Ready, Set, Resume

By M. Larry Litwin, APR, Fellow PRSA

[To comment:]

          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 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)

Leadership (30 percent)

Technology (27 percent)

Team-building (26 percent)

Project management (20 percent)

[To comment:]

Philadelphia Sports Teams – Litwin gets some “ink” – in conjunction with the Sport Industry Research Center at Temple University

[To comment:]

Philly fans ranks Cowboys as greatest rival
Philadelphia Daily News
Larry Litwin, of Berlin, NJ, said the rivalry could have something to do with “that big star” the Cowboys wear. Litwin says that somehow his daughter Julie

 Fans rank Merrill Reese as Philly’s No. 1 play-by-play voice
Philadelphia Daily News
In a follow-up interview to the survey, Larry Litwin, of Berlin, NJ, said that “Merrill is not afraid to criticize when need be.

Phillies color commentator Larry Andersen in the booth before a
Philadelphia Daily News
According to Larry Litwin, of Berlin, NJ, “the chemistry between Larry and Franzke gets better and better.” Litwin adds that “LA is as close as you could

Print VS. e-books

[Reprinted from Rowan University’s “The Whit” on Sept. 23, 2010. To comment:]

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. 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.”

Special Edition – Flyers Discount Tickets

Major Discounts for Flyers games…

The games are as follows:

10/26 at 7 PM vs Buffalo Sabres

11/22 at 7 PM vs Montreal Canadiens

12/20 at 7 PM vs Florida Panthers

1/20 at 7 PM vs Ottawa Senators

2/22 at 7PM vs Phoenix Coyotes

3/8 at 7PM vs Edmonton Oilers

To get the discounted tickets, you just logon to:  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)

To comment:

PR is…

Public relations is as simple as a thank-you note and as complicated as a four-color brochure.

It’s as specific as writing a news release and as general as sensing community attitudes.

It’s as inexpensive as a phone call to an editor or as costly as a full-page advertisement.

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 is 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.”

© M. Larry Litwin and Ralph Burgio – 1971; 1999

Meet the PR Pro: Michael Gross

[This is a Philly PRSA blog dated Feb. 16, 2010. To comment:]

by Amy Merves, public relations, healthcare, and media professional and PRSA Philly Chapter Publicity/Web site Chair

Welcome to “Meet the PR Pro,” a new column designed to highlight professionals in the PRSA Philly chapter through conversations that reveal career paths, industry advice, and a touch of humor. For this edition, we interviewed Michael Gross, vice president of public relations with Jack Horner Communications and PRSA Philly’s 2010 president.

Can you describe your daily responsibilities at Jack Horner Communications?
Generally speaking, my job is twofold. First, I oversee many elements of the firm’s accounts, such as plan execution and making sure our clients get the best work and the best results. Second, I have leadership responsibilities as the supervisor of our PR and creative team.

What was your first PR position after college?
I was hired by Cherry Hill Township following an internship with the municipality. There, I worked in the recreation department planning the township’s events. We planned more than 60 events a year and my job involved everything from organizing event logistics to speech writing to media relations.

What newspapers/blogs do you read on a daily basis?
I get most of my news online. I wake up to for national headlines and for local news. Then, throughout the day, I follow most major news outlets’ Twitter feeds for breaking news and current events. I often read the hard copy of The Philadelphia Inquirer, too. And for fun, I follow, which is a fun blog (and podcast) for the other stuff I’m into.

What are your top three favorite books?
The geek in me still loves the “Lord of the Rings” series by J.R.R. Tolkien. “The Road” (Cormac McCarthy) is great. And I’d be remiss not to mention “The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook” by Larry Litwin, APR, Fellow PRSA. It’s a great tool for any PR pro, no matter what level of experience.

What advice do you have for anyone entering the PR field?
Network, network and network. Our industry is all about building relationships.

What is the top goal that clients have in mind when they hire a PR company?
Results. Everyone is looking for results. We as PR practitioners are, in essence, sales people. We’re selling ideas, concepts, stories, etc.

What is a common misconception that people have when they think of PR?
I can’t tell you how many students tell me they got into PR because they are “people persons.” While it’s nice to like people, PR is more about strategy — understanding attitudes, opinions and behaviors and knowing how to move the proverbial ”needle” by persuading or influencing an audience. Being good at PR takes a bit more than being a ”people person.” Rant over. Oh, and we don’t “spin.” We “position.”

