All posts by Rachel Dill

Recap: ‘I Don’t Do PR Anymore’ Event

By Theresa Wallenhorst, Sweeney

Yesterday, I attended my first PRSA event of the year: I Don’t Do PR Anymore. To no surprise, this immediately struck my interest. While I may just be a mere three years into my career, even I have noticed a growing change in today’s public relations industry. But the truth is, as the panel would agree, the nature of PR really is just brand reputation. And the need to build a strong brand reputation is something that never has – and never will – change. Rather, it’s the way that PR is portrayed, displayed and communicated that has changed.

The panel consisted of a strong suite of diverse professionals, from corporate experts like GE’s Director of Communications Alicia Gauer to seasoned pros like Goldstein Group Communications’ very own president Joel Goldstein, to up and coming fresh personalities like VP of Services Jessica Miller from PR 20/20 – all of which offered unique ideas and providing thought-provoking insight as to how our industry has changed, and not necessarily for the worst.

There was a common theme referred to throughout the discussion: digital. Let’s face it. We’re just a bunch of digital guys and gals living in a digital world. But that isn’t to say we are doomed as PR professionals. Realistically, we will continue to adapt to the times and utilize our digital assets to continue building a strong brand reputation. As Alicia said, PR used to be all press – AKA publicity and media relations. But now in a growing digital age, we’re faced with other options. Joel stated that 80-90 percent of content is now digital, even referring to back in the day when he would dread breaking the news to clients that their content was “only going to run online”. Today, most publications only offer online editions. But no fear, because PR isn’t dead, and with growing digital trends and increasing amounts of communication channels, we have to be even more aware of it. Alicia admitted that PR now has a bigger seat at the table. Gone are the days PR professionals are dismissed and overlooked by marketing teams. Now, PR pros are some of the first to have a hand in big business meetings and decisions.

While the landscape of public relations as a whole is growing vastly and quickly, we can use this to our advantage to get ahead of the ball: simply have an appetite to learn. As Jessica said – research, investigate and find something you’re interested in and continue with it. Use your spare time to learn a new platform. Get certified in a new program. Research thoroughly. And above all else, stay curious.

I Love My Section: Public Affairs and Government

By Jenn Elting, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

For public relations professionals wanting to develop their careers within a specific industry, PRSA offers Professional Interest Sections. These groups help members connect with others in the same fields, oftentimes experiencing the same issues unique to your specific industry.

Personally, I love my section: Public Affairs and Government (PAG). Whether connecting online or in-person at a Section Conference, it’s as if I’ve met my people. My tribe, so to speak. Whether we represent city, county or state governments; branches of the military or public safety forces; public utilities; federal departments or agencies; trade associations or various organizations, we all share the same struggles – and the same stories – and can rely on each other for support, for ideas, for advice.

In addition to PAG, there are 13 other sections available to PRSA members.

For anyone interested in attending a 2019 Professional Interest Section Conference, here are some upcoming opportunities:

For PAG’s summit, the Call for Presentations is currently open through Jan. 11. For more information, visit today.

Student Day Recap: From the Eyes of a Student

Emily Bower, PRSSA President at The University of Akron

Student DayThis year was my first year attending the PRSA Student Day at Eaton, and I have to say I am dismayed that I waited until my senior year of college to attend this event. I learned more about how to get my first “real” PR job in an afternoon at this event than I have in an entire semester of trying to figure everything out of on my own.

When I first arrived at Eaton in the morning I had no idea what to expect. I know they were a large company, but after having my ID checked by the security officer at the gate and after walking into Eaton’s expansive, modern lobby, I kind of felt like I had stumbled into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Student Day was the first time I had ever been to such a huge corporate campus and everything just seemed so strange and intriguing, and the magic of the day really didn’t stop there.

The first panel of the morning was all about how to manage brands. What I really liked about this panel was that the three panelists were all so diverse in what they did. One panelist worked for the Cleveland Foundation, another worked for the Ohio Department of Transportation, and the other worked in commercial properties. This broad array of perspectives from the field was nice to hear, especially for someone like me who is still not sure what kind of PR she wants to do. Each of the panelists talked about current trends in brand management which I found to be really helpful information that I can utilize in some of the work I do at my internship.

The second panel, in my opinion, was probably the most pertinent, because it was all about what recruiters look for in candidates when they’re hiring people for PR jobs. The moderator asked a lot of really helpful questions like what the best way is to respond when someone asks where you see yourself in five years. The panelists also touched on some things related to soft skills such as salary negotiation and the etiquette of when/how to accept or reject job offers. As a student who is graduating this spring, I found this to be invaluable advice because as I have begun my own job searching I have realized I know very little about these types of soft skills.

I also found the resume review to be incredibly useful. I’ve had professors in Akron’s school of communication give me feedback on my resume which is always useful, but it was great to gain another perspective as to what should or shouldn’t be on my resume. Plus, I was given some really excellent insight into how I can improve the layout of my resume.

