A Meaningful Experience

By Jeff Cheatham, Senior Account Supervisor at TrizCom PR

Excuse me while I take a moment to brag on the Intern Program at TrizCom PR. Headed up by my colleague, Katie Mudd, it’s a culture-driven credit to our organization as a whole. For several years, TrizCom has instituted a semester-oriented program for current university students and recent graduates. We run a five-month program in the spring, a three-month program in the summer and a five-month program in the fall.

I think we’re coming off one of our best classes ever. This summer, we’ve had the pleasure of hosting Rebecca Ellis and Amanda Brown, both of Texas Tech. These two remarkable young ladies have made significant contributions to the earned media wins of our clients, and we’ll be sad to see them go.

So what exactly makes a good intern program?

Many moons ago (I won’t say how many moons), I was in my final semester of college when it dawned on me that I might want to seek an internship to have something to put on my resume other than University of Texas Student Union Marketing Committee. I think I went to one meeting, sat in the back, and then later claimed I ran the whole show. I doubted it would fly when the real job interview process began.

I found a suitable intern program at an Austin-based ad agency (name redacted). I was one of 12 picked to participate, and I can still remember my dad on the phone asking incredulously, “What do you mean it’s unpaid? Can they do that?” I thought I was lucky enough to have landed somewhere. It didn’t take long for me to get a sense of what an internship was like.

On the second day, one of the girls in the program quit because they asked her to sit up front and answer the phones. I was busy working on real-world advertising business such as making copies for a meeting that my bosses had no intention of inviting me to attend. I stayed at it, however, and after the internship ended, they asked me to stay on full time. For minimum wage. Six months later they laid me off, so I got an early taste of what downsizing meant.

Looking back, the internship program at that agency was terrible. And I can say from my experience at TrizCom over the last three years, internships have come a long way. Let me tell you why ours is both different and meaningful. We’re committed to making sure that our interns are valued. If you intern with us, you’ll be in our weekly staff meeting. You’ll be in client meetings. You’ll go to media interviews. You’ll pitch stories. You’ll write talking points. You’ll be an integral part of account planning and PR campaigns. And it’s paid work.

Most of all—you’ll get the credit you earn. We pride ourselves on creating a real-world atmosphere at TrizCom so that you’ll be prepared for real public relations down the road. And that’s if we don’t offer you a job. Our program is specifically designed to promote from within. You show us what you can do, and we have the business to support you as a full-time employee, and you’re in.

Our fall internship program is currently underway, and we’re looking for the next Rebecca Ellis and Amanda Brown. If you desire a place where your opinion and hard work are valued, reach out to Katie Mudd and let her know you want to experience the TrizCom Difference™.

Chicken Little was Ready in Case the Sky Fell. Why Businesses Should Prepare too.

By Karen Carrera, Senior Account Executive, TrizCom PR

Chicken Little gif from giphy.com

Chicken Little gif from giphy.com

Smart phones and social media. Those two things are why every business should have a crisis plan in place. Why? In addition to media exposure, smart phones and social have empowered today’s “citizen journalists,” and the internet can spread a story in seconds. What’s worse, truth doesn’t always seem to matter if the story is interesting and the video compelling.

It’s easy to see why a large airliner, construction company or food distribution company has much more risk and the need for a crisis – or reputation management – plan. But if you are providing any kind of public service, thinking through what might happen and what you’re going to do is a wise decision. You might feel a little like Chicken Little – and sometimes the boss doesn’t want to hear about what might go wrong – but it’s always better to be prepared.

What questions should you ask during this process?

1)      What is the worst that could happen? This exercise will help you understand your weak spots, spell out why you need to be better prepared, and erase the element of surprise when something does go wrong.

2)      When something happens, who should I call? My recommendation is to always have legal and public relations representation on speed dial. That way, when something happens, instead of wasting time thinking through who to call, you know exactly who to call. Also, if the incident spirals than you will have help for both the courtroom jury and the jury of public perception.

3)      Why should I invest in PR and social media? Practitioners will tell you that both social media and PR take time and effort – neither can expect overnight results. When a company calls me out of the blue because they’ve had a crisis event, it’s much harder to get traction if we’re starting with nothing in place. Reputations are made over time, and if you aren’t building good will and engaging with reporters and customers, you leave yourself completely bare.