Outside of work, how do you enjoy spending your time?
Wait, there’s time of outside of work? Just kidding. I enjoy spending my time with my family (boring answer, but it’s true). I also love the outdoors, so I fill the rest of my spare time hiking, fishing, camping, etc.

What was the best advice you received when you were just starting out in your career?
The best advice I got when I started out was to “speak up.” Don’t be shy. Go out, meet people. If you have an idea, express it. The only way to get ahead is to find a way to be heard. Hopefully at least some of your ideas are good ones!

What is the funniest PR story that you have read?
Have you heard the one where a news release, a brochure and a newsletter walk into a bar?

Key Communicators – It all started at Rowan University

     To comment: and check out Billy, Ashley and Eileen’s blogs.      

 It has been nearly half a century since Rowan University Professor Emeritus Don Bagin coined the term Key Communicator. And while Key Communicators are still an authorized grapevine that delivers facts to a community quickly and honestly, the channels used to get those facts to KCs has changed with the times.

            Key Communicators remain a school system’s lifeline to the community – especially in time of crisis or when the district needs public support. KCs – properly “schooled” – can be and are strategic message “carriers.”

            While face-to-face or word-of-mouth is still number one to assure that messages are received and interpreted to produce intended results, other modes of communication have evolved from primarily print and regular mail to cross platforming (sometimes referred to as convergence of distribution –print, Internet, wireless, broadcast [radio/TV]).

            No longer is a printed, hardcopy of such newsletters as Keynotes the preferred, but rather an inline version – which appears on the computer screen the moment an e-mail is opened. E-newsletters and blast e-mails have taken on a life of their own. The cross platforming might include newsletter attachments, text messaging, Podcasts, Vcasts, social media, Blogs and blast voice mails.

            Key Communicators – sometimes referred to as influencers, connectors, consumption pioneers or opinion leaders – are “a collection of individuals who have influence over part of a community,” says Tom Salter, senior communication officer, Montgomery (Ala.) County Schools . “A Key Communicator network is a loose-knit panel of opinion leaders who can shape community perceptions.

            “Nothing moves faster than a speeding rumor, is more powerful than an editorial board or able to leap tall special interest groups in a single bound,” states Salter.

            Three South Jersey school districts established Key Communicator programs years ago – during the 70s.  Heather Simmons, Glassboro (Gloucester County), Jan Giel, Washington Township (Gloucester County) and Susan Bastnagle, Cherry Hill, inherited and have nurtured their programs assuring they would continue to be their lifeline to the community.

            No matter how effective, Key Communicators should be only one of a school system’s feedback techniques. But KC programs serve as the hub of the face-to-face public relations program because “they (Key Communicators) will gladly tell you what they – and their friends, neighbors and local businesspeople – think,” Salter says.

            “No matter how many times we’ve heard it,” says Glassboro’s Simmons, “as public relations professionals in education, we always have to be mindful that we are dealing with the two things that take priorities in the life of a family – their children and their wallets.           

            “Key Communicator groups are helpful as we attempt to communicate to these families and other stakeholders with sensitivity, accuracy and efficiency,” states Simmons who serves as public relations consultant to the Glassboro Public Schools.

            “Key Communicators are valuable because they provide an opportunity to learn or confirm information, which helps us anticipate issues and make educated and researched decisions that relate to the public,” says Katie Hardesty. Hardesty, a Rowan graduate, is in the process of establishing a Key Communicator network for the Cherry Hill Public Library where she serves as public relations and special events director. She is using what is often referred to as the “Rowan University KC model for schools.”

            “KCs will help us gauge the community, give easier access to focus groups and other informal research, and help us counter misinformation that might arise,” Hardesty explains.  

            Like Cherry Hill, Washington Township has about 100 core Key Communicators who receive regular e-mails. Jan Giel, community relations coordinator for the district, reflects that it takes time to develop and maintain a successful KC program. “But it’s worth it,” she says. “In the long run, KC programs save far more time than it takes.”

            To make her point, Giel cites one recent example: “We used it (KCs) for rumor control when two of our middle schools were found to have mold.”

            Like most districts in the country, New Jersey school systems rarely, if ever, bring their KCs together for formal meetings. Two-way communication is accomplished through e-mails, interactive newsletters, phone and face-to-face.

