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Were our 2016 PR predictions spot on?

Oh, the last few weeks in December — that special time of year when industry prediction posts become as ubiquitous as ugly holiday sweaters and peppermint-flavored everything. While I’m certain there will be plenty of articles about what’s next for the world of PR and communications (like this one from the incomparable Gini Dietrich) I’m […]

How to Empower Data-Driven PR Leaders

data-driven PR

Last month, AirPR Chief Strategy Officer Rebekah Iliff moderated a webinar panel for CommPRO on empowering data-driven PR professionals. She led a discussion about the traits of the successful PR leader of tomorrow with panelists Jennefer Witter of The Boreland Group, Julia Monti of Mastercard, and KayAnn Schoeneman of Ketchum. There are tremendous opportunities to […]

A Case of the PR Funnies

Sometimes being serious is just so…well…boring. And while it is certainly necessary to wax poetic and pontificate about important things like PR Measurement and the future of this fun lil’ industry of ours, once in awhile it’s even MORE important to get in a good laugh between pitches, memos, strategy meetings, and the laundry list […]

#MeasurePR + PRTech = PR’s Bright Future

Last Tuesday Rebekah co-hosted Shonali Burke’s first #measurePR Twitter chat of 2015 alongside Deirdre Breakenridge.

The topic? Why, PRTech of course.

Considering these are 3 of the smartest (not to mention loveliest) ladies to ever utter the letters PR, it’ll come as no surprise that the rousing chat was chock full of wisdom and key industry takeaways.

Curious about what hot topics were discussed, what PR pros should be paying attention to, and why PRTech is proving to a defining force in 2015?

Of course you are.

Below is a taste of the juicy chat tidbits as well as a few takeaways guaranteed to take your work to the next level.

Let’s get after it…

PR bright futureOn the importance of measuring PR:

  • “Understanding [PR] performance let’s you enhance, iterate.” – Julie Diaz-Asper
  • “If we want a seat at the ‘grown ups table’ we have to earn it via metrics.” – David Rockland
  • “We cannot say ‘PR drives bottom line’ and not embrace measurement. Either we’re integral or peripheral to business.” – John Friedman

In case it wasn’t clear from the astute observations above, PR measurement is a non negotiable. Proper measurement helps us optimize and improve, while clearly demonstrating the value PR. In regards to PR measurement, let’s make a pact here and now: We vow to be practical, produce great work, and measure our asses off. How about you?

Continue reading…

How PRTech is reseeding the PR Landscape

This week we let go of our blog reins. Mostly because we don’t like to talk about ourselves, but also because we recently met an impressive young women named Alexis Anthony whose PR prowess deserves some love.

Rebekah met Alexis back in October at the Cision/Vocus #FutureofPR event in Washington D.C. Needless to say, she left a lasting impression. Alexis is currently studying Public Relations and Business Analytics (our favorite combo!) at the University of Maryland.

We were taken by her philosophy on PR’s evolution, so we picked her brain about the recent launch of our newest site: PRTech.co.

Alexis spent the day at AirPR last week and from everything we saw and heard, we are certain this lady personifies the PR professional of the future.

We hope you enjoy her take on PRTech’s role in creating a robust, thriving industry.

How PRTech is reseeding the PR Landscape

By Alexis Anthony

As odd as it sounds, PR pros could learn a thing or two from lawn care specialists. Yeah, weird idea I know, but bear with me. Imagine a golf course. Aside from the everyday mowing and trimming, ground gurus keep the fairways and greens in pristine condition through a process called reseeding.

They don’t actually re-plant seeds. They apply more seed where the grass is thin or bare to make it more robust and add structure to the landscape.

So how does this tie in to PR?

PRTech.co logo (b)We’ve talked again and again about the importance of PR measurement, data literacy, and understanding technology. It’s the industry revolution we call PRTech.

But many seasoned practitioners resist these emerging PR tenants because things like automation and universal analytics feel unnatural. After all, the industry has gotten along for 200 years without them, right?

What those practitioners may not see are the thin or bare patches their PR landscapes. Instead of thinking about PRTech as replanting the industry, we should see it as reseeding – filling barren cavities with data and technology.

Still with me? Here are three reasons we need to think of PRTech as a movement to reseed the industry and three ways we can jumpstart the process.

