Pay It Forward

We’ve kicked off 2010 here with a new attitude. You didn’t know? We announced some exciting agency news recently and today I’d like to introduce you to a PerkettPR benefit that is designed to foster the personal gain that can be found by giving back. Ohio State University football coach, “Woody” Hayes said it best when he said, “You can never pay back; but you can always pay forward."

PerkettPR employees receive 40 paid hours of community service time a year, in addition to our regular paid time off. 40 paid hours to get out of the office and use our talents, passion and energy to support an initiative that’s important to us! I love it.

Most of us already spend personal time doing volunteer work but when we have busy jobs, families, professional development commitments, etc., it can be hard to find the extra time to contribute where and when we want to. I’m excited to have this opportunity to supplement the work I’m already doing and I hope you’ll be interested in hearing about what we’re all doing with our #CommunityService time here and on Twitter.

We have found that giving back to our communities makes us better people and provides a sense of accomplishment that is different from what we achieve at the office. How do you strike a balance? Where do you find time to give back? Who supports you?

How I’m Spending My Time

As a two-time Melanoma survivor the work of the Melanoma Foundation of New England is close to my heart. The programs they support, like the monthly support group I attend, are vital to cancer patients in the region. For the last three years I have volunteered my time and energy to help raise money for the foundation and awareness for our cause.

Heather Fraelick with Head Field Hockey Coach/Senior Woman Administrator for Wheaton College, Rebecca Lanseigne Begley.Since January, we have gathered 5,000 signatures from high school students across New England, for the Your Skin Is In program, who have pledged NOT to tan before their prom. I will personally be out speaking at high schools and colleges – sharing my own struggle with Melanoma and encouraging young adults to think about beauty and health as one in the same. Last week I spoke to 50+ female athletes at Wheaton College, my alma mater. As a collegiate lacrosse player, I wanted to convey the life altering events that happen when you go from being an athlete to a patient, facing months of recovering from surgeries where you’ve had tumors and lymph nodes removed. Melanoma is the most common cancer among women aged 25-32. I want these young women to hear my story and see the face of skin cancer – mine and theirs.

People who use tanning beds once a month, before the age of 35, increase their melanoma risk by 75%. This additional 40 hours of paid community service time means that I can speak to more students, educate more young people, and save more lives. I take this advocacy work seriously and I’m proud to say my employer supports me in my mission.

Here is a video the foundation just released – it’s a powerful teaching tool about how indoor tanning causes skin cancer. Won’t you watch it and consider sharing the facts with those you care about?

Tanning Is Out: Your Skin Is In:

Tanning Is Out, Your Skin Is In (60 seconds) from Amy Mason on Vimeo.

Do Hugs Belong in Business?

A group of us at PerkettPR have been debating this topic for some time now. It seems to us that women in particular face a conundrum when it comes to business greeting situations. For some reason, it’s often awkward because many people tend to hug women instead of shake their hands. With men, the handshake is the protocol. But for women, it seems the protocol is up in the air.

Do you hug, do you shake hands, do you air kiss? Maybe in the fashion world the air kiss works but otherwise, it just feels awkward and insincere. What’s wrong with a good old fashioned handshake? I personally like the unspoken challenge when someone grabs your hand and squeezes hard during the handshake. You know it’s a bit of a power test. But the hug? Almost condescending when it comes from a man (let’s be gentle with the ladies?), and often awkward when it comes from a female counterpart (especially an unknown, such as a prospective client). And the air kiss? Depends on the business, but mostly, it feels insincere.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are colleagues and clients that I’ve worked with for years that warrant a hug – and who I’m perfectly comfortable with on that level. But here’s the dilemma to that – you enter a business meeting, hug the colleagues you’ve known for years and then you turn to someone you’ve just met. What do you do? Do you hug them? That feels strange. If you don’t hug them, will they be offended? When they just saw you hug everyone else, they may wonder if you’re going to hug them – then you go to shake their hand while they lean in for a hug. Aw-kward.

Sometimes, when you don’t see a colleague or a client for a while, they’ll hug you instead of shake your hand. But in day-to-day situations you wouldn’t do this, so why do it at all? Of course, there are times when hugs and high fives are warranted all around, perhaps, such as when a great piece of new business is closed, or a team challenge is won.

Do hugs belong in business? Do you hug colleagues or clients? Do you always greet them this way, or just when you haven’t seen them in a while? What’s the protocol – if there is one? We’d love your opinions.




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Persuasive Picks for the week of 03/01/10

Measuring Social Media with Web Analytics, Part 1
You’ve implemented a perfectly planned social media strategy and now that you’re humming along you’ve got an equally well planned way to measure your success right? That’s what I thought. There are many ways to measure, and Nathan Linnell walks readers through using web analytics as one option in this first entry of a multi-part series.

Online News Overtakes Print Media. The Future Has Arrived.
Kristen Nicole shares her take on the recent survey results from the Pew Internet and American Life Project that online news sources have surpassed print as they primary way people get their daily news fix.

CIOs: Stop Ignoring Social Media
In this post, Mike Schaffner provides commentary on IT’s slow adoption of social media, both internally and allowing access to it throughout the rest of the company.

Employees as an Overlooked Resource: 5 Ways to Equip Employees to Help with Marketing
Shel Holtz his thoughts on how some companies are missing the boat when it comes to leveraging employees to assist in marketing efforts and shares several helpful tips for enabling them to do so.

