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Public Relations Is Not “Spin”

A Brief History of Public Relations

In the 1920s, Edward Bernays and Ivy Lee coined the word “public relations” in America. Back then, PR was considered to be propaganda, as it was used to promote both sides of the First World War and other controversial efforts. During the second half of the 20th century, however, the concept of PR expanded as various principles were established and it developed into a legitimate profession. According to Wikipedia, “In the early 2000s, press release services began offering social media press releases. The Cluetrain Manifesto, which predicted the impact of social media in 1999, was controversial in its time. But by 2006, the effect of social media and new internet technologies became broadly accepted.”

PR’s Many Titles

PR has had many different titles since the turn of the century. To name a few: damage control, image/reputation management, publicity, and the most hated, “spin.” This a dated word that gives the profession a negative connotation, its roots stemming in PR’s past in propaganda. But this no longer aligns with PR’s role in society.

What Is “Spin?”

Spin (noun): a particular way of representing an event or situation to the public so that it will be understood in a way that you want it to be understood. –Cambridge Dictionary

AKA…a way to save face and alter a story in order to avoid a negative audience reaction.

Why PR Isn’t “Spin”

“Spin is too simple a term for the work PR practitioners do. Sure, they seek to influence, but also counsel, market, promote, and advocate for their brands and clients. Simply put, PR is much more than spin.”

PR Weekly

In our current political climate, unfortunately, “the only time the average person sees a public relations professional is when they are advising a politician or celebrity or apologizing for a corporate screw-up.” (e-releases) But PR is so much more than that. It is brand development and building an image that showcases personality, values and talent. It is connecting with your audience and giving back to the organizations that improve our lives. It is remaining accountable, transparent and honest when something doesn’t go to plan. It is engaging users and producing excellent content. It is building lasting relationships.

Sp*n is a gross word. Let’s get rid of it for good.

The AM:PM PR Hall of Fame: 1D World

As a new member of the team at AM:PM, I’ve been reading up on the agency’s past clients and projects. I recently came across this fun 2013 campaign, and I was so impressed by it! So, without further ado, I hereby conduct AM:PM’s 2013 1D World Campaign into the agency’s official Hall of Fame. 🙂

In 2013, one of the most popular boy bands in the world, One Direction, embarked on a massive tour around the U.S. and Europe. Although hitting many major cities along the way, naturally the guys couldn’t stop everywhere. To satisfy disappointed “Directioners,” the 1D pop-up shop, known as “1D World,” was born. With this temporary store, super fans would have the opportunity to snag an array of  merch and immerse themselves in the 1D experience, even without the band there to perform.

Because Portland was one of the skipped cities, it was chosen as a test market for the pop-up shop that would open in June of 2013. The 1D World store hired AM:PM PR to generate local buzz among fans leading up to the opening, plus maintain interest during the two weeks the store ran.

The Band

One Direction were an English-Irish pop boy band based in London, composed of Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik. Simon Cowell formed and signed the group in 2010 after the guys competed on the British singing show, The X Factor. 1D has won around 200 awards over the years, completed four world tours, and ranked as the second highest-earning celebrities in the world. When the band announced their hiatus in 2015, they broke millions of teenage girl hearts.

In short, they’re a pretty big deal.

Photo by The Daily Mail

1D World: The PR Plan

AM:PM used a combination of media relations, social networking engagement and strategic advertising to execute this campaign.

Location: Pioneer Place Mall, downtown Portland.

Date: June 8th, 2013.

Target audience: Young females, (“Directioners”) ages 9-17.

Objectives:

  • Attract fans to wait in line on opening day.
  • Generate fan buzz on social networks before the store’s opening and through the duration.
  • Increase followers on Facebook and Twitter for 1D World.
  • Earn media coverage for the store opening.
  • Encourage fans/customers to share their experiences online.

Goal: Show fans that this pop-up store offered a special experience provided by the band itself.

