Relationships Are a Two-Way Street

May 24, 2018

by Kacie Escobar

As much as I’d like to believe myself to be the next Paul Rand (designer of IBM, UPS, ABC and other world-famous corporate logos), the truth is my graphic design skills don’t go much further than a customized template in Canva.  While this often does the trick, I’m smart enough to know when it’s time to call in the big guns.

It’s not uncommon for agencies like ours to partner with others when client work requires the development of creative assets that can’t always be managed in-house.  You might think that working with clients every day has taught me what it takes to be a good customer, but I was grateful today for a refresher.  Thanks to Evolve Design Group’s Mark Calvert, CDB Productions’ Vivian Richardson and Macbeth Studio’s Jim Hobart for reminding me how to be a good client during today’s meeting of the FPRA Orlando Area Chapter.

Here’s what our guest speakers had to say:

  • Check your expectations.  Key to a successful partnership is realistic expectations – not just deep pockets.  It can be equally rewarding to work with a small company on a tight budget if their expectations are realistic and they understand the value of services being rendered.  Good clients realize the finished product is often more complicated to create than it looks.  They also understand that no one works for free.
  • Don’t try teaching a cat to fetch.  Get a dog.  In other words, do your research to ensure the vendor is a good fit for your project.  If you don’t already have vendor relationships, Google should be your best friend.  Conduct research to find vendors who deliver the service you seek.  Review their case studies and portfolios, years of experience and staff size, and narrow down the list based on your priorities.  Check references if their client list is public.  Only then will you be ready to reach out.
  • Know what you want.  What does success look like to you? Define what you want to accomplish before reaching out.  Develop a project brief summarizing your vision, including the problem or opportunity you face, the audience you aim to reach, your plan to use the deliverables, ideal timeline and budget.  Your vendor will then have enough information to provide educated recommendations and guide you in the right direction based on their expertise.
  • Trust.  No one likes being micromanaged.  Before you jump in to control the creative process, think about how much time and money your partners have invested into honing their craft, and why you’ve called upon their expertise rather than attempting to do the work on your own.  The best clients provide constructive feedback and respect the creative process.

Just like any relationship, the client-vendor relationship is a two-way street.  On behalf of Curley & Pynn and our agency colleagues, I hope you’ll keep these insights under consideration next time you’re looking to engage a vendor.


Reflecting on Leadership

December 11, 2017

by Kacie Escobar

I learned a lot about myself during a recent session of LeadershipFPRA, “Leading and Managing.”   Far from your typical presentation of leadership definitions and management styles, what transpired was an inspiring weekend of self-reflection among like-minded colleagues with shared goals.

One of the most empowering takeaways was realizing that leadership stems from social influence – not authority or power.  Anyone can be a leader in any department at any level of an organization.  This is true at Curley & Pynn, where we each encounter opportunities to be a leader every day.  The key is knowing yourself and how to leverage your strengths to motivate and influence others to achieve common goals.

To help the LeadershipFPRA class better understand ourselves, leadership coaches from The Maue Center kicked off the session with an exploration of our individual strengths and how they can be leveraged to mold us all into great leaders.  Each class member completed a “Strengths Profile” and shared the results in intimate conversations about how these behaviors have shaped our lives and our careers.

As my top strength, growth drives me to constantly seek new opportunities, learn new skills and invite feedback on my performance in the pursuit of personal and professional development.  I feel most energized when I’m performing these activities, which certainly explains a lot … like my desire to be in FPRA and an ambition I’ve experienced since childhood that caused me to take school and extracurricular activities so seriously.  Thanks to our leadership coaches, I now understand how to better employ growth and other strengths to be a more effective leader for my team and our clients.

Learning about strengths and how to see them in other people was invaluable – and just the beginning of a session that plunged even further into emotional intelligence, accountability, time management, managing up and so much more.  The agenda also included time to brainstorm solutions to the barriers holding us back from leadership success, as well as the opportunity to develop individualized leadership development plans.

I’ve never been to group therapy, but I’m sure members of the LeadershipFPRA class would agree that this session sure felt like it.  I drove home with an entirely new perspective, feeling invigorated and truly privileged to have begun this journey with such an outstanding group of colleagues from around the state.  I can’t wait to see what the next session has in store.


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.


Timing is Everything

February 9, 2017

by Kacie Escobar

Chili’s just lifted its permanent ban on Pam Beesly Halpert … and fans of NBC’s “The Office” are eating it up.

In a memorable episode, Pam (played by Jenna Fischer) is banned from the restaurant for causing a disturbance during a company party.  Asking fans whether she should go inside, the actress recently tweeted a selfie in front of a Chili’s, triggering nearly 500,000 combined retweets, likes and comments.

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Chili’s was quick to reply and “officially” lift the ban on Fischer’s character.

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Complete with a quote from the company president, the announcement extended the life of the social media event across two days.  It even prompted some of Fischer’s co-stars to join the fun, enabling the brand to reach thousands of additional followers:

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Because of its timely response, Chili’s is now on a growing list of brands that have successfully capitalized on popular culture to boost social media engagement.  These brands understand that the timing of your communication is just as important as the message.


Pump the Brakes on Digital

September 15, 2016

by Kacie Escobar

“Not so fast,” implies a recent Pew Research Center report, which pumps the brakes on the communications industry’s rapid migration to digital.

Despite what industry outlooks might lead us to believe about the internet as the most popular pathway to news, nearly 60 percent of Americans turn to TV most often.  Online platforms, including social media, websites and mobile apps, lag behind by nearly 20 percentage points.

As we’ve shared before, “Connecting with the audiences that are important to your success is the essence of good public relations.

There’s no doubt online news is “reshaping Americans’ news habits,” as the study suggests.  Put all your eggs in one basket, however, and you could fail to reach key audiences.


Time for Good News

June 23, 2016

by Kacie Escobar

It’s been almost two weeks since the tragedy in Orlando and the volume of related coverage has been overwhelming.

We initially refocused our media relations strategy, postponing news release distributions and working with reporters to table several stories in the works.  Call it an approach to avoid appearing tone deaf.  But, frankly, any other “news” just didn’t seem newsworthy in light of recent headlines.

No one can escape the sadness of stories about such events – certainly not the journalists who write them.  That’s why an email I received yesterday stood out.  An editor inquired about one of our clients.  He said the paper is desperate for uplifting news.

Although we will never forget, the email made clear that our community is beginning to overcome this difficult time.  As the healing process continues, local headlines will become a more positive reflection of The City Beautiful and PR pros are vital to advancing that transition.

It may be counterintuitive to seek publicity during this dark time, but your good news could be just what the media needs.


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