In Pictures: Top PR Stories of 2011

Disclaimer: When compiling these images, I tried to exclude news stories that weren’t necessarily “PR” stories or ones that were a little too local in nature (see former U.S. rep from New York, Anthony Weiner). For example, Congresswoman Giffords/Arab Spring/Japan Earthquake, etc. were not reflected in this collage because they were tragic, national (or global) stories that shouldn’t have been discussed from a PR perspective. However, I included an image such as Osama Bin Laden because his death was also seen as a PR boost for President Obama. I also included 9/11 because many were discussing this (whether they should or shouldn’t have) from a PR and non-PR perspective. 

All-in-all, many of these stories fall in a grey area between whether they were national news stories, national PR stories, or both. And there are certainly other images I considered adding to this collage. That being said, I would LOVE to for you to leave comments and let me know which other images could have been included that represent the top PR stories of the year.

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Top 10 Clues Someone Isn’t Really a Social Media Expert

10. There are social media icons in their e-mail signature, but when people click on these links they find that the page hasn’t been updated in weeks or months (or doesn’t exist anymore!)

9. There are social media icons on their website, but when people click on these links they find that the page hasn’t been updated in weeks or months (or doesn’t exist anymore!)

8. Whenever you ask them if they’ve actually used the tools (either personally or for a client) they are recommending, they can never give you a straight answer

7. Their idea of using social media is to promote a company’s services or key messages without any engagement with the user audience

6. They claim to be an influencer, but when you look at their Klout score you find that it is less than your mother’s

5. Their program proposals talk about BIG IDEAS, but nowhere do they mention how they will track and measure success

4. As soon as a shiny new tool comes out, they immediately propose you incorporate it into your social media program

3. MySpace is mentioned in a discussion about social media channels to consider leveraging

2. They guarantee immediate results

And the no. 1 clue that someone isn’t really a social media expert…

1. Somewhere in their Twitter/Facebook/Klout/Google+/Foursquare/Blog profile it says, “Social media expert”

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Top 10 Reasons Why Being a PR Pro is One of the Toughest Jobs You Could Have

At the risk of this post coming off as slightly depressing for anyone interested in pursuing a career in PR, I’ve decided to have a little fun and run this list anyway.

Also, I want to stress that I realize there are many other jobs that are much more challenging (being in the military, a doctor, teacher, etc.) than working in PR, but like I said, let’s have a little fun with this.

Here’s the top 10 reasons why being a PR pro is one of the toughest jobs you could have:

10. Demanding clients – They always want more results.

9. Demanding bosses – See above.

8. Meetings, conference calls, meetings, conference calls – Every day is filled with these. How can work ever get done?

7. Time management difficulties – No matter how many clients you may have, the work has to get done.

6. Getting the raise you want is no easy feat – The economy aside, it’s tough enough showcasing the value in the results we achieve for clients, so how do we go about doing it for ourselves during yearly reviews?

5. New tools keep appearing – There is a constant need to stay on top of the newest resources that are available and a need to be prepared to offer counsel on them.

4. Nothing is harder than securing a top-tier media interview – Even when we send well-timed, appropriate pitches, reporters are still annoyed by all of the e-mails and calls they receive.

3. Nothing is harder than securing an interview, regardless of outlet – There are less media outlets and reporters than ever before.

2. You’re Always On-Call – There’s no traditional work schedule. Check any PR pro’s e-mail inbox and you’ll be sure to find conversations happening at the most random of times.

And the number one reason why being a PR pro is one of the toughest jobs you could have…

1. Hey, we get no respect – Stealing a line from Rodney Dangerfield here. Whether it’s battling for more budget from clients or defending ourselves against the actions of unethical agencies and PR pros, we always have an uphill battle against others.

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Top 10 Ways to Succeed in PR

10. Embrace all of the free online resources at your fingertips. From  blogs to tweetchats, and everything in between, a great PR education is just a URL away.

9. Speak up during internal team brainstorms. In order to gain a voice in the room when you are with a client, you need to first use the one you have when you are in a room with your colleagues. You never know when you might say something that sparks an idea (and don’t worry, even if you say something that doesn’t lead anywhere, your managers will still love the fact that you were thinking and trying to be helpful).

8. Make sure you have thick skin. You are going experience challenging clients that do nothing but piss you off and yell at you. You may even have co-workers that you can’t stand dealing with. Although it may be hard to imagine, I can promise that you will learn a ton from these situations.

7. Be a news hound. Do you like to stroll into the office at 930, get a cup of coffee and a muffin, and then catch up with a few friends in the kitchen area before jumping into your work? Stop immediately. Get to work early, do a Google news search to see if there’s any stories your clients can speak to, and get your pitches out the door immediately

6. Don’t be a media pest. Reporters get a ton of e-mail’s, and occasionally they may not see every single one of them that gets into their inbox, but speaking as a former reporter (and obviously as an extraordinarily gifted blogger) I can tell you firsthand that I read almost every e-mail I get. If I’m interested in your client, I’ll let you know. Don’t follow up with me numerous times just to see if I got your pitch. It’s 2011 and your e-mail did not go into my spam folder. I got it. I read it. I moved forward accordingly.

