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August 15, 2017

Workplace Diversity Issues Are Making Headlines – Can Internships Solve the Problem?

By Staff, 11:54 am

– Alex Harris

Workforce diversity and inclusion issues can no longer be dismissed, as some of the most successful companies in the world are being put to the test. The Google engineer who was fired for his controversial memo, former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s sexism allegations, and Facebook’s troubling workforce demographics come to mind.

Numerous research reports from sources like McKinsey & Company, the Institute for Public Relations and The Korn Ferry Institute have revealed that diversity increases company success for reasons such as improved innovation and creativity, differing approaches, and an enhanced ability to reach varied customer audiences, among others.

Although many companies implement traditional methods of preventing prejudice and unconscious bias in the workplace, research has shown that these often do not work—or worse, have the opposite effect. Diverse hiring methods warrant a higher priority—especially within leadership roles and the STEM industries where minority populations are consistently underrepresented.

Companies in Silicon Valley and elsewhere are starting to tap into a diverse population through internship and student programs. Many companies have programs like these in place, and have attested to their success. Leaders in diversity and inclusion initiatives are betting on internship and student programs, as well. Here are some reasons why:

1. Diversity starts from the bottom up. Several research studies have shown that 50 to 60 percent of interns turn into full-time hires. Through hiring diversified interns and creating training programs, businesses can create successful pipelines that accurately represent all demographics from the start, creating a funnel that leads to a diverse workforce.

2. Internship and school programs create interest across the board. Training programs and general internship programs aimed at schools can get the word out and drive interest in industries where certain demographics are underrepresented.

3. Jobseekers are paying attention. The Institute for Public Relations found that 47 percent of millennials consider the diversity and inclusion of a workplace an important factor when job searching. Jobseekers will notice a company’s efforts to embrace a diverse and inclusive culture, and in turn are more likely to see themselves in those positions or industries down the line.

While moving the needle on diversity from the bottom up is effective, this method is by no means comprehensive. Leadership roles and board positions, in particular, are still primarily homogeneous, which begs for other strategies aimed at higher-level talent. However, diversity among interns and lower level employees will have a ripple effect, and are a good place to start.

What are some ways you think businesses can drive change when it comes to diversity in the workplace?

August 9, 2017

Four Things That Can Separate PR Pros from Spammers

By John Reynolds, 11:08 am

In a recent vlog, the BPR staff recorded video letters for journalists, which addressed a variety of things from letting them know we’re paid subscribers to thanking them for responding to our pitches. In my video letter, I said that I’m not a spammer. If you’ve been working in public relations long enough, I’m sure you’ve pitched a reporter only to receive a reply with a message along the lines of “unsubscribe” or “remove me from this list.” After carefully researching the journalists who I think would be perfect for my topic, nothing bothers me more than getting one of these emails.

I don’t know how other PR professionals pitch reporters. However, what I do know is the amount of research I (and my colleagues here) do to find journalists that I’m confident will find my pitch interesting and a fit for their beat. In fact, I once replied to a reporter who told me to remove her from my list because my pitch wasn’t appropriate. I explained why I contacted her, and she eventually apologized and said to keep her in mind in the future. While I don’t expect every pitch I send to have all the reporters begging me for an interview, I am confident each one is at least related to what the reporters write about.

So, how can you be confident you’re not spamming journalists? Below are four things public relations professionals can do to separate their pitches from spam.

1. Pitch appropriate contacts. The first, and most important, thing PR pros can do to separate themselves from spammers is to pitch the appropriate contact. If you’re pitching your insurance client to a reporter who covers construction, you won’t be successful. Similarly, if you don’t take the time to research the person you’re pitching, you could end up contacting a publisher or managing editor, when there’s a reporter at that outlet who covers your topic exactly. It seems simple, but after speaking with numerous reporters, you’d be shocked at how many people fail at this part.

2. Don’t rely on databases. A database is a great tool for researching reporters and pulling contact information. However, it can also be a crutch. Relying solely on a database can leave you with a woefully inaccurate list. How? While these systems do list a reporter’s coverage area, they are not always correct. It’s possible it says a reporter covers business when in fact she is an environmental reporter. Or maybe it lists her at The Wall Street Journal when she moved to Reuters three months ago. I’ve even come across contacts who are no longer reporters, or worse, are deceased. One tip to prevent this is to check out the reporter on social media ― oftentimes she will list her beat on her Twitter bio or on LinkedIn. To reiterate, media databases are great tools that can help you build a solid base list, but you need to double check the results to be sure your list is accurate and suitable.