As a college senior who is graduating this year, I’m so happy that I took the time to attend this event. I gained so much invaluable insight into the soft skills side of the job searching process, and I feel so much more confident about my resume after having made some of the changes that were suggested to me. All in all, I found this to be an invaluable experience and I only wish that I had gone to Student Day at Eaton sooner.

So, You Want to Be on The Today Show: Recap

Rachel Dill, Digital Marketing Manager, Sweeney

Getting your story covered on an outlet like The Today Show, whether it be a segment or social post, is no easy task. As one of hundreds – if not thousands – of weekly pitches, what makes one stand out? We got the inside scoop.

At this year’s Business and the Media event, long-time producer of The Today Show, Adam Miller and WKYC journalist, Sara Shookman, talked about pitching in a digital age. With a digital-first mindset, Adam (now the Director of Content at WKYC) is focusing on complementing WKYC’s breaking news with digital strategies such as push notifications and social media in his new role.

These days, a pitch can involve a lot more than a news release. It can (and should) include visual elements, social posts and perhaps even be a pitch for an Instagram TV, Facebook Live or YouTube video versus a television segment or web article. However, no matter what form of content you’re pitching Adam offers some basic actions that always apply.

The biggest do? Know your audience (and the program’s name). Believe it or not, Adam received pitches addressed to Good Morning America. He also stressed how important it is to watch the broadcast you’re pitching so you know what is covered at each hour and what would be in specific peoples’ wheelhouse. Personalized and unique pitches are a major win, and anytime a story can be humanized, it’s even better!

On that same note, when it comes to television, quirky and visual are keys. He gave the example of a pitch from Noodles and Company where Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb tried to break the Guinness World Record for the most vegetables spiralized in one minute by bicycle. This was an ideal pitch because it was directed to Hoda who loves quirky things, so it showed Noodles and Company knew exactly who they were pitching… and it was definitely unique. Pitch extremes are also winners “biggest,” “fastest”, “tallest” etc.

And one last piece of advice: even in the digital age, relationships remain key. Adam and Sara shared that helping a producer/reporter to do their job goes a long way to get your story picked up, so make sure you personalize your emails and mention previous collaborations. On the flip side, if you send a pitch and can’t deliver on what you are offering in a timely matter, it likely will ruin any future opportunities.

[Blogger Note: Thank you to Adam Miller and Sara Shookman for a great event and useful insights!]

Richard J. Batyko Wins ECD Platinum Award

Richard J. Batyko, APR, Fellow PRSA

Richard BatykoEvery year PRSA Chapters within the East Central District (ECD) region are given the opportunity to submit a nomination from their membership for consideration of the District’s top practitioner recognition, the Platinum Award.

This year five nominations were received. The PRSA ECD Board was impressed with the quality of all the applications. After careful review, the Board selected Rick Batyko, APR, Fellow PRSA, of the Greater Cleveland Chapter as this year’s honoree.

Rick has more than 30 years of Fortune100 and nonprofit public relations, marketing and brand management experience. Currently, he is serving as senior vice president for marketing, communications and development for Team NEO in Cleveland. Prior, he has served as director of communications for Babcock & Wilcox; as a director of communications and brand management for AlliedSignal; as manager, e-media and news management at Honeywell International; and prior to Team NEO as an officer and vice president for marketing and communications at The Cleveland Foundation. He began his career in PR leadership roles with Rio Grande University and Lake Erie College.

“I’ve had the good fortune to serve on the East Central District board with Rick in the past and have appreciated his support and leadership as a national board member,” said ECD board chair Andrea Clark, APR. “This is a well-earned recognition.”

Batyko is a graduate of Ohio University’s E. W. Scripps School of Journalism with a major in public relations and received his Master of Arts in public relations from Kent State University in 2012. He holds his Accreditation with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and is an adjunct faculty member at Kent State University’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication, teaching courses in the Masters of Public Relations program.

=Rick is on the PRSA National Board of Directors representing the ECD region and was recently voted in to continue on the Board at the national assembly.  He is a past president of the Greater Cleveland and the Akron Area Chapters of the Society and past chair of PRSA’s East Central District’s Board of Directors. He has presented at a number of PRSA’s international and regional conferences, chaired or held positions on several national committees and has been a delegate at six national assemblies. He served on the 2013 College of Fellows Selection Committee, co-chaired the 2014–16 College of Fellows Strategic Planning Committee, a member of the PRSA Investment Committee, and a Champion for PRSSA.

For his service to the profession, Batyko was inducted into PRSA’s College of Fellows in 2009. In 2013, PRSA Greater Cleveland Chapter presented him with its Lighthouse Award, which acknowledges a senior-level practitioner for contributions to the field and the community.

His writings have appeared in an ABC-CLIO book on advertising titled, “We Are What We Sell” (2014); in a University of Akron Press book on community-building economic development titled, “Under the Rustbelt” (2015); and in a Praeger book titled, “Debates for the Digital Age” (November 2015). He is editing for ABC-CLIO (Greenwood imprint) an encyclopedia of the global digital. He has been published in the Public Relations Journal and in other outlets. His thesis, “The Impact of Japanese Corporate and Country Culture on Crisis Communications: A Case Study Examining Tokyo Electric Power Company,” was published to OhioLink in 2012.

