Keynote Speaker Explains How Network News is Drastically Changing

This year’s keynote speaker for the 2012 PR Day: Treats of the Trade on Wednesday October 31, is Dave Armon of Critical Mention on “Pitching Multi-Media in a Post Network TV World.” Throughout his speech, the audience will learn how consumer media consumption habits are changing; how local TV news will be affected; how newspapers are the next American broadcaster; and how PR pros have opportunities to pitch video news to web, radio, TV. Deloitte reported that nine million Americans have either pulled out their cable TV or are planning to yank cable. To learn more about Dave Armon’s fascinating topic on the transformation of network television, and what type of impact this is having on PR professionals across the nation, go to to register today! The Early Bird Special has been extended to Sept. 21! We hope to see you at 2012 PR Day: Treats of the Trade!


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Register Now – PRSA Houston’s Holiday Party “Mingle Bells”

Register now for PRSA Houston’s Holiday party, Mingle Bells, Ringside at Sullivan’s Steakhouse on Monday, December 5, 6-8 PM

PRSA members will enjoy one complimentary admission, valet parking access, Sullivan’s savory holiday fare, two drinks, and festive music. Non-members may attend for a nominal fee. Register NOW! Space is limited!

On top of that, we will raffle some bell-ringing prizes every 30 minutes, with proceeds benefiting the PR Foundation of Houston. Prizes include:

  • One lucky winner will have the chance to drive around in style with a complimentary weekend use of a luxurious Jaguar—compliments of Jaguar – Houston Central.
  • Want to win a happy hour party at a hot, new place on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday for you and 30 of your BFFs, including complimentary appetizers and two glasses of wine each? – compliments of the newly opened Phoenicia Specialty Foods and MKT Bar.
  • Who wouldn’t want Whataburger for a Year? Enjoy a tasty Whataburger sandwich each week for a year – compliments of Whataburger, Inc. 
  • A $150 gift certificate to be used at Del Frisco’s or Sullivan’s – compliments of Arthur Mooradian, GM.
  • Beautiful Jewelry made with hand-blown glass beads – designed especially for PRSA, this jewelry is the work of Charlotte Holden, jewelry artist.
  • Been putting off getting professional photos taken? You have a chance to win an individual or family portrait sitting, clothing consultation and 8×10 color or black and white signature portrait valued at $650 – compliments of Alexander’s Fine Portraits.
  • Houston’s own St. Arnold’s Brewery has provided a gift basket, which includes a selection of their unique beer, root beer, brewery tour passes, glassware and other Saint Arnold goodness. Who wouldn’t want a basket of goodies to add some fun to your time off during the holiday season?  
  • Attend a wine tasting for four generously donated by Water2Wine Houston. The winery is an actual wine-making operation, where all wines are fermented on site. You will have access to more than 100 wines from 13 countries and everything open for tasting, your taste buds can travel around the world without ever leaving the winery.
  • Goodies for your culinary cheer – a basket full of yummy treats from Goya Foods.
  • Pick up a holiday gift basket filled with all sorts of sweet treats, valued at $50  – compliments of Lombardo Luscious Treats.
  • Start the New Year off with a health kick for the whole family with a 6 month household membership – compliments of YMCA of Greater Houston.
  • Mini home makeover – Spend a $250 gift certificate on some lovely home furnishings – compliments of Finger’s Furniture.

So, let’s get our “Mingle” on together on December 5 – see you there!

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PR Day Early Bird Registration Extended Until Oct. 12

PRSA Houston is extending its PR Day registration through Oct. 12. The lineup of speakers for PR Day 2011: A Matter of Trust include: 

  • Luncheon keynote speaker: Alan VanderMolen, President/CEO, Edelman Global Practices and Diversified Insights Businesses
  • Henry de La Garza, Building Trust After a Crisis: BP  and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
  • Lee Warren, Marathon Oil, The Importance of Building Solid Relationships
  • Kelsey Ruger, ChaiOne, I.N.S.P.I.R.E.: Using Storytelling to Engage, Inspire and Move People to Action
  • Kathryn McNeil, Building Grassroots Campaigns From The Ground Up
  • Monica Danna, Maggie McDonald and Kelsey Ruger, The X, Y, Z’s of Social Media: Optimizing New Media in a Multi-Generational Workplace
  • Kami Watson Huyse, APR, Prove It! Measuring the Impact of Social Media
  • Allie Herzog, Creating Trust Via Social Media
  • Breakfast Media Panel features Deborah Collura, Vice President of News, Post Newsweek Stations (KPRC); Wayne Dolcefino, investigative reporter for KTRK-TV Channel 13, and Gary Jaffe, News Director for Channel 39 NewsFix will discuss Trust in TV News.
  • Ian Ord, Co-Founder, Fifth Ring, Joe Pogge, Strike Marketing and Graham Makin, Weatherford Establishing Trust While Delivering Your Message Globally.

