From the United States Postal Service website:
“On January 27, 2013 the U.S. Postal Service® will implement a postage rate increase for all mail classes including First Class Mail®, Priority Mail and Express Mail along with many special services. First Class Letters (1 oz.) will increase by one cent to $0.46 from $0.45.”
The fact that we barely noticed this increase illustrates how public relations, communications and, at the risk of being over-dramatic and clichéd, the world has changed. “Back in the day,” a postage rate increase was a big deal: it warranted long stories on the “nightly news” (another relic of an earlier era) and lots of chatter about increasing cost vs. increasing delays in receiving mail. Those of us in PR made frantic runs to the post office so we had enough postage to mail our clients’ press releases. Today’s increase: whatever.
If there had been an increase yesterday in other communications delivery methods – say, a Twitter functionality or a new Facebook feature – we would have read about it (endlessly, no doubt) and convened conversations about how it impacts our work and our clients’ communication. But this morning…. a one cent increase in stamps…?
January 28, 2013
Let’s face it: a post (or a tweet, for that matter) about the popularity of Twitter is not terribly original. Most people don’t need to be reminded how pervasive and impactful this tool has become in just six years. We are reminded of it every day, as we help our clients use Twitter to enhance their online presence and their visibility—and ultimately, their bottom line.
But we were reminded of the power of Twitter this morning as we reflected on the past week.
Superstorm Sandy made our office inaccessible for two days (and our heat inoperable for two more days). When we couldn’t reach the office, we were able to see photos of our building that someone from the neighborhood had posted on Twitter. Our lunchroom discussions were about friends in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut; we could better understand what they were going through because we knew the current conditions of their neighborhoods and had seen pictures of their communities… on Twitter.
For the past two weekends, we promoted events near Philadelphia and in New Jersey. Twitter became the quickest and most reliable way to let visitors know that the shows would be held as scheduled, and a great way for us to provide information to local media for them to spread the word.
Obviously, we are not alone in realizing how much Twitter matters. This article in the New York Times about creating community (http://nyti.ms/V9DYKA) helped prove our point.
November 5, 2012
The Time: Friday Afternoon
The Stage: Our Conference Room
The Setting: A 45-minute all-staff meeting to check-in on the status of upcoming projects
The Conversation: 20 minutes about the projects and 25 minutes about Starbucks loyalty cards, peer editing, soggy lettuce, minivans, bars in Hampden, granola bars, bulk foods, libraries, Halloween costumes, fear of Halloween costumes, the sound of Styrofoam, the ingredients in Miso soup, Quinoia, how to pronounce Quinioa, how to spell Quinoa, “are you done” vs “are you finished” and “laugh” vs “guffaw.”
Our week is almost finished. We’re going outside to enjoy the spectacular weather. Done.
September 21, 2012
What a gut punch. No Triple Crown this year. Not even a CHANCE for a Triple Crown. “I’ll Have Another” is out of tomorrow’s Belmont Stakes.
It broke the way news breaks these days—a vague announcement of an upcoming news conference, whispers on Twitter, and then finally, after everyone already knew through social media and “e-alerts,” the “official” announcement.
We’re not all avid racing fans, but from the gasps (and expletives) from each of us upon reading or hearing the news, you would have thought that we had a lot of money riding on “I’ll Have Another.” That’s because, like everyone else, (or maybe a little more than everyone else because of what we do for a living), we like spectacles.
There is always something about history being made. People love markers and milestones. And as PR people, we pay attention to, appreciate, and plan the spectacles, markers and milestones that people love.
We saw this earlier this week when the Maryland Science Center’s roof was packed for the Transit of Venus. Were all the attendees astronomy buffs? Had they circled June 5 on their calendar in 2004, during the last Transit? Perhaps, but most of the people gazing skyward were simply there to see something they wouldn’t get to see again. A spectacle. A milestone. They wanted to be able to say they saw it. To have a story to tell. It will be 105 years until the next Transit. Walking through the crowd, we heard over and over, “When’s the next one?” “So nobody alive will see this again?” (The next Transit of Venus is in 2117.) It’s a downer that we don’t get to see a Triple Crown, but it’s also a downer that nobody else does.