Media Coverage

AM:PM invited media to attend the grand opening of 1D World to witness the remarkable reaction of fans. The Oregonian covered the announcement of the pop-up shop and interviewed fans outside of the store on opening day. AM:PM also partnered with Portland’s Top 40 radio stations to provide tickets to the 1D concert in Seattle and gift certificates to the pop-up shop. Fangirls across Twitter freaked.

Social Media

AM:PM interacted with Portland’s 1D fans on Twitter, offering early entry store passes to five dedicated Directioners with the most followers. They also mentioned the prizes fans could win while in the store, like signed merch.

In order to maintain excitement through out the two weeks the store was open, AM:PM created in-store posters inviting customers to share pictures online of their shopping experiences at 1D World. AM:PM also created a FB/YouTube contest encouraging fans to create music videos using the band’s tunes. This increased online buzz significantly as video entries flooded YouTube.

Research

  • Facebook and Twitter were the most popular social media platforms at the time of this campaign.
  • 1D regional fans on Twitter were hungry for any 1D-related news, gossip and tidbits, and were eager for 1D to visit Portland. (There were a ton of videos on YouTube of young girls begging for the boys to visit.)
  • The main radio stations in Portland for 1D fans were Radio Disney, Z100, and The Buzz.

The Challenges

  • AM:PM was contacted about this campaign in May of 2013 with a plan to open the pop-up shop the following month. This gave just 15 days of planning.
  • The opening day of 1D World was the same morning as Portland’s annual Rose Festival Parade. Media would be preoccupied, and the street in front of the mall would be closed off. Crowds would be difficult to draw.
  • Much of the merchandise sold at 1D World would be available at other stores and online for half the price.

The Outcome

The morning of June 3rd 2013 was insane. More than 100 screaming fans lined up for the store’s grand opening beginning at 7 a.m. The Rose Festival wasn’t going to stop them. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all blew up, resulting in an increase of Facebook interactions by 5-fold for the client. 1D world flooded with teens and tweens through out the day, all ecstatic to pose with life-size cutouts of the boys and buy a variety of 1D themed jewelry, hats, calendars and t-shirts. The campaign was a success.

“Being older than the demographic, I completely underestimated the draw of a 1D pop-up store. When our first tweet announcing the  store spread like wildfire, I started to remember what I was like as a super fan of Duran Duran. Engaging with these fans ended up being one of the most rewarding efforts we’ve undertaken. Their excitement was contagious, and when I saw the line of kids and their parents who arrived hours before the opening, I couldn’t help, but to adore them even more.”

-Allison McCormick, AM:PM Co-Founder

The Spotlight Award

AM:PM PR received an award for this campaign at the 2013 PRSA Spotlight Awards! PRSA recognizes skillfully executed PR campaigns locally and internationally each year. AM:PM’s viral social networking/ media outreach campaign, executed just fifteen days before the store’s opening, earned them this award.

9 Things AM:PM PR Loves

Happy Monday!

What gets you up in the morning? What inspires you? For us here at AM:PM PR, it’s our location, our office, and our awesome team. We are so lucky to work in such a fun, buzzing neighborhood at our headquarters on Clinton Street. Here are 9 things we love about it.

 

1. Our Lego Models

Co-founder Pat McCormick is talented in many areas, one being his ability to piece together some impressive Lego sets. If you’ve walked by our office before, you’re probably familiar with the abundance of Lego displays on our window sills. While providing a fun distraction, I mean break, 😉 from our work from time to time, we also love to see kiddos stop and admire the models. It’s so cute to see them ooh and aah over the Disney Castle, Statue of Liberty, and most notable, Millennium Falcon model.

2. Nossa Familia Coffee

A two-minute walk from our office, Nossa Familia Coffee on Division Street is one of our favorite spots to chill and refuel. They’re deeply committed to ethical sourcing, environmental stewardship and social responsibility, plus their coffee and tea is so yummy!

3. Dogs, dogs, dogs

Clinton and Division Streets are dog central, and we’re dog people. If there’s ever a shortage of pups trotting by our office windows though, no worries–our pals at EENW next door have two sweet labradoodles that we love to cuddle. Their names are Nova & Echo!

