Dangers of Cut & Paste

September 26, 2017

by Roger Pynn

I always feel bad when I’m reviewing résumés and come across an applicant who self-eliminates with a stupid mistake.  I feel bad because I long ago decided it isn’t my job to teach someone to read what they write before sticking it in the mail.

Today’s example was a chap who appeared to be a pretty good fit for a job we have open (see description below if you are someone interested in joining a really good PR firm that demands excellence of itself to provide excellent service to excellent clients).  However, he sent a cover letter along with his résumé and some writing samples in which he clearly had cut and pasted a paragraph from another cover letter he’s using in his job search.

His opening paragraph was OK: I am writing to express my interest in the position of Communication Specialist with Curley & Pynn. As a communications professional with over a decade of experience reaching out to the public I know what it takes to get people talking.

But two paragraphs down things went south: I will love to be able to bring my assets to The Florida Bar Foundation as your next Marketing Coordinator and Social Media Coordinator.  I am excited about this opportunity and welcome the opportunity to discuss with you my credentials. Please contact me to arrange an interview. I look forward to meeting you and thank you for your consideration.

No … the boldface and underlines were not his, but added for emphasis.  I just wanted to make sure you saw it.  I let slide that this guy actually said, “I will love to be able to …”  Lord, this guy has a college degree!  Albeit, from an online school I’ve never heard of before.  He positions himself as a Seasoned bilingual communications professional experienced in network, cable and local news, with both English-language and Spanish-language speaking audiences.

Now … to the real reason I wrote this post.  We’re looking for good talent.  Please see below, email us or pass the word.  Extra points to those that get our name right.


It’s time to stop “working” and start getting paid to do what you love.  At Curley & Pynn – The Strategic Firm®, our award-winning team of creative thinkers is excited to offer you this opportunity.  As a communications specialist, you can do big things in an environment that will challenge you to contribute 100 percent every day, while empowering you to succeed.

Our specialists play a critical role in the implementation of communications strategies for clients from varied industries.  No two days are the same at Curley & Pynn, but there are several things you can expect to do:

  • Research, research, research.  It’s the bedrock of every communications plan.
  • Write compelling stories about our clients, their products and services for news releases, blogs, social media posts and more.
  • Publicize those stories by pitching them to news media, developing eye-catching collateral, planning and executing events, and more.
  • Brainstorm new and innovative ideas that bring our strategies to life.

What you need:

  • Bachelor’s degree in communications, marketing, public relations, journalism or a related field.
  • Overwhelming desire to grow your career.
  • Writing skills stronger than the Hulk.
  • Annoying obsession with details.
  • No fear to call a reporter, get rejected and call again.
  • Confidence to raise your hand and take responsibility for new projects.
  • Penchant for to-do lists and ability to juggle.

Ideally, you’ve had some on-the-job experience and are ready for the next step in your career.  Solid internships and a high level of maturity go a long way, too.  Experience with graphic design and digital marketing will earn you bonus points.

What we have:

  • Experienced, friendly and enthusiastic mentors who will always have your back and are invested in helping you grow.
  • Long-standing relationships with some of Florida’s most well-respected organizations, including globally recognized brands.
  • Generous benefits:  a competitive salary, health benefits, three weeks of paid vacation time, financial support for professional development activities and reimbursement for continuing education.
  • Work-hard, play-hard mentality, which often leads to cookie breaks, birthday celebrations, happy hour and more.

Interested?  Email your resume, writing samples and a meaningful cover letter to Dan Ward at dward@thestrategicfirm.com.  In your cover letter, tell us which of the Five Steps to Professional Success you have applied on the job.


Hmmm …

June 20, 2017

by Roger Pynn

 

I’m not sure how I feel about this Forbes article by Cheryl Conner, with whom I so often agree.

On the surface, it mirrors our longtime practice of trying to avoid taking on startups as clients.  It is so hard to meet the expectations of someone who is caught up in the euphoria of creating a “new baby” … and you feel like telling them they really ought to be putting that money away for the kid’s college education.

Our firm thrives mostly in that space beyond startup.  In fact, I often marvel at our good fortune to represent some of America’s finest brands.  But that doesn’t mean we cannot help a small startup organization.  It only requires a great deal of candor going into the relationship to establish realistic expectations of budget vs. output and outcomes.

What I know that @CherylSnapp and I do agree on is that if you are shopping for an agency you need to make sure you will have a relationship with its leaders long after the ink is dry on your agreement.  For more than 30 years we have insisted on a “partner on every account” rule and the client must agree that part of the fee goes toward our involvement.

I’ve always believed that’s one of the reasons why we have so many long, long, longstanding clients.