All over the country, columnists have been dreaming about their possible leads. PR people have been looking for any possible horse angle to pitch to media. And fans—be it of horseracing or milestones—have been eagerly anticipating a “where were you when” story to tell their grandchildren. And it’s over. No spectacle, no milestone, no shared marker.
Such is life. And life in PR.
June 8, 2012
We spend a lot of time talking about “community”—and we spend a lot of time helping our clients achieve success by developing theirs: a community of artists and people who appreciate their work, a community of museum members who visit and contribute, a community of donors to non-profit organizations, lawyers and bankers offering their services and financial support to their community.
This past weekend, many of us noticed the power of community. As we spent a few days away from the office, we saw—and felt—the importance and value of bringing people together for a shared experience.
One of us saw his sister-in-law complete a triathlon. A community of athletes, with no relationship before 6:30 on a Sunday morning, offered each other support and encouragement. Strangers who passed each other along the race course sought each other after the race to offer congratulations. Families standing side by side along the route shared in each other’s pride.
One of us went to the Preakness and braved the infield party—a community of people seeking revelry, and finding it with 125,000 strangers.
One of us returned to his hometown to watch with former hockey teammates and high school classmates as the New York Rangers defeated the New Jersey Devils in game 3 of the NHL playoffs—a shared celebration.
One of us attended a funeral for a friend. A community of friends offered each other comfort and solace.
One of us saw Baltimore City high school students presented with college scholarships at a ceremony at the Maryland Science Center. One community, committed to rewarding inspiring students, met another community, which nurtured those students and enabled them to achieve that success.
One of us gathered the attendants for her Fall wedding and went searching for bridesmaid dresses—a community of friends preparing to mark a significant lifecycle event, and making the preparation memorable.
We read a lot of articles, coordinate a lot of activities, and connect with a lot of people to help create communities for our clients. This weekend, through our own lives and experiences, we were reminded of why it matters, as we all seek some congratulations and pride, revelry, comfort and solace, reward and nurturing, and happy memories.
May 21, 2012
From Devin Carroll, a Himmelrich PR intern who will be graduating in May from the University of Maryland in College Park, MD:
Having spent eight months working on the campaign, I was thrilled this morning to learn that my student team, composed of five seniors, was selected as finalists for the Public Relations Student Society of America’s (PRSSA) 2012 Bateman Case Study Competition. The annual competition is for public relations students at colleges and universities around the country to plan and implement a full public relations campaign. This year, the campaign topic for all 70 student groups was childhood obesity. Our team’s entry was chosen as one of the top three finalists and we will present our campaign in-person to more than 30 judges in Minneapolis next month.
Our program, Mission: FitPossible, was created to battle childhood obesity in underprivileged areas of Silver Spring, MD. Mission: FitPossible included 18 events with the Boys & Girls Club and YMCA of Silver Spring, multiple media hits online and in print, a frequently visited website, a Twitter account, a Facebook page and activities with many of the University of Maryland athletic groups.
After sharing this news with everyone in the office, I realized how my experience at Himmelrich PR helped me with the campaign process. Part of what I’ve worked on has been the firm’s social media monitoring and media tracking, which served as the foundation for my team’s formatting for Mission: FitPossible’s evaluation section of our proposal. As an intern, I am constantly exposed to people in the office pitching to the media. For Mission: FitPossible’s launch, I tried out my pitching skills by using Himmelrich PR’s approach to media relations. This helped my team reach our media goals and receive a lot of positive attention from local online and print outlets.
April 23, 2012
It was a good weekend for shopping. The weather wasn’t quite winter and not quite spring. There were lots of sales in some of our favorite stores. And it was a rare weekend when we didn’t have a client event.
As one of our alert associates walked the malls, he had an observation:
We talk a lot in the office about “transparency” and “privacy.” We know more about the personal lives of our clients, colleagues and associates than ever before because of what they choose to share online. We debate how “transparent” we need to be when promoting our clients or engaging in activities on their behalf, or in their name. We continually ask how transparent our clients should be in their marketing efforts.
