Announcement From Our Ad Tech Team

Crenshaw Communications Grows Ad Tech PR Team

Caroline Yodice named Director of Ad Tech to support expanding client roster

New York, NY, October 14, 2021 — Crenshaw Communications, a leading New York-based public relations agency specializing in PR for B2B and SaaS technology brands, today announced key personnel moves in support of its growing ad tech PR unit.

Caroline Yodice has been named Director of Ad Tech, reporting to Partner Chris Harihar. She was previously a Senior Account Supervisor. 

“As a category, ad tech has exploded over the past few years,” observed Chris Harihar. “At Crenshaw Communications, we have a history of successfully supporting a range of ad tech brands, from high-growth startups to larger public companies. Caroline’s expertise and experience in this space are matched only by her enthusiasm for it. She’s already killing it as Director of Ad Tech.” 

Caroline Yodice added, “There’s not a more exciting industry right now than ad tech. I’m delighted to lead our team and eager to support the expansion of our account roster and status as the top ad tech PR agency in the US.”

Additionally, Hannah Kasoff has joined the agency’s ad tech group. Hannah was most recently Associate Marketing Manager at Mediaocean, where she managed demand generation efforts for the US. 

Crenshaw Communications has also recently added new clients, including Connatix, the next-generation video technology company for publishers, and BrandTotal, a leading social competitive intelligence and brand analytics platform. Longstanding clients include Yahoo, DoubleVerify, Innovid, Lotame, and LiveIntent. 

For more information about Crenshaw Communications and how it can support ad tech brands and businesses, contact Chris Harihar at chris@crenshawcomm.com

About Crenshaw Communications

Crenshaw Communications is a New York PR and content agency specializing in B2B public relations for high-growth technology companies. Whether the goal is to launch a new product, drive web traffic, or create a leadership brand position, Crenshaw extends PR tools and tactics beyond the limits of the traditional to create both earned coverage and word-of-mouth in order to build brands.

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Can Ethical PRs Represent Unethical Clients?

The public relations business is plagued with bad cultural stereotypes (see: Flacks) as well as real-life examples of specialists who lie or deceive. Sure, every occupation has its bad apples. Ironically, however, image control for PR is particularly challenging. For one thing, we answer to many parties, from clients and media to shareholders and stakeholders. And lately the stakes, as well as the potential penalties for unethical behavior, are rising.  That’s a good thing.

The consequences can be steep

In the wake of the Pandora papers tax fraud scandal, legislators are now proposing to penalize law firms, accounting firms and even PR agencies who fail to vet criminal clients. The so-called “enablers,” including PR firms, had previously been excluded from due diligence rules. Should the bipartisan proposal become law, it should give large multinational agencies pause.

At the same time, there’s a bigger incentive for communicators to do the right thing. Negative baggage has a cost, too. Just look at the pressure on the comms team at Facebook, which has come to epitomize the struggle to do ethical work at a company that is acting in bad faith. Whistleblower Frances Haugen has managed to break through where previous Facebook critics have not. Her success is in part due to her use of Facebook’s own data about the damage its incentives have done. Haugen has also benefited from good timing. Facebook has been able to explain away past misdeeds with PR apologies, but the new allegations will likely stick. Although knowledgeable people disagree about what the consequences should be, the need to rein in Facebook is one of the very few areas of bipartisan agreement in Congress.

When good PR happens to bad people

What does this mean for the PR community? It all raises the question: how can a PR professional ethically represent an unethical, or merely controversial, company or individual? Should strategic PR advice be used to explain or defend a reprehensible action? What about repeated actions? The answers aren’t as obvious as they seem.

In a new textbook Public Relations Ethics: The Real-World Guide, Trevor Morris and Simon Goldsworthy take a refreshingly real-world approach to ethics in our business. A central case study is the story of Bell Pottinger, in which the firm’s expulsion from the Public Relations and Communications Association for ethical breaches was taken by some as proof that the industry code had real impact.

But the authors acknowledge that even the clear-cut case of Bell Pottinger’s collapse was complicated. After all, it was known as “the PR firm for despots and rogues” for years. Its late founder openly flouted industry conventions and most of Bell Pottinger’s allies only rejected the firm after scandal hit. That speaks to the hypocrisy in our industry as well as others — success can breed a kind of immunity to the rules. Change tends to happen slowly, then all at once, as we saw in the #metoo movement.

The good news is that PRSA’s ethical guidelines are widely published, taught, and understood by those working in PR and communications. Yet even when the rules are clear – don’t lie, don’t engage in dubious tactics like astro-turfing, and don’t represent dictators, etc. — real-world situations are rarely as black-and-white.

