PRSA NJ Senior Pros Gather to “STS”

By Ken Jacobs
Jacobs Communications Consulting

PRSA NJ’s Senior Practitioners Group held its first “Shoot the Sh*t” meeting in May at Coyne PR in Parsippany. The program opened with an explanation that the purpose of the Group is to provide programming and discussion opportunities specifically designed for PR and communications pros with at least fifteen years of experience.

The group had previously held formal panels on “How to Get—And Keep—A Seat at the C-Suite Table,” “Measurement Tools to Prove Our Value to The C-Suite,” “How to Do More With Less,” and “Make 2013 Your Year of Productivity.”

But this was the group’s first attempt at what had been part of its original vision: a free-wheeling discussion giving senior New Jersey communications professionals the chance to discuss challenging subjects where getting peer input proves valuable.

Despite challenging weather conditions, nearly twenty senior pros from across the state, including agency leader-owners, consultants, and corporate communications executives, had a robust and far-reaching discussion on “How to Measure The Effectiveness Of PR Programs,” “How to Use PR To Drive Business Sales/Growth,” and “How to Most Effectively Use Social Media to Influence Outcomes (for our organizations and clients).”

Among the discussion highlights:

Seamlessness of Today’s Media. Communications professionals, whether at agencies, corporations, or other organizations, must develop programming which reflects that consumers are getting their news in many different ways, via traditional print and electronic media, as well as online versions of these sources, which might be delivered via desktops, laptops, tablets, or mobile phones. Deborah Bayes, communications director at boutique professional services firm ZB Group recommended we design our campaigns to leverage fact that news organizations have become multi-channel.

It’s A Brave New World. Most attendees agreed that the days of only collecting clips and measuring our work via advertising equivalencies (AVE) is gone, and that we must focus more on outcomes than on outputs. Did the PR campaign change an attitude or a behavior? This can be measured in various ways, such as pre- and post-campaign awareness, change in attitudes, and the most valuable, but most difficult to prove, sales.

Integration Is Here To Stay. Communications pros must be on the lookout for negative, neutral, and positive messaging not only in the media, but across social media channels. Was the news or information shared via Twitter, LinkedIn and/or Facebook? Was it shared by influencers? And what was the tone of related comments? Vehicles to help communicators track such social mentions, such as Google Alerts (free) and Radian6 (paid) were cited by attendees.

Real World Examples. Coyne CEO Tom Coyne shared recent integrated programs the agency executed for clients including Mary Kay and Disney. The former involved product users posting photos Mary Kay’s Facebook page. The Walt Disney World Moms Panel connected prospective customers with Disney by targeting “mommy bloggers,” traditional and trade media, and resulted in an increase in visits by families with pre-school children to “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

Peter Eschbach, director of communications and external affairs for New Jersey American Water described a program designed to encourage water conservation whose success was measured not via media coverage, but by consumer behavior. It was deemed a success because water consumption declined.

Other Valuable PRSA Benefits. Pam Golden, founder and president of strategic marketing/communications firm GLA Communications and Jon Goldberg, chief reputation architect of reputation management firm Reputation Architects, encouraged attendees to consider joining PRSA Counselors Academy, attending its upcoming Spring Conference, or better yet, both!

Thanks to Coyne PR for hosting the group and providing the breakfast; Michael Rubin for coordinating and publicizing the event, supported by Coyne PR’s Studio C, and Fody Associates’ Joe Weddick; Joan Bosisio for spreading the word via social media, and photographer Ron Wyatt, who once again provided his photographic talents gratis as a courtesy to the Senior Pros Group.

If you’re interested in attending our events, or better yet, want to be an active member of our Group and help us plan or publicize events, please contact Group Chair Doug Fenichel of In-House Public Relations.

Senior Practitioners Group Members Steve Lubetkin, APR, Fellow, PRSA and managing partner of Lubetkin & Co. LLC; Chris Biddle of Biddle Communications
Deborah Bayes of ZB Group

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