Blog Archives

What Aerosmith Can Teach Us About PR

IMG_2465 copySince the beginning of my high school career I have fallen in love with the local music scene.  Lucky for me, coming from Connecticut and attending school in Boston has kept what I know as “local” pretty much intact.  My passion for going to shows and helping bands has turned into everything I hope to do in a career. Immersing myself in this local music scene has me leaning towards pursuing music PR, which includes the promotion of new album releases, tours, and other music related news, to the media.

In the beginning of November, I attended Aerosmith’s free concert in Allston. As I stood among a crowd of Boston’s finest fans, I thought of how much I yearned to be a part of something like this. Looking back at the event now, it was an amazing PR feat, considering the goals, preparation, and actual event. It’s interesting to think how everything comes together.

The band wanted to perform in front of the apartment where they lived many years ago: 1325 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA.  Their goal was to promote the release of their new album – Music From Another Dimension! – as well as encourage people to vote in the 2012 Presidential Election, both of which were the next day.

Aerosmith began planning this event about three years ago, and I am only able to imagine the extent of this planning. Their team had to close down Boston’s public transportation, arrange Boston’s signature Duck Boats to ride in on, and organize police and security with the city of Boston.  Aerosmith teamed up with local radio station 100.7 WZLX  to promote the event, and invited special guests including Tom Brady and Jerod Mayo of the New England Patriots.

Watching the event unfold was simply amazing. With seemingly effortless PR and very little coverage, Boston showed up to support “the Bad Boys from Boston.”  The event seemed to come out of nowhere, largely publicized only on Twitter and other social media platforms. The news spread like wildfire, and an estimated 100,000 attendees showed on almost nonexistent notice—a true feat for PR. I was in awe. I hope to one day successfully blend a career of music PR and special event planning and make more magical moments like that happen for others.

8 PR Tips from Google Boston’s Adri Cowan

On Thursday, February 2, Adri Cowan, the community manager for Google Boston, came to speak to Boston University’s PRSSA.

The job of a community manager came into existence throughout the past 5 years and will become one of the biggest most sought-after positions in 2012. This position incorporates both event planning and social media. Adri works to represent the brand, calling herself a brand evangelist. She also gathers information on the demographics—what the users are looking for and how to make the product better. A community manager can be considered a strategic “party-time” job. Community managers typically plan 2-4 events per week, and go out 5-6 times to network with others. It’s important to support other community managers, as they’ll hopefully return the favor when the time comes.

Adri left us aspiring PR students with a few tips for success:

  1. Be ready to work for free. Working for free means more experience, seems more gracious, and more people will owe you favors.
  2. Build up your social network right now. Don’t wait until you need a job to start making contacts.
  3. Know your place. When working at entry level, know where you stand within the company. Do what is asked of you, don’t question authority.
  4. Be loyal to your company. Try to stay with a job for at least two years. It gets somewhat difficult to explain job-hopping at interviews.
  5. You must be able to handle rejection. PR is full of rejection. Keep at it.
  6. Manage yourself. You’re in control of your time and the different aspects of your life. Community managers (and other PR professions) have very little personal time. Be in charge of yourself.
  7. Get on Google+. It will be the future of community management.
  8. Have a plan. Figure out a direction and run with it.

For more information you can follow Adri on Twitter @googleboston, or her personal, @adrileya.

Timing, Timing, Timing!

People often say that timing is everything.  If you really think about it, a lot of jokes wouldn’t be funny had the comedian not paused for applause; many movies would not have hit home quite as hard had the actor rushed through his lines; and could the team have won the game had the goalie just turned around 2 seconds earlier?  Timing is such a simple thing, yet such a crucial aspect to the success of so many – and public relations campaign are not exempt from this list.

So how can you avoid bad timing in PR?

