Category Archives: Employment

Two Frightening Stories :: Newspapers Continue to Hemorage

Newspapers. I still love them. That is why these stories make me very sad.

Rick Edmonds - PoynterRick Edmonds, Poynter’s Biz Blog, shares “the latest American Society of Newspapers Editors’ annual census” and it ain’t pretty.

Print is continuing to hemorage at a sad rate. The good news may be, they will learn and adapt. Sad how they didn’t do it beforehand to stem this ugly flow.

Out With The Old … In With The Newbies

Fulltime professional news staffs fell by 2,400 last year, a drop of 4.4% to a total of 52,600.

It was an even larger decrease than the 2,000 drop-off in the recession year of 2001. Since the census is completed as of the end of 2007, the tabulation does not include hundreds more buyouts and layoffs already imposed in 2008.

Poynter Online - perhaps the best journalism Web siteIf there is good news in all of this, some of those being fired are being replaced by younger journos. So, students leaving school actually still have a chance. Why are media companies doing this? Well, one reason is likely to get rid of the high overhead of expensive, mature & seasoned talent. (Well, it is the expensive part they want to dump.) Then, they replace them with inexpensive newbies. Gee, will this make us want to buy more newspapers?

Diversity Suffers…

Thomas Huang - PoynterTo make matters worse, Poynter Online’s Tom Huang reports that Diversity at Work is suffering, too.

…the overall numbers don’t seem too gloomy: In the past year, the percent of minorities working at daily newspapers grew a smidgeon — from 13.43 percent to 13.52 percent.

But it’s the absolute number we should be worried about.

The only reason why the percentage of minorities in newsrooms has essentially remained flat is because both white and minority journalists left our newsrooms at about the same rate (resulting in an overall 4.4 percent decrease in full-time journalists at daily newspapers).

The total number of minority journalists at daily newspapers fell by about 300 people…

You’ll find some very good “RELATED” links in each story. Please check them out. Also, please start some prayer circles for our print industry. No, I’m not kidding. Seriously.


Crowdsourcing II :: DOs and DONTs of Online Reputation Managment

Christi Eubanks, of my PRception, asks me and dozens of PR educators and practitioners to share our “top 3 DOs and DON’Ts for personal online reputation management.”

That’s a good question. We talk about it in class from time to time.  Jeremy Pepper just wrote an interesting post on this very topic – Reputation – Both Corporate and Personal –  at Pop PR!

That’s also a tough question. Only three? I’m going for three of each. 🙂 I’ve seen some of the other answers, so I’ll try to hit some areas maybe not covered there, yet key beginner first steps to online reputation management. You may post your comments here, but really … the best thing (I believe) would be to post in your blog and ping Christi of my PRception.

Continue reading

My Opinion: UAB Is A Leader In Online Higher Ed Creative Marketing and PR

That’s my opinion. I believe it is valid.

First, a confession. I’ve been delinquent in posting this. They told me about a job opening they have and I shared it with students, first. Sorry. But, the details are below.

This is a group I think anyone would want to work with in PR and marketing for higher ed. The team of Jeffrey E Keeton, Hope Harrill, Andrea M Reiber … and others … is doing some remarkable work. Their project on Antarctica research, with Jeff Keeton and Dimitri Glazkov is particularly interesting. I wrote about it here.

They win awards, too.UAB logo

So, if you’d like to join a cool team … check this out. They actually seem to have three opportunities. One is the coordinator. One is the electronic media coordinator … and the other is an assistant coordinator. So, opportunities abound.

Job Code UI302N1
Job Description: Under limited supervision, this position is involved with developing and providing content that will motivate and entertain users so that they regularly access the web site and utilize it as a major source for information and decision making. Responsible for providing technical support, as well as, performing web site editorial activities including gathering and researching information that enhances the value of the site. Locates, negotiates, and pursues content. Seeks out customers to gather feedback for web site improvements and enhancements. PLEASE NOTE: This position will be filled as a part-time irregular working 40 hours per week with the possibility of becoming a full-time position.

