PR pros and triggering events: anticipate, create

May 3, 2010

Forgive me, but I’m feeling academic today.

Photo courtesy of BP

There’s a good chance President Obama’s plan to expand offshore drilling won’t go smoothly. You all know why.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a classic triggering event, and not a welcome one if your future is staked to the oil business. People are certain to change their views about offshore drilling as a result of this incident. Read the rest of this entry »

Kent State takes a digital focus in Week #12

April 12, 2010

When you teach college courses, you count weeks. This is Week #12 of the spring semester, which means students and faculty are near maximum stress levels and, I hope, maximum productivity.

So it’s refreshing, during a crazy week, to welcome three hi-profile guests from the digital world. They include Chris Barr of Yahoo!, Phil Gomes of Edelman Digital, and Kyle Lacy, author of “Twitter Marketing for Dummies.” Read the rest of this entry »

Can a campus radical make it in PR? Not a problem!

April 6, 2010

Where have all the radicals gone?

I admired campus radicals back in the day.  These long-haired, sandal-sporting, granola-chomping freaks sounded the alarm that eventually ended a war in Southeast Asia. And along with all that social justice came the sexual revolution, a welcome development to any young man coming of age in the late 60s.

By the time I got to campus in ’71, the protests were pretty much over. Hippie attire and hippie lifestyle were mainstream by then, but most of the passion was gone. Being a “hippie” in the 70s was more about rearranging brain cells than rearranging the world order.

Campus-radical wannabes learned that social movements seldom pay the rent. So we cut our hair and went to work for “the man.” Read the rest of this entry »

Creating buzz for U.S. Census no small task for Kent State Bateman team

February 25, 2010

I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you.

In the old joke, that’s one of the the “3 Great Lies.” But for so many Americans in these troubled times, mistrust of government is no joke at all. Officials at the U.S. Census Bureau worry this mistrust along with overall low awareness, could prompt citizens to ignore the national headcount that begins in March.

As part of a nationwide PR campaign to promote the census at the grassroots,  Kent State’s 5-person Bateman launched its 2-week PR campaign in the midst of the season’s worst snowstorm on Feb. 11. The campaign, which relies heavily on face-to-face tactics and word of mouth, has team members crisscrossing the city — seeing the people and telling the story. Read the rest of this entry »

Student news releases offer more fluff than a marshmallow factory: This week’s teachable moment

February 14, 2010

I’ve decided to pick on the students in my “Media Relations and Publicity” class this week. I know they’ll be good sports about it, and I won’t call them out by name.

The problem: I’m unhappy with some of the news releases they’ve been writing this semester. It’s not the writing quality or mechanics that bothers me. The target of my ire is fluff — the fluff that oozes into their work in the form of vacuous, self-serving quotes.

Take last week’s assignment as an example. Students were asked to write a news release to draw local food writers to a story about a restaurant opening. While the story is one I made up for the assignment, it’s based on a real place. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Ethics’ and ‘trust’ are driving readers to my blog. There’s an SEO lesson here, I just know it!

January 26, 2010

I’ve come to a fork in the road in my blogging life. Should I optimize this site, or should I just focus on content and let growth come organically?

When you come to a fork in the road, blog about it!

Why ask this 3.5 years into the game? Check out the Top 4 search terms that brought people to ToughSledding in the past 12 months: Read the rest of this entry »

Our PR classrooms need a few more grizzly bears

January 23, 2010

On Twitter last week:

Me: Is gender balance coming to PR? 5 of 20 in my PR Case Studies class are male. 75/25 is way better than the 90/10 we’ve been seeing.

Rebecca (current student): The question is: How many men will remain after you return their first assignment?

Jackie (former student): I just don’t think the guys could stand the criticism. And we all know you have no problem shredding crappy writing. 🙂

Me: Are you saying I’m not nuturing? 🙂

Jackie: Baha! You’re as nuturing as a grizzly 😉

*      *      * Read the rest of this entry »

Stating the obvious? Professional communicators need business skills

January 13, 2010

I’m not part of the online debate about who is or is not a “social-media expert.” I leave that topic to the leaders of the echo chamber. I real life, no one really cares.

What clients and employers care about is how we use the tools of communication to make their organizations more successful. Clients and employers expect us to understand the business proposition. The C-level folks look to us to help change attitudes and behaviors, because that’s what drives the bottom line. Read the rest of this entry »

Darth Blogger’s Holiday Writing Rant

December 21, 2009

Confession: Christmas isn’t my favorite holiday.

Before you “scrooge” me, consider that Christmas follows one of my two busiest times of the year: finals week and finals week. You bake cookies and trim trees; I grade papers. When I could be choosing meaningful gifts for the people I love, I’m coaching the next generation of PR pros, and occasionally evicting a few from the business. It’s a dirty job, but… Read the rest of this entry »

A Tale of Two Assemblies at PRSA

November 9, 2009

Update 11/16/09: Longtime PRSA national leader, Art Stevens writes a strongly worded editorial in Bulldog Reporter this week regarding APRs and national leadership. I agree with Art on this one. It goes well beyond “inside baseball.” A must read for all PRSA members.


To most of us, the workings of the PRSA National Assembly is “inside baseball.” That is, unless you’re part of the governing body, you tend not to know or care what’s going on. I have little interest in PRSA politics, but I’m struck by what I’m calling “A Tale of Two Assemblies,” one presented by PRSA, the other by newsletter editor Jack O’Dwyer. Read the rest of this entry »