            However, the Glassboro Public Schools have taken the route of bringing their 130 KCs together three times a year to inform and discuss issues of importance and to seek input as the district develops its budget.  The final meeting of the academic year – usually in April – is reserved for a post-mortem following the annual school election and to preview issues that may be coming up for the following year.

            While many think only in terms of influential residents or businessmen and women, a district’s internal family must be included among those who play a vital role in a district’s two-way communication process. One reason is because it’s the right thing to do. Another is because school employees are among the most trusted to tell the truth about what’s happening inside a school or at the district.

            No rule, written or otherwise, states that all Key Communicators must be strong school district supporters – or supporters of public education in general. In fact, it might be best if some are detractors.

            All, however, should be recognized as opinion shapers, community leaders, or just the woman or man next door willing to listen, talk and serve as a liaison (connector) between the schools and those with whom they come in contact. KCs are vitally interested in the welfare of their municipality, schools or the company or organization for which they work.

            No community, company or organization is immune to rumors – and rumors continue to grow unless they are snuffed out in their earliest stages.

“Research is clear,” says Mark Marmur of Makovsky & Company Public Relations, New York City, “Key Communicators, effectively chosen, are the pulse of their community.

            “It is an incredibly successful concept that helps build and maintain relationships and will quickly become an integral part of any organization’s ‘relationship marketing program’,” states Marmur, who holds bachelor and master’s degrees in public relations from Rowan University.

            Marmur notes that it is not only school systems that incorporate Key Communicator-type networks in their over-all public relations plan. Major corporations like Walt Disney World Resorts, Staples and smaller retailers like Hello, Sports Fans! (Cherry Hill) have relied on KCs for years to give them constant feedback and to relay positive and negative stories of their experience.

            Public schools starting a KC program might include PTA presidents and other officers, barbers, beauticians, lawyers, doctors, dentists, bankers, real estate and insurance agents, teachers, support staff, bus drivers, students, shopkeepers, and former school board members.

            While Bastnagel, Cherry Hill’s public information officer, courts Key Communicators, she believes, as does Disney, that electronic communications empowers everyone to be a Key Communicator. “Within minutes,” she says, “we can have a video message from our superintendent or other administrator on our district Web site and I can e-mail the link to thousands of subscribers on our e-mail notification list. 

            “I’m obsessive about sending out my e-news every single week during the school year, so that anyone who sees it is equipped to be a Key Communicator. And even if they don’t read it carefully each week, they know it’s there as an information resource.”
            In Glassboro it’s known as the Bulldog Bulletin, in Cherry Hill’s the CHPS e-news and a number of districts publish their own Keynotes. While they may have started as printed newsletters – one-way communication – all have evolved into e-newsletters with many of the articles containing links to “landing sites.” Many times, those links contain a “casual” survey asking for comments, reactions and other input to certain questions.

            “When I need our Key Communicators for something and send an email to that effect, they are used to seeing my name and know they can trust me,” says Simmons. “You can’t put a value on that.”

            Like many others responsible for coordinating school system KC programs, Bastnagel faces the challenge of “rethinking the entire Key Communicator concept – how to meld the power and pervasiveness of electronic communications with the one-to-one, face-to-face feel of a Key Communicator program.”

            Says Bastnagel: “As with every other aspect of my job, the Key Communicator program has changed as the power of electronic communications has evolved. Ten years ago, we reached out to our 100 or so Key Communicators with letters, phone calls and periodic face-to-face meetings.  But, 10 years ago, I didn’t have a cell phone, lots of parents didn’t have (or didn’t use) e-mail and our district Web site was still under construction.  Today, third graders have cell phones.  It’s a lot harder to stay ahead of the message.  (And, as Montgomery, Alabama’s Tom Salter said) News travels fast and bad news travels even faster.”

            During the recent National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) annual seminar, superintendents agreed, “Communication is a contact sport. If you are willing to mix it up in terms of communication and get close to people, face-to-face human contact, then you and your district will be successful.”

            Well thought out and effective Key Communicator networks should be an integral tactic in every school systems’ communication plan.


M. Larry Litwin, APR, Fellow PRSA,  is an associate professor of public relations at Rowan University in Glassboro and a former school public information director in Washington Township, Gloucester County. He is the 2006 recipient of the National School Public Relations Association’s Lifetime Professional Achievement Award for “excellence, leadership, contributions to the profession, and advocacy for students and our nation’s public schools.” His two books, The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook and The ABCs of Strategic Communications, both published this year, have won national acclaim.

