Posts filed under ‘reputation’

Wow: Happy birthday to Me: In-House is 1 year old!

I never thought we’d be writing that we survived for a year. It’s gone quickly, though, thanks to supportive friends and interesting clients. Of course, we’re always looking for new organizations we can help.

Here’s the news release we’ve issued about In-House turning one year old:

FLANDERS,N.J.– A recovering economy and improving housing market helped In-House Public Relations enjoy success during its first year of operations, said Doug Fenichel, APR, president of theFlanders, N.J.-based agency.

Public relations firm celebrates first birthday

In-House Public Relations celebrates its first birthday.

Created in May 2011, the agency is celebrating its anniversary this month.

“The height of a recession is hardly a great time to launch a business,” said Fenichel. “Specializing in real estate, homebuilding and related fields when those industries are suffering creates another set of challenges. But we got lucky with timing.”

After 10 years as K. Hovnanian Homes’ director of public relations, Fenichel hung out his own shingle. The name “In-House” came from a double-entendre he used to name a blog while he was a K. Hovnanian.

“I was the in-house public relations counsel there and I wrote about housing and communications,” he said. “The blog had a small following and my idea was to handle my clients as if I was their in-house counsel. Fenichel is too hard to spell, so I named the agency after the blog.”

Fenichel said he hung out his own shingle so he could focus on strategic communications and bolstering clients’ reputation rather than sell a bunch of disconnected tasks that generating billings but don’t really help a client succeed.

Fenichel recently revived the blog, offering Realtors some thoughts about using social and traditional media more strategically.

The accredited public relations professional said his agency’s success is the result of his knowledge of traditional and social media and his ability to use that knowledge to support his clients’ business goals. It also helps that the real estate market is enjoying a revival.

“Everyone I talk to is much more optimistic than they were a year ago,” said Fenichel. “Nobody, including In-House, is out of the woods yet, but people are more optimistic. Homebuyers are looking at new and existing homes, so the companies I work with are seeing more work and sharing that optimism. For the first time, builders and Realtors are making plans for the future.

“We’re excited to be part of those plans,” he added.

How is Fenichel celebrating his one-year anniversary: Working harder.

“It’s nice to be this busy,” he said.

In-House Public Relations is an award-winning, focused public relations firm serving the homebuilding, real estate and public safety industries. Past and current clients include K. Hovnanian Homes, Meritage Homes,Grant HomesUSA, The Holmquist Team of Keller Williams Towne Square Realty and Jockey Hollow Dentistry. Part of a national network of PR firms, it specializes in strategic planning, media and community relations, crisis management and special events.

 

Fenichel has been practicing public relations since 1983, when he left the world of newspapers and joined AT&T during its divestiture. An accredited practitioner, he is past president of the New Jersey Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and an adjunct professor atFairleighDickensonUniversity.

In addition, he’s a director of the Blood Center of New Jersey, a member of the Chester Area Professional Club and serves on the Mount Olive Economic Development Committee. He’s also an active paramedic and volunteer firefighter.

More information about In-House Public Relations is available at www.inhousepr.biz or by calling (973) 970-3411.

 

Advertisements

May 18, 2012 at 12:30 pm

So Who Made You An Expert?

Back when I was a reporter, covering the U.S. District Court for the Tulsa Tribune, the late Judge Allen Barrow used to shake his head whenever an attorney introduced an “expert” witness. After listening to all the qualifications, Judge Barrow would sigh theatrically and ask the witness where they were from. “Well,” he’d say after hearing the answer, “I guess that’s about 25 miles. Did you bring a brief case?” The witness, of course, would say yes, and Barrow would say, “Well you came more than 20 miles and brought a brief case. I guess that makes you an expert.”

Experts were important, however. During one trial, the expert witness turned the court into an economics classroom for two weeks and swayed the jury. The result of that trial is that you can run to the ATM if you’re short on cash. (If you really want to read about the case, click here.)

In today’s frenetic, media-hyped marketplace, your expertise should be a major part of your reputation and business strategy.  Demonstrating your expertise can lead to a jury verdict in your favor. In the marketplace, that’s a sale.

Establishing your reputation and expertise is something advertising can’t do, but it’s a key part of the public relations toolbox. Your PR counselor can work with you to establish your expertise.   Do you have academic credentials or years of experience? Have you ever published an article in a trade journal or been quoted in a newspaper story? Do you teach about your area of expertise? You, too, may be an expert.

Sharing your expertise with the right people in the right way improves your reputation and credibility. It’s a way to establish a relationship and trust. Those who accept your expertise will be more likely to do business with you. How you present your expertise will have a lot to do with the decision they make.

If nobody knows what an expert you are, it’s time to tell them. You’ll need to do it in a credible, entertaining way. The good news is that you don’t have to travel 20 miles and carry a briefcase.

Talk to your public relations counselor about establishing your expertise. Or call me. You can ask me what make me an expert when we talk. I’m definitely going to ask you that question.

September 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm

3 PR Lessons For All Businesses Observed While Spending Hurricane Irene In A Paramedic Truck

Natural disasters are strange times for me. I am a homeowner who is concerned for his home and family, a paramedic and a firefighter who is concerned for his brothers and sisters and wants to do what he can to help the victims of the event, and I’m a PR guy ready to help his clients prepare for the disaster and recovery from it. I always enjoy watching what others are doing and saying during the storm.

So having spent all of the storm weekend on a paramedic truck or a fire truck (up to about noon Monday) here are some observations:

  • Kudos to the public officials who got people out of harm’s way, knowing full well they were going to be criticized no matter what they did. They stayed on message with laser-like focus. While that message may have seemed obvious, everyone from governors to local officials transmitted the same message, the presentation was well orchestrated and consistent and it was presented across a variety of media. As a result, lives were saved. Even away from the most devastated areas, people were better prepared for flooding and power outages because of the focus on the message. And to those now complaining the dangers were oversold, well, I’ll be polite: Go find something better to do with your time…like help those without power and with basements full of water bail out. Or help those whose homes and businesses were destroyed rebuild. If nothing else, just stop and pay your respects to those who lost loved ones.   Are there messages here for how you run your business? Definitely: A simple message consistently and forcefully delivered at all levels of an organization will yield results. But someone will still bitch about it.
  •  If anyone still doubts still doubts that social media is main stream, look at the wide use it enjoyed during the storm. Many governmental entities, including the county and township in which I live, used a combination of Web sites, Twitter and Facebook to keep constituents up to date on information from road closings to dam bursts and evacuations to dealing with tainted food. News organizations gathered and used audience pix and videos. And the hospital where I’m a medic used text messaging, emails and Web sites to assure the staff was up to date and keep all of its EMS vehicles staffed and on the road. If all these organizations know they must use social media, don’t you think you should make sure you’re using the same channels to engage your audience?
  •  How did your crisis plan work? Did your employees know what your company was doing in preparation for and in recovery from the storm? Did your customers know? Did you have a crisis plan? Every organization should have a plan of what to do when it is threatened, whether by a competitor, a person’s deliberate or accidental action or a natural disaster that threatens its ