Category Archives: Marketing

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!

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The Grad School Debate

For years, we’ve heard the steady drumbeat of those that say it’s imperative to get your Master’s Degree if you want to move up in the public relations or marketing field. There are also many that disagree, saying it’s not at all necessary. I disagree with both schools of thought. It’s not imperative, but it’s also wrong to say it isn’t necessary. Let me explain.

Late last month, I was accepted into Purdue University’s Brian Lamb School of Communication for its online master’s degree program. I’m beyond excited to get started and continue to better myself as a professional from a great university. My internal debate about grad school started with a simple question: “Do I WANT to go or do I NEED to go?” And that is the question you should ask yourself if you are considering the same.

The argument that it isn’t necessary, or that you shouldn’t go is silly and antiquated. This isn’t me learn-64058_640saying to you that you MUST go for your MBA, Master’s in Communication, etc. This is me telling you that it is YOUR CHOICE and not someone else’s to make.

I went back and forth for years about whether to get a higher degree. After I received my undergraduate degree from Temple University (yes, I’m #TempleMade), the thought of going back to school was not something I was keen on. However, as I got older, the idea of challenging myself to be more than what I am now became exciting.

Here’s what my thought process was:

1. Research– It’s one of the pillars of public relations, right? Well, I researched a ton of schools and spoke with a number of trusted colleagues and friends. My wife is a professor and she just attained her Ph.D. in July of 2014. So, I had plenty of good information about what direction to go in.

2. How will it help me- Look, it’s ok to be selfish here. You aren’t just going to get a higher degree because it would be great fun. You’ll work hard so that it can help YOU in the long run. Not anyone else. Do it for you. Not for what your boss thinks, your friends, or anyone else. Your name will be on the diploma.

3. Online or on campus- Since going to campus would be tough with two kids and two parents working, I sought out the highly reviewed online programs. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out what the “brick and mortar” programs offer. I will say that distance programs no longer come with the “Oh, you are doing online?” stigma. My wife earned her Ph.D from the Medical University of South Carolina’s online program , save for a yearly residency week on campus in July.

4. Time- If you can’t commit the time to put in the work, don’t go for your degree. We budget time for clients, social postings, and more. You need to do the same for that Master’s Degree. Once I was accepted, I went into planning mode and created calendar dates. The more you plan, the more time you’ll have to study and focus.

5. Believe- Can you do it? Of course you can. I’ve used this quote from Robert F. Kennedy for years. “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” From the moment I committed to applying for my Master’s Degree at Purdue, I asked “why not?” Why couldn’t I do this? Why not now? Believe in your talents, skills, and determination and you’ll succeed.

Remember, you don’t HAVE TO get a Master’s Degree, or any higher degree for that matter. What you do have to do is listen to what you WANT TO do. That’s what is most important.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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!

Hustle Series: Darren Meenan and The 7 Line

You’ve all heard a story that intimates that a successful business that once started in “the basement of their home.” In the case of Darren Meenan, this isn’t a stretch. It’s fact. What started with Darren, a huge New York Mets fan, wearing a simple t-shirt he made that stated “I Survived” in 2009, ended up becoming the wildly successful, “The 7 Line.”

Meenan didn’t just settle on the fact a number of people asked about that one shirt. He sensed an opportunity and created his hustle. It began with equipment he bought on eBay and he created a few shirts in his parent’s basement. Since Mets fans (myself included) haven’t had too much to cheer about since 2006, Darren used these t-shirts to echo fans sentiment. One design said, “I Was Born into This Mess.” What Mets fan doesn’t feel that way sometimes? As 2009 turned into 2010, his hustle and entrepreneurial spirit began to pay off.

Photo Courtesy- ESPN.com

Photo Courtesy- ESPN.com

By wearing newer designs to Citi Field, the word began to spread about The 7 Line and Darren’s quality of work. It also didn’t hurt that he worked hard to spread the word, as well. Darren held signs with his website around the ballpark, some of which showed up on TV. More shirts, more exposure equals needing more space. So, Darren moved into a warehouse not too far from the ballpark.

While Darren’s story sounds like it happened overnight, it didn’t. He needed to work hard to conceptualize, print, and distribute everything with little help. His hustle has been featured on, among others, CNN Money and in the New York Times. Oh, and a little show called “30 Rock” featured Darren’s shirts, by request from the producers.

Darren has even been able to get the support from Mets’ players. A few years back, he traveled to spring training a gave a bunch to hand out in the clubhouse. Now, that’s hustle (and smart marketing, too). Mets players loved them and can be seen wearing the shirts before and after games.

