Category Archives: Hot Topic

A new dawn for JRM Comm

I’m beyond thrilled to kick off the month of August with a rebranded JRM Comm. Watch the video below to learn more and browse JRMComms.com to see how we can work together to bring you success through smart strategies!

A “Spark” for social content

New ideas get me excited. It doesn’t matter if the idea is mine or that it comes from someone else. New ideas should excite everyone because it is a chance to see what the future could be like. NewsSpark, a new social content hub, is one of those ideas that I’m excited about.

I’ve known NewsSpark founder Chris Ehrlich for over five years now, mostly over social media. However, when I started JRM Comm, Chris chatted with me via phone and gave some incredibly encouraging and kind words that stay with me to this day.

Because of this, Chris has been kind enough to open the private beta of its digital PR and marketing channel to readers of my blog.

Original content

NewsSpark is a digital hub where creators publish original content through their favorite mediums. Creators can publish original news, blogs, updates, photos, videos and audio (soon) on every topic — or Sparks. The hub also features catalogs of content creators, brands and groups. The freemium model NewsSpark is planning to implement paid features, such as branded Content Galleries.

Chris Ehrlich

Chris Ehrlich

“Looking at the marketplace, we believe we’re the first digital channel dedicated to publishing and consuming original content,” said Chris, whose content career has included stops at LEWIS PR and the San Francisco Chronicle. “Some may argue the claim, but the hub’s makeup and utility are clearly distinct when compared to other digital channels.”

NewsSpark plans to exit its private beta and launch in June. The hub is made in East Grand Rapids, Mich. and metro Los Angeles.

Initial partners

After testing the hub with family and friends, NewsSpark has set up member benefit and/or content partnerships with several organizations during its private beta: the West Michigan Public Relations Society of America, or WMPRSA; stock video production company Uberstock; early stage venture capital fund Start Garden; urban business incubator GR Current; and Michigan State University Spartan Innovations, the university’s startup innovation division.

User-rated content

Sparks can be published by “anyone with great original content,” Chris said. Creators increase or decrease a Spark’s stoke count — and hub-wide rank — when they “stoke it,” “douse it” or mark it as a “firestarter.” The hub of user-ranked content is organized by a set of filters and designed to be “a meritocracy and front-line source for anyone who consumes digital content.”

“Right now, the community is in its infancy,” he added. “It will naturally grow as we grow.”

Private beta access

Here’s where you can get in on the fun. Chris is now opening up NewsSpark’s private beta to me, “a long-time tweep,” and readers of One Guy’s Journey. Readers can access the private beta hub and “stake claims to their industry categories” via my referral link, keeping  “JasMollica” in the referer field. Readers can also use the hub’s invite-a-friend feature to invite others into the private beta.

Content marketing problems

NewsSpark is designed to be an open and organized hub where creators can complete their content marketing cycles. “The hub lets their content burn and work for them in ways it can’t at other digital channels,” Chris said. He explained thatNewsSpark logo almost immediately after it’s posted, original content functionally disappears from other digital channels, where he said content is an ad unit, fleeting, disorganized, unfindable, isolated or in a closed network.

“There’s all this great content being created that gets lost online — as a fleeting mention, one-time broadcast or on a virtual island,” Chris said. “We wanted to create a hub where original content can be planted, judged on its merit and work as an ongoing catalyst for creators — in real-time and long-term.” The hub is also a platform for creators to package, consolidate and digitally present their complete range of content to their audiences in a professional-grade user interface, such as a plug-and-play social Content Gallery, newsroom or web presence.

“A brand’s content is diluted when it’s only fragmented across channels — and never unified in a single user experience for ongoing discovery,” Chris said.

Sparks flying

The hub is designed to potentially increase multiple near- and long-term content marketing metrics: brand awareness, SEO and social search, audience, engagement, web traffic, coverage by bloggers and media outlets, inbound leads and sales. “We’re simply engineered from the onset to deliver returns to creators who market their content,” Chris said. The hub is also designed to deliver cost and staff savings on managing and sharing digital content. “Trying to manage and use de-centralized content is hugely inefficient for teams,” Ehrlich said. “And when they turn to platforms to package and centralize the content, they often run into technical or pricing obstacles.”