Principled PR is a matter of good faith

Ethics training for future PR professionals is critical, and textbooks like the Morris Goldsworthy help. But ethical behavior starts with the individual. In our business, the ethical choice may not always be simple or clear, but intentions should matter.

The right choice isn’t just about about which clients we represent, but about what we do in representing them. As PRSA tells us in a useful post titled “Whitewashing Despots,” if the client tells the truth and “supports and ensures the free flow of accurate and unprejudiced information,” it can actually be an ethical decision to represent them. The key is to represent the public interest, and to do so in good faith. Until you can’t.

We’ve all known practitioners who choose to work for organizations with ethical challenges, from Philip Morris to Facebook. Those comms executives often say they’re trying to work for change from within. Sometimes they are. And sometimes, like Frances Haugen, after trying in good faith, they recognize when change from within is impossible.

What Frances Haugen did will make it easier for future whistleblowers. But her example is also a good one for professional communicators. Influence is powerful. Sometimes it can work from within. But if that fails, different action is needed, and that’s where a true ethical compass kicks in.

Why Press Coverage Still Matters In PR

Is earned media – otherwise known as press coverage — still the key to a successful public relations program? Or is it simply one component of the broader picture?

It may seem like a silly question; after all, “publicity” is what people think of when they think about PR. And even in the business, many reduce the broader public relations function to one outcome – positive press coverage, often called earned media. Yet we resist the “publicist” label, and with good reason. We’ve embraced the PESO content model. We’re counselors. We help build and manage reputations. Most of all, we’re a strategic resource for internal and external clients.

Given this, I sometimes feel the pendulum has swung too far in the strategy direction. Prospective clients often tell us that their agency is hard-working, smart, and collegial, but that they simply don’t prioritize top-tier media coverage. And it’s true that many PR firms have reshuffled their service offerings. As the power of digital and social media has soared, they see new opportunities. Many have paid-media envy, because it looks easy. They know media relations is labor-intensive and not as scaleable as SEM or paid social. It can’t really be automated without risking embarrassing mistakes. It’s time-consuming, and time is the basis for our compensation in most cases.

PR people far outnumber working media

One reason for the concern about earned media is the flabbergasting ratio of PR people to working journalists. Last time I checked it was around 6 PRs for every journalist. So, even if you assume fully half of the professional PR population isn’t engaged in active media pitching, it’s a large number and an unhealthy ratio. Sometimes it feels like there are simply not enough media outlets to meet the goals of those PR team members trying to fill their client reports with good news. Then, too, bad practices have made things tougher for all of us. People who spam journalists with irrelevant offers have always been a liability for the industry. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Jokes aside, earned media has and will always have a place in public relations. Here’s why.

Positive press drives SEO

Just as the large PR firms cast around for more lucrative and scaleable services to sell, marketers have come to value earned media results for its brand-building and SEO impact. The benefits are clear; ever since Google cracked down on link schemes, marketers have prized stories and features from recognized publications with high-value domains as boosting their search positions and even driving noticeable spikes in web traffic over months or even years.

Thought leadership content is persuasive

One type of earned media content that is often intrinsic to B2B and political campaigns is the op-ed. An interesting study seems to confirm that high-value content like op-ed pieces in reputable publications are indeed persuasive.  In two randomized experiments involving both the general public and so-called “elites”, researchers found that op-ed content had a measurable and lasting effect on people’s views among both the general public and policy experts.

Earned media offers credibility

Another study on the credibility of information sources suggests that press coverage is more relevant than ever. Researchers looked at how people evaluated news stories, traditional ads, native ads, independent blogs, and branded blogs. They surveyed 1500 members of a consumer panel and ran focus groups with a subset of them. The consumers found earned media stories the most credible of all the information sources they considered. They also valued posts written by independent bloggers, rating them more credible than corporate blog content.

It always comes down to credibility. That’s what earned media offers – within limits – and that’s what we at most PR agencies still deliver. It’s still the centerpiece of what we do, and although many agencies are expanding their offerings, it’s valuable both as a key service and as a point of view that stresses the credibility of a brand message.

What we do well offers the most value

At the end of the day, the most valuable services we offer aren’t necessarily the most profitable if we can’t perform credibly. Look at the flipside of the PR agency that wants to offer a range of marketing services. I notice that branding, digital marketing, or even SEO agencies say they offer PR or earned media. But no knowledgeable communications professional would trust them with a major PR campaign. The promise just isn’t very credible. At midsize firms, we cannot be all things to all people.

