2012 PR Predictions


I’m honored to be moderating a panel of Chicago’s top media, digital, and PR thought leaders making predictions for 2012. Be sure to join us February 21 at PRSA Chicago!



PRSA Chicago Third Annual “Predictions” Panel

What’s Ahead in 2012 for our industry? What can we learn from last year’s events, issues and PR moments? 2012 is an exciting year filled with new and unique PR and communications opportunities. What can we learn from our panel of diverse experts? Please join us on February 21st as industry leaders convene to talk about the year ahead for communicators around the world. Our leaders will dialogue and take your questions. Don’t miss this special, annual event!


Panelists include:

•       Bill Adee, Vice President/Digital Stuff, Chicago Tribune Media Group

•       Laura Chavoen, Senior VP and Director of Digital Strategy, MSL Chicago

•       Anna Rozenich, Director, Communications, SunCoke Energy

•       Jim Motzer with DePaul University

•       Moderated by Jack Monson, Vice President, Engage121 and Board Member, PRSA Chicago.



“Act Like You Mean Business” Comes to PRSA Chicago Jan 17

The PRSA Chicago Board of Directors kicked off the new year last week with the announcement of a nationally-known and sought after speaker appearing at our January 17th luncheon.

Rob Biesenbach is a former PR counselor, actor, and author of Act Like You Mean Business. The book and Rob’s January 17 presentation teach business people what they can learn from actors, screenwriters, and playwrights, including:

  • Understand and connect with your audience.
  • Find, shape and tell compelling stories that move people.
  • Express your ideas more visually and with greater impact.
  • Tap into the power of emotion to really break through.

Rob is getting some great attention from the media and the PR &  Marketing community:

“It should be required reading for every Fortune 500 CEO.” – Tim Schellhardt, SVP, Edelman Public Relations and former Bureau Chief, Wall Street Journal

If you’re looking to change up your typical pitch this year to something that will stand out, please join us for this event. RSVP today via PRSA Chicago.

Public Relations Agency Leaders Roundtable


PRSA Chicago

I’m looking forward to moderating a panel of the Public Relations industry’s top agency leaders. We will address current PR challenges and opportunities in a wide-ranging roundtable discussion. This leadership forum is one of the most popular Chicago Chapter events held each year and is back by popular demand!

Issues to be discussed and debated include social, political, economic, and cultural trends affecting the practice of PR in agencies and companies including:

• Predictions for 2012

• The Communications role within the marketplace and current economy

• Issues that are critical to all in the C-suite, especially in driving economic growth

• New insights, solutions, and strategies under the label of innovation that agencies provide clients

• How do forward-thinking agency leaders stay in front of clients’ needs?

Our panelists for the program are: 

Susan Howe, President – Chicago, Weber Shandwick

Bill Zucker, Midwest Director, Ketchum 

Rick Murray, President, Edelman

Maxine Winer, Senior Partner & GM, Fleishman-Hillard

 • Moderated by Jack Monson, Vice President, Engage121, Inc.

Register Now

What’s Ahead in PR?

 Chicago PRSA
PRSA Chicago kicked off the 2011 Programs with a packed house and 5 senior PR industry leaders predicting a year of growth in many areas of the PR industry.

The panel included Scott Farrell, President, GolinHarris; Doug Tillett, Vice President of Public Affairs, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; Dr. David Kamerer, Asst. Professor, Loyola School of Communications; Steve Wilson, Managing Director – Digital Strategy, Headstand Media; and as moderator, Ann Brinkman, Executive Director, Alpha Phi Foundation.

PRSA Chicago
(L-R:) Ann Brinkman, David Kamerer, Scott Farrell, Steve Wilson, Doug Tillett

My 3 favorite predictions from this panel:

1. Resurgence in the “corporate brand” versus the “product brand” (Farrell)

2. More social media demand for experts, i.e. platforms like Quora (Kamerer)

3. Top-read blogs will continue to grow longer: 1000+ words, as opposed to 400 words (Wilson)


Coming in February from PRSA:

On Tuesday, February 15, Brigid Sweeney of Crain’s Chicago Business will lead a discussion with industry leaders, who will share tips and insights about how to market yourself and tell your own powerful story in this job market. Additional speakers include Mary Herrmann, Managing Director, Executive Coaching, BPI Group, and Karen Bloom, Principal of Bloom, Gross & Associates.

