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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 http://www.prsahouston.org 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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Want more success working with the Houston Chronicle?

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Sage Advice

Did you miss PRSA Houston’s April luncheon? Don’t worry. With this video, we captured a few of the sages giving career advice. Thanks, Ed Davis (PRSA Houston board member and director of communications at the United Way of Greater Houston).

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Filed under Crisis Communications, Mentoring, Professional Development, Public Relations, Uncategorized

Finding Mr. Miyagi

Believe it or not, the movie The Karate Kid has influenced what most of us expect from mentoring relationships.

Mr. Miyagi takes young Daniel LaRusso, the underweight outsider bullied in his new school, under his wing. With patience and commitment, Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel about succeeding in martial arts and life.

Wax on. Wax off.

By the end of the movie, Daniel’s life has been transformed.

In the real world, mentoring takes many forms and it doesn’t always conform to popular preconceptions. The current landscape of our profession requires us to stay on our toes. Knowledge sharing enriches us all. Developing mentoring relationships can be a rewarding experience for the protégé (I hate the word “mentee”) as well as the mentor.

Mentoring is simply when someone helps someone else learn something. The image many of us have of seasoned pros forming lifelong bonds with fresh-faced college graduates, helping them navigate the peaks and valleys of their careers is a limited view of what mentoring has to offer. A mentor is also not responsible for helping a protégé find a new job.

In the real world, mutually beneficial relationships can develop between peers, or around a specific topic or issue that one professional faces in his or her career. Throughout your career, expect your mentoring needs to change.

At the April luncheon, the PRSA Houston chapter will offer a different type of program and provide a venue for informal mentoring.

Rather than our typical speaker presentation, we will facilitate conversations at the luncheon tables with several of Houston’s PR sages. This format provides a unique opportunity for attendees to tap into the minds of some of Houston best-known PR professionals — leaders of their fields in a variety of industries.

Around the table, PRSA Houston members and guests will also have opportunities to exchange ideas and information around shared interests that will undoubtedly promote peer-to-peer mentoring and help expand professional networks like few other events could.

While the idea of finding your Mr. Miyagi may seem as unrealistic as mastering the “crane kick,” open your mind to the many possibilities mentoring has to offer and you’re sure to reap the benefits.

Stephanie Dedeaux, APR is an independent public relations consultant and 2010 PRSA Houston chapter president.

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PR Day 2009 Co-Chairs Explain How You Get What You Give

“When Lisa and I were asked to co-chair PR Day 2009, I resisted. Over the years I had served in many roles—from committee chair to chapter president to assembly delegate—so I felt I had done my part for PRSA Houston. Add to that the fact that I am co-owner of a small business, which takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to run. But I finally agreed, and I’m so glad I did. For one thing, we were able to recruit a great committee – made up of both newcomers and long-time members of PRSA. In addition, we had wonderful support from the board and Paula Ruth, our chapter administrator. As we began our monthly meetings, it became clear that we have incredibly talented and committed people in PRSA. We got a lot done and had fun at the same time. I encourage every PRSA Houston member to chair or serve on a committee. It was a terrific experience for me – one that I will never forget!”

Margot Dimond, APR
Principal
DoubleDimond Public Relations, LLC
Co-Chair of PR Day 2009

“Fairly new to PRSA, I was a bit surprised yet honored to be asked to take on the important role of PR Day 2009 co-chair with my business partner (who happens to be my mother) Margot Dimond. I had served on the PR Day committee the previous year and picked up a lot watching Jennifer Evans’ strong leadership, but actually taking the reins as co-chair would be taking things to a whole new level. Like Margot, I was also a bit concerned about juggling PR Day along with the needs of our clients. I soon realized that with a very active committee made up of both experienced PR pros and those new to the industry, a timeline and persistence, we were able to put together an amazing PR Day 2009! And I have to say I gained so much both personally and professionally from this experience—not only the obvious—that I met so many incredible people and made so many friends—but I also learned so much from our committee members whose countless contributions led to a successful event.”

Lisa Dimond Vasquez
Principal
DoubleDimond Public Relations, LLC
Co-Chair of PR Day 2009

Interested in chairing PR Day 2010? Visit the PRSA Houston job bank for more information.

