The mostly official blog of the Hodges Partnership.
March 07, 2014 | by Caroline L. Platt
I love watching the Academy Awards, from the red carpet to Best Picture. And I think we’ve all come to the consensus that the 86th annual Academy Awards, Ellen’s performance in particular, were particularly well-done and entertaining.
Ellen did a terrific job of engaging her audience in the auditorium and, in doing so, offering the viewing audience a sense that we were all in on a great joke. Most notably, the “selfie” seen ‘round the world was, I believe, a moment of live-television genius; a reflection of Ellen’s tremendous grasp of both audiences and the new “multi-screening” environment that is live television.
Aside from the entertainment value, the selfie has raised an interesting question for marketers. At least, it has for the marketers in this office. And I’m putting it to you, the RVA marketing community (and beyond), to help us resolve this one.
Here’s the question: was the selfie great PR or was it great advertising? Or something else?
For the record, I think it was great PR. Yes, Samsung paid to be the phone in Ellen’s hand. But I think the moment transcended the ad-buy and became something bigger as a result of Ellen’s editorial direction. Show me the brand that doesn’t get a leg-up in their PR efforts by doing some kind of paid media, whether it’s producing content or actually advertising in the outlets it’s targeting for editorial. We say it all the time inside Hodges – public relations and advertising work best when they work together. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better example than Samsung’s slam-dunk on Sunday night.
We want to hear from you. What do you think? Take the poll below and add your comments. Thanks!2 commentsPosted in: Marketing | Public Relations | Social Media
March 05, 2014 | by Jon Newman
First of all thanks so much for reaching out to us. All 126 of you have done a great job of reaching out to us at THP as part of your assignment. That aggressiveness (I will get back to that in a minute) will serve you well in your future careers as public relations professionals.
Apologies for not personally getting back to you individually, so in the spirit of not wanting to disappoint, and to set an example as a good role model, here are the questions you asked and at least my answers to them. I’m hoping this is also representative of others at THP, but since I’m the boss.…
Question #1: What are the two most important things a young PR professional should know?
It is not as much about knowledge in the “I should know these two things, definitions, practices” kind of way, but more in the “you should know this” way. You should know that you’re not expected to know everything. In fact, you should come into your new career willing to learn, because frankly there are plenty of things that school just can’t teach you. It can teach you theory or practices but it may not be able to teach you what it’s like to work in a true team or work environment. If you think you know everything and that’s your attitude coming in, you will likely bother the folks who have been doing this for a while. That does not mean that you can’t come and contribute right away, in fact we expect you to contribute. We just don’t expect you to know everything.
The second thing you should know is to “listen first.” You don’t need to impress us with your knowledge. Most new PR folks sit in their first client or team meeting spending their time thinking “what can I say that will really impress my boss and the client,” when they should be listening, taking notes and just getting informed. You can better impress us later by showing that you listened and understood and then contribute based on what you heard.
Question #2: What materials would you recommend a new PR graduate include in his or her portfolio?
Writing samples, lots of writing samples. And not just news releases, but a variety of writing samples like articles, blog posts and commentaries, if you’ve written them. We need to know you can write. Also, if you’ve collaborated on campaigns you can bring those, but make sure they are materials that YOU personally have worked on. We can smell someone taking credit for others work from miles away.
Question #3: What is one skill you would suggest a current PR student might want to acquire to make him or her more competitive for jobs after graduation?
HAVE. NO. FEAR. That may not be a skill but it is something that I personally look for when I’m talking to a perspective Hodger. That doesn’t mean you need to be obnoxious, but you can’t be afraid to pick up a phone and answer it (some people are) or, more importantly, pick up and phone and represent us or a client to pitch a story, ask for information, etc. This also goes for public settings like social events. In an agency setting, our hope is that you will grow into someone who will not only do the work presented to you, but someone who will eventually network and look for new business opportunities. The first step in this process is to not be afraid.
I hope this helps. And I hope posting on our blog will allow all of you to share it, read it and discuss it.
A helpful note for your instructors: my answers to these questions haven’t changed for a while so please feel free to share them with the class next semester, as well. While we’d love to answer everyone’s request that came into our email inboxes, our website and our voicemails, it’s just impossible to get back to everyone in a timely fashion.
