Archive for April, 2010

Fire in Flanders

Got to play PIO this morning after spending the night playing rehabilition officer at a pretty significant brush fire here in Flanders: http://pitch.pe/60037  Fortunately, the news media now sleeps at night.  Had this been going on during the day, it would have been tough to juggle both assignments.

I’ve been trying to find other firefighter/public safety types to find out  how they juggle PIO job with their response. Your thoughts?

April 24, 2010 at 6:20 pm

The ‘One-Day’ Story

There are still people out there who believe that one reason not to respond to a negative story or comment is because it’ll go away. “It’s just a one-day story,” a friend of mine was told. “It’ll blow over.”

At what point are executives going to understand that there’s no such thing as a one-day story any more. You can come back in two days, two months or two years, search on the company’s name and guess what’ll come up in the organic search results. Then, of course, we public relations people will be asked how we control these negative stories.

Out will come more well-optimized releases and Web entries to push down that bad story, but it won’t go away. A response, at least, would have softened it. It still would have been a “one-day story,” but with our response and information about our organization. The lesson here goes back well before social media: Never let someone else tell your story and never be quiet when someone tries to.

Are you still being told things are “one-day stories?” Do you ever tell anyone something is a “one-day story?” How do you respond when told that. Has anyone done any studies about how long these things hang out there? Would love to hear your experiences.

April 20, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Intern discussion heats up

After talking about the government’s attitude toward unpaid internships here, I started a discussion on Linked-In that’s gotten pretty hot.  You can see the discussion here: http://tinyurl.com/y27dkhj, although you have to sign up (it’s free). Today, I suggested that maybe we could come up with a standard by which firms that don’t pay interns could operate. If the company paid interns, it would operate as it does now, subject to standard labor laws.

What do you think?

April 14, 2010 at 10:18 am

Fed rules make free summer internships too expensive

I’m thinking of creating a summer shadow program because, apparently, one is no longer allowed to offer unpaid summer internships. God forbid, the government has said, that you might gain something from the work of a student. 

New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse had a very interesting story this week on the topic with some good links to the six federal criteria for running an internship program.

 I can think of few things stupider to do to our students when they are having a hard time finding jobs. While we don’t want to create slave labor summer camps, I would think there could be some balance that would help students gain some real experience and, dare I say, some of us with cut-to-the-bone departments (or agencies) get a little help while teaching. I guess I dare not say.

 Some of this ridiculousness we – the employers – have probably brought on ourselves. If we hire interns as interns, we have an obligation to teach them something other than how to run the photocopier. We all do some scut work, but they’re here to learn and it should be a privilege to teach them. I always told my interns that they will get some crappy jobs, but that they also would write at least one advertorial, one release for distribution, handle one special event and accompany me to meetings. I also asked them if there was something special they wanted to do. In short, they were treated as junior staff.

Apparently, however, allowing them to write that advertorial and release and handle that special event is bad, according to the feds. Somebody is going to have to tell me how I can teach an intern to write a release without having them do one.

 Mr. Greenhouse’s article was not news to me. K. Hovnanian Public Relations had, if I say so myself, an excellent internship program for quite a while. Our interns went on to some really exciting jobs. At least one learned that he didn’t want to do public relations, which I think is a terrific use of an internship.  

 When the real estate market headed south, it took my internship budget with it. I got away with the unpaid thing for a while, but then human resources waved the guidelines under my nose.

I’d love to know how other firms and small departments are dealing with unpaid internships. What are you doing?  Or have you just given up? Use the comment  key below to share your thoughts.

I’m thinking of creating a summer shadow program. It wouldn’t be for the whole summer, but I’m going to see if I can make it worth some credit. I’m sure the intern – I mean, shadow — will get underfoot, so that’ll meet one of the federal criteria. But, for at least a short time, they can see what a corporate public relations operation is. And maybe they can get away with writing a press release or helping with an event. Would that be worthwhile? Or perhaps I should ask if it would provide me with too much benefit.

Anyway, I’ll let you know what happens.

April 6, 2010 at 11:40 pm 2 comments


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