What Winning the Dorothy Thomas Black Award Means to Me

On May 15, 2019, I had the distinguished honor of being awarded the Dorothy Thomas Black Award by the Public Relations Society of America Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter. This award was established in 1983 in memory of Dorothy Thomas Black, who was the former director of public relations at St. Luke’s Medical Center and a PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter president. The award recognizes sustained, superior performance in public relations, typically rewarding the lifetime achievement of a public relations professional who is also a member of the PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter.

Receiving this honor and being recognized by my peers means so much to me, though it is difficult to put into words. One thing I can tell you though beyond a doubt is that I would not be where I am in my career if it weren’t for my involvement in PRSSA and PRSA.

My involvement in PRSSA and PRSA has resulted in friendships across the United States, mentors and colleagues I can bounce ideas off of, and a wealth of useful and timely information at my fingertips to help me stay current about our ever-evolving industry. I became involved with PRSSA as a sophomore in college. I then went on to become Midwest District Director for PRSSA during the 1991-1992 school year, and have been professionally involved in PRSA since graduating from UW-Whitewater.

From 1993-1994, I served as the membership chairperson for the Madison PRSA Chapter. From 1997-1999, I served as the PRSA employment chairperson for the Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter and was recognized in 1999 with the President’s Award for her efforts in this role. I also served as a PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin board member from 2013-2014, and in 2015, I became the president-elect for PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin. I  served as president in 2016 and past president in 2017. I have also been the UW-Whitewater PRSSA professional advisor since 2009 and have been responsible for planning PRO Day for college students since 2014.  In addition, I serves as the chapter’s webmaster.

By being very involved in a trade industry organization I have gotten to know the PR industry in a way which has allowed me to grow professionally. I am completely networked in Southeastern Wisconsin, and my professional friendships are priceless. I have also helped many young PR PROs rise up into the professional world. I have enjoyed being a mentor to so many wonderful individuals who now have thriving careers in PR. My life and career has been so fulfilling because of these amazing mentor/mentee relationships. I take pride not only in my professional success but also in their’s.

I encourage everyone, no matter what industry you are in, to get involved in a trade organization. The benefits you reap will be endless and life changing.


How Online Reviews Can Make or Break Your Business

Today’s world is driven by online data. Consumers are searching online for companies they want to work, doing their background research online from their couches at night, and reading online reviews to make their buying decisions.

If you have negative online reviews, I can guarantee it is costing your business money.

As frustrating as you might find review sites like Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, etc. they are not going away. Consumers rely heavily on what people saying about the products they are considering purchasing, and whether or not you respond to reviews, and how you respond to them does impact your business.

So how should your company be addressing online reviews?

You should be assigning one person within your organization to  check these review sites daily and sign up to receive notices when someone posts a review for your company.

This person should always be responding to  all reviews about your company whether they are positive or negative.

They should: be thanking who ever submitted the review by their name, if possible, and addresings what they are talking about in their review. For example, “Thanks Samantha for your review. We are thrilled you liked our ABC product.”

If their review is negative, then the most effective thing to do is show concern and take the conversation off-line. For example “Samantha, we are disappointed to read your review and would really like some additional information about your experience. Could you please email us at info@yourcompany.com? Remember that this email is public so setting up a generic email address that is not  name specific is to your benefit because employees come and go and this information will be accessible online pretty much forever.

Other Tips:
-Be timely respond within a day or two of the review being posted to show you really care.
-Always be polite because you don’t know the full back story to why this person reviewed your business the way they did.
-Re-read your response before you post it to make sure your grammar, spelling and tone are correct.
-Be concise and recognize when a customer expresses brand loyalty.
-Be grateful for these reviews you can improve your customer experience so be sure to say “Thank you!”

Why Should I be in a Professional Organization?

In 2016, I had the honor of serving as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Southeastern Chapter President. It was a great opportunity to show my leadership skills with my industry peers, and to also help many PR professionals in the Greater Milwaukee region.

