Archive for the ‘Meet the PRo’ Category

Meet the PRos: Brains on Fire

Posted: February 4, 2009 in Meet the PRo

After meeting Geno Church, Chief Inspiration Officer at Brains on Fire at the SNCR conference almost a year ago, I finally had the chance last week to sit down with him and Spike Jones, have lunch and stimulating conversation, and visit their offices downton Greenville (South Carolina, if y’all were wondering).

Brains on Fire has got to be one of the most creative agencies I’ve had a chance to meet with. I don’t know whether to call what they do public relations, marketing, all, or none of the above. They pride themselves on building identities and igniting movements.

So, students, the Brains on Fire blog is worth reading, the agency twitter account worth following, and I also encourage you to follow Geno and Spike on twitter, and possibly other people from this agency. I hope you’ll have a chance to meet them, too and hear about their work at an upcoming Clemson PRSSA meeting.

Oh, and you’ve got to love their logo, too! 🙂



[cross-posted from the Clemson PRSSA blog]

For those of you interested in finding a job or an internship (does that mean ALL?) here are some good online resources for learning how to navigate the job search process:

First, there’s Heather Huhman. You can follow Heather on twitter, read her column on and attend a live online event discussing cover letters on Sunday Feb. 8, 4 p.m. EST. Heather specializes in helping people find PR jobs and she posts lots of internships on twitter – search twitter for the #PRintern tag to find them.

Then, there’s career strategist J.T. O’Donnell (follow J.T. on twitter) who writes articles on the Career Realism blog.

Another resource is Grace Kutney (follow her on twitter) and her blog, Sweet Careers.

So, follow these people, subscribe to their blogs (here’s how to subscribe to a blog in Google Reader), and learn all you can about writing resumes and cover letters, searching for jobs, and handling yourself during a job interview.

Then, come back and share some insights on the Clemson PRSSA blog!

In class today, we chatted with Paull Young (blog, twitter), who works at Social Media PR consulting agency Converseon, in NYC.

Paull talked about the importance of networking online and how four of his Converseon colleagues were recruited via their blogs or twitter.

He also talked to us about the importance of strategy, strategic thinking & planning, and planning your evaluation before you dive into tactics.

Paull advises his clients on social media strategy, helps them start blogs and establish twitter presence, but does not write on their behalf. In fact, ghost writing is very much frowned upon in social media.

Check out Paull’s post about one of his clients, Graco. It’s an interesting case study. See also Graco on twitter.

UGA Connect 08 – Paull Young

Originally uploaded by hyku

Dr. Karen Russell (blog, twitter) is a professor at UGA who specializes in PR history.

I asked Dr. Russell to answer a couple of questions on her area of expertise:

Dr. V: Why study PR history? Why should we bother? What do we get out of it?

Dr. Russell: On a practical level, by studying PR history you can see what PR people have done in the past — strategies and tactics, interesting themes or approaches — with the added benefit that we can examine short- and long-term effects. For example, I love Roland Marchand’s book, Creating the Corporate Soul, because he reviews early attempts at humanizing corporations, which can surely provide insights into things corporations are doing today.

But PR history also has theoretical implications. Because Grunig and Hunt’s first version of the four models was based on a historical timeline approach, R. E. Bishop has argued that excellence theory rests on a foundation full of misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Prof. Meg Lamme, at the University of Alabama, recently pointed out to me that although PR theory has changed since Grunig and Hunt (1984), PR history still seems to rely on the timeline, even though we know the timeline is wrong. My own research shows, for example, that Ivy Lee’s conception of corporate publicity did not grow out of press agentry but out of Pres. Theodore Roosevelt’s call for the release of financial information by the trusts in 1902. So the public information model neither grew out of nor replaced the press agentry model. We have so much more to learn!
Dr. V: Can you give us some interesting facts from your research that are not (the same as those) in our intro to PR textbooks?

Anybody can use public relations techniques. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee had public relations representatives and sent out press releases to promote its work during the civil rights movement. That seems only right, given that the KKK hired an Atlanta agency to promote its messages during the 1920s!

Women and minorities in the U.S. have pretty much always been involved in PR, even if not in formal, paid positions. There’s been a good bit of research on PR tactics by women in reform movements, for example, and Scott Cutlip mentions that one PR agency had a woman who worked on “women’s accounts” at the turn of the 20th century. I think more women and minorities were in PR than we realize, but we haven’t studied them enough to know. Like I said, we have so much more to learn.

Kevin Dugan at UGA Connect, courtesy of hyku

Today we chatted on the phone with Kevin Dugan, director of marketing communications for FRCH Design Worldwide.

Kevin told the class about the importance of strategic planning and of setting goals and strategies before jumping into tactics. He said that no two days are the same in a PR job.

The 3 most important skills he would look for in an intern are:

1. Professionalism – exhibited in everything (behavior, communication, dress)

2. Good writing skills – he would look at a protfolio of class assignments, newspaper articles that the student has written, or a blog for evidence that the person can write well

3. Passion – showing enthusiams and eagerness to learn

Kevin’s personal blog is Strategic Public Relations, but he is famous for The Bad Pitch Blog – the PR hall of shame. You can also follow Kevin on twitter.

Photo of Kevin at the UGA Connect conference, courtesy of hyku.