Portfolio Work

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Regardless in what stage in your career you are in, whether that be newly entering or seasoned professional. You should always have an updated and presentable portfolio ready.

Those post focuses more specifically on picking what types of work to show in your portfolio, for a run down on what things (such as table of contents and etc.) should be included, check out what PR Daily had to add.

As much within today’s PR industry, there are multiple ways to go about this. In contrary to the traditional and classic hard copy portfolio, there are now ePortfolios. Though each has the freedom to choose the option that works best for them, it is often beneficial to have both. A hard copy is a good bring along to an in person interview, but when that is not available, sending a quick link to your ePortfolio gives the same effect.

Everyones experiences differ, so no two portfolios will ever look the same, making it difficult to give a clear guideline and expectation for a portfolio. But all portfolios should empower the same concept. Don’t underestimate work that you have done in the past. Even if a piece of work was not done specifically for a PR tactic, but still embodies the concept and strategic thinking behind PR, it should be added and can contribute value to your portfolio. This being said, just because you may have a piece of work that would work because it was done for PR work, but you are not able to passionately discuss the piece for a few minutes and talk about your strategy behind it and why and how you did what you did. Don’t add it. Yes, your pieces should be able to speak for itself and show effective PR skills, but along with this the presenter of the portfolio should also be able to show their train of thought on a more personal level and how they added their own personal brand. If you can’t do this for a piece of work; again, don’t add it.

Along with picking pieces that you are passionate about in your portfolio, also pick pieces that measure success. Even if pieces of worked you produced were not ending up being used, or if you only have hypothetical pieces of work to show, such as school work. Transform them to show real life implications. How these pieces could impact and measure success.

It is also suggested to keep extra work on file. If you happen to be interviewing with a potential employer and you have a piece of work that aligns well with the companies mission, but it is not in your portfolio. It would make your life easier to have all your past work on file and handy to switch out for another piece for this employer to see.

A PR portfolio is a great tool to have to showcase your work to potential employers or when in the running for a promotion. PR portfolio’s should evolve as you do as a professional. It should embody your professionalism along with your personal brand.

Media Kits

Perfecting a media kit is essential in any effective PR pitching strategy. I will walk you through what to include when pitching a media kit.

Just like seemingly all PR tactics, the first step is to know your audience. This audience is a bit different than with most tactics. It is not a public audience that includes a mass number of people. But rather usually a company of an individual journalist. Research the individual or company you are pitching to and first think of what you are pitching to them is appropriate. Is it fit into their interests or profession? Would they be intrigued by what you have to say? Or maybe will they have already repeatedly heard what you are aiming to pitch. After deciding if you will forgo the pitch, decide which platform best fits for them. A hard copy in the mail, or a digital version.

Each media kit varies, but essentials include…

  1. Press Release – a press release showing you are attempting to pitch, wether that be an event, product, philanthropy or just to gain more coverage for your business. The press release should be professional, updated and written in AP style.
  2. Interesting Offering – I use the word ‘offering’ because there are a number of options. You should be able to provide something exclusively to the targeted pitch. Wether that be an exclusive interview with someone associated with the pitch or a fact sheet that intrigues and provides clarity for the targeted pitch.
  3. Visuals – this could be difficult to present depending on what the pitch entails, such as an upcoming event or something in the future that is not yet produced. But when it revolves around an accomplishment, project or anything that can be related to a visual it should. Make sure these visuals are clear and can be easily used and transferred into a publishing. Regardless if you can provide visuals of the specific pitch topic, always be sure to include a high resolution brand logo.
  4. Media Advisory – this simply covers  the 5 W’s – who, what, where, when, why – and should be able to be skimmed and understand the basics of the pitch in a matter of seconds.
  5. Short Video – such as visuals, if you have a short embedabble video for your pitch topic created it should certainly be included. This could be a promotional video (but not commercial) about an upcoming event, product or etc. If you do not have an already made video, do not create one just for the sake of the media kit. This typically results in low production, sloppy videos.
  6. Social Media Links – include any other links or social medias that relate to your pitch topic

Things to keep in mind…

  • More and more digital media kits are being viewed on mobile devices, be sure that your digital media kit works on different viewing mechanisms
  • With digital media kits, make sure they are accessible and easy to navigate, interactive digital media is always a great way to intrigue someone, but don’t make it too complicated or without a purpose
  • A strong branding should be seen through out your media kit, the targeted pitch should be inclined to know about your pitch topic but have all the right tools within the media kit to find out.