Professionally, I have been involved with PRSA since 1990, and can honestly say my career has soared because of my involvement with this group. I first became involved with their student group, the Public Relations Students Society of America (PRSSA) in college at UW-Whitewater. During my senior year, I was elected to PRSSA’s national board where I served as Midwest District Director overseeing student chapters in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa. It was an amazing experience for a 21-year-old.

Over the years, I have been asked countless times, “Why are you so committed to PRSA?”  There are a number of reasons I give as a response, and why I think everyone should be involved in a professional organization. They include:

1. Professional Organizations Keep You Up to Date
Every morning I receive an email from PRSA with links to the most relevant news impacting my industry. From trends in the social media world to changes in the traditional print and broadcast world, I learn about it all through PRSA. They also send me a Tactics newsletter and Strategists magazine in the mail regularly to go more in depth on these subjects.  They host ongoing webinars, an annual national conference and our local chapter hosts monthly luncheon meetings. The education they provide me is priceless in today’s fast-paced, technology driven world. It keeps me inspired and motivated.

2.  Networking
PRSA is comprised of over 21,000 PR professionals around the world and over 300 of reside in Southeastern Wisconsin. These members can serve as resources for bouncing ideas off of, new business opportunities, partnerships and more. Plus, I have developed many friendships through the years from my involvement in both PRSSA and PRSA. From Laura in Boston to Aaron in Seattle, I literally have connections from coast to coast thanks to PRSA.

3.  Giving Back
As a member of PRSA, one of the things I do is give back to the UW-Whitewater, UW-Milwaukee and Marquette PRSSA chapters by regularly speaking to students about PR careers. I also am the organizer for PRSA’s annual PRO Day which is a half day event designed to give college students an inside glimpse at PR careers in Southeastern Wisconsin. I find working with PR students inspiring and I love giving back to the PRSSA because it offered me so many opportunities when I was in college.

4. Leadership Volunteer Opportunities and Credibility
From serving in various leadership roles for the past 5 years on the PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin Board of Directors to entering my work in the annual Paragons Chapter Awards Program, PRSA provides me endless opportunities to fine-tune my leadership skills in a volunteer setting and prove my professional credibility. By being a member of the largest PR professional in the world, I am telling my clients and potential clients that I am committed to be the best PR professional I can possibly be and I take my career seriously.

Storytelling: From Forensics to Social Media

Ok, I admit it, back in middle and high school,  I was one of those geeky kids that enjoyed competing in Forensics.  And, as you might of guessed, the category that I excelled in most was Storytelling. So really when you think about it, it’s not very ironic that  today I own a successful PR business that is centered around effectively conveying my clients’ stories to the media and in social media. It’s something that’s always come pretty natural to me but that’s not always the case for every  PR/Marketing professional out there.

I found this article this morning in Adweek and thought I should really share it. http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/8-ways-to-become-a-better-storyteller-through-social-media/614117

So many companies are making the mistake of having their social media posts look like ads when in reality they should be telling stories to engage their customers in their brands.  Last year, when my client, Wilderness Resort, was opening seven new attractions/amenities, we used their social media channels to tell the resort’s construction stories. We would regularly post pictures of what was going on behind the construction barricades, and tell the resort’s guests fun information about all of the construction projects. The results were amazing! Guests didn’t see the resort’s construction as a nuisance. They were excited by it and  seldom complained about it. And, every time we announced a new amenity was opening on social media, we would host a contest with giveaway that would generate an abundance of posts by guests who were so excited to come and experience it.

What’s your company’s story and how can you tell it in a captivating way? You owe to your company to find out.

5 Social Media Goals PR Pros Should Set

I’ve decided that in 2015, when I see a noteworthy article on a different blog I should simply post a link to it on my blog.

Here is the first article that caught my eye this year that I think has some really noteworthy social media ideas in it. It’s from PR Daily and it’s entitled: “5 Social Media Goals PR Pros Should Set”.  It is written by Tom Corsillo who oversees digital and social media for The Marino Organization (TMO).