4. Our Glass Whiteboards

Designed by 7/Apps founder Juan Fernandez and built by a local welder, the glass whiteboards that divide up our work spaces in the office are one of our most favorite things. Typically covered in sticky notes and doodles, our whiteboards are a great place for us to draw cartoons or map out a project.

5. New Seasons Market

Our favorite spot for a quick snack or lunch with friends during the work day. This cozy place doesn’t feel like your typical grocery store. The staff are friendly, the food is fresh, and the vibes are good. Plus, it’s a 30-second stroll from our office!

6. The Cyrk Building

We are privileged to work in the coolest building ever. 90% of our building’s power comes from solar panels on the roof, and the indoor temperature is controlled by an underground water-source heat pump. The Cyrk Building is eco-friendly, welcoming and bright with its many windows, and decked out in cool art.

7. Our Team

We are a family-owned PR agency with a passion for what we do. Our team is driven and inspired by each other, and that’s what results in our success. Long hours aren’t a problem for us — we are motivated by our client’s victories and willing to do whatever it takes. We are a close-knit team of creative, socks-with-sandals-wearing goofballs.

8. Fifty Licks Ice Cream

Fun fact! I’m an ice cream addict.

Fifty Licks, the ice cream shop across the street, is my favorite place in Portland. They have unique flavors (better than Salt & Straw, in my opinion) and a super cute space. I go quite often, and it was during one of my frequent stops there that I discovered AM:PM!

9. Our Clients

We work with clients we believe in and on projects we enjoy, and our goal is to build long-term relationships with the people we assist. We take our clients’ goals on as our own and love seeing them flourish.

 

-Sophie

 

Meet AM:PM PR’s Newest Intern!

Hello!

Sophie Cettina here, AM:PM’s newest intern. I’ll be managing the agency’s blog and social media over the next few months. I’m thrilled to be here! 🙂

Bio

I graduated from the University of Oregon last month, where I earned a B.A. in Journalism/PR. When I wasn’t studying, I spent my time as a DJ at KWVA, UO’s college radio station. On the air, I played my favorite music and then discussed it as my alter ego, “DJ Vu.” (It’s a spin on the word “déjà vu”…haha, so punny!) My show, The Half Moon Tavern, was live every Thursday afternoon. My favorite part of being a DJ was receiving phone calls from listeners–sometimes, people would call to let me know how much they enjoyed the music I’d picked, or they’d call just to chat about artists and records. It’s pretty fun to share your music with the world in that way.

4 Fun Facts About Me

  1. I have a pet cockatiel named Quincy and two backyard chickens. (#PutaBirdOnIt!)
  2. My favorite movie is School of Rock starring Jack Black. (Stick it to the man, dude.)
  3. I write poetry and short stories.
  4. I have a tattoo of a chicken (that I drew myself) on my left ankle.

My Personal Blog

I’m a huge music nerd, and I love to write. My music blog, A Perfect Playlist, launched five years ago, and it’s grown so much since then! I post interviews with artists from around the world, concert and album reviews, tips and tricks on how to meet your favorite artists, and other music-related content. (Follow A Perfect Playlist on Instagram to stay up to date!)

Why PR?

I’m a storyteller with a passion for public relations, content development and music. I’m often asked, “you’re so excited about both music and PR. How do those two connect for you?” The answer is easy: I believe in the idea that songs are stories. As an avid storyteller, I know the power of words and connecting with an audience, just as songs do.

I’m so excited to help AM:PM tell their story.

-Sophie

Connect with me:

Twitter

Instagram

LinkedIn

2017: Best, Worst & Favorites from AM:PM PR’s Staff

What was the best campaign you saw in 2017?

Pat McCormick (PM) Big brands and companies can afford amazing, creative campaigns. I’m always impressed by the small brands that remain true to themselves and prevail against the big guys. My favorite local example from 2017 was Old Town Brewing’s defense of its trademarked logo – featuring the iconic leaping White Stag that people associate with Portland, against the onslaught of mega-brewing giant AB InBev trying to get rights to use that image through the City of Portland. The best gesture in the battle came from Rogue Ales – a much bigger Oregon craft brewing company. Rogue banned the Portland mayor, city lawyers and other “bureaucrats” from its pubs until the city abandoned its effort to license the image beer and alcohol giants. (P.S. Dan Keeney, a former colleague, is Old Town Brewing’s spokesman. He’s an exceptional PR strategist and a great friend of craft brewing.)

