Examples of Editorials
Examples of Human Interest Briefs
And a Dog’s Tale
Example of Direct Mail Appeal
Examples of Editorials
Printed in Inside Tucson Business:
Accreditation in Public Relations, Yes It Matters.
“Because I say so.” It wasn’t persuasive when Mom said it and I can’t imagine saying that to a client or my CEO expecting to be credible. So why do so many professional public relations practitioners procrastinate over accreditation? I can’t tell you.
Pursuing accreditation is often a personal decision. Very few employers require accreditation. My BA is in English and Communication, which laid a good foundation for my years in business and public relations. What I found in reading the recommended text books supports a recent survey published in Public Relations Review debunking the assumption that age and experience can substitute for accreditation. (Tactics April 2011)
Age and experience are not mutually exclusive of accreditation; rather the best practitioners have both. The accreditation process is straightforward, but not simple. A practitioner applies to the national PRSA accreditation department. Established in 1964, the Accreditation Program is the profession’s only national post-graduate certification program. It measures fundamental knowledge of communications theory and its application; establishes advanced capabilities in research, strategic planning, implementation and evaluation; and demonstrates a commitment to professional excellence and ethical conduct. The skills acquired through the process are applicable to any industry or practice area. Granting of Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) is overseen by the Universal Accreditation Board.
The application process helps to weed out the practitioners who are too young in the profession as well as the people with titles sans experience. If the applicant is approved to begin the path to becoming an APR the rest of the process is up to the applicant, who then has one year to complete a readiness review, present the review and their portfolio to a panel assembled by the local chapter, and, if approved by the panel, take a 185 question computerized test (four hours are allowed for the test.)
The Readiness Review sections bring out one’s understanding of one’s organization and role in it; a demonstration of experience; and lastly an analysis of knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA’s). There are fifty-eight discrete KSA’s from using information technology efficiently, to history, ethics, crisis communications, business literacy and media relations. Oh, and media relations is only 2% of the overall. Yes, journalism majors you read that correctly. Media relations is considered to be only 2% of what you need to know to be a public relations professional.
So, still think experience is a substitute for being accredited? Of the 21,000 members of the Public Relations Society of America 5,000 are APRs, twenty-five of whom practice in Tucson. Sadly not all practitioners of “public relations” become members of PRSA. To a business owner or an employer that means there are a lot of people saying that they are worth your trust and your money and they can’t back it up.
That sounds harsh, and it is. But it’s your money and your corporate reputation on the line. I have my taxes prepared by a CPA. I trust my health to a board certified physician. I have my legal affairs managed by an attorney who has passed the Bar. So, yes, I believe accreditation matters.
“They really need some PR.”
I’ve heard this statement, read this statement, and been confounded by this statement.
This kind of declaration implies that Public Relations is a commodity. A something that can be picked up off the shelf and applied, perhaps like a Band-Aid. Oftentimes the declaration is made after a corporate misstep, a nonprofit blunder, or individual faux pas. Sad to say, but by that time it’s a little late to apply the Public relations Band-Aid, even if you could.
It’s not really the fault of those who assign a commodity designation to public relations. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) hasn’t updated its own definition of PR since 1982. Remember 1982. We had typewriters and correct tape. There were no cell phones. We had beepers. Disco was huge. Yikes.
So what is PR if it’s not a commodity you can purchase off the shelf? The dated definition from the bible of the profession, “Effective Public Relations” (Cutlip, Center and Broom): says: “Public relations is a management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics on whom its success or failure depends.” The 21,000 member association of PR professionals has just launched an organization wide process to establish a current definition. Stay tuned to this column for updates.
As a place to begin a discussion of what PR is and is not the 1982 definition is as good a place as any. Let’s start with what that definition does NOT say. It doesn’t say PR is a way to spin straw into gold, or fact into fantasy. Too many folks who say they are “in PR” have given PR professionals a bad name by “spinning” stories to cloud and confuse.
It does not say it is a media function. Sorry journalists. PR is not where you go after losing your newspaper job and immediately emerge the savior of the agency/company, etc.
It does not say anything about marketing. It does not say anything about advertising. And because it is so-o-o-o dated it certainly does not say anything about social media.
It DOES say it’s about relationships. In my experience relationships, lasting relationships, are not created overnight. Trusting relationships, relationships that manage and maintain reputations are built over time with research and planning as primary underpinnings.
This is the season of giving and reflecting. Here are my reflections on professional public relations: Public Relations is something that is as fundamental to your business as your accountant and your lawyer. Planning your message to customers, clients, and users is as basic as turning on your lights and opening your doors. The communications you prepare and deliver to your staff are the lifeblood of your operations. The deliberate and thoughtful preparation of your website and printed material reflects your respect for your “public” and yourself.
As we look at the future, let’s focus on things that matter, like reputation and relationships. If the past year has taught us anything it’s that when times are tough you count on the good will you have built up over time to sustain you.
In the coming year invest in your company by committing to professional public relations. Commit to sustained communication with employees and clients. Understand that the public will give you the benefit of the doubt when you give them the benefit of respect through your quality of work, reliability of your product or service, and integrity of truth.
Here’s to your success!
Published in the PRSA Association and Nonprofit Section newsletter, November 2017
The Truth About Fundraising.
Unraveling the American relationship with money.
Our society has a conflicted history with money, a tortured relationship. We want it, but we don’t want people to know we want it. Because it’s what? Tainted, tawdry, dirty, crass, laundered, old, earned, inherited?
