PR Parfait Blog featuring Pat McCormick

PR PARFAIT REPOST: PR Pro Spotlight – Pat McCormick

 

U of O senior and Allen Hall PR Account Supervisor, Kati VanLoo, interviewed Pat McCormick for her blog – PR Parfait. We’re reposting and giving Kati two thumbs up.


Katie VanLoo authors the PR Parfait blog

 

By Kati VanLoo
Published March 11, 2015

 

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview AM:PM PR Partner Pat McCormick. A communication pro with over 40 years of experience in issue management, Pat knows the ins and outs of the public relations industry. Now he spends his days at the Portland agency with his daughter Allison McCormick and other team members navigating the PR needs of their clients. Here’s some insight he provided on the industry and advice for those of us just venturing out into the job market.

PR Pro Pat McCormick

Photo from The Portland Business Journal’s “Cool Spaces” feature May 23, 2014

 

How did AM:PM PR come to be?

My daughter Allison worked for me at a PR agency in Salem for fifteen of the twenty years that I was there. In the final five years she was there, she helped with more consumer-facing PR. The young professionals were really having an impact on how everybody was communicating. It made it really clear how difficult the evolution is in our business. It personally excited me to be working at a time when there was so much change going on. When I could have retired, I talked to Allison about starting this business to continue to be a part of what’s changing.

 

How are young PR professionals impacting the industry?

Young professionals come into the workplace now with a sense of the currency of what’s going on. There’s a type of reverse coaching that comes from young professionals today because there are ways they grew up communicating that are different from the way older practitioners communicate. This generation also comes into the workplace in a little bit of a different fashion than, say, the Baby Boomer generation. That generation’s young professionals came into the workplace with the notion of “keep your head down; keep quiet.” Young professionals will come in today thinking, “I can contribute today.” It’s energizing in the workplace.

 

How important are ethics in PR?

I think an important element of PR is adhering to the ethical standards of our business. We want to have credibility, and we want reporters to trust us. The longer you’re in the business, the more you value those standards to not only help guide what you do but also decide what lines those you’re working with may be crossing. Also, we are often called in to help organizational leadership identify how their decisions could impact significant stakeholders of their company. That means sometimes you’re telling a CEO something he doesn’t want to hear, but in order to live up to the standards of our business we have to do that to our best ability. If that means that we have to fire that client when they want to continue making unethical decisions, then we fire that client. There are no long-term benefits to crossing those lines.

 

What is one challenge you think many PR pros face?

Part of what I think is often overlooked as a significant component to what we do is listening. We have to listen in order to fully understand what they are asking; they may not know enough to know exactly what to ask for. So, we have to listen and help them figure out what it is that they need. It’s really easy to just jump to, “Oh, why don’t you just do that,” without truly understanding what their needs are. Don’t jump too quickly to a solution without fully understanding the problem.

 

What advice do you have for PR pros in training?

Building a network can’t start too soon. The best available tool right now is LinkedIn. Be hungry for every contact that you make to be a connection on LinkedIn. Include the people you are going to school with; there will be times later on when those connections will give you the opportunity to speak with someone through them. Capitalize on those connections.

 

What are you looking for in new hires who have just graduated?

Something we look for, which I always credit Kelli Matthews for being the one who helped make possible [at the University of Oregon], is a student who understands the digital platforms. Do they have an online portfolio, a blog, a Twitter feed? What do they like to post, and how active are they? I just like to know they have familiarity with those types of platforms.

Also, we look for the ability to write. Along with being able to write well, journalistic-ally speaking, it’s important to see if the person can identify what’s important and can be clear, concise, and to the point.

 

 

Award-winning reporter Chris McGreal of The Guardian

Reporting Controversy and Creating It – Chris McGreal


Guardian’s Chris McGreal Featured Guest at AM:PM PR’s Speakeasy

From Rwanda to Ferguson, The Guardian’s Chris McGreal, has been covering many of the world’s historic events for the past three decades. He’s won a series of awards for his coverage of Africa, Israel and the US and even published a book about the complicity of the Catholic Church in  Rwanda’s genocide – Chaplains of the Militia. McGreal agreed to come share some is harrowing stories with the AM:PM PR Speakeasy guests and it was a hit.

