12 Signs PR Agency Life Isn’t for You

By Julie Wright

1. Month end is just another day to you.



2. You’re happiest doing one thing at a time.



3. You don’t read the by-lines as closely as the articles.


4. You don’t measure your life in 5 minute increments.



5. You come up with song hooks instead of news hooks in the shower.



6. Your only sense of urgency is when the barista takes too long with your latte.



7. You had to Google KPI.



8. You think the work day is 9 to 5.



9. You wouldn’t describe yourself as a people person.



10. You follow the Kardashians more closely than Facebook’s algorithm changes.



11. You fall asleep Sunday nights with no thought to the client projects waiting for you Monday morning.



12. You fall asleep Sunday night.


What I Learned as the PR Manager for a High School Newspaper

KPBy Katie Page

Katie Page has spent the last two summers as (W)right On’s summer intern. As you can see from the post below, she is a rock star and is now a freshman at Chapman University, studying for her B.A. in Public Relations and Advertising.

I am a storyteller. It is my passion, my biggest weakness and my greatest strength. So when I was asked to write a blog post for (W)right On Communications about my time as the PR Manager for the Torrey Pines High School newspaper, the Falconer, I was both elated and terrified.

PR is about telling a story, but the people reading this are well aware of that. When I sat down to write this story, my mind became a blank slate, and not the kind that offers infinite possibilities. I couldn’t find the words to express what I’d done for the Falconer in regards to PR. Did I have examples of the results of the tactics I implemented? Sure. Did I have words of wisdom to share about what I’d learned during my time as PR Manager? I suppose. But it all seemed dry and worthless to professionals like yourselves. So after weeks of hitting delete, I decided that I’d tell you this story in a way that reflected not only what I’ve taken away from my PR experiences, but also who I am.

I will admit that I have several stereotypical teenage tendencies, like excessively checking social media. So believe me when I say that nothing epitomizes teenage interest like the never-ending stream of trends on social media. Therefore, if one wants their attention, social media is the most logical method of getting it.

falconsAs the Falconer’s former PR Manager, I was charged with growing subscriptions and grabbing the short attention spans of my youthful peers. The first few months on the job weren’t exceedingly notable, but then I realized that I was missing the storytelling aspect of PR. If I wanted the stories that filled the inky pages to leap out and grab the student body, then I was going to have to use social media to tell the Falconer’s story before its articles had the chance.

In an effort to attack the challenge from all fronts simultaneously, I broke down our viewers into interest-based categories: news/entertainment and sports. To capture the sports fans’ attention, I revamped the Falconer’s Twitter feed. Each game, tournament, match or meet would be tweeted about and contain the opponent, score and an event highlight. This way, the dedicated sports fans could read about the event without having to leave the comfort of their couch, where they were most likely watching the professional version of the same sport. These constant updates served as reminders to our athletically inclined followers that we were always there for them, and that we gave them just enough information to stay in the loop. Thus, when the paper came out every month, those fans couldn’t get enough of the sports coverage we had to offer.

In order to engage those who lacked an interest in athletics, I beefed up the Facebook posts that advertised each issue’s release. Every post had a breakdown of each section’s highlights in an effort to draw in the type of readers who weren’t satisfied with a blurb of information, but rather wanted to know it all. Previously, the post reached as many Facebook friends the PR Manager had, as he or she was the one who made the post, but I wanted to broaden its reach, so I had every staff member share the post and click the box indicating their attendance. This expanded the post’s views from roughly 400 people to well over a thousand.

grandmaEven students who didn’t attend TPHS were aware of the upcoming issue and its intriguing focal points. And Aunt Debbie who lived in a small town in Minnesota could read the post’s excerpt of the news section and feel compelled to have Johnny send her a copy of the paper, or better yet, send her a subscription form.

I did my best to create a new story for a newspaper, something already filled with diverse and meaningful stories. It seemed ridiculous, but it worked. Circulation increased and I walked away with priceless knowledge and a new career aspiration.


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The Never-Ending Question: What is PR?


By Julie Wright, President

Sometimes I wish I were a doctor, police officer or bartender so that when asked what I do for a living, my answer wouldn’t produce that awkward pause followed by, “So what is PR exactly?”

A LinkedIn poll found PR Manager to be the seventh most misunderstood position in the workforce. (Fun fact: The poll asked parents to explain what their son or daughter does for a living, and 42 percent of respondents said they couldn’t accurately describe the PR profession. I’m not sure my parents really know what I do, either).

