, I am optimistic about the future.


Wow – my head is spinning! Steve Rubel, outrageously popular blogger, twitter “All Star”and director of insights for Edelman Digital, just finished telling us about the “5 Digital Trends to Watch For in 2009.”

After his presentation, he was nice enough to spend a little time with me – and my trusty camera – to offer some insight for PR folks who weren’t able to be here today. Check it out here. You can also click here for his white paper on the topic.

Some additional thoughts I took from Steve:

  • Stop talking about “traditional” media relations AND “social” media relations already! Think of traditional as a zebra and social as a tiger – and guess what, they’ve mated! There are now millions of zebras with razor sharp teeth out there but they are ONE THING – an evolved new thing, but one nonetheless.
  • Don’t focus on creating a “campaign” online or otherwise. Concentrate on creating on-going relationships and on-going conversations. Steve gave a great example: Skittles recently launched a social media push that resulted in two solid weeks of “coverage” while Ford’s Scott Monty is on Twitter 24 hours a day talking about the industry, his brand, the economy, etc…to 20,000 followers. Scott has created relationships while Skittles’ campaign just created a little buzz that soon petered out.
  • When people get pissed, they don’t write letters anymore – they go online. As a PR person, who always have to be monitoring, transparent and able to offer them some customer satisfaction.
  • Search and social networking are going to converge – be ready for it!
  • By 2012, so many forms of media (newspapers, DVDs, video games, etc…) will be gone as we traditionally know them. It’s sad, but don’t be left behind. Go digital now and make sure your clients do too.
  • Be active and transparent with social media – and make sure your employees do too. If you open their lines of communication and give them freedom of speech with your brand’s focus and direction, they can be your greatest asset – your “All Stars” and your social media monitors 24/7.
  • Focus on Google as media, not a search engine.
  • People think if news is important, it will find them…help them!
  • Stuff happens on weekends – social media and digital media are on 24/7.

Greetings and salutations from Newport Beach!

Alison Bailin Batz thrilled to be blogging live from the PRSA Western District Conference this week. Festivities kicked off just a few hours ago with words from our FABULOUS hosts, the Orange County chapter, as well as keynote speaker Peter Shankman, of Help a Reporter fame.

Being a visual person, I thought I would post some video from the event for all you folks in cyberspace who couldn’t be here in person:

An overview of the PRSA Western District Conference

A quick “hello” from some Phoenix friends out here this week

Enjoy and check back all week for updates!

Scott in Brazil!

April 22, 2009

scott3This is my first venture to the southern hemisphere. 

Sao Paulo, which is where I landed, is the largest city I have ever seen.  I think it is bigger than Los Angeles.   From there I took a six-hour bus ride to Paraty.  It’s a jungle/beach community.  From what I have seen so far — more jungle.   It’s been raining since I got off the plane and looks like more today.

br-mapIf it does rain today, it will give me a chance to get more of my book read before our Public Relations Global Network meetings begin on Thursday night.  We expect PRGN partners from all over the world to be in attendance, including Australia, South Africa, Singapore, Europe and, of course, North America.

I’ve been checking since I got here, but I haven’t yet determined if the water actually swirls in the opposite direction.

fresh-fit-1As a major supporter of community programs in the Valley, our client Subway Restaurants of Arizona is pleased to announce the winners of its “Subway Freshest, Fittest Essay Contest of the Year,” all of whom received tickets for four to the 2009 Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, April 18.  

fresh-fit-2Subway chose 20 winners in total, awarding 80 tickets to the race. The winners represented a wide range of interests and health knowledge. Winners included students from Mercury Mine Elementary School, a baseball player with Shadow Mountain Little League, a Lacrosse player with Desert Stix, a soccer player with “Sc-Del-Sol, several children active with their YMCAs and many more.fresh-fit-3

Subman visited the winners April 12 to April 18 to give them a pat on the back, their tickets and their own Fresh, Fit celebrations. To see video from select celebrations, please click any of the links below:

Subman congratulating the winners

Subman on a rock wall with winners

Subman shooting hoops with winners

Essay winner talking about how she stays fit (sorry about the sideways – old camera)

Essay winner talking about her school helping her be fit (sorry about the sideways – old camera)

Fresh Fit essay winner showing off her gymnastic skills

fresh-fit-4“Almost every weekend, my soccer coach says ‘you know the drill until next week, no fast food and no mayo or extra cheese from Subway’,” north Phoenix winner Steven Winkler, 11, wrote in his essay.

“Mercury Mine and my teachers Mr. Collins and Mr. Pacioni have helped me build confidence and strength and encourage me in everything I do including the President’s Challenge, a two-day exercise session we take part in each month to stay healthy,” Phoenix winner Emily Woodard, 10, wrote in her essay.

“Throughout March, we asked for young people, ages seven to 17, representing their schools and other organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs or YMCA, write and tell Subway what their organization, troop or program does to help them live healthier, happier lives,” said Mark Roden, a Subway franchisee. “Once essays were received, a judging panel reviewed all entries fresh-fit-5and chose the above “fresh, fit” kids as our winners. We are very proud to have so many health-conscious kids in the Valley. Their parents, teachers and the community should be very proud.”

