Opinion

  • Fast Five: Larry Brantley at Chaloner & Associates Wants to Help You Land that Next Job

    Larry Brantley, President of Chaloner & Associates, brings more than 30 years of experience in the communications, marketing and design world to his role at Chaloner.  a national executive search firm specializing in communications, public relations and marketing recruitment. He’s worked with brands such as JCPenny, HP, EDS, Texas Instruments, ConocoPhillips and many others to place executive level talent in the marketing and communications roles.  PRSA Boston recently had the opportunity to ask him for a few insights into the current job market.

    Q: What are some of the key trends you are seeing in the hiring process these days?

    A: Firms are now offering signing bonuses, relocation packages, enhanced benefit plans and increased compensation plans.  It is a candidate market.  Employers are having to compete for talent.  It has not been this kind of employment climate since the late 1990s.

    Q: What skills should PR and Communication professionals be looking to refine / develop as they start a job search?

    A: We all need to be proactive in developing our knowledge in online content creation and management.  Social media is key to all PR professionals.  Whether you create online content or manage crisis communications, it impacts all of us in a world where everyone uses mobile communications on a regular basis.  It is a qualifier in resume screening.

    Q: There was a time when communications and digital marketing jobs were separate.  Is that still the case?  If not, are you seeing employers who are looking for candidates with both sets of skills?

    A: Employers are looking for people who are multi-faceted in their skills and ability to do more for their company.  It is imperative that we, as candidates, are able to multi- task and spin many plates at the same time. Larger firms may separate traditional communications and digital communications to different teams.  However, small to mid-sized companies expect individuals to do both.

    Q: Are employers paying more attention to diversity in the hiring process

    A: Employers are ideally looking to have a balanced approach to life experiences, cultural perspectives and gender views in their business.  We do not have the same constraints that affirmative action required in the 90s, but our customers and clients look to see that our business reflects the market in which we live.  We approach all candidates as “talent”, not male/female, gay or straight, Jewish, Muslim or Christian.  The only consideration for us is who is the best qualified candidate to perform the job function. Our salary range budgeted is the same for all.

    Q: How important is experience vs. an ability to adapt and learn?

    A: Both are critical to the success of a new hire; however, adaptability is a critical component into cultural fit in an organization.  You can have all the experience in the world, but if you are inflexible, you will be out the door.

    Q: What mistakes should a candidate avoid in the interview process? 

    A: We do our best to prepare a candidate for an interview with our clients.  We share a little background on the individuals you may be meeting to help you be relaxed and familiar with who you meet. There are in my opinion some important things to consider-

    • Don’t regurgitate everything listed on your resume.  The resume helped to get you in the door but now they want to get to know you.
    • Let the interviewer lead the conversation. Don’t come in with your own discussion plan.
    • Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you are not.
    • Thank the contact for their time and opportunity to meet.

    Looking for a new opportunity?  Check out the Chaloner website at http://www.chaloner.com or follow Larry on Twitter at @recruitinglarry

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand or on the go. But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at josh@joshuamilnepr.com and

    pitch your subject expert!

  • PRSA Boston Fast Five with Ermolande Jean-Simon

    In Diversity, Opinion on

    Ermolande Jean-Simon is the student program manager for the New England Center for Investigative Reporting at Boston University. She previously worked as the communication coordinator for Safe and Sound Schools, a non-profit organization founded by two of the Sandy Hook mothers.

    Before entering the communications industry, Ermolande spent 14 years in public service as a child protective worker. After telling many of the foster kids to follow their dreams, she decided to follow her own dream by enrolling at Boston University’s College of Communication (COM) where she received her Masters in public relations.

    Ermolande was a BU PRSSA member and joined the PRSA Boston to network, learn more about public relations and prepare students and young professionals to enter the industry. Her passion is to address diversity and inclusion issues in the communication and entertainment industry and works closely with COM by reaching out to and encouraging students of color to continue their journey.

     

    PRSA Boston recently spoke with Ermolande to get her thoughts about the lack of diversity in public relations industry in Boston.

     

    Q: What is the current landscape of diversity in the public relations industry in Boston right now? How do you currently see it? 

    A: Non-existent. I say this because I graduated with my master’s almost three years ago. Since then, maybe one or two top PR firms in Boston have at least one person of color on their staff and only one agency has a person of color on their senior staff. It’s 2018. I would expect these numbers to be a little bit higher.

     

    Q: What is it like to be a minority in PR in Boston?

    A: Challenging. When I graduated, it was hard finding a job in Boston. I remember contacting people that my professors would tell me to reach out to. I vividly recall one of my professors emailing an introduction to someone at a PR firm that aligned with my interests at the time. I noticed that two people from that firm looked at my LinkedIn page, but never bothered to respond to my follow up email for an informational interview. It was at that moment, I knew that I was an outsider.

