Monday, August 25, 2008

That Was Easy...

I love this commercial.  Staples did a great job poking fun at a current issue - in this case, the gas crisis.

Random fact - For Christmas a few years ago, someone gave me an easy button :)  I've never tried it at Staples, but it definitely didn't do me justice during the after-Christmas sales rush :/  Great marketing ploy, though!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Vote in PRWeek's Blog Competition!

Every new professional has at least a couple of highlights in his/her first year of work experience.  A great compliment from a client, a stellar presentation, an outstanding hit in BusinessWeek (or in the Wichita Eagle if you're really ambitious). :)  Well, I have a career highlight of my own to share, and it comes in the form of an e-mail sent to the EVP of my account:

From: Frank Shaw
Subject: This is cool


Wait a minute.  Back up.  Did Frank Shaw really find my blog... and say it was cool?!  

Anyway, starstruck awe aside, working at WE I was inspired by someone new on almost a daily basis.  But no one inspired me more than Frank.  Smart guy, great speaker, fantastic leader, and... great blog!

PRWeek is holding a competition to honor the outstanding PR blog, and Frank's blog, Glass House, made it to the quarterfinals.  As a young professional, I enjoy reading Frank's blog because he discusses everything PR, from politics to the evolving media landscape and nature of the PR practitioner.  This week, Glass House is up against Rohit Bhargava (also a great blog), so make sure you go vote!

PRSA meets Media Relations

I really hate to admit this - I've been a member of PRSA for nearly a year and haven't been to a single meeting.  Not that I haven't wanted to go to meetings, because I have.  In fact, while working at WE I asked my manager nearly every week, "so there's this meeting next week, and it would require me to take a bit of an extended lunch break..." but for some reason or another, something always came up on the day of the meeting (we all know how PR agencies work...)   

Now that I am starting fresh in LA, however, I finally attended my first meeting tonight!  A PRSA Young Professionals meeting.  Topic = "The Perfect Pitch."  I was surprised at how nicely this meeting was put together.  There were three speakers - an SAE from The Rogers Group, an SAE from GolinHarris, and the communications director for the Vice Provost at USC.  It was arranged as a panel discussion, and a YP board member moderated the conversation.

Now, I know we've heard all the pitching tips a million times over, but I personally think that young PR professionals can't get enough advice from the media experts.  Every PR Pro has a different take on pitching and has developed his or her own, unique style over the years.  (And hey, the last thing any of us wants is to have an e-mail we wrote end up in the Bad Pitch Blog.)

Some interesting pieces of advice the professionals shared during the meeting...
  • Best to send an e-mail first, then follow up with a phone call.  But make sure you leave at least 24 hours between contact attempts!  And never call from an unavailable number.
  • Direct mail is so out.  But sometimes (on occasion) a handwritten note can have a nice impact.
  • The FIRST question you should always ask is - "Are you on deadline?"  If so, make sure to ask what time is best to call back.
  • Jot down the 3 points you want to get across during the conversation.
  • Make sure you fully understand the pitch before you call.
  • Put some thought into your subject line, and don't begin with "press release" or "media alert" - you are only wasting space.  
  • Never send a press release to a blogger.
  • And of course, the number one rule we all should know - Do your research before you pitch!  Does the reporter have a blog?  What is he/she interested in?  Will he/she actually write?  Etc..

Now my call to action for all you young professionals out there: Join this group!  Go to these meetings!  They will be well worth your time, weather you have a job or not.  

PS: If you have a good media relations tip to share, leave a comment!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Generation Divides

On Sunday afternoon I went to Torrance to have lunch with my grandma, and she said something that was just too cute not to share.  While telling me about my uncle's great new job, she said, "And they bought him a car, and a gas card, and a blueberry!"  A blueberry?!  Oh grandma...     

Monday, August 11, 2008

What I've been up to... And where I've been

Dear Blog,

OK, don't say it... I know I haven't written in 2 months (I'm sorry!), but did you really expect me to blog in Europe?!  OK, well, we have a lot of catching up to do!  Where do I begin?

As you know, I moved to LA (LOVE it so far!) then went to Europe for a few weeks.  How can I even put Europe into words?  Or into one single blog entry, anyway.  I'll try my best, and take a few excerpts from my e-mails back to my family (they haven't quite caught onto blogging yet).  

I began my trip in Italy to visit my friend Shannon who had been living in Brescia for the past 9 months (although she has since moved back home due to shady Italian politics).  We travelled around a bit together and saw so many amazing things, including The Palio in Siena (amazing!) and a few nearby countries.  

But what I was most excited for was France.  Several years ago I had a French Exchange student named Elen live with me for about a month, and I have always wanted to go to France and visit her.  I took the train from Italy to Grenoble, where she had just finished up school, and we drove across the country a few days later to Vannes, in Brittany (the upper-west coast of France).  

We got into Vannes around 8pm, just in time for dinner!  We spent some time chatting with her family, then sat down for dinner around 9.  For dinner, Elen's mom brought out cheese, a huge salad, and several types of finger foods.  I was thinking, 'OK, this isn't so bad, not too full.'  Then after we were done and the table was cleared, she brought out MORE food, this time our own personal huge bowls of seafood in this amazing creme sauce and a side dish of rice.  After this was cleared, she brought out the cheese, a plate of about 10 different kinds, and bread.  Then came the desert, then the fruit, and last but not least, the coffee and the chocolate.  The meal lasted 3 hours and was a time for the family to sit and talk.  I was thinking this was just a special occasion for Elen's return home, but nope, pretty much every meal (even lunch and breakfast) followed this template.  After dinner, a nice family + Andrea walk through the town (which was so cute!) then finally bed around 2.

One difference I noticed about France versus the US is that the pace of life is so much slower.  Elen said to me many years ago that it is funny how people pass each other in the halls on their way to class and say, 'hi, how are you?' but don't even stop to chat.  I now understand her observation, because when people stop to chat in France, they have an actual conversation.  Life moves leisurely and the French enjoy every moment of it.

Along the same lines, the French work ethic is also much different.  Whereas many Americans live to work, the French work to live, and they enjoy every minute of their 6-8 week government supported vacation.  (In fact, at first I thought that the French didn't work at all, until I realized that the country was just beginning a 3 week vacation.)  Every time I mentioned that most Americans get 2 weeks vacation at best, jaws dropped around the room.  

I was also surprised how interested in politics young people are in France.  The first thing anyone said to me when I mentioned I was American was, 'America?  Ah, Barak Obama!'  And of course the political questions would follow.  So much for immersing myself in French politics during my stay!  

After a few days in Brittany, Elen and I headed to Paris to stay with her friend Magalie for a few nights, then with her brother for a few days in the suburbs.  Paris, of course, was amazing.  We saw all the sights, and even took a sight-seeing boat trip along the river.  On Bastille Day, we went to Elen's brother's friend's house, which had an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower, to watch the fireworks.    

I could go on for hours, but I'll spare you the time and end with only one Paris paragraph. :)

When I returned home, I spent a few days battling a 103.1 degree fever and a horrible stomachache.  But on a more optimistic note, I was glad the fever didn't come a few days sooner!

Now that I am back in the US (and finally well) and have had a few weeks to settle into my new city and visit with old friends and family members, I have focused the majority of my attention to the job search.  I have to admit, the time off has been nice, and well-deserved, but I don't know how much longer I'll be able to last without a job!  (Financially, obviously... but I'm bored!)  I'll keep you updated as the search continues, but for now...