  • Staying on top of current events is one of the most important aspects to ensure the successful launch of a PR campaign.  Being in the know about what is going on around you will help to ensure that your timing in launching your product, brand, etc. will be most successful and beneficiary to the client.
  • Be aware of current trends and keep your ears open for other product or brand launches that may affect how yours is received by the public. If you know that another launch is happening that could threaten yours, you will have the ability to make the necessary changes and still have your campaign go off with a bang.
  • Submit your press releases in ample time.  There has been some talk as to the best time to submit a press release to the media, and the majority seems to think that Tuesday mornings are ideal.  Its early enough in the week that it will get the attention it deserves, but not too early that it gets pushed aside in the Monday morning craze. Submitting a press release when media attention is completely engrossed in something else is a sure fire way for your campaign to be disregarded.

Sometimes, however, bad timing cannot be prevented.  World news, natural disasters, events such as 9/11 – these things cannot be predicted nor seen coming.  But as PR professionals one must learn to react and go forward with a possible hold or relaunch of the campaign.  Being overshadowed by world news happens, but it is the job of the PR professional to make sure that the client recovers as best can.

The COM 101 Take on PR

COM 101 is the first requirement for any communication student at Boston University.  As a new freshman this fall, COM 101 was my first taste of the study of communication and, more importantly, public relations. COM 101 gives a basic overview of the communication fields from journalism to advertising, film and TV, and public relations.

On November 15, various PR professors joined our class for a guest lecture on the scope of PR and the many jobs we might potentially find ourselves in one day. Public relations is the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organizational leaders, and implementing planned programs of actions in order to help an organization and its publics adapt to one another. We learned that PR is not precisely defined, as is varies from organization to organization and covers a wide variety of activities.

Here’s the breakdown of what PR people do:

  • Media Relations 88%
  • Online Communication 70%
  • Marketing 65%
  • Special Events 64%
  • Product/Brand Communication 64%
  • Crisis Management 60%
  • Internal Communication 58%
  • Community Relations 58%
  • Reputation Management 47%
  • Investor Relations 26%
  • Annual report 23%

Publicity

  • Publicity is not advertising because you do not pay for time or space
  • Public relations is a broader task which includes publicity and also involves promotion, public affairs, writing, event planning…

Media Relations

  • Dealing with the media is a major part of PR
  • A PR practitioner’s role is to disseminate company information to its publics
  • Your job in media relations is to pitch and place stories
  • Media professionals have the final say on what information reaches the public, so good relationships with them are key

Marketing

  • PR strategy and tactics can have a direct effect on sales of a product or service
  • PR speaks to many audiences while traditional marketing speaks only to the consumer

Reputation Management

  • Reputation is an important aspect of PR
  • Perception is reality and needs to be carefully managed
  • Strong correlation between company reputation and company success

Crisis Management

  • PR professionals are a major part of a crisis management team
  • Assist in creating a crisis management plan
  • Crisis management is one of PR’s greatest and most exciting challenges

Online Communication

  • Company websites
  • Online newsletters
  • Marketing emails
  • Employee portals

Social Media

  • Includes Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, etc.
  • Companies create social media platforms and use them as communication tools
  • There are PR specialists who focus solely on social media

Product/Brand Communication

  • Creating a brand or company identity
  • Includes: brand symbols or logos, slogans, acronyms
  • Area of communication where PR and advertising overlap

Investor Relations

  • Communication with a company’s shareholders and prospective investors
  • A major component of a company’s success
  • Combines communication and finance to convey a company’s prospects in terms of investments

Annual Report—key part of investor relations

  • A tool with which to communicate with stockholders and potential investors

Community Relations

  • The interaction between a company and its community
  • Includes company sponsorships and donations, employee volunteering, and community scholarships and awards
  • Helps increase goodwill toward a company or brand
  • Is a major part of public relations when working in the professional sports industry

Event Planning

  • Events created to help promote a company product or brand
  • Includes: product launches, company-sponsored events, media events, and community-related events

Internal Communication

  • Employee newsletters
  • Company portals
  • Human resource materials
  • Memos
  • State of the company addresses
  • Company magazines

Public Speaking

  • Includes media conferences and interviews
  • Coaching a company member or client
  • Briefing the media
  • Acting as a spokesperson for the company
  • Introducing a new product or services

Since completing COM 101, we are now all officially well aware of the many possibilities within the field of communication. It’s important to have a general understanding of all of the careers because many of the fields intertwine and overlap. Overall, the biggest lesson to be taken away is the influence that communication has in today’s world.