As requested. This appeared on former blog site. Here we go again. It does contain some effective strategic communication techniques:
October 4, 2009
You could say M. Larry Litwin wrote the book on public relations. Actually, two really thick books. An associate professor of communication at Rowan University and a former broadcast journalist, Litwin has written two textbooks compiling just about everything he knows about the art of communicating with the public.
The third edition of “The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook: A Synergized Approach to Effective Two-Way Communication,” and “The ABCs of Strategic Communication” are used in college classrooms, kept on the desks of professionals and used as a reference by publicity volunteers for nonprofits.
A: There are many. Most are probably too academic. I define it as a management and counseling function that builds and maintains relationships with audiences through an understanding determined by asking them what they like, don’t like, want and don’t want. PR must be two-way (listen twice as much as we talk) and must be open, honest, thorough and valid. We are a company or organization’s chief integrity officer — the conscience of the organization.
Q: Your “Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook” is 555 pages long. How long did it take to write and how did you learn all that stuff?
A: Not long ago, some Rowan graduates who assisted me on the book were asked that question. The response, “He’s been writing that book his entire life.” Not quite. But I have been taking notes ever since my very first job in radio in Iowa while I was in college. Those same students, plus a few others, encouraged me to compile my notes and publish a book that professionals, students and volunteer groups could use. That’s what we did.
Throughout the years I’ve had great teachers and mentors. They encouraged me to be a sponge, taught me to listen and strongly suggested that I never be without a pen and paper to take notes. When I co-lecture a class with a colleague, I usually take more notes than the students.
Q: How is the recession affecting the public relations industry?
A: As with other professions, public relations has taken its hits with the recession. Many times, PR is the first to go. However, the smarter organizations realize that even during difficult times, it is important and even critical to an organization’s success that it have a public relations strategic counselor at the corporate table to help with research, planning and communication to internal and external audiences. The best CEOs make sure that their Number One, Number Two person is a seasoned PR counselor.
Q: What is the worst mistake a public relations person can make?
A: Lie. Never, ever. Credibility and trust are almost impossible to regain. In our profession, there is no substitute for ethics and integrity. Ivy Ledbetter Lee, one of PR’s founding fathers, said it best: “Tell the truth and provide (only) accurate facts.”
TOOLBOX TOPICS – Reprinted from AdNews – Philly Ad Club – November -December 2010
Public Relations playbook: some thoughts
Every now and then seasoned communication professionals need to review the basics. Here are some thoughts from Larry Litwin’s The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook (AuthorHouse – 2009)
By M. Larry Litwin, APR, Fellow PRSA
Whether the profession is public relations, public communication or strategic advising, it all begins with the ABCs of strategic communication: anticipate, beprepared and communicate clearly, concisely, consistently, calculatingly (measured tones – weighing each word), and completely (specifically and simply).
Anticipate the reaction to a strategic message before communicating it. As Sir Isaac Newton said, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The reactions to a CEO or spokesperson’s comments may not be equal and opposite, but they could take a strong opposing viewpoint that could damage a client’s image or reputation. Messages could be misinterpreted. “Test” them to be sure the “C” is achieved.
As columnist George Will points out, “Clarity is achieved only if our message is received and interpreted as we intend it.” That’s where the “B’ comes in. Through proper planning, effective strategic communicators are more likely to achieve their objectives and goal, which means synergy is achieved.
So, what is public relations?
Back in 1971, colleague Ralph Burgio and I brainstormed a definition of public relations. Here is what Ralph scribbled on a napkin at Mom’s Peppermill Inn just off exit 7A of the New Jersey Turnpike. It remains relevant nearly 40 years later:
Public relations is as simple as a thank-you note and as complicated as a
It’s as specific as writing a news release and as general as sensing community
It’s as inexpensive as a phone call to an editor or as costly as a full-page
It’s as direct as a conversation between two people and as broad as a radio or
television program reaching thousands of listeners or millions of viewers.
It’s as visual as a poster and as literal as a speech.
HERE, MY FRIENDS, IS THE BIG QUESTION: What IS public relations?
It’s a term often used – seldom defined!
In its broadest sense, public relations is “good work, publicly recognized.”
Believe me, there are no secret formulas. Public relations is simply: the group itself saying —
• “This is who we are;
• What we think about ourselves;
• What we want to do; and
• Why we deserve your support.”
The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook (AuthorHouse – 2009) contains hundreds of proven tips and techniques. Here are a few:
“Tell the truth, provide accurate facts and give the public relations director access to top management so that he/she can influence decisions,” said Ivy Ledbetter Lee, recognized as an early media relations professional.