     

    After this moment, I took a closer look at agencies in Boston, and realized that 98 percent of the Boston PR agencies and firms did not have a person of color on their staff. I didn’t understand. How can you have big accounts serving diverse communities but not have a diverse team for staff and leadership?

     

    I gave up my hopes of working at an agency and put my sights on non-profit PR and marketing. I felt that this space is more receptive towards diversity, as well as helping me strengthen my PR and marketing skills on a personal and professional level. On top of that, I think I have the best bosses and amazing co-workers who are not trying to blend in, but make a difference in the world.

     

    Q: What challenges does the PR industry in Boston face with diversity?

    A: Recently, I watched a PRWeek video on “What it’s like to be black in PR.” One of the people interviewed was Andrew McCaskill, Nielsen’s Senior Vice President of global comms and multicultural marketing. He said that when he first started, he was the only person of color on staff, and 20 years later, things still look the same in the PR industry. Fortune.com also published an article Why is public relations so white where a Caucasian woman said that management only hires what they are comfortable with. Just a couple of months ago, The Boston Globe Spotlight team shed some light on racism in Boston.

     

    I was taught that part of our job as public relations professionals is to conduct an audit of our companies and tell them how to be authentic, honest and transparent with our customers. But how can we do that if we cannot do this for ourselves? Why can’t we have an authentic, honest and transparent conversation about diversity in public relations?

     

    Every Black History Month, I read the articles, but I see no action. To create diversity, you have to genuinely want it and be about it. Right now, I feel that the PR industry in Boston doesn’t want it or want to address it. It doesn’t impact their bottom line or ROI. No one is holding them accountable to have diversity in their teams so why bother? And when you live in a city that doesn’t practice diversity, it makes it really easy to do what is average instead of being extraordinary.

     

    Q: How can PR in Boston improve its diversity? 

    A: To improve diversity here, you have to:

     

    • Genuinely want to have a diverse team
    • Create a space for people that do not look like you and be accepting of that
    • Offer scholarships/fellowships to students who come from underrepresented communities
    • Have diversity forums (or sponsor them) to stay connected to and learn from students, professors, and the PR community about the value of diversity
    • Provide mentorship and guidance to your current staff/interns so they can be a guide/mentor to someone else, and
    • Do a yearly audit of your company and organization to see how you’re doing when it comes to diversity

     

    Q: What do you hope for the future in the industry? 

    A: When you look at the state of our country, read stories about how communities and families are divided, and top companies struggle to implement diversity and equality in their goals, it makes you wonder what the future holds. But I’m hopeful.

     

    I believe that there are some good people out there who want to see a change in the world. What better way to do it but work behind the scenes and become a PR pro. We are the storytellers and the change-makers of this world and we should always use our superpowers to do good.

     

    PRSA’s National Chair Anthony D’Angelo, APR, Fellow PRSA also feels unsatisfied with the state of diversity and inclusion in PR. Read his thoughts HERE. 

     

     

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

     

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at josh@joshuamilnepr.com and pitch your subject expert!

     

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    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or board of directors of either organization. 

  • Fast Five: with Richard Chacón, Executive Director of News Content, WBUR, Boston

    As executive director of news content for WBUR, Richard Chacón oversees all aspects of local radio and digital news content for WBUR, Boston’s leading public radio station.

    Richard’s career includes more than 20 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism, public affairs, politics and government. As a journalist, Richard has worked at The Boston Globe, where he covered Boston City Hall and higher education and was the Latin America bureau chief, based in Mexico City. He also served as deputy foreign affairs editor and as ombudsman. In addition, he has worked at New York Newsday, WCVB-TV in Boston and KTSM in his native El Paso, Texas.

    Beyond journalism, Richard also served as director of communications for Deval Patrick’s gubernatorial campaign in Massachusetts, and later served in the governor’s office as director of policy and then as executive director of the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants. He also served as a speechwriter in the New York City mayor’s office under David Dinkins and later as deputy media director for the 1992 Democratic National Convention in New York City.

    We caught up with Richard prior to the 2017 PRSA Boston Annual Meeting where he is scheduled to give the keynote address.  We asked him about the future of news and how media platforms like WBUR are evolving.

    What led you to become a journalist and why did you decide to join WBUR?

