When Was the Last Time You Checked In?

By Jeff Cheatham, Senior Account Supervisor at TrizCom PR

What checking in might look like…

What checking in might look like…

Every client is different, we all know that. And typically at some point in the onboarding process, you should find out exactly who your regular point of contact will be. You should also find out about their typical workload and preferable times to reach out to them. Always operate from the assumption that your client contact has a “day job” to complete. You don’t want to be seen as any type of a nuisance.

I clearly remember a new business meeting we had at the TrizCom offices over a year ago. A commercial real estate company in Houston sent two executives to meet with us, hear our proposal and see if we might be a good fit for their business. They were working with another PR firm, but they almost never heard from their account manager. When we showed them what our typical quarterly PR plan looked like, they were stunned. They told us they never received any advance plans, strategies, tactics or clip reports. Then it was our turn to be stunned.

What struck me the most is how little they interacted with their account manager. A long time ago, several jobs back, I began sending my clients what I call the “Monday Morning Check-in.” It’s simple, really – just a checklist of pending items, notating exactly where we stand on the different action items in our quarterly PR plan. If I am still waiting on approval for a press release, I re-attach the document. If there’s a pending interview, I’ll add a reminder. If I’m tracking a few current media wins, I let them know of the status. If something is urgent, it gets the ALL CAPS treatment.

As a PR firm, that’s the minimum you should be doing each week to stay in touch with your valuable client contacts. Once they’ve been trained to expect your updates, they’ll come to depend on them. I have clients that I email several times a day. I have others that I may only hear from twice a month. But they’ll be hearing from me. All of my clients can count on the weekly Monday Morning Check-ins. At TrizCom, that’s our way of reminding our clients that our relationship is valuable and shares a common goal to succeed in achieving our public relations goals. In short, our clients always know what we’re doing on their behalf.

What TrizCom clients are saying about us…

What TrizCom clients are saying about us…

In addition to the Monday Morning Check-ins, TrizCom is diligent in providing other updates such as quarterly PR plans, quarterly clip reports and immediate email notifications of earned media wins. If our clients have a pending interview, they won’t begin without first receiving our one-page talking points memos, specifically tailored to the media opportunity.

For us, these communicative efforts are a process not to be taken lightly. Communication is our business. And this is how we check in. When was the last time you did so?

 

Surviving the Hamster Wheel

By Sarah Mosso, TrizCom PR Intern

TrizCom PR intern and equestrian Sarah Mosso

TrizCom PR intern and equestrian Sarah Mosso

Life seems to be this continuously moving wheel that we can’t get off of, no matter what life throws at us. We have to keep running, or we’ll slowly fall behind into an overwhelming mass of dizziness. As a college student, student-athlete and now employed intern, trying to juggle everything that is required of me leads to a variety of countless challenges. But I try to remind myself that I can’t be the only one who feels this way at this current stage in life – or any stage in life really.

With my senior year of college quickly coming to an end, I often reflect back on all I have learned through my various experiences since childhood, but specifically the experiences of these special past four years at SMU. As a student, I’ve learned to always try my best in school, doing what I can to make good grades. That partly stems from the people pleaser in me, where not only do I not want to let down my professors, but I also see the value in completing what is expected of me. And I understand now that the value of education is only half the material you actually learn; the other half is learning values such as discipline, work ethic and accountability.

As a student-athlete, I get the pleasure of being able to continue doing something I’ve been passionate about since the day I turned 6 years old – except that now that passion and dedication for horses has led me to become a part of the SMU Equestrian team, an NCAA Division I collegiate team. Doing something that truly makes me happy while being supported by an institution that values both academics and athletics has taught me more than I expected. I’ve learned the importance of being a part of something that requires you to not only be responsible for representing yourself, but also for representing your school. Not to mention, the horses have taught me special values that no human ever could.

As an employee and intern, I’ve been witness to real world client relationships and the importance of getting your individual job done in accordance with the whole company’s goals in order to achieve success. Every encounter I have while at work poses an opportunity for self-improvement and new knowledge.

If there’s one takeaway I get from all of this, it’s that balancing good relationships and hard work tends to pay off. Through my experience here at TrizCom, I have seen that philosophy prove true. Everyone at TrizCom values good and fair relationships with clients, and due to everyone’s combined hard work, the expectations of great and effective PR become reality.

I plan to take all of these experiences with me wherever I go post-graduation and will strive to always be a part of something I love, can work hard at and form relationships in for a purpose or cause that truly makes a difference for others.