Hey, I see this as a foot in the door kind of opportunity. Good salary. Good team. And, you’ll be among the first to be doing this kind of work. Great for a recent grad with a bit of experience.

Thank you, Andrea and Jeff, for sharing this with me.

The details … Continue reading

Facebook Word-of-Mouth Campaign :: ASCCA Trying Something New

Facebook is an interesting social media community. For ASCCA’s interests of connecting with college students, it seems like the natural community to engage. ASCCA wants college students to work as counselors, program staff and for internships. So, we’re trying something new to reach themcamper and counselor.

ASCCA is going to run approximately 50,000 flyers a day, for three days, targeted at students from the following universities: University of Georgia, University of Florida, Troy State University, Montevallo, University of Alabama-Birmingham, University of North Alabama, University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) and Auburn University (Auburn).

This will give us over 150K impressions. Now, realistically, we’d like to run more – and target many more universities. But, the Facebook flyer program does have some limitations. I’ll discuss those. And, just so you’ll know, Camp ASCCA is not paying for this. A new tactic in our strategy of reaching students, I felt it best to cover this myself as a test. We’ll see how well it goes. The cost of this program equals about 1/2 of a week long campership. So, I thought it best to test the process, first. Still, that cost would be a small fraction of what we’d usually spend to advertise in college campus newspapers. More on that in a bit.

sample ASCCA facebook flyerThe image to your left is an example of one of the flyers. That is what students at UGA will see on Sunday through Tuesday when they log in to Facebook. It appears just below their lefthand menu. A nice placement, I think. Click the image and you’ll see all of our flyers. On Facebook, when students click the image, they are sent to a purpose built page on our site that offers greater detail. See ASCCA Public Relations Internships. In the future, I’d actually like to target the top 25 universities with PR programs. Maybe we will, still.

So, what are the limitations of the Facebook flyer program, as I see them? Well, currently you cannot target students beyond simply choosing a specific school, or schools. I find this a bit strange, since Facebook does have the demographic and lifestyle (interests) information of their audience. Ideally, I’d like to use that information to specifically target the students most likely to be interested in what ASCCA has to offer.

For instance, if we wanted to seek male counselors, I should be able to target a specific school, reach only males, and reach only those that have listed interests like: recreation, education, or even special education. Facebook is still relatively young and their flyers and advertising programs are still maturing. Right now, Facebook flyers are more of a broadcast tactic than a targeted one.

You might be wondering, “How effective is the Web for accomplishing ASCCA’s marketing and hiring needs?”

Today, Matt Rickman told me that he has yet to run a single ad in college newspapers during his counselor recruiting process for Summer ’07. That’s remarkable. Even more remarkable, Matt shared that he is ahead of his annual hiring targets. He would usually start college newspaper ads in April. This year, he may not run any of them. So, why is that? What is different this year?

Although we have sketchy data upon which to base this claim, so far the difference seems to be our Web site. Yep, apparently the site is accomplishing the goal of reaching potential counselors – just as we hoped it would. We’ll poll the counselors and program staff this summer to see exactly how many actually found us online.

I’ll report back in a week or so to let you know how our experiment with Facebook went this time around. For now, let me hear from you. What do you think about this tactic? Do you have any suggestions about other processes we may undertake to reach potential interns?

Did you know that Camp ASCCA is in Facebook? If you are too, please go on over and “Friend” Camp ASCCA. This way you may keep up with what we’re doing all the time. Join the Camp ASCCA Facebook group, too.

Emily Melton Takes SEC Football on a Wild 100 Day Ride

Emily Melton at CSTV Mission SECAnother Auburn grad makes good! Who says you can’t get a fun job in social media!

I am really excited about this news. Emily Melton – a former student and recent AU graduate – is working with CSTV on Mission: SEC. She is blogging and vlogging SEC football! The world of social media and college football will be changed forever.

…this will be a fun fall odyssey as Emily Melton turns college football and the SEC on its ear…

Mission SEC is a 100 day road trip through the Southeastern Conference leading up to the December 2nd SEC Championship game in Atlanta.