3. Follow up appropriately. You’ve sent your pitch, it’s been a couple hours, and you have no responses. What should you do? Relax. You do not need to call the reporter and confirm he received your message. The reporter may be on a tight deadline and your unexpected call will be an annoying interruption. Does this mean you should never follow up? Of course not. If it’s a time-sensitive story or topic, sooner is appropriate, but I’ve come to learn that for most pitches at least a week tends to work the best before following up. Writing a new pitch on the topic is also not necessary. Simply, re-send your original email. A reporter’s time is valuable, so why make him read two long emails? Keep it short and get right to the point, and if you’ve piqued his interest, he’ll take another look.

4. Read a reporter’s stories. Last, but certainly not least, always read a reporter’s stories. You can learn so much from the way a reporter writes and covers a certain topic. Say you’re pitching a story about private equity investments. You’ve found a contact from your database and checked out her Twitter bio, which mentions investing, so you send your email. Well, what you failed to do was read her stories to see she only covers hedge funds. While this is just one simple example, it shows the value of reading a reporter’s stories. Now, I know it’s not possible to read every story for each reporter you want to contact. However, what is possible is skimming their recent stories and headlines, to ensure your pitch aligns with their beat.

So, PR pros, are you a spammer? What else can you do to keep your pitch out of the spam folder?

 

August 3, 2017

My Media Addiction

By Blair Kahora Cardinal, 11:08 am

I always tell interns and junior staff that their first media hit is a gateway. We all remember that first time a journalist responded to our pitch. That first time a camera showed up at our event. That first time a story ran, and our expert was quoted. The high that follows is exceptional, and for those of us who enjoy media relations, it’s addictive.

The first media impression I earned was with The Philadelphia Tribune. I called the reporter and asked her to come to my organization’s event. When she showed up and later published a story, I was hooked.

I thought I’d share a few thoughts with those who can relate to what it’s like to be a media relations specialist:

1. One hit is a relief, but it’s never enough—When I’m pitching a difficult story, I usually let out a sigh of relief after receiving a response from a journalist saying, “I’ll run a short blurb” or “Yes, let’s set up a time to talk.” But then, I start thinking, “Well if this reporter is interested, I bet there are others who will be too.” Then I fall down a rabbit hole until I realize it’s 3 a.m. and no one is going to respond to my emails.

2. Stronger hits to maintain the media buzz—Once I started getting comfortable with pitching early in my career, I developed new and loftier goals. While local outlets are always vital, I wanted to see if I could get the attention of reporters with big dailies…national newspapers…radio!…television!! Alas, some media outlets will always remain a pipe dream, but I will never stop trying.

3. Lay awake at night thinking about the pitch—At bedtime, I’m often still thinking about how I could have written a pitch differently. Or, maybe I’ll read an article as I’m dozing off and think, “I need to contact this guy tomorrow.”

4. Avoid withdrawal by pitching every day—Working at an agency typically affords me a lot of meaty material from numerous clients. If a day passes, and I don’t send out a pitch, I start to sweat. On my desk, I actually have a hard-copy list of pitch topics that my team members and I are currently working.  I keep the list at my fingertips so that I’m actively thinking about pitching every day.

5. Admit you’re a first-timer—This is more a piece of advice for newbies. Don’t be afraid to admit to a journalist that you’re new here. It can be a critical tool in winning over the heart (and patience) of that reporter. You’re trying your best to get them what they want, and they may appreciate your earnestness and take pity on your inexperience. And most important, ask a more experienced colleague to walk you through the process step-by-step. There are nuances you don’t know that you don’t know.

Do any other communications professionals out there have a similar addiction to media relations?

July 26, 2017

The Importance of Staying Informed

By Staff, 1:12 pm

– Maggie Rugolo

With headlines alternating daily between terrorist attacks and political turmoil, reading the news can be painful. It would be much easier to simply put the paper down and live in a blissful bubble of denial and oblivion.

As public relations professionals, we do not have the liberty of denial. We are forced to face the headlines head on and for that we are grateful. Because, yes, while the world can seem unbearable at times, being informed about what is happening makes us better people and professionals.