When Apologies Come Too Late

It takes years to build a brand but moments to take it down

By Jo Trizila, CEO of TrizCom Public Relations & Pitch PR

If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, you have seen the United Airlines parodies and the memes circulating this week. Since Monday, you haven’t been able to turn on the news and not see something about the United crisis. And, if you are like me, you shake your head in disgust that this crisis could have been vastly minimized – so much so that it might have only been a quick mention on the news. Instead, this situation will be printed in their Wikipedia history page.

For a recap of the United Airlines Flight 3411 communications, read The Washington Post story: The full timeline of how social media turned United into the biggest story in the country.

Please note, I am NOT saying that the actions taken by the crew and staff of United Airlines Flight 3411 were OK. As in most crisis situations where the brand is at fault, the actions are almost never OK. However, the way a brand approaches a crisis can set the tone for the entire event.

United Airlines created their own crisis. Had the CEO come out Sunday night or – heck – even Monday morning and owned the situation by stating how deplorable this incident was and how it will never happen again on a United Airlines plane, this topic would not have spun out of control like it has. However, the CEO’s first few statement(s) were about United Airlines’ legal rights, employee policy and how they are looking into the situation. These statements don’t offer much consumer confidence. The CEO totally forgot that PR is about perception. The public is thinking "this could happen to me, and this company doesn’t care anything about its passengers.”

In an age where video is going to happen and social media breaks news, owning responsibility is critical. And even more critical is owning responsibility quickly. If you made a mistake, say that. We have all made mistakes. But shifting the blame is unacceptable.

Here are a few of my thoughts on how this crisis could have been handled differently.

  1. The social media team should have a plan in place for issue management (an issue is defined as something that could escalate to a crisis). This plan would, of course, have the appropriate people to contact including the PR team (internal and external). Brands need to respond quickly. Waiting an hour to respond (as United did) is unacceptable – even if it is only asking for more information.
  2. It is very clear that the legal department was involved with the CEO’s statements. Let legal do their thing; let PR handle public perception. This was the first statement that came out from United (note, at this point the video was going viral), “Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate. We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities.” There is no apology and absolutely zero care or concern for the passenger(s) of Flight 3411.
  3. Again, when the CEO issued his statement, it was all about how his employees followed procedure. Obviously, United’s policy is flawed. The perception is: United doesn’t care at all about the passengers it serves, it only cares that its employees followed policy. The CEO statements were self-serving.  This so reminds me of the BP’s apology.
  4. Not until Tuesday did the CEO apologize – reversing his previous statements. From a consumer perspective, this apology has no merit. It only came after reports that he should be fired and after the company saw the financial repercussions.
  5. Wednesday morning, the CEO made his rounds on morning television – apologizing profusely. Unfortunately, this apology came way too late and is not believable. United has lost the trust of its customers, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but sometimes it is too late to do the right thing. Do you believe his apology? Check out the story that aired on Wednesday (4/12/17) on Good Morning America, United CEO Oscar Munoz felt 'shame' to see passenger dragged off flight.

In my opinion, the only winner of this crisis was Pepsi. From Wednesday to Sunday, the topic of conversation was Pepsi’s ad. Now, no one is talking about Pepsi – well, except the memes.

For more information:  

Crisis Social Media – You Need to Have a Plan

OU and SAE, The National Organization, Got It Right

Responding to Customer Complaints on Social Media

Not the Vacation I Planned: Tragedy Transitions Vacationing PR Pro into Media Relations Juggernaut

Check out Dallas Business Journal’s What a drag: How United turned a $1,000 inconvenience into a hundreds-of-millions crisis

Hang Up and Hang Out

By Maelyn Schramm, TrizCom PR Intern

A couple of weekends ago, I went on a ladies-only camping trip with two of my closest friends. We hit the highway and headed east to Martin Creek Lake State Park. Once we unloaded the car and set up the tent, I did something I almost never do: I turned off my phone. Not on mute. Off. Over the next 24 hours, we hiked on a few paths, lounged on a picnic blanket, made a fire, ate tacos and watched the sun go down. All the while, we did what we ladies are known for: talking. We talked and talked and talked. During our conversations, I was completely engaged and joined in on laughing and making witty remarks. I didn’t want it to end.

My phone-free weekend was rejuvenating. I felt refreshed once I put the world on hold. It rid me of distractions and allowed me to focus on the present moments I lived in. Phubbing, a fusion of “phone” and “snubbing,” is when one person is distracted by their smartphone in another person’s presence. I think we all do it from time to time, if not on a regular basis. Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of one of my ramblings, look up, and my friend is scrolling through her news feed. Other times, I’m the one at fault.

A new phrase is catching on among us millennials: hang up and hang out. We can forget what we miss out on when we’re absorbed in what’s happening on our phones. We miss out on hearing a funny story, sharing a heartfelt moment, making a connection. We miss out on quality time with people we love. When we hang up, we hear and listen, we look and see, we talk and speak. When we hang up, we say, “I’m here in this moment with you.”

