Monthly Archives: July 2008

Does the PR Industry Have Thick Enough Skin for Social Media

When I started this blog I swore it would not turn into an extension of my twitter usage, but after this post it might seem that way. Go on the popular social network and there is no shortage of PR professionals twitting away about briefing books, clients, philosophy, strategy and big client wins. Ring the news business bell!!! The PR folks on twitter call it a conversation revolution.

The journalists on twitter call them flacks. The journalist that PR people are following call them worse sometimes and criticize pitch calls, pitch emails, follow up calls, interviews with PR people involved and the list goes on. Journalists openly complain about PR people friend’ing them on Facebook, pitching on twitter and commenting on their personal blogs.

Journalists have wikis that catalog PR spammers, and in Summize search #PRfail and you’ll find an open blood-thirst to document PR incompetence.

And the PRs response? They ask, “what can we do better.”

Not once have I seen a PR person strike back and Twitter, “For once I’d like a journalist to read our website before calling in with these questions.” Or “biggest pet peeve of journalists is when they don’t show up on time for interviews.” Or, “when they interview top-level executives and waste their time (AND MINE) and don’t use their words in a story.”

Where’s the backbone? For decades we’ve tried to get our seat at the table in the boardroom. We’ve smoked cigars, went to concerts, shared happy hours, hosted journalist round tables during staff meetings, some even got MBAs and now as an industry we fold because it’s all in the spirit of conversation!?!

Well. I know where my bread is buttered and I know it’s buttered in cold, dark black ink. And lots of it. So, I read and learn. Copout? Yes. Reality? For sure. Is this all new? No.

The fact is that social media is just another channel. And with that channel come tactics and strategies that need to be molded, crafted and best practiced. And, it’s not one size-fits all. Social media is not a free for all and it’s not a revolution, rather just another day in the office.

In the meantime, for those looking to join the conversation I would caution, some caution. And, I hope you have some thick skin, because now that we’re all being honest, the critique of the profession and its practitioners isn’t always going to be rosy.

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Keep that Business Card in Your Pocket – I’m on LinkedIn

Among the many questions I get asked by people who think I’m a little too involved in online activities one is, “what I use LinkedIn for?” It seems LinkedIn is the safest social network for corporate America or understandable, so that’s the one I get most.

One of the beautiful things about LinkedIn, and the way I use LinkedIn, is it’s like a living Rolodex. Some people have stacks and stacks of business cards on their desk—which I do as well—and I use LinkedIn to supplement or extend the value of those cards.

And the reason why that’s really cool is you don’t have to physically change their business card if they relocate or change positions in a company or request a new card if they leave that company—and that’s if you know they’ve moved. Using LinkedIn as your digital Rolodex allows your connections to manage their information, so you don’t have to.

Maybe sales or recruitment people know this already, but for marketing folks this is a powerful tool. It provides an easy way to revisit a relationship once a career change has happened. It provides a way to engage them once you see they’ve connected with someone you know that you have or have not already connected with.

Personally, I’ve re-connected with good friends, lost friends, friends that I did not know we’re on LinkedIn. Of course, it’s limited in that your contacts need to be on LinkedIn which only makes it more fun at that when they do get on because when they see what they’re missing and that has helped too. I hardly carry business cards anymore, instead I just tell people I meet, I’ll find you on LinkedIn. It’s almost a shocker when they say there aren’t on.

Tips for Using LinkedIn

This should be nothing new, but these are my thoughts:

  • Update your profile often. It provides people you’re connected with an opportunity or prompt to email you and start talking again.
  • Be a connection lurker. Look at who your connections are connected to. After all, it’s a social networking network, not just a recruitment/headhunter back alley. Hopefully, LinkedIn explores ways to flex its power and not just look to replace as a recruitment tool.
  • Take a peek at the LinkedIn answers section on topics that interest you. I’ve answered a few and in the process connected with people I wouldn’t have normally known. There’s something powerful about sharing knowledge and experience with a group of people. And it’s a professional setting so, hopefully and usually, you get some pretty intelligent responses to your response.
  • Don’t get too creeped out if someone who fired you or you’ve fired or hated at a previous job tries to connect to you. This is awkward, yes. But, there’s opportunity in this. It’s like a second chance to either start back on the right foot or confirm the reasons why you hated them and then hopefully you’ll feel better because you’re connected to more people than they are.

Curious to hear if you’ve had any LinkedIn successes or scares. Please share. Oh! Find Me on LinkedIn!


BTW–This post was pieced together by using


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Top 10 Reasons I’m Grateful Today on the 4th of July

  1. Our forefathers(mothers) – who were the smartest, most determined collection of people in the history of the world
  2. Freedom of speech, the press and to not be taxed to death.
  3. That a young United States was open to let my ancestors in through ocean and land to settle in this great nation.
  4. This great nation providing me with the opportunity to have a career and family in peace and security.
  5. Texas. I’m grateful for the Longhorns, the Bobcats, even the Miners and bluebonnets and George Strait. Still on the fence about A&M and Texas Tech.
  6. The sense of pride for every member of the armed forces who serves today and who has served in the past. The sacrifice you’ve made provides for the life we live.
  7. I’m grateful for the great group of friends we’ve found in Memphis/Germantown and Collierville, TN. Whether it be through church, playgroups, work or random I’m very happy to be able to raise my family around such great people.
  8. Technology. I love technology, but not as much as you, you see… But I STILL love technology… Always and forever.
  9. Three day weekends.
  10. I’m proud to live in the greatest nation in the world.

