Tripping Around the PR World

Ominous Signs: I had not heard the term “hiring freeze” in quite a while, but two friends in the PR business told me this week that they were up for new jobs only to be told that a hiring freeze at their prospective employers had been instituted. You don’t need to work for The Federal Reserve to know that the economy is on extremely shaky ground. When times like these are upon us, I always make sure my ducks are in a row at my job and I keep my resume in order. I’m not predicting some massive wave of layoffs, but there are some ominous signs, and hatchet men often believe that PR people are expendable when it comes time to cut costs.

Strangest Place to Learn About a New Band: My favorite new band is a duo that goes by the name MGMT. Though they live down the street from me, I learned about them reading The Wall Street Journal in a short article about how they turned a grassroots following into a major label deal. Another example of how PR that’s not necessarily aimed at your target audience can pay dividends.

PR People Are Human, Too: One of the more heartbreaking things I read in the wake of actor Heath Ledger’s death was a single sentence in an article on Tuesday that said his publicist was too upset to speak to the media at the time. Something about that hit my heart and reminded me how close we sometimes get to our clients.

Get a Degree in Strategic Communications: Texas Christian University is changing the name of its Advertising/Public Relations degree program to Strategic Communications, and I like the move. The new name is stronger, more business-oriented and accurately reflects the times. The name change is also a smart marketing move aimed at potential students.

Lawyers, Guns and PR Money: Kenneth Taber and Kirke Hasson of the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman have penned an excellent piece on why lawyers need to have a PR strategy when dealing with high-profile cases and the benefits of helping the client with their PR needs.

Build That Facebook Application: A friend of mine recently launched a new interactive website. He issued a press release and got no pick-ups. Then he contacted me for advice. After checking out his site and release, my advice was to launch a Facebook application. My buddy’s site allows you to do some cool things with video, and I envision people making clips and posting them to their Facebook pages. I really don’t feel that his site has enough “oomph” to attract mainstream media or even cutting-edge blog notice until the viral marketing thing kicks off.

Collaborate With Your Peers: I had an interesting conversation last week with two executives at a company in my industry. Their company offers products to the same end-market that my company does, but we’re not competing with each other. The other company is trying to do some brand-building and wants some ink in the consumer financial press, so I gave them some ideas and press contacts. My company is trying to build some brand equity within the industry, so the company gladly reciprocated by giving me some leads in the trade press. A 30-minute phone call saved both of us a lot of time and money.

Feel Free to Learn Some New Terms: Chris Lake at says that he’s sick of PR people using the term “feel free” during pitches. Lake is referring to comments like, “Feel free to post a link to our release” and “Feel free to write about our product.” Lake also provides some good advice – stuff we’ve gone over here a number of times – for pitching blogs.

Teach Your Children Well: The Scout Association of the United Kingdom, which governs the nation’s Boy Scouts, recently introduced a badge in public relations. “The public relations badge allows scouts to write press releases and visit television studios,” Reuters reported. Like we don’t have enough competition already?

Websites Are Not Static: Joe Grata in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette informs us that the website for The Port Authority for Allegheny County is so out-of-date that the person listed as a media contact for the agency has not been employed there for months. The alternate contact resigned a month ago. More important, an area on the website used to update local residents on a huge construction project – and maintained by the press office — has not been updated since October 2007. Sounds like someone dropped the ball when they left their job.

This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (, a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit:

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