(W)OC has a diverse team of experts in various fields including communications, social media, public relations, graphic design, videography, and more. Not only is our team diverse but the industries we cover are also; this makes for a complementary partnership. Who says you can’t be an expert in more than one field?
At (W)OC we help strengthen each other with our expertise. We’re always lending advice and coming together for a team huddle to create winning strategies for our client partner’s. Having that one team member that is an expert in such industries can be helpful to bring together both sides of a vision.
To learn more about the diverse industries that we cover please visit, www.WrightOnComm.com or give us a call at (858) 755-5411 and let us help bring your visions to life!
I started out in PR before the Internet or email. It was the era of fax machines, the Yellow Pages and 400-page media directories that you combed through to research and build your media lists. There were few shortcuts on the way to mastering your PR skills, but in some ways, all of today’s technology and automation tools might actually be shortchanging entry-level PR people and getting in the way of developing PR fundamentals.
Back in the day, once you had your list built, you then had to call each reporter until they picked up the phone and then use your verbal skills to hold their attention more than eight seconds to pitch your story. Those calls helped you develop a thick skin, fast. That real-time feedback taught you which approaches worked or didn’t.
Unfortunately, in today’s email environment, you’ll never really know what they loved or hated about your pitch. (Unless you follow @smugjourno or @DearPR to monitor Tweets from journalists losing their s*** after being addressed with the wrong name for the 10th time in one day, sent another off-topic pitch, distastefully news-jacked or sent a 120 mb attachment.)
In the pre-email era, entry-level PR pros had to work the phones but that process made us better, faster.
We had another tool beside the phone. It was called the fax machine. Part of paying your dues was standing over one feeding it hard-copy press releases with your fingers crossed, hoping to hear the modem answer. (If you don’t know what a modem sounds like, it’s kinda like a DubStep drop.) That sound let you know that your brilliant press release was transmitting.
If you were sending a fax to a busy newsroom, you could often expect repeated busy signals and multiple attempts to get your press release through. Faxes could only be sent one at a time. You could punch in several fax numbers, but they’d be delivered sequentially and not simultaneously.
Think about that, for a moment.
You, literally—and I mean literally–experienced the sensation of your pitch colliding and competing for bandwidth with other pitches. The idea that your pitch was one of hundreds being sent to an outlet or reporter was not just a concept. It was something you actually heard and saw.
Anyhow, damn. Those days could be a real grind. Some labor-intensive, inglorious work. Like walking uphill both ways to and from school. But it was just what you had to do so you did it.
So, here’s my point: While the tools may have changed, I honestly do not think that the fundamentals have.
PR still requires an awful lot of legwork to do right and over the past quarter century, I have found that there is no substitute for that hard work—particularly as you are starting out. Generating a Twitter following, mastering Facebook’s algorithm, researching blogs for your thought leadership project—it’s a different grind, but to succeed you’ve got to do the work.
The practices I learned in the early 90s as an entry-level Gen Xer gave me sound fundamentals. It was a methodical process—detailed, diligent and it kept you close to your media contacts. You worked hard to find each contact and cultivate it. You knew the value of each contact and sent your pitches out into the world with each recipient in mind.
If I wanted to target my client for a radio interview, I had to listen to that radio show. If I wanted a trade or consumer magazine to feature my client’s project, I had to read the magazine. There was no website to consult or Google to search.
You had to be dialed into your media list, totally aware of who each contact was and why the hell they’d want to do a story on your news. I think this is one of those basics that has been lost in the race to automate our work, and it is the bane of the remaining working journalists who are inundated with off-topic email pitches. It’s also the bane of PR professionals who know that it takes time to do this job right but get pressure from clients who think PR is just distributing press releases to massive lists.
What Can You Do Today for Maximum Career Growth & Success?
What would happen to your pitching skills and PR instincts if you adopted these old school practices. What if you voraciously consumed the very same media you were expected to earn coverage in? What if you approached every single media contact on your media list like a wedding guest—knowing their background, your relationship to them, whether they’d want the ribeye or the vegetarian option and who they’d want to sit with?
I tell you what. You’d be successful. You’d be a rock star.
In today’s environment of cheap, plentiful and immediate information, taking pains to research and document each entry in your media list probably makes you feel like you’re doing it wrong.
Stifle that impulse. Take the time. If you have a passion for communications and telling great stories, then focus on your fundamentals. Do what might feel like drudgery. It’s called paying your dues. We all did it. If we wanted it, then we did it.