Here is a good example of a media kit check list to follow

press kit
Example of a printed out and hard copy media kit
food and wine media kit
Example of Food & Wine Magazine’s digital media kit

If you want to take a closer look at Food & Wine Magazine’s online media kit, here you go!

Reaching Out

effective-online-communication

Communication is a part of everyday life: personal and professional.

Having the ability to strategically and effectively communicate to a target audience is the first step of any PR objective. If you are not able to project the message you are trying to achieve, means inefficient PR work. Proper strategic communication includes determining objectives, defining target audiences, tactics and developing a calender.

And if you are still wondering… ‘well what exactly is strategic communication?’… then check this out.

When determining an objective, you are answering the big picture of: what do I want to accomplish? This may not be directly the message you are trying to convey, but rather what do you hope to achieve by targeting a message? Common objectives include brand/product awareness, awareness of a philanthropy or CSR, or in cases of opening up communication to the public relating due to crisis communication. Objectives should have  clear expectations, this means that at the end you should be able to see if your objective was met. Objectives that are developed through your communication instead of being solidated beforehand, tend to be less effective than when thought out before — this is where the strategic part of strategic communication comes into play.

Next, is to establish your direct key message and your target audience. The order of this depending if your client has a different demographic of audiences. One key message does not work well for all audiences, you need to have the ability to adjust your message to your target audience. The way it is presented and the way it is received are two of the largest factors when planning for your target audience.

After establishing your key message and audience, it is then in order to plan how it will strategically get to those audiences. Understanding your audience is a major tool within PR. Knowing what platforms best gets through to them is a strategic tool. Not all audiences take in information the same way. Some respond better to visuals, others work well with text heavy information. If you are concerned that you do not have a specific target audience, but rather a message for the broad public. Release your message out in various formats to best accommodate a wide range of demographics. Also know how long you would like this message to be portrayed for. Is it just a specific event with a time frame? Or more of a long term message about your company mission for example. All these factors have to strategically be implemented within your messaging tactic.

After coming in agreement of the specific objective, key message, target audience and tactics to accomplish this. It is time to set a planning calendar to allow the strategic communication to follow through. This step is often over seen when preparing to reach out to your audiences. This is the most effective way to follow up and see if the progress of your strategic communication is aligned with your original intentions. Setting your objective up with specific numerical goals is always a good way to measure success, conducting dates and follow ups of releasing key messaging is also a popular way to track progress. Allowing yourself to lay out the goals from start to finish of your strategic communication will allow for smoother execution.

 

Eat with Your Eyes

You eat with your eyes first.

This is a common saying within the food industry, it plays on the fact that we first are attracted to the presentation and visual appeal of food.

PR very much is revolved around presentation and organization. Within the food industry there is an extra emphasis goes in this, wether that be in promotion or displaying the product. Two effective ways that this can be done is within photography and infographics. Often these two visual aspects give off two different messages. Photography speaks for itself and shows the product in the raw, whereas infographics focus more on the informational and factual aspect.

When many food companies photograph their products, it is a commonality to use other look alike products to pose as big juicy and tasteful foods. In a sense, this is false advertising and something that should be avoided completely. To capture the realness of the product the following should be considered:

  • bright and natural lighting – no flasheang-1-of-1
  • a simple and non-distracting background, when using ingredients in the background a keep them raw and away from the main focus
  • play around and experiment with multiple angles
  • with cooked meals, only cook half way so it appears fresh and plump
  • always keep products, dishes and etc. clean and presentable

 

Here are tips & tricks from Serious Eats blog, that go more in depth about effective food photography.