PR Day 2009 co-chairs Margot Dimond, APR (seated) and Lisa Dimond Vasquez of DoubleDimond Public Relations

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Lead sentence stretches from Houston to Sugar Land

Public Relations Tactics newspaper published a January article, “Outlook 2010: PR trends,” that predicts that press releases will be packaged like news stories. I reviewed a few releases on Business Wire today to see if this trend is taking hold.

I don’t see it but I’m not a trend spotter either. I am no Bianca Bartz.

What I did see is a bunch of wordy, insignificant, self-flattering announcements that any editor would toss in one to five seconds. I say five seconds because it took me that long to speed read a 73-word lead sentence in a press release issued by a multibillion corporation in our state.

The lead reads, “As government and healthcare leaders invest billions of dollars in healthcare information technologies (IT) to improve the accessibility, affordability and quality of healthcare for their citizens, hospital datacenters may not be ready for the demand that more patients and digital information will create, according to a survey of hospital IT executives at small and medium hospitals in the U.S., U.K., Canada, China, France and Germany conducted by the HIMSS Analytics, sponsored by (name withheld).”

For fun, read that as an announcer would. I am a jogger with good aerobic functions, including lung capacity, and I recited it all on my second try after sucking in several cubic feet of air. (Yes, I know that sentence lengths for the eye are longer than for the ear, so no blog responses on that, please.)

Newspapers articles are written at an eighth-grade reading level and so are press releases as a general rule. The supersized lead has a Flesch-Kincaid Grade level score of 14.

It scored 19 on the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease test. The lower the score, the harder to read. The Harvard Law Review has a readability score in the low 30s.

The lead sentence registered a Gunning Fog index measure of 16.25, just under 17, a university graduate level. An eighth-grader wouldn’t make it past the first couple of lines without tweeting, “OMG, this smarticle hype is an endlessbummer.”

Granted, writing on technical subjects aimed at college graduates can exceed an eight-grade level. But certainly, that lead—long enough to reach from Houston to Sugar Land if put in 36-point type—doesn’t effectively isolate the kernel of the message.

The stripped-down version is hospital datacenters are not prepared for the coming influx of more patients and digital information, indicates a company-sponsored survey.

My blog was written for high school sophomores if you cut out the datacenter lead sentence that I quoted. That one sentence increases the reading difficulty one grade level. LOL.

— Mike Wysatta, PRSA Houston Board Member

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Minimalist PR: Where less is best

A corporate PR type a few years ago told me that he was paid to keep his company’s name out of the press.  In an age of Web 2.0 and the information explosion, I don’t know how a company crawls under a rock.

Evasiveness and declining comment can backfire.  Just ask Tiger Woods.

I have always fought to comment.  But lately, I have learned not to trust well-meaning journalists to get it right.  And without trust, mum’s the word. 

Call me jaded but at least, hear me out.

Recently, I provided backgrounders to two seasoned journalists writing for respected publications.  And twice the information was maligned. 

The first reporter worked from a draft with “embargoed” stamped on it in big letters.  I cautioned her not to use it yet.

Consequently, we found a mistake in the draft, corrected it and sent her the final approved version under her deadline, pointing out the error in the previous version. 

Despite our best efforts, she plugged the error into her article draft.  As a courtesy, she provided the article to us before it went to press.  We caught her mistake and she corrected it before it went out. 

Or should I say that we caught our mistake?  Perhaps, giving her a draft subject to change was our miscalculation.  For sure, the incident caused friction and finger pointing and most likely, mildly damaged our relations with the journalist.

The second journalist received highly technical background information from us that was intended as a primer.  The problem was that the reporter used too much poetic license in his article and misapplied language in the backgrounder to a specific case involving our company’s product. 

The reporter also failed to interview our product developers despite an opportunity to do so.

The article, unseen by us in draft form, went to press and is now a problem.  We will ask for a published correction that readers rarely notice. 

Did the reporter make the mistake?  Or was it ours for providing information that was misused?  

Certainly, our company has benefited from being proactive with the press.  So the answer is that providing backgrounders to journalists is a judgement call.  The upside for us has usually been better than the downside.

But never overlook the wisdom of a minimalist approach.  Sometimes to say less is best, especially in cases where the company is not familiar with the reporter.

Now you can call me jaded if you must.  That is, if you can find me.  I’m under a rock now.

— Mike Wysatta, PRSA Houston Board Member

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