Posts by Sean Ryan

On workshops, conferences and placing op/eds

This is going to be a busy, but fun week. We’re looking forward to starting the week at the College Media Conference in D.C., where we’ll attend workshops, learn from higher education reporters and editors and network with university communications professionals. We’ll also hear from one of our clients, Cynthia Price at the University of Richmond, who will be moderating one of the panels at the conference. Conferences like this always produce new ideas and strategies – we’re looking forward to a great few days of learning. On Wednesday, I’ll be moderating a conversation with Clay Risen, an opinion editor at the …

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Finding the Right Reporter

We’ve seen the stats: There are far more of us than there are of them. By us, I mean PR professionals; by them, I mean members of the media. Because of that hard truth, the already tough task of pitching ideas to the media has been made even harder as our industry has grown and theirs has shrunk, thanks in part to many former journalists coming over to the PR side as I did more than a dozen years ago. Remember, more of us means more PR pros fishing in a lake with fewer fish. And we’re all competing for …

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The art of the opinion

So, you have an opinion.  Placing that opinion, often called an Op/Ed (which originally meant opposite to the editorial page in a newspaper), is easier said than done, as I wrote a while back. Consider that the New York Times receives about 2,000 submissions per week. That’s right, several hundred a day. My guess is that the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post are about the same.  Here are five steps to consider to improve the chances of your opinion seeing the light of day (you can also download a PDF of these tips to print or share). Pieces should be 750-800 words, …

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Swift response serves Oklahoma University well in a crisis

Oklahoma University found itself in the middle of a crisis last week when video of a racist chant by members of the SAE fraternity went viral. Almost as newsworthy has been the University’s response. All too often in a crisis, companies or brands face the music by saying very little or explaining that the situation needs more evaluation. Somewhat shockingly, OU President David Boren’s reaction was swift, blunt and strong—his first comments went viral, and his decision to expel two students and no-nonsense approach to getting to the bottom of the situation have been applauded my most. It also should …

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Soccer and the Workplace

Ask anyone who knows me even casually and they’ll tell you I’m a baseball guy. Most would be surprised, however, to find that the event I most wanted to see—and had to pre-order tickets more than a year in advance—at the Summer Olympics in my hometown Atlanta was the gold-medal women’s soccer game. The United States edged China 2-1 on Tiffeny Milbrett’s goal with about 22 minutes to play, and the University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium rocked a patriotic fervor. In the aftermath of soccer’s latest push to tempt the American mainstream, much of the debate is what effect the …

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Sometimes it takes just two words to avoid a crisis

Lifetime ban. Two words I actually didn’t expect to come from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver yesterday concerning Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist rant. Especially since just three days before, Silver said the Sterling crisis deserved “due process.” I expected a hefty fine, of which Silver delivered to the tune of $2.5 million. The two words I thought would come out of yesterday’s press conference were “suspended indefinitely.” But Silver, with the NBA in full crisis mode during the peak of its season, went further. And in doing so, he’s getting rave reviews for his handling of the crisis. All too …

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Your Opinion Matters

A good opinion is a terrible thing to waste — after all, where else can you claim prime media real estate with 750 or so well-chosen words? Finding a home for your prose, however, isn’t always easy. Space often is tight. Your subject matter might be popular among other aspirants. And news breaks, often making your masterpiece a little less masterful. Here are a few guidelines to consider when trying to place an opinion piece. Do Your Homework/Be Realistic Regular readers of THP’s “The Gong Blog” have heard this over and over. In this case, take some time to determine if …

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Pitching: Keep it simple

Before landing at The Hodges Partnership 11 years ago, I spent two years working for a business journal. Back then, I leafed through media kits that came in the mail and countless faxes and filtered emails and calls from PR professionals near and far. My take on the PR industry back then? I was amazed at how many things came across my desk that were irrelevant to our publication. And I always got a chuckle when I’d take a call about a new business opening in Virginia, only to find that business was launching in Fairfax, which was of little …

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PR At Your Service

Watching your son or daughter spill their drink at dinner is frustrating. Watching them spill an $8.95 gimmick drink at a theme restaurant is even more so. Watching your server witness spilled drink and not offer to refill it? Frustrating enough to dampen the whole night out – in addition to some 50-odd napkins. I’m the type of person who stays quiet but has a long memory when it comes to customer service, which for me continues to be among the most crucial elements of public relations. Get it right, and I’ll be back. Screw it up, and I’m like …

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Well-Deserved Honor for UR President

For the past few years, University of Richmond President Edward L. Ayers has been leading conversations about the Civil War and Emancipation in Richmond and beyond. And his books, research and discussions on the “War between the States” have shaped him as one of the preeminent Civil War scholars in the country. On Wednesday, Dr. Ayers was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Obama at the White House.  We offer our congratulations to a leader whose vision has made a tremendous impact on Richmond and across the country.

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