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October 30, 2014

Throwback Thursday: How My Time as a College Newspaper Editor Prepared Me for My PR Career

By Jen Tedeschi, 11:03 am

As a recent graduate of Saint Joseph’s University and a newbie to the public relations industry, I often think about my time spent in college and how it prepared me for working in this field. While my classes and extracurricular activities provided a solid foundation, nothing helped prepare me more to work in the “real world” than my time as the features editor of The Hawk, my alma mater’s campus newspaper.

The two semesters in which I served as an editor for The Hawk taught me valuable lessons that every PR professional should know – Buchanan Public Relations, Philadelphia public relations agencyspecifically, the importance of developing relationships with journalists. While working as features editor, my email Inbox was flooded with news releases and pitches from PR professionals. In fact, to this day, I still receive press releases via email seeking an article opportunity in The Hawk. I will admit that, back then, almost every time an email with the words “press release” appeared, I was tempted to hit Delete without even opening it. Most of those messages did not provide anything helpful and were a waste of my time … or so I thought.

Fast-forward to more than a year later. Here I am as a young PR pro, anxiously hoping for at least one reporter to respond to the news release or pitch I worked so hard to write and customize. Talk about a role-reversal, huh?

Nowadays, I use my experiences as a college newspaper editor to help improve my work and build relationships with reporters. Whenever I reach out to the media, I always think about the numerous requests I used to get from PR professionals and how frustrated they made me. Emails that were addressed to the wrong person, contained information that did not apply to the topics I covered or appeared to be completely automated left an impression that these people simply did not do their research. While opportunities to interact are supposed to be beneficial for both the reporter and the PR professional, the messages I received almost always portrayed otherwise.

Having the opportunity to work as both a journalist and a PR pro has taught me how important it is to go the extra mile in securing media coverage. Even if it takes more time to look through a reporter’s bio in CisionPoint or research an article he or she has written on a particular topic, putting in that effort could result in a lasting relationship and positive coverage for your client.

When I recently distributed a media pitch for a Buchanan PR client and received multiple replies from reporters, I was thrilled. I knew that I was able to successfully secure media coverage without irritating reporters along the way. While in my college days I may not have enjoyed opening an overflowing Inbox of news releases and pitches, after seeing the fruits of my labor post-graduation, I am ever so grateful when a reporter takes the time to read what we send.

October 21, 2014

It’s Not What You’re Not

By Nancy Page, 11:17 am

It’s what you are.

According to Wikipedia, a not-for-profit agency is an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals rather than distributing them as profit or dividends. That doesn’t sound like a description of what something is not to me. It sounds like what it is!

“Not-for-profit” is a bad way to describe what these organizations are. Nonprofits exist for a purpose. They’re pro-mission. They do all kinds of good things for society and in the world. Not for nothing, but there’s a need for some re-branding here. (more…)

October 13, 2014

The Oft-Overlooked Boilerplate

By admin, 4:48 pm

This week’s blog post comes to us from our friends at GroundFloorMedia, PRGN’s Denver affiliate. Amanda Brannum reminds us of the importance of the boilerplate.Buchanan Public Relations

I came across this wonderful reminder about the often overlooked and under-appreciated boilerplate today via Ragan.com – “The Secret Formula for Writing Boilerplate.” So often, people want to include everything and the kitchen sink in their company’s boilerplate – or, as Russell Working points out, they want to fill it with flowery-sounding jargon. However, as PR pros, we need to remind clients that boilerplates are meant to be simple, straightforward company descriptions that tell what your company is and what it does. (more…)

October 2, 2014

The Importance of Building Your Personal Brand

By Megan Keohane, 2:23 pm

Recently, a few of us at Buchanan PR had the opportunity to travel to one of our client’s offices in Pittsburgh to perform a LinkedIn training session. We spent countless hours analyzing employees’ existing profiles and preparing customized guides for each profile to become fully optimized. But why is taking the time to enhance a social media profile so important? Because it’s part of your personal brand.Buchanan Public Relations, Philadelphia Public Relations Agency, Megan Keohane, LinkedIn, personal branding

Using social media is just one example of an easy (and often free) way to build a brand around your expertise. As professionals, we so often get caught up in bettering the company or the client that it’s easy to forget the importance of the people who make up those organizations. (more…)

September 24, 2014

5 Things That Public Relations and Ice Cream Have in Common

By Nicole Lasorda, 4:29 pm

In mid-2013, Buchanan PR received a super-secret phone call asking us to meet in Pottsville, PA to discuss public relations for a soon-to-be-launched product. That chance call is what brings us to this blog post. Exactly one year ago – to the day – we helped to re-launch one of the most fun products (and companies) I’ve ever had the pleasure to represent – Yuengling’s Ice Cream!