Interest is growing for PRSA Houston’s premiere one-day conference, Oct. 26, at Reliant Park.  It’s a not-to-be-missed opportunity to gather new tools, stay abreast of the industry and network with professionals of all ages.

REGISTER NOW!  (Take advantage of Early Bird savings thru Oct 12.)

Full-day, half-day or lunch-only registration options are available.


What:          PR Day 2011: A Matter of Trust

When:         Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011

Where:        Reliant Center, One Reliant Park

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A Smattering of PR Tips

Is it too soon to follow up with that reporter? Is this a good day/time to do so? How do I make sure she reads my press release?  Bottom line, how do I get my story in and on the news?

These questions and many more are addressed in the “Best PR Tip You Ever Got,” from 69 public relations pros from around the country. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” “Write a personal thank you note.” “…personal and tailored pitches get more media attention and coverage.” There’s even a tip from a PRSA Houston Board Member Leslie Friedman (see #23).

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Chapter Members Asked To Approve New Bylaws

During the Houston PRSA annual elections coming up in August, members will be asked to approve new bylaws for the chapter.  Nationally, Leadership Assembly delegates approved new PRSA bylaws in 2009 and chapters were asked to revise their own bylaws accordingly by the end of 2011.

In keeping with that mandate, the Houston PRSA Board has reviewed the suggested chapter bylaw template, made revisions to fit our chapter’s needs and now seeks membership approval.  To take effect Jan. 1, 2012, the bylaws must be approved by two-thirds of those voting in the annual election (and we need a quorum of 25% of our voting members to participate in the election).

So what’s new in the bylaws?

  • The most obvious changes are that our chapter officers will be elected by the membership annually and that directors will be elected to one-year terms annually.
  • Directors will be limited to three consecutive terms. Officers other than the past president, president and president-elect will be able to succeed themselves once.
  • The offices of treasurer and secretary may be combined and held by the same person, at the discretion of the board.
  • The board will consist of president, president-elect, vice president, secretary, treasurer, past president, PRSA Leadership Assembly Delegates, seven directors-at-large, and the president of the Public Relations Foundation of Houston.
  • All board members will be required to sign a conflict of interest policy.

Things that remain the same:

  • Leadership Assembly delegates will still be required to be Accredited in Public Relations and will serve three-year terms. Successive terms are allowed.
  • Bylaw amendments require a vote of two-thirds of the present members, provided a quorum is established.
    But, don’t take our word for what the proposed bylaws say.

This is your chapter and you should be an informed member. You can read the proposed bylaws. Please make sure to ask questions, if you have them, to of the current chapter officers and directors.

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Is Public Relations Entering the Apocalypse or Golden Age?

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who owns a successful creative services agency that focuses primarily on strategy and branding. We were talking about how business was and he told me that business was good, steady and he was definitely keeping busy. However, he noted that many organizations seemed to be standing on the sidelines and taking a wait-and-see approach when it came to signing retainers or initiating large scale projects. My friend chalked it up to the uncertainty around the debt ceiling and the potential impact it would have on the economy.

A couple of days later, I read with great interest, Ken Makovsky, APR, Fellow PRSA piece in Public Relations Strategist titled the 7 Reasons Why the Golden Age of Public Relations Is Within Reach. The dichotomy of the conversation with my friend and this article got me thinking: Are we, as communicators, entering the golden age or perhaps the apocalypse?

I actually think what some organizations are experiencing is communications paralysis. Think about it, 20 years ago a company might send out a press release, do some B2C or B2B marketing (i.e. flyers, brochures, tchotchkes, etc.), have a commercial on TV, the radio or both and, maybe, just maybe, they were thinking about investing in a new-fangled website.