Nice to be remembered

Melissa Matthews

Rowan grad Melissa Matthews, beauty editor of Woman’s Day magazine, writes in the October issue about the best career advice she ever received. “Make sure everything you do is open, honest, thorough and valid. I follow this advice from my college mentor, (Rowan University) Professor Larry Litwin. It helps me make decisions, especially when evaluating beauty products.”  (First spotted by Rowan U. Prof. David Hackney. Thanks David for the heads up.)

A Weisman-Litwin-Altenberg family addition

To comment:

Our newest nephew Eytan Ziv Altenberg’s birth and bris were celebrated in Houston on August 13. During the ceremony, his proud father offered this remarks:

(Eytan’s Savta [grandmother] said, “We had a magnificent evening last night!  Eytan’s bris was spiritual and communal.  We had about 80 + people welcome him into our covenant. There was a real sense of love and community.

“Although you weren’t with us physically, we certainly felt your love!  I am forwarding Joaquin’s remarks so you can feel even a bit closer to Eytan.

Hugs and love SAVTA!!!”

Eileen Weisman

Joaquin’s remarks:

Thank you to everyone for coming and sharing this joyous occasion with us. We appreciate your support and contribution to our son’s life!

I would also like to give special thanks to those who have made this possible, our wonderful family members who are no longer with us. They include:

Mr. and Mrs. Eddie & Jean Litwin – Alison’s maternal grandparents

Mrs. Sophie Weisman – Alison’s paternal grandmother

Mr. and Mrs. Pequin & Maruja Perez – Joaquin’s paternal grandparents

Mr. Norman Altenberg – Joaquin’s maternal Grandfather

And Mrs. Marcella Altenberg – Joaquin’s mother

Without their love and support, we would not have been able to be here today.

For those with us and with whom we have the privilege to share our lives with, we would like to thank:

Eileen and Lenny Weisman – for being parents to us each day, for their constant support, love and guidance and for hosting this fantastic Bris. Also, we are glad to share with them their first grandchild.

To Alison’s Paternal Grandfather – Moses Weisman who we get to share each day and this honor of his first great grandchild.

To my grandmother – Delia Altenberg who could not be here but is here in spirit

To our sister and brother-in-law Jessica and Ernest Cambareri, and to Eytan’s adorable cousins Marcella and Julia for making the trek from New York to be here.

To our other brother and sister-in-law – Josh and Liz Weisman for making the trek from Dallas and putting aside other arrangements to be here for us, To Josh who is here in spirit and supporting us from Iraq and possibly here via Skype.

To Alison’s paternal aunt – Aunt Pearl Westrich coming from Delaware to be with us today

To Alison’s maternal aunt – Aunt Jan Barbell who came all the way from New Jersey to be with us.

To all our family, we thank you.

I would also like to thank Dr. Mintz for officiating the ceremony and for being the ever-delicate mohel to celebrate this with us.

We would also like to give a special thanks to Dr. Todd Ivey who delivered our son under tense circumstances and kept us calm, safe and took great care of Alison through it all.

Naming Ceremony:

We wanted to share with everyone the idea behind the name: Eytan Ziv Altenberg

The first name, EYTAN, is Hebrew meaning STRONG… and a name he is already living up to.  We loved the sound of the name and more specifically, we wanted a name that also enabled us to give respect to Alison’s dear Grandfather Eddie Litwin.  It is customary to use the same first initial, “E” in this case after the person being remembered.

Eddie or Poppy, as he liked to be called, is remembered for his larger than life personality.  A big hearted, loving family man who had a great sense of humor, charisma and solid work ethic to provide for his family and always wisdom to impart in a jovial way. We hope EYTAN reflects Poppy’s values and spirit and we are thrilled to share our son in his memory.

Ziv, the middle name is Hebrew for splendid or brilliant.  We chose this name because it reminded us of my mother Marcella Altenberg.  My mother was a radiant person. She shined with her smile and big heart. She always had a kind word or something to offer anyone who needed it.  We did not have much, growing up, but somehow she always had something to give. It was that radiant nature and quick to laughter that made her such a wonderful person to be around.  We hope our son shares this gift of brilliance to connect with the world out of kindness and love from his heart.  We also wanted to honor my mother for all that she gave to guide me here to this day.

Please feel free to practice his name, share it with others and we hope you find as much joy is saying it as we do! With love, Alison and Joaquin Altenberg