Bottom line, we should focus less on the superiority of any one channel and more on better overall strategy to drive consistent and compelling messages across all platforms and channels – including earned media, which will be a key part of public relations for a long time to come.

5 PR Tips To Promote Expertise On LinkedIn

Among B2B PR teams, LinkedIn is the go-to social media platform for executives to drive positive visibility and thought leadership. But a profile that serves as a glorified CV isn’t enough to gain sought-after exposure; that takes time, strategy, and a dash of creativity. How can executives get the most from their LinkedIn profile to convey leadership and be seen as an expert? 

Go beyond a resume 

Your LinkedIn profile is representative of your brand. If someone were to scroll through, how would they perceive you? It may be time to review and optimize your profile to ensure that it’s presenting you and your brand in the best way. Here is what to keep in mind:

  • Have an updated and professional-looking profile picture, and an appropriate banner photo. Don’t use a vacation snapshot or a picture of you in black tie at someone’s wedding. And make sure the banner photo is high-resolution and eye-catching.

  • Instead of your job title, include a headline that describes what you do. “Experienced marketing consultant who helps nonprofits obtain funding” is better than “Director of Marketing” or, worse, “Nonprofit Marketing Guru”  

  • Your summary should reveal your specific expertise. Be mindful of using keywords that will describe you as a leader in your sector. For example, “Built and led comms team at high-growth technology startup in advance of IPO” is more specific and a bit stronger than “Headed comms at successful startup.”  

  • Showcasing media on your profile is a great way to represent your expertise. If you’ve spoken at industry conferences, upload the video. Linking to blogs or articles that feature your expertise are also great ways to present your brand.

Zone in on your audience 

Odds are that B2B executives already know who their ideal target is, so the next step is to focus on the content that attracts them. Look at relevant media, customers, and key stakeholders. Keep in mind that interests will vary based on job title and sector. Make sure to use terms familiar to those in your industry, and be conscious of keywords and phrases that spark ideas and answer questions. For example, descriptions sprinkled with terms of interest to marketers, like “performance marketing,” “optimized campaigns” or ”lead-generation” will make your profile more searchable.

Minimize self-promotion 

As a thought leader, your goal is to provide authentic insights into industry trends and business. Glaringly obvious brand and company promotion can turn off your audience and detract from your message.It’s far more impressive to focus on insights and indirectly on career achievements.

Develop engaging content

Creating well-crafted, timely content is the most important way to position yourself as a thought leader on LinkedIn. Here are a few strategies you should consider when generating content.

Publications 

If you’ve been quoted in any publications, share the links to them with an introductory sentence. LinkedIn also lets you publish your own articles within the platform as updates in your feed and LinkedIn groups.

Current events and timely coverage

Provide personal observations and opinions on the latest news; for example, what privacy updates mean for advertising or lessons to learn after a company’s been breached. Google Trends is an extremely useful tool that shows what people are searching for and highlights search phrases at their peak volume.  Google News is useful to understand timely coverage of what news outlets are publishing. If applicable, offer reasons why you agree or disagree with relevant stories or opinions in the news that relate to trending topics in your industry.

Evergreen content

Though timely coverage should be included in your mix, it’s important to include content with staying power. This is where evergreen content comes into play. Evergreen content will stay relevant for months or even years.

Create polls

Polls are a creative way to gauge where your audience stands on industry trends or breaking news, or common obstacles. Poll responses can spur the creation of a blog post or an article that addresses the subject at hand, providing you with even more content!

Thought leadership content is meant to be informative, not exhaustive – you don’t have to overthink it or go too broad when bit-sized topics will do. You’ll be able to reach a self-selected audience in search of practical advice that is shareable by other LinkedIn members.

Consistency is key

Set a schedule for publishing your LinkedIn posts. Social media managers like Hootsuite and Sprout Social allow you to schedule posts ahead of time. It’s also beneficial to set aside scheduled time to interact with your LinkedIn network. Pencil in some time on your calendar the same way you would for a meeting and stick with it. Just 15 minutes three times a week can build your network.

Once you’ve woven these ideas into your LinkedIn strategy, set metrics and track engagement and new followers to see if you’re making headway. Start connecting with your peers and key stakeholders. If you’re sharing relevant updates and articles, these potential connections will have context about you and your brand which will increase the likelihood of them connecting with you. You’ll be well on your way to solidifying your place as a LinkedIn thought leader in no time.