Money is important in our society, our culture. It means something. We make it mean something, sometimes it means a lot. It can be someone’s identity. It’s certainly a way to keep score. And for Americans, money is intimate.
People with class don’t talk about money, right? People with lots of it certainly don’t talk about it. But we’re fundraisers, we can talk about it. Heck we ask for it. We research, study, strategize, campaign, approach, appeal, entertain, honor, steward. You get the idea.
But it’s about the donor. Yes, it’s about the donor and not you, but that’s not the truth of it. The truth is that fundraising is about inserting yourself into one of the most intimate relationship in our culture. Fundraising is about people and money, and people are funny about money. Whether we are our money; what we do with our money; the way we make our money; who we help with our money; the family we protect with our money – it’s all an emotional web.
When people open up about money, their money, they open up… about everything else. Money is more intimate than sex in our culture.
If you are a major gift fundraiser you’ve run into this. If you aspire to be a major gift fundraiser or planned giving consultant, know that the emotional web is the gateway to gifts. And once a donor Is willing to be vulnerable about their money, they reveal it all. The threshold in our culture for access to secrets is money. Remember the advice from Deep Throat to Woodward and Bernstein, “Follow the money.”
The truth is you can’t raise money, serious money, without becoming trusted by your donor. Because once you are trusted with knowing about their money, you are trusted with the details of their lives. And there it is. The messy parts of being human beings.
So now you know. The truth about fundraising is that it’s intimate, messy and all about human beings being human. And that’s the good news. We can work with this.
Examples of human interest briefs
These short profiles were part of a fundraising campaign for the founder of a nonprofit organization. After years of helpng others, such as the women profiled, he needed some help.
On a blisteringly hot day two women arrived our site carrying a precious package named Grace. Her mother and aunt loved her so much that they carried her to us.
As they gently set her down we were reminded how often friends and family members arrive after hours or even days of such struggle and sacrifice.
Until this day Grace crawled through the dust when she needed to go anywhere. The grimy rugged terrain of her home makes this a painful and humiliating challenge.
In her new wheelchair, Grace is reborn as an independent individual! Her caregivers were thrilled that Grace was free from her former life.
Mercy is a Polio survivor. It is even more astounding that her crutches have survived.
Squinting into the bright African sun, she arrived at our site using contraptions that are a testament to her will to survive. For years, she has adapted, amended and patched these previous tools to keep her going.
And now they are no more. That same bright sun now reflects off her brand new shiny aluminum crutches that shine almost as brightly as her smile!
Smoky is a nine and a half year-old, 150 pound Great Dane. We adopted him from the Humane Society in Tucson when he was five years old. That’s already late middle age for a ‘giant breed”. Dogs his size rarely live to his age and even rarer is a big guy to stay healthy. Smoky was healthy until April of this year when he developed a severe limp. He was unable to really put weight on his back left leg. All sorts of dire thoughts went through our minds, mostly that his hips had gone bad, which could be the end of his quality of life.
When after two days he wasn’t getting better on his own we called our Vet. After X-rays and blood work we were relieved, somewhat, to hear that Smoky had damaged his Anterior Cruciate Ligament. That’s the one that holds the tibia and fibula together and helps bend the knee. You may have heard the abbreviation “ACL” in sports reports about injured athletes. Who knew dogs have ACLs too? The options were laid out for us: expensive surgery, which may or may not provide Smoky with quality of life, or some medications to ease his pain and acupuncture treatment. Yes, acupuncture for dogs.
Given Smoky’s age it made sense to take the less invasive road first. So we opted for pain and anti-inflammatory meds and, yes, acupuncture. He responded almost immediately to the acupuncture. Within five minutes the trembling in his left leg had stopped. He was relaxed and just hung out for the twenty minutes or so of the first treatment. He needed help getting into the car for the drive home. After he got home and slumped into his bed and went to sleep while we waited.
The next day he walked without a limp. Then he ran. To see Smoky run is rather like watching a small horse. He gallops. He galloped flat out chasing an unseen woodland creature in the backyard. He sniffed, turned around and trotted back as if he hadn’t just performed a miracle. He continued day after day to behave as if he had never had a limp. He is by no means a puppy with lots of energy. What he is, is a senior canine who has returned to his full mobility prior to his injury.
We have gone for a follow up acupuncture treatment which he tolerated much as he does a bath, a slight annoyance. Heading into our third week of treatment he continues to thrive.
We don’t know how long Smoky will stick around, but it’s a relief to know that we can help him to be mobile and pain free in his golden years.
Example of Direct Mail Appeal
The agency received $3 for each $1 spent on the campaign.
One day 38 years ago a group of caring people just like you decided to help their neighbors.
For 38 years you have kept us going.
For 38 years you have donated food and money so that your neighbors didn’t go hungry
And we need your help again.
You can help the woman who counts her potatoes to make sure they last.
You can help the man who has applied for 65 jobs and is still unemployed.
You can help the grandmother who took in her grandkids, because the parents are no longer in the picture.
Lots of things have changed in 38 years. Jimmy Carter isn’t President, the VW Bug is back, but different, and the Community Food Bank is in a new warehouse.
And there are new ways you can help:
- Donate on our website foodbankgj.org
- Give on FaceBook
- Contribute to our GoFundMe campaign.
- Or do it the old-fashioned way and just write a check
With your help more than 184,000 meals were provided to our hungry neighbors last year.
Every dollar is important. So we stretch your dollars. $1 can distribute as much as $4 worth of food.
The best way we can thank you is to use your gifts wisely and keep our doors open.
On behalf of all the thousands of people you help… thank you.
The Community Food Bank board of Directors