Chris McGreal at ampm pr

McGreal is a member of the WARM Foundation – an organization “dedicated to war reporting and war art, as well as history and memories of war, and dedicated to the promotion of emerging talents and to education.”

Currently, McGreal is writing about the US from the Pacific NW for The Guardian. He is a former Washington correspondent and was previously posted in Johannesburg and in Jerusalem. Before joining The Guardian, McGreal was a BBC journalist in Central America and merchant seaman.

 

Racism, Government Secrets and Drugs – Stories with Impact

Chris McGreal's coverage of wikileaks

As part of the team reporting on WikiLeaks, McGreal’s work has been shared on sites across the world. In 2014, McGreal covered the Ferguson riots and tweeted the experience sharing gripping images from within the protests. This past December he wrote an analysis of the behind-the-scenes secrets of the US-Cuba deal.  He has covered Oregon’s marijuana legalization and Portland’s own issue with police racism and this week wrote about Netanyahu’s speech to congress, calling it: “long on speech, short on terror.”

 

Many More Compelling Stories 

McGreal wowed the Speakeasy crowd with stories about what he saw and learned covering violent political situations and the fallout he’s seen from his award-winning reports on volatile political issues. If you’re not already a regular reader of his articles, start now. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Kaylee Graham receiving national award from Forest Whitaker

I cannot help myself

I have to brag a little… 

If you know me, you know that my nine grandchildren are my greatest source of fun and pride. My license plate frame reads: “Happiness is Grandchildren.” I try not to brag (ok, one look at my Facebook page and you’ll know that’s a lie), but my grandchildren make it tough to restrain. When I saw The Ford Family Foundation featured my granddaughter, Kaylee’s, national award acceptance, on its website and I had to share it on ours.

POSTED BY THE FORD FAMILY FOUNDATION:

Kaylee Graham poses for Prudential Award ad with fellow honoree

A 14-year-old leads the way

Kaylee Graham steps up to coordinate garage sales, volunteers and more 

Kaylee Graham, a student from Florence, recently received the Prudential Spirit of Community Award for her work in creating a volunteer day to benefit the Florence area. The award proclamation summed up her efforts:

Ten young Americans were selected in the 2014 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program for national recognition based on their outstanding achievements in community service.

Kaylee Graham's Power of Florence covered in Siuslaw NewsKaylee Graham, 14, of Florence, an eighth-grader at Siuslaw Middle School, initiated an annual citywide day of service in her town that has motivated more than 3,000 residents to work on community improvement projects, raise money for charity, donate food and take part in other volunteer activities over the past three years.

Kaylee grew up volunteering with her family, but when she was 10, she wanted to do something on her own. So she held a garage sale and raised almost $2,000 to stuff 150 backpacks with blankets, toys and other items for children in foster care. “The feeling I had after completing my own successful project was like nothing I have experienced before,” said Kaylee. “I wanted to share that feeling with others.”

She told her mother she wanted to host a weeklong volunteer camp at her house. Her mother said that was too much, but if it was just one day, Kaylee could invite as many people as she wanted. So Kaylee decided to invite her entire community. She presented her idea to the city council, which eventually proclaimed the third Saturday in July as the Power of Florence Day.”

To prepare for the event each year, Kaylee issues press releases, publishes information on her website and Facebook pages, makes videos, shows up at community events, and gives speeches to encourage churches, civic groups and nonprofit organizations to participate. ….  To date, Power of Florence Day has sparked nearly 40 service projects, raised more than $25,000 for community causes, and collected over 7,500 pounds of food for a food bank and the Humane Society. “I learned the size of a person doesn’t truly matter,” said Kaylee. “It’s the size of their heart that does.” 

Brainchild of Boy Grows Big

Kaylee couldn’t help but grow up inspired to help her community. Her older brother and my first grandchild, Taylor, won the same national award for the Read for the Need program he started when he was only six-years-old as a way to help feed the hungry in his community. In addition to winning his Prudential award, he was bestowed the Shining World Compassion Award from the Supreme Master Ching Hai Association, was one of ten Kohl’s Kids Who Care National Scholarship Winners in 2007, was featured on and NBC’s Making a Difference. 