Continue reading…

Getting First Dibs on the Future of PR and Media

When a writer for Fast Company agrees to write a “first dibs” article for your company blog, it is all at once flattering (OMG! She’s gonna do that for lil’ ol’ us??), but also – ah hem – kind of scary.

Because…what if…everyone likes her better?

Inflated egos notwithstanding (and in true entrepreneurial fashion) this week we are thrilled to take the risk of Wendy Marx eclipsing us so that you…yes YOU…can gain interesting insights from one of the PR industry’s finest.

Read. Enjoy. Tweet. Discuss. Comment. Re-post. We promise not to be offended or to take it personally if this goes viral:

Getting First Dibs on the Future of PR and Media

By Wendy Marx

Want a peak into the future of PR and media?

Expect to see in the coming years a more ballsy, diverse PR profession that is less obsessed with scoring a big hit in old-time media than capitalizing on niche and non-traditional media. And expect to see a reimagining of media storytelling tools and tactics coupled with a new PR-journalist alliance.

At least those were the prognostications of some seers of PR and journalism at a PRSA Tri State District event titled “PRX: The Future of Media.”

One fact is patently clear: PR and its first cousin, journalism, are in a whirlwind of evolution of redefining themselves.

What’s ahead and how do you succeed? These PR and media crystal ball gazers articulated a roadmap of the future. Here are ways they recommended to get your own toehold on the future:

Shed the veneer of sameness

Decrying the commoditization of PR practitioners who are spit out of the PR factory in the same mold, Fred Cook, President and CEO of global PR agency Golin, urged the mostly female audience to dare to fail and keep more balls (or ideas) on the table. “Failure is the best way to success in your career,” said Cook, who regaled the audience with his failures as a doorman, chauffer, tennis player, and school teacher as chronicled in his book, Improvise: Unconventional Career Advise from an Unlikely CEO.

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PR’s about-face and the future of content marketing

Ahhh, post-holiday brain mush. ‘Tis going to be a fun week. The past few weeks I’ve been torturing enlightening you with media relations best practices. Or shall we say “arguably” best practices, because they are and always will be up for argument. That is, until PR becomes the equivalent of performing a root canal. There’s only […]

PR myths and future models, Peter Himler gets cheeky

He got his start in entertainment PR, and then migrated to the global agency world as the youngest VP at Hill & Knowlton. He then spent six years as Media Director of Cohn & Wolfe, followed by over a decade as EVP at Burson-Marstellar and a stint as Chief Media Officer at Edelman. Today, Peter Himler is the founder and principal of Flatiron Communications LLC, and one might say he’s learned a thing or two about PR along the way.

“A thing or two” being an obvious, flippant term because the depth of knowledge and insight he holds is [quite possibly] indescribable. His ability to understand and embrace the precepts upon which the PR industry was built while simultaneously accepting its rampant change is refreshing if not vital.

Mr. Himler’s voice is an important one for challenging the PR status quo, and his quest to understand what we were up to (within days of our launch) was simultaneously flattering and frighteningly adept.

We caught up with him over brunch a few weeks ago in New York at what I gathered to be his customary booth at Balthazar in New York’s trendy Soho neighborhood.

This man does not play.

You’ve gotten coverage for clients in virtually every outlet from the New York Times, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal to TechCrunch, Mashable and PandoDaily. Can you talk a little bit about the types of “stories” those outlets generally publish.

Peter Himler: It’s hard to compare these media outlets. They’re so editorially distinct. Each covers a wide array of people, topics, industries, companies and organizations, except perhaps for TechCrunch, which has maintained a pretty singular focus since its founding. However, within their respective technology news holes, any rumblings from one of the following companies usually gain traction: Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung, and Netflix (we should all be so lucky to work at one).

Types of stories include: material news (affecting stock price), new products or services, M&A, litigation, outspoken executives, remarkable growth, strategic partnerships, etc.

How do you tell a client their product is not right for a specific publication they have deemed important? In other words: how do you let them down gently?

PH: Much of what we do is timing and luck. Given the expanded amount of editorial real estate a digital news outlet can offer, I’d be hard-pressed to rule out something outright. Of course, if the publication just did a major feature on my client’s industry or if the publication’s primary competitor recently profiled my client, these would be non-starters.