This weekend at the mall illustrated just how transparent our lives have become. Is the expectation now that everything is public and transparent?
And why do we notice things like this? The answer to that question is easy: that’s how we think.
April 2, 2012
New Account Coordinator Meredith Lidard reflects on her favorite grocery chain:
I’m a self-professed Trader Joe’s junkie. I make a trip to my local store on a weekly basis to stock up on my favorite items and check out their newest products. One of my favorite hobbies is swapping Trader Joe’s product recommendations with friends. For someone who thinks grocery shopping is a hassle, I surprisingly look forward to shopping at Trader Joe’s.
While filling up my cart over the weekend, I started thinking about the specific reasons why I love Trader Joe’s so much. Is it the fragrant seasonal plants and flowers that greet customers as they walk in the door? Or the reasonably priced and yummy prepared foods? It could be the samples and free coffee, or the always helpful and cheery employees who go out of their way to check if there’s any more pesto pizza, candy cane tea, trail mix, olive oil, yogurt, etc. in the back.
I’m mostly impressed by the company’s ability to attract customers. From what I’ve read, customers flock to the openings of their newest locations with little to no marketing. And even though they would probably be welcome and become profitable in any city, Trader Joe’s adheres to a restrained business strategy—they only open a handful of new stores a year.
As is the case with many companies, word of mouth and referrals is the strongest form of marketing for Trader Joe’s. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a bad thing said about the chain, except for complaints about small aisles and parking lots at some locations. Yes, the stores are usually packed with people, but even when I’m stuck behind a slow-moving senior citizen or a crying child, I still enjoy shopping there.
It’s a good example of what really works and what we practice at Himmelrich PR—it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money on a marketing campaign if your brand’s strength is good people and good products. And for us, good thinking.
January 23, 2012
We are based in Baltimore. That means that on this Monday morning, the day after the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Houston Texans (which, in a rare moment when we all agree, is not the most original name), all the buzz in Baltimore is about the Ravens.
But not all our clients are based in Baltimore, even though our work for them is here. A good part of our time this Monday morning has been spent explaining the nuances of local media. We are helping our clients understand why local television producers are saying things like “if it’s not about the Ravens, we can’t confirm coverage,” even for stories that have been planned and confirmed for weeks. We’re explaining why published photos from their events this week will include lots of purple shirts, and hats, and jewelry, and feather boas.
So on this Monday morning, we are reminded that as successful as we think we have been (or will be), we can’t control everything. And we are reminded that while we may understand the nuances and reasons of media, we appreciate having understanding and reasonable clients.
January 16, 2012
What Account Associate Jamie Wagner was really thinking about while shopping last weekend:
While checking out the post-holiday sales at Best Buy this past weekend, something stood out to me – not the promotions for shiny new iPads or the sale tags on giant 80” flat-screen televisions, but rather the signage requesting old electronics. Several Best Buy locations in Baltimore are taking part in the electronic superstore’s e-recycling program. Customers can bring in almost any electronic device they no longer use (or no longer know how to use… that’s right, they accept VCRs too), and Best Buy will take care of the rest.
Every part of every electronic is sorted, cleaned and recycled to be used in new products – plastic could be used for park benches and playgrounds, parts of old batteries are used to make new batteries, and so on. It doesn’t matter where the device was purchased – Best Buy will take it.
I appreciate the program for its environmental impact. The improper disposal of electronics can release toxins into the environment and have detrimental effects on our health. By recycling over 300 lbs. of e-waste for every minute it’s open, Best Buy is providing some serious support to the solution to a very serious issue.
Best Buy’s e-recycling also has a positive impact on their bottom line and is good marketing. The initiative gives both new and returning customers a great reason to come into the store. This type of public service effort is just what we as PR professionals like to see – an organization carrying out their social responsibilities and increasing good will while boosting revenue.
As we like to say here at Himmelrich PR, good thinking.
January 9, 2012