Allison McCormick (AM) – It’s a tie for me…

The Indivisible campaign has been awe inspiring to follow. The grassroots movement was started when former congressional staffers commiserated after the election of Donald Trump and decided to draft a guide they could share with all the progressives across the country that wanted to do something. Borrowing from the pages of the Tea Party playbook, The Google Doc guide laid out a roadmap for taking on Trump and the members of congress doing his bidding. It emphasizes starting locally and using focused advocacy tactics. Since the guide was first shared it has been downloaded more than two million times, at least 5,800 local groups have formed across the country and the energy sparked by the campaign is changing elections. Congrats, Doug Jones!

The #MeToo movement has been equally powerful in its swiftness and impact. Effecting every level of Hollywood and government, every industry, and interactions in every day life – young and old women alike are finding the courage through each other to stand up and stand together against harassment and misogyny. It makes me feel like I did when I first heard this song and saw this clip from Full Frontal with Samantha Bee:

Karly Tarsia (KT) – I’m not sure if this classifies as a campaign but the #MeToo movement along with Time’s Silence Breakers. Watching that spark on social media was both incredibly heart wrenching but also incredibly powerful. This year there has been so much noise on social media and in general it’s hard to say if any campaign has stood out but if #MeToo qualifies as that I think it’s the one that was the loudest and had one of the biggest impacts in society.

What was your favorite accomplishment (personal or professional) from this year?

PM – Marking 51 years of marriage. The accomplishment is really Donna’s. She’s delivered our seven children, endured all these years with me and still laughs at my jokes, even ones she’s tired of hearing.

AM – Hiring Karly Tarsia.

KT – Personally, getting my own place postgrad and moving in with one of my best friends. Professionally, getting hired as an Account Coordinator at AM:PM PR last spring.

What trend do you think was overhyped in 2017? 

PM – The most overused term in 2017 PR plans is “influencer” marketing. It’s a trending term, but the concept behind it isn’t really new. In marketing as well as in public policy advocacy, the importance of individuals and authorities who help shape people’s view on a product or an issue has been well understood. Digital tools have improved our ability to understand and reach those whose views influence others. At our old firm, we were charter members of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. For those interested in learning more about influencer marketing, here’s a link to the WOMMA guide – http://womma.org/free-womm-resources/

AM – Mom jeans.

Just. Stop.

KT – I feel like everything is beyond hyped now and is so in your face that it becomes overhyped very quickly. Doing makeup tutorials with unconventional products, foods that you can tell are just solely so you can post it on Instagram, unicorn-related everything. Everything feels so over the top you kind of wonder how it can catch on and then it spreads like wildfire and is everywhere.

http://metro.co.uk/2017/04/26/the-unicorn-trend-is-infantalising-us-all-and-it-needs-to-die-6597978/

What is your favorite memory from 2017?

PM – I have lots of great memories, but my trip to Orlando in October is likely most memorable. I got to spend five days at Disney World with Luca, my eighth grandchild to share a Disney adventure with me. Our trip coincided with the NWSL championship game and we got to watch the Portland Thorns, our amazing women’s professional soccer team, win the title in a tough-fought game. My next grandchild Disney adventure will be in May, going with Keeton to Disneyland. Another great memory coming soon.

AM – It’s a tough call between Michael Flynn’s guilty plea and the defeat of Roy Moore in Alabama.

KT – It’s hard to remember a specific moment that stood out for me in a year, but its all the small moments you don’t realize you loved until later. Being with my friends and laughing until we cry. Being with my family and watching my relationships evolve with them now that I’m an adult. Watching some of my best friends get married. Really realizing how lucky I am to live the life I do. I’m really trying to focus on that and be more grateful going into 2018.

Favorite 2017 guilty pleasure?

PM – Binge-watching The Crown.