Unexpected NumbersApparently, public relations is a tough concept for many people to grasp. In a way, it falls in the grey area of other practices, such as marketing, advertising and journalism.

Sometimes our tasks overlap and we may take care of a brand’s marketing. Many PR practitioners have writing abilities on par with the best journalists. Yet public relations has its own arena and should not be lumped together with other professions.

For the hundreds of people that are bound to ask you, “PR? What’s that?,” PRSSA developed this crowdsourced definition:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

For a more down-to-earth explanation, you might just say:

“I achieve media coverage for our client partners as well as maintain relationships for them.”

Similar to a marketing professional, we want to improve our clients’ images, yet PR has an entirely different approach. We invest our time in the relationships that make a difference and use these to best help the brand. In helping earn our clients media coverage, we create awareness and hopefully interest from potential customers, donors, investors and others. We’re able to preserve and heighten our clients’ reputations by communicating where their target audiences are.

Sometimes our goals are the same as an advertising campaign’s, but rather than paying to put our clients’ messages out, we earn people’s attention by being exciting, fresh, unique or relevant to their interests.

Sometimes our goals are the opposite of an ad campaign and we’re helping our clients manage unwanted attention. When things go wrong, contrary to popular belief and pulp fiction, we don’t cover things up, but instead attempt to explain the issue in a transparent and ethical way.

Today, we’re not just earning attention and managing reputations through media exposure and special events, but through clever, strategic social media and content creation programs.

Although PR is a very misunderstood profession, it’s an essential part of business for brands to survive and thrive.


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How I Survived My First Networking Event


By Chris Jensen, Jr. Communications Coordinator

Networking is the easiest way to make a connection that doesn’t involve a glowing screen. While LinkedIn may be quick and easy, “connecting” is not as memorable as shaking someone’s hand and having a conversation.

Since PR is built on relationships, we enjoy our fair share of networking at (W)right On. It was only a matter of time before I was tossed into the ring.

Karl-Strauss-Beer-GardenMy first event was Inbound Marketing Week, and luckily for me, it was held at a brewery. I had a great time at the event, and the tips my colleagues gave me at a team brainstorm helped me navigate this new, uncharted territory (The beer didn’t hurt either).

Here are a few key points that helped me through my first venture into networking:

  • Don’t want to go it alone? Team up with a buddy (non-colleague) in your industry. This is a good chance to nurture a relationship with an existing contact. Plus, if other coworkers are at the event, this will give you the opportunity to divide and conquer.
  • In order to get in the right frame of mind before you attend the event, set the goal of meeting interesting people that do interesting things. That’s a much less daunting goal than saying, “meet three qualified prospects.” If you go in with the mindset that you’re only looking for new business, you could turn people off.
  • Think about 2-3 questions you want to ask someone in advance – don’t jump in empty-handed! Have a couple go-to questions as backups if there’s not a unique talking point right off the bat. To that point, ask questions to lead down the path about how you can help. One of our favorites? “How do you get the word out about your business?”
  • Quality over quantity. Meeting ten interns from various businesses may be easy, but having a great conversation with the CEO could be the start of a new partnership.
  • Yet, we can’t forget our next rule: Be nice to everyone, even if they’re not necessarily a direct prospect. Remember the six degrees of separation!
  • If all else fails, look for the person standing on their own. They’ll be grateful you approached them and saved them from that awkward moment. Or, if you see someone standing alone while you’re already speaking to someone, give him or her a smile and welcome them into the conversation.
  • Don’t limit conversations to people similar to yourself – stay open to everyone. While it might be easier to strike up a conversation with someone your own age and likeness, try stepping out of your comfort zone. That’s the beauty of networking – you never know who you will meet.
  • Don’t forget your business cards, and be sure to give them out. Know your elevator pitch – sometimes you only have a few seconds to explain yourself.
  • Be a connector. Is there someone from your existing network that you can connect a new contact with? In PR, marketing and similar professions, it’s important to provide value with connections.
  • Follow up via email within 24 hours. Make time that night or the next morning to send emails to everyone you met. It’s one of the easiest ways to be remembered.
  • Use a spreadsheet for following up with new connections. Organization is key in our industry, therefore, you should keep track of connections you wish to continue a relationship with. Set reasonable times to follow up so you don’t risk forgetting or annoying someone.
  • Maintain your connections with LinkedIn and social networks. While I believe it is better to connect IRL, social media helps to keep new relationships top-of-mind.
  • And remember: networking can begin as soon as you step foot out of your car, so always be on your game.