Being informed allows you to become part of something bigger and connect with the rest of the world. Horrible events are no longer private and are harder to overlook when they are splashed across newspapers. When we read about another person’s grief, their problems become personal to us. For example, terrible headlines about terrorist attacks across the world are often quickly followed by the outpouring of support. Complete strangers are linked by their knowledge of what is happening, and then work together to make a difference and start fixing the problem. By staying informed, you become a part of the solution.

It’s also important to read more than one news site.  In order to be truly educated, it is necessary to read publications from both sides of the political spectrum for example. By reading different publications, we can learn from the various perspectives being offered on a single situation. Reading articles that challenge our views helps us understand other people’s opinions and beliefs. Once we gain this understanding we can better work with clients and reporters who may not share our views.

Staying on top of topics trending in the news helps us draft pitches that will pique a reporter’s interest Staying informed helps us become better public relations professionals.

July 20, 2017

Own Your Story: 4 Key Lessons from Public Relations

By Joe Cerrone, 10:47 am

There’s no such thing as a normal day for public relations professionals. From drafting press releases and pitching the media to managing social media accounts and responding to crises, our work varies according to client needs and many factors beyond our control.Image result for megaphone

At first glance, many of our day-to-day activities may seem unrelated, such as advising clients during a crisis and developing entertaining graphics to share on social media. Yet, there is a thread that ties together all the work we do, glue that binds the various aspects of our profession—helping others own their stories and tell them.

First and foremost, owning your story means getting in the field. We often counsel prospective new clients considering a public relations program that sitting on the sidelines means sacrificing the opportunity to speak for yourself. While tactics and strategies may differ on issues such as which mediums to use and how to engage with each audience, they are all designed to allow you to take control of your own story.

Just as crucial as agreeing to get in the game is determining a strategy—which means understanding yourself and developing a message. This phase of the process is naturally self-reflective and allows you to deeply assess your company’s mission and decide how you wish to be perceived. All that follows —content creation, interviews, social media—flows from first determining for yourself what your story is.

There are many challenges that firms face throughout this process, but it is important to take risks and meet your audience where they are. For example, many companies have trepidation about launching a social media presence, but if your customer base is active on social media it’s important to speak to them there. Moving outside of your comfort zone to amplify your message is vital in owning it where it counts.

Fully developing and actively owning your story takes time, but it’s important to always push forward. Don’t become discouraged if a particular strategy or effort is less fruitful than expected—take both successes and disappointments in stride and be sure to learn from them.

Although presented in the context of businesses, these lessons can be applied at the individual level as well. Each of us has a story to tell—one that explains who we are, what we value and how we view the world around us. From personal and professional interactions to social media activity—we can all benefit from these key PR lessons.

Own your story.

July 11, 2017

Snapchat Vs. Instagram Stories – Which Is Better For Your Business?

By Megan Keohane, 11:34 am

Full disclosure: I began writing this post about how Instagram Stories are better for businesses than Snapchat based on the level of engagement they can elicit from consumers. Then halfway through my draft, Snapchat released its most recent update, allowing users to include website links in snaps. Game. Changer.

Given how quickly these platforms are changing, let’s do a side-by-side comparison – as of this writing – of how these two social networks stack up from a marketing and business perspective. Here are some of the key differences between the two.

Snapchat:

  • Before July 5, 2017, the only way users could link followers directly to a website was through paid ads. Now, any Snapchat user can add a link directly into snaps, increasing organic traffic.
  • The general feeling of Snapchat is more “raw” – users tend to feel that it’s the most instant and genuine.
  • Users can create custom Geofilters to use for a set location and amount of time. This can certainly aid in brand visibility, especially when used in conjunction with an event or special occasion.
  • Snapchat stories are ordered by the most recent ones. Thus, if your brand is posting often, your stories are more likely to be shown at the top, gaining more visibility.
  • Snapchat is more challenging in terms of building a following. Followers have to be sought, and the Snapchat account usually has to be promoted through other social accounts in order for users to seek it out.
  • Consider the audience. Snapchat has a higher ratio of millennial users.