In today’s consumer-friendly, technology environment, I could be a stay-at-home-dad with a side business selling monogrammed baby bibs and have all of those things and so much more. Honestly, all the channels at a communicator’s disposal now can be overwhelming…which is exactly why communications professionals who can think strategically, see the golden opportunity before them and harness its formative powers, do not see this era as the apocalypse.

But, I’m just one guy. So, I conducted a quick, informal survey with 20 senior-level, creative service agency professionals, and the overall sentiment reflected my friend’s assertion that business fundamentally is going well right now and, in most cases, agencies are busier than they have been in the last couple of years. I also learned agency clients are demanding more in-depth research to better target customers and justify their communications investment.

This bodes well for those seasoned communicators who can harness this paradigm shift and draw a line from communications/brand strategy to the bottom line of a business. It is also exciting for the conversationalist youngsters who are free from the conventions of traditional communications and willing to explore a changing communications landscape.

— Ed Davis, PRSA Houston president-elect, director of Media & Public Relations at the United Way of Greater Houston.

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Media Mixers – Putting a face to a name

With the outrageous number of emails that reporters receive daily, it is easy to breeze past a great story because the email gets buried or even deleted. As they are scanning through the clutter and a familiar name jumps out, one maybe more inclined to open it. This very instance is one of the many reasons events such as PRSA’s media mixers are so important, they put a face to a name and help to build the relationship.

PRSA and KUHF are co-hosting an event on June 7 from 6 – 8 p.m. held at KUHF – Houston Public Radio on the University of Houston’s campus. This will give you a chance to meet and talk with the reporters and staff from KUHF and PBS, two premier media outlets in Houston. Tours of the studios will take place during the event as well, so you can get an up close view of day to day operations.

During the casual networking session attendees can discuss the do’s and don’ts for pitching stories.  This is your chance to pick the media reps’ brains and ask questions such as, “what is the best way to get our story on the air” or “or what is the best way to contact you.”  These are the people that will give you the inside scoop.

This face-to-face interaction will help to expand the new or growing relationship with the reporter, and you can bet that next time they will open your email or take your phone call over John Doe on the other line. 

Here is a sneak preview of the people you will get a chance to mingle with:

Debra Fraser, Station Manager

Paul Pendergraft, Senior Producer, News & Public Affairs

Capella Tucker, KUHF News Program Director

Jack Williams, KUHF News Director & Houston Anchor, All Things Considered

Pat Hernandez, KUHF News Reporter

Andrew Schneider, KUHF Business News Reporter

Chris Johnson, Classical 91.7 Host, Afternoon Drive

St.John Flynn, Classical 91.7 Program Director & Host, The Front Row

Catherine Lu, Classical 91.7 Associate Producer, The Front Row/ Host, Afternoon Concert

Hurry and register before it is too late.

Hope to see everyone there!

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Ethical Use of Interns

Did you happen to see the piece from PRSAY on the “Ethical Use of Interns?” Since I am the chair of the University Relations Committee, I was asked to give my perspective, so here goes…

I really don’t want to rehash the conversation (instead, I’m here to start a whole new one). If you are interested in the specifics of the PRSA guidelines on this subject check out PSA-17. I also checked with the Texas State Attorney General and the Texas Workforce Commission and they said potential employers should familiarize themselves with the Pay Day Law. Specifically, I was advised that if any employee, including interns, do work for an organization they should get paid. “Sure, that makes sense,” I said. But, the Texas Workforce Commission took it a step further and said that if you don’t pay an intern or an employee, they can actually come back and file a claim against you provided they have documented the hours they worked and the work produced.

To me the bottom line is if the work produced by an intern has any value whatsoever to the employer—I’m talking to nonprofits too—the internship should be monetarily compensated. The benefit of the arrangement is that each party, employer and intern, has a vested interest and motivation to make the arrangement productive.

To me there’s actually a bigger issue here than whether or not to pay interns and that is the ethical treatment of interns. The worst is when I hear stories about students being relegated to filling drink and lunch orders or being subjected to cattiness in the work place.

Typically, I hear students or junior communicators tell me they wish the people they interned for had talked to them more, explained things or put them into context. Most times, their employers just dictate orders and the interns blindly follow them. As professionals, aren’t we better than that?

