Conflict Abounds.

February 27, 2017

by Roger Pynn

If there’s one thing that’s certain, conflict is everywhere these days.  But it doesn’t stop at the borders of the District of Columbia.

My friend Elise Mitchell, APR, CEO of Mitchell Communications Group and of Dentsu Aegis Public Relations Network has a fascinating blog focused on leadership, and in her most recent post she addresses a leader’s role in conflict resolution.

Every day we are seeing people through the lens of the media, many running from conflict.  To the contrary, she suggests, it may be better to approach conflict the way a firefighter takes on flames … running into the danger.  She says, First, let’s clear up a common misconception: Having conflict on your team doesn’t mean you’re a bad leader. Conflict is just part of a leader’s journey, and you have to accept that, not run from it.”

Conflict is as predictable as the sunrise.  In our business, navigating conflict is essential.  God put us here to create relationships, and if we run from conflict we’re likely to be short-lived for the profession.

In her new book Leading Through the Turn (which metaphorically takes insight from what she’s learned as a motorcycle enthusiast), Elise suggests leaders ask themselves these questions:  1) Where do you want to go? 2) How do you plan to get there? and, 3) Are you enjoying the journey.  It was question #3 that made me wish I had met Elise a long time ago.


How to Be the Best Intern Ever

February 23, 2017

by Ashley Tinstman

As someone who was once a nervous, timid intern, I’ll admit—internships can be somewhat terrifying.  Your professors constantly stress the importance of getting multiple internships, but the process of seeking and obtaining those internships can sometimes feel overwhelming.

If you’ve ever felt this way, take a deep breath and relax.  Internships are a process of trial and error—they’re designed to help you learn what you like and don’t like, all while getting real-world experience.  And as employers, we’re here to help you grow, and that’s something we love to do.

Here at Curley & Pynn, interns are a valuable part of our team who get to work on all kinds of projects—drafting newsletters, doing research, building media lists and more.  Now, you might be thinking, “That sounds awesome, but what exactly do you look for in an intern?”  Luckily for you, I am here to answer that very question.  Here are five things that make a great C&P intern:

  • Write.  And then write some more.

But seriously … writing is a vital skill in our industry.  As an intern at C&P (and in your future jobs), you will be writing on a consistent basis. Whether it’s a news release, feature story or a media pitch, you must have strong writing skills and know how to tailor your writing to very specific audiences.  If writing isn’t exactly your strong suit, practice!  It’ll go a long way in helping you stand out during your interview.

  • Be a sponge.

Once you’ve landed the internship, be eager to learn all you can.  Observe what others do, take notes, ask to sit in on meetings and seek out advice. We are here to be a resource for you, so don’t be shy.  You can learn a great deal by observing and asking questions.

  • Be a problem solver.

In the PR industry, you will undoubtedly face challenges that require you to think critically.  You may have to do difficult research for a client or write about a topic with which you’re unfamiliar.  In those cases, be resourceful and attempt to work through the problem you’re facing.  But if you get stuck after trying, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

  • View mistakes as a learning opportunity.

Everyone makes mistakes.  It’s an unavoidable reality.  You’ll make mistakes as an intern, and you’ll make mistakes as a seasoned industry pro.  But guess what … that’s OK.  Mistakes may not be pleasant in the moment, but they can be a valuable learning opportunity.  When your internship supervisor offers constructive criticism, view it as a positive.  We want to help you grow and succeed.

  • Take initiative.

One of the most valuable things you can do as an intern is take initiative. If there’s a project you want to get involved with, tell us.  If there’s something you want to learn more about, speak up.  If you don’t have enough work to do, ask for more.  We do our best to get our interns involved in a variety of projects, but we always like when our interns take the initiative to ask first.

If you’re interested in interning at an awesome agency with awesome people, you can find more information here.


Bring Me Thinkers.

February 13, 2017

by Roger Pynn

An interesting article in Tactics, a publication of the Public Relations Society of America, makes a case for writing as the most sought-after skill in public relations.  With apologies to the author Hanna Porterfield, let me say that writing is just a bar for entry.  What I want is people with critical thinking skills … who hopefully are writers.

Of course, you have to be able to put your thoughts “on paper” in this business.  But I can teach even a fair writer to do better work in that area.  What I can’t do, I’ve found, is teach people to logically think through a problem or challenge instinctively.

Why?  I think it stems from what and how they are taught in school.  Few public relations programs I’ve seen have more than one – if even that – course addressing how to think through the challenges you’ll face as a practitioner.

Sure, it is true, that in your early days in our world you will be doing sometimes repetitive research to find out what has already been published on a topic, or to create a media list or identify thought leaders.  And you’ll be asked to write a lot less than the Great American Novel.  But if you are truly cut out for public relations, you’ll approach each of those tasks by asking one big question.

“Why?” is the question that should drive everything.  When you understand why you are doing something, why information is important, why the three paragraph release or blog post fits into an overall communication program, you’ll be on your way to bigger assignments.