Despite the Mets struggles, you’ll never hear a negative word from Darren. While fans may be frustrated, his hustle has helped create a new faction of fans. He thought it would be a great idea for Mets diehards to sit together, cheer on and support the team. “The 7 Line Army” was born. That one game spawned into the army not just going to games at Citi Field, but Wrigley Field in Chicago, Marlins Park in Miami, and AT&T Park in San Francisco to name a few.

Darren’s ability to bring fans together with his infectious attitude and excitement is a testament to dedication, hard work, and a never-ending hustle. See, Darren loves what he does because he works hard at it. He doesn’t cut corners. No one who hustles the right way does that. The Mets even noticed and The 7 Line now has a kiosk at Citi Field and is a licensed Major League Baseball brand.

What’s next? Darren has mentioned in interviews and on Twitter that he wants to open a bar one day next to Citi Field. If his hustle with The 7 Line is any indication, the bar will be a huge hit.

Guest Post: A Mentor That’s a “Grand Slam”

[Jas’ note: I first met Corinthea Harris via Twitter and noticed she was at Rowan University. We then chatted at last October’s PRSSA National Conference in Philadelphia, Pa. It turned out we had something in common (aside from being from South Jersey): A great mentor.]

After a whirlwind year – having three internships, trying my hand at being an RA, resigning from the RA position to take a career opportunity, realizing I graduate in May and so much more – and when I say what I’ve accomplished out loud, I sometimes ask myself how someone so tiny could handle such a large work load? How did I possibly handle everything on my plate at one time?

The answer: my grand-slam mentor.

mentorEnter Larry Litwin, APR, Fellow PRSA. Litwin acted as a teacher and mentor, won various public relations (PR) counselor and broadcast journalist awards, owned and operated Hello, Sports Fans!, umpired numerous baseball games and – most importantly – acted as a life coach to me and many other students and professionals.

I say grand-slam mentor and life coach because Litwin constantly went above and beyond. To prove it, I developed the following list of ways he helped me and others:

1. Available 24-7, like a true PR pro. No matter the task, Litwin had an ever-revolving door and inbox. He made time for his students in his office and answered emails even when he really didn’t have two seconds to spare.

2. Listened. Until Litwin, I hadn’t met a person who actually actively listened. He didn’t drop the conversation after you said what you had to say. Instead, he asked questions to figure out the next appropriate step. (And he had this ability to make you feel as though you were a top priority.)

3. Researched. Once he figured out what you wanted or needed, he would take you through a force-field analysis to ensure you made the best possible decision.

5. Stayed on top, if not ahead, of the industrySpeaking of research, Litwin kept up with the latest trends and best practices in the ever-changing strategic communication industry.

6. Taught real-world lessons. Litwin’s career accomplishments helped him teach real-world lessons in the class room and in advisement sessions. And he shared any new industry information he learned instantly. (Also, he wrote a book that acts as a go-to resource for many strategic communication professionals.)

7. Advanced students’ careersLitwin cared more about others than he did about himself. He constantly put others first and did whatever he had to do. With this mentality, you could put money on the fact that he had plenty of connections to various public relations professionals – which he selflessly shared with students to advance their careers.

Seven may not seem like enough reasons to proclaim someone’s record-breaking personality, but I can’t simply put into words the countless things Litwin did for me and other students – leaving a lasting impression.

And since Litwin advocated for baseball and sports, I figured my “grand-slam mentor” metaphor remained appropriate.

He definitely helped me navigate the bases of my college career, pre-professional career and sometimes my personal life. He truly umpired my life and helped me build my personal brand, so that I would have the confidence in myself to one day hit a home run on my own.

I will never have enough at-bat opportunities (words) to possibly hit enough home runs (thank yous) to repay him for everything he taught me. I can only hope other people have a chance to score a mentor like Litwin.

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Corinthea Harris is senior at Rowan University. She will graduate in May with bachelor’s degrees in public relations and advertising. Currently, she is the Global Communications Intern at Campbell Soup Company. 

Improving Yourself as a PR/Social Media Pro

When it comes down to it, we don’t know everything (Captain Obvious statement). From time to time, we are challenged with strategies, tactics, and platforms that are new to us. So what do you do? While this may sound like an easy enough answer, finding trusted pros and avenues to get educated (or re-educated), can be tough.

improving who you areWhen I first started out in public relations, most of what I learned had to be self-taught. Even as I ventured into social media, much of the knowledge came from a little trial-and-error. As PR, marketing, and social media continue to evolve, we must do the same. I always quote friend and colleague Stephanie Florence and her “Student Always” mantra.  We can never stop learning; it is the only way to improve. I compare it to a baseball player taking extra batting practice or looking at game film.

Here are a few ways to continue to grow, whether you are a new or experienced pro.

