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PR 3.0 gets all up in Linkedin

linkedin logoThis platform has been adding new features and updates during the past month that may dramatically alter how PR professionals, small businesses and jobseekers use the platform.

At PR 3.0 on Thursday, May 9th we’ll discuss some of the latest developments including the new Facebook-style mention feature, visual portfolio feature – and discuss how they’re trying to corner the market for both job-hunters and established professionals.

For a primer, check out the following links. Feel free to share any additional links or comments that may facilitate further conversation.

LinkedIn Now Lets You Add a Visual Portfolio to Your Profile

LinkedIn Adds Facebook-Style Mentions Of People And Companies In Status Updates And Home-Page Comments

LinkedIn’s New Recruiter Homepage Gives Headhunters Better Search, Status And News

linkedin screenshot

On branding and social media

 

Have you found yourself censoring images, ideas or other posts on social media platforms because you feel they might cause negative feedback from certain members of your online community? This is an example of managing your brand identity, whether you’re conscious of it or not, and many people and businesses have been struggling with the act of branding ever since the first adorable baby animal images started circulating on the Internet.

Make no mistake, managing brand identity on social networks is a difficult task. Additional considerations include when to post, what to post, how to post, where to post, how to respond to criticism or a communication crisis. With all this pressure, some folks are on a personal quest to determine a special formula or to instill a set of rules to follow that will ensure social media success. I don’t know that there really is a secret formula, but I suspect it comes down to one of the first social lessons that most of us learn at an early age: you’ll be far more successful being authentic and empathetic to others, versus a self-aggrandizing type-A loudmouth. In other words, just be real and be aware of your audience.

There have been some pretty atrocious examples of brands and business leaders failing to “be real” on social media and it’s had disastrous (if not amusing) effects on their brand identity. Curiously, many of these missteps have occurred after national or international tragedy, in some ill-advised effort to capitalize on a hot topic of media intrigue. Other missteps have occurred when brands have taken a stance on social issues, temporarily unaware of the people that inhabit their target audience that they’ve spent building over a period of years.

In recent days we’ve seen the following PR disasters:

*  Epicuroius advertising some scones and breakfast treats, tying the promotion into the Boston marathon bombing

*  Eden Foods opposing the contraceptive measure imposed in the new healthcare law (do they NOT know who their target consumer is?)

For a list of more social blunders, check out this article from Mashable. These examples offer a teachable moment for AM:PM PR friends and clients.

We’ve drummed up a list of five additional suggestions on branding and social media to ensure your brand doesn’t follow in these footsteps.

  1. Don’t try to attach your brand to a crisis. I would argue that you shouldn’t do it at all, but some folks have big hearts and feel the need to express their sympathy for a tragic event. If you must, let your audience know that the employees of your business have their hearts and minds in the right place. That is real human emotion and it’s fine to express. Once. But trying to tie a product promotion or sale into a disaster is just gross, and above all, not what a real person would do. Several brands including Kenneth Cole and The Gap have had their brand images tarnished by thoughtless Tweets.
  2. Share information that interests real people.  I like kitty posts as much as the next person, but for brand integrity I try to limit myself. As challenging as it is, I do so because sharing kitty images and related social media memes does nothing for my brand. If I do ten kitty-like posts and then one post related to something business-related, my target audience may have already tuned out (or worse, hidden ALL of my posts).
  3. Don’t oversell yourself. When I was a kid, this guy Jack Roberts was famous in Seattle-area TV commercials for his many, many commercials saying “I wont be undersold.” While his marketing message has stuck with me for 25 years, it’s not an effective strategy for social media. People will get annoyed and tune you out. However, if you get a windfall and want to buy a bunch of TV advertising, give it a shot. Also check out Chuck Curcio for inspiration.
  4. Don’t create alter egos to bash your critics or competitors. Falling under the “be real” requirement, the founder of Dilbert and CEO of Whole Foods have something in common. Both created fake alter egos to praise and defend themselves online, generating some negative publicity for their brand as a result. Here’s a feature in the NY Times for John Mackey, which is usually a good thing, but this time it wasn’t.
  5. Make sure you know your customers before sharing your beliefs. In the case of Eden Foods, CEO Michael Potter (no relation to Harry) obviously had temporary amnesia of his customers when he sued against having contraception covered for his employees. Then he kept digging that hole deeper, as shown in this piece from Salon. You have to be careful when taking political postures that represent your public brand or image.