Bigger picture

I’m a big believer in paying it forward and NewsSpark is doing just that, in a huge way. The company will donate 5% of its income to The NewsSpark R. D.  Ehrlich Communications Scholarship at colleges across the country, beginning with UCLA and Denison University.

Check it out and tell me what you think of NewsSpark!

Who is your PR Inspiration?

The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your bestEpictetus

We (hopefully) get inspired by many things in life. A big promotion, getting your degree, or even starting your own business. However, in many cases, it is the people in our lives who inspire us to be more and do more. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had an opportunity to think about those who have inspired me to be more as a public relations professional.

2013-06-27 17.20.57Folks like Larry Litwin, Deirdre Breakenridge, Shonali Burke, and, of course, my wife, have had an indelible impact into my PR career. Every day, I am inspired by something they have done. It is why I love what I do and why I enjoy working with future and current pros to make our industry great.

Now, I ask you. Who is your PR inspiration? Why do we need to let our networks know they are great? What have they done to inspire our industry?

Let me know on Twitter, Facebook and in the comments below. I’ll then shout them out on Twitter. Be inspired by what you have learned and pay it forward!

The Next Step for Communications Pros

To go back to school or to not go back to school: that is the question.

And this is the very question Jason blogged about recently — one that almost every working professional grapples with at one time or another. Especially in the communications field, if you’re already gainfully employed, you wonder how anything learned in a classroom could possibly trump real-world experience.

7ladderAnd then there’s the prospect of giving up said job to go back to school for two years, or, better yet, having to relocate to chase a master’s degree from your dream school on the other side of the country. Online education, however, has been a complete game-changer in terms of flexibility, and we’ve seen the quality of the experience elevated to meet — and in some ways exceed — the on-campus one.

I’m totally biased on this front because I work on behalf of an online program. Newhouse School recently announced a new Master of Science in Communications delivered online: Communications@Syracuse. Specializations include public relations, journalism innovation and advertising, taught in live classes by Newhouse faculty. But this post isn’t about me.

Looking Ahead

It’s a great time to be in this field — employment of PR specialists is projected to grow 12 percent through 2022 (from 2012).

And let’s face it: communications and public relations are constantly evolving. Tactics that worked for PR pros even five years ago may seem antiquated today. Attention spans are short and competition for real estate on the web and in print is more intense than ever. Creative storytelling and unique content is paramount to separating your client from its counterparts.

“It’ll be back to the future for PR in 2015,” says Ellen Ryan Mardiks, vice chairman, Golin. “As the PR business grows and expands its remit, we’ll keep doing more, better. Clients will turn to us at an even greater pace for compelling content delivered across all forms of media.”

As a modern-day professional, you want to remain grounded in the fundamentals, while also staying up-to-date with new strategies and tools. To stay competitive, in some cases, advancing your degree, online or otherwise, is the next logical step to help hone your skills and position yourself as a leader who gets results for clients. But, as Jason wrote, you have to ask yourself if continuing your education will be worth the inevitable sacrifices you’ll have to make. It’s not a decision to be made lightly, nor should it be made based on what anyone else thinks — “do it for you.” Other things to consider:

  • Accreditation: Is the institution accredited? This is something employers care about and, if it’s not, could hinder your chances to advance.
  • Credit-transfer policies: Make sure the previous credits you’ve earned and the work experiences you have are taken into consideration.
  • Faculty and student support: Are your professors invested in your success? Will you have access to the resources you need?

Bottom line: There are pros and cons of on-campus versus online — both offer a unique set of challenges. The key is to prioritize what’s important to you (staying put versus relocating, etc.) and commit to the decision 100%. Success in today’s public relations environment will require innovation, adaptability and greater accountability — it’s up to you how you get there.

Erica MossErica Moss is the community manager for Communications@Syracuse, a masters in communications online program, offered from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. In her free time, she enjoys all things pop culture and connecting with people on Twitter @ericajmoss.

Better Social in 2015

So, we are on the verge of a new year (already?!). It’s a time to celebrate accomplishments and the good things we’ve done. It’s also a time to take a hard look at ways to improve for the year to come. I’m sure that whether you are a business or an individual, there are things you’d like to do better in 2015. Maybe it’s improving your bottom line or re-packaging your current brand.

IM2_PROLOGUE_VFX_12In December, I love to take stock of where I stand, personally and professionally. It gives me a chance to take a critical look at how I’ve served my clients and whether I’m growing. I want to be better, as a business owner, a person, and a professional. These improvements also include social media.

