Tips For Top PR Firms: More Creative Proposals

The start of the New Year signifies the beginning of RFP “season” for PR pros, since many consumer and B2B companies are looking for fresh marketing direction.  During this time you can expect to hear catch phrases like “out of the box thinking” and “disruptive innovation.”  It’s not a good idea to embrace creativity for creativity’s sake, but you can make your proposal and pitch stand out to demonstrate that you understand the brand and its target audience.  Here are a few pointers.

Dress to kill. We don’t mean put on your best suit (but do that if appropriate); we mean, dress your presentation. Banish boring templates. Jettison jargon and be so comfortable with your concepts that you could sell them in your sleep. But not so comfortable that you come off robotically reciting. Take breaths, make jokes, if you’ve read the audience and it feels right, and encourage conversation.  Just as the comments section of a blog post are often the most compelling, the same goes for the conversation sparked during a dialogue with a prospective client.

Be in the know. What’s the latest fad these days?  Tebowing?  Twerking? A healthy dose of pop culture – when used correctly – can go a long way to demonstrate that you are constantly current and know how to make a brand relevant and keep it in the news.  Same goes for suggested platforms – if Twitter chats are no longer the “it thing” figure out what is.  Gif, anyone?

Gather round the campfire. Recently, no doubt, you’ve heard the term “storytelling” ad nauseum. But when you think about it, it’s true – even the most dyed-in-the-wool corporate types would rather be told a story than “presented” to. So treat your presentation like a story. Include these five components:


Incident (illustrative of challenges and opportunities)

Stakes (what client has to gain and what you recommend they must do)

Main event (Big idea!)

Resolution (proof points)

When in doubt, enthusiasm wins out. Even if you feel less than confident, focus on enthusiasm. Heartfelt and genuine can trump cold and precise anytime. Even if you skip a slide or cover something twice, if you’ve already got the audience on your side, it will be hard for them to resist your passion and easy for them to remember you when decision-time comes.

(Don’t) bask in the afterglow. No matter how awesome you and your team were, never laurel-rest. Perform a post-mortem with the group to see what worked and what didn’t and keep notes for the next presentation. Stay in touch with the prospect in a polite way to determine next steps.  Congratulations if you win and on to the next, if someone else does!

Get Your Blog In Shape

Is your blog flabby? Is its content the equivalent of junk food? As with other spring rituals, getting your content in shape is a worthy exercise. Ask yourself these questions and then choose a shape-up plan that works for your particular blog.

Is it carrying a “spare tire”? You need sharper editing. If you are the sole assignment editor, writer and copy editor, you may have become too close to the content and need some outside eyes to do incisive cutting. It only hurts for a minute, but the rewards for sleek, new posts are worth it.

Are your topics stale or the content equivalent of “empty calories”? Overhaul your Editorial Calendar! Really take some time to look at the next 3-6 months with a keen eye to topicality, seasonality, annual posts worth revisiting and some futurecasting to help you come up with fresh, dynamic themes. Consider assigning guest bloggers to keep things interesting.

Having trouble “fitting in” the time? Get organized and set aside an hour to plan, write and edit each piece. This may mean blocking out writing time on Outlook or having Siri remind you “time to blog” – any way that you do it, make it scheduled and rigorous as you would a physical exercise routine.

Does your blog need a new look? Something as simple as a font change can help liven its look. If you have had the same graphics and colors forever, though, it may take a bigger change to keep your blog fresh and appealing.

Whatever changes you undertake to improve your posts, set some realistic goals and recognize that just like losing weight or saving money, goals take time and hard work. Set some and get to it!

Enhancing Oscar

Merely watching the Oscars on your flat screen is so five minutes ago!

As we in the PR business know, nearly every experience can now be enhanced with a combination of devices, apps and social media know-how. If you are, by some chance, ONLY watching the Oscars on one screen, get with the program!

Here are some fun ways to enhance your award-winning watching:

Before you do anything else, download to your smartphone or tablet, The Oscars (Official App). This aims to be the go-to app for users, bringing you everything from streaming video of the red carpet to tasty recipes to cook up Sunday night. Users can view a list of the nominees, watch videos and see photos, as well as catch a glimpse of the nominees hobnobbing backstage and on the red carpet.

Because you’re bound to thirst for ever more movie knowledge while watching, or because inevitably there is discussion or debate about some actor or director who was involved in some movie you swear you thought you saw, you need IMDb. IMDb will help you curb your curiosity and get to the bottom of that debate. The app contains more than 2 million movie and TV titles and more than 4 million actors and actresses, directors and crew. And this year, the app includes an Oscars section containing a list of nominees, as well as photos from the red carpet and updated results on the winners.

Next, while watching the red carpet on TV, be sure to follow some notable Oscar commentators on Twitter. Mix it up between “real” critics and fun comic types. You’ll want to tweet your own reactions, like, “Oh no @quevenzhanewallis didn’t win!” Or “@silverliningsplaybook scores!” as well as follow, favorite and retweet the experts. These include humorist and author Andy Borowitz @BorowitzReport and Kristen Meinzer @kristenmeinzer, half of the MovieDate critic team on The Takeaway.

Got a group of friends, separated by geography but still yearning to compare notes throughout the telecast? (“Doesn’t Jessica Chastain look beautiful?” “I hope Seth MacFarlane does Stewie!”) Make a Facebook page for the occasion and invite all your friends to a virtual Oscar-watching party. All the fun while still in bed in your jammies!

Finally, the Oscars themselves are a still a storied ritual entrenched in tradition. It was discussed this year that perhaps the results could be delivered digitally sans the fabled envelopes.

But even as tech and social media continue to transform the Oscars into a digitally friendly experience for attendees and viewers, the envelopes have remained in paper format, unlike at other award shows that have presenters read winners’ names on tablets or teleprompters. It appears they will stay that way.

The pundits say the envelope transcends trends, fashion and gadgetry – kind of like the show itself. However you view the Oscars this year, enjoy!

Writing The Shareable PR Blog Post

Crenshaw Communications’ employee blog, PR Fishbowl, recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, and we thought it a good time to look back and highlight what makes a blog readable and shareable. Here is what we found:

Find your voice. Whether your blog is snarky or sweet, find a consistent tone so “fans” know what to expect and look forward to your take on an issue or topic.

Be quick. It goes without saying to be topical, but today’s hot- button issue is tomorrow’s snooze, so filing the first blog post on a trending topic is a must! In the past year we have quickly posted the “PR POV” on breaking news such as the Susan G. Komen/Planned Parenthood Crisis, Paula Deen and her diabetes debacle and many more.

Be provocative. Take the less popular stance on an issue; point out industry foibles and expose myths. Some of our most well-read blogs took a controversial look at how a politician fared in public. (There’s no need to be partisan if your topic is the PR strategy behind the story.) Another focused on “gaffes and goofs” in PR resumes and cover letters.

Be fun. Our blogs are mostly lighthearted but when you can turn it into something fun and relatable, the audience is “in on it” with you. A good example of this was a holiday blog which took the 12 Days of Christmas and gave each “gift” a PR spin. We also produced a “Mad Libs” blog.

Be smart. Impart real knowledge and advice PR people can use as soon as they’ve finished reading. Tip lists, “do’s and don’ts”, especially those that incorporate “real life” examples, always fare well.
Finally, some practical blog advice (aha, a tip list!)

Be aware of industry keywords and use them

Link to other bloggers and websites (who will reciprocate)

Push your blog out through all your social media channels

Invite comments and always respond to those you receive

We’d love to hear any additional advice!