What’s on your list?

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Goodbye GCI – My Ode to a Great Agency

News of GCI Group’s merger with Cohn & Wolfe took me a bit by surprise. I sat a little shocked looking at the front page of prweek and thought, “WTF.” In fact, I was so shocked I quickly wrote all my friends who were GCI alums to see if they heard. We all felt the same way: shocked and saddened.

I like to think my PR career began in classic form. I was at the right place at the right time. For three years I stalked the GCI office president, Jeff Hunt (a frequent commenter on this blog—okay only once) through PRSA and TPRA (Texas Public Relation Association) events. I even got him to speak at a PR event I was lucky enough to organize at my university.

I had a job lined up with Apple in its education sales department, when a week before I was to graduate I was told the job had been dissolved. So, I took a risk. I drove 13 miles north from San Marcos to Austin with a newly ironed shirt, a briefcase that only contained my single-paged printed resume and a prayer to the GCI offices to find Jeff.

It just so happened GCI had recently won the Dell account and they were looking to staff up. I walked in asked for Jeff. He was leaving to lunch, saw me and said, “Come on back. I want my staff to talk to you.”

After a 2 hour talk, I was asked to go to Dell to interview for an “embedded” staff position. Ten days after graduation, I started work at GCI from Dell.

I cut my pr teeth at GCI and gained a ton of valuable experience. I worked with great clients, people and companies. I drank the GCI kool-aid so much I have an orange tie that I still wear today as a reminder of my younger days in PR. (not that I’m that old) In fact, my ugly mug was lucky enough to grace the front page of the gcigroup website in that tie.

The energy that came from working at that company was amazing. The client service, the new business pitching, the creativity . I’m actually getting fired up right now!

I really could go on about it, but I want everyone to know how great that place and the people were to me. Julian Read, Jeff Hunt, Lynne Skinner, Paul Walker, Don Bartholomew, Lee-Anne Bustard, Wilson, Talley, Kevin. I could go on. Like I said in a twit earlier: I hope C&W knows the talent and culture they’re about to get.


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Looking Back at the “Year of Blood”

It began as a simple trip back to Texas. A road trip if you will to watch my wife receive her MBA. A 600 mile trip that would change my life forever. With so many people I follow on Twitter, Facebook, their blogs traveling extensively I wanted to share my story and raise awareness for you next time you’re in a car or on a plane for an extended amount of time.

I think my life changed forever when I was in an emergency room and the doctor said, “You have two blood clots in your lung. Don’t move anymore. One clot in a lung usually kills people.”

I was 28.

In fact, I had a major clot in my leg, two pulmonary embolisms in my right lung and another floating in my chest just waiting to get into my lung or somewhere worse.

I spent in all about 6 hours in a car on a Thursday before I felt the first signs of the clot in my leg Friday morning. It felt like a cramp in my calf that wouldn’t go away. As the days went by, I hobbled through malls, restaurants and a graduation ceremony. The whole time, I could feel the “cramp that wouldn’t go away” get stronger. My stretching, ice and warm packs didn’t do anything for it.

We drove back to Texas and I hobbled through work. I don’t really like to bother doctors and the thought of going to see a doctor because of a leg cramp was embarrassing. Well on Tuesday night, when I felt the tip of a boot kick me in the back continuously and I couldn’t climb up my stairs, I knew I better see someone.

When the doctor removed my sock and looked at my leg, first time I had as well, it was swollen two inches. That was the end of my exam and I was off to the emergency room.

I know now that I had a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in my leg that began at the bottom of my calf muscle and extended to my hip. The clots in my lungs went away after about 5 days in the hospital. And I can say now I’ve been off my Coumadin (blood-thinner) for about a month. Since my hospitalization for the blood clots, I’ve been back in the hospital twice for pneumonia—in three days it’s the anniversary of my last visit to the ER. I don’t know if it was all related, but I never had pneumonia before.

I scared a lot of people with my predicament. Hell, I scared myself pretty bad. After a year of medicine, blood analyzing and weekly blood-thickness checks, I think I’m back to normal. My leg still swells about an inch anytime I workout or just mow the lawn.

So, as you travel in a plane or car please remember to keep your feet active, stand up and stretch every two hours and if you feel pain anywhere in your body that you can’t explain for longer than 24 hours see a doctor.

For more information on blood clots or embolisms visit the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

If you don’t visit the site, here are some things to think about now.

The Signs and Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis

The signs and symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) may be related to DVT itself or to pulmonary embolism (PE). See your doctor right away if you have symptoms of either. Both DVT and PE can cause serious, possibly life-threatening complications if not treated.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Only about half of the people with DVT have symptoms. These symptoms occur in the leg affected by the deep vein clot. They include:

* Swelling of the leg or along a vein in the leg

* Pain or tenderness in the leg, which you may feel only when standing or walking

* Increased warmth in the area of the leg that’s swollen or in pain

* Red or discolored skin on the leg

Pulmonary Embolism

Some people don’t know they have DVT until they have signs or symptoms of PE. Symptoms of PE include:

* Unexplained shortness of breath

* Pain with deep breathing

* Coughing up blood

Rapid breathing and a fast heart rate also may be signs of PE.

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