Buchanan PR and David Yuengling Celebrate a Sweet PR Future over Yuengling's Ice Cream

As the Yuengling’s Ice Cream account lead, it seems quite fitting that my blog post falls on the one-year anniversary of the re-launch. But rather than get into all of the technical details of re-launching a brand, I thought I’d have a little fun and share the five ways that public relations is like ice cream. (more…)

September 22, 2014

5 Crisis Communication Tips from the Real-Life Olivia Pope

By Kathleen McFadden, 3:49 pm

I recently attended and live-tweeted a crisis management seminar hosted by Buchanan PR client Pepper Hamilton. The day-long event covered how an in-house attorney should handle a crisis if and when one happens. Speaking on the panel about external relations was Judy Smith – the inspiration behind Olivia Pope, the character Kerry Washington plays on ABC’s hit TV show, “Scandal.”Buchanan Public Relations

Judging by the office chatter on Friday mornings when “Scandal” is in season, I think it’s fair to assume that many public relations professionals are among the show’s loyal fan base (myself included).

So, for all the “Scandal” fans who happen to work in the PR world, here are Judy’s five tips on handling a crisis:

1) Work with the lawyers. Although you, the communications consultant, have been brought on to advise your client on the crisis at hand, your client’s legal team should be the one to hire you. This will protect you under attorney-client privilege, and it’s something you should always require before getting involved in the project.

Once you are protected under attorney-client privilege and begin working on the crisis, Judy advises that you work “hand-in-glove” with the legal team. Talk to the attorneys, and strategize as one team rather than two separate entities. All message development should involve both legal and PR.

2) Never say “No comment.” As Judy put it, “A lot of times, statements don’t say that much. There are a million ways you can say ‘No comment’ without saying ‘No comment.’” An alternative to “No comment” at the start of a crisis, for example, could be “This matter has just been brought to our attention and we’re examining the facts.”

While the legal team may be inclined to keep quiet during a crisis, it’s important that they understand the implications of saying “No comment”: “If you’re not feeding the beast or you’re not saying something, that means you’re allowing somebody else to create the narrative. You’re allowing someone else to create the message about what happened,” says Judy.

When issuing a statement, Judy suggests including “At this time…” at the beginning of the message. It allows you to say what you know at the moment without locking yourself into a certain position as the crisis continues to develop. Don’t commit or overcommit to something, as crises are very fluid and often change quickly.

3) Don’t always put the CEO out there. Once you’ve decided to issue a statement, who should speak on behalf of the company? It depends, but Judy is not a fan of rolling out the CEO the first time a crisis hits. Is the crisis even large enough for the CEO to be the spokesperson? Is there someone better suited or closer to the situation who could comment? How media-trained are your potential spokespeople? Have they done this before? All of these questions should be considered.

4) Help reporters do their jobs. One aspect that makes a crisis all the more demanding is the media. While you’re trying to get all the facts, deal with the situation and finalize all the messaging, reporters are calling and emailing with requests for comment or an interview. Especially on the corporate side, where there are so many approval levels to go through, response to the media can be slow.

Despite these challenges, it’s important that you meet reporters’ deadlines as best you can. The sooner you get back to them, the more likely it is that your information and messaging make it into the story. “Quite often, when you’re sharing facts, you have the ability to make some in-roads with the reporter and get some things that were going to be in the story out of the story because of factual inaccuracy,” says Judy.

Remember, when reporters call about a story they’re working on, it is very likely that they already have an idea in their minds about the kind of story they’re going to tell; they’ve already had to pitch the idea to their editor, along with the potential sources they’ll include. “The story is already set up when you get that phone call,” says Judy. “The longer it takes you to put some type of response together, that just gives the reporter more time to get a whole lot of other information that fits into the narrative that they’ve sold [to their editor].”

5.) Use social media to assess the crisis. “It’s no longer the nightly news,” says Judy. “Social media is a game-changer. The news is always 24/7 now.”

During a crisis, it’s important to have a good assessment of what’s happening on social media. Regularly checking Twitter, Facebook and blogs to take a read on what’s being said can help you determine the best method of communication. Is the crisis small enough that a Facebook post or tweet could address the issue for now, or is it serious enough that a more formal statement is required? “Regardless of the platform, it comes down to your messaging. What the message is, how you’re going to deliver that, and is it going to resonate with various stakeholders,” says Judy.

When a crisis hits, talk to your client’s legal team, develop messaging together, and figure out the best way to deliver those messages to the public. “Part of developing a communications strategy that dovetails on the legal strategy is not only figuring out the messages, but figuring out what’s the best medium to deliver those messages,” says Judy. “They’re equally as important.”

