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Professional Development

Internal Tools from PRSA Connect


Internal Tools from PRSA Connect

It’s rare that a PRSA national conference comes to our hometown, so when PRSA Connect announced its 2016 location in Dallas, I was in. (Not to mention, our awesome clients Topgolf and DFW Airport were presenting.) After nearly two days of presentations and networking, I’ll share a few key internal communications tools and learnings.



The 10 Commandments of Corporate Communications

10 Commandments Final

10 Commandments Final

By Shelby Tidwell The evolution of global news media has affected news outlets everywhere, including the Associated Press (AP) – the largest and most respected news organization in the world – which has altered its corporate communications department to contend with ever-changing media standards.

Ellen Hale, former senior vice president and director of corporate communications at AP, recently spoke to PRSA Dallas and Press Club of Dallas members about her time at AP and offered “The 10 Commandments of Corporate Communications.”

  1. Corporate communications should be the canary in the coal mine. You should be the first to indicate if a situation could be misinterpreted by the media.

  2. If it looks like the issue has wings, get in there fast and disrupt it before it gains traction with the media or public.

  3. Don’t count on anyone calling for comment or clarification; assume they will run with their own interpretation of the story or image.

  4. Be proactively transparent.

  5. If you’re wrong, fall on your sword – fall on it fast and completely.

  6. Explain, explain, explain!

  7. Know when to stop explaining. Get in, get out and don’t extend the issue any longer than you have to.

  8. If you don’t have shareable content, you’re sunk.

  9. Social media can be a curse, but it has proven to be a friendly beast – take advantage of it!

  10. Cultivate relationships with those in the media who can help.

If there’s a trend in Ellen’s list, it’s that honesty and transparency are not optional. The bigger and more powerful your organization is, the more likely you are to be under scrutiny. Don’t give your critics the chance to misinterpret your message – but if they do, be the one to correct it.



Investing in Professional Development in 2016

Fostering personal and professional growth has always been an important part of LPR’s culture, but it’s hard not to let it slip to the back burner when things get busy. That’s not going to happen this year. We’re trying something new and stepping our professional development game up a notch in 2016.

We just launched an agency-wide program that gives each team member a budget and time for professional development activities. Funds can be used on anything from conferences and workshops to textbooks and subscriptions. As long as it relates to strategic communications, leadership or business, it’s fair game.

The only catch is…if you don’t use it, you lose it. How’s that for motivation?

By empowering team members with time and money for professional development, we’re making a bold statement and encouraging new growth opportunities for the agency as a whole.

I’ve already heard so many great ideas about how to use the funds, it’s going to be hard to decide what to do first! Maybe a Coursera business course or a photography workshop? The upcoming PRSA Dallas social media boot camp sounds interesting, too.

If you have any suggestions or ideas based on your own professional development experiences, we’d love to hear them!



Congratulations, Christi Chesner, APR!

Christi Chesner earns her APR

Christi Chesner earns her APR

Last week was more than full at LPR, with many things for which to be grateful:

  • Along with our teammates ABI, MRR and Associates and The Marketing Zen, we had a great roll-out on the new brand for client Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

  • We also hosted the 2016 Alon Brands Creative Summit, identifying marketing strategies and approaches for more than 300 company-owned convenience stores and approximately 600 independent distributors and convenience store operators.

  • Within our “family,” though, nothing could make me more proud than LPR Director of Client Services Christi Chesner receiving word that she passed the examination awarding her the designation Accredited in Public Relations (APR).

Granted by the Universal Accreditation Board through the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the APR designation is a voluntary credential for professionals who demonstrate experience and proficiency in a broad range of knowledge, skills and abilities in public relations, as well as an understanding of ethics and ethical behavior.

Unlike many other professions, there are minimal barriers to entry into the field of public relations. The discipline of acquiring the knowledge and skills, gaining the experience and then proving it through a statistically valid examination process demonstrates commitment to excellence that our clients expect. About 18 percent of PRSA’s membership have earned their APR, including all three of us on the LPR leadership team.

Lewis Public Relations leadership team

Lewis Public Relations leadership team

Through smart and strategic work, service to our profession and belief in the value of personally investing time, talents and finances to earn a seat with what many see as the “best of the best,” Christi exemplifies our commitment to quality relationships and outcomes over jobs and outputs.