So if that’s you, don’t miss the opportunity to shine because it looks like hard work.
Put that extra care and attention into your work. Invest extra time in your day for attending a webinar to build your knowledge. Spend a little extra time every day reading up on your industry and talking to the more experienced people on your team about what you’re learning to get their take and advice.
And for god’s sake, show up. Network with journalists, other PR professionals, peers and business leaders. Volunteer on a committee so you can practice your leadership skills outside of the office to get more confident contributing during team and client meetings.
It may sound old-timey but work hard, pay your dues, take chances with your new knowledge and you will get noticed and rise quickly. I assure you, don’t be afraid to do these things for you will have one of the most exhilarating and rewarding careers imaginable.
Remember when you were back in business class and it first dawned on you that the system is rigged against people who want to do good AND make money? I do. It was one of those “Wait – what?” moments where I felt another shred of my ignorance/innocence slipping away.
My big “a-ha, well-duh” moment followed this obvious nugget of truth: corporations are legally obligated to make money for their shareholders, so their decision-making is necessarily driven by profit. Non-profits on the other hand, are legally forbidden from making a profit, so they’re actually discouraged from creating wealth for their employees.
In my own selfish way, I remember thinking my choices were to either embrace a life of poverty working for a non-profit, or cobble together some financial comfort by turning a blind eye to some of my ideals and working for the big, bad corporation. I suppose I’d had enough of the starving student scene and a martyr I am not, so off to the corporate world I went.
I’m certain I wasn’t the only person faced with this decision, and fortunately there are some smarter and more committed people than me who have been working to change the system, so that now (since 2010 in Maryland and now in 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia), there IS an alternative to choosing between non-profit or for-profit. It’s called a benefit corporation, or B Corp, and it is both shaping and shaking up how business, employee recruitment and consumer spending are going to look in the near future. Why? Because Y and Z.
Generations Y and Z, that is. Unlike prior generations, Y and Z haven’t had to sever that part of their conscience that chooses between “good” non-profit and “evil” for-profit, because they’ve grown up with companies like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s and Seventh Generation showing us that companies can be both for-profit and good. That’s exactly what B Corps are – they are people using business as a force for good™. They have shareholders, but they’re not exclusively tied to them—they’re also legally obligated to serve their mission, which can be anything from delivering shoes to third-world children to achieving world peace.
The B Corp movement is one of the most important of our lifetime, built on the simple fact that business impacts and serves more than just shareholders—it has an equal responsibility to the community and to the planet.
Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia
Y and Z can choose to give their money and their brains to “good” companies, and that’s exactly what they’re doing. What this means for traditional corporations is that in order to remain competitive for Y and Z’s brains and share of wallet, they’re going to have to start upping the ante in terms of the “good” they’re doing inside and outside of the organization. And these are the stories that need to take priority in press releases. These are the stories that are going to capture media attention, get shared on social media, and ultimately drive Y and Z’s choices.
Why (or Y) is this important? Because Ys, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69) in the US.
Are you panicked yet? You should be! The B Corps are coming and if your PR strategy has been focused exclusively on profits and growth, it’s time to change tactics. Talk up the great initiatives your employees have been collaborating with non-profits on, and the positive impact your organization has had on your community. Turn your eyes to measure the social good you’ve achieved each quarter, rather than earnings alone.
So whose wallet and brains is your organization targeting and what mediums are you using to get those stories out? Is it time to YZ up?
Kat Beaulieu would love to repent for some of her ideal-stomping past and help you craft a YZ targeted communications strategy that profiles the social good you’ve been up to. Get in touch.
Grant Wright joins leadership of premier venture capital community association
SAN DIEGO, March 29, 2016 – The San Diego Venture Group (SDVG) has elected San Diego public relations agency (W)right On CommunicationsCEO Grant Wright to the Board of Directors. Additionally, Wright is leading a new sub-group of Board Directors dedicated to advancing effective communications for SDVG.
Previously Board Chairman of the Southern California Aviation Association for five years and Director for nine years, Wright was instrumental in helping grow that organization from an original small core of members to more than 600 corporate and 6,000 person members today. CEO of (W)right On Communication since 2004, he helped lead the San Diego public relations agency to become among the largest in California. In 2016, he was a finalist for the San Diego Business Journal’s Most Admired CEO awards.
