Public Relations Professionals of Long Island (PRPLI), a local group of communication practitioners, has recognized PR excellence with its Jack Retalliata Lifetime Achievement Award for more than a quarter century. This year’s award was presented on May 10 to Terry Lynam, senior vice president and chief public relations officer at Northwell Health.
Several of my students attended the PRPLI Awards Dinner last week and were wowed by Terry’s “thank you” remarks. With his permission, I’m sharing some of his PR lessons here:
“Like many PR people, I’ve always felt more comfortable working behind the scenes, trying to get recognition for others. We all know from personal experience that when PR people are taking center stage, there’s usually a crisis brewing. When it comes to managing an organization’s reputation, we as communications professionals play an instrumental role in helping our employers or clients build and maintain credibility, and earn and sustain consumer trust…The key is to prepare and position yourself and your organization for the long haul. The true test of success is consistency.
“It’s a constant, long-term challenge – and we all know how difficult a job it can be and how quickly we can get knocked off track, most of the time by things that are out of our control.
“As someone who has been in the business for 37 years, the credo that I have tried to live by is to be honest with people and treat everybody with respect, regardless of where they are on the food chain. Your reputation within any organization is built from the bottom-up, as well as from the top-down.
“Whether it’s marketing, PR or journalism, communications is a noble and incredibly important profession. We should all be proud.”
Also that night, Hofstra PR alumnus Peter Guaraldi, a communications specialist for Suffolk County, was given PRPLI’s Rising Star Award. Receiving PRPLI student scholarships were Hofstra’s Briana Cunningham and Saralynn Kupperberg. As several other PR and media pros were lauded, we all great took pride in our colleagues–and our profession.
P.S.: A very sincere congratulations today to the future PR pros from the Class of 2016! Our best wishes for happiness will always be with you. Your thoughts?
I’ve been asked to reflect on PR as a profession these last few weeks. First, a half-dozen students–four from Hofstra and two from other schools–interviewed me about my career in public relations as part of their class projects. Each one of them asked the usual “what do you like best about PR?” question, but some wanted more introspection about why I shifted from broadcasting to a field I knew little about.
I moved from radio to public relations early on because I relished the idea of a job where I could write, and use extensive communication tools. What I enjoy best about public relations, I told the student interviewers, is how PR know-how can be applied to any field. As if to prove this point, just these past few days I’ve witnessed our newest graduates land PR jobs in very diverse organizations; they’re already working in PR agencies, record companies, entertainment conglomerates, fashion houses, and nonprofits, to name a few.
Also, I was recently honored by my colleagues in the Public Relations Professionals of Long Island (PRPLI), a regional trade organization. The group gave me a Lifetime Achievement Award as “an industry leader who has helped shape the public relations landscape on Long Island.” It meant the world to me to receive the award, and it also compelled me to reflect again on public relations as a career choice.
I told the audience at the PRPLI awards dinner that the breadth of the necessary skills makes PR challenging and exciting. “We need to be bloggers, tweeters, and podcasters; photographers, videographers, script writers and producers,” I said. “We have to be event planners, fundraisers, promoters and publicists; and highest on the skill set list: we have to be ethical and effective writers and storytellers, using well-constructed language and appropriate images. There are few professions as diverse, and interesting, and challenging as ours.”
Our unique profession can provide wonderful opportunities, unique life experiences, and great colleagues and friends. While PR isn’t a possible career for everyone, I highly recommend it. Your thoughts?
There are nearly a thousand photos posted on Facebook every second. Instagram has more than tripled its users in the last six months (to about 50 million now) and is adding about five million more each week. Ironically, in the same year in which 131-year-old film pioneer Kodak filed for bankruptcy, the use of photography is hotter than ever, with millions of pictures being taken with cell phones, digital cameras and other mobile devices every day.
In the public relations profession, the use of photography remains a staple, and yet so many of us are still amateurs when it comes to taking pictures. This point was driven home with me earlier this month when photographer Angela Marshall spent an hour with us at the Public Relations Professionals of Long Island’s “Boot Camp.” As PR photographs have evolved, we still use the staged “grip and grin” shots, but we’ve had to learn how to “repurpose” both staged and candid photos for inclusion in social media, e-newsletters, blogs, web sites and online news sites. But have we been taking pictures correctly? Didn’t we always believe, for example, that the sun had to be behind us when shooting outdoors? (The opposite is true). Did we know that people in chairs should sit forward with ankles crossed (men, too)? Do we make sure that our subjects’ arms are not placed flat on their side, or ensure that the colors and patterns they wear help deliver the message we want?
I wish Angela had been around 25 years ago to instruct me. There is so much to learn. And her hour-long discussion pointed to a larger lesson: PR professionals need to learn how to take better photos. And we should be teaching these techniques to our students and interns. Pictures are still one of the most effective ways to tell our stories because still images are so important in the world of influencing opinions and actions. Let’s agree to learn how to do it right. Your thoughts?
If PR is often about promotion, then I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight a half-day PR “boot camp” being held this Tuesday, June 12 at the Adelphi University Hauppauge Center by the Public Relations Professionals of Long Island (PRPLI) As board members of the area’s trade organization and co-chairs of its Program Committee , Adelphi’s Kali Chan and I put this event together. We’re sure it’s going to be a very valuable day of learning and networking for professionals and students.