Instagram:

  • You can add URL links to stories – but only if the account is verified.
  • Users can be tagged in stories.
  • In contrast to Snapchat’s more raw and casual feel, Instagram stories tend to be better curated and more stylized.
  • Building an Instagram following is a bit simpler through standard posts, hashtags and targeted campaigns. More followers = more views.
  • Similarly, Instagram users with more followers will have stories that appear sooner than those with fewer followers. Unlike Snapchat, Instagram stories are not ordered by most recent.
  • Users can add a location tag at the exact place the photo or video is taken – which can come in handy when promoting events.
  • While Snapchat has a higher ratio of millennial users, Instagram has more users overall – most recently hitting 700 million monthly users.

As far as which one is right – it really depends. Many businesses feel more comfortable with Instagram. But, if your target audience is 18-22, Snapchat is where it’s at.

Which one do you prefer?

June 28, 2017

PR 101: 4 Public Relations Tips Every Brand Needs to Remember

By Nicole Lasorda, 11:38 am

As PR people, it’s in our nature to be hyper-sensitive to the issues and possible outcomes in every situation (I’m pretty sure this is why my friends think I’m a pessimist). We take each scenario and run through all the positive and negative implications, thinking about ways to either capitalize on or minimize the impact after the announcement.

This skill is critical for a good public relations representative. Oftentimes, companies and individuals don’t consult their communications teams before moving forward with an idea, even though this should be the first step! Today it’s all about being first, so people and companies all move quickly to be the first to get their “creative” idea or “funny” joke to the public, but forget to get a second opinion or consider the consequences.

So, for those who either don’t have a communications team or are simply looking for a few pointers, here are four things that PR people always remember (and help our clients remember, too):

1. Nothing is truly “off the record” – Just because you tell the reporter something is off the record or your microphone is turned off, don’t think that means what you say can’t come back to haunt you later. The information will always be in the back of the reporter’s mind, so you need to be comfortable with anything you say.

2. If your company is going to take a position on a controversial subject, be prepared to lose customers – There will always be a group of people who disagree with what you say. So even if you think you’re on the “good” side, you’re going to alienate those on the “bad” side and vice versa. It’s important to remember that if your company takes a political, cultural or religious stance, you will need to be ready for the blowback.

3. If you’re going to share controversial personal opinions, be prepared for backlash, including potential job loss – The celebrity and sports worlds are rife with examples of personal opinions that have tarnished reputations. However, this doesn’t mean only high-profile figures can be affected by controversial statements. So, learn a lesson from the unfortunate souls who’ve lost jobs, endorsements and credibility after speaking their minds.

4. Your company doesn’t need to speak during somber holidays – Memorial Day isn’t the kick off to summer and 9/11 isn’t a time for your company to market itself (yes, this does happen). No one will ever question why a company didn’t mention the anniversary of a somber event, but they will remember your attempt to capitalize on it as distasteful.

Even if you’re a one-woman-shop, it’s important to have someone in the communications field on your side – and I’m not just saying that because it’s what I do. You need a professional who can help you understand the intricacies of brand awareness – both good and bad. But, if that’s not in your budget right now, these four tips will help you get on the right track.

PR people – what are your thoughts? Did I miss anything?

June 20, 2017

PR in Court: How to Protect your Firm During Client Lawsuits

By Amanda Mueller, 12:22 pm

You may want to think twice before sending that email to your crisis client. Recently, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a company’s correspondence with its public relations firm with regard to legal advice is not protected under attorney-client privilege, which may leave your agency open to legal problems of its own.

In BouSamra v. Excela Health, the court ruled that emails regarding the development of a public statement, and the decision to cite names, between communications firm Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock and Excela Health were not protected in regards to suits filed by two doctors who had been accused of performing unnecessary procedures.

The courts may use two different types of legal tests to determine if communications with a media firm are protected. The first is the necessity test. Courts will evaluate the case and determine whether or not correspondence with a public relations firm is necessary to provide legal advice or an adequate defense. The second test is the functional equivalence test. This guideline helps the court decide whether the public relations firm is fulfilling a role that an internal employee might otherwise perform. If the court finds that the firm performed the function of a necessary employee, then the communications may be privileged.

So how can PR firms protect themselves? Because laws differ from state to state, there is no single strategy that will guarantee safety. However, there are a few steps that media relations consultants can take to decrease their chances of becoming involved in a lawsuit.

1. CC your client’s attorneys on all emails. By involving your client’s attorney in all communication, you can ensure that client-attorney privilege is activated simply by involving both parties. If your client sends you an email of sensitive nature but does not include the attorney, add the attorney to the email chain. It is better to be safe than sorry.