It’s My Favorite Time of Year – Event Season!

By Katie Mudd, TrizCom PR Account Executive

Spring is here! Which means it’s my favorite time of year – event season! As the weather warms up, social calendars begin to fill up fast too. Here are a few of my favorite events I’m looking forward to this spring.

Upcoming events:

Heroes and Handbags – March 31, 2017, 9 a.m. to noon at The Ritz-Carlton Dallas

Snag the perfect handbag while helping families in their fight against childhood cancer at the 12th Annual Heroes & Handbags Brunch & Auction on Friday, March 31, at The Ritz-Carlton Dallas. The event is co-chaired by Stacy Kelly and Tracy Rathbun with Alison Malone as honorary chair.

This year's theme is "Through the Looking Glass," inspired by the idea that each person connected with Heroes for Children should be able to look at childhood cancer through a different lens. Guests will enjoy bidding on fabulous handbags and socializing with friends at this fashionable brunch that is the signature event for Heroes for Children.

Proceeds benefit Heroes for Children, which advocates for and provides financial and social assistance to families with children battling cancer. Their vision is that no family with a child battling cancer will fight alone.

Tickets begin at $250 and Tables begin at $2,500. Both can be purchased here.

For more information, please visit here.

Fan Expo Dallas – Friday, March 31, through Sunday, April 2, 2017, at Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center

The stars will be big and bright in the Lone Star State’s biggest congregation of comics, sci-fi, horror, anime and gaming fans. The 16th annual FAN EXPO DALLASTM returns to Big D at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center Friday, March 31, through Sunday, April 2, 2017.

Headlining the impressive list of pop culture luminaries on hand will be Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill; living legend Stan Lee; as well as members of the cast of the internationally famous cult movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, including actors Tim Curry, Barry Bostwick, Meat Loaf, Patricia Quinn and Nell Campbell. Tickets are priced from $25-$129. Hours and information are available at fanexpodallas.com.

Operation Kindness’ 9th Annual Hope Gala – April 30, 7-10 p.m. at Sambuca Uptown

Operation Kindness – North Texas original and largest no-kill animal shelter – is hosting their 9th Annual Hope Gala on April 30 from 7-10 p.m. The nonprofit organization cares for more than 5,000 homeless dogs and cats annually, providing them with food, shelter and medical attention until they find a permanent home.

The gala will be held at Sambuca Restaurant in Uptown and will include a four-course meal with an open bar. There will be live entertainment by Ricki Derek and the Vegas Six followed by dancing and a live auction. One lucky donor will win the Grand Raffle with four nights at the Omni of his or her choice and round-trip airfare from any Southwest location. For more information, please visit www.operationkindness.org.

TrizCom helps clients spread the word about events throughout the year. The key to a successful event is all in the details and the plan. We’re experts in communicating events to publications, news shows, bloggers and influencers. We specialize in creating news hooks around events that result in double the coverage. We walk our clients through the entire event process; beginning with the initial event announcement, unique story ideas along the way and, even though the event has ended, our efforts continue with recap coverage and preparation for the next event. Our office handles press credentials, online calendars, media check-ins and concept to creation – we’re here to help our clients achieve success at their event!

 

 

To Be, or Not to Bee?

By Jennifer Kuenzer, TrizCom PR

Let's eat, grandma.jpg

I am a staunch proponent of the Oxford comma. I am rabid about the proper use of their/ there/ they’re; too/ to/ two; and you’re/ your. I bristle when I see “at” at the end of a sentence. But I do not call myself a “grammar queen” or some other variant – because I work for a company that employs a terrific editor (Hi, Allison!) who looks at my work and tells me where I have made errors according to the AP Style Guide, the resource used by the national media, as well as more general grammatical errors I incurred.

Even without being a grammar queen, I have always felt using proper language and grammar is important. I read Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss when it came out in 2003 and applauded almost every page. But I am not grammar or punctuation-perfect and still find myself mixed up on occasion. So many rules! I often turn to grammar websites. There are many, and while they do serve similar purposes, they communicate in different tones. I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorites. Each of the following sites has something about them that sets them apart from the others. But all have the same goal in mind – making you a better writer. Because whether you are writing a casual blog or putting together a formal proposal for a client, grammar counts.

The New Yorker: Comma Queen

The New Yorker’s Mary Norris hosts a series of short videos, clearly titled and cleverly presented, on everything from when to use affect vs. effect to pronouns for your pets. For any professional who finds themselves stuck on a rule they forgot or never quite learned in the first place, Comma Queen is a great and entertaining way to refresh your knowledge base.