Next time you talk with Christi Chesner, APR, I hope you’ll join me in congratulating her on her latest personal accomplishment.



Going “Back to School” with the APR

CC APR StudyDoes anyone else want to go buy some school supplies and head back to class after seeing all the cute back-to-school photos flying around social media today? This summer, I embarked on my own, personal version of back-to-school by pursuing my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), which involves presenting a portfolio of work to a panel of accredited professionals, studying and sitting for the APR examination.

While everyone else was laying out clothes and packing lunches yesterday, I was sitting in a testing center taking a comprehensive exam on public relations, business, law, communications theory and ethics.

Now that the presentation and exam are both behind me, I just have to say that it has been the most valuable professional development investment I’ve ever made. I thought this whole process would be more of an exercise in demonstrating my knowledge, skills and abilities, rather than actually improving them.

Since I got my degree in public relations and have been practicing in the field since 2008, I didn’t think I was the type of candidate that would have a lot to learn from the process. Boy, was I wrong!

With real-world experience under my belt, the material I studied in college has so much more meaning and relevance. Reviewing best practices and core concepts (and even re-reading my PR textbooks) has been extremely valuable to my day-to-day work, and the whole process has truly helped me up my game in strategic planning, research and evaluation of the PR programs we deliver for our clients.

I still have to wait a few more weeks to get my results, but no matter what happens, I’ve never felt more empowered and equipped to practice public relations.

For those of you considering going back to school or participating in continuing education in your field, the timing will never be perfect…so you might as well bite the bullet and take advantage of the school supply clearance sales next week.

Photo credit: Tamara (ThingsPondered).



Professional Development: Make the investment.

Last Friday, two team members from Lewis Public Relations attended the PRSA Dallas Pitching Boot Camp with renowned speaker Michael Smart. While PRSA offers its members many options for professional development, we have to say this was one of the best so far. Michael Smart is a former journalist turned independent communications trainer. This wasn’t our team’s first interaction with Michael. While we choose to participate in a variety of professional development offerings, all of us have benefited from Michael's weekly emails, past conferences and webinars...and our latest encounter did not disappoint.

Michael Smart Pitching Boot CampAt the PRSA Dallas Pitching Boot Camp, participants ranged from university students studying public relations to seasoned media and high-level spokespeople from around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Michael talked through the pitching basics, nuances of pitching today’s influencers, bloggers and overworked journalists, and the breakdown of your story. Without giving away the recipe to his secret sauce, we’d like to share some of the tried and true tips even the most tenured PR gurus can find useful.


Newsworthiness of the Pitch – Consider all aspects of your pitch.

What makes it relevant? Why now? Who should know about this? What side of the story can you tell to connect to your audience?

Targeted Outreach – Using mail merge? Survey says, “Don’t!”

Don’t waste your time or your media contact’s time unless it’s the right fit. Think about it: Journalists want to feel special, just like you and your clients. You’re more likely to make contact if you put some thought into who and why you are pitching.

Follow-up – Don’t be discouraged.

If you know it’s a good story, do make timely, appropriate follow-ups. If you don’t push for the coverage, who else will? During the Pitching Boot Camp, Michael also cautioned not to discredit the value of a cold call.

ThinkstockMost professional organizations offer a plethora of development training options throughout the year. While we don’t recommend signing up for every opportunity out there, it would behoove you to take note of what is offered. Investing in yourself directly correlates to your professional growth and client successes. Other LPR team members have made notable investments, such as pursuing Accreditation in Public Relations and earning an executive M.B.A. from University of Texas McCombs School of Business.

We recommend keeping an open mind and watching for worthwhile opportunities coming up, whether that means pursuing additional education or participating in seminars and conferences, especially if Michael Smart is headed to your area soon. Reading the quality content from respected industry professionals’ blogs can sometimes function as a quick way to receive condensed advice or tips on the latest how-to. We’ve curated a list of the best blogs for public relations and marketing here.

Do you have any suggestions on quality training or professional organizations? Comment below or engage with us on Twitter at @LPRDallas.

For more information on joining a Public Relations Society of America chapter, look hereFor more information about Michael Smart, we encourage you to visit his website and be on the watch for his upcoming blog.

(Photo Credits: Michael Smart PR, LLC; @LPRDallas Twitter Feed; Thinkstock via CBS DFW)