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.

Perry’s Credibility Goes Up in Smoke

October 2, 2014

by Dan Ward

Belvin Perry Jr. built a reputation for honesty and integrity as a chief circuit court judge and through his even-handed guidance of the Casey Anthony trial.  He sullied that reputation Monday with his WFTV commentary on Amendment 2.

This is not an argument for or against the amendment, which seeks to legalize medical marijuana in Florida.  It’s an argument for common sense – which was lacking at WFTV – and for disclosure – something which is inexcusable for a former judge to ignore.

If you haven’t already read the articles about Belvin Perry’s Sept. 29 Amendment 2 commentary, here’s the gist:  Mr. Perry, as a legal analyst hired by WFTV, took issue with an anti-amendment commercial, saying that it played on fear and amounted to a “giant smoke screen.” One problem:  Perry neglected to mention his current job with the Morgan & Morgan law firm, whose leader is the most vocal proponent – and strong financial supporter – of the amendment.

The coverage I’ve read so far takes WFTV to task, and rightly so. WFTV has now apologized for its lack of disclosure and has removed the commentary from its website.  But while WFTV was clearly wrong, Perry deserves the lion’s share of the blame here.  As a jurist, he built his career around objectivity, in an environment where disclosure of relevant facts is a requirement.  I find it hard to believe that he simply forgot about his role with Morgan & Morgan while developing and delivering his commentary.

Disclosure is a core principle of the Public Relations Society of America Code of Ethics, requiring that public relations professionals reveal the sponsors for causes represented and disclose financial interests.  We know how important it is to build and maintain public trust.

There’s no excuse for a media organization or a trained jurist to not uphold those same ethical standards.  WFTV admitted it was wrong. Perry must do the same if he is to rebuild his credibility with viewers.

The Ethical Gut-Check

August 1, 2014

by Kerry Martin

Almost every industry or profession has a moral standard to which they adhere.  Doctors have the Hippocratic Oath, lawyers have the Bar Association with its Rules of Professional Conduct and the clergy have a pretty big book.  For public relations practitioners, we have a code of ethics – both developed by the Public Relations Society of America and the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA).

Yesterday during a breakfast meeting of the Orlando Area chapter of FPRA, Roger Pynn, APR, CPRC, gave the room of PR professionals a pop quiz on their knowledge of the Code of Ethics.  While no one could recite any of the 14 principles from rote memory, in every business scenario he posed to the group, the audience could point out the ethical dilemmas and what lines were crossed.

Throughout the presentation, I saw PR practitioners studiously reviewing the principles of adhering “to the highest standards of accuracy and truth,” dealing “fairly with the public” and exemplifying “high standards of honesty and integrity.”  But what Roger offered the group was perhaps more helpful than any pneumonic memorization device:  a mirror.


Roger’s advice:  If you want to know whether you are doing the right thing, take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror.  That’s the ethics gut-check you really need.

Relationships (and “Minor” Details) Matter

July 13, 2012

by Julie Primrose



Today I had the opportunity to attend the Central Florida Media Roundtable hosted by the local chapters of the Florida Public Relations Association and the Public Relations Society of America.  The annual event lets PR professionals sit down with local journalists and ask them questions about their outlets’ practices and how they prefer to be pitched.

While everyone I spoke to had slightly different preferences on how they like to be contacted, the same themes kept coming up as I spoke with the journalists, whether they were from broadcast, print or online outlets.  Nearly every journalist said that what many would consider to be “minor” details actually makes a huge difference between having your news covered and it being lost in the depths of their inbox.

While some of their preferences were universal (provide timely, newsworthy story ideas; include a descriptive subject line with your emails and spell their name correctly), others were not quite as obvious and varied by outlet and reporter (include your news release in the body of your email rather than attaching it, submit your news using the form on their website rather than email, call between 1 and 3 p.m., etc.).