AM – Flaunting my new lipstick and sharing more of them as gifts.

KT – Hands down memes. I know I should stop tagging my friends in them but I really can’t (sorry Lauren and Megan). Also podcasts, I can never get enough.

What was your favorite app you used in 2017?

PM – For the last couple of years, Sleep Cycle has been a favorite app. It tracks my sleep and offers a gentle wake-up when I’m easiest to wake in my sleep cycle. This year I added a companion app called Life Cycle. It tracks all my activities throughout the day. I’ve come to appreciate Apple’s efforts to track fitness and health using my watch and phone. It’s made me much more conscious of my good habits, and more sensitive about the bad ones.

AM – The Apple Podcast app. Hands down.

KT – It’s a toss up between Apple’s Podcast app and Snapchat. But if I have to choose I’ll say Apple Podcast.

We did a similar post last year for predictions in 2017, what was the most surprising thing you felt that happened this year?

PM – It’s tempting to talk about politics because I’ve never experienced such poisonous rhetoric and distortions of conventional mores in public life. For those troubled by the lack of civility in political discourse, I recommend reading my friend James Hoggan’s book, “I’m Right and You’re an Idiot,” published presciently at the beginning of the 2016 election year. In my real life, the most enjoyable surprise of 2017 was getting to watch our adventurous Grandson Haxton start walking, then running – and smiling a smile that melts your heart.

AM – It might be Roy Moore’s loss, but this year has made it hard to remember anything farther than a few days in the past.

KT – Allison and I have talked about this so much and really its everything. When we started answering these questions we both struggled because so much has happened in a year, it’s hard to digest what happened even a month ago. I had to go back and look through different huge events and be like, “Oh yeah that did happen”. Things that would historically define a year feel like they are happening weekly and it’s hard to keep up and remember everything, whether that be in pop culture or politics. Personally, and as a civilian, I feel that so much has happened I could have never predicted this is where we would be ending 2017. It is both hopeful and terifitiyng to see where we will be this time next year.

What are you looking forward to most in 2018?

PM – Besides my May trip to Disneyland with Keeton, I’m looking forward taking Donna back to Maui for some R&R. Allison and Juan gave her a gift certificate for a restaurant we like on Maui, so using it will require us to go there.

AM – Robert Muller’s investigation outcomes and a trip to Spain with my husband.

KT – Turning a quarter of a century old! Plus a few trips I’ve planned.

Digital Detox Time

My Self Prescribed Digital Detox

Facebook. Twitter. Snapchat. Instagram. Pinterest. Facebook. Snapchat… This is the endless cycle I find myself repeating for hours every day. At 24 I am CONSUMED by media. If I’m not on my phone looking something up then I’m on my laptop scrolling through endless content. I can’t escape cyberspace. More often than not social media is flooded with either horribly painful news that makes me question the state of humanity or doctored up photos that makes me question what I’m doing with my life and how I look. It’s exhausting and draining to be consumed by such a beast, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. I need a digital detox.

“To remove social media from my life would be like cutting off a appendage that is poisoning me, I know I should do it, but I can’t bring myself to.”

I grew up in the early 90’s, which means as I emerged into adolescence and adulthood so did the monster of the internet and the boom of social media. At this point for me and my generation, social media is an extension of us and our personal brands. To remove social media from my life would be like cutting off an appendage that is poisoning me, I know I should do it, but I can’t bring myself to.

So how do you not let the internet consume your life? Digital detox.

It would be foolish to tell you to completely cut yourself off from your phone. But detoxing can be another solution. Like we detox toxins from our bodies we also need to digitally detox and clear our minds from the constant stream of information. Why? The average person spends four hours a day on their phones. Along with that shocking statistic another is that the average American checks their phone over 150 TIMES A DAY unconsciously! As someone who works in media and loves to be in the know detoxing seems like a near impossible task for me. It led me to wonder, how do you start to consciously unwind yourself from the constant need to know what is going on while still maintaining your online presence?