September 3, 2014

5 Things I Learned at the 20/20 Social Media Summit

By admin, 9:15 am

This week’s blog post comes from Tyler Arnold, an Account Executive and Digital Strategist at Landis Communications, our PRGN affiliate agency in San Francisco.  Tyler shares some of the lessons he learned at a recent social media summit.

I had the opportunity to attend last month’s PR News 20/20 Social Media Summit in San Francisco and due to the sheer volume of similar events, I didn’t know quite what to expect. The hefty entrance fee left me pondering how valuable the conference would be, which claimed to “feature key influencers and operators in social media, sharing their knowledge and experience in a full day of eye-opening sessions.”

As soon as I arrived, however, I was sold.

(more…)

August 21, 2014

Why Global PR Firm Edelman Received Backlash for Recent Blog Post about Robin Williams’ Death

By Rachel Neppes, 11:16 am

Global PR giant, Edelman, has been in the hot seat lately due to a blog post that the firm’s Media Relations Strategy EVP, Lisa Kovitz, wrote just 24 hours after Robin Williams’ death. In it, she states that his suicide created a “PR opportunity” for groups advocating for better treatment of mental illness.

The post reads: His death yesterday created a carpe diem moment for mental health professionals and those people who have suffered with depression and want to make a point about the condition and the system that treats it.

It later goes on to read: At Edelman, we are in the business of helping our clients create or join public conversations. We know that appropriate organizations can elevate a public conversation to help those in need. We and our clients can learn from this situation. (more…)

August 13, 2014

Hitting a Home Run with the Media

By John Reynolds, 2:37 pm

Professional baseball player. Public relations professional. The two couldn’t be more different, right? baseball

With this being my last week as an intern with Buchanan Public Relations, I thought about writing my blog post on a clichéd topic like “5 Things I Learned as an Intern.” But, what fun is that? So, as I started to write this post, I reflected on what I learned this summer about the PR industry. As an avid sports fan, my thoughts went immediately to sports, and I realized that public relations professionals are a lot like baseball players. (more…)

August 7, 2014

Public Speaking? No Sweat!

By Megan Keohane, 10:32 am

Wedding season is in full swing. This Friday, one of my dearest friends will be walking down the aisle and I’ll be right next to her as her Maid of Honor. Aside from planning her shower and bachelorette party, I was tasked with preparing a speech for the reception. This is nothing unfamiliar to me – I’m an old pro at being a bridesmaid. And writing a speech? Piece of cake. I banged it out in ten minutes. But public speaking? That’s a little bit more intimidating. Buchanan Public Relations, Meg KeohaneHere are six tricks that I’ve learned to calm (or at least hide) nerves when speaking to an audience:

1. Be prepared!
Easily the most important tip. Even the most seasoned public speakers have some sort of plan. Start planning the speech, or at least an outline, well in advance. Certainly do not leave it for the last minute. Feeling rushed will only add to any anxiety over speaking. Allowing ample time to prepare allows the opportunity to fine tune all points in the speech, practice over and over again and time to “study” past presentations by highly regarded speakers.

2. Dress the part
You’re excused if you HAVE to dress a certain way as a member of the bridal party. Otherwise, make sure to clean up nicely. While looks aren’t everything, looking polished and put together should be a priority. But dress for the audience – if speaking to a bunch of artists, no need to go all out with a suit and tie. But if speaking to lawyers, then definitely go for that suit and tie. Skip the flashy jewelry, funky shirts and anything that may serve as a distraction. Not to mention, dressing nice can boost confidence!

3. No ifs, ands or buts (or ums, uhs or likes)
This should be a no brainer, but cut out the filler words. Saying “um” before every other sentence is the easiest way to lose the attention (and respect) of the audience. The easiest way to avoid it? Talk slower. More often than not, filler words are used when the brain needs to catch up with the mouth. Slow and steady wins the race.

4. It’s all in the eyes…
Another no brainer, but be sure to make eye contact with the audience. This ties into the first tip about being prepared. Having the speech written word for word makes it too easy to look down at the paper throughout the delivery. Studying the material repeatedly should mean that reading the speech verbatim isn’t necessary. If a crutch is needed, index cards or an outline can be useful.

5. … And the rest of the face
Smile! Also, a well-timed dose of humor never hurts. The audience probably likes to smile, too.

6. Relax!
Deep breath in… now let it out. Do that five times before picking up the microphone. Relaxing before speaking is easier said than done, but it’s best to walk in with a clear head. We’re our own worst critics, after all. If a word is skipped, it’s unlikely that anyone will notice. Giving a speech is almost never a life or death situation – life will resume as normal regardless of the outcome.

Now knock ‘em dead!

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