    Endless curiosity – about how things happen, why and about the people involved. I’ve had this curiosity ever since I was a young boy growing up in the desert in El Paso, TX. My very first job was as a newspaper delivery boy. I’ve been blessed to have had some wonderful experiences in print, broadcast and multimedia newsrooms and working with some talented colleagues along the way. I’m especially pleased and proud to help lead one of the biggest and best newsrooms in public radio. As WBUR grows and becomes more of a primary source of news and information – especially during this transformational time in Boston’s history – we have an opportunity and obligation to help lead the public dialogue on many important issues in our community.

    Will presenting news to audiences continue to evolve or change in 2018? If so, how?

    Newsrooms across Boston and the country are in the midst of rethinking and redefining how they collect and deliver the news – that includes WBUR. We know that over half of our audience experiences our multimedia content through mobile devices, so our content must be mobile friendly. Visual presentations of content – videos, photos, data visualization – are growing in importance for stories, especially those that are shared through social media channels. Although terrestrial radio continues to reach our largest audience, on-demand listening – whether through podcasts or streaming – is growing in popularity for our audience, especially younger listeners and readers. But even amid all of these changes, it is important that we always remain committed to the traditional values of fair, aggressive and transparent journalism.

    PR people continue to see the lines are blurring between advertising and editorial. Is this impacting how you and your team at WBUR report news? If so, how?

    News organizations are also constantly looking for new business and financial models to help sustain the journalism. Increasingly, we’re seeing the development of “sponsored content” which can sometimes look, walk and quack like newsroom editorial content. As a former ombudsman for the Boston Globe, I think it’s very important that news organizations are both very careful and very clear with audiences about what is advertising and what is news coverage. So far, I believe most organizations – including WBUR – has maintained that line between advertising and editorial but it’s an evolving and ongoing discussions (and debates) that we have on these issues.

    Why was it important to develop online niche sites, such as the ARTery and Edify, or podcasts such as Modern Love?

    As WBUR continues to grow as a multimedia destination for news and spoken-word content, we are constantly experimenting with new forms of presentations and platforms. We have national programs that reach millions of listeners across the United States; and we have sound-rich podcasts that share peoples’ personal stories and perspectives. In our local newsroom, we’ve developed a number of multimedia content “verticals” as a way to chronicle many of the dynamic sectors that are part of our knowledge-based economy around Boston. We’re building teams of journalists to bring WBUR’s high-quality storytelling to these sectors: “BostonomiX is how we cover tech and innovation; “CommonHealth” covers health and science; The ARTery is how we capture our increasingly diverse arts and culture scene; “Edify” is how we cover the many facets of teaching, learning and education. The great news is we are developing new ones for 2018!

     Why is hosting events important to WBUR? How will this continue to evolve in 2018?

    WBUR believes it has both an opportunity and responsibility to lead the public conversations on important topics with newsmakers, thought leaders, idea makers and diverse members of our communities. That’s already what we do every day on air and online. We do it through our selection of news stories and topics, our regular use of polling to key issues like the opioid crisis or climate change, and through our growing use of social media and crowd-sourcing. Convening more public events is a natural extension of our role as a public institution. We regularly host public events at WBUR that include many of our journalists. We also sponsor and produce dozens of other events all over the region because we believe strongly in our role of gathering communities together for thoughtful discussion. Sometimes these events can be a source of revenue for us, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to constantly cultivate and grow our public media audience. There will be some more exciting news on this front also in 2018!

     

    Do you have a candidate for a FAST FIVE interview? Email Joshua Milne at josh@joshuamilnepr.com and pitch your expert! 

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 

     

     

  • PRSA Boston, Your Gym and You – A Note from our President

    So you have your gym on auto-payment. But do you faithfully go to get the results you want?

    Remember What Brought You to the Gym in the First Place?

    Somewhere between a closet of snug clothes and another postponed trainer session is this universal truth: writing the check does not deliver the intended payoff of the club you joined. You actually have to walk through the gym door, become acquainted with all that it has to offer, try some equipment or classes and find your groove.

    You make a commitment to squeeze exercise into a demanding life because it’s time for you. It makes you feel better, think reflectively, and gain vigor and confidence. Familiar faces evolve into workout mates, even buddies. I have found that playing tennis is like gas in my tank. It’s good for my psyche. I’ve sharpened my skills and grown a terrific circle of friends. My life is enriched for making the effort.

    Muscle Building Takes Purposeful Action

    Metaphorically, this could be PRSA, our profession’s deepest center of knowledge and largest PR practitioner network. Like the gym, unless you explore its apparatus and participate in its community, you don’t know what professional leads or opportunities you’re missing. Perhaps new business left on the table. Missing an inside track to a terrific career move. A segue into a vertical sector or communications specialty that is key to a promotion. Hearing of an adjunct faculty vacancy, having a chance introduction to a potential hire, new vendor or promising client. Without you in the room, you can’t get the benefits of membership.