“My goal with the San Diego Venture Group is to help steward the continued success of this excellent organization and introduce innovative communication methods to advance SDVG’s interests,” said Wright. “San Diego is home to one of the nation’s most exciting and growing entrepreneurial and venture capital environments. As evidence of the even stronger environment to come, Money Magazine just named San Diego the #1 US travel destination. SDVG is a great organization and I’m honored and excited to support it.”
(W)right On Communications, a San Diego Public Relations agency, specializes in public relations, marketing solutions and strategic communications services – ranging from social media marketing to multimedia and web development. (W)right On is exceptionally strong in technology public relations with experience working with the Internet of Things (IoT), major utilities, cleantech companies, and renewable energy providers.
“It’s an exciting time to invest in San Diego-based startups. We have an exceptionally strong and growing tech sector, in addition to one of the top three biotech centers globally. Just 90 minutes by air from Silicon Valley, we continue to exploit our proximity to the largest venture capital region on the planet,” stated Mike Krenn, president of San Diego Venture Group. “We are excited and fortunate to have Grant join the board. His expertise, passion for entrepreneurial ventures, and energy will help us build regional momentum.”
About (W)right On Communications
Founded in 1998 in Vancouver, British Columbia, (W)right On Communications is a full-spectrum communications and public relations firm headquartered in San Diego, California. Specializing in hospitality, healthcare, energy, technology and development, (W)right On has produced results-driven media relations, social media and promotional campaigns and programs for clients including hotels, hospitals, utilities, startups, developers and universities. To learn more about (W)right On, visit www.wrightoncomm.com.
About San Diego Venture Group
Founded in 1986, the San Diego Venture Group (SDVG) is a non-profit organization designed to bring San Diegans who are interested in new enterprise and the process of creating it together. With a mission to provide a networking forum for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and advisors in an informal atmosphere where human expertise can foster new ventures, SDVG is comprised of professionals with bright ideas to share and the practical skills required to implement these ideas. For more information, visit www.sdvg.org.
For our hospitality PR client partners, a key component to a successful media relations strategy is planning press visits. Sometimes, this involves setting up an individual journalist with a hotel stay, activities and meals on their own, but often, we will plan a group press trip. Also called a familiarization, or “fam” trip, these team endeavors are a great way to form personal relationships with members of the media while also securing multiple features for client partners. I have personally planned and attended more than 10 press trips, so I like to think I know a thing or two about making them smooth and successful!
Check out my top five tips for pulling off a great getaway:
Plan ahead – As much as possible, start narrowing down dates, general trajectory of the trip, how many people to host and target audiences about four or five (or even six for a longer trip) months in advance. Many sought-after travel journalists have trips lined up back-to-back, so getting on their calendars is much more likely when you give them the chance to plan ahead. It may seem like overkill, but you’ll have a clear picture of who can make it – and who can’t – with enough time to fill your trip and stay organized… without having a last-minute panic attack.
Be flexible – Schedules change, people run late and guests can develop newfound food allergies or fears of heights when you had a meticulous tasting menu and zipline excursion planned. There is no such thing as a perfect fam trip – when you’re balancing five to seven writers, their guests, their requests, different onsite teams working together and robust itineraries, something is bound to change (and often last-minute and on-the-go). It may not always be convenient or ideal, but tackle it as you would any professional issue: take a breath, use your head, ask for help as needed and take it from there. You’ll soon have it handled. I’ve had writers have overnight flight delays or at-home emergencies, change preferences on a completed itinerary, show up with an unexpected guest and much more. At the end of the day, you’re there to make sure they arrive safely, have a good experience and leave happy – and want to work with you again and say nice things about your clients as a result. Another tip – be transparent with your client partner and inform them of any issues that may impact their teams, but if they don’t need to get involved, don’t bring them into the mix.
Be a control freak – Staying organized is critical for a successful fam trip. You need to make sure a lot of details are sorted and effectively communicated to all involved parties, travel arrangements are made, itineraries are approved, rooms are booked – you get the idea. At WOC, we have a few things that always make their way into our fam trip planning rotation:
Bio sheet – Ask each press trip attendee for a photo, brief bio, what their story will be about and the reach of their outlet, then compile into a single document to share with stakeholders. It gives a snapshot of who they’ll be meeting so they can prepare to chat with them, address any special preferences and get an idea of what sort of result they can expect from their time and money.
Google Docs/Google Drive – AKA your press trip BFF. Load any spreadsheets, bio sheets, itineraries and other documents up, add approved editors and watch edits appear in real time… without having 50 back-and-forth emails. Isn’t that nice?