PS: If anyone else wants to chime in on these questions, please comment below.
(Photo: lecture hall by Kai Schreiber on Flickr)2 commentsPosted in: Public Relations | Richmond | The Hodges Partnership
February 28, 2014 | by Tony Scida
Each week we bring you a few interesting stories we’ve read and discussed around the office this week. We call it the HodgePodge, because we’re clever like that.
The Jerky Boys were immature and crude… and they influenced an entire generation of comedy before breaking up in the late ’90s. Can one half of the duo stage a comeback?
This photographer creates scenes staring Lego mini-figures and they’re pretty great.
About a poster
Fifty years later, Vanity Fair takes a look at how the poster for the classic surf documentary Endless Summer came to be.
Who you gonna call?
Harold Ramis passed away this week, leading to scores of articles and blog posts looking at his movies. One that stood out to me was this Matt Phillips article on Quartz: Ghostbusters, the greatest movie ever made about Republican economic policy.
A whole new tonight
Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show has performed well so far, especially on YouTube.0 commentsPosted in: HodgePodge
February 27, 2014 | by Laura Elizabeth Mann
I usually don’t watch much of the Winter Olympics, other than figure skating, but this year I paid much closer attention. There was a lot of hype surrounding the Olympics this winter; however, much of it wasn’t about the games themselves. Instead, headlines surrounding the Olympics focused on what was going on in Sochi: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
There are some public relations lessons we can learn from the events at Sochi this year.
Upon arriving in Sochi, many journalists learned that not only were their rooms not ready, their hotels themselves weren’t even complete. Despite having seven years to prepare Sochi to become an Olympic village, the hotels were unfinished, some with either no running water, or water that was so yellow it was deemed “undrinkable.”
The lesson: plan ahead and manage your time … and budget.
Don’t drink the water.
Not only were the hotels incomplete, but many of them had promised certain amenities: fitness centers, wireless internet, running water…. And journalists everywhere were talking about it. I can imagine those journalists could’ve survived without a fitness center or spa, but wifi and running water should’ve been well within their expectations.
The lesson: It’s always important to manage expectations. Whether your clients are expecting to land a spot in the New York Times, get a hit in local news or a placement on a blog, be sure you understand those expectations and plan to manage them accordingly.
The Olympic rings failed to light at opening ceremony.
Now, I don’t know much about technology or the system that lit the rings, or why it failed, but I can’t help but wonder how many times they ran through the opening ceremony before it went live. You wouldn’t make a big presentation without running through the PowerPoint at least a few times, would you? Whether you’re making a speech at a conference, giving a presentation to a client or having a meeting with co-workers, it’s always important to make sure you run through your speech, practice your presentation or look over your notes ahead of time.
The lesson: Always remember to test things out before you use them…then test them again.
Sochi was all over the news this year, putting Putin and Russia in the spotlight. But, is all publicity good publicity? Social, political and cultural issues came to light during the course of this year’s winter games. But, was it worth it for Russia? What’s your take? If you worked for the country’s PR team, how would you feel about all this publicity? And will Russia be able to overcome all the bad press from this year’s games?0 commentsPosted in: Crisis Communications | Public Relations
February 21, 2014 | by Tony Scida
Each week we bring you interesting stories we’ve read and shared around the office. Today, we have five articles that answer interesting questions.
It’s pretty common for people to describe music as a type of language, but what if that gets it backwards?
50 commentsPosted in: HodgePodge
February 18, 2014 | by Kelsey Leavey
During the last couple of months, many of us at Hodges have caught the running bug. (If the opinion piece that ran—pun intended— a few months ago in the Wall Street Journal, Ok, You’re a Runner. Get Over It. resonated with it you, this might not be the blog post for you.)
Here in Richmond, The Monument Avenue 10k is kind of a big deal and this year almost half of our office will be running it—look for us wearing some cool shirts on the day of the big race!
As I’ve been training for the 10k myself, I’ve been reminded that there is advice that makes sense for both beginning runners and those starting out in PR:
- Define your goal(s)—Before you start, determine what goals or benchmarks along the way will make your campaign—or race—a success.