4)      Do I need legal advice? A lawyer can assess your risk and advise what you need to put in place to show “due diligence.” For example, if you provide an entertainment venue for minors – arcade games, put-put golf, bumper cars – it would be important to make sure that all employees are background checked to ensure you aren’t exposing children to a predator. And if an accusation does come up, you can prove that you have a robust process in place.

5)      How might incidents escalate? Not all do, but there is a huge possibility that once the thread frays, it easily unravels. For example, if an employee claims sexual harassment, many times other employees are emboldened to step forward with similar claims. Now there is a pattern – a story much harder to fight.

Companies that are ill-prepared are always surprisingly shocked when a crisis event occurs. But crises are nearly always predictable – maybe not exact circumstances, but you can hit pretty close to the general topic: contamination, injury or fatality, employee theft, sexual harassment. The list is similar from company to company, depending on the industry. And when you can predict something might happen, you can plan for it as well. And in the end, as unappreciated as Chicken Little was – he was right.

Ten Days, Ten Lessons Learned from Former White House Director of Communications, Anthony Scaramucci

By Dana Cobb, Senior Account Executive, TrizCom PR

Lesson #1: Do not, under any circumstances, initiate a telephone call with a journalist, assuming your conversation will not be printed, especially if the conversation includes cussing against your colleagues, who work with you on a daily basis and then hope to keep your job.

Lessons #2-10: See Lesson One.

Mooch out. #themooch #themoochisloose (via giphy)

Mooch out. #themooch #themoochisloose (via giphy)

Scene Work Makes the Dream Work

By Jennifer Kuenzer, TrizCom PR

The author in her natural habitat, wearing other people's hair on her head. (A Little Night Music, 2017. Photo by Linda Harrison for Theatre Three, Dallas TX.)

The author in her natural habitat, wearing other people's hair on her head. (A Little Night Music, 2017. Photo by Linda Harrison for Theatre Three, Dallas TX.)

Outside of my work here at TrizCom, I’m an actor. I’ve blogged before about the usefulness of certain theatrical techniques (specifically, clowning) for focus and balance, and Jo – who has a lengthy performing arts background herself – wrote a spectacular blog about the importance of being a good storyteller in the public relations industry. But how do you tap into – and build – your own natural storytelling abilities? Especially when your message needs to be clean, crisp and streamlined but not “sales-y” or, worse, “too rehearsed?”

Acting techniques, my friend. Tried and true acting techniques can help you achieve your most honest – but polished – “you,” and that is what will make your presentation (and you) shine.

Rehearsing like a boss.

Rehearsing like a boss.

1: Rehearse!

The best way to sound unrehearsed is … to rehearse. No, I’m not kidding. You need to know your material – the rhythm, the beats, where to pause, what to emphasize, and you need to make it sound like you, not a stiff robot you or a fire and brimstone you or a game show host you. You. Get with your team and map out a working script. Find that sweet spot between improvisation and memorization, because you need to know it well enough to go “off script” and still get your message across. Then present it to your team. Again. And again. Repeat until you are acting natural, naturally.

2: Stretch! Vocalize!

So you know the material and you have a solid grasp on your talk. You’ve rehearsed and now it’s go time. How do you pull it all together before taking the floor? You warm up, vocally and physically. Talking in a presentational setting is more than just having a conversation. Think of your voice as an instrument, and make sure it is properly tuned. Keep nerves at bay by keeping your blood flowing and your muscles loose and relaxed.

Save this, it's actually beneficial. (via giphy)

Save this, it's actually beneficial. (via giphy)

3: Breathe!

To use your voice to the best of your abilities, breathing is key. How, when and where you breathe can make or break your presentation. What people hear and how they hear your message can be affected by your breathing. Breathe from your diaphragm – your chest should barely move at all, and your shoulders should never rise up. In your rehearsal, make breathing part of what you rehearse. Pre-presentation, breathing exercises help center and calm any public speaking-related jitters.

 

BONUS: Take a class!

"Yes, and..." the cornerstone of improv. (via giphy)

"Yes, and..." the cornerstone of improv. (via giphy)

Improv is a terrific way for anyone to improve their stage presence and learn to think on their feet, and there are also traditional acting classes geared toward business professionals. In both classes, you learn techniques like the ones listed here more in-depth, and through improv games and scene work, the importance of being honest, present and in the moment.