More details and registration here!

The Greatest Thanksgiving PR Stunt of All Time: WKRP

The holiday reruns start now! Here’s a re-posting of last year’s Thanksgiving post, with a new list… 

Arthur Carlson WKRP
"As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly." Click image for video clip.

Several years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Gordon Jump, aka Arthur “Big Guy” Carlson of WKRP in Cincinnati. He was passing through town on a PR tour for Maytag (he was the Maytag Repairman in the commercial campaign at the time) and did a live studio interview at the radio station I was programming.
What a pro! Mr. Jump was a PR person’s AND a media outlet’s perfect interviewee: he promoted the Maytag event for which he was the guest, and also was open to reminiscing about his WKRP glory days. It was near Thanksgiving, so he gave us his best on-air recreation of his classic quote from the WKRP turkey massacre episode. He was thankful for having such a good run and for still acting and portraying fun characters.
In honor of the late Mr. Jump’s spirit of thankfulness for lasting in his chosen industry, here’s a new list of just a few of the folks in the PR and Social Media Marketing industry I am thankful for meeting, collaborating with, or working with in 2010:

@PaulaBerg                  @kamichat                       @geoffliving

@cldegoede                 @_LaurenShapiro_      @cgflood

@Engage121                @JackSerpa                     @nperold

@reynmorgan            @evelyntimson             @emailfray

@kristinepfeiff            @AllisonB023                @PaulSegreto

@jeswal06                    @terrimcculloch           @StoryAssistant

@chuckhester             @JessicaNorthey          @jillianmk

@rebeccafoss              @brandjournalist         @prsachicago

@acappellamedia       @shashib                        @shelholtz

Does PR Own Social Media?

PRSA Chicago 

The Chicago Chapter of PRSA once again wrapped up a year of programs with the city’s agency leaders discussing this year’s trends and next year’s industry forecast. 
Northwestern professor Clarke Caywood moderated panelists Bill Zucker, Midwest Director at Ketchum, Maxine Winer, Senior Partner and General Manager at Fleishman-Hillard, Maril MacDonald, CEO of Gagen MacDonald, and Gary Rudnick, EVP and Managing Director at GolinHarris.

What are agency leaders asked about first? That’s right…Social Media. The discussion quickly turned to the looming question of WHO owns Social Media:  PR? Marketing? Advertising?


The panel made a good case that PR pros should lead Social Media efforts due to a history of (and skills sets that include) relationship-building, content creation, and garnering attention


Bill Zucker cautioned that no one really “owns” social media, but all disciplines should participate. Gary Rudnick added that owning SM is like the outdated thinking that advertising owns TV and PR owns newspapers. 
Maxine Winer sees PR beginning to make a difference when it intersects with customer service. The integration of CRM tools with SM platforms enables companies to engage with their customers faster and more directly. 

It was refreshing to hear Maril MacDonald advise the crowd to align SM engagements to your clients’ or company’s most important business metrics (sales, traffic, etc.) instead of communications metrics. 
I agree! Too often, PR conferences are infiltrated by “Social Media measurement mavens” (the most horrible term in the industry) and their silly equations that make CEOs’ eyes glaze over. In order for PR to participate in bottom-line business discussions, we need to speak the language.


While these PR industry leaders make a good case for PR to lead Social Media, I question if that is really happening currently. Many companies with whom I speak daily have Social Media engagement sitting squarely with Marketing with no contribution from the PR team or outside PR agency.


Please share your thoughts via comment section –

Should SM engagement be led by PR, Marketing, Advertising, or Customer Service? And…WHY?


PRSA International Conference 2010

 PRSA International Conference

I’m gearing up for the
2010 PRSA International Conference in Washington, DC October 16-19 and I’m quite impressed with PRSA and Verizon for putting together a mobile app for the conference featuring alerts, schedules, hotel info, maps, and sponsor info. Download yours here:

Click here to download free PRSA App



And also – here are the top 3 things to bring to this or any conference:

1. Hand sanitizer. Seriously. It should be a universal conference and trade show rule that everyone has to carry a bottle. The only thing I want to bring home is some new ideas.