Women dominate mobile social networking scene
While most of us think that today’s kids are the ones who are obsessed about all things in the mobile device scene, BizReport’s Helen Leggatt shares the results from a recent Nielsen Interactive report that found women are the real group who are mobile obsessed.

It’s a Two-Way Street – 12 Questions to Ask A Potential PR or Social Marketing Client

I had a great meeting today with a business magazine publisher. A few things that he said to me during the meeting fell in line with this blog post that I had been planning for a while. Some of his comments included:

“You’re a great listener.”

“You don’t have that usual PR persona.”

“You are think and care about a lot more angles of business than I expected you to.”

I consider these compliments – and testaments to the way we approach not just business, but new business meetings. I’ve never been the PR person who sits at the conference table trying to out-talk the rest of the room. Some folks have commented that I seem a bit quiet, actually, for a PR executive – and you know why? I’m busy listening. I believe actions speak louder than words, and in order to prove our abilities, we need to listen first to align our actions later.

Listening is important – I’ve written about that plenty of times, especially as it pertains to branding, messaging and social marketing. However, as a PR or social media agency, you must first think about how you listen when approached by a prospective client. I’m always surprised when prospects say, “Wow, I hadn’t thought of that – good question.” So, in my humble opinion, here are twelve questions that any PR executive or agency should be asking a prospective client in order to understand their business and marketing needs, deliver a great proposal and determine if this is a company that you want to work with (remember, like any relationship, it’s a two-way street):

  1. Why are you looking for a new PR/social marketing partner?
  2. What has your history been in working with a PR/social media firm (or consultant)?
  3. What do you want to accomplish?
  4. How will you measure our success?
  5. What are your benchmark metrics?
  6. What other types of marketing do you do now or plan to do in the future?
  7. What has been your  most successful marketing effort to-date?
  8. Your least?
  9. Why did you join this company?
  10. If you could read one headline about your company today, what would it say – and where would it be?
  11. What are your top three business goals this year? Five years from now?
  12. How do you define “PR” (or, alternately, social media)?

Of course, these are just a few of the questions that we run through during initial interviews with prospects, but they are helpful in digging deeper and gauging how well a company knows who they are, where they are, who and where they want to be, and how they plan to get there. And, what they anticipate our role to be in doing so.

How do you determine what a prospect needs and if they are a potential fit for you as a client? Are you willing to share some of your best questions?

As always, thanks for reading!


It’s Not Personal – or Is It?

When Twitter first arrived on the scene a few years ago, it took a long while for businesses to jump on the bandwagon. A few brave souls were early adopters but even today, there’s still a lot of skepticism on whether or not social media is appropriate and valuable for business. I think we’ve made it clear here that we believe it is, but if you’re still wondering, take a look at some of the biggest “web-celebs” (individuals popular on the web and who have successfully used it to build and extend their brand) and their use of social media. Many of them use it solely for the purpose of business – you rarely, if ever, see a personal update from them. So, although one might argue that these folks are focused on “personal branding,” ultimately, they are using their recognition to grow their businesses. A few examples:

Pete Cashmore (he moved over to Google Buzz in lieu of his “personal” Twitter account)

Robert Scoble (a few scattered personal comments but usually around where he is, especially with his current focus to travel the world to study how start-ups are formed)

Guy Kawasaki (“firehose” is putting it lightly)

Michael Arrington (if you don’t count semi-arguments with people trying to get his attention through controversial engagement)

Brian Solis (the most personal current Tweets are around his own book)

On the flip side, there are several examples of some new “web celebs” who often share personal updates, sometimes posting such random things like quotes from their favorite song, or what they had for dinner. Folks like Laura Fitton of oneforty, Penelope Trunk (who is a writer, so perhaps this is part of her persona), Chris Brogan (also a blogger, but now also a marketer) and Peter Shankman (of HARO fame) all share a combination of personal viewpoints and professional insights.

Then there’s a lot of talk about the new “over sharing” of personal information around location-based technologies, such as Foursquare. If you missed the latest hoopla, check out this TIME story on Please Rob Me and the dangers of getting too personal online. A recent PR-specific example of over sharing is the young lady who was hired – and then had her offer rescinded – by People’s Revolution (a fashion PR firm and center of the BravoTV show, Kell On Earth) for tweeting about her job interview.

So what’s my point? It’s really more of a question – are those who keep content more professional-focused and less personal-focused, more successful in business? Have social media networks crossed the chasm from personal fun to serious business tool? If so, why are so many brands still hesitant to make the leap into social marketing? Clearly, these few examples are only a small part of the social media population – but they are also strong examples of those who have successfully grown their personal brand through heavy use of social media and digital content.

What’s your style? Do you have a preference of the type of people that you connect with in social networks? Is it better as a business/executive – especially a marketer – to keep what you share 100% professional? I tend to believe that as a PR executive, social networks give us the opportunity to show that we’re human, more intelligent than often given credit for, and interested and passionate about many of the very products and services we promote. However, I often wonder whether or not I should post anything personal on my social networks. My historical preference has been to strike a balance between professional and personal posts, although with Facebook I really struggle – should I be posting anything personal? If I want to be personal, should I only accept “friends” who are truly friends in real life (you know, those people I’ve actually met and share common interests with)?

What do you think? I’m particularly interested in hearing from those who have built brand awareness online and if such success came from staying on one side of the fence or another. Thanks in advance for “sharing.”