Warren Buffet said, “If you lose money for the company, I will be understanding. If you lose one shred of the company’s reputation, I will be ruthless.” Buffet, one of America’s wealthiest individuals, is chair and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
Jack Welch, former General Electric chair and CEO, said, “I want strategic advisors who tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. Honesty and integrity are the only way.”
There is a common thread to the ethical practice of public relations. Arthur Page, recognized as the “father of corporate public relations,” developed these seven principles: tell the truth, prove it with action, listen to the customer, manage for tomorrow, conduct public relations as if the whole company depends on it, realize a company’s true character is expressed by its people, and remain calm, patient and good humored.
Strategic counselor James Lukaszewski, in his book Why Should the Boss Listen to You? stresses that public relations counselors should strive to be the “number one, number two” person in an organization – the go to advisor, associate or assistant to the CEO. Lukaszewski pushes company and organization leaders “to look over the horizon and see what’s there – have a clear vision.” He points out that the best leaders “have in place the people and skills necessary to achieve the goals and objectives the boss promised to accomplish. He also encourages CEO’s “to promise less and achieve more.”
A favorite public relations tip is credited to Patrick Jackson – the “Double Bottom Line Theory,” which has evolved into the “Triple Bottom Line”:
First Bottom Line: Create relationships. If the organization has already achieved that important first line, work on enhancing the relationships and, at the very least, maintain the relationships you have. It costs far less to retain a customer or client than it does to attract new ones.
Second Bottom Line: Revenue. It generates from sales developed from the relationships created and built in the first bottom line.
Third Bottom Line: Profit. After all, that is what it is all about – making money. To make money, though, revenue must be generated and costs controlled. Like the other tips, the “Triple Bottom Line” is more than theory, it has been proven time and time again – just look at Southwest Airlines, Staples and Wal-Mart.
Even before the Phillies became perennial winners, president David Montgomery recognized the value of relationship building. He turned an evening at the ballpark into an experience – a family experience – from the moment you pull into the parking lot and scan your own ticket until the final out. Those relationships turned into revenue, the revenue into profits and, with Pat Gillick, Ruben Amaro and Charlie Manual’s strategies and tactics, the Phillies have won their fourth straight division title.
Former Rowan University marketing director Ed Ziegler says, “Reaching the desired outcome – is a process.” He says, “By educating your publics, you give them the knowledge needed to develop the proper attitude that leads to the behavioral outcome you want. When the organization’s output equals the outcome, synergy is achieved.”
However, none of these tips and advice mean a thing if the following principle isn’t followed. It comes from Melissa Matthews, Rowan class of ’01 and Woman’s Day beauty editor. She said it in the October 2011 issue in response to “What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?”
Said Melissa: “Make sure everything you do is open, honest, thorough and valid. I follow this advice from my college mentor, Professor Larry Litwin. It helps me make decisions, especially when evaluating beauty products.”
M. Larry Litwin, APR, Fellow PRSA, is an established strategic advisor, teacher, mentor, role model and ethicist, and an award-winning public relations counselor and broadcast journalist.
Traffic light cameras have become the craze in Southern New Jersey. If you try to run a yellow light, “big brother” is going to get you. On Oct. 30, 2010, The “Courier-Post” ran
some common questions and answers to the red light cameras throughout South Jersey.
Question: How do I know if an intersection is being monitored?
Answer: Any municipality that authorizes the use of a red light camera, including the 22 in the state pilot program, by law must post a sign warning of the enforcement on each street leading to the intersection. Some South Jersey communities in the pilot program expect to add more cameras in the future, but for now, they have been authorized at the following intersections:
Cherry Hill: At Route 70 and Springdale Road
Deptford: At Route 41 and Deptford Center Road
Glassboro: At Route 47 and Dalton Drive
Gloucester Township: On Blackwood-Clementon Road (Route 534) at Cherrywood Drive, at Blenheim/Erial/New Brooklyn Road (Route 706), at Little Gloucester Road (Route 759), and at Millbridge Road
Monroe: On Route 322 at Route 612 and at Route 42/Route 536 Spur
Q: If I see the cameras flash, does that mean I’m going to get a ticket?