PR seminars often feature topics like social media, branding, media pitching, etc. The “boot camp” is titled “Pitching to Niche Media/Catching Great Images” and it’s an opportunity to gain “extra” fundamental skills by attending all four of its unique workshops:
- “Engaging Hispanic Media” will feature Mónica Talán, senior vice president of Corporate Communications and Public Relations at Univision Communications, and David Henry, president and founder of TeleNoticias.
- “Pitching Niche Publications” is presented by Alan J. Wax, president of the Melville-based public relations firm, WaxWords Incorporated. Alan was a long-time Newsday reporter and before establishing his own public relations firm in 2005.
- “Creating a High Quality Video on a Low Budget” features Waldo Cabrera, owner and executive producer of MyLITV.com.
- “Photography Tips for PR Professionals” will be taught by Angela Marshall, professional photographer and interactive production manager, Nassau BOCES Communications Office.
Registration for “Pitching to Niche Media/Catching Great Images” is an extremely reasonable $20 for students, $40 for PRPLI members, and $60 for non-members. The program takes place from 8:00 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. at the Adelphi University Hauppauge Center, 55 Kennedy Drive in Hauppauge, N.Y.
I’m bringing my entire PR Fundamentals class; you should bring yourself and other PR practitioners. This is a chance to expand your PR skills and knowledge on topics you don’t often see. And a full, hot breakfast will be served! Your thoughts?
There is little question that social media has changed the public relations industry. Nearly every listing for a PR job requires “social media skills.” And there’s an expectation that if you’re in your early 20’s, you know social media because you’ve lived with it.
Yet, my colleagues in academia and business complain that students who grew up at a keyboard don’t know how to write. Problems with punctuation, grammar and sentence structure render their social media skills irrelevant because they haven’t learned the fundamentals of effective, word-based communication (see PR guru Fraser Seitel’s brief quote on YouTube). Emphasis is placed on social media skills at the peril of the basics of good PR.
This is why Seitel is the keynote speaker at Hofstra when its Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter hosts Back to Basics, a regional conference March 30-April 1. No student planning a career in PR and communications should miss this. The conference’s panel discussions will be “an exploration and re-examination of the fundamentals of effective public relations,” according to the event’s pitch material, and promises “informative and entertaining programming to emphasize the all-important PR basics while not losing sight of the PR tools of the future.” There will be expert guest speakers, helpful workshops and excellent networking opportunties. Those attending will also have the opportunity to see How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway, not so much a lesson in success, but a superbly entertaining musical!
I love this concept and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. And many wonderful panelists have lined up to present workshops. There’s “The Perfect Pitch” with Patricia Gambale (Public Relations Professionals of Long Island), David Norman (Kitchen PR) and Glenn Goldberg (Parallel Communications Group); “Writing for PR” with journalists and authors Iyna Bort Caruso, Claudia Gryvatz Copquin and Paula Ganza Licata; “PR Public Speaking” with networking maven Mindy F. Wolfle; “Balancing Social Media with the Basics” featuring Jason Winoker of Hunter PR; “Integrated Marketing” with Bert Cunningham (expert and educator) and tentatively Robert Zimmerman (Zimmerman/Edelson PR); “Crisis PR” with Dianne Baumert-Moyik (Northrop Grumman), Brian Dolan (SYSTRA Consulting) and Sean Dolan (Diocese of Rockville Centre); plus sessions titled “Meet the Media,” Entertainment PR” and “Public Service PR” all followed by a case study competition. PR pros will come to lunch on Saturday, March 31 to network with student participants.
Don’t miss Back to Basics. It’s PR stripped to its essential roots and it’s worth a couple of days of everyone’s focus. Your thoughts?
The tabloid scandal in Britain is a fascinating study of not only bad ethics gone wild, but how cozy relationships between the press and politicians has been a breeding ground for corruption between reporters and the powerful in England. As I watched News of the World, the 168-year old tabloid, close shop and its media mogul owner Rupert Murdoch squirm and apologize, I wondered if a code of ethics exists among British reporters.
Of course it does. Much like the Society of Professional Journalists here in America, Britain’s Press Complaints Commission has its own Code of Practice. Its list of standards are clear. Check out this entry on “Clandestine devices and subterfuge:”
“The press must not seek to obtain or publish material acquired by using hidden cameras or clandestine listening devices; or by intercepting private or mobile telephone calls, messages or emails; or by the unauthorised removal of documents or photographs; or by accessing digitally-held private information without consent.”
Clearly the folks at News International, the U.K. subsidiary of U.S.-based media giant News Corporation, ran amok. By hacking the phones of as many as 4,000 people (allegedly), surely the desire to “get the story” became far more important than some silly Code of Practice.
The Public Relations Society of America and the Public Relations Professionals of Long Island have their own Code of Ethics as do countless professional organizations. They are written to serve their industries as not just theoretical guidelines but as the only acceptable way to do business. If they want to avoid the kind of scandal and scrutiny now being seen at News Corporation (and I think this is just the tip of the iceberg), journalists, PR practitioners and everyone should learn, live and love their ethics codes. Their professional reputations and their businesses depend on it. Your thoughts?