Archive for November, 2010

November 23, 2010

I am awesome, seriously.

I have an interview tomorrow for my first post-graduate position, so I’ve spent the evening preparing for the big day in the following ways:

1. Speaking to every member of my immediate family, each of whom offered their own unique advice:

Mom: “Get there before traffic picks up downtown and oh, don’t wear too much eye liner.”

Dad (with 25+ years experience in Human Resources): “Be confident, succinct, and above all be yourself.”

Sister: “Don’t wear your hair the way I hate it.”

Brother: “I’m sure it’ll be fine, I’m proud of you.”

2. Doing some research on the organization (for the second time) as a refresher on what I need to know.

3. Fresh manicure and an hour-long wardrobe prep session with my Joy Mangano steamer, getting my clothes nice and crispy.

4. Trying to find an appropriate/cute “I am awesome” graphic for this specific blog post.

5. Spent some alone time self-affirming myself. (I.E.: “No, I AM awesome! Totally awesome! GO ME!”)

All that’s left is a little late-night snack and then a good night’s sleep.

Photo Credit: Shpigford, Flickr

November 22, 2010

Marie Claire Magazine: Damage Control Mode

Photo Credit: Derek K. Miller, Flickr

Blogging allows organizations to engage in active, informal, two-way communication with key publics. Print media, especially, benefit from this communication channel, since their industry operates around deadlines that prevents them from producing content as rapidly as other media (like television and radio). An effective blog can further an organization’s mission and reach new publics, or, in the case of Marie Claire after a recent public relations faux pas, can put the organization in some deep water.

Maura Kelly, a Marie Claire blogger, recently revealed her personal feelings about the overweight and obese population, in response to a television show she recently viewed. In her article, “Should ‘Fatties’ Get a Room? (Even on TV?)” Kelly writes:

So anyway, yes, I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.

She goes on to write:

But … I think obesity is something that most people have a ton of control over. It’s something they can change, if only they put their minds to it.

(I’m happy to give you some nutrition and fitness suggestions if you need them — but long story short, eat more fresh and unprocessed foods, read labels and avoid foods with any kind of processed sweetener in them whether it’s cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, increase the amount of fiber you’re getting, get some kind of exercise for 30 minutes at least five times a week, and do everything you can to stand up more — even while using your computer — and walk more. I admit that there’s plenty that makes slimming down tough, but YOU CAN DO IT! Trust me. It will take some time, but you’ll also feel so good, physically and emotionally. A nutritionist or personal trainer will help — and if you can’t afford one, visit your local YMCA for some advice.)

You’re waiting for the context for these comments, and unfortunately, I can’t offer much in the way of a defense. Obviously, this article offended Marie Claire readers. In fact, the article received 3,860 comments, varying in severity and disapproval (with some offering support).

As a result of the backlash, Kelly posted an “update” (my interpretation: presumably-forced apology) that reads:

I would really like to apologize for the insensitive things I’ve said in this post. Believe it or not, I never wanted anyone to feel bullied or ashamed after reading this, and I sorely regret that it upset people so much. A lot of what I said was unnecessary. It wasn’t productive, either.

I know a lot of people truly struggle to lose weight — for medical and psychological reasons — and that many people have an incredibly difficult time getting to a healthy size. I feel for those people and I’m truly sorry I added to the unhappiness and pain they feel with my post.

I would like to reiterate that I think it’s great to have people of all shapes and healthy sizes represented in magazines (as, it bears mentioning here, they are in Marie Claire) and on TV shows — and that in my post, I was talking about a TV show that features people who are not simply a little overweight, but appear to be morbidly obese. (Morbid obesity is defined as 100 percent more than their ideal weight.)  And for whatever it’s worth, I feel just as uncomfortable when I see an anorexic person as I do when I see someone who is morbidly obese, because I assume people suffering from eating disorders on either end of the spectrum are doing damage to their bodies, and that they are unhappy. But perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to judge based on superficial observations.

To that point (and on a more personal level), a few commenters and one of my friends mentioned that my extreme reaction might have grown out of my own body issues, my history as an anorexic, and my life-long obsession with being thin. As I mentioned in the ongoing dialogue we’ve been carrying on in the comments section, I think that’s an accurate insight.

People have accused me of being a bully in my post. I never intended to be that — it’s actually the very last thing I want to be, as a writer or a person. But I know that I came off that way, and I really cannot apologize enough to the people whom I upset.

Now, do I understand freedom of expression? Sure I do. Could these remarks made by Kelly simply be a sincere example of wrong word choice? It’s possible, though appears not to be the case. Regardless of the motive or intent behind the article, the damage has been done, I’m afraid. Kelly’s comments failed to align with the the Marie Claire mission, which is:

Marie Claire is more than a pretty face. It is the fashion magazine with character, substance, and depth, for women with a point of view, an opinion, and a sense of humor.

The Marie Claire reader is interested in seeking out fashion, beauty, and shopping ideas from a magazine that brings her both inspiration and access—a magazine that challenges her mind as well as her sense of style. Each issue is edited for a sexy, stylish, confident woman who is never afraid to make intelligence a part of her wardrobe.

Marie Claire is a culturally relevant experience that touches women beyond the newsstand. We understand that our readers are more than any label or stereotype could place on them, and we celebrate that every reader is more than a pretty face.

Hmm. Well, these words are certainly hard to misinterpret. It appears to me, and more importantly to the readers of the magazine, that Kelly’s opinion undercuts every letter of the organization’s mission. And while I have no personal investment in the matter (I openly admit the only time I’ve read Marie Claire was in the check-out line at the grocery store), I can see how this flub would jeopardize relationships with readers.