 

Both of these kids have seemed more comfortable speaking publicly and giving media interviews than many I’ve come across over the years. I can’t even take the credit. They’ve far out done me in awards and recognition, and deservedly so.

There’s more, but I’ll hold back. Feel free see my Facebook page for a continuous supply of stories and pictures of my grandchildren and to share yours with me.

Kaylee Graham goes to DC

Mike Phillips - Washington... University

Mr. Phillips Goes To Washington (state university)

Mr. Phillips, a.k.a. Mike, shared his thoughts on writing effective cover letters and resumes with students at Washington State University in Vancouver and, now, you.

Last month I traveled to the beautiful campus at Washington State University in Vancouver where I was a guest lecturer for a technical and professional writing class taught by professor Craig Buchner.  I spoke about writing effective cover letters and resumes for job applicants.

Although I somehow managed to talk for an hour and fifteen minutes, the essence of my presentation can be distilled into two simple points:

1. Know your audience.

2. Check for spelling and grammatical errors.

This may appear to be non-information, but believe me, if you’re out applying for jobs right now, many among your competition are sending the same generic resume and cover letter to all prospective employers without regard for the company or position they are applying for. If you are guilty of such things, this blog is for you.

 

How does this look in practice?

Writing better resumes and cover letters

Now, I have enough empathy to recognize that applicants resort to these tactics in an effort to cover the most ground possible while expending the least amount of personal energy. Unfortunately, this is a flawed tactic, mostly because the people getting hired aren’t using this tactic. As a golden rule, you always want to personalize your writing to the specific job and company you’re applying to.

At AM:PM PR we’ve seen cover letters that begin with “Dear to whom it may concern” – kind of a mashup between two boringly generic introductions. People will sometimes do this when they can’t find the appropriate hiring manager. But you can get around this problem using Google to find the correct contact. Or if it’s a small company, identify someone that appears to be senior-level that you feel you might have rapport with due to common interests or experiences.  Personalize your outreach, but don’t be too cheesy (or stalker-like).

In other cases we’ve seen people gloating about their attention to detail in the same paragraph as a major typo. We’ve received long-winded cover letters that read like novellas, yet have no direct application to any position we’d ever have at our business.

You're hired!Another writing tip is to include some information in your cover letter to acknowledge that you’re familiar with the company and position that you’re applying for. Spend some time with the prospective employer’s website, read some recent news coverage. Use what you learn and insert it into the cover letter to foreshadow how your resume will be directly applicable to the position you’re applying for, and demonstrate some enthusiasm.

Finally, tweak your resume so that your past experience is relevant to the position you’re applying for. If your previous experience is baggage handling and you’re applying for a writing position, you may need to get creative. But don’t get so creative as to lose credibility.

 

A Final Word

am:pm pr tips

First impressions are important, and even seemingly inconsequential typos can make for a dour first impression among potential employers. You can’t underestimate the importance of good writing, punctuation and grammar. If these are areas where you lack expertise, it may be worthwhile to call in an expert to help you.

You can avoid all the aforementioned problems if you customize your resume and double-check your work before submitting. Two seemingly simple ideas, but woefully lacking from a surprising amount of job queries and applications.

For more, here’s a handy WikiHow entry titled, “How to Write an Email Asking for an Internship.” 

 

For future insights and ideas from AM:PM PR, like us on Facebook.

Is your news newsworthy?

How to Successfully Pitch Media

 

Media pitch tips from a veteran-TV reporter

 

KGW's Pat Dooris spoke to am:pm PR's Speakeasy

KGW’s Pat Dooris spoke at AM:PM PR’s Speakeasy about what to expect if you have a story to pitch. These were his tips.

 

Only Pitch What’s Current.

“I don’t care about something happening in August when it’s February,” Pat says. “I need to fill a news hole today and tomorrow. Much farther out and it better be really good.”

Be Available Now.

“If you pitch me and I bite, you’d better be ready to go in 30 minutes,” Pat warns.  ”I’m not kidding. You have a short shelf life. If I can’t lock you in with that time amount I’m moving on to the next potential source or story. I have no time to waste and no option for no story tonight.”

Offer Compelling Humans.