There’s been good social and bad, just like every other year. However, I hope that in 2015 we see social media improve. Here’s five ways to do that:

1. Be smarter with your posting– Far too often this year, we’ve seen mistakes by brands and individuals. There are more “gotcha moments” (see Franco, James) and hitting the send button before a post is really looked at closely (see U.S. Airways). Don’t rush to update your Facebook page or that Instagram photo because you want to be funny or beat another brand to the punch. Think your posts through. You’ll be better off in the long run.

2. Don’t cross-post from Facebook to Twitter- Or vice versa, for that matter. No matter how many times myself or one of my colleagues says that Facebook and Twitter are different social channels, there’s always a brand that decides they are too lazy to come up with separate posts. Cross posting from Twitter to Facebook shows you don’t really care about your audience, your message, or, frankly, your brand. People notice and they’ll eventually stop listening.
3. Don’t be so “salesy”- By now, you’ve probably seen that Facebook is going to get tough on businesses, big and small, that have posts that are heavy with sales speak. While some businesses are worried, they shouldn’t be. A smart business strategy on Facebook should involve posts that speak to fans, not sell to them. If you follow a brand on Facebook or Twitter, you probably like the product. Brands need to remember this and speak to customers as people, not numbers. And that leads me to…
4. Take the time to understand your audience, customers- This should really be a no-brainer, but, sadly, it isn’t. There are still plenty of brands that would rather treat their followers and fans as numbers, instead of as an important part of their business. Social media isn’t just a platform to get your messages out, it’s also a chance to connect with your audience and make them more of a champion for you. Don’t look at followers as numbers. View every one as a prospect!
5. Plan ahead- Remember the old saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” This is absolutely true when it comes to social. A social media posting plan is something that you need to have. No questions asked. Now, when I say plan ahead, it doesn’t mean that if you schedule posts, you are in the clear. If you are a social media manager, it’s important that you keep your eyes and ears on the news and what is going on around you. Scheduled posts can come back and bite you if they don’t fit the tone of the day. The bottom line? Have a posting plan, but be ready to change at a moment’s notice.
Social media is still growing and it’s important to understand that we can all be better at posting to the large number of networks that exist today. Make 2015 that year to be better, more strategic, and more focused. Here’s to your social success!

Generation Labels: Limiting or Limitless?

On Oct. 21, I posed this question on Twitter:

 

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the labels that are placed on generations. I don’t hear much about the tags on Generation Y or Generation X, and when I did, it wasn’t hammered home like the Millennial label is now. I accept the Millennial tag, but I often wonder whether it really is a badge of honor or a label that is unnecessary. Many in the millennial generation, however, embrace the tag. So, I left it to the Twitterverse to see what they felt. I received some really great answers.


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You’ve heard some of the thoughts from Twitter. Now, what do you REALLY think about generational labels. Are they a hinderance to your success? Do they make you feel more confident? Let me know in the comments!

Five Things I Learned at PRSSANC

Another year and another Public Relations Student Society of America National Conference has come and gone. This was my second year presenting and I can tell you that I had just as much fun as I did in Philly last year.

The National Committee did an outstanding job of giving PRSSA Chapters and members all the opportunities to hear and learn from some outstanding people, like Rebecca Timms of the Philadelphia 76ers and Powell Tate president Pam Jenkins. In other words, there was no reason why you couldn’t leave with some great ideas for your chapter and your career.

As much as the conference is for students, I always come away learning a ton. As pros, we should never stop learning or take the thought process of, “what can students teach me?” Last year, I was able to take things I learned in Philly and put them to use in my business. What did I learn this year?

PRSSA gift1. Make adjustments– Even the best laid plans can be thrown for a loop. While I have to stay on my toes daily, I realized that instead of just keeping my presentation the way it was, I made tweaks about an hour before my talk. I learned something very valuable after talking to Utah Valley University’s award-winning PRSSA chapter. That is…

2. Never pass up a chance to network– For the second straight year, I sat with UVU PRSSA to talk about career, life, and how to approach a job interview. Talking to these impressive future pros reminded me why I love speaking and teaching. The opportunity to pass along the wisdom you’ve learned over the years, can be very helpful. And you never do know when a former student can assist you in your career. Seeing friends from University of Delaware, Illinois State, Temple University, as well as Chris Bonelli and Adam Piccin, reminded me that social conversations can turn into real life ones.