Batyko’s son, Bobby, is a graduate of Kent State University in public relations and is working for a nonprofit in Oberlin, Ohio. His daughter, Erica, is also a graduate of Kent State University in public relations and is working for a full-service advertising agency in Cleveland, Ohio. His wife, Mary, teaches for Akron Public Schools.


Recap: How the Cleveland Clinic Turns Healthcare News into Compelling Stories

By Scott Tennant, APR, Vitamix

Cleveland ClinicOne could argue that, given the size of its staff and the vast resources to which it has access, there may be little to learn from the Cleveland Clinic corporate communications team. After all, most of us are working with budgets a fraction of the size of the Clinics.

But to say that is to ignore how Eileen Sheil and her group have created a scalable blueprint for the corporate communications department of the future. Sheil and Co. have combined the best of the traditional PR and digital worlds to effectively tell the story of one of the world’s largest academic medical centers.

Sheil, executive director of corporate communications at the Clinic, brought four of her colleagues to the Sept. 13 PRSA event “How the Cleveland Clinic Turns Healthcare News into Compelling Stories” at the House of Blues. Sixty or so local communications professionals turned up to hear a presentation that was originally given as part of PRSA’s national “Case in Point” webinar series.

Joining her on stage were Erica Foreman (senior manager and head of the Cleveland Clinic News Service), Jennifer Guerrieri (manager of digital news content), Kyle Michael Miller (lead of digital news content strategy), and Michelle Decker (social media producer).

The Clinic is truly massive, with more than 58,000 “caregivers” – which is how all employees are described – most of whom work on a 170-acre main campus, along with 10 regional hospitals, 19 family health centers, and hospitals in Toronto and Abu Dhabi. Cleveland Clinic London is scheduled to open in 2021, which is also the Clinic’s centennial year.

Sheil says her team’s mantra is “digital, measurable, and mobile,” but they still feel that traditional media matters. To supplement that media outreach, the corporate communications team runs the Cleveland Clinic News Service, an in-house television and radio production agency that has been in existence since 2002.

The News Service proactively creates and distributes 20-25 health stories a month to hundreds of media around the U.S. These patient-centered packages each includes a script, a web article, video clips, and audio clips for radio use. It is content that is given away for free, and there is no requirement that the Clinic even is mentioned when a media outlet picks it up.

This type of relationship-building has been crucial to the Clinic’s communications success, particularly during the recession when so many national networks were forced to cut budgets and were starved for interesting stories. As a result, many journalists go to the Clinic first when working on a health or medical story – and even when they have more famous hospitals like the Mayo Clinic in their backyards.

The team also recently launched the @CleClinicNews Twitter handle, which is distinct from the main Clinic Twitter account. @CleClinicNews targets a list of 750 journalists (with many others following on their own), a full 70% of whom say they consider it their most reliable social tool for information gathering. The Clinic uses the handle to pitch physician experts for comment on breaking news, as well as providing a media daily download. The download includes the #AmNewsers hashtag as a way to target morning show producers, in particular.

Still, the hospital does not rely exclusively on earned media channels. A case in point was the Graham-Cassidy Healthcare Bill, which was introduced on a Friday afternoon in September 2017. It prompted then-Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove to visit Sheil’s office and ask, “What are we going to do about this?”

Sheil knew it was unlikely the team could draft an op-ed in time to place it in The New York Times or Washington Post before the bill was voted on the following Tuesday. Instead, the group wrote the op-ed voicing the Clinic’s opposition to the legislation, quickly had it approved by Cosgrove, and distributed it nationally via Twitter.

Engagement and amplification were immediate and widespread. Retweets came from members of Congress as well as a host of healthcare leaders and influencers. Journalist Chuck Todd called Sheil after the op-ed was released, and less than 48 hours after the bill was introduced, Cosgrove found himself on “Meet the Press” talking about it.

Agility, flexibility, and proactivity – all are crucial for the communications function of the 21st century, Sheil noted.

The same is true for the ability to convey impactful stories in a way that is meaningful for stakeholders. The Clinic got the chance to show off its storytelling chops last year when it performed a total face transplant on the youngest patient ever to undergo the procedure. The patient’s journey from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to face transplant was long and emotional, and the Clinic allowed National Geographic unfettered access to chronicle it.

The relationship with National Geographic stemmed from a longstanding connection to Susan Goldberg, the magazine’s editor and former editor of the Plain Dealer. It turned into a cover story that was widely read, as well as a Clinic digital feature that also had a significant impact.

Sheil and team ended with a word about PR measurement. Just as the Clinic’s patients progress from awareness to consideration to conversation, the Clinic’s corporate communications team has taken its metrics from simple measures of quantity to gauging the quality of placements – all with the goal of increasing patient conversion.

Sheil urged audience members to work toward better measurement of their efforts; a more integrated approach to paid, earned and owned media; more engaging storytelling; and the realization that social media is only of many channels available to the modern communicator.

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