A: Not necessarily. Sensors in the road trigger the cameras after determining that a vehicle is traveling fast enough to potentially cross the white stop line when the light turns red. Each camera company operates differently, but usually the devices snap at least two photos showing the back of the vehicle at and in the intersection during a red light. Some companies also record a short digital video. Before any tickets are issued, the camera provider reviews the images and sends suspected violations to the local law enforcement agency. Police officers then determine whether to issue a citation. Tickets are mailed to the registered owner of the license plate, not necessarily the driver, and usually include copies of the photo evidence and a link to view more online. Drivers won’t know if they’ve been caught running a light until they receive a ticket in the mail.
Q: What if someone else is driving my car?
A: According to state statute, you will still be held liable for the fine unless you can show your car was used without your consent. In that case, you would be able to take the driver to court to recover the amount of the fine. That differs from Philadelphia’s program, which uses only still photos and exonerates the vehicle owner if he can prove he wasn’t driving, even if he knowingly let someone else take the wheel. In New Jersey, only rental car owners can get a ticket excused by providing the name and address of the person leasing the car at the time the ticket was issued. The law doesn’t say if the court then sends the violation to that driver.
Q: Will I get a ticket if I’m traveling through the intersection when a yellow light changes to red?
A: You shouldn’t. According to service providers, the cameras focus on vehicles crossing the white stop line painted on the road after the light turns red.
Q: What if I inch forward for a clear view to the left before making a right on red?
A: As long as you first come to a complete stop before the white line, local police say you shouldn’t get fined. Those who stop but overshoot the line, whether heading forward or into a turn, could still face a fine. Authorities will see from the series of pictures where the vehicle was when the light turned red and whether it continued progressing into the intersection just after that. It’s up to them to decide whether to ignore a violation if a vehicle has only nudged past the stop line.
Q: Will there be any forgiveness for special circumstances like emergencies or funeral processions?
A: Yes. If examiners can tell that an emergency vehicle or funeral procession ran the light, the violation would be dismissed, local police chiefs said. However, because the cameras capture only the backs of the vehicles, any other nonvisible circumstances would have to be raised in a court hearing.
Q: What if I believe I didn’t do anything wrong, regardless of what the video shows?
A: You can request a hearing to contest the ticket in municipal court. The ticket will include directions on how to set that up. Steve Carrellas, a state representative for the National Motorists Association, encourages drivers to request the latest available speed survey and yellow light timing for the intersection to use as evidence in court. With that information, he said, drivers can determine whether the yellow signal lasted long enough for them to come to a stop based on state regulations.
Hone your networking skills now. Here’s start from M. Larry Litwin, APR, Fellow PRSA.
Networking begins with a firm handshake, a look into the eyes and exchange of business cards. It is an important step in anyone’s personal [job seeking] plan that could lead to an interview and first “real” job.
With the trend toward brevity, my suggestion is…Limit your portfolio to you best “stuff.”
A three-ring binder still works. Your first page should be a brief applicant statement, similar to the one on your resume. That resume should be next, followed by examples of results-oriented products – carryout tactics that made it into the media or into targeted public’s hands.
They would include (in this order – from the simple to the more complex) a media alert, (hard) news release, a strong (soft) feature, newsletters (hardcopy and/or electronic), and such one-page publications as fliers, posters, inline e-mail attachments, etc.
Be careful not to overwhelm the recipient. Keep it as simple as possible (KISS).
And…if you have excellent products and want to knock the socks off a prospective employer, leave behind a copy of your portfolio – not a hardcopy and not on a CD, but a flash drive version.
You may not get a job with that person’s organization right away, but you will definitely be remembered for your work, ingenuity and outside the circle thinking. Be sure you have business cards to leave behind with your portfolio.
Timing for a PRomo article about resumes couldn’t be better. As the new school year started, the world was celebrating “International Update Your Resume Month.” Who would have thought?
How big a deal is the resume? Recently, on NPR [National Public Radio], experts agreed. “It’s the biggest deal. That’s what opens the door to the interview,” said Louis Barajas, finance expert and author.
“If you don’t stick out like a sore thumb, if you don’t push yourself in front of everybody else, you won’t even get through the front door.”
According to Laura DeCarlo of Career Directors International, “It’s completely an issue of whether you are going to stand out from the pack of what could be hundreds – even a thousand candidates.”
How do you standout? First and foremost, applicants must sell themselves – emphasizing what they’ve done and how well they have done it. And, they have to do it in 15 to 20 seconds.
Are you up to the challenge?
[ ] Be a storyteller in few words. Help the employer recognize how you are above the competition with the same or similar skills and experience set.
[ ] Use key words [scannable – meaning, keys words recognizable by certain computer software] that the prospective employer might be looking for. Many times, they’ll jump right off a firm or organization’s website. “The biggest problem I see with most people looking for jobs,” says Barajas, “is that they haven’t done enough research on the company or the position. They’re not using the words that the employer is looking for.”