- Develop a plan to follow—Once you’ve determined your goals, create an actionable plan to ensure that you reach them. I joined a 10k training team that provided me with a detailed plan and training schedule to keep me on track.
- Take the time to learn the basics—You wouldn’t run a long race without a good pair of shoes, would you? The world of public relations is always changing and there is always something new to learn, even at the most basic level. One such example is Facebook’s recent change to their algorithm. Stay up-to-date on changes and trends in the industry by attending workshops and presentations or by joining a professional organization like PRSA.
- Don't give up—If your media relations efforts (or race training methods) aren’t panning out, be persistent and re-group; brainstorm new ideas and angles.
- Celebrate success—When the campaign is over and you’ve reached your goal—we’ll call it crossing the finish line—do something to celebrate. Here at THP we hit the gong!
Have any advice for recent graduates just starting their PR careers? Or have any advice to the Hodgers running in The Monument Avenue 10k? Share in the comments below.0 commentsPosted in: Public Relations
February 14, 2014 | by Tony Scida
I realize you probably won’t have time to read these now that the new season of House of Cards is available, but on the off chance you do, here’s some interesting things we’ve read this week.
Who is Arthur Chu?
One man recently turned the world of Jeopardy on its head, hunting for Daily Doubles and using game theory in placing if final wagers. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s got some fans of the show so upset, they’re demanding an apology. Legendary Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings says Chu is doing it right.
The greatest snowboarder in the world leaves Sochi without a medal, but with his reputation intact. From the Washington Post: Shaun White, Olympic moments, and mettle without a color.
Wolf of Wall Street might have used it the most, but who used the f-word first in print? It might have been a monk.
Charts of the day
What’s in a number?
The Atlantic traces the history of the Area Code, from the development of all-number calling by engineers at Bell to who decides on new area codes today. Bonus unrelated Atlantic article: Is House of Cards TV?0 commentsPosted in: HodgePodge
February 12, 2014 | by Jon Newman
Last week, CVS made a bold move in deciding to no longer sell cigarettes in its 7,600 stores nationwide. The decision garnered CVS beaucoup earned media, including much praise and perhaps a little criticism. But some of that praise, including from CVS vendor and global PR powerhouse Edelman, blew right past hyperbolic, calling the decision courageous.
In a guest column this week on The Future Buzz, our own Caroline Platt explains why this is a smart business move, not a courageous act of civil disobedience.
Check out her column, and let us know what you think: Is CVS courageous or just plain smart?
(Image: No Smoking Decal by SmartSignBrooklyn on Flickr.)0 commentsPosted in: Branding | Marketing | Media Relations | Public Relations
February 11, 2014 | by Cameron McPherson
We’re big news buffs at The Hodges Partnership and we’re particularly fond of public radio. Our curiosity was officially piqued when the Community Idea Stations started promoting its new Virginia Currents radio program on WCVE-FM a few weeks ago.
For years, the television version of Virginia Currents has been broadcasting intelligent, compelling stories about Virginia and its citizens, so we were thrilled to hear a radio version was in the works.
We caught up with Catherine Komp, the producer of the new radio series to learn about what we can expect from the program. As you can see, Richmond is lucky to have Catherine producing stories on its airwaves.
Be sure to catch Virginia Currents on 88.9 FM this Thursday, Feb. 13 at 8:35 a.m. during Morning Edition and 5:45 p.m. during All Things Considered. In the meantime, check out our Q&A with Catherine below.
I’ve always considered the television version of Virginia Currents my-friend-that-knows-everything-about-Virginia. The show does a brilliant job of bringing Virginia’s unique stories and history into everyone’s living rooms. I’m excited for the new radio version. What can listeners look forward to with the new format?
