Faith’s Farewell

August 18, 2017

by Kacie Escobar 

Curley & Pynn was fortunate to be joined this summer by intern, Faith Fogarty, a recent graduate of the University of Mississippi who “wowed” us with her positive attitude and work ethic.  Read on for Faith’s account of her internship experience.

I had interned at several other places before joining the team at Curley & Pynn.  As I prepared for my first day, I woke up and found the most comfortable shoes I owned.  I was ready to run errands, clean and do other “intern work.”  Little did I know, my experience at Curley & Pynn was going to be so much more.

I was assigned a writing project right off the bat.

“Woah,” I said to myself.  “No one needs coffee or anything from Office Depot???”

On top of providing public relations counsel and marketing communications to several clients, Curley & Pynn puts in plenty of valuable time helping others succeed and grow in this profession.

Being an intern can be overwhelming, especially in an agency where something new is always happening.

One of the most important things I learned this summer was to simply ask questions.  Ask once, ask twice or as many times as you’d like, but don’t be afraid to just ask questions.  I’m sure there were times when I asked a million follow-up questions, but the team never hesitated to answer them.  I was a sponge, soaking up all the information I possibly could.

I learned another important aspect of “adulting” as well:  time management.  I give a great deal of credit to the team at Curley & Pynn because, as I quickly learned, working in an agency environment, having good time-management skills is the key to being successful.  Bouncing from one project to another on completely different subjects and with multiple clients, you must be able to manage time effectively.  Learning this hasn’t only helped me in the PR field, but in everyday life as well. To-do lists are my new best friend.

I strongly recommend the internship program at Curley & Pynn to every college student or recent graduate looking for more experience in the PR industry.  The Curley & Pynn internship program isn’t like most and that’s what I loved about it.

I could write a novel about the valuable experience, connections and knowledge I gained these past couple of months, but I know the work samples I’ve assembled prove it best.  I couldn’t be more grateful for the time and effort this team puts in to creating better PR professionals.


Charlie Needs PR People … Not Salespeople

August 9, 2017

by Kacie Escobar

Today, I received an email encouraging me to apply for a role with the Charlie team in Chicago as a key salesperson for the company’s new product.  Seemingly innocent, everything about this email rubbed me the wrong way.

Having just returned from the 2017 FPRA Annual Conference, PR:  It’s Personal, the power of personalized communication was fresh in my mind.  And this email was anything but personal.

Ironically, Charlie’s success is built on technology that “finds information from 100,000’s of sources” to build one-page profiles about your professional contacts, helping you get to know them without doing all the work.

Perhaps Charlie should have put its technology to the test.

I once researched the Charlie app, but never used it.  In fact, I had not received any previous emails from Charlie since the day I signed up nearly one year ago.  Simple research would have uncovered my lack of engagement and unfamiliarity with the company, along with my lack of experience (or interest) for a senior account executive role in sales.

The advertised position has enough responsibility that it reports directly to the CEO, yet Charlie clearly used an email distribution service to spam everyone on its list without any knowledge of the recipients’ qualifications.  The kicker:  it was sent to the inbox of the email address where I currently work, which, for others, might have sparked an awkward office conversation.

While Charlie’s tactic may eventually achieve the desired outcome, the company could have taken a far more effective approach.  A little research would have gone a long way to personalize this outreach and, as a result, reach the right target audience with the right message in the right place at the right time.

Before it can recruit the right salespeople, Charlie may want to consider recruiting someone to drive a more personalized approach to its PR.


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.


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