What Do You Think: How should readers of Marie Claire feel about the situation? How would you respond? And what, if anything, should be done to remedy and repair the relationship with key publics who were offended by Kelly’s piece?

November 22, 2010

Enjoy the New Design!

I’ve spent a majority of today working on the new design, so, what do you think?

More content headed your way tomorrow! (Well, today!)

November 21, 2010

The Write Stuff: Hoosier PRSA Writing Workshop

Today I had the pleasure of attending The Write Stuff: Hoosier PRSA Writing Workshop, organized by the Continuing Education committee of Hoosier PRSA. The workshop featured presentations from area professionals, with a focus on writing for media relations, internal communications, social media, and speeches and scripts.

Photo Credit: Chigmaroff, Flickr

Two sessions were being held simultaneously, thus participants were forced to select only two of the four presentations to attend. I selected the social media and media relations presentation, hoping to obtain a firmer understanding of social media (I may be a little late to this party, but I’m getting there!), and given my interest in pursuing media relations job opportunities.

Writing for Social Media

Robby Slaughter of Slaughter Development, LLC lead this workshop, which focused heavily on key social media concepts. He discussed several challenges associated with social media. He asserted that social media and internet users read only 20 percent of content in front of them.

Slaughter discussed several social media concepts, all of which were entirely new to me. The first, the Dunbar number, he described as the maximum number of stable relationships one can maintain with other individuals. The Dunbar number for online relationships (i.e. blogs, message boards, etc.) is far smaller than the Dunbar number for “real life” relationships. Next, he highlighted the “90-9-1 rule”, pertaining to social media participation. Under this premise, 90 percent of users are lurkers, 9 percent of users contribute from time to time, and only 1 percent of users frequently and actively use social media, accounting for the highest portion of contribution.

Writing for Media Relations

Chad Mertz and Angela Tuell of Borshoff lead this workshop, which focused heavily on the art of the media pitch. In a very clear and concise presentation they outlined the basics of all things media relations, including what reporters look for, what motivates reporters, and how to improve relationships with key media.

Workshop participants were able to practice pitching to media, who attended the event to offer their words of encouragement, best advice, and worst pet peeves. Elizabeth J. Musgrave, freelance blogger of Gotta Go and arts/entertainment editor, Tony Rehagen, Senior Editor of Indianapolis Monthly, Dave Brinkers, Assignments Manager of Indy WRTV-6, and Cory Schouten, Indianapolis Business Journal Real Estate Reporter participated in a round-robin exercise, allowing groups of five to pitch their individual ideas or stories to each professional, and receive honest and constructive critique of techniques and topics.

The entire afternoon was extremely educational and informative. It was nice to interact with other professionals and expand my knowledge of topics of increasing interest to me. I’ve already reached out to many of the speakers and attendants on LinkedIn, and will continue to do so over the next few days.

I’d like to thank Hoosier PRSA for organizing the event, and commend the the Continuing Education committee (especially my friend and fellow graduate student, Steven Cooke) for doing a stellar job at accommodating all of the participants so comfortably and professionally.

November 17, 2010

Becoming a Jack (or Brittany) of All Trades

Always looking to expand my personal brand and career portfolio, my conversation yesterday with McKenze Rogers, a public relations/marketing professional, revealed a new opportunity and challenge— getting published.

Photo Credit: Katie…B, Flickr

PRSA recently examined the importance in becoming not only a PR expert, but moreover an industry expert. In her article, PR expert Sherrie Bakshi identifies the importance of positioning in a competitive industry. Her tips include:

  • Find your niche. Public relations is a large field, and by far the most competitive.  So, you need to find your niche, whether it’s in health care, food and nutrition, or nonprofit communications, focus on understanding the ins and outs of specific industries. In addition, hone your public relations skills by developing relationships with media who cover your industries; create partnerships with key organizations, community leaders and partners that will help elevate your client‘s position within the specific industry; and seek out opportunities to expand your thought leadership by getting published, speaking and getting involved with organizations that will be of value to your clients and your career.
  • Seek out opportunities to enhance your knowledge. You will never stop learning, especially in today’s world where the explosion of social media has changed the way we communicate with each other and the media, and also has allowed people to share an enormous amount of information in just minutes. In addition, take advantage of volunteering your knowledge and skills with local nonprofit organizations, because you will be able to learn from the experience and utilize these skills at work.
  • Network beyond your professional circle. We all network within our professional societies such as PRSA, but look beyond your professional circle and reach out to specific organizations and individuals, and be sure to attend events that you feel would be of value. Also, thanks to social media, we are able to converse with people in our industry, network beyond on-site activities and events, participate in Twitter chats and Linkedin discussions — just to name a few things.

My point? A public relations professional is only as valuable to an organization as their words are to an audience. I can insist that I’m a competent, entertaining, effective writer until I’m blue in the face, but to this point, I have no tangibles to support that claim. So, with a fire lit below me, I’m now on a mission to get published.

I’ve reached out to Indianapolis Woman Magazine, a local publication targeted toward— you guessed it— women. The organization speaks of the importance of educating, inspiring, and motivating readers in a proactive way, and I’m confident, if given the opportunity, I can fit the bill. I indicated, in my email of interest, that allowing me the opportunity to expand my portfolio would be educating, inspiring, and motivating a local Indiana woman — their mission in action!

I’ll continue to seek out other avenues I can utilize. At the end of the day, I’m a girl with a lot to say— I’m simply looking for channels to get my thoughts out there!

What Do You Think: What other publications might I pursue?


Source: It’s Not Just About Being a PR Expert— Become an Industry Expert, Sherrie Bakshi