CSTV Mission SECThey are blogging and sharing videos about the culture of SEC football. There are three videos up now and tomorrow I believe we’ll start seeing the long list of interviews with many of the colorful characters of SEC football.

Funny thing is, they’ve got one of the most colorful and enjoyable characters on their team. Emily Melton is terrific. She’ll be an absolute delight to watch. Seriously, CSTV could not have picked a better person for this project. Now we just need to pray for Jean Neuberger and Glenn Anderson, her cohorts in this 100 day marathon.

So, good luck Emily. We’ll all be following your odyssey. This is going to be fun. War Eagle!

P.S. I really hope you guys will be putting these videos up on There are a lot CSTV videos at YouTube, but I don’t see these in there, yet.

For context, if you are not familiar with SEC Football, it is basically a religion here. Compare it to the popularity of cricket in the UK, Australia and India or football (soccer) in Latin and South America and Europe, I guess. The SEC is the Southeastern Conference of university sports programs – 12 universities. The SEC drew about 1.5 million fans to their baseball parks this year, alone. Football in the SEC has outdrawn every other college conference for 25 years. Last year, SEC college football programs drew over 5.5 million fans to stadiums and untold tens of millions watched on TV. It is big business. CSTV is a CBS company.

Here is just one example of the revenues generated:

The SEC (distributed) approximately $116.1 million to the 12 league schools in its revenue sharing plan for the 2005-06 athletic year…

Broken down by categories, the money derived from $47.4 million from football television, $20.7 million from bowl games, $13.2 million from the SEC Football Championship, $12.1 million from basketball television, $4.4 million from the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament and $18.3 million from the NCAA Tournament. (Source)

Billing :: Trouble … trouble right here in PR City

Billing. It starts “with a capital ‘B,’ And it rhymes with ‘bilking’ and that stands for fraud!” (Apologies to the “Music Man)

…trouble right here in PR city. …what, if anything, can we do about it…

In today’s Los Angeles Times, we learn:

“A former Fleishman-Hillard employee … testified she padded bills to the city on orders from her former bosses … (she) admitted Wednesday to making misstatements to investigators, but held firm to her basic story of fraud by the international public relations firm (Fleishman-Hillard).”

The Los Angeles Daily News reports:

“The former head of Fleishman-Hillard’s Los Angeles office was told in a 2003 meeting that Department of Water and Power bills were being inflated but did not stop it, a former colleague testified Tuesday.”

and… “Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Kamenstein, (Monique) Moret said (Doug) Dowie didn’t tell anyone at the meeting that the process ‘has to stop.'”

Now, contrast these accusations with the following:

From Todd Defren, we learn of Fleishman-Hillard’s statement of “Principles” where they claim “Quality service is first and foremost in everything we do.

“To make ourselves as valuable to our clients as they are to us.”® We live out this goal by adhering to the following ten basic principles:

1. Respect for the individual
2. Teamwork is everything
3. Quality service is first and foremost in everything we do
4. New business drives the firm
5. Results make us grow
6. Existing clients come first
7. Fleishman-Hillard requires a personal commitment
8. Entrepreneurship is a way of life
9. Personal success is measurable and attainable
10. We are committed to the highest ethical standards

Source: Fleishman-Hillard’s statement of “Principles”

So, I’m just sayin’ an’ paraphrasin’…

Well, either you’re closing your eyes
To a situation you do not wish to acknowledge
Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated
By the presence of PR conglomerates in our community.
Ya got trouble, my friend, right here,
I say, trouble right here in PR City.

(More apologies to the “Music Man) In fairness, we must remember, the case is in progress. There are only allegations. Nothing has been proven, yet.

Hey, lot’s of people are saying it. PR Week has been reporting on it, too. (Subscription required)

“These bills are quite long, aren’t they, Miss Moret?” asked Stodder’s attorney Jan Handzlik, resuming his line of witness questioning cut short by Tuesday’s end-of-workday recess.

