Blog Archives

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!


JourneyCast Podcast w/ Ben Butler

Late last spring, I had the chance to first chat with Ben Butler over Twitter. As we got to talking, I realized how incredibly prepared and focused he was. Ben interviewed me for his blog and we finally got to meet in person in October at the PRSSA National Conference. 

In this edition of the JourneyCast, I chatted with Ben about his start in PR, why he decided on a solo PR career, and what drives him every day.

The JourneyCast with Top Hat IMC’s Ben Butler

On your phone or tablet? Download the podcast on iTunes!

Ben Butler

Ben Butler

Guest Post: 5 Ways to Build Your Contact List

Jas’ note: I’m happy to welcome today’s guest blogger, Alicia Lawrence. She’s a talented content coordinator and relationship builder. This post is sure to be one you’ll want to read through.

When a PR pro is asked what the most important part about their job is, any one of them would tell you one word: connections. Without the right contacts and connections in this industry, you simply won’t make it, it’s the honest truth. For emerging PR stars or even those who have been around awhile and are just switching to a different sector of PR, this thought can be very stressful and overwhelming. Just how am I supposed to make those connections? Believe it or not, with the technology and social media readily available to PR pros, it’s a lot easier to make those connections needed to make your client happy. Let’s go over some surefire, simple ways to build your contact list in your spare moments at work.

1. Social Media: Social media is the best way to find contacts and journalists in your area of PR. First of all, social media now makes it easier than ever to find the perfect person to send your pitch to. You can know their likes, dislikes, what they’ve written about in the past, just by seeing their past tweets! The best way to start a search for the contacts you’re looking for is to use a tool that enhances the social media experience. Some great ones are followerwonk, twellow and even Pinterest and Google+ search are great options to find who you’re looking for.

Once you’ve created a list of the bloggers, journalists and influencers you’d like to make your contacts, start interacting with them! Tweet them questions about or even compliments on their past pieces. Journalists love to talk about their work, and they’ll appreciate the effort you’re making in trying to get to know them instead of just pitching blindly. This can help you build a relationship and in the future, that relationship might be exactly what you need to land the perfect pitch.

2. Search Parameters: If you’re looking for a type of blog or journalist, sometimes the easiest thing and first step to do is simply “Google them”! By using some quick little tips through Google coding, you can make your search a lot easier. Did you know that if you put “quotes” around your search parameters, your results will only include those words? This can be a super helpful way of vetting your Google search before it even begins.

3. Blog Rolls: If you’re looking for a genre of blogs, blog rolls can come in handy. They’re basically lists comprised of all the blogs in a category. For example, say you’re looking to pitch Healthy Living blogs but aren’t sure where to start. This list can help you see how many blogs are available in the category and from there, you can narrow your pitch downs to the one who are best suited for your client.

4. Blogger LinkUp Newsletter: This is a very unique tool. This virtual newsletter component allows bloggers and PR pros alike to connect over a common network. It can help you reach a new audience and form relationships with the bloggers you’d like to pitch in a whole new way. It’s especially great if you’re really at a loss for where to start as there’s a lot of information available on the newsletter’s page as well.

5. Backlinks through Open Site Explorer: Like any good PR pro, you always need to be willing to do your research. Open Site Explorer allows you to take any link and see where it ends up. This can help you find out exactly where your competitors are posting and what the article was about. Once you have the background, you’re pitch can become a lot more solid to that website. Information is always key when pitching.

Alicia + Page

Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for WebpageFX and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land and CJ Pony Parts. Her work has been published by the Association for Business Communication, Yahoo! Small Business, and Spin Sucks.

Blog Series: Never Settling for Second Best

“I’m a rockstar.” “I can do anything!” “I’m the best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be.”

“You’ve got a gift Roy… but it’s not enough – you’ve got to develop yourself. If you rely too much on your own gift… then… you’ll fail.”

I use that last quote from “The Natural” because it’s such a great one. Whether you are a PR pro or an athlete, we all have gifts. Some are great at writing, while others have terrific analytic minds. If you rely too heavily on those gifts, you settle. It’s not a good move.

Over my career, I’ve talked to a number of people who have just settled. I was one of those people for a few years. I thought, “Will I ever find a job I’m happy with?”

Drive to succeedI went through a bit of re-discovery about four years ago. I decided that instead of just being content with being good, I wanted to be better. Why didn’t I just settle? Because by settling, you throw away your drive and your passion. Sure, you may work at the Acme Company as an account manager, but do you really love it? If you do, great.