One question I ask myself: “are you embarrassed to pitch the story or not?”  (Does the story fit into the publication’s editorial DNA?) Remember, you’ve got to be in it to win it. The timing may be in your favor. Continue reading…

PR Entrepreneur Sabrina Horn dishes on the future of PR

A few weeks after our October 2012 launch, Sharam (AirPR’s CEO) received a LinkedIn message from someone at HORN requesting a meet and greet with [the one and only] Sabrina Horn.

He showed me the email and we were both a bit skeptical.

I immediately pinged a friend who had launched her career under the wing of Ms. Horn a decade before. She is now an “entertainment + tech” PR pro living in L.A. and repping some of today’s biggest celebs alongside their startups of interest. Having built her reputation on being an exacting, straight shooter practically incapable of your run-of-the-mill PR bullshit, we knew she would give us an accurate assessment.

“Is she nice?”

“Should we be scared?”

“We know she’s smart but is this a clandestine operation issued by none other than the Public Relations Society of America?”

After being reassured that (despite her tough business exterior) Ms. Horn was known historically as a good listener, extremely intuitive, nice in a particular way that leaves room for good folks and weeds out the bad, and constantly looking for ways to innovate in the PR space, we were sold.

Here is our happy ending: she was better than great, more open than we had expected, and has become an important ally in our quest to build a platform that serves the PR industry in unique and compelling ways.

So Sabrina, ah-hem, Ms. Horn, we thank you…for being a true PR innovator and entrepreneur. Where others could have thrown in the towel you kept pushing, changing, growing, and ultimately building a company that has been a true leader in the technology and PR industries.

Now for the goods…

You’ve built a thriving PR firm over the past twenty years, what are the top three things you believe have enabled your success?

Sabrina Horn:

  1. I listen carefully to what my employees tell me, as I often find out the real crux of an issue by talking to my employees… things get lost in translation. You can’t be a CEO that doesn’t get into the trenches.
  2. Ask smart questions, especially the question “Why?” People often get excited about things they are passionate about. What may seem “obvious” to them may just not be feasible. Clients think they want X, when what they really need is Y. Our job is to counsel people about their options or give them options when they didn’t have any. The only way to provide that counsel is to dig, get them to tell you more and figure out what the end goal really should be.
  3. Trust my instincts. If something smells fishy or just doesn’t feel right, you have to trust your gut and follow your instincts.

What makes a client difficult to work with? (Characteristics, expectations, etc.)

SH: Very high expectations based on an uninformed or misinformed view of a situation; fear of losing power resulting in a command and control relationship; anda dysfunctional highly political organization that squashes creativity.

In your opinion, what are the key components to maintaining healthy PR/Client relationships?

SH: I tend to see this as four-pronged:

  1. Honest and open and frequent communication about what is working and what is not.
  2. A relationship that is based on trust and professional friendship where each has the others’ back.
  3. Free and open access to information about the client’s offerings, access to executives.
  4. Healthy appreciation for the agency model.

What is the biggest misconception about PR?

SH: The biggest misconception about PR is that it is a tactical press machine designed to solely “get ink”. PR is one of the most underrated and powerful tools inside a company and is exceptionally strategic and valuable when given the opportunity and provided by likeminded people.

Continue reading…

5 Ways Technology Has Impacted PR for Better or Worse

The following blog post was written by AirPR’s Director of Product, Rebekah Iliff. In addition to her role at AirPR, she is a technology/startup blogger for The Huffington Post and has recently been a featured columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Young Entrepreneur.”

Here is the #1 problem with traditional PR as it stands today: no one, and this includes PR professionals, can figure out how the heck to define it as technology and the uprising of self-publication and self-distribution platforms has made the traditional role amorphous in scope.

Is it media pitching and getting a “hit” on the local news station or CNN?

Is it writing news releases and distributing them over the newswire for SEO and online brand equity building?

Is it managing social media properties and engaging various constituents in meaningful dialogue online?

Perhaps it’s managing events on behalf of clients, and pushing them out as thought leaders in a particular industry?

Or is it all of these things done to varying degrees depending on the client’s needs, wants, desires, and perceptions?

And why is it problematic to not have a clear definition of the PR role?

Well for starters, you have an industry that has always battled a reputation of being dispensable, impact incalculable, and often unprofessional in nature – with no “real” licensing board, or concrete understanding of what constitutes a publicist, versus a public relations professional, versus a communications executive. In the world of “professionals” it’s fairly understandable what an accountant does, where an attorney can be helpful, and why you need a family doctor on your call list. Continue reading…