Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Turning Rejection Into Opportunity

Today I received my first rejection for a conference presentation proposal. I really enjoy speaking engagements but unfortunately my proposal didn't make the cut for the Spring conference.

At first, I was disappointed and immediately felt the stirring of self-doubt creep in. And then it hit me: No presentation, means no preparation. Uh oh.

Like I said, I really enjoy speaking. However, the value for me as a speaker is what I do to to prepare, research, and compile thoughts, data, and insights to be shared with an audience.

So I decided to turn this rejection into an opportunity. Rather than research and prepare to share for someone else, I'm going to study, prepare, and finally become Accredited in Public Relations. I've been flirting with getting the APR few a couple of years now (yikes, I'm such a slacker). Well now I can't use the excuse of having to prepare for a conference presentation which has become common the last few years. 

More to come.

Photo Credit: picsonline via Flickr Creative Commons

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Speculating to the Media is Playing with Fire

Fire ExitImage by alykat via FlickrEarlier this week, an area chemical plant was engulfed in flames as a huge fire ripped through the facility. I watched with interest not just because of the captivating videos and shocked reactions to the unfolding catastrophe, but also as the local media scrambled to get the latest information from the scene from anyone who would talk. Anyone. One television news station found a worker willing to speak as the fire raged on screen.

What caught my attention about this was the potential for trouble from a PR perspective. The worker identified himself as an employee of the company and said that he lived near the chemical plant and was sleeping when he "heard a loud explosion." The camera was fixed squarely on the fire as the worker was being interviewed by phone from his home. During the phone interview the worker was asked about the incident and he said something that should make the hair on the neck of any good PR pro stand up on end:
"...I don't know exactly, but I can safely speculate that..."
[emphasis added]

In a crisis situation, this is one of those things that you hope never happens from one of your employees. Proper communication protocol and training should be provided. In my opinion, that worker should have never taken on the role as unofficial spokesperson for the chemical company. I don't know what, if anything, happened to the worker that was interviewed.

It's one thing to provide some decent context to a situation by sharing background information on things you know to be true. It's something completely different (not to mention, an awful idea) to provide guesses about the situation on the fly to the media before any official word has been available. As the problem unfolds on live television. After just waking up. Good grief, what a stupid move.  

What do you think, am I being to harsh on this worker's decision to share? Or should his career go up in flames for this lapse in judgment? The comments are yours.
Thankfully, according to plant officials, employees and visitors of the chemical plant evacuated safely and two employees sustained minor injuries but were not hospitalized.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Grass Roots Media Relations and Social Media for the Small Non-Profit

Our local PRSA chapter (The Greater Fort Worth PRSA) held a free workshop for small non-profit organizations as this year's community service project. The workshop included a free presentation and panel: "'Grass Roots' Media Relations and Social Media for the Small Non-Profit" and was held at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

Small non-profits, operating on limited budgets, need information, assistance and training to use media relations, social media and other public relations tools to help raise awareness of their important missions. The free workshop was our chapter's way of providing some insight in these areas for local non-profit organizations.

I was fortunate enough to be one of the panelists along with (L-R) Sandra Brodniki, APR, Gigi Westerman APR, and Nancy Farrar, our moderator.

The following is our presentation:

Special thanks to PRSA members Kendal Lake and Dustin Van Orne from the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth for organizing the community service event.

I enjoy participating in these types of panels because I usually end up coming away with some great insights from the others. This one was no different.

The solid reminders in the areas of media relations and storytelling from Sandra and Gigi, plus the guiding discussion from Nancy made this a wonderful professional development opportunity.