Collected, and dressed in a sophisticated black business suit for her initial day on the stand, Moret, witness for the prosecution, described her role in preparing monthly invoices on behalf of the firm’s lucrative LA Department of Water and Power (LA DWP) account. After employees entered their billable hours in a computer program called PeopleSoft, she explained, a billing worksheet would be generated in Fleishman’s St. Louis headquarters. That sheet, Moret said, would be used by her and her assistant to prepare a detailed activity and project-code report to be sent to the client for payment.

It was after the ‘first run’ of the billing worksheets when allegedly fraudulently worked hours would be added, Moret explained. Under the direction of her supervisor, John Stodder, Moret said she would add hours to various employees’ entries, then re-submit to St. Louis before compiling invoices.”

O’Dwyer’s PR/Marcom even went so far as to allow an anonymous character blogger to write an article about it (Subscription required). That is something they have never done before, and stated they likely never will again. (Thank goodness.)

Allow me to make this clear. I like agencies. I like agency practitioners. They have certainly been nice to us in our blogging activities. I’m just offering my own version of clarification here. If you think I’m wrong, please tell me. (Like you wouldn’t anyway?)

I want to write about this story from several angles in days to come, but I’m starting with the two aspects that bother me the most (after the alleged overbilling, of course). I’ll try and deal with it from (1) a personal practitioner (or student) standpoint and (2) what this scandal may mean to public relations overall.

First of all, let us deal with the issue and how it relates to students about to join the world of PR. Some – note that I’ve said some, please – of you will go into agency/corporate public relations practice. For you, an important rule of thumb is to beware and steady yourself. (We actually do talk about this in classes, by the way.) You may well be asked to do something by a client or supervisor that is unethical, dishonest or even illegal. I know you are stunned.

So, “just say no” is the simple answer and advice, right? But, is it really that simple?

No, of course not.

It gets difficult. Out of school things seem to flow in many directions, like these…

You get a job. Then, maybe you get married. Oh, then comes the house. Ooops! Children. How’d that happen? So, as you can see the responsibilities and the ties keep accumulating that may keep you from feeling so free to say, “(Manager), I’m not comfortable with doing that.” Or, when supervisors are pushing you to meet your quotas, can you really feel comfortable saying “I will not lie to my clients.” You want to keep your job. You have car payments, mortgage payments, saving for the kid’s college and on, and on…

Not everyone is strong enough to take the stand and say something they may be penalized for, think bonuses and promotions, or even fired for down the line. Sad, yes, but true. I hope we see you leave the comfort of college with the steel it takes to say no. In fact, we hope you will be the change agents for a segment of the profession (probably less than 1/4 of the overall practice, actually) that causes some harm to the overall reputation of PR. We’ll talk more about this one, later. Maybe our readers will see this and offer their suggestions about how you can deal with the situation, should it arise.

Also, I am not certain that overbilling is rampant in agency PR. So far, to be fair, the evidence is anecdotal. Hey, it may be happening a lot, but there isn’t any significant public evidence to prove it. Know of some? Please share. Remember, there are a lot of firms.

Second, it seems that there is a perception that over-billing is rampant in the world of PR overall – not just in corporate and conglomerate owned PR agencies. Unfortunately, the claim often comes in a statement like this, “PR overbills all the time.” The generic PR statement is important and it bothers me.

…most PR practice, in my opinion, is local or regional at best, just like politics…

In my first post on this issue, I want to cover some simple thoughts about what PR is, or better stated, “Is conglomerate PR, or agency PR, representative of the entire industry?”

My feelling is no. It is not representative of the industry as a whole and, in fact, does not make up the majority of practitioners. You see, most PR practitioners don’t bill. Yeah, that’s right. Most likely don’t do time sheets and fill out billing reports. Most are salaried and it just doesn’t relate to their jobs.

Now, corporate/agency PR may account for a tremendous percentage of the billings that do take place. For instance, the top 10 independent firms accounted for $1.7 billion of the revenue out of the 135 firms in 2005. (Source: O’Dwyer’s PR)

The Economist reports (Jan 19th 2006) that PR spending in the U.S. has reached $3.7 billion (compared to $475 billion for advertising). The article also reports, “Many of the big PR firms have been consolidated into the giant groups that now dominate the advertising industry. Two of these are American: Interpublic owns GolinHarris and Weber Shandwick, and Omnicom owns Fleishman-Hillard and Ketchum. Britain’s WPP owns Hill & Knowlton and Burson-Marsteller.”