Here are few tips to make the internship productive for both your organization and the intern:

EXPECTATIONS: On Day 1 set expectations for what the intern should expect and what your organization expects of the interns.

VARIETY: Give the intern a variety of work to do for a variety of clients. Most interns still aren’t 100 percent sure what type of work they want to do or in what industries. Give them a chance to see a diversity of both.

MISTAKES: No one is perfect and often making mistakes are the best way to learn. Allow your interns to make mistakes, but coach them on how to learn and improve from those mistakes.

FACE TIME: Expose interns to new business pitches, let them participate in client meetings and, if you’re a large agency, facilitate a Q&A with the boss.

REVIEW: On a regular basis, sit with the interns and discuss how things are going. I recommend weekly meetings but bi-weekly would be effective as well depending upon the duration of the internship.

EXIT: At the end of the internship, have the intern sit down and do an exit interview or survey so you can learn what they most valued and how you might improve.

RECOMMENDATION: Not every intern is going to be able to move into a permanent position with an agency, but give them the next best thing, a glowing recommendation they can use in their search for a job.

So, I ask that each of you take a minute to remember how your internships were, what you would have liked to have changed and apply it to how you treat interns now. The students will get more out of it. Your organization will benefit from it. Our profession will be better for it.

Ed Davis, PRSA Houston president-elect, director of Media & Public Relations at the United Way of Greater Houston.

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High Fructose Corn Syrup’s PR Problem

Watching television a few days ago, and saw an ad featuring a rather agreeable-looking farmer with his daughter, moseying through a corn field, discussing the benefits of something I’d never heard of before, called corn sugar. High Fructose Corn Syrup, now that I’ve heard of. Cane sugar, also on my radar. But corn sugar? “This must be a new, healthy kind of sugar made from corn!” I took to The Google to search for this magical new sweetener to see what was up with it (they must have a mega budget to advertise during prime time television).
Guess what: Corn sugar is just High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS for short) with a fancy, new name.
There have been numerous studies done on the effects of HFCS, and so far, the results have been mixed. Corn growers, manufacturers, and the Corn Refiners Association insist that HFCS reacts exactly the same way table sugar does in the body, yet some research suggests that there is a direct correlation between obesity and the use of HFCS in soft drinks and shelf-stable, grab-and-go snacks. Princeton University released a study earlier this year, stating that sweeteners are “not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.”

I’m not a scientist or a doctor, and don’t pretend to understand how different types of sugars react in the body, but what interests me here, as HFCS gets rebranded as corn sugar, is how we, the public, even though we know better, can be influenced by a good marketing campaign. Instinctively and intuitively, my brain drew the conclusion that corn sugar was somehow natural and virtually unprocessed, but just by the nature of what it is (sugar… made from corn), there must be heavy process involved.
Upon doing a little more digging, I discovered that Big Corn has been courting mommy bloggers in an effort to spread their message. We know that mothers do the majority of the grocery shopping and are often the ones educating children on the values of eating apples instead of Dunkaroos. Some mommy bloggers have engaged in the conversation with CRA and have been convinced. It’s caused a stir in the blogger community, and popular blogger Jessica Gottlieb has spoken out on the subject, asking mothers “to collectively say ‘no thank you’ to processed foods.”

Food PR has taken center stage over the last several months. KFC released that crazy, attention-getting sandwich, artist Sally Davies let a Happy Meal sit out for 180 days, and photos of what mechanically separated chicken looks like before it’s molded into those strange loaves have all made front page headlines. Now High Fructose Corn Syrup’s producers are on the offensive, proactively working to reverse the mindset that it is one of the major causes of obesity, whether it is or not.
PR pros, I ask you: What would YOU do if Corn Refiners of America was your client, and your task was to rebrand HFCS as “natural”?

Esther Steinfeld is public relations manager for <>, a major online provider of custom window treatments.  In 2010, was named the No. 1 e-commerce company in Houston by the Houston Business Journal.

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Texas Tribune Editor Evan Smith Speaks at PRSA Houston September Luncheon

Smith was the guest speaker at PRSA Houston’s luncheon on Sept. 1, where he discussed the year-old media outlet’s mission to promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government, and other matters of statewide concern.

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