Besides making invaluable connections with local journalists, having a forum to learn these little details is what makes the Media Roundtable such a great event.  A lot of our work with journalists is done over email and we don’t always have a chance to speak with them at length to learn about their preferences.  But today’s event reinforces the importance of building relationships with the media and taking the time to learn about what works best for them.  While providing newsworthy, relevant content will always be key, having a relationship with the reporter and knowing how and when to pitch them is just as important for landing a story.

Turn to the Message Boards – I Think Not

May 24, 2011

by Dan Ward

I gained some insight last week into why political discourse continues to devolve into schoolyard taunting and soccer hooliganism.

A former social media strategist for a presidential campaign was speaking to a group of PR professionals and made an off-hand remark that the No. 1 destination to which Americans turn for news – aside from “The Daily Show” – is the online message board.  My first thought was, “so this explains why politicians rant and rave rather than engage in conversation … they think that’s what people want to hear.”

I wish I had challenged her to share the research on which this claim was based, because I can find nothing to back it up.  The Pew Research Center reports that while people are increasingly going online for news, most still turn to traditional sources like television news.  I see very little mention of the message boards.

While the political strategist advised posting to the message boards, we advise most clients to stay far away.  Who we see on the message boards are largely the “ten-percenters,” those people whose opinions you are never going to change no matter how hard you try – as evidenced by LOUD comments and inflammatory rhetoric – when you engage the lunatic fringe, you give them credibility, and you take your eye off the larger percentage of people who are fair-minded, reasonable and open to new ideas.

As we’ve discussed here before, the people who share their opinions on message boards are able to do so anonymously, so all sense of decency is often lost.  Many news organizations are seeing the light, and either eliminating the anonymity or removing message boards altogether.

If you want to engage in fruitless arguments, by all means head to the message boards.  If you want to engage in discussion that sways opinion and drives action, don’t listen to political strategists … listen to your audience.

Awards Season is Here!

January 25, 2011

by Kerry Martin

With all the excitement of the Golden Globes and Oscar nomination announcements, it can only mean one thing:  Awards season has arrived.

Of course Hollywood can’t take all the attention.  As most communication professionals know, each spring is the time for recognizing the planning and effort that comprise major Public Relations campaigns through programs like the Florida Public Relations Association’s Golden Image Awards and the Public Relations Society of America’s Silver Anvil Awards.  Local chapters of FPRA participate in Image Award programs across the state, while the PRSA Silver Anvil takes nominations from the entire country.

In its 25 years, Curley & Pynn has received its share of awards, becoming the first Florida agency to win a Silver Anvil Award in 1992.  But each year presents a new opportunity to showcase the hard work that is involved in promoting a client’s program or brand—and to remind that client that the tools and strategies of a public relations campaign are instrumental in carrying out a sound business plan, whether communicating with internal audiences, potential customers or even public figures.

With deadlines just around the corner (PRSA Silver Anvil is February 25, Orlando’s FPRA Image Awards is March 4 and FPRA’s Golden Image Awards is May 20), we encourage all communication professionals to seek recognition for their work and show clients the power of PR.


June 3, 2009

by Kim Taylor

I caught a great post over at PRSA’s Whatever Suits blog today, “Successful Leadership: How to Motivate People to Drive your Business Forward—Even in Challenging Times.”

This really resonated: “People remember stories, not business plans.”

Maybe you roll your eyes or sneak in a yawn when you hear your colleague start a sentence with, “I remember when …” but, think about it; they weren’t describing line-by-line strategy or tactics … they were telling you about tangible outcomes … “We had 1,000 kids drumming on the lawn at the Hard Rock Hotel, it was so awesome to break that Guinness World Record …”

Although the focus of the speech and blog post talks about using this communication tactic to amp up your employees, it has an equally strong impact when trying to sell a new idea to a client.

Give it a shot. Think about the story’s “big idea” and build around that. And, remember that telling a story or anecdote is much like any presentation you give; you have to gauge your audience—whether it’s a room full of employees or a client—and respond accordingly.

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