I walked into my first event a little nervous and unsure what to expect. Yet, after chatting with the first couple of people, I realized the easiest way to go about it was to just enjoy myself. Sure, you may have goals going in and specific people to meet, but the best way to achieve these is to have a good time.

Cheesy? Maybe, but you’re more likely to make real connections when you’re natural and upbeat, rather than a card-pushing robot.

Any favorite networking tips you rely on? Let me know in the comments.


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Kicking The Shit Out of Option B

Your Competitive Advantage is Being Human

Kicking The Shit Out of Option B

kick the shit out of option bBy Julie Wright, President

What’s your ability to adapt to stress and adversity?

How prepared is your team to respond to obstacles or crises?

Adversity is a fact of life and of business. Things won’t always go your way. In fact, every once in a while, things will go horribly, irreversibly wrong.

Resilience. It has to be the most powerful quality a person or a company can possess.

I was overwhelmed reading Sheryl Sandberg’s message on Facebook earlier this month that described her grief after suddenly losing her husband.

Her conclusion was one I could relate to for mourning just about anything, from the loss of a loved one to the loss of a financial nest egg, a job or a dream.

“I was talking to one of these friends about a father-child activity that Dave is not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, ‘But I want Dave. I want option A.’ He put his arm around me and said, ‘Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.’

Dave, to honor your memory and raise your children as they deserve to be raised, I promise to do all I can to kick the shit out of option B…”

That is the essence of resilience.

Kicking the shit out of option B.

I don’t want to talk about how to mourn life’s big stuff. Read Sandberg’s post if you want to learn how to do that right.

I want to take inspiration from her post and apply it to our business lives.

How do you behave when your big campaign doesn’t achieve results, your company becomes the subject of a lawsuit or financial scandal, a disgruntled employee does something awful, your CEO quits or a regulatory authority doesn’t approve your project or product?

Do you look for people to blame and find excuses for failure? Or do you analyze what went wrong, what could have been done differently and what processes or systems need correction? Do you rush for explanations or give yourself time to make a thorough assessment?

Sandberg took 30 days to gain her perspective and share what she had learned.

sherylThat introspection is a key to resiliency. You can’t adapt and succeed in the face of setbacks if you’re not taking the space and time needed to learn from them. Whether you need more or less than 30 days, the point is not to rush this process or communicate with a knee-jerk response. A little distance and perspective can help you see the true problem, understand your own reaction and help you determine where you go from here.

In a crisis where a company is expected to make a statement immediately, don’t rush to provide answers. Rush to provide comfort and instill confidence. Let people know you care, are taking action and will share information and next steps once they have been carefully evaluated.

Just like introspection, leadership is key to a company or team’s resiliency. Leaders need to re-inspire teams with a renewed purpose and readiness to kick the shit out of option B—whatever option B might be: a new or rejigged campaign, a leadership transition, a fresh product development plan or company-wide safety initiative.

Sandberg is a leader, well-spoken and exceedingly capable of selling her ideas. I have no doubt, after reading her post, that she will kick the shit out of option B.

Another feature of her resilience is her support system. She has her mother to help and a close network of confidantes to comfort and advise her.

In fact, her epiphany about option B came through the words of a supportive friend. And, at the time, it wasn’t where her heart was pushing her.

A good friend who had more perspective on the issue than she did was able to speak this truth to her.

That’s the role of trusted advisors during your corporate tragedy. They’re your support system and can help you find option B, as well as figure out how to kick the shit out of it.

You need outside points of view and the input of people who are experts in their fields and true professionals who can view the situation objectively and speak the truth when it needs to be heard.

Do you have those relationships? Do you know who you can turn to for counsel—who will help you find your option B? And are you open to hearing hard truths and listening to ideas and solutions that might cause some discomfort in the short term?

Like Sandberg, have you shared your vulnerabilities with those closest to you? Hiding the truth from trusted advisors or faking it with them will not build that mutual trust, nor will it allow their best advice and support. You have to let them in. And you have to be open to listening and valuing objective, outside experience and advice.

So be prepared for setbacks and losses in business, just as in life. And, when they happen, be ready to kick the shit out of option B. Give yourself and your team the time and space to gain perspective and learn the lessons to guide your new direction, use your leadership to restore enthusiasm in the new goal and call on the support of objective and valued consultants to ensure you have looked at the issue from all angles and without judgment.