This is a snapshot of some considerations to keep in mind when branding your online business or persona, based on our observations from recent events. While the platforms are always changing, the same general rules always remain. Be authentic, be real, and in the immortal words of George Carlin’s character Rufus, from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, “be excellent to each other.”

 

Branding, Communications and Public Relations: Questions to Answer Before Working With a PR Firm

At AM:PM PR we begin each new client relationship with the hope it will lead to a long-term partnership. We believe the more we know about a prospective client’s business, the better we can understand the qualities that differentiate them from their competition, thus allowing us to do a better job helping to communicate each client’s unique story to targeted audiences.

During our information gathering process, we like to ask a lot of questions – a process that is beneficial to both parties. Answering the following questions provides potential clients an opportunity to think about the way they communicate about their business, product or service. If you’re ready to ask us how we may help you, copy and paste the following questions into the body of an email with your answers and email them to: info@ampmpr.com.

As you ponder your answers, are you learning anything new about your business, your brand, or your current need for marketing and PR assistance? Here are some branding, communications and public relations questions to ask yourself before working with a PR firm.

Introductory Questions:

What short-term and long-term goals are you hoping to achieve with PR and marketing services?

Have you worked with a PR firm in the past? What was your experience?

What are you looking for from a PR firm?

What is your budget for PR/Marketing?

What is the PR assignment, as you see it? How will you define success?

Your Brand:

What is your positioning statement? What sets your brand apart from the competition?

What is your brand personality/culture?

What are some examples of your messaging?

Have you tested your messaging?

Communications Focus:

What is the background of your business (your history, your story)?

Who are your target audiences? What is the demographic and psychographic profile of your key customers? What are your key insights into these audiences?

What media does your target audience consume?

How do they currently learn about your business/product?

What is your consumer promise?

Who is your competition?

Do you advertise? If so, where?

Website:

When was the last time you made improvements to your website?

Do you have a budget for improvements to your website?

Do you use and monitor your web analytics? Are you making adjustments based on your analytics reports?

What are the search terms that lead visitors to your site?

Are you blogging?

Social Networking:

Please describe how you are engaged with social media? Which tools are you using and what do you share?

Are there any social media tools you refuse to use? If so, why?

Curious to learn more about our services? Please contact us to learn more by clicking here.

Clinton Street Roundup – Part One

We’re all nestled in to our new home at the Cyrk Building. While we’ll miss our lovely neighbors in the Buckman neighborhood, we’re excited to be starting our new life as part of vibrant SE Clinton Street.

In typical AM:PM PR fashion we’ve already busied ourselves trying the various cafes and restaurants in the area. Since we were without a home for over a month, we had ample opportunity to meet as a team at many of these fine establishments to discuss business and taste the food and drink the neighborhood has to offer.

We’ll continue to update the Be My Neighbor section of the website with posts detailing our favorite spots as we discover them. For now, here’s a roundup of our current crushes.

 

K&F Coffee

K & F roasts its own coffee (it’s delicious, by the way) and they offer a pretty impressive variety of baked goods to nibble while you sip your beverage of choice. It was the site of our first offsite meeting and it’s a classic Portland coffeehouse that I’m sure we’ll continue to regularly frequent.

 

Dot's Cafe

Clinton St. staple, Dot’s Cafe, has been around for more than 20 years. It’s one of our favorite lunch spots on a cold winter day due to its signature coziness and velvet-painting-festooned walls. They serve up classic, high quality bar food and stiff drinks, what more could one want?

 

St. Jack Portland

We’re lucky to be just down the block from St. Jack – both the restaurant and the patisserie. The patisserie has drawn us in several times over the last month with its perfectly crafted traditional french pastries like buttery croissants, canelés and macarons. We’ll have to be careful to resist the urge to swing by daily since swimsuit season is just around the corner.

 

Compote Cafe

Compote has been serving the Clinton St. neighborhood delectable breakfast and lunch items made from scratch with wholesome ingredients for over two years. Located just two doors down from our space it will be difficult to resist a daily stop for a homemade treat.