“Every story needs real people that are affected by the issue we’re talking about. Whether it’s sewers or acupuncture or taxes or a mission to Mars, we need real people that will talk with us for our story – and yes, that means on camera!”

Make the Humans Available!

“I once had someone pitch me a ‘C’ level story. But on this particular day we were short of story ideas so a ‘C’ looked like an ‘A.’ I called back quickly, but they didn’t have anyone…not ANYONE who would go on camera,” Pat shared. “Not only did we dump that story and move to the next – I was pissed and never took another pitch from that person.”

 

 

Be available for interviews when you are pitching a story.

 

What Gets Through

  • The number of people affected – Is it significant?
  • New news – Is this the first we’ve heard about it?
  • Stories with people willing to talk openly.
  • Good visuals i.e. video, compelling photos, infographics.
  • Compelling sounds.
  • Media trained experts.
  • The “What’s In It For Me?” (WIIFM) translation.
  • Something that runs counter to prevailing conceptions.
  • Something that reveals truth about ourselves.
  • Stories that involve emotion.
  • Stories that involve animals.

 

The 5 Biggest Influences.

    1. Emotion
    2. Number of people affected
    3. Visuals
    4. Sources available to go on camera
    5. Good talkers

 

About Pat Dooris

Pat Dooris has worked in TV News for 29 years. He’s interviewed more than 29,000 people and done at least 17,000 live shots. He’s won awards including two Northwest Emmys along with awards from the Oregon Association of Broadcasters and even a National UPI award. Yep, United Press International. He’s been reporting that long. Pat is a reporter at KGW TV and a media coach who trains people and companies on how to respond to the press. Rather than ducking the media, he believes people and companies should embrace the chance to tell their story in powerful ways. Find out more about his services at PatDoorisMedia.com

 

am:pm pr tips

Editor’s Note: While Pat’s tips are focused on pitching TV media, much of his advice works well for pitching any kind of media. So be wise, think ahead, and put yourself in the reporter’s shoes.

Whether as a speaker at a big event or a participant in a small meeting, we all have an audience.

Everyone Has an Audience

How do you want your audience to perceive you?

Everyone has an audience. How do you want to influence yours?

Everyone has an audience. Do you know who your audiences are? What do you want them to learn from you? How can you influence them?

On Your Feet co-founder, artist and accidental movement starter, Gary Hirsch, got AM:PM PR’s Speakeasy guests pondering these questions and shared some ideas for influencing our most important audiences.

Popular corporate consultant, improve pro, artist and bot army general teaches AM:PM PR's Speakeasy guests a few things about engaging audiences.

Gary and his partners have been hired by Intel, Disney, Nike, Apple, P&G, The British Ministry of Defense, a small band of Northern Californian Buddhist monks and so many other organizations to use improv to improve communication, leadership, idea generation, brand building, organizational development, and collaboration. He shared some of what he’s learned from these enviable experiences.

Learn by observing

Tedx Portland

You can learn a lot by observing audiences.

“I often go to plays and sit where I can inconspicuously see the audience’s reactions,” Gary said. “People behave completely differently than they would on their own. Audiences are an interesting and unique organism.”

Start paying attention to audiences of any size and try to understand what influences them. What catches and keeps their attention? What do they seem to want? Try shifting your perception away from the traditional audience/speaker relationship and to make the audience the focal point.

We’re all creators of content. We all have audiences. How can we make the most of those interactions? How can we ensure the impact we hope for?

Let go 

Steal this idea Gary HirschDon’t be afraid others will steal your great ideas. Openly sharing your ideas and expertise can give you credibility and build your reputation.

“Letting go” helped shape Gary’s philosophy as an artist and professional communicator.

“It’s so easy for us to hoard information and ideas. We grasp on to the idea of intellectual property,” he said.

Gary had an epiphany with his Bot Joy, business. What started as a small totemic art project for On Your Feet clients grew into little bot armies  hidden around cities across North America and Europe. Demand for these little bots grew with orders from fans and from more cities who wanted a little joy spread in their own region.

In order to grow and feed the demand he needed help. He decided to invite others to build their bot armies. He realized by letting go, the importance and impact of the Bots could outlive him.

Applying the creative principle of ‘letting go’ to the professional world your work can have greater impact, too.