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Hashtag Flawless: The #CallMeCaitlyn Transformation is PR Gold


By Erica Schlesinger, Communications Strategist

By now, Bruce Jenner’s announcement that he has been living more than 60 years of his life as transgender, and his subsequent debut as Caitlyn Jenner, isn’t breaking news. However, Jenner’s transformation is sure to keep the public and media buzzing for months to come, and not because of the most obvious reason – but because Caitlyn and her camp executed a darn near flawless rollout of her story. abc_jenner_sawyer_2_wy_150424_16x9_992

From Bruce’s one-on-one with Diane Sawyer to Caitlyn’s introduction to the world on the cover of Vanity Fair just a couple of months later, everything was calculated – and in this situation, I mean that as a compliment. Jenner’s primary publicist has helped other big names including Mel Gibson and Rob Lowe navigate PR issues, and also worked with Jenner as far back as the 1980s. When a reporter came across Jenner dressed as a woman and had a story in the works – at the peak of Jenner’s heyday – the same publicist helped defuse the situation, eventually convincing the reporter to stay silent. With the exception of a few whispers here and there in more recent years, nary a word was heard until Jenner split from longtime wife Kris and appeared to be taking the steps to transition into Caitlyn.

According to reports, Jenner and her PR team have been orchestrating Caitlyn’s debut since last year, and media were vying for a piece of the story from day one. The New York Times and Vanity Fair, where Caitlyn eventually said hello to millions of readers worldwide, were among publications initially put on pause due to “TV commitments.” Whether this was true at the time or not remains to be seen, as “an ABC insider” says Jenner and her camp only began seriously talking details for the Diane Sawyer interview in December 2014. However, it seems Sawyer was the only reporter Jenner wanted, despite the fact that her home network, E!, is owned by NBC Universal. It’s a credit to Jenner’s PR team that they held their ground and stuck with ABC – it’s likely that going with an E! affiliate would have been seen as more of a PR stunt to drum up ratings for “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” or Jenner’s upcoming docuseries, “I Am Cait,” in turn diminishing the positive sentiment the public had toward Jenner after watching the interview.

vanityfairSoon after Jenner inked her agreement with ABC, Vanity Fair was locked in as well. It can only be assumed Jenner and her team had their pick of outlets to publish her first photos, ranging from news-oriented magazines like Time to pop culture options like People. Vanity Fair makes great sense for several reasons: It’s the perfect blend of celebrity stories – without the unflattering twist of the tabloids – and savvy news coverage mixed with high-quality, ultra-professional journalism. When a celebrity wants to make a life-altering announcement while earning respect and awareness for a community they care deeply about, an exclusive with a publication like VF is a wise choice. Other outlets will obviously cover and insert their own opinions – a fact that will never change with stories like these – but for controversial or “big news” stories, exclusives allow a certain amount of control and comfort. The magazine was also able to call upon the magic of famed photographer Annie Leibovitz and the well-matched reporting of Buzz Bissinger, who not only authored sports-centric Friday Night Lights, but faced his “own issues of shame (with) gender struggles.”

There are a number of people who feel Jenner is just playing the Kardashian “look at me” game – pointedly opting for a “C” on a name that could start with a “K,” baiting the public with snippets of information in her Sawyer interview that had to be followed up with the Vanity Fair story, filming an “about me” series with E!, even announcing her official transition right before Kim Kardashian announced her second pregnancy with Kanye West. They’re not wrong.

Of course Jenner wants attention, and of course she’s hired a top-notch team to help her get it in the best possible way. However, although she’s certainly not being left high and dry financially, let’s take a moment to remember a man named Bruce who didn’t feel like himself for more than six decades. Bruce felt he had to stay silent, and Caitlyn wants to speak, wants to share her story to help other transgender people feel comfortable in their skin and feel empowered to live the life they want. Although today’s society is certainly more accepting than that of even 20 years ago, it’s pretty amazing how receptive people have been to Caitlyn. When it became clear Bruce had made the decision to transition, even the toughest of guys painted their nails and posted pictures to social media showing their support. When Caitlyn appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair and on Twitter that same day, men and women alike reacted with tweets like, “Caitlyn Jenner looks incredible. So happy for her” and “I am in AWE of @Caitlyn_Jenner. She is stunning in her debut cover story.”

If Caitlyn is helping advance social acceptance and self-acceptance for a huge population of people, and through a kicka** PR campaign at that… power to her.


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