Preference sheet/head count sheet – This is like a press trip “master document.” Here, we will have all key information any given member of our team or our clients’ team may need at any time to plan the trip. Excel is a great platform to build this in, then – you guessed it – load it into Google Drive. At the very least, this should include all contact info for each attendee, information on their preferences and any health or dietary needs, their guest, their meal selections and their activity preferences. For the latter two, build a “total count” row into the bottom of the sheet – this makes interfacing with activity partners and building BEOs a much easier process.
Itinerary – Also like the Press Trip Bible. This is a very detailed timeline covering everything attendees can expect from their trip, right down to notes about driving times if they’re arriving separately and check-in tips for spa appointments. It will keep you, your team and your guests on track from day one to waving goodbye. We WOC-ers like to add each element of the itinerary into our smartphone calendars with a 30-minute warning so we can always be one step ahead.
Be a social butterfly – As a PR pro, you are on a fam trip to represent your client partner, guide the trip and act as a go-to source for information, but in reality, you’re the chief entertainer, too. You will be the person these folks will see the most over two, three, sometimes six or seven days, and it is your job to make sure they all feel welcome and are having fun. When everyone arrives, get them all introduced to one another (including their guests) – and you should not have to refer to any notes for names or what outlet they’re from! During the first meet-and-greet with key members of your client partner’s team, introduce both parties with full names and titles. While at meals or driving in a group, make an effort to mix and mingle with different people. Sometimes, some attendees are much harder to connect with than others – resist the urge to stick with Chatty Cathy the whole trip through. It may be Silent Sue who has the most questions, is the most uncomfortable around groups or just needs some encouragement to open up.
Be a human clock – Real talk… media attendees are rarely keeping track of the time and itinerary while on press trips. Which is fine, since they’re there for the experience. PR pros, however, need to be on schedule at all times. During activities, keep an eye on the time and give updates (“Hey, guys, we have about 20 more minutes in this location. Is there anything else you need to see or photograph before we prepare to move on?”) – this can even mean politely urging a tour guide along, or pulling a chef aside in advance of a big meal to remind him or her of your after-dinner itinerary. If sending people off on free time before another set of activities, and during the last get-together of the evening, remind people of the time and location of their next scheduled stop. It might seem like a lot of “hovering,” but you’ll be surprised how quickly people forget when dinner is or where they need to check it for their morning horseback ride after a full day.
Putting together a winning press trip takes much more than following a few guidelines, but these are a great place to start. Hospitality PR pros, what other tips would you share after running trips of your own?
At (W)right On, we’re frequently asked to become engaged in community affairs of some sort – support a political cause, gauge the pulse of an issue, contribute to a worthwhile endeavor – and in as balanced of a way as we can, we often say yes.
We’ve supported at-risk youth; senior Olympics; domestic violence prevention; independent living for disabled adults; cancer prevention; youth sports programs; student academic scholarships; hospital programs; and more. Additionally, team members engage individually in support of men’s health issues, high school and college student mentoring, and a number of worthwhile causes.
Unless you live under a rock, community involvement matters… to a degree. There will always be more to be done than time or resource allows, so ‘everything in moderation’ is probably apt here. So what are considerations as you think about why and how to engage in your community?
Community engagement is often smart business. It expands your brand, is a source of intelligence, fosters teamwork and enhances morale, and provides your organization a higher sense of purpose.
It makes a difference – to the community and sphere that is your influence. A simple effort or gift of timely wisdom can literally change someone’s life in far more profound ways than the effort or thought needed.
It feels good – doing the right thing always does, and in that it contributes to improving the community in which you live, it comes right back to you.
It provides a sense of purpose and direction.
It sets an example for others – your engagement can have a multiplier effect.
It’s fun – Involvement in the community expands your circle of relationships and can often serve as stress relief.
Community involvement can overwhelm or be extremely time consuming. It may be worthwhile to begin with something simple and consider additional support from there with better insight.
It can just be more work, busywork or misdirected – it is important to have reasonable understanding and expectation of the benefit you’ll be causing.
It can take time from professional and family growth – there are only 24 hours in a day for all of us, and if engagement involves some sort of financial assistance it’s important this is done in a balanced way with all the demands upon your time and resources.
At (W)right On, we take great pride in all of our community involvement endeavors. It’s the right thing to do and it’s smart business. Plus, at its core, good communications is all about creating connections and building communities. But especially as we begin to approach the “giving season,” it’s important to consider the size and scope of your community involvement.
What are some of your favorite ways to get involved in the community? Let us know in the comments.