Or maybe you want to focus on vocal strength? Try a vocal coach. You’ll learn how to use your voice to its full potential, maximizing tone and projection as well as learning how to keep it healthy and injury-free.

Whether voice lessons, basic acting techniques or heading out to your local comedy club to take an improv class, building up your stage presence and public speaking skills will be one of the best investments you make in yourself – a skill set that you can use yourself and also teach to less media-savvy clients. Being known as an effective public speaker will yield tremendous benefits in any industry.

 

And the Award Goes to… Top 5 Reasons Industry Awards Are Good for Business

By Katie Mudd, TrizCom PR

As public relations professionals, we are often like the proverbial cobbler’s children that don’t have shoes – we’re so busy working to keep our clients in the news that we forget to take time to promote ourselves. Throughout the year, we find ourselves preparing award applications for our clients, so it seems like a no-brainer that we would do the same for ourselves.

Hollywood may recognize award season each fall, but we tend to kick things into gear every summer for PRSA Dallas’ annual Pegasus Awards, which highlight the best public relations campaigns in the DFW Metroplex. Over the past two years that we’ve participated, TrizCom has managed to bring home six awards. I know what you’re probably thinking … is the time investment really worth having shiny hardware displayed on your shelf? And the answer is yes, because awards are good for business.

Here are just a few reasons why awards have been good for our business and the clients we work with.

1.    J.D. Power Effect

When you tell others how awesome you are, it’s bragging, but if you’re included on a J.D. Power list of people who are awesome, it’s proof. This credibility provides you with a third-party endorsement that validates your awesomeness. Find out more about our coined J.D. Power effect here.

2.    Morale Boost

Employees want to be recognized for their hard work. When they feel valued for what they do, work becomes more than just a job – it’s a mission. In turn, they are willing to work harder and give more when their time and talent are appreciated. The recognition of award-winning work is guaranteed to provide a morale boost that will keep employees happy and on staff.

3.    Talent acquisition

By showing off the great things your team can do, you’re able to attract top talent who also wants to be a part of the action. During tough times, awards provide a vote of confidence to potential employers of companies that might be more likely to pull through.

4.    Exposure

Your shiny award is lovely to keep on a shelf, but there is much more you can do with it. Start with drafting a press release announcing your big win. Keep the momentum going year-round by repurposing it on your website, business cards, email signature and social media.

5.    Business procurement

Customers want to be associated with winning companies. A study conducted by Hendricks & Singhal of the University of Western Ontario and Georgia Institute of Technology revealed that more than 600 quality corporate award winners had 37 percent more sales growth than their peers. When prospective clients note that your business has been recognized, it might be the differentiator over your competition, because you're seen as the best at what you do.

In the past few years, TrizCom has successfully won recognition for our clients and individuals in local, regional and national media outlets. Want to be the Beyoncé of your business? We can help with that. Just give us a call at 972-247-1369 or drop us a line at trizcom@trizcom.com.

From Pound Sign to Hashtag: How Social Media is Changing Our Language

By Rebecca Ellis, TrizCom PR Intern

It’s no secret that technology has taken over our world. Practically everything that was once paper is now digital – I mean, we even refer to an entire generation as the “iGeneration.” This technological revolution has changed the face of communication so drastically that it is virtually unrecognizable from communication 30 years ago. Gone are the days of handwritten letters and snail mail (while romantic in Nicholas Sparks films, we can all admit they’re not entirely effective methods of communication).

In a world that relies heavily on instant gratification, trends begin and end so quickly that if your phone dies and you forgot a charger, you’ll probably miss it. One of the hottest trends right now is buzzwords. Every social media user has probably found themselves wondering the following questions at some point in their life: “So, saying that something is ‘lit’ doesn’t actually mean that it’s on fire?” “Why is it spelled ‘meme’ and not ‘meem’?” “Can we all just PLEASE agree on how ‘gif’ is pronounced?”

While buzzwords are temporary in definition, certain ones have stuck around courtesy of good ol’ Merriam Webster. Words that originated on Twitter are now officially a part of the English language, as terrifyingly awesome as that is.