How To Get The Most From PR Freelancers

Occasionally public relations agencies tap freelance contractors to manage peak workloads during busy seasons or to bring specialist expertise to a project. Post-COVID, there are probably a greater variety of freelancers available given that remote work is so commonplace in our industry. But how can we make the most from our investment in freelance consultants? Here are some best practices for managing outside practitioners.

Consider them team members

Freelancers are partners in your success. Rather than treating them like temporary members of the team, consider them as extensions of it. Depending on the length of the engagement, it’s often advantageous to include a contract employee in relevant team and company meetings. Internal team members and clients will appreciate the investment in proper communication and management.

Be transparent with client companies involved

As for clients, it’s best that they know of any freelancer’s status, and in most cases full client contact is a plus. Because a freelance employee will sign an NDA and in most cases a non-compete agreement, the agency team shouldn’t worry that they’ll disclose confidential client information or try to lure the client away. Most agencies rely on a small number of trusted freelancers in whom they place their confidence, so they should feel comfortable with full transparency.

Look for specialists

In some cases when we seek to bring on PR freelancers, we’re looking for additional arms and legs for a special project. In others, it pays to seek out specialist expertise that complements the existing full-time team. For example, we occasionally bring in technical writers to interview engineers or other staff at client companies to create background material for long-form content. And we have an ongoing relationship with a morning show specialist who has a line to the key segment producers and will never give up on cracking the big interview! Specialists can help educate the team as well as contributing to it.

Pay promptly

Agencies expect discretion, loyalty and professionalism from any freelance staffer. The freelancers also have the right to expect timely payment for their work. Anyone who has served as an outside contractor on a PR project knows how uncomfortable and annoying it is to have to nag an accounts payable manager for payment. It’s a simple matter of courtesy and respect.

Think diversity

The pandemic has widened the talent pool in some ways, which opens hiring possibilities not only to professionals of all ethnicities, but to over six million people in the US labor force who have some form of disability. Many consultants with mobility limitations can work remotely and will no longer need to deal with the challenges of long daily commutes. 

Choose wisely and check references

It goes without saying that no freelancer should need special training beyond project orientation and processes. With training costs being one of the biggest expenses of hiring a traditional entry-level employee, eliminating that time is a benefit. If you’re vetting a new freelance consultant, it pays to query them thoroughly about recent work and relevant expertise, and to speak with the references they supply, as well as those they don’t. PR is really a very small industry. 

Manage their time

Bringing on a freelancer means you can choose someone with the exact skill set required for the project. This means they can get the job with little time wasted. It’s important to manage their hours while respecting their independence. In PR, publicists generally know how long certain tasks take, like writing press releases or drafting pitches, so it’s smart to ask for check-ins on hours spent or feedback needed.

Lessons Of Theranos: Sex, Lies, And PR

Like many in tech PR, I’m fascinated by the Theranos story because of what it says about Silicon Valley, public relations, and the press. Now that the trial of its disgraced founder Elizabeth Holmes has started, media and pundits have updated their hot takes on her spectacular rise and fall. Theranos claimed to have devised a technology that offered ultra-sophisticated diagnostic testing based on a single pinprick of blood. The implications – and potential PR angles – were irresistible. It would revolutionize diagnostic testing, making it easier, cheaper, and more accessible. It would disrupt the legacy companies in the field. It would be a boon for needle-phobics. Most appealing to the media, it was started and run by a woman. And Holmes wasn’t just any woman; she was young and blond, a Stanford dropout with a fascinating backstory who channeled Steve Jobs. Is it any wonder that Theranos was valued at $10 billion at its pinnacle?

Fake it ’til you break it?

Its breathtaking success and subsequent crash tells us a lot about the sexism that persists in startup circles, how investors see women in tech, and how females try to cope with the perception.

Still, I was surprised to read that in the years following the collapse of Theranos, female entrepreneurs in life sciences and biotech say they’re constantly compared to Holmes. The Theranos case, according to a piece in The New York Times, has “left behind a seemingly indelible image of how female founders can push boundaries…. they faced the additional hurdle of fighting assumptions that they were like Ms. Holmes, they said, something their male counterparts have generally not had to contend with.” One female founder of a health testing company said that she was linked to Holmes so frequently that her advisors suggested she dye her naturally blond hair a darker color, presumably to stop the damaging comparison.

Wow. But even more remarkably, some women founders have weighed in with a degree of sympathy on the circumstances around the Holmes disgrace. Entrepreneur Beth Esponnette posted on Medium that, while she fully recognized that Holmes was wrong, “I still believe that she thought she was doing the right thing taking the universal advice of Silicon Valley: ‘Fake it till you make it.'” Esponnette claims that in her own struggle to get funding, she was encouraged by investors to overpromise and exaggerate even to the point of lying.