PRGN in Brazil

April 20, 2009

prgn-logo-hi-res-colorThe Public Relations Global Network is holding its bi-annual meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazil this week.

In addition to getting the chance to see our international affiliates in person, there will be some outstanding guest speakers and extended discussions on how to grow our individual agencies’ practices in these difficult economic times. 

We’ll also be adding three new affiliates in Denver, Dallas and New York.

Despite the long travel time, it is always energizing.

abbie6It was bound to happen.  With the speed of social media, communications professionals must constantly and consistently monitor what is being said about the brands they represent.  We might expect any negative information that came to come from a competitor or perhaps a disgruntled employee.  But what happens when it comes from inside?

That’s exactly what happened to Domino’s this week, when two of its employees posted a nasty YouTube video.  It only took a few hours until the video was downloaded more than 550,000 times.  It has since been pulled and fortunately, replaced by a quick two- minute message from the CEO. 

Might as well fight fire with fire – take your message to the masses in the same way and you are bound to make an impact.  As an agency who works with restaurants and other consumer-related products, I applaud Domino’s for its quick response and using the new media.  I expect that new policies are in place now for its employees on what is acceptable in regards to social media.  Time will tell how this will impact the company.


“Social Media – How it is Impacting our Industry and our Lives”

Date: Wednesday, May 27

Time: 11:30am to 1:30pm

Cost: $25 members; $40 nonmembers (add $5 for walk-ins)

Location: Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications First Amendment Forum in downtown Phoenix

Address: 555 N. Central, Phoenix, AZ 85004 (2nd Floor)

Details: Over the past year, social media has become of paramount importance to our industry. It is affecting us on a strategic, tactical and even personal level. So, Phoenix PRSA has gathered some of the most successful social media practitioners in the Valley to participate in an open panel discussion on the topic. No stone will be left unturned; no question will be left unanswered. Our panelists represent a broad spectrum of our industry as a whole and include:

  • Charlotte Risch, owner of the Media Push PR Agency and freelancer for the Valley PR Blog (representing for agencies)
  • Catherine Herman, director of Corporate Communications for the Arizona Diamondbacks (representing for sports)
  • Andrea Sok, director of Community Relations for the Save the Family Organization (representing for non-profits)
  • Kelley Cooper, internet marketing manager for the Greater Phoenix CVB (representing for tourism)
  • Johna Burke, vice president of BurrellesLuce (representing measurement)

We are also happy to have PR Tactics columnist and local corporate public relations practitioner Ryan Zuk as our moderator for the event and a very special venue – the First Amendment Forum at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Check out a You Tube link about the event and the venue here

We will also be tweeting live from the event and welcome others to do the same under the hash tag #phxprsa so we can keep track of the tweets.

***As we are catering the event at the school, please RSVP to Mary Young here or 480-968-7217 no later than May 20 so we order enough food. In your RSVP please note your Twitter username or Facebook Fan page so we can make available to all event participants***prsa-phoenix

bethEach month here at HMA, we take turns reading and reporting on business-oriented books – book reports, yes, but not the kind you used to stress out about the night before it was due.  We get to choose our own books and we read them to gain perspective and continuously look at things from a new and different angle.

problem-solving-11This month, I read Problem Solving 101 by Ken Watanabe (no, not the actor).  A book that originally began as a guide to teach Japanese schoolchildren critical thinking skills, it has since become popular among adults as well because of the effectiveness of the problem-solving methods it offers.

The book, filled with fun illustrations and organizational charts, uses three examples to demonstrate different ways to solve problems.  There’s the Mushroom Lovers, a band trying to increase attendance at their performances; John Octopus, who needs to figure out a way to buy a computer so he can pursue his dream of being a CGI animator; and Kiwi, a soccer star who is deciding which school she wants to attend in Brazil to hone her skills.

Though this may sound just like a book you might read to your kids, its success lies in its simplicity.  Problem-solving tools are laid out logically so answers become much more apparent.  The key is to find the root cause of a problem and explore all possible solutions before making a decision.

At 110 pages, it’s a quick read, and definitely one I would recommend to anyone looking to better their critical thinking skills.  As Watanabe concludes: “If you make problem solving a habit, you’ll be able to make the most of your talents and take control of your life.”  He has me convinced!problem-solving-2

abbie5Public Relations is a strategy, not something you buy off the shelf.

Far be it for me to knock the entrepreneurial spirit.  It is one of the things I value most about our clients, the willingness to take a risk.

But the announcement of the PR Store opening in Phoenix makes me uncomfortable.  Our industry has spent years convincing clients and our organizations that public relations is a strategic part of any good business plan.  That it must be well thought-out and budgeted for.  It is not something that can or should be purchased off the shelf.

Public relations is not a commodity, we shouldn’t sell it the same way as we sell shirts and ties.