Enjoy the read. I know I did. http://tinyurl.com/k9a224n.


Exciting News!

In December, I was named President-Elect for the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter. Our chapter of 300+ members is the largest group of PR professionals in the state of Wisconsin. As President-Elect, I am in charge of our monthly programming. Here is a link to our website page with all of the currently planned programs described: http://www.prsawis.org/events/chapter-events/ .

As board member for PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin, I am also in charge of planning our PRO Day, a 1/2 day event for college students learn more about careers in Public Relations . The 2015 PRO Day will be held at Marquette University’s Student Union on Friday, April 17 and is  being generously sponored by Eisner Creative Foundation and Big Shoes Network. To learn more about this event please visit http://www.prsawis.org/students/pro-day/ .

I am truly humbled to be serving as President-Elect for this great chapter. In 1992, I served as the Midwest District Director for the Public Relations Student Society of America when I was a senior at UW-Whitewater. To say this has been an amazing journey to come to this point in my career is an understatement. I can honestly say over the years, PRSSA and now PRSA have both dramatically impacted my life both professionally and personally, and I’m so grateful for the many wonderful friendships I have because of  these two wonderful professional organizations.

Ice Bucket Challenge Pays off Big for ALS

Have you been one of the millions to do “Ice Bucket Challenge” to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease)? If you haven’t, I’m sure you  you’ve at least seen or heard about this viral grassroots marketing campaign that has exploded for a good cause.

Here’s how it works: Someone who wants to participate (or has been “challenged” via social media by a friend) simply films themselves dumping a bucket of ice water on their head. It’s reminds you of those celebratory big game moments, where the winning coach gets drenched. But in this case, it’s personal. The person getting dunked then challenges a friend or friends to do the same in the name of ALS, within 24 hours, and/or donate to the ALS cause.

The viral challenge actually kicked off a few months ago, when Pete Frates, a 29-year-old Massachusetts resident diagnosed with ALS, started posting about it on social media with his father’s help. Frates was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease, which currently has no cure, in 2012. He is now paralyzed, eats through a feeding tube and cannot talk. The “Ice Bucket Challenge” really gained traction, however,  when 200 friends and family members of the former Boston College baseball player used it to raise awareness about his plight by all dousing themselves at once in Copley Square in Boston. It made local news and then eventually national headlines.

As of Tuesday, August 19, The ALS Association has received $22.9 million in donations compared to $1.9 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 19). These donations have come from existing donors and 453,210 new donors to The the ALS Association.

So why has this been so successful for ALS? It’s simple really — people want to do good, and this is a fun and easy was to do so. Everyone has a bucket or a large bowl and it really is an easy way to show publicly via social media that you are trying to make a difference. But what is amazing about this challenge is that the ALS Association has picked up over 450,000 new donors to date from the simple idea, and Pete Frates has proven that if nonprofits and other deserving causes “throw a creative stone” out into the social media world the ripple effect can be amazing.

According to Barbara Newhouse, President and CEO of the ALS Association, “Our top priority right now is acknowledging all the gifts made by donors to the ALS Association. We want to be the best stewards of this incredible influx of support. To do that, we need to be strategic in our decision making as to how the funds will be spent so that when people look back on this event in 10 or 20 years, the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge” will be seen as a real game-changer for ALS.”

My hope is that it will be seen as the amazing campaign that led to a cure for this terrible disease. What could be your organization or causes game changing moment? The “Ice Bucket Challenge” is proving it doesn’t have to be a complex idea that costs a lot of money to implement or promote. Sometimes the best ideas are the easiest… Like dumping water over your head.

What’s Ahead for 2014

Happy New Year everyone! I hope your holidays were happy. January is always such an exciting time of year (despite Wisconsin’s frigid weather) because it offers so much hope. It’s a fresh start, a time to recharge and dive into new ideas and projects. During this time of year, I to love read all of the articles out there with people speculating about they think will happen in the year ahead, trends that they expect to emerge and what they think will fad away as new things come to the forefront. (Seriously, as far as the fashion world goes can we make Crocs go away permanently once and for all?)