Can confidence turn to criminality?

I take Esponette’s point that female founders are seen and treated differently than male counterparts. And I doubt that the next brash young male techpreneur is worried that he’ll be compared to Adam Neumann, the WeWork founder who dazzled investors and media, only to leave in disgrace (albeit with a $1.7 billion parachute.)

Yet her view that women in Silicon Valley are held to unique and inappropriate standards is a double-edged one. It’s clear that Holmes was lionized in part because she was female. Anyone who works in PR with high-growth technology businesses knows that the media are eager to cover women founders. There are so few of them, and what’s different naturally makes news. Holmes would have been the first self-made woman billionaire in tech, and everyone was rooting for her. Of course her sex was a factor. And “fake it til you make it” is about projecting confidence, not an excuse to engage in criminal fraud.

Journalists missed red flags

Of course, the Theranos debacle also tells us something about journalism. As someone who has spent a career in PR, where we basically try to build up business leaders and tech entrepreneurs in the media, it feels weird to criticize the media who took a good pitch and ran with it. But there’s no denying the Theranos story is about the credulity of journalists in the tech sector. They were thirsty for a female Steve Jobs, so they didn’t question Holmes’s claims. What’s more, reporters often work in packs, especially in sector bubbles like Silicon Valley. Media coverage begets more media coverage. Even as reporters compete fiercely for the story, they’re influenced by what colleagues and competitors write. As soon as Holmes’s PR team cracked one top-tier business publication, the rest clamored to cover her with fresh angles and updated quotes. Few questioned the culture of secrecy or the absence of peer-reviewed research on the Theranos technology. No one asked why there wasn’t a single physician (except Senator Bill Frist) on its board. It took a couple of sharp professors and John Carreyrou, with his investigative background and outside-the-bubble pedigree, to bring down the house.

A PR-first culture can’t work in healthcare

Finally, even if you attribute Holmes’s dishonesty to the self-aggrandizing ethos of Silicon Valley, that ethos doesn’t translate outside the tech industry. It’s one thing to promote “vaporware” by exaggerating a product’s readiness or overpromising on features. But in medical diagnostics, the stakes are high. The consequences for mistakes can be fatal. It’s the main reason why I can’t ultimately swallow the “fake it til you make it” mores as an excuse here.

The tragedy of Elizabeth Holmes is that we’re still clamoring to make her a symbol – of sexism, of journalistic laziness, investor gullibility, or even imposter syndrome and the pressure to succeed. She may be all those things, but in the end, a lie is a lie and a fraud is a fraud. Even in tech, a great PR campaign will only take you so far.

5 Pitch Ideas For PR Pros When There Is No News

PR firms live and die by news. But there are some weeks, especially late in the summer, when the news cycle is slow and companies are in a lull between announcements. Despite this, there are ways for PR teams to get their clients in the news by basically creating it themselves.

Here are five pitch ideas for when there is no news that can work particularly well for B2B PR campaigns. 

Meet and greet!

If there was a recent senior leadership hire or promotion at your organization, it can sometimes be leveraged into news, or at least background information for later news. We do this through a meet-and-greet pitch. The executive addition doesn’t even have to be that recent and even if it was covered by the news, a meet-and-greet will often be welcome. 

In this type of pitch, we introduce the new officer and explain what their new role is at the organization, highlighting their accomplishments in past roles. The goal of this pitch is to offer executive time to reporters for introductions, background material, and to share a POV on the industry and its future.

It’s so simple, but you’d be surprised how many reporters can be interested. The informal meetups often lead to meaningful relationships where the reporter will reach out to get the exec’s opinion on certain topics down the road. 

Data points drive press

Often companies have surveys or case studies that contain great data points. Research, when well packaged and communicated, can be just the thing for a slow period. When pitching case studies, it is important to offer a spokesperson from both the customer organization and the one that offers the product or service. Each must be willing to speak with a journalist, as some journalists will want to hear from the customers directly. We work with our clients to stretch the data into something newsworthy and add their insights to garner interest from the media. 

Data points can go a long way. In some cases, it’s suitable for a quick media alert or even a press release. There are many news outlets that have columns focused on numbers and data, like eMarketer and The Drum’s “Week in Numbers.”