If you think about it, nothing about this is new. Words have been added to the English language for as long as it has been in existence. It’s safe to assume that words like obnubilate and transpicuous did not originate with cavemen. The reason the whole phenomenon of integrating buzzwords from social media into our language seems so outlandish is because we get to witness it. We get to see firsthand a word’s transformation from a post gone viral, to a common trend, to a page in the dictionary.

Not only are new words being introduced, but words (and their meanings) are changing. Ask a 10-year-old what a pound sign is, and they’ll stare at you dumbfounded. Ask them what a hashtag is, and they’ll probably roll their eyes and sigh as they pull out their iPhone and open 12 new apps you’ve never heard of to show you an example. Even words such as “block,” “unfriend” and “viral” all existed pre-social media, and yet their meanings have been altered slightly to reflect the digital world we live in.

The English language is a complex, beautiful piece of art. It will continue to grow and change so long as the people speaking it continue to. And yes, it is slightly ridiculous to realize the word “selfie” is engrained in the dictionary for posterity. But the idea that anyone has the capability to create a word through the use of social media is pretty incredible. Oh, sorry. It’s “lit.

Every Action Has a Reaction

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


If anyone were to tell me nine years ago, today, that I would resign from the Dallas Chamber (a job that I absolutely loved) in the morning and find myself sitting around a board room table at Texans Credit Union as a consultant later that same afternoon, I would have laughed. I had every obstacle to prevent success in place: I had never worked in an agency, had never worked for a for-profit company, had no idea how to read a balance sheet, had only two months’ worth of savings, and on and on. But, to be frank, I never thought of what I didn’t have and instead put my energy into what I did have: I had a computer, an email address and a Blackberry, and I ate, slept and breathed public relations.

The starting of TrizCom is proof that constraints actually make you more creative. I have told this story a thousand times…. I took the door off my spare bedroom and placed it across my two end tables for a desk. I changed my Blackberry message to be my company voicemail. I quickly learned what a 1099 was. I powered up my then 5-year-old laptop computer, bought insanely expensive ink cartridges for my printer and, voila, I had a copy machine. I didn’t have a name for my company or a domain or a website – heck, I wasn’t even sure what the going rate for consultants was, but the rate I quoted seemed fair. I didn’t have a business plan or any plan for that matter. I used my AOL address for email. Basically, I had nothing (aka constraints), but at the same time, I had everything. I had one client and, by golly, I was in business.

Now, fast forward nine years. Today, 17 companies have put their trust in TrizCom PR to represent their brands ranging from B2B to B2C, for-profit and not-for-profit, large and small.

Community Council

CTL Medical Corporation

Dallas Fan Days

DFW Boat Expo

Dillon Gage Metals

Fan Expo Dallas

Heroes for Children

International Depository of Canada

International Depository Services of Delaware

Operation Kindness

Solis Mammography

Soulman's Bar-B-Que

Taco Bueno

Taylor's Gift

Transformance

Unequal Halo

Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas

Over the past nine years, we have represented everything from well-known companies – Cadillac, GM, GMC, Gexa Energy, The Spaghetti Warehouse, Chevrolet, Texans Credit Union, Heelys, NextEra Energy Services, Domino’s Pizza, Cooper Aerobics and Massage Envy,

To middle market companies – Grenadier Homes, Alsbridge, Brennan Financial Services, Goodway Group, Legacy ER & Urgent Care, Billingsley Company, Aidan Gray and 1st Service Solutions,

To startups – SocialCentiv, NTEC, Lumin Care, MarketNet, ezLocator, beatrix prive, Accel Spine, Healthy Steps, Society Stylist, Jeff Gusky’s Hidden World of WWI, Sports Video Innovations (SVI) and Wyndham Jade,

To municipalities The City of Richardson, The City of Irving and The City of Forney,

To our agency partners The Barbershop Marketing and Spire Agency.

We have chosen our clients and partners very carefully, making sure that they are a good fit for us and that it’s a relationship that works on both sides of the table.

In the past nine years we have won awards, donated agency hours for nonprofits, created some killer promotions and landed some really awesome placements.