[ ] Customize your resume for the employer and position. Ask yourself the question, “If I were hiring, what would I be looking for.”
[ ] Proofread, proofread, proofread. Typos can turn the perfect resume into an office joke. [How many times has a public relations agency received a resume with the word public missing a key letter? Do not place your trust in spell check.
Now some strategies and tactics that will get you noticed:
[ ] Ditch the “objective.” Polish your resume by including a summary paragraph [just under your personal information] stating what you bring to the table, qualifications, experience and examples of a job well done. It should be succinct and contain buzzwords human resource managers look for –many of the same key message points you would include in an elevator speech. If that statement can be attributed to a third party, all the better. Here is an example:
Applicant Statement: My professor/advisor (Anthony J. Fulginiti) describes me as “mature beyond her years, articulate, well tailored and polished, loyal, has a passion for the profession, outstanding writer, and a skilled organizer and strategic thinker.” It is my dream to bring those qualities, passion and dedication to ELLE’s readers – just as I do the residents of Cherry Hill. My zest for knowledge and new challenges is contagious and should appeal to ELLE magazine’s staff and target audience.
[ ] Do not exaggerate. Even recent graduates should be able to list positive outcomes on their resumes without stretching the truth.
[ ] On entry-level resumes, present your college experience – including PRaction and PRomo. Highlight PRSSA, AdClub, AdDyamics and other results-oriented activities, and note if you attended college on a scholarship. Include summer jobs, highlight internships and jobs relevant to your degree.
[ ] If your resume is two pages [do not go over two], and many PRSSA students will go over two pages, be sure to include contact information on the bottom right side of page two. One never knows if a hard version gets separated.
In response to whether a resume should be one or two pages: According to NPR and its guests, “Some people are adamant that the resume should be only one page. Then others say, ‘Well, if you really want to let people know the breadth of your experience, then, of course, you should take two.”
If you’ve ever wondered what terms employers search for, here are results of a recent CareerBuilder.com study:
Problem-solving and decision-making skills (50 percent)
Oral and written communications (44 percent)
Customer service or retention (34 percent)
Performance and productivity improvement (32 percent)
[Reprinted from Rowan University’s “The Whit” on Sept. 23, 2010. To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org]
E-reading devices may one day replace books and textbooks.
While the technology is still in its relative infancy, e-books and e-textbooks may soon become institutionalized for college students. According to media industry analyst Simba Information, e-textbooks will account for at least 11 percent of textbook sales by 2013.
“I love it,” said M. Larry Litwin, public relations professor at Rowan University. “It’s the trend; it’s where it’s going. Anything we can do as faculty to save students money on books, without compromising the content, we should do.”
Litwin himself has authored two books – “The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook” and “The ABCs of Strategic Communication” – that are also available on e-reading devices. Students can buy his books on Amazon’s Kindle and even highlight text like they normally could in traditional textbooks. Litwin plans on allowing The ABCs of Strategic Communication to update itself on e-reading devices automatically.
“I want to do (The ABCs of Strategic Communications) totally online so I can update it at my convenience,” Litwin said.
On the contrary, Carl Hausman, both a professor of journalism at Rowan and author of 20 books, still enjoys print. “For a lot of applications, I would still choose the book,” Hausman said. “It’s not that I’m old, which I am. I just like the book technology.”
When asked about the money involved in publishing e-books, Litwin explained how much more lucrative electronic publication is. Print publications are bogged down by printing costs. The author of an academic textbook will get between 10 and 20 percent of the book cost. With e-books not having to worry about printing obligations, authors can gross more with electronic publications.
Amazon.com tells its authors, “We are excited to have launched the 70 percent royalty option for books published through DTP on the Amazon Kindle and Kindle Applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry and Android phones.”
Although a textbook may cost $40, Litwin explained, the royalties for it only amount to about $6 per copy. Litwin still prefers physical books on a personal level. “I’m a traditionalist. The accessibility of having hard copy might be easier.”
Although he sees the advantages of both, when asked about print’s future, Hausman summed it up best saying, “I don’t think the book will disappear.”
To get the discounted tickets, you just logon to: www.philadelphiaflyers.com/promocode. Type into the promo code box: 703College2, and it will bring you to the games. The code will automatically be registered to Rowan’s Brooke Schrider.
Tickets are $25 for upper level (reg price $46), $35 for mezzanine level, and $79 (reg price $96)