Use the news that’s already breaking

PR pros have been “newsjacking” for decades but it wasn’t until 2011 that David Meerman Scott penned the term. The Oxford dictionary defines it as “The practice of taking advantage of current events or news stories in such a way as to promote or advertise one’s product or brand. 

When news breaks, reporters and analysts often look for experts to comment on the story. That’s why we in PR need to stay on top of relevant news. Luckily, there are so many ways to consume news that it’s pretty hard to miss it. You can set up Google alerts on your phones and laptops, listen to daily podcasts and sign up for newsletters in pertinent industries. The keys here are relevance and speed.

Reactive media outreach needs to happen within hours of a breaking story. The best pitches will offer insightful commentary driven by relevant expertise. If you can package it well, you may just grab interest from a reporter.  

Our Crenshaw team executed a reactive pitch about a recent data breach which resulted in our client, NCSA, being featured in the coverage about it. The team reacted quickly and garnered information and a quote from NCSA to offer to the media. The work paid off as they secured numerous stories for offering insight on the data breach. 

Capitalize on recent trends

Another way to establish relevance for an organization or expert is to take advantage of recent trends that apply to their business. This doesn’t have to be groundbreaking or even a solid announceable piece of news, but it can be a way to offer an opinion on how a company is using trends, or, conversely, how its business is actually bucking a trend in spite of conventional wisdom. 

For example, the use of newsletters has ramped up in the last year. We represent ad tech companies and media brands, and the shift to newsletters has real implications for them. There’s not a single, breaking story to react to, but rather a steady stream of developments in the category that makes it a natural trend for commentary and content.

Recently, we sent out a pitch offering our client LiveIntent, to discuss the importance of local newspapers and their email newsletters amid changes due to COVID-19. We were able to secure a Q&A feature opportunity with this pitch as well as inclusions in ad-tech newsletters. 

Thought leadership

Most PR pros work with their clients to create plans where they outline pitch angles and content topics they want to execute over the course of a couple months. These plans are helpful when the news cycle is slow. 

Having a thought-leadership pitch angle ready, complete with approved quotes from company executives will make it easier to reach out to reporters. Thought-leadership pieces should offer insight for readers from new perspectives and commentary that contributes to a larger conversation that is relevant at the time. 

A thought-leadership angle that can garner interest can include commentary on the third-party cookies saga. The phasing out of third-party cookies has shaken up digital advertising and media, and with recent pushback regarding privacy issues, there is much to talk about. Offering an opinion and thoughts on the ongoing cookie delay is going to be relevant in ad-tech for a long time. 

When we reach out to journalists with pitches about something other than an announcement, they take notice and particularly appreciate fresh ideas. If the content or commentary is compelling, relevant, and timely, it will grab the attention of reporters. 

5 Benefits Of Interning At A PR Firm

Guest post by Crenshaw Communications intern, Murphy Pressley

College is a transformation for students. We’re encouraged to evolve, both personally and professionally. This transformation does not come easily and is not solely due to the courses we’re offered. As we’re beginning our adult lives and preparing to be more independent, less impulsive, and more in control, a vital tool in any student’s growth is an internship —in my case, at a top PR agency.

For many college students, selecting a job or career post-graduation can be stressful.  Many students resort to part-time or temporary employment to earn extra income during college, but many of those jobs are short-term positions with little to no growth potential. An internship, on the other hand, can offer relevant career experience and even help secure that first job. 

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that, since 2013, 60% of each graduating class had participated in an internship and/or co-op at some point in their college career. On average, students who completed an internship are 15% less likely to be unemployed in the first years after college. It seems that even a single internship during college can increase the chances of long-term employment.  

Throughout my time in college, I’ve been fortunate to participate in some awesome internship programs. They helped me determine which sectors of PR I was most interested in, as well as what to look for in an employer and work environment. As an intern, I’m able to build my confidence and my resume at the same time, while also cultivating real-life networking opportunities. Here are key ways interning can benefit any student during their time in college.

Internships offer valuable (and real) work experience

Though formal college courses are presented by knowledgeable professors and test the ability to listen, reflect, and learn, they lack a dose of reality. You cannot teach experience. In fact, the only way to fully grasp what a professional environment is like is to experience it firsthand. When applying to and participating in internships, it’s important to explore your interests. Maybe you started working in the field most relevant to your major and realized it wasn’t for you. Interning is a perfect time to test the waters to see if this is a career you could envision for the next several years.​​ Internships show what the day-to-day looks like in an office while allowing for the application of knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom. One of the best perks of interning at a PR agency is being able to see how my day-to-day tasks are applied to services for our clients. By contrast, the classroom is full of hypotheticals. Through interning, students learn how to interact not only with their supervisors but with the clients themselves. Having these tangible relationships builds an intern’s verbal and written, communication skills. 