But, as proud as I am of the work we have done for every single one of our clients, what makes me the proudest is the people that call TrizCom home and the culture we have created. There hasn’t been a magic formula or any type of a magic pill – but somehow we have collectively created an agency/firm that is collaborative, innovative and proactive. An agency that is fun, cheerful and dedicated. We grant the gift of failure because, let’s face it – not every campaign is going to be a home run. We celebrate one another’s victories with enough healthy competition that makes everyone laugh (often). We stop and smell the roses, and then we share them with others. We work hard and play hard. We celebrate disruptions. Our TrizCom team is happy, productive and crazy creative. There is a respect that every single one of us has for one another’s work. We empower each other.

We have collectively identified that we don’t want to be a cookie cutter, box-checking PR agency – we want to develop groundbreaking PR, and everything we do revolves around that. Together we combine best practices and best thinking, we empower communications with bigger, bolder ideas to break through clutter that achieves results for our clients. And, most importantly, every single TrizCom team member loves what they do and, frankly, they are damn good at it. Line up TrizCom with any of the top 50 PR agencies in the nation, and we will give them a good run for their money.

After a lot of blood, sweat and tears, I really only have one thing I would do differently in these past nine years. If I had to do it all over again, I would not have included my name in the name of our company because it isn’t just me – it’s Dana, Jeff, Katie, Jennifer, Karen, Allison, Susan, Tammy, Kim, Amanda and Rebecca, and the many former teammates who helped create TrizCom PR. Simply put, we have made it nine years because of the awesome team that we have.

The admiration I have for every single TrizCom PR team member can’t be expressed with words. They have taught me that in unity, there is strength enough to construct a colossus. From the foundation to the ridgepole, the parts reinforce and support one another to create a cathedral that will echo with sounds of success. TrizCom PR prospers because of the synergism our team, individually and collectively, provides in building solidarity.

So, with that, I say thank you from the very core of my being. Here’s to another nine years.

Jo

Check yourself [social media] before you wreck yourself

By Amanda Brown, TrizCom PR Intern

During my time in college, I received a lot of advice from professors, advisors and family when it came to applying for jobs. Want to know what their number one piece of advice was?

“Make sure your social media reflects you as a person, because potential employers are looking.”

Believe or not, to this day I still think that is the best piece of advice I received. Now I feel like it is my job to pass it down to others who are on the job hunt. So, here we go…

Social media is bigger than it has ever been before. People of all ages are on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. And when it comes to social media, there is honestly nowhere to hide.

About a year ago, I took a social media course at Texas Tech where we had to conduct a social media audit on ourselves. Basically, the assignment required us to go through all of our social media accounts and look at the content we were posting. Then we were to ask ourselves if what we found was professional and was an image we wanted others to see.

At first I thought this was pointless and that no one other than my friends was looking at what I was posting, but oh man, was I wrong.

Side note: Whether you are a stranger, friend or potential employer, you can tell a lot about who someone is by just ONE picture. And that can make or break you.

Companies have many valid reasons for looking into a potential employee. They want to make sure that whoever they hire, he/she reflects the company in a positive light. It’s as simple as that.

So, if you are currently looking for a job, I have some advice for you:

  1. Do a social media audit on yourself
    • Basically, go through all of your social media accounts, look at what you are posting, and if it does not reflect whom you want to be portrayed as, delete it immediately.
  2. Google your name
    • This sounds pointless, but trust me, it is beneficial. Potential employers sometimes Google applicants’ names to see what pops up. For example, if the employer was to Google my name, Amanda Brown, and an Amanda Brown who was charged with a felony a couple of days ago popped up, they might assume I was that Amanda Brown. So, with that being said, it is important before you apply or interview with a company that you know what is on the internet about you – or at least others with the same name – so you won’t be blindsided.
  3. Create professional accounts
    • I personally have two Twitters. One is my personal and the other my professional account. It is important to have a professional account of some sort where you can voice your professional thoughts and opinions about things – keeping things clean, of course. All of the interaction I have on my professional Twitter is with news outlets or professional influencers. On my personal account, I interact appropriately with friends and family that I follow.
  4. Make it a goal to only post appropriate pictures and content
    • You have no idea who can see what you post. Even if you are private, there are ways people can find your accounts and look at what you post. Trust me, I have seen it firsthand. Also, mental note … once pictures are on search engines like Google, good luck getting it taken down. So, be careful!

With all of that being said, I challenge all of you readers to take a couple minutes out of your day to look over your social media presence.

And just remember, it is important to always "check yourself [social media] before you wreck yourself."  You can never be too cautious when it comes to something like this.