When conveying a message through an infographic there are different aspects to consider than photography. An infographic focuses on factual part of the product, though still needs to be visually pleasing. First things to consider an infographic is who you are targeting and the message you are trying to convey and how this will transition into a story. Keeping information relevant and focused is key, while doing it is important to keep in mind:

  • to limit yourself to two type faces
  • a flow of information that intrigues and is logical
  • transferring your information into real life measurements, such as X is X many empire state buildings deep
  • limiting and balancing white space
  • don’t overload information and have a clear call to action
  • accessible share-ability

Here is general advice on creating an effective infographic, then transform this information into the food and beverage industry.

wine-and-food-pairing-chart
In my opinion, this is an ineffective infographic with unclear connections to the food and wine.

In today’s fast paced society, articles are often skimmed and quickly looked through, it often just takes a powerful image or infographic for a reader to stop and take a closer look.

 

Don’t Run from the Crisis

 

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Having a crisis occur within a company one is associated with may be one of the most feared and dreaded events within the business realm. Whether this crisis is internal, external and public, effecting a product, all employees or an individual, most crisis can’t be avoided and is not in the companies control. But how a company handles and acts towards a crisis, is in a companies control and often can predict the outcome.

Before: Though it is not considered often, a method to allow smooth communication and transition if a crisis were to ever occur is to set up a plan internally within the company before a crisis ever breaks out. Though no one can predict what sort of crisis may occur, it is important to have an agreement between employees and management the action that will take place if a crisis surfaces, this could include releasing statements to media press, speaking of the crisis in personal life and any other actions that could take places that could further the depth of the crisis. With this type of open communication and attitude of readiness it will allow for more effective action to take place if need be.

Another step in crisis management before it even occurs is environmental scanning. This is simply contionously scanning the internet, media or any other platform to view what sort of buzz your company is generating. Often this is a good indicator of upcoming crisis.

During: Once a company is faced with a crisis, their reaction can define the companies fate. Communication is the key to allowing smooth transition during crisis management. Communication amongst employees and communication amongst the publics. First address the crisis to the employees, if they are kept in the dark they will make their own assumptions and own actions. Next is to address it to the public, it is important to do this early on. This is an important tactic to keep the public informed and not form assumptions of your company. Ways to facilitate this communication is through press releases or social media. Even though internally the company may not have much details on the crisis, two way communication between the public and company must still be open. When allowing communication an important tip to remember to avoid the statement, “no comment”, when saying this it often implies guilt and does not show sympathy for the problem at hand. A recent example of this is the crisis Subway had to encounter. After accusations around their long-term spokesman being involved with child pornography, Subway neglected to respond within a timely manner and would often release ‘no comment’ when asked about their future involvement with the spokesperson.

After: No matter what the outcome of a crisis is, the steps following the crisis whether it has blown over or not, still have an impact. A company should never neglect that fact that they have been involved in a crisis, even if it is no loner relevant. Taking responsibility to the company itself and the public is very important. Show consumers the actions you have taken to avoid any further crisis and begin to regain the publics trust. Do not assume forgiveness, but rather earn it. An example of this within the food industry is after Chipotle’s E. Coli breakout within their foods. It was quickly addressed and shown to consumers that the proper steps have taken to avoid this in the future. In efforts to maintain their large consumer base, they dedicated a week to free burritos. As a consumer, do you find this effective?

subway
An example of the result of ineffective crisis communication.

Event Development

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PR organized events are a great way to gain media buzz for your company. But properly planning and executing the event will be the deciding factor of what sort of media coverage you will gain.The major aspects of planning for a PR event is the type of event that suits your client, an appropriate date, arrangements, promotion and setting an outcome goal.