Explore different career paths

One of the first things I was attracted to about PR was how multi-faceted the industry is. It wasn’t until I started interning that I realized the world of public relations isn’t made up of only social media gurus and celebrity publicists. And while those may be both prominent and lucrative career paths, there is so much more to being a PR professional. In college, I’ve challenged myself to move between various PR sectors. Whether it was for a non-profit, luxury hospitality, B2B Tech, or even working on a popular TV show, PR internships offer exposure to a wide range of clients or situations. For me, each opportunity brought its own set of lessons and unpredictability.

Make a mistake, learn a lesson

An internship is a job. However, unlike post-graduation job placements, internships allow you to shamelessly investigate your field of interest. It’s the perfect time to be inquisitive and test your creativity. It’s also a good time to let yourself make mistakes and shake off any fear of failure. No one is expecting perfection; in fact, it’s expected that you will make mistakes. The defining moment of any misstep, however, is how you recover. This will not only make you marketable to a variety of prospective employers post-graduation, but it will bring a sense of confidence about your area of interest. 

Internships bring networking benefits 

The best career opportunities often come directly from referrals and personal connections. As the saying goes, “it’s not what you know but who you know.” Meeting new people and practicing networking skills is what entering the workforce is all about. How you lead your conversations and cultivate relationships depends entirely on your willingness to grow and put yourself out there. Also, networking with other people will undoubtedly improve communication skills. And then there are the practical benefits; applying for a position through a mutual connection will probably be more successful than going into the application and interview process blind. Through networking, the possibilities are endless. It’s not just about what others can do for you, but rather what you can do for each other. 

Know yourself better

Internships are pivotal opportunities for self-discovery. The internship is a time to develop skills, define strengths, and address weaknesses. Feedback from supervisors will provide unique learning opportunities, so if that feedback isn’t forthcoming, ask for it. Whether pre- or post-internship, learning to assert your own opinions and express ideas is a vital aspect of professional development. So, ask questions, observe, take risks, be open to constructive feedback, and adjust in order to succeed in your present and future environment. 

5 Surefire Ways To Generate Quality Content For PR

For PR teams, earned media placements are a key deliverable of a strategic public relations campaign. Typically they’re articles or broadcast segments that feature a given company or brand in a positive way. Earned media offers credibility even though we give up perfect control over the message.

But earned media doesn’t always achieve the frequency we need to promote client brands, and some stories have a lengthy gestation period. Earned results aren’t usually enough for a robust PR program. And given the ubiquity of social media, there’s an almost endless need for content, content, and more content. Here’s a look at the most reliable ways to generate content that supports a B2B brand outside of earned media.

A white paper is a workhorse

One form of content that works particularly well for B2B brands is the white paper. A high-quality white paper does double or triple duty: it showcases a company’s expertise in its given area; offers solutions to customer problems or needs; and it often works as a lead-generator as well. Yes, they’re often lengthy, but white papers can be enlivened with graphics, images and stats to hold the reader’s attention. They’re an impressive document for anyone wanting to take a deep dive into a specific business or technical topic.

The findings or data from a white paper can also be pitched out to the media. However, to make a lengthy document more digestible for journalists, boiling the findings and content down into a short release may be the way to go. We always link to the full white paper in the release, in case the reporter wants to dive deeper or include it in their story. While white papers are often a heavy lift when it comes to time and research, once complete, they can generally be shared and repurposed for months or even years.

Podcasts are popular (and pretty painless)

The most popular alternative to the “traditional” media placement is unquestionably the podcast. Over the past several years, the medium has grown in popularity along with the acceleration of mobile technology. Many publications and companies have their own podcasts, and there’s a show out there for basically any topic under the sun.

That’s why podcasts should be on every media pitch list. A C-suite exec, entrepreneur, or company expert who’s knowledgeable and passionate about a topic or who has a compelling backstory will make the best podcast guest. The conversations that take place during a recording are more laid back than a typical interview, and questions are often shared in advance so the guest has time to think through their responses. Any PR strategy that leaves out podcasts – or social audio in general –  is probably missing out on opportunities.

Thought leadership events keep on giving

Another excellent way to generate topical content, particularly for a B2B brand, is through a customized event. If you think about events as just one-and-done initiatives, think again. We regularly organize panel discussion events for clients that bring together a company expert or CEO with other (non-competitive) industry experts and a journalist as moderator. The panelists can include other industry executives, analysts, academics, or journalists. We invite media to attend and cover the discussions, but the real value of the panel events is typically the content that results. And it can have a much longer life than a two-hour event.