More lessons from Gary and On Your Feet:

  • Inspiration can come from anywhere
  • Listening is hard work
  • Things almost never go (or feel) like you think they will, and this is (almost always) a good thing
  • Trying something different can be better than trying harder
  • Stories help create meaning
  • T-shirts can make good uniforms

Learn more about Gary and how you can steal some of his ideas at BotJoy.com.

Make sure you get invited to our next event by joining the Speakeasy Facebook Group page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make an impression.

Catch attention and have a ridiculously good time

 

TEDx speaker, artist and corporate coach, Gary Hirsch, at AM:PM PR’s Speakeasy on involving your audience in what you do and make 

As an artist, illustrator, improviser, and co-founder of On Your Feet (OYF), Gary Hirsch, collides improv with business to help companies relate, create and collaborate – all while having a ridiculously good time.

For the past 16 years Gary Hirsch has worked with some of the world’s most innovative organizations exploring how improv impacts communication, leadership, idea generation, brand building, organizational development, and collaboration. OYF’s global clients include Intel, Disney, Nike, Apple, P&G, Daimler, The British Ministry of Defense, a small band of Northern Californian Buddhist monks (really) and many more.

He talked about his work and the inspiration behind it at a very popular TEDx talk last April.

The OYF network includes improvisers, filmmakers, anthropologists, advertising, marketing and research folks, and the former snow cone king of Portland, Oregon. Core beliefs listed on the website include:

  • You can only get so far sitting down.
  • Learning is often emotional and experiential before it is intellectual.
  • You shouldn’t have to pay extra for the emergency-exit row.
  • More heads are better than one (under the right conditions).
  • Actions speak louder than mission statements.
  • Giant Post-It sticky-backed notes are the greatest invention in world.

 

Artist Gary Hirsch behind a small unit of his Bot Joy army. Each Bot is individually painted and numbered and programmed with special abilities that include bringing you joy, making you feel loved, calming you down, giving you energy, taking the blame, inspiring you and saying “yes” whenever you need to hear it.

 

Gary has created his own pet project and creative outlet – Bot Joy. What started as hand painted bots on the backs of dominos to inspire his clients at Pixar and others has grown to an army of more than 23,000 little robots and several bots as big as the side of a building inspiring bravery of patients at children’s hospitals, cities that need encouragement and beneficiaries of gifts from friends or family who want to offer support in a lasting way.

OPB’s Oregon Art Beat featured Gary’s work when they joined him at Randall Children’s Hospital last year and his work has been exhibited at The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and in galleries in Portland, Seattle and Las Vegas.

His Bot Joy project has inspired others to “steal his idea”, with hundreds of students and artists making their own bots around the world.

Bots are multiplying and taking over the world to spread joy.

 

Pat Dooris in the KGW-TV news room.

Speakeasy Guest – KGW’s Pat Dooris on Pitching TV Media

Modern media may require you or a client to be on TV. In most cases you only have a few minutes, or even a few seconds to make an impression and you don’t want to say the wrong thing.

Veteran TV reporter Pat Dooris, October’s Speakeasy featured guest, shares what the media wants from an interview. How can you prepare? What should you expect? What should you look forward to and what should you fear?

Dooris shares what it’s like on his side of the news and what kind of pitches pique his interest. What kinds of stories get through at KGW? How should you focus your pitch?

Pat Dooris has worked in TV News for 29 years. He’s interviewed more than 29,000 people and done at least 17,000 live shots. If there’s a mistake to be made he’s probably done it. But he’s also won awards including two Northwest Emmies along with awards from the Oregon Association of Broadcasters and even a National UPI award.

Yep, United Press International. He’s been reporting that long.

Pat is a reporter at KGW TV. He’s married with two sons and two cats and lives in Northeast Portland.

Speakeasy is a group of PR professionals, business owners, college students and anyone else interested in trends affecting culture and communications. We share news and opinions on our Facebook Group page and every so often we invite interesting special guests to share inside scoops and tips to a casual gathering at AM:PM PR to drink adult beverages, enjoy a few snacks and chat.