  • Find pros that are learners, not Jedis– I’ve always appreciated pros that share what they’ve learned. They don’t tell you what you should know, they tell you what they continue to learn. People like Amber Naslund, Deirdre Breakenridge, Kirk Hazlett, and Chuck Hemann. They are always sharing what they’ve learned over the years, but they also soak up new ideas every day. It’s something to emulate.
  • Personal audit/SWOT analysis– This is something I started to do with students earlier this month. A personal audit can be valuable in getting yourself to take a critical look at your career. I do them every quarter to see if I’ve slipped, gotten better, or plateaued. The SWOT analysis is something I love to do. It forces you to pick out your weaknesses. But, it also shows where you may be missing the boat on something. Try it!
  • Twitter Chats- If you are on Twitter, it’s a good bet you’ve taken part in one or more since you’ve first signed on. What you may not realize is that these aren’t just chats, but virtual classrooms of learning. Whether it’s #PRStudChat, #CMGRChat, #NPPRSA, or #BrandChat, these gatherings of students and pros can be an invaluable tool to you. I’ve participated in all of these chats above and each time I do, I come away with something I can apply to my business and/or clients.
  • Lean on organizations like PRSA/PRSSA- Both have incredibly valuable opportunities to grow as a professional. If you can’t make it to a national conference, make sure to go through the websites and see what is being offered. PRSA national has a solid slate of webinars/events and PRSSA’s Progressions blog is a perfect mix of student and professional advice.  Your local PRSA chapter is also a great tool. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Social Media Club. They have many outstanding roundtable events that help to push the learning envelope.

If you don’t learn something new from the above, let me know where you are learning and how you are becoming a better pro.

Tuesday Tip: My Thanks to YOU!

This has been a wonderful year. One of growth, success, and honors. But, it would not have been possible without YOU. So, as I make my last post of 2013, accept my thanks for a year I won’t forget.

THANK YOU, ALL!

Fake Hacks Are NOT a Good Marketing Plan

We have all witnessed the Twitter issues brands Burger King and Jeep had as its accounts were hacked. It was embarrassing for those brands and something that can be prevented. However, Viacom-owned MTV and BET decided it would be a brilliant (not) idea to hack themselves to capitalize on the hacking craze. My colleague Mike Schaffer touched on the PR side of this mistake on his blog.

As this started out, it seemed like a hack. Many on Twitter were even saying, “Not another one.” After perusing both accounts, it was clear it wasn’t a hack, but a marketing and publicity ploy from the start. Any smart marketer, PR pro or social media community manager will say this isn’t something that should EVER enter your minds as a good idea.

First, this is a good way for a brand to put themselves in the crosshairs of a real hack, something that isn’t a great idea. It’s like swimming into shark infested waters with a bag full of shrimp. Second, the moment you buy into doing something that is fake, you are doing marketing wrong.

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There is no “swag” here. While MTV and BET may have thought this was brilliant, the people who panned it were numerous. You make your brand out to seem like it is run by high schoolers or worse. I know if I polled ten of my community manager colleagues, nine would say this was a horrible idea.

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As a community manager and marketer, you need to consider your audience’s intelligence as well. MTV saying “We totally Catfished you guys” says one thing: We don’t think our followers are very smart. 

MTV and BET probably felt that they could get away with something like this. No, you can’t. You just made your brands seem pathetic and desperate for attention… the wrong kind.

Starting Small By Thinking Big

I am not Edelman; I’m not BlissPR; I’m not even Ruder Finn. I say that with no ounce of disrespect, either. Many of the people who work at those places have, in one way or another, provided inspiration to me. You see, those big players in our field helped shape how I wanted to run my consultancy.

Sure, I looked at many other consultancies and businesses, those not in PR or social media marketing, to get ideas. It, ultimately, came back to the “big boys.” They didn’t start with name brands or PR consultants to Fortune 500 CEOs; they started small and got bigger and bigger.

Do I think my name will eventually be like Edelman? No. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to think big. Just because you aren’t a big firm doesn’t mean you can’t think like one.

JRM Comm started as a pipe dream. I wanted to be on my own. I grew tired of doing things that I felt weren’t moving forward. So, when I broke off on my own last September, I put everything I learned into launching my consultancy. I may be small in business size, but my mind thinks big. And that is what clients want… and what you should aspire to.

The minute you begin to think small, instead of big, you have failed. You deserve better and so do your clients. Think about this for a second: Would you listen to a consultant or pro if they said you should just do a news release? Probably not. That’s thinking small. You would probably listen to a pro that said let’s create a plan that involves traditional PR tactics and PR 2.0. Let’s do a Twitter contest, etc.

You may be just one person now, but two years from now you may have five employees. You don’t get there by just thinking small… you get bigger by thinking bigger. Dream it and believe it!