Don’t you just love WPP? “WPP’ stands for ‘Wire and Plastic Products.’” Ah, and here you are — our future “Graduate(s).” Is big time agency PR (those bonuses and promotions) your Mrs. Robinson? It may be trying to seduce you. Will you be asked to compromise your ethics to get ahead? It could happen.

But, back to the real story, are revenues really the key factor in determining where PR practice is taking place? Is agency PR where the real excitement and fun is found? No, of course it isn’t.

That same article in The Economist reports:

Of course, not all PR people are selling products or services. Indeed, marketing PR—or “brand communications” as it is sometimes called—is still considered by some in the industry as something of a Cinderella business. A recent study in Britain by the Centre for Economics and Business Research found the PR industry there employs 48,000 people. More than 80% were working “in-house”, for companies or other organisations. Just over half of Britain’s in-house PRs work for the public sector, health organisations and charities. These organisations are also the biggest users of PR consultancies.

In the U.S., I believe the percentages are similar. Still looking for those numbers, so please bear with me.

My point? Perspective, please. Do not take this story about one trial about one conglomerate’s practice and apply the perception to all of PR. It isn’t fair. It isn’t valid. And, it is foolish. May we all, when referring to this case, not make the blanket “PR” statements, please.

And, story teasers and headlines like these may serve to perpetuate the misconceptions.

“…Overbilling is rife in the PR biz because it’s getting pretty tough to feed the corporate monster..” O’Dwyer’s PR

“PR Overbilling Case Heads To Court” Center for Media and Democracy … Why not Fleishman-Hillard Overbilling… (OK, that’s being picky.)

Next time, we may talk about possible solutions to the problem. Hey, I can at least try. Certainly management needs to change. Congomerates need to clean up or break up. But, to truly change this culture, someone – a lot of someones – do need to say no.

Also see Ethics on Demand, by Mark Johnston, at FPRA Blog Week. (Hat tip to Jeremy Pepper at the Blog Run for the link.)

Language Matters :: Podcast on Language and Disability :: Dr. Dave Martin, Auburn University

I enjoyed creating a podcast for Camp ASCCA recently with Dr. Dave Martin from Auburn Uninversity’s Department of Rehabilitation and Special Education. So, I am reposting it here in my blog because I believe it has specific implications for public relations practitioners.

…language matters
and we all need to be ever aware of how we refer
to people with disabilities so that we do not lose sight of their abilities…

Our discussion revolved around language and how its use may perpetuate stereotypes of people – who happen to have a disability – as “unable.” And, those who know better realize that people with disabilities are actually quite able. This issue of language use has tremendous implications for public relations.

For instance, some research has shown that someone that has a disability is likely to be a more loyal employee and will actually present their employer with fewer sick days than average employees. This depends upon what you define as a disability, of course, but it is those definitions – used casually by all of us in everyday conversation – that set the tone for how we perceive disabilities.

One aspect of Camp ASCCA that I have always enjoyed and appreciated is how people without disabilities react when they are exposed to the recreational activities the campers engage in from high adventure to something as casual as swimming. It changes your perceptions of what is a disability. It actually removes the stereotypes.

When you see how an appliance – like a wheelchair or an adaptive harness – can enable a tennis game or climb up a treehouse or tower, you realize that these are not confining devices (as Dr. Martin points out) but really devices of liberation. Another aspect of this is the barrier-free architecture of camp. When people see that the cost per square foot is minimal to create such an environment they may think twice when building their own facilities. A little thought and consideration can be liberating for millions of citizens.

Of course, above I used the term “appliance” and that also is an unfortunate word. But, what do we call these things and these conditions? That is one area I hope the Camp ASCCA online community will address in the months and years to come.

Length of the podcast is 18:39 and the file size is 17.0mb.  Listen below.