Never Say Never

June 2, 2017

by Roger Pynn

We can all hope that British Airways never again has an IT failure like the one that stranded thousands of passengers over the weekend, and while it may be a laudable objective, saying you plan to never let something terrible happen again is an all-in bet you might not want to make.

“Once the disruption is over, we will carry out an exhaustive investigation into what caused this incident, and take measures to ensure it never happens again,” BA CEO Alex Cruz said.

Those advising Cruz on messaging should have known better and that in an industry that has been taking so many hits, erring on the side of caution is the best rule.  Just as you can’t be sure you won’t have an unruly passenger or turbulent weather, you can’t promise technology won’t fail.

So what makes sense in a case like this when the pressure is on?  Perhaps you advise your executive to acknowledge that “in today’s technology dependent world we all know the potential for glitches, but it behooves us to investigate this situation exhaustively and do everything in our power to find solutions and redundant protection for the future.  We truly apologize and appreciate the patience of all those who were inconvenienced.”


It is Still “WIFM?”

May 10, 2017

by Roger Pynn

Kudos to McKay Advertising’s Christian Bayne for this post titled Brand Marketing is BS.

I’ve written before about my disdain for the term “branding.”  Branding is only a verb if you are a cow, and yet people are still hanging on like rodeo cowboys to the claim that what they do is branding.

Bayne writes “Today, people are not loyal to brands, they are loyal to their needs.”

That is absolutely true.  Companies (brands) trying to earn consumer loyalty need to stay attuned and true to customer needs.

The urge to put your brand on every message is understandable, but if you “brand” everything you’re missing the point.  Once you have the ear of your customers, focus on them, not yourself.  They want to know what’s in it for them.


This is Not a PR Gaffe.

April 13, 2017

by Roger Pynn

I knew I’d see the headline sooner or later:

6 other PR Nightmares:  United fiasco among worst corporate gaffes

 The Bloomberg story in the Orlando Sentinel said:

“When it comes to bad public relations, it’s pretty tough to top the sight of a United Airlines passenger being dragged, bloodied and screaming, from a flight.”

It went on to say:

“But the fiasco is hardly the first self-inflicted corporate blunder. Munoz can take comfort that it’s happened to others, and in many cases the bosses didn’t lose their jobs, as our PR Tales From Hell illustrate.”

Here’s the problem.  This isn’t a PR problem.  It is a management problem that caused public relations problems.  And it is a classic example of management failing to empower smart decision-making on the front lines.  When the people who engage with the public have to make decisions because of what the operations manual says instead of being empowered to make common sense decisions in the face of trouble, disaster is around the corner.

There were so many options … if only the gate staff had been trained to think for themselves.  I’m sure the folks in United’s public relations organizations would tell you the same thing.


The Trust Crisis

March 23, 2017

by Roger Pynn

When I first read this article about research conducted by the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, I wanted someone to slap me awake.  “Could this really require research?” I asked.

The study concludes that Americans who find “news” online, it is not the organization that creates the news, but who shares it via social media that determines how much they trust the information.  In other words, if your beloved Aunt Jane (the one the family calls “Saint Jane”) shares an article on Facebook, you are far more likely to believe it because she shared it than whether it came from a highly recognized news organization like, for instance, the Associated Press.

As I read the story a second time, my attitude changed to “isn’t it a darned shame that news outlets lost sight of the basics of human trust?”

I’m like everyone else … concerned over the unraveling of American news media (I’ll not worry about media in Russia).  It goes way beyond the shrinking number of classically trained journalists, the shuttering of some fine papers and magazines, and certainly, the striking lack of editing or adherence to basic principles that used to restrict opinion creep.  I’m worried about the apparent inability of most people to recognize the difference between news and commentary – and that includes a lot of people who claim to be journalists.

This single comment left me reeling:

“All of this suggests that a news organization’s credibility both as a brand and for individual stories is significantly affected by what kinds of people are sharing it on social media sites such as Facebook. The sharers act as unofficial ambassadors for the brand, and the sharers’ credibility can influence readers’ opinions about the reporting source.”

Of course!  For Pete’s sake, are you going to accept something your most trusted friend tells you?  Even if it is published by some outlet you’ve never heard of?  You’ve probably never heard of the American Press Institute before, but if you’re reading our blog it is most likely because we have a relationship and you’re therefore likely to believe I wouldn’t share something with you if it was not reliable information.

All this boils down to the colossal failure of media organizations to earn trust.  It isn’t just because the President of the United States is cutting them up like paper dolls.  He’s simply capitalizing on their failure to create a relationship.  Facebook gets you to like someone.  Do you ever wonder whether your newspaper cares if you like them?


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.


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