 

Night Light Lounge

What neighborhood would be complete without the perfect after work hang out? Night Light Lounge boasts one of the best happy hours in town (trust me, I’m an expert) and even serves brunch on the weekends. I can foresee many PR 3.0 meetings continuing after hours at this classic SE spot.

Those are among our current favorites. Stay tuned to the Be My Neighbor blog for additions. Are there any places you love that we didn’t mention? If so, please share share with us in the comments section.

90% of the building’s power comes from the solar panels on the roof. The building also uses a geothermal heat pump (GHP). GHPs use the ground as a heat reservoir for high efficiency heating and cooling. The temperature of the earth is the exchange medium instead of the outside temperature.

It’s easy being green

We like green. We’re Irish. But, now we’re a whole new shade of green – building green.

solar panels portland oregon

90% of the building’s power comes from the solar panels on the roof. The building also uses a geothermal heat pump (GHP). GHPs use the ground as a heat reservoir for high efficiency heating and cooling. The temperature of the earth is the exchange medium instead of the outside temperature.

Passionate about sustainability, our landlords built the Cyrk to be the greenest of green buildings – LEED Platinum.

 

Ipe wood siding

The Ipe wood siding and sunscreens aren’t just reclaimed, they have history. They originally existed as decking in a Northern Californian steam driven sawmill. Before there was a movement to protect the old growth forests and establishing Redwoods State & National Parks, gold miners and lumberjacks walked across the boards in the largest and oldest redwood log mill in the world. This same wood will be used inside AM:PM PR and 7/Apps offices as barn doors to our conference room.

 

 

Green patio

The patio features native plants and reclaims storm-water runoff.

 

 

All of the materials and paint used are non-toxic

All of the materials and paint used are non-toxic and 21% of the construction materials came from recycled sources. During the construction phase 95% of the waste was diverted from landfills.

 

Erin is our own in-house Green Police and we will be trained to respect this building by being good stewards ourselves. Our next project – making our own paper out of our shreds. Not really. That’s too hard. I think we’ll just communicate electronically. Look for your invite to our office warming party on March 15th in your email soon and come check this all out for yourself.

Introducing Mike Phillips, Lion Tamer.

 

Mike P AM:PM PR

Mike visiting Bey Mosque in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Legend says if you drink the water, you will have to return someday. He was doing research for a book project.

With the bittersweet news this week that Jake Ten Pas, our beloved Minister of Propaganda, is leaving us, comes one rosy reason to recognize that we have the luck of the Irish.

Longtime AM:PM PR friend, Mike Phillips will be joining our merry band of characters as we move in to our new space on February 1. He’s been a regular fixture at PR 3.0 gatherings, but he also worked with us at our previous firm. We’ve always hoped to be able to talk him into joining our circus.

Since his internship with the McCormicks five years ago, Mike’s explored the ins and outs of public relations working with regional wineries, restaurants, travel and tourism bureaus, and a national food client.

More recently, Mike’s built a healthy practice in book marketing and publicity through work with several publishing companies. His book marketing specialty work, known as The Neo Com Group, will continue in addition to his AM:PM PR practice.

Mike’s Irish ancestry alone would make him a great match for us. Among his many talents, Mike is an accomplished musician, long leading a local band, the Fenbi International Superstars. His Irish music prowess will add more energy to our annual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, this year (March 15) celebrating the opening of our new space on SE 20th and Clinton.

Mike will join AM:PM PR in an account manager, client development role we like to call “Lion Tamer.” We look forward to working with him again and know you’ll appreciate his creativity and warm personality as much as we do.

Jake Ten Pas Signing Off

Good night, and good luck from Jake Ten Pas

 This is Jake Ten Pas, signing off…

We all knew this day would come. Nobody can be a Minister of Propaganda forever. All things considered, I’ve survived longer than most. Come Monday, I take the bittersweet step of leaving my faithful comrades at AM:PM PR for an amazing new position with the Children’s Cancer Association. I’ll take the reins of the nonprofit’s MyMusicRX program, which uses music as therapy for the kids and their families dealing with life-threatening illness.