When deciding on the type of event that is suitable, it is important to keep in mind the clients budget, determine their goals and if their goals are long term or short term. Allowing enough time prior to the event for proper execution and promotion is also a key aspect in successfully pulling off a PR event. It is recommended to allow six months before an event, to also allow proper planning of successful promotion. Now, this is not to say that an event can’t thrive when only planned weeks in advance, but more time allows for attention to detail.

When setting a date for an event it is also important to think of not only your clients responsibilities and schedule during this time, but also that of the audience. If an event is scheduled near or on any holiday, you can expect a smaller amount of attendees. These would also include popular events such as the Super Bowl. Also time is a considered aspect in finalizing a date, will your target audience be able to accommodate this PR event into their daily routine? After finalizing event type and event date, the detail planning begins.

There are many different elements that go into setting up arrangements for an event. Focusing in on the food and beverage industry, most PR organized events would probably center around food. Arrangements for proper license, such as an alcohol serving license, must be obtained and arranged for ahead of time for no unpleasant surprises. Depending on the type of event, whether it be product launch, philanthropy or networking events, it is important to arrange venue, food and entertainment. After careful attention to detail within the arrangement process, it is then important to promote the event.

It is important to know which channel best accommodates your audience. Popular routes within event promotion is sending out press releases to news outlets that align with your clients/events interest, media kits are also a great tool to release information about the upcoming event. Social media has also become a powerful tool within promotion.

Setting a goal within your promotion is always an encouraged idea, such as having a goal to have X amount of attendees or increasing product awareness. Setting a goal for the event allows you to work towards something specific, instead of just hoping everyone has a good time.

There are many different elements that goes into planning a PR event, and for each different set of event types come with a different set of guidelines. The following aspects of setting up the proper event for your client, appropriate date, arrangements and promotion and goal setting is under the umbrella for all successful PR event planning. For more reference take a look at this PR event checklist.

PR night
A simple yet effective way to get word out about your event… Facebook event invites.

 

Effectively Molding CSR

Parsons CSR Report Update 2015

According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, corporate social responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to contribute to economic development by improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as the community and society at large. Corporate social responsibility or CSR, plays a large roll within an industry internally and externally and often during budget cuts are the among the first to be downgraded, but with CSR managed correctly it can be a beneficial tool.

External CSR’s are commonly seen within the food industry. Whether food packages contain certain colors or logos that show an association with an organization, or if a label reads somethings along the lines of ‘with every purchase X amount of money is donated to X organization’. This is a companies CSR efforts. When a company commits to a CSR philanthropy, it is important to have a strong connection to that organization and agreeing with their mission. Corporate social responsibilities should reflect the companies message and goals. Within the food industry this is often seen by teaming up with a local food drives or organizations that promote health eating and exercise for youth. Companies like Haagen-Dazs has set out to a very specific social/environmental issue of building awareness of the rapidly disappearing honey bees who pollinates a large sum of the food we consume. Starbucks Coffee partners up with Ethos Water to provide clean drinking water to billions in rural parts of the world. To ensure that a companies CSR is not the first to be cut when undergoing budget cuts, the most effective CSR’s are shown to generate income. This is done be encouraging consumers to purchase products because of their association with the CSR philanthropy. Effective CSR allows income to be measured as well as a positive impact.

Here is an example of Heinz ketchups CSR.

Corporate social responsibility should allow a company to give back to society, whether that be on a scale of small community focus, national or globally. It is equally as important to internalize a companies CSR efforts. Internal CSR practices are often not emphasized, but play a large role within the employees understanding of company goals, motivation and maintaining relationships. The execution of internal CSR should be given serious consideration. CSR’s that require employee participation should keep in mind employee’s personal responsibilities and commitments in mind. Communicating internally with all employees effectively and timely also is an important element in internal CSRs. The employee should also have a clear understanding of the CSR’s goals that reflect the company. Internal CSR can vary from hosting an annual employee volunteer day, fundraisers or also less personal involvement and set up a scholarship gives a company the chance to communicate with their employees and reiterate their goals and aspirations. Successful internal CSR’s should invoke employees engagement, leadership and maintain peaceful relationships.