That’s a great analogy for Virginia Currents. The TV crew does an extraordinary job highlighting this state’s diversity and shining a light on everyday people doing extraordinary things. We plan to continue that legacy with the weekly radio series which will cover some of the same issues and events, but through original reporting that updates a story or brings out new angles. I’m gathering fresh interviews, paying close attention to how I can elevate the voices of Virginia’s inspiring residents. We’ll be covering a number of topic areas: arts and culture, health and the environment, education and history. Some stories will tackle difficult or challenging issues, looking at how the community is coming together to respond, what solutions they’re developing. Other segments will profile the state’s makers and doers, examining what motivates their work and how it fits into the larger fabric of our neighborhoods. My goal is to create radio stories that inform and inspire, stories that spark curiosity and conversation, and perhaps most importantly, stories that engage the community.
You’ve worked in public radio for more than 10 years, what kinds of experience are you bringing to Community Idea Stations?
I’ve had the opportunity to wear various hats in journalism: reporter, anchor, news director, producer and editor at local and national radio, print and online news organizations. I’ve also been able to work on many different formats of radio journalism, from live call-in public affairs shows to daily reporting to long-form audio documentaries. Recently, I spent five years as the senior producer of Free Speech Radio News, a daily, 30-minute U.S. and international news program. We had a handful of staff members, 150+ freelancers on six continents and an always shrinking budget. Because of the resourcefulness required for the job and the large volume of original content I was responsible for on a daily basis, I was able to sharpen and develop a lot of skills. So I come to the Community Ideas Stations with a well-rounded background in radio and journalism, but I consider myself a lifelong student of the craft and the industry, always interested in learning new techniques, experimenting with emerging technologies and adapting to trends in media distribution and consumption.
What’s your favorite type of story to tell?
Stories of passion and persistence; commitment and collaboration; survival and resilience. My work has always centered around public interest issues, not just the challenges people are facing but the solutions they are creating. These types of stories, and the people at the center of them, are often missing from the daily news cycle, as journalists rely on paid spokespeople and experts in order to meet deadline. Those sources are important components of a story, but they can’t replace the first-hand experiences, knowledge and wisdom of people and groups who might not have access to the podium or microphone. If I succeed in spreading and amplifying these voices, in connecting people near and far, similar and disparate, I feel pretty satisfied with the story I’ve helped to tell.
What makes producing radio stories unique compared to television or print?
I love the power of people’s voices, hearing someone tell their own story. I think the human voice resonates more than a written quote, and there isn’t the distraction of what someone looks like or who else might be in the frame. With radio production, there’s also a smaller footprint. My backpack is pretty light and when I’m conducting an interview, it’s a lot easier for the equipment to fade into the background as your source warms up and gets comfortable.
Without the visuals of film, however, you do need to think carefully about ways to make your story dynamic, especially for topics that might not have obvious ambient sound elements that instantly transport you to a time and place. Covering a musician or band, in which you could record audio of them warming up, playing on stage or interacting with fans is a lot more straightforward than a solitary painter or writer whose work might not make a lot of sound. But I like that challenge and with good characters, writing and attention to pacing, you can make any radio story compelling.
One challenge with radio is trying to fit in everything you’d like to include. Online media has the freedom of going as short or long as necessary, but radio (and TV) needs to conform to rigid time slots. Podcasting does offer more flexibility, but for public radio, most news segments are 1-5 minutes. When I have extra material for the Virginia Currents series, I’ll be posting that to the Ideastations.org website. One of the first segments in the series will have a web-only audio slideshow, so stay tuned for that!0 commentsPosted in: Media Relations | Richmond
February 07, 2014 | by Greg Surber
Tony’s on vacation, so this week’s HodgePodge is entirely made up of Buzzfeed articles! Okay, not really. Here’s this week’s round-up.
The Science of Storytelling
According to the Periodic Table of Storytelling, Firefly was great because it followed the story molecule: [LrgMalRcy]---Sbn.
Don’t drink the water
The Winter Olympics kick off tonight, but ahead of the games, the attending media already has been treated to poisonous water, stray dogs roaming the hotels and framed pictures of Vladimir Putin.
Once the smoke clears
Few companies could give up $2 billion in annual revenue, but Inc. poses several reasons why CVS’ decision to no longer sell tobacco products might ultimately pay off in a big way.
Clothes in a can
One British fashion designer got a Ph.D. in chemical engineering to make his idea of spray-on clothing a reality.0 commentsPosted in: HodgePodge