My Music RX logoAnybody who’s had a close relationship with AM:PM PR knows that we’re as tight as a family, and so you can imagine that it was tough for me to tell Pat and Allison about my decision. Despite the great job offer, it was a hard decision to make. Without AM and PM’s assistance and encouragement over the years, I might never have made the jump from journalism to public relations, and hence never been in a position to apply for this next step in my professional life.

It felt like a breakup, and I’ve never been good at breakups. In fact, as one person observed, I’d rather be broken up with than do the breaking. My own pain I can handle, but somebody else’s? I turn to jelly.

In this regard, I’m doubly fortunate. First, because you couldn’t ask for two more gracious people when it comes to having this kind of conversation. Both Pat and Allison were not only happy for me, but I think proud, as well, that our work together had prepared me for this bold new direction. Second, because, well, this isn’t a breakup. We’re family, and familial feeling doesn’t dissipate, even when stretched by distance. I suspect you’ll continue to see me at the occasional PR 3.0, and you’ll definitely see me at AM:PM PR’s office-warming party for its straight-up space-age new headquarters.

Plus, one of Portland’s best young communicators will be stepping up to fill my shoes. Mike Phillips, who will introduce himself to you tomorrow, is a warm, articulate, passionate PR man, and I expect great things from him as AM:PM PR’s new word slinger. One quick piece of advice, though: Wear shoulder pads, Mike. Alexis has got a mean jab.

children's cancer association logo
To stretch the relationship metaphor just a bit further, my wife made a keen observation in regards to my success in nailing down this new position. You’re always more attractive when you’re in a relationship, she said. It’s because other women can smell the lack of desperation. Similarly, the wonderful job I already had with AM:PM PR couldn’t have hurt my chances with CCA.

I’m ultra jazzed about the opportunity to make a very real difference in the lives of people suffering under the weight of debilitating sickness. That I get to use music, which has gotten me through nearly every rough patch in my own life, and which continues to be my number one inspiration on a daily basis, to do so is pretty much blowing my mind. At the same time, I’m going to miss the incredible clients I’ve worked with here, and the family with whom I’ve shared my work. Here’s to the future, both of AM:PM PR and to all the high-flying trajectories it launches.

The Cyrk

Movin’ on up, to (a new part of) the East Side & Joining The Cyrk

As much as we’ve loved our time in the Buckman Neighborhood – rubbing shoulders with the mad scientists of Distillery Row, descending like locusts upon local eateries such as Robo Taco and Vivo, and working with neighbors Bremik, Tapalaya, Po’Boy Art and more – it’s the dawn of a new year and a new era for AM:PM PR.

We survived an overinflated panic surrounding a misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar, and we figured why not treat ourselves to a new space. Not to toot our own horns (TOOT!), but it’s a doozie.

At the beginning of February, we’ll take up residence in the Cyrk Building on southeast 20th and Clinton. For those of you who’ve yet to cast your eyes on this miracle of modern building techniques, feel free to drive by and check it out. It’s a gorgeous space that we’ll share both with our brothers in arms at 7/Apps and our clients EE Northwest. The latter owns the building and was kind enough to approve our tenant application. We’ll try to keep the noise level down.

AM:PM PR joins the Cyrk-us

For those of you who understand how calendars work and are wondering about the omission of a little thing called January, well done. That was a test, and it’s nice to see that you were paying attention. As construction is finished up on our new space, we’ll be going back to our roots.

Just as in the early days of AM:PM, we’ll be a bit like the French Resistance, except with public relations instead of freedom fighting, and minus the Gauloises. We’ll meet at a variety of our favorite coffee shops, restaurants and watering holes, keeping the client work that’s our bread and butter firmly intact. You likely won’t notice much difference unless you meet us face-to-face, in which case the password is “Le Coq Sportif.” Also, feel free to give us suggestions for great coffee shops that can accommodate large groups of mostly serious professionals.

During the next month, we’ll keep you updated on our activities and the construction’s progress via the usual channels: our blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. We’ll also be getting to know our new neighbors. We’ve already visited St. Jacks, Compote, The Night Light Lounge and more, and look forward to getting to know them and their tasty offerings even better.