While COVID has put a halt to in-person panel discussions, virtual events work well and can even draw a wider audience of attendees. The discussion can be released in edited video snippets, bylined articles, contributed blog posts, op-ed pieces, and even on-site interviews.

Customer case studies sell benefits

The humble customer testimonial still works. In fact, there’s almost no better way for a B2B company to showcase its success than with an example that shows how its product or service helped solve a problem or address an issue for a customer. Case studies tend to be far shorter than white papers, and they don’t typically require in-depth research beyond the interview with the customer. The best media strategy for promoting a case study is to condense the story to a few pithy lines to pitch it for placement in a trade publication or other vertical media outlet. Alternatively, a short and compelling video testimonial can work well as part of an explainer video or even on a business platform like LinkedIn.

While case studies are clearly self-serving, if the story is good enough, they will find a good home. It’s important that both companies involved have a spokesperson who is willing to speak to the media. Many journalists won’t write these types of stories without participation from both parties. Some companies produce more case studies more than others, where customers may be reluctant to  go public for competitive reasons. But for us they’re a tried-and-true way to showcase what our client companies can do.

Contributed content from brand advocates has power

Influencer content isn’t just for consumer brands. All types of organizations can create quality content by hooking up with brand advocates or experts. For B2B brands, these can mean a formal “board of advisors” or simply a loosely organized set of contacts. They might be analysts, academics, other recognized experts, or even professional organizations brought on for paid partnerships. We’ve had stellar success using influential experts for customer education events (often with media participation), sponsored surveys or research reports, or top-shelf white paper content.

As times change and media channels mulitply, it’s important to diversify the content mix. Earned media, “owned” or branded content, and well-crafted events work together to make for a high-impact PR program for any business brand.

Unique Ways PR Pros Can (and Should) Consume News

PR specialists must eat, sleep and breathe news. We need to stay connected to a variety of news outlets to stay current and knowledgeable, both for our own benefit as well as that of our clients. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, news consumption in the US was up by 215%, showing that we rely more on the news than ever before. 

One of the best and easiest ways to position executives as thought leaders is by taking advantage of relevant news stories as soon as they break. “Newsjacking” is one way that PR people secure reactive coverage by jumping on a story that’s already in the news. The worst feeling in the world for a PR agency staffer is failing to notice a big breaking story and thus missing an opportunity to newsjack. So what are some ways we can stay on top of the 24/7 news game?

News Apps

Sometimes unnecessary notifications on our phones can be distracting, but for PR teams, notifications from news apps are essential. Because notifications can be customized to topics you want to stay on top of, they’re extremely useful. Popular apps like Flipboard, feedly, and even Apple News can be tailored to your interests so that you can stay up-to-date on both specific publications as well as topics. 

Newsletters

Newsletters are another essential tool for any PR person’s inbox. Email newsletters are a fast way to scan the daily headlines from a given publication in the hope that a long-awaited exclusive has finally gone live, or simply to shape the day’s media outreach. Some of my favorite newsletters and the ones I read on a daily basis are The Daily Skimm, Digiday 5 Things to Know, and The Morning Brew. The benefit is that they offer brief summaries on the most important headlines of the day, so we can gauge our interest in more in-depth searches. Check out this list of newsletters every PR pro should receive. 

Podcasts 

Podcasts have soared in popularity in the past few years. Fifty-five percent (155 million) of the US population has listened to a podcast. Podcasts are not only a great way to go in-depth on a topic, but they’re also an easy way to consume news on the go. Popular news podcasts like The Daily by The New York Times, Up First by NPR and WSJ What’s News by The Wall Street Journal are great vehicles for catching up on the news in less than 15 minutes. They’re often hosted by influential reporters and are ideal when you don’t have time to sit down and read the news first thing in the morning.  

Voice Assistants

I’d be lost without my Amazon Echo. I even became that lazy person who hooked up their lights to a smart plug so I can turn my lights off by voice. But in addition to rewarding laziness, we can train our voice assistants to keep us up to date on the news. I’ve set up a skill on my Echo to give me a flash briefing if I say “Alexa, Give me the news,” and anyone can set up their favorite outlets to hear major headlines from outlets like Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, NPR and more. This is a great feature for PR people who might want to hear the news first thing when they wake up as they get ready for the day ahead. 

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What are some ways you consume the news that others may not know about? Let us know on Twitter @colleeno_pr