But, once you let the thoughts of, “I would rather just stay here; I don’t need to leave” enter your head, it’s over. Here are three ways to not settle and soar instead.

1. Find something everyday that challenges you- Whether it is a workout or a webinar, be part of something that can get your mental or physical juices flowing. I like reading at least three blogs from people who I know think fresh and outside the box.

2. Don’t let someone else tell you what your career should be- Ok, I know I’m trying to give advice here. I will never, though, tell a person what career they should go into. There’s a difference between guidance/mentoring and telling someone “You are crazy if you don’t take this job.” Take advice, listen and make up YOUR mind.

3. Listen to your heart- Think it sounds cliché? It’s not. If you are driven to succeed in life and career, your heart will help to tell you how you feel. When my heart stopped being into something, I actively starting seeking new challenges and jobs. Once the heart stops feeling driven, your mind will follow. Don’t waste both.

Remember… it’s never too late to have a life and it’s never too late to change one! 

Tuesday Tip- Going from Failure to Success

Happy Tuesday, friends. I’ve got another Tuesday Tip that will hopefully put some wind in your sails. Did you fail at something this year? Don’t let failure crush you. Rise up and succeed.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

What I’ve Learned So Far


Over the last few weeks, I’ve begun to do some soul-searching. This has nothing to do with being unhappy or frustrated. It has everything to do with challenging myself to be better, to learn more and to understand the business I’ve started.

I was watching “Life After Top Chef” on Bravo the other night. Each of the former contestants have their own challenges in their life as business owners. Richard is balancing home life with his new restaurant opening; Jen is trying to find her way after her own eatery fell through, and Spike is balancing his new restaurant and his family having a part in it.

But, it was Fabio that really struck me. He likes to be in control, as do I. But, he’s attempting to delegate more, so he can have more time to look at his overall business. I thought to myself, “I figured these guys would have it all taken care of.” Not so. And that’s where my education began.

We never stop learning and shaping ourselves. I may feel like I’m doing great, but I still don’t know everything and I never will. I’m not a Jedi, guru, or ninja. I’m a student, always (as my friend Stephanie Florence likes to say).

See, what I’ve learned so far as a consultant, business owner and speaker is that everyday is an education. You make a mistake? Admit it, learn from it and press on. Use that teachable moment, not to sulk, but grow.

We as PR pros, social media managers, and marketers have undergone many changes. We are constantly evolving. In this evolution, we become more learned. But we also need to take stock in how far we have come.

It only takes a few moments to understand our growth. So, step back and realize how far you’ve come. It may be a chance to really help you understand your success.

Should a PR pro tell others to “chill?”

Football is a game of passion, for fans and for players. It’s the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. It gets many of us more emotional than you could ever imagine. Just ask my wife how I was during the last two New York Giants Super Bowl wins.

In public relations, we have to look out for our clients. It doesn’t matter if you are the public relations manager for an agency or sports team. You keep an eye on how your client (or team) is viewed in public, by fans and the media, and online (social, web, etc.).

Last week, the San Diego Chargers played the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. The Chargers had a big lead in the game, only to see it slip away with the Broncos winning in dramatic fashion, 35-24. San Diego is always one of the teams to be in the “contender” conversation before the season begins. Well, count the Chargers director of PR, Bill Johnston, as one of the guys who believes his team is still a contender.

Three days after the loss, Johnston took to the Chargers’ website and wrote a post titled, “Take a Chill Pill.”  Here’s some of what Mr. Johnston said:

“What’s with you people?

Yes, Monday night’s loss was bad. Horrible. Embarrassing.

Ok…enough already. No mas. I get it.

Now get over it. It was a loss. One loss.”

“Time to take a chill pill.  No one knows what will happen this season, yet alone the next game. That’s the beauty of the National Football League.  I don’t know, you don’t know, no one knows what’s going to happen.”

Well, the reaction to the post wasn’t exactly positive. When a colleague shared the post, I tried to think what would drive the Chargers director of PR to write this? I mean, this isn’t really good practice. If I came out and defended a client after they totally botched something, I’d be seen as crass and probably have the PR world not thinking I was sane.

I understand fully that sports PR is a tad different that me representing a client as a PR consultant. But, I also understand that you don’t necessarily want your PR director to be popping off on the team’s website and telling the fan base to “chill.” The fans of the Chargers weren’t too happy with it… and I don’t blame them.