3. Embrace Your Moment – take the opportunity to share your ideas, thoughts with those around you. I relished hearing so many great ideas from the future pros gathered in D.C. Following many members on Twitter, I saw each share knowledge from the sessions they were attending. This was their moment to share what they were learning. I love that!

4. Ask Questions – Whether you are in a large group or in a one-on-one situation, never turn down the opportunity to ask questions and get answers. During my session on “Understanding What the Media Want,” I welcomed questions in the middle and the end. I expect to have people question what I’ve talked about. Why? Because I want to make sure I’m giving you the answers you are looking for about media pitching. Don’t just settle for what you think may be a good answers. Ask questions to get answers you need, especially in our industry.

5. Don’t Forget Where You Came From – I’m a proud alum of Temple University. When I graduated back in 1997, I dove right into my career and lost touch with being an Owl. I feel blessed to have been able to reconnect with my alma mater in the last number of years, thanks to Temple’s outstanding PRSSA chapter. Now, at every opportunity, I try to meet with these great Owls and help them when they need it. They make me proud to be a Temple alum, and I’ll never forget where I came from… A Cherry and White Wonderland!

Let me leave you with one last thought. Remember, it’s never too late to have a life and it’s never too late to change one. Go with confidence in your career… And in life!

What did you learn in D.C. this year? Let me know in the comments!

Quick Hit: The Players Tribune… brilliant or sportswriter’s nightmare?

Derek Jeter’s blue Jumpman cleats haven’t even be cleaned off and he’s got the next phase of his life lined up. Much like his preparation for a baseball season, Jeter was ready for retirement and what lies in front of him. Earlier this week, the now former Yankee captain rolled out “The Players Tribune,” a site where athletes can directly connect with fans, unfiltered, and beyond 140 characters.

Jeter has already recruited Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl champion quarterback Russell Wilson as a senior editor. Wilson’s first post was heartfelt and honest. However, the site hasn’t been met with the same aura that Jeter carried during his sure-to-be Hall of Fame career.

After being lauded for his humbleness, work ethic, and respect for the game, Jeter is now being criticized by the same peoplethe-players-tribune for lauded him over his playing career. Why? Some sportswriters are cranky because they feel their jobs are being done for them. Really? Last I checked you can still interview these players before and after games, practices, and sometimes at public appearances.

There will always be a need for sportswriters. However, some of them were the same ones that complained about blogging a while back. Now, they are using for story supplements, first-hand reporting, and live blogging. You will not see papers laying off sportswriters because Derek Jeter has started a website.

At the end of the day, we, as sports fans, would love to learn more about our favorite players. Do I need to know about their personal lives? Not really, unless they’ve been bad (ahem, Ray Rice). I do look forward to learning more about how they’ll make an impact while playing or after their career.

Besides, I’d rather hear what Derek Jeter has to say over ESPN’s Keith Olbermann any day.

The NFL’s Ray Rice Problem

Sept. 8-UPDATE: Ray Rice had his contract terminated by the Ravens and was suspended indefinitely by the NFL. The NFL released the news on Twitter, however the commissioner still has not commented, which continues to speak volumes. What is written below still stands: The NFL still has a problem.

By now, you have most likely heard about the infamous tape of Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice hitting his then-fiance. It was an absolutely disgusting scene and horrendous thing to do to someone you apparently care about. The National Football League, after viewing the tape, suspended Rice for two games, which came under intense criticism from fans and activists alike. Then, on Sept. 8, TMZ Sports released another, more graphic video which showed how brutal the beating Rice put on the woman who is now his wife.

The NFL created a public relations issue by only giving Rice a two-game ban for this assault. It now has a bigger issue because it appears the league had seen the more brutal video, but denied it initially. The problem is three-fold for the league, the Ravens, and Rice.

  1. The NFL handed down a light suspension to someone who knocked a woman out.
  2. The Ravens and their owner stood in support of Rice at a May press conference.
  3. Ray Rice’s first “apology” was not very heartfelt, saying “I apologize for the situation my wife and I were in.” Hitting Ray-Rice-Court.finalyour now-wife isn’t a situation, it’s an attack. The second wasn’t much better.