5. Speak up if you are unhappy with something. Your boss isn’t a mind reader. If you aren’t happy with your accounts or think you deserve greater compensation, arrange a meeting with the appropriate senior people, be prepared to state your case in a professional manner, and get your opinion on record. This may help your current situation, or you may not see any changes right away. But keeping your mouth shut and bottling up your frustrations will get you absolutely nowhere.

4. Be a team player and not a lone wolf. No matter how talented you may be, the quicker you learn that you can’t do everything yourself, the better off you’ll be. There’s a reason why account teams have more than just one person on them.

3. Always ask to try new things. Are you only responsible for putting together media coverage reports or just pitching the media for a specific client? Next time you find that a client has a request that isn’t on your list of responsibilities (maybe a press release or a byline, for example), ask your boss if you can take a stab at it. You will absolutely make mistakes, but your boss will love your enthusiasm and initiative (and you’ll also learn something!).

2. Don’t ever get comfortable at your job. You need to always be challenged and learning from people smarter than you are. If you aren’t getting that education, it may be time to look elsewhere (and believe me, you’ll make new friends quickly at your next stop).  

And the number one way to succeed in PR is..

1. Get results. If you get media opportunities for a client, not only do you look good, but so does your manager. If you do great work on a consistent basis and keep filling up your bosses inbox with positive notes, I guarantee you will be moving up the corporate ladder in no time. And make sure to document everything that you do so that come review time you can easily showcase all of your achievements from the past year.

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9 Ways Social Media is Like Sex

1. It’s Not the Size of the Tool, It’s How You Use It – One of the greatest things about social media is that businesses with tiny marketing budgets can still benefit from them as marketing tools. The winner in social media is not the company that shelled out major dollars for a new and shiny tool, but rather the company that leveraged their free Twitter account to engage with their consumers and bring in new business.

2. Foreplay is Key – Some companies dive head first into social media, and then wonder why their results are less than satisfactory. Before using social media as a marketing tool, it is necessary to scan the environment you are about to enter. Know what people are saying about your brand, your industry, and your competitors. Here are 10 free tools you can use to get started.
3. Your Lame Pick-Up Lines Only Work in the Short-Term – Can you use free stuff (contests, promotions, etc.) to draw in new Twitter followers and Facebook fans? Sure. Will you have built real, lasting relationships with these consumers? Not unless there is a tie-in with your brand and a significant benefit to your audience.
4. It’s Ok to Ask How You’re Doing – There’s no shame in reaching out to your customers for feedback on your social media efforts. Ask them what they hope to gain out of liking you on Facebook or following you on Twitter. Is it information? Deals and discounts? Don’t be shy – asking for suggestions is like free market research, which can be used to boost your performance.
5. Your Most Satisfied Customers Are Happy to Share Their Experiences – Social media has become a vehicle for consumers to share what they’ve experienced with certain brands, both online and offline. Ask them to post their experience on social networks or review sites (assuming you know they are satisfied), or perhaps take this a step further by building a brand ambassador program. Your most loyal customers are eager to advocate for you.
6. Your Most Dissatisfied Customers Are Even Happier to Share Their Experiences – Just as your happy customers will tweet and post about how wonderful you are, you’re not-so-happy customers can potentially wage an online war against your brand. With social media, everyone has a voice. The guy who was unhappy with your customer service may have a blog with 100,000 readers. Be on the lookout for negative sentiment regarding your brand, and have a plan for handling it. Know that ignoring it can very quickly blow up in your face.
7. Everyone’s an “Expert” (Or “Guru” or “Ninja”) – You’ll hear these terms thrown around quite loosely in social media, but they should not be taken at face value (see #5 at this link). Just because someone knows how to set up a fan page or uses social media for personal use does not in any way signify that they are suited to manage your brand’s social media marketing.

8. You Need to Do More Than Just Show Up; You’ve Got to Engage – Think you can set up accounts on different platforms, schedule some content, and see results? Think again. To see success in social media requires real, long-term engagement. Performance improves over the course of a relationship.

9. It’s better to admit your mistakes immediately – When you screw up in social media the whole world sees it. Staying silent about it can result in highly negative sentiment regarding your brand. You’ll often find that consumers are more forgiving if you admit to your mistakes and make an effort to correct them.

About the Author

Andrew Krebs-Smith is Vice President at Social Fulcrum, a word of mouth and social media marketing agency. Andrew has “leveraged” social media and other marketing tools for over 100 companies including Pfizer, the National Chicken Council, and Strayer University.