When we get moved into the new space, we don’t expect you’ll miss it. We’ll have a hard time not crowing from pride about our new digs, and of course there will be office-warming festivities to attend to. Keep an eye out for something occurring around St. Patrick’s Day.

We’ll also be working on new job titles and a high-flying new concept for the website that will highlight the subtle circus theme of our new digs. Prepare yourself for the greatest communications show on Earth, or at least in Portland. In the meantime, Happy New Year. We hope you’ve got as much to look forward as we do.

 

ICBC booths

Long-time Intel spokesman linking up with AM:PM PR

 

As winter begins and the New Year approaches, 2013 is looking like Spring to us. Our new offices are under construction. New clients are coming aboard. And today we confirmed that one of Oregon’s most respected and visible communications professionals plans to affiliate with us early next year.

In an email to his Intel colleagues and friends, Bill MacKenzie, a long-time Intel spokesman announced today that after 15 years as spokesman for Intel in Oregon, the state’s largest private employer, he’ll soon launch his “post-Intel life.”

Before starting his high-visibility job at Intel, Bill spent a decade as a business and politics reporter at The Oregonian. He also held senior positions on the staff of a subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Department of Commerce, including service as a foreign affairs officer working with the Department of State on treaty negotiations.

In announcing his future plans, Bill told friends he plans a short break before starting part-time work over the next year for the Encore Fellowship Program and Social Venture Partners Portland. He also plans some non-fiction writing, including journalism.

But what we liked best was reading this: “I’ll also be affiliating with Portland PR firm AM:PM PR to offer PR services such as corporate communications, crisis communications and media relations training.”

We couldn’t be more excited. Allison and I worked with Bill and his team at Intel more than a decade ago, helping with communications about one of Intel’s multi-billion dollar investment announcements. We also facilitated Intel’s former Community Advisory Panel, part of the company’s communications with its neighbors.

He’s been a good friend and a helpful professional colleague ever since.

In his email, Bill reflected on his time at Intel: “I’m proud to have played a part in handling hundreds of critical business issues with the media and in helping to secure public support for $37.5 billion of Strategic Investment Program Agreements that have facilitated billions of dollars of Intel investments in Oregon and generated thousands of high-skill, family-wage jobs. I’m also proud that Intel has consistently been voted Oregon’s most admired tech company and one of the most admired companies across all industries during my tenure.”

Intel has reason to be proud of the contribution Bill has made to Intel’s success in Oregon, and we’re pleased he thinks enough of us to link up with us.

While it seems like Spring to us, Bill is waiting for the real thing before setting off for a long-planned lark: “On May 9, 2013, I’ll embark on a bicycle trip from the edge of the Pacific Ocean to Boston, long an adventure on my bucket list.”

Bill has many more adventures in him, and we look forward to sharing some with him at AM:PM PR.

Don't bury your head in the sand. Be prepared for any scenario.

How To Deal With Bad PR

– AM:PM PR Guest Post

Sometimes things don’t always go to plan though and you get media attention for all the wrong reasons. Here’s how To deal with bad PR.

I have worked for a number of companies that have been very high profile for all the wrong reasons. The worst thing you can do when things go wrong is bury your head in the sand. Also, responding to a question with: “no comment!” makes you sound guilty straight away.

You need to be prepared. Develop a crisis/issues management plan. Think through every possible scenario and develop specific plans, messages and protocols for each. Doing this will make you feel a little more confident when a crisis does happen at 4pm on a Friday and media start calling asking for statements ASAP.

Include protocols for responding to media requests in your plan. Whoever takes calls from reporters should be writing down all the questions so the communications team can craft solid responses.

Often reporters will accept responses/statements via email. If they do, this is the way to go. It eliminates risks of saying too much. If you are asked to call the journalist back then, unless you know the journalist well, don’t go off on a tangent in your discussion. Keep it to the agreed points and don’t add any personal comment or feelings. The old adage about, “nothing being off the record” is very true.

A few more tips when preparing for the worst:

am:pm pr tips

        1. Be truthful and hold your hands up if it is an obvious mistake.
        2. Don’t try and cover things up un-necessarily
        3. Remain calm and definitely don’t get angry
        4. Make statements clear and short
        5. When all has settled down, ask for feedback from the media