We’re trying to hire an entry-level communications specialist now.  To us, entry level is someone with a couple of years of experience under their belt.  They should be looking for that second job … one that gives them the chance to write bigger things, be part of creating strategies and take their place on the front line with clients and community.

The biggest challenge for us right now is finding that person who can think … as well as write.


Doing My Homework

December 19, 2016

By Karen Kacir

I want to be able to have an informed conversation about anything.  While I know I’m never going to be fluent in all disciplines, I’ve always wanted to know at least a little about as many things as I could.

This made interning at Curley & Pynn this semester a real treat.  While no one in PR doubts the importance of research, I could tell this team took it to the next level.  Even before I applied to the internship program, I was impressed with the firm’s emphasis on using solid research to inform strategic direction.

Interning here, I made some progress toward my goal of knowing at least a little about a lot.  Over the past three months, I’ve researched and written about subjects I never thought I’d touch, from fuel cells to financial technology.

It was always gratifying to know that the hours I dedicated to each research project didn’t disappear into thin air.  Some of what I dug up was the basis for stories slated to appear in the next issue of florida.HIGH.TECH, the Florida High Tech Corridor’s annual magazine.  Some of it went into reports used to shape decisions made at executive levels.  Regardless of what the final product looked like or where it ended up, I’ve had a lot of fun being involved in the process.

And while I’m never going to develop super-cool, Back-to-the-Future-inspired solar energy filaments, it’s good to know that — if the subject ever comes up at the dinner table — I won’t be completely lost.

Editor’s note:

We’ve had the opportunity to work with many very talented college students over the years through our internship program, and several of those interns have gone on to work with us as full-time specialists.  We would have loved for our most recent intern, Karen Kacir, to be the latest to join our team, but she has other plans for her future … a Peace Corps teaching assignment in Colombia.  Before Karen left us to make her impact on the world, she drafted one last Taking Aim post to discuss the impact our internship had on her world.  Best of luck, Karen!


Zika, the Oil Spill and Help for Communicators

August 19, 2016

by Kim Stangle

One of the most important client success stories we’ve told in the last decade has been about our work for South Walton (the Tourist Development Council) on the heels of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.  With tourism as its main economic driver, the destination faced a crisis of epic proportions when news of the spill hit and visitors feared the pristine white-sand beaches they loved would be covered in tar balls.

Deepwater_Horizon_offshore_drilling_unit_on_fire_2010

Our team worked alongside the TDC’s communication staff to develop a crisis communication plan that would ensure visitors would continue booking trips as they’d done for so many years before.  The plan included scenario-based messaging; a blog that was updated daily to show real-time images of beach conditions; and, a variety of other communication tools.

Ultimately, the drop in bookings was a fraction of what initial research indicated was possible and they rebounded dramatically in the years to follow.

It’s hard not to immediately draw comparisons to the latest news coming out of South Florida—Miami Beach, specifically—where the latest Zika outbreaks are crippling an otherwise bustling tourism spot.

While an oil spill is hardly the same as a mosquito-transmitted virus, the communication challenges are similar.  Perception is a powerful motivator of fear and communicators must work to provide a constant flow of accurate information if they seek to separate fact from fiction.

For help with crisis communications and other public relations issues, check out our case studies and white papers.


Media Training 101: Do Your Homework

August 17, 2016

by Kim Stangle

When conducting our Message Matrix® training program with clients, we share a variety of practical tips to help navigate the sometimes-difficult landscape of media interviews.

One key tip is: always do your homework … anticipate all questions, especially the tough ones.

This advice would’ve been incredibly helpful to Seminole County Tax Collector Ray Valdes during an interview he granted recently with News 13’s Amanda McKenzie.  The elected official has been under fire for failing to disclose business dealings that many see as a conflict of interest.  And according to McKenzie’s news report, when probed about a tough question regarding those dealings Valdes stopped the interview, returned to his office and closed the door.

Valdes may get points for controlling the conversation, but abruptly ending an interview he granted does little to bolster his side of the story.

Moral of the story:  if you’re not prepared to answer even the toughest questions, don’t grant the interview.


Can’t Take a Joke?

August 15, 2016

by Roger Pynn

I got a big kick out of the dustup last week about John Oliver’s view of the state of the newspaper industry.  Remember, Oliver is a comedian, but people like Newspaper Association of America really let his humor get under their skin.  Said NAA President and CEO David Chavern, “newspapers need solutions, not petty insults and stating the obvious.”

I’m a recovering journalist.  I say that because far too many people claim to be practicing journalism when in fact they are practicing commentary.  I’ve had a hard time finding degrees offered in commentary, but I can tell you that when I studied journalism we were schooled to never, ever offer our own opinion.  That was for those folks who produce editorial pages where the newspaper was to express its “corporate opinion.”

“I would just ask Mr. Oliver to spend more time talking about what the future of news could be, and less time poking fun at publishers who are trying to get there,”  begged Chavern.

I would just ask Mr. Chavern to spend more time standing up for the practice of real journalism … and, less time letting a joke get the better of you.  Learn to laugh.


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