2. Enter the client relationship through the law firm instead of the client. If a law firm directly engages PR representation for the case instead of the client initiating the relationship, it may be more likely that the court will consider communications with a PR firm a necessary component to legal advice and defense. This is a good example of the necessity test.

3. Hire personal representation, and include them on all correspondence. If all else fails and you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation pertaining to a client’s legal issues, you will have a first line of defense and someone who can help guide you through the legal maze.

None of these options are full-proof, but today’s PR firms need to be proactive about their legal protections and rights. Since there is no pre-existing legislation in place that dictates proper legal proceedings when it comes to electronic correspondence between PR firms and their clients, if firms do not advocate for themselves, then who will protect them in the court of law when clients face an ethical dilemma?

 

June 12, 2017

From a Past Intern…

By Staff, 12:59 pm

Katie Dillon, a rising-senior at The George Washington University, was a member of the Buchanan internship program last summer. Katie is pursuing a double major in Women’s Studies and Journalism. We recently received this nice letter from her, which mentions how much of a help our program was as she begins a new internship in New York.

I hope you are both doing well and that the rest of the team at Buchanan is too. I actually recently moved to New York City for the summer and I just started my internship at Cognito Media, a financial and tech PR firm, in downtown Manhattan. I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for giving me such an amazing experience last summer. I’m only about a week into this new role but I’ve already done so many things that I was only first exposed to last summer at BPR. If it weren’t for everyone being so kind and teaching me all the basics (from media lists to pitches) I wouldn’t feel as confident as I do right now in this new environment. I love seeing all of your updates on Facebook and I miss being in a pet friendly workplace surrounded by cute dogs and cats all day! Again, thank you so much again for giving me the opportunity to work for such a great company last summer and I wish you all the best – tell everyone hello from me!

Katie (left) with her friend at a Taylor Swift Concert.

May 31, 2017

Career Study at Buchanan PR: How It Impacted Me

By Staff, 2:16 pm

– Gabby Guarnaccia

High school is one of the most important times in a person’s life. It is full of learning new things, discovering yourself and experiencing new opportunities. As a senior this year, I have been pushed to try as many new experiences and opportunities as I can before I head off for college. This includes being encouraged to participate in a program at my high school called Career Study. That’s how I ended up here, at Buchanan Public Relations.

At my school, a privilege that comes with being a senior is that we can get out of school early if we do an internship known as Career Study. Most seniors take advantage of this as it is a unique offer that allows for a change in the routine we have come to repeat since the first day of Kindergarten. Instead of rising before the sun does and rushing to make it to homeroom, I get to spend time in the “real world,” as teachers often call it, and learn what it is like to work in the field I intend to study. It is interesting to see what my classmates chose to do and what different paths the people I have walked the halls with every day will now head down.

When I told people where I was going to do my Career Study, I was often asked what made me choose Buchanan PR. I told everyone that after doing my research, I learned about Buchanan PR’s excellent reputation, extremely friendly culture and its intriguing client list.

I sent an email to the address I found on the website, not expecting an answer back but figured it was worth a shot. I already had another internship opportunity I could rely on if I didn’t hear back, but felt like I just needed to try something different. Luckily, VP Nicole replied rather quickly, and here I am today!

As I begin my final week at Buchanan PR, I have learned many lessons that will help me for years to come in both school and my career. I am thankful to walk away with another experience to add to my resumé, but there is much more to it than that. After this, I am confident in my decision to pursue the field that I am. During my college search, I switched majors a few times before making the final decision. Now, I have peace that I made the right choice. Learning the key facts and foundation for the PR industry before studying it will benefit me in so many ways. I am confident that I will walk into class and not feel lost because of what I have learned during this experience. I will be able to understand when the professor mentions a media list or a pitch and be more confident in my studies and career, and that is all thanks to Buchanan Public Relations.

 

About Gabby Guarnaccia

I am finishing up my senior year at Perkiomen Valley High School. I was a dancer for about ten years, played volleyball for 8 years, and even tried my hand at boxing. I love reality TV, social media, pop culture and fashion. After graduation, I plan to have an amazing last summer with all my friends before leaving for New York City to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology. My intended major is Advertising & Marketing Communications. I hope to be able to study abroad in London, and after college, I’d like to either stay in New York City or move to another big city. I would absolutely love to work at a pop culture network such as E! or a magazine, but I will be open to any opportunity that comes my way.

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