Author of "Clearly Now, The Rain" - Eli Hastings

Eli Hastings talks ‘Clearly Now, the Rain’ and the emotional challenges he faced publishing his book

Eli Hastings didn’t write ‘Clearly Now, The Rain: A Memoir of Love and Other Trips’ to be published. After the death of his best friend and lover Serala, he followed through on his promise: “If you die, I’m going to write a book about you.”

Once he was ready to share his story and publish his book, he found reaching readers was more difficult than he expected. We asked him to share his story and what he learned through the process.

Eli Hasting's Book - Clearly Now the Rain

 

 On the woman who inspired the book:

Eli Hasting's friend and inspiration of his book – SeralaIn 1996, I had the great fortune of finding a best friend and lover that would transform the way I lived, loved, and looked at life. We had a wild ride, literally and figuratively, over nearly a decade and through many storied cities and many traumas and adventures. I had always told her that if she died (which was always likely) I would write a book about her.

I didn’t know that I really would until she died quite traumatically and inconsiderately on my watch between Christmas and New Years of 2004. Then I knew that I had to write the book to heal myself from the grief, despair and trauma of her passing.

On the publishing experience:

At first I didn’t think I wanted to publish the book, once I decided to it took me no less than eight years, two and a half agents (long story), some fifty rejections and seventeen revisions I think most of the healing happened in the writing, but I have found that a considerable amount has also come from sharing the story of my friend, sharing the lessons she taught me about how to live and love (and how not to.)

On getting attention and promoting the book:

I was surprised at how little my publisher did to promote the book. It seemed like all they did was send the book out to all the national reviewers. I didn’t know I needed to think about my own marketing and I didn’t even know how to do it. I had to seek outside help.

What I’ve seen really work is writing short pieces for national publications that draw attention back to the book and platform. I’ve also enjoyed that process.

On the challenges he faced:

The biggest challenge has been the emotional toll of working so hard to attract readers and how easily you can get dissed. For example, I had so many challenges scheduling readings in bookstores that we started trying bars. In some ways, we found those even work better! You’ve got to get out and stay outside the box.

I also needed help with organization, prioritization, connections, diplomacy, and new ideas. But most of all, I needed empathy for how frustrating the process can be. Self-publishing has changed the entire playing field. People who can barely craft a sentence might be kick-ass at self-promotion online and make lots of money. In short, the market is flooded with both crap and gold with both self-published and professionally published e-books that don’t cost publishers anything.

On what’s important:

The most meaningful experience for me has been reading messages from people who were moved by my book and needed to tell me so. There is nothing more important to me than knowing that the book has reached people in the way I hoped it would.

Consistent engagement online and in person with your readers is incredibly important. Finding ways to engage people that aren’t always focused on you and your work is indispensable too.

Knowing what I know now, I would have started marketing as soon as my contract was signed for publication and had a plan ready in advance. I would have been clear about what I was good at and capable of and what I really needed to let others handle. I would have planned a very strategic book tour even if it cost me a good bit of money to breathe life into the book from different places.

It’s important to understand what to expect from the beginning or make a plan so you feel like you know what to expect. I’ve learned a lot through this process thanks to those who have helped me, my readers, and of course — Serala.

If you would like to hear more about ‘Clearly Now, The Rain’ listen to Eli’s interview on KUOW
Connect with Eli on Twitter @elihastings23 and on Facebook

Note from AM:PM PR’s Mike Phillips:

You’ve gotta give Eli a lot of credit for working through the negative emotions he felt after receiving the message from his publisher saying that their promotional campaign had come to an end. Fortunately, Eli took a great proactive approach, and immediately got to task working on his own marketing plan and promotional tactics to fill in the void. His efforts really paid off when he was chosen as one of 13 artists in 2013 poised to shape the future of the arts in the Pacific Northwest
 
Readers and aspiring writers can take some lessons from his experience. For starters, hard work does pay off, but often not immediately. Eli’s book had fifty rejections and seventeen revisions, but the silver lining is that his publisher produced a remarkable work. 
 
If you’re an author and your book has yet to be published, talk with your publisher and ask if they have created a marketing plan. Open yourself up to assisting with that plan and providing your own expertise into your specific target audience. Then, when the natural course of their marketing efforts come to an end (as they always do) you are more prepared to take the reins in your own hands. You’ll feel empowered and grateful that you did the heavy lifting early on.