    Make Your Resolution Now: Reap the Benefits of Participating

    We’re heading into a fantastic finish to what has been a truly action-packed 2016 for PRSA Boston. These programs each set their own stage for career and business connections. Why let more of these pass you by when it’s so easy to invite a peer, a prospect or plan an overdue reunion and reserve your attendance? Read more about the caliber of the speakers for each…

    Thurs. Oct 20 – The 2016 Presidential Election: A Media Perspective

    Wed. Oct. 26 – Solving Ethical Challenges in PR

    Wed. Nov. 9 ­– C-Suite Conversation with GE’s CCO: Reception, Awards + 2017 Preview

    Wed. Dec. 7 ­– Our Annual Holiday ‘Sparkle’ Fete, This Year for Globe Santa

    And While You’re Considering What’s Here…

    Don’t wait for New Year’s resolution season to leverage the best of PRSA Boston for your 2017 business and career goals. We’ve got time-friendly committee roles for strategic program planners, marketers, expert presenters, social media content authors, publicity mavens, finance managers and hospitality hosts—all easy and effective ways to meet new people while influencing this organization to meet your needs. Beyond our monthly programming and workshops in 2017 we’re again hosting our full-day PR Summit and the return of PRSA’s International Conference (ICON) to Boston after 20 years. These are all easy springboards to new introductions and unknown opportunities. They’re yours. And they’re already here.

    So consider yourself invited back to PRSA Boston, the foundation of our profession for going on seventy years. You will realize your own rewards by making the effort. No sweat and no heavy lifting. I look forward to seeing you soon!

     

     

    Post Author

    Loring Barnes, APR is the President of PRSA Boston and was the Co-Chair of the PRXNE16 Northeast regional conference hosted by our chapter. She is an expert in brand positioning, repointing mature organizations, research, leadership marketing and crisis planning and response, with over 25 years of outcomes that have been recognized by industry and client sector associations. Currently Loring serves on the board of Last Hope K9, a terrific dog rescue organization and plays tennis to pretend she’s getting fit. She has served on the boards of the Publicity Club of New England, patient and family housing nonprofit Hospitality Homes and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Alumni Association, her alma mater. She holds her Accreditation (APR) and is very active in civic affairs. Loring’s brand development and reputation consultancy, Clarity, is in its fifteenth year. @loringbarnes

     

  • Future Cast: Will Robots Replace Journalists?

    In Media Relations, Opinion on

    By Maryanne Keeney, Principal of MKPR, LLC, (www.mkpr.com, @Mayne) and Loring Barnes, APR, Founder of Clarity Group(www.claritygroup.com, @loringbarnes). No robots were involved in creating this content.

    This article was also published on the Publicity Club of New England Blog

    Will robots be the future of journalism? Before you discount that proposition consider this: the LA Times and AP have already incorporated robots into their news reporting operations. Just last August, NBC News included journalism among a list of nine professions to become vastly altered by machine replacing man, even to the point of being obsolete.

    It is no secret that two trends point this as being plausible:

    • Media organizations are economizing and diversifying in order to maintain audiences and profits. Today’s business model leans towards stringers and freelance contributors over full-time staff. Mobile news platforms are the growth corridor, and every news outlet is looking to harness the newest technology to win and hold its audience.
    • We consume news differently than we did even five years ago. Between back-end algorithms to track user behaviors and the push toward data, technology is the essential competitive tool that newsrooms use to power speed, number crunching and fact analysis.

    Reporting is Sky Rocketing

    Enter journalism robots, which are generating automated news stories at an incredible rate. For the AP, it uses Automated Insights, a sophisticated back-end financial publishing technology that writes corporate earning recaps and does everything journalists used to do: retrieve data from earning reports, extract key insights and put them into context against an aggregate population, and intuitively formats news briefs in natural language. Robots distribute these stories in real-time to multiple media channels, including Yahoo, Comcast and Samsung. The impact for volume and cost is significant. The AP used to manually produce 300 earnings reports per quarter, leaving thousands of company stories unreported. Today it reports 4,400 financial news stories, a skyrocketing ten-fold increase.

    Thus far, robot journalism has achieved traction in the quantitative-laden data environment of business news by extracting data from reports and plugging them into prewritten templates. Stories instantly have stock prices, ticker symbols, stock exchange and company names.Forbes.com uses artificial intelligence to generate and automate its distribution of news from live data sets and content from previous articles. Robots at the LA Times write on crime reports to earthquake activity. Robot journalism generates millions of articles per week and the technology can produce 2,000 articles per second.