2. Business cards. Whatever number you were planning to bring, double it.

3. You don’t have your @twitter handle printed on your cards yet? Take 20 minutes this week and write it on the back of a couple of dozen. Because at the show, no, I don’t have a pen!

5 Awesome PR Innovations – PRWeek Awards

PRWeek Awards

The PRWeek Awards winners will be announced tomorrow in New York including PR Innovation of the Year. 
I have been working on the development of MatchPoint for the past year and want to congratulate everyone on the team for the nomination.  

All Nominees for PR Innovation of the Year:

Edelman and American Thoracic Society The TB Advocacy Toolkit  

Ketchum The Ketchum Media Optimizer: Adding Discipline to the PR Discipline  

Ketchum Virtual Meeting Mashups – Reinventing Online Events
Waggener Edstrom Worldwide What’s on Your Mind? Now Anyone Can Decipher Twitter Discussion with the Help of twendz!  

eNR Services, Inc. and MatchPoint MatchPoint for PR  

Best of luck to everyone and I look forward to speaking with you at the Awards!

5 Bizarre Ways PR Can Kill You Suddenly


(Thanks to guest blogger Thomas Scott for his insights on navigating the dangers of PR)

Can PR kill you suddenly? Death by PR
Probably not.
Can PR be hazardous to the health and well being of your company?
Absolutely. It can kill it in one fell swoop. Suddenly.

Public Relations practices are changing and the PR industry is in the middle of its most major culture shift in the past fifty years. We’re talking major paradigm shift here; the kind that happened when the iPod changed people’s music buying habits and Domino’s Pizza changed people’s pizza buying habits.

What’s the shift?

Journalists and bloggers, the individuals any successful PR campaign must target, have the lowest trust level of public relations companies, individuals and traditional PR content that they’ve ever had. We spent the entire last decade getting connected and wired to the internet and now we are suffering from overload. People want to have conversations where they trade tips and referrals and in order to have good conversations, you need interesting content.

Here are my 5 ways PR can suddenly kill your business – bizarre because they are counter-intuitive for those of us who have worked in the industry for lengthy amounts of time:

1. Write public relations and news releases in the traditional format. Trust me on this one – journalists have a keen awareness of ‘interesting’ and ‘not interesting.’ Those are the only two categories your content falls into. Period. Tell your story the way a journalist would tell it so it is really a story and not a release. Use traditional journalism methods to hook readers so they chose to know more. Forget to do this and your message will go right in the trash.
2. Write poorly thought of headlines. Headlines are called headlines because they serve a very important purpose: you are reading this blog post because I ‘gotcha’ with my headline. Admit it – it’s true! Take the time to write a catchy headline that people will flock to. Search Engine Optimization Experts understand this; it is at the root of the entire link baiting industry. Don’t know what that is? Google it – it applies more to PR than you realize!
3. Write content that is meaningless. As a journalist or blogger, I don’t care about your 59 cent taco. I care that your 59 cent taco kept the entire staff of a California farm employed in the down market or how a lowly 59 cent taco can decrease PMS levels in women suffering from a lack of iron (if that is true, please contact me). Be clear on what your story is and avoid stories that are not – well – stories. Journalists are professionally trained to seek out stories. No amount of calling on your part will convince them otherwise!
4. Call journalists to follow up. I know this is what real PR firms bill as a valuable service. I also know that as a journalist myself at a major market US daily, calling me to ‘follow up’ was a guaranteed way to get yourself and the company you represent blacklisted. Write better content and tell better, more compelling stories that people would want to talk about. Do that and you won’t have to call.
5. Forget about the longevity of a release. Creating content for a PR release is a lot more than sending to journalists. Current thinking among my unscientific group of 4 PR and social media friends is that if a content piece is really good, it is valuable. Keep your content and releases in your bank deposit vault – your company blog – so people can find it long afterwards and click on the link to your website. Every release you write should be on its own webpage, optimized with search engine tools and should have the ability for readers to both click through to your website and share on their social media networks. Forget that and all you’ll get is a whimper, not a bang.

Good luck! 

Thomas Scott

VP Marketing for Showhomes, a nationally franchised home staging company: http://www.showhomesfranchise.com

Thomas is recovering journalist and a new media and content specialist.