It’s very easy to Monday Morning QB (no pun intended) something like this. Would I write a column like that after a tough loss? No way. Calling out your fans, many of whom are season ticket holders and have been through the ups and downs, isn’t a good idea. It’s also something that makes for an even bigger PR nightmare… something Mr. Johnston had to deal with. He became the story, which you NEVER want to be as a PR pro.

Now, since the original post, Mr. Johnston wrote a follow-up, apologizing for his words. A very good idea, but, as we all know in today’s social and immediate news world, the damage is already done. Of course, if the Chargers go on to win the Super Bowl, this will (probably) be a small bump.

But, either way, take a lesson. Think before you upload that next blog or hit send on that tweet or Facebook post. It could be the big difference between you being embarrassed.

Building the Bridge

This time last year, I put my daughter on the bus for her first day of kindergarten. Little did I know that the bus doors opening to her new beginning were a metaphor of what was to come for her father.

One year ago, I was let go from my job. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. My own “bus doors” were opening to the start of my consultancy, JRM Comm. The ride so far has been exciting, exhilarating, draining and stressful. Read those four words again. This was not something I ever expected.

I’m going to be brutally honest. There are days that I’m still learning about running my own business. Does this affect my work with clients? Absolutely not. But, I’ve struggled with the behind the scenes things. I want to be the best. But there are days that I’m not the best. As a matter of fact, there are days where my batting average is zero.

That is the biggest test for me; trying to understand the balance of success and failure. My highs are very high. When it comes to my lows, I let the little things get to me. Why hasn’t this mail come through? How can someone actually post that on Facebook? When is this potential client going to respond?

My wife said something great to me the other night. She told me, “You need to be real. Don’t be someone online and a different one off of it.” This is something I mention and talk to people about all the time, yet I’m not listening to my own (and my wife’s) advice. Well, that changes now.

I’ve decided to build the bridge. This phrase is something that New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin told the team prior to the start of the 2012-13 season. He said:

“‘Build the Bridge’ means to carry over all the good things that happened at the end of the season last year over into the new season. The qualities that allowed us to go forward and win the World Championship.”

While this may not sound like the most inspiring thing in the world, that phrase is key for me. By building a bridge from the good things that happened and eliminating the negatives, I can be a better business owner, PR pro and speaker.

I’m lucky to be in this position… and I’m thankful for the support I’ve had from family and colleagues. My advice to you? Build your bridge, but don’t try to do it in one day. You’ll find success over time, not overnight.

That’s reality and something I absolutely embrace.

Monday Minute- Focusing Your Message

How many of you watched both the Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates? You’ve probably noticed the candidates trying to get their messages, or messaging, across to you. Did it work? We can learn something from this as PR/Social Media pros.

Let me know your thoughts? How can we better stay on message?

Working with Doubt

“What’s the long face, what’s all the crying for… Didn’t you expect it when you opened your door.” – Bruce Hornsby

I’ve been a solo PR/social media marketing pro for nearly a year now. I chronicled my feelings as a new solo pro in May for Kellye Crane at It’s been such great ride to help clients shape their vision and put it into action. But I need to admit something and I think it can help you, too.

I doubt myself every single day.

courtesy: Wondering Fair

So, how can a solo- or any PR/SM/Marketing pro, for that matter -actually effectively work for a client to help them solve problems, create plans, and implement a campaign, if they doubt? This answer is simple. It’s the doubt that helps my creative and analytical mind.

If you, or I, thought everything was the best damn idea or plan out there, one of two things would happen: We’d be short of clients or unemployed.

I never want to be the person that just nods his head to every idea. That’s being a “yes man” and you can forget about that ever happening. I would rather jump in with, “I think we need to re-think this because I have a little doubt about it working.” Having some doubt about a specific plan or campaign is welcomed by clients and colleagues. They want your opinions. If you doubt that some figures aren’t right or that a social campaign doesn’t have enough engagement, this is great.

I’ve doubted my own plans and asked for advice from trusted colleagues. Remember, despite this social world of ninjas, Jedis, and gurus, we don’t know everything. Even in running my relatively new business, I’ve had doubts. Will it work? Will people work with me?

Self-doubt is something you can use to fuel your success and help you become the best you can be. Take a moment and focus on what has worked for you in the past. I’m sure you’ll see that you had some doubt surrounding it.

And that isn’t a bad thing.