Grammar Girl

This award-winning site is incredibly accessible. You can find it on all the social media sites. You can subscribe to the RSS feed or the podcast. You can even download the Grammar Girl app on your phone. Mignon Fogarty is the magazine writer, technical writer and entrepreneur behind Grammar Girl. Her lessons are short, easy to recall, easily put into practice and aimed at making you a better writer.

Oxford Dictionaries

The Oxford Dictionaries website has an uncluttered, easy to navigate grammar section. It’s all there and right at your fingertips: grammatical terms, proper grammar explanations and handy grammar tips. Coupled with the dictionary and a synonym finder, it’s an invaluable one-stop resource.

Grammarly

Another award winner, Grammarly is a grammar platform that can check your documents in real time, offering not only corrections to spelling and grammar, but also word choice and style mistakes. There is also a plagiarism checker that compares your uploaded texts against over 8 billion documents. It’s no replacement for an editor (nothing is), but it is a solid tool that will help you improve your writing.

Edited by Allison, who deleted the Oxford commas according to the AP Style Guide. Sigh.

The Benefits of Interning During Spring Break

By Trina-Jo Pardo, TrizCom PR Intern

Jealousy and severe #FOMO come over you as you scroll through your Instagram. Pictures of tan bodies and foreign lands fill your friends’ news feeds while your spring break is filled with press releases and media contact lists. The sandy beaches and abundance of mai tais will still be there at the end of this semester, but your internship won't.

Here are some benefits of spending your spring break as an intern rather than as a tourist.

1.        More time in the office

Spending spring break at your internship allows you to devote more time to understanding the business without the distraction of school. It allows you to take on more responsibility and prove your worth to your employers.

2.        More for your portfolio

The additional week at your internship not only means more face time with your employer, but it also means more samples of work you can add to your professional portfolio.

3.        Get ahead in school

Weeknights spent in the dorm or home will give you time to focus on future projects or tests. While your friends are out of town, you can be getting ahead! Making spring break into a proactive workweek will lessen the stresses of the second half of the semester.

4.        Get ready for the real world

After graduation, unless you become a teacher, there is no such thing as “spring break.” You will acclimate yourself to work life more quickly by opting to work at your internship during spring break.

5.        Saves you and your parents money

Vacations and plane tickets can be expensive, especially around the spring break travel period. Opting out of a traditional spring break trip will save you some serious money and will also save you the time of planning a weeklong trip. Plus, you can use the money you would have used for spring break for an even better summer vacation. If your parents are your primary source of income, I’m sure they will thank you for deciding to stay in town for the break by using that cash for a great graduation gift.

Changing your screensaver image can decrease those spring break blues.

Changing your screensaver image can decrease those spring break blues.

Don’t have an internship? No problem! This week is the perfect time to research and apply for possible internships. It’s also a great week to shadow a person who has a job that interests you. You’ll be able to see the daily routine and the ins and outs of what it takes to get the job done!

Spring break is ultimately about you and how you choose to spend your time. Whether this is your first spring break as a college student or your last, make it count and have fun!

 

Trina-Jo Pardo is an intern at TrizCom PR and a senior at Southern Methodist University.

Stealing Focus

By Dana Cobb, TrizCom PR

HIYA, ONLINE BLOG WORLD! I don’t know about most of you, but I am woefully unsophisticated when it comes to technology. For being in the field of communications, something about technology befuddles me.

What I do know is what I hate. Pop-ups. Pop-ups that steal focus. It’s like being photo-bombed right on your computer screen. A bit of trivia for you: “Stealing focus” is actually the technical term for when a program window spontaneously appears in front of others.       

It’s annoying, intrusive and literally can slow operating systems to a halt. Stealing focus came to the forefront with the introduction of Windows XP in 2001. It has been determined that focus stealing can be due to malicious programming by developers or buggy software or operating system behaviors that need to be fixed.

Roger from Fix It Fast Computer in Dallas told me that “It’s not possible for Windows to block all programs from stealing focus and still work properly. The goal here is to identify the program that shouldn’t be doing this and then figure out what to do about it.”

Now I’m not going to get all esoteric here on a blog, but that seems like some universally good advice.

You see, the implications of stealing focus are often not felt by the stealing but rather the audience.

We, as consumers, citizens and somewhat intelligent human beings, have seen focus stealing become rampant through the media that we utilize every day on behalf of – and sometimes, in spite of – the client or organization we work for. We are competing with malicious “programs” and buggy “software” (or in our case “who”) trying to steal focus.

But here’s the thing:

You don’t need to steal focus if you can just arrange for someone to give it to you.

Yup. It’s that simple.

You don’t need to steal focus if you can just arrange for someone to give it to you.