Erin Lawley

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    • Member Type(s): Expert
      Communications Professional
    • Title:Senior Account Supervisor
    • Organization:Lovell Communications
    • Area of Expertise:PR, Media Relations, Corp. Comm.
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    PR Pros Push for Wikipedia Editing Rights

    Thursday, January 19, 2012, 12:59 PM [General]
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    In November, the Lovell Communications blog identified the inability of companies to edit their own Wikipedia pages as one of the biggest risks of having your business listed in the ubiquitous crowd-sourced online encyclopedia.  Fearing that posts will become biased, Wikipedia does not allow any business – or any organization or consultant working for that business – to make changes to its page due to perceived conflicts of interest (COI).

    An unfortunate side effect of that policy is that posts often contain outdated or incorrect information that PR pros cannot correct. Basically, they can recommend to Wikipedia that the page be edited and then cross their fingers.

    Frustrated with that often dead-end process for removing erroneous Wikipedia information, Edelman's Phil Gomes has launched a Facebook group called “Corporate Representatives for Ethical Wikipedia Engagement” or CREWE. According to a Forbes story earlier this month, the group is looking to engage Wikipedia in a discussion about “how communications professionals and the Wikipedia community can/must work together.”

    At the time of the Forbes piece, CREWE had 72 members. A week later, it was tracking above 110 members – including industry scribe Jack O’Dwyer, a smattering of Edelman employees, and even Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

    Although joining the group requires an invite or approval from an administrator, any Facebook member can get a taste of the group’s work by browsing its Facebook wall, where posts are frequent. For example, at the time this post was written, the CREWE wall prominently featured a working document titled “Examples of unpublished COI Suggested Edits that followed Wikipedia Guidelines.”

    Continue reading this post by visiting this public relations agency's blog.

    Do MBAs Need More PR Training?

    Thursday, December 22, 2011, 11:55 AM [General]
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    Thanks to the Public Relations Society of America, students seeking their master’s degree in business administration (MBA) might soon find themselves taking courses on public relations and crisis communications in addition to traditional offerings like accounting and finance.

    Earlier this month, the PRSA announced its MBA Initiative, a program designed to address what it calls “a lack of training in communications and reputation management skills among MBA graduates.” Through the initiative, a select group of business schools will implement PRSA-developed strategic communication coursework in the fall of 2012, with a wider national rollout planned for the following year.

    The move was prompted by the PRSA’s recent survey of 204 American business leaders, which found a “knowledge gap” in the communications and reputation management skills training of MBA graduates.

    The surveyindicates that business leaders think public relations skills are vital, but companies aren't as knowledgable about PR as they'd like to be.

    Continue reading and find the survey results at this Public Relations Agency's blog.

    Working with Reporters: What to Expect

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011, 3:12 PM [General]
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    If there’s one thing I learned about reporters in my time as a journalist, it’s that every single one of them is different. In temperament, in style, in their receptiveness to being pitched by PR pros – every reporter is unique.

    That means you may encounter a few surprises from time to time when working with newsroom staffers. (I recall one former colleague who insisted loudly on speaking to the CEO every time she called a company for a comment, no matter how small the story.)

    Fortunately, there are some things that vary little from scribe to scribe. Being aware of these general truths can help you prepare for your next reporter encounter.

    • Reporters want a live interview. Whether it’s in-person or over the phone, whether it lasts an hour or less than five minutes – reporters want to talk one-on-one with the individuals who are part of their story. An interview assures the reporter he or she will have the highest likelihood of understanding the topic at hand, having the opportunity to ask follow-up questions, and eliciting some quote-worthy material. From the reporter’s perspective, it’s the quickest and easiest way for them to gather the information they want so they can advance their story.

    They don’t really want to submit their questions in advance – they find it time consuming and argue that it’s impossible to anticipate what questions will crop up in conversation. And emailed responses to their questions in lieu of an interview are liked least of all. When I was on the other side of the fence, I dreaded the often sterilized language and regurgitated boilerplate that tended to show up in those answers – if I was even lucky enough for the answers to address the heart of the question.

    That’s not to say some emailed Qs and As can’t get the job done. But don’t be surprised if you get some grumbling or push-back if you ask for it.

    • There is no guarantee you’ll make it into the story. In fact, there’s no guarantee the story will appear at all. Reporters and editors make decisions about news coverage every day based on a variety of factors that, from time to time, result in the shortening or death of stories both good and bad. In addition, reporters decide which sources they will quote, which sources they will paraphrase, and which ones they will leave out of the story completely based on what makes for the best story.

    Of course you can ask the reporter to let you know if you or your client will be in the story and when it will run, but it’s good practice not to expect to see your name in print until you actually see it.

    Continue reading at this Public Relations Agency's blog.

    The "Secret Sauce" of Good Media Relations

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011, 5:19 PM [General]
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    There are many ingredients that go into effective media relations. Having a good story or a knowledgeable and authoritative source to offer are, of course, two critical components. But responsiveness is the “secret sauce” of good media relations. It’s that key component for securing media coverage and building the kinds of reporter relationships that keep them coming back for more.

    Of course, one person’s responsiveness may be another person’s what-the-heck-took-you-so-long, so let me elaborate.

    When I was a reporter, my definition of responsive was replying to a reporter’s request as soon as you physically can. That means, if you get an email from a reporter who wants to talk to your CEO or, if you’re a PR pro, one of your clients, you should reply to that reporter as soon as you get the message. Depending on the nature of the reporter’s email, your reply may be one line saying that you’ll check into it and get back to them as soon as you can.

    That reply lets the reporter know that you’re aware of their story and you’re trying to help.  It’s even better if you can let the reporter know when you’ll get back to them, and it’s better still if you can provide any guidance to the reporter on whether you think you’ll ultimately be able to fulfill that request.

    There are two major benefits to this kind of responsiveness:

    Continue reading at this Public Relations Agency's blog.