When it comes to PR/Marketing trends, I recently read an article entitled, “Trends that will Shape 2014,” by Stephanie Frasco that I feel has a lot of merit. In it, she states that mobile will rule in 2014, and I have to agree. Smart phones are truly becoming the norm, and people of all ages are using them as a reliable information source. They are not just a means of communication but they are also a source of entertainment and people are checking their social media accounts regularly through their smart phones. This means your social media content needs to be relevant and fresh. Do you have a social media strategy for the content of your posts and how quickly you reply to customers posts? If not add this to your to do list for 2014.

Stephanie also says that blogs will continue to drive business in 2014, and I would have to agree on this point as well.  Blogs provide wonderful opportunities for your organization to share its industry expertise, provide interesting glimpses into your business and its people; and talk about your plans, goals, new challenges, etc. If your organzation doesn’t have a blog you should also be adding this to your to do list for 2014.

Stephanie has many other insights worth reading. To see the entire article click here: http://socialmediatoday.com/stephaniefrasco/2015861/11-web-marketing-social-media-trends-will-shape-2014#comments.

15 Eye-Popping Stats About Social Shopping

The website http://digiday.com recently had a fascinating post about “15 eye-popping stats about social media shopping” and the role that social media is now playing in people’s shopping habits. I have to say as a consumer, I often find the sponsored posts in my Facebook new stream really appealing, and my friends’ pins on Pinterest of the “must have” coordinated outfits for the season beyond tempting.

However, what I found absolutely fascinating in this article though is that there has been an astounding 357 percent increase in sales from social traffic compared to last year. (ShopSocially). This just proves that these sponsored posts, tweets and pins are beyond tempting for many. Reinforcing this stat, four in 10 social media users said they have purchased an item in-store or online after sharing or favoriting it on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. (Vision Critical), and sixty-five percent of consumers said they are using social media to find the perfect gift for people. (Crowdtap)

Also interesting is that ninety-one percent of e-commerce retailers saw a lift in their SEO rank thanks to social referrals. (ShopSocially), and that over the period of Jauary through June 2013, social traffic to e-commerce sites created a revenue increase of 17.8 percent. (ShopSocially)

To read this entire article visit http://digiday.com/brands/15-interesting-stats-social-shopping/

How Effective is Your Facebook Page?

Do you administer a Facebook page?  Are you constantly looking at your page metrics trying to figure out which ones really mean success or failure?

According to Emeric Ernoult, co-founder of AgoraPulse (a Paris- and San Francisco-based Facebook marketing software firm), since February 2013, Facebook has fixed the reach issue businesses where having with their pages and so your company’s main goal should be trying to reach as many of your fans as possible for free with each post.

On average, Facebook posts  by companies reach 16% of their fan, says Ernoult in a recent online article: http://allfacebook.com/emeric-ernoult-reach-best-facebook-metric_b119138. Companies should strive to achieve this percentage as a minimum  goal and should be happy when they are regularly exceeding it.

So armed with this information, I took a look at one of the pages Fendos PR helps to plan and monitor for our clients. Over a recent five day span, this client had the following reach with their posts:
Monday: 40.8 percent
Tuesday: 41.34 percent
Wednesday: 36 percent
Thursday: 24.87 percent
Friday: 48.4 percent, Plus, we had two additional posts that day that reached 27.6 percent and 22.46 percent respectively.

I should point out that this client takes their social media pages very seriously. Fendos PR meets with them on a weekly basis to determine our posts for the following week, and we also have a calendar of ideas that we constantly add to and edit.  The lesson to be learned here is that businesses can be successful with their social media efforts but that it requires planning, being committed to it and monitoring it closely. When something works, build upon it and if it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to abandon the strategy and come up with a new idea.