    Crazy for Robotics

    We can theorize about how robots could infiltrate news reporting for other industries for which data collection is central to news content: science, medicine, astronomy, education, transportation, government, sports and energy are a few. Behind this list are entire news organizations, departments, writers and producers tasked with some key aspect of fact finding, analysis, content generation and deployment. Take Boston’s weather and the newsrooms that were on overdrive this winter reporting on record-breaking snowfall. They gave giddy daily updates of weekly fall comparing with data from the past 130 years.

    Robotics and automated technologies have advanced mightily and replaced human hands in manufacturing and product distribution operations. More automation is on the way. In August 2014, NBC News reported that journalism is one of nine jobs to become obsolete, along with rescuers, babysitters, soldiers, astronauts, store clerks, drivers, paralegals, and pharmacists. To manage human behavior, the use of holograms and interactive avatars are becoming more commonplace as seen at Logan Airport’s TSA agents and with casino dealers at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. In Japan, androids are newsreaders, greatly reducing the unforeseen impact of a major personality change, or the foibles of an established news anchor like Brian Williams.

    Is there Room to Welcome the Technology?

    One could argue that robots are being deployed to operate a part of journalism that most do not want to do, and at greater speed and accuracy. Few journalists want to scan mundane wired stories looking for a glimmer of a story. In truth, summarizing the day’s business earnings and writing business briefs can be a very dull job.

    Where will the trend toward robotics in journalism end? Will having humans in the boardroom but less in the newsroom neutralize political polarization of TV networks and daily newspapers? Will the proliferation of robot journalism eliminate the distinctive styles and personalities of news reporting as it becomes more homogenous? Will drones be doing field reporting, particularly in global areas of unrest where reporting puts a journalist’s life at risk? Who is accountable for data errors? Does the news organization own the story or is the automated technology liable?

    For PR professionals how will we adapt? Could this be a positive trend relieving journalists of mundane data crunching for a chance to write more creative, probing and judgment-sourced-based articles? Will we see more investigative or feature stories in the future? And frankly, how do we pitch a robot? Are there ways to sway an aggregate technology? No doubt, personal relationships will be lost in various news departments. How about phone or email a robot? It is hard enough to get a response from a journalist these days. Email has already replaced coveted phone and one-on-one relationships from long ago. The downside is reaching a journalist and a robot will become more difficult. The plus side is that robot journalism could improve PR client measurement reports with more business-statistical generated media coverage.

    Data is a growth industry, as is CRM. How robots factor in how we source, consume and enjoy diverse news content is an unfolding story. What is the tipping point where the value of human journalistic qualities such as emotion, curiosity, passion, ingenuity, insight, relationships, trust, and experience, balance the scales against the goals of audience reach, efficiency and ROI? How will the pricing model adapt for the changes in content?

    As we ponder these perspectives, perhaps it bodes well for the value and respect that journalists and bloggers hold for our profession. In the meantime, the next time you flip a page of an E-Reader magazine or find an infographic, look at the byline and ask: was this story created by a journalist, or by a robot? And how is the PR profession educating itself for the eventuality of needing to factor both possibilities?

    Post Authors

    Maryanne KeeneyLoring BarnesMaryanne Keeney, Principal of MKPR, LLC, is a former past President of the Publicity Club of New England and a PRSA Boston member.

    Loring Barnes, APR, is Founder of Clarity Group and is currently President-Elect of PRSA Boston.

  • What are the Nine Circles of PR Hell?

    In Opinion on

    Today is Halloween in the United States. It’s a holiday where we think about skeletons, zombies and the underworld. Where roving packs of children extort candy from us with the promise of mischief if we don’t comply. It’s where 90% of all princess costumes will likely be Elsa from “Frozen” this year.

    For those PR professionals not involved in the candy, safety, party and costume industries, what does Halloween mean to them?

    With everyone thinking of the underworld, it made me think about the venial and mortal sins that some PR professionals may commit as part of their daily practice of PR. In his Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri wrote of the Nine Circles of Hell. That caused me to wonder – what are the nine circles of PR Hell?

    I debated this topic with some of my colleagues at MSLGROUP and the image above reflects are our initial thoughts on the mistakes some PR people make that should be avoided at all costs.

    What did we miss? What do you consider inexcusable mistakes that must be avoided and to what circle of PR Hell would you consign the transgressor? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts.

    Note: After debating this for a while, we did a search and realized others have used this analogy before. We did not read any of their writing before drafting our own.

     

    Post Author

    Mark McClennan Mark W. McClennan, APR is the Senior Vice President, Social Media, for MSLGROUP in Boston. He is a past PRSA Boston President and currently serves as the National Treasurer for PRSA.