Some ways I try to detox social media from my life:

  • Delete negative people. Like spring cleaning your house, cleaning out your social media gives you a chance to take into stock what you really want to see and eliminate accounts that cause negative feelings.
  • Put your phone on airplane mode. By doing this your phone is still on but the need to check your notification disappears by not allowing any notifications to pop-up until you turn this mode off. This takes away the sometimes constant nagging need people have to check their phones.
  • Turn your phone off for an hour a day. By turning off your phone it becomes more of a hassle to turn it back on and check social media than to just scroll through your notifications with it on. Try doing this a few times a week and see if it makes a difference for you.

By the end of your digital detox you should be feeling refreshed and a little more at ease!

James Swan books

Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day!

Today is the first day that the City of Portland is commemorating Indigenous Peoples’ Day as opposed to Columbus Day.

Last week the city council voted to make the change. A release from the city notes that Portland is home to the ninth largest Native American population in the United States, and its urban Native community is descended from over 200 tribes. The Oregonian quoted Portland Mayor Charlie Hales who said Portlanders have a responsibility to “remember and to learn” about the region’s history. “We can remember, we can repair, and we can respect,” he said.

 

From the City of Portland’s press release:

Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed in 1977 by the delegation of Native Nations to the United Nations. It wasn’t until 2010 that the United States endorsed a United Nations declaration that recognized “indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices as a result of … their colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources.”

 

Therefore, in the spirit of the new designation, I thought Indigenous Peoples’ Day might be a fun opportunity to share a bit about a body of work from the late 1800’s that I’m interested in, and that provides a unique insight on native tribes of the Washington Coast during that era.

When I was a kid, my step-dad worked for a time as a consultant for the Makah Tribe on Washington’s Pacific Coast. I grew up with their artwork adorning our home, and many weekends were spent exploring the Hoh Rainforest and surrounding areas. During family gatherings we’d bake salmon in the backyard over an open fire, an homage of sorts to a technique my step-dad learned from the tribe.

A couple years ago I happened upon the tale of a former Port Townsend resident named James Gilcrest Swan who lived in Oregon Territory/Washington State from the early 1850’s until his death in 1900. He was the subject of Ivan Doig’s critically acclaimed book “Winter Brothers” and several of Swan’s writings and illustrations were published posthumously, beginning in the 1970’s. There’s an excellent book of his illustrations and watercolors titled “James Swan, Chā-tic” that demonstrates Haida artwork, Quinault Villages and assorted native ceremonies. There’s also a collection of his journals titled, “The Northwest Coast.”

James Swan NW Coast selection

Selection from “The Northwest Coast,” published by University of Washington Press

During his lifetime, Swan was hired by the American government to teach English to members of the Makah tribe. He kept a detailed journal of his experience and during his time on the Washington Coast he collected artifacts from the region and sent them to museums on the East Coast. It is because of Swan’s efforts that insights and clues to the lives of the tribes during the 1800’s exist today.

It’s true that Swan writes about Native tribes through the vantage of a biased Anglo-American. Swan was a man of many faults. He completely abandoned his wife and kids in Boston to venture to the West Coast, and died a notorious alcoholic. He’s judgmental on tribal customs and tramples on their culture in his role as English teacher in an effort to prepare them for the impending influx of white Europeans. A cynic might argue that he documented the fall of their communities and was an active participant in doing so. Conversely, it’s apparent in his writing that he has a compassion and respect for the native people of the region and is often disgusted by the cultural insensitivity demonstrated by other Euro-Americans. It’s apparent that he made many friends among the local Native populations and appears to be an anomaly for his era. For those reasons, I recommend checking out his journals and illustrations.

whale blubber preparation, from "James Swan, Chā-Tic"

whale blubber preparation, from “James Swan, Chā-Tic”

This blog is intended to acknowledge the indigenous peoples of our region on a day our city has commemorated to do so. While these books are written by an European-American, they do provide an interesting insight into Native tribes during an interesting period of history. That said, the books are no match for the beauty and wonder of the Northwest Coast.

I’d encourage anyone intrigued by this post to visit the Quinault, Hoh, Queets and Makah forests, rivers, museums and communities in the near future.