Rice is not the first athlete to hit a woman and he won’t be the last, sadly. But, in this day of social media and outlets looking deeper into news, videos like the one mentioned in the first paragraph will be more prevalent. Look how quickly the Jay Z/Solange Knowles video spread like wildfire.

The NFL opened its season on Sept. 4 with the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks defeating the Green Bay Packers and then had a Sunday stacked with games. Many of them were really exciting. The league was hoping it would have the focus on the two Monday Night Football games, one featuring the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions. Those games will not be the focus. The focus is going to be on the more brutal video of Rice and what the league hasn’t done.

If the NFL wants to repair their image as one that looks lightly on domestic violence, they need to act now and suspend Rice for the season. They were tough on Ben Roethlisberger after he was accused of sexually assaulting a Georgia woman in 2010. Those charges were eventually not filed and he was suspended, ultimately, for four games.

Here’s what Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote to the Steelers’ QB after Roethlisberger was not charged:

“I recognize that the allegations in Georgia were disputed and that they did not result in criminal charges being filed against you. My decision today is not based on a finding that you violated Georgia law, or on a conclusion that differs from that of the local prosecutor. That said, you are held to a higher standard as an NFL player, and there is nothing about your conduct in Milledgeville that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans.”

“You are held to a higher standard as an NFL player…” The Commissioner should go back and read those words again, because Ray Rice wasn’t held to a higher standard. The NFL and its leadership are faced with fans in an uproar over a lenient suspension. The next step could be sponsors pulling their money and even NFL players criticizing the league.

The NFL needs to act, for morality’s sake, and for their image.

 

Don’t Play the Social Media Blame Game

Do a Google search on blaming social media and you’ll find over 5.6 million results. They range from social media being blamed for your bad mood to the 2011 London Riots being blamed on social nets. Social media is an easy punching bag because it’s still relatively “new” in society.

Social networks have taken the world by storm. First, it was a fad, then it was emergent and, finally, mainstream. Many people and organizations are on board with using social. While social is widely hailed as helping to transform the way we communicate, it’s become somewhat of a target or crutch when someone needs to place blame.

The latest “blame social media” incident was during the July 16 MLB All-Star Game in Minnesota. St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher Adam Wainwright clearly grooved a fastball to retiring New York Yankees All-Star shortstop Derek Jeter in the first inning. Wainwright admitted it in a separate interview and was flamed on Twitter. He then backtracked in a dugout interview with Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews.

“Don’t you love social media…,” Andrews was saying tongue in cheek to Wainwright. He replied, “No, I don’t love social media.”

While this isn’t the most egregious violation of blaming social media, it is an example of the lengths people will go to place blame on social media for their own mistakes. Wainwright blaming social for his own error is akin to me blaming my kids You-cant-handle-the-truthfor not making dinner when I said I would in the first place.

Social media has become the punching bag for those that don’t really understand how powerful social is today. In this day and age, you need to fully grasp that your words and actions are magnified by social. Something that use to be a benign comment can be overblown very quickly. It’s not all social media’s fault; be responsible for what YOU do and say. Here’s how.

  • Don’t use social as a crutch- “I didn’t mean to post that,” “If I didn’t have a Twitter account, I wouldn’t do things like this,” or “Social media didn’t get my sarcasm,” are crutches that you need to throw away. They are excuses. You and you alone have the power to control your actions and virtual words. Period.
  • Understand what social can do for you- Social media is responsible for something of the biggest news events becoming bigger. Remember U.S. Airways Flight 1549? What about the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound that netted the Al Qaeda leader? These are examples of how social has changed news reporting, gathering and dissemination. It’s also become the place where brands make major announcements. With great power, comes great responsibility. Social media is a great responsibility.
  • Know your role- The more you understand how social works, the better off you will be when using it. If I post something and someone takes it the wrong way, that’s on me. I didn’t explain it well enough in 140 characters, or clearly in a Facebook post. Just because you don’t have a blue stamped check mark next to your name on Twitter or have a million followers on Facebook and Instagram, does not mean you aren’t being listened to closely. Your role in social media is a big one, whether you believe it or not. Appreciate what social is and what it has become.

Facebook is ten years old, Twitter is only eight years old. That’s still very young. However, social media has come a long way in that time. You need to understand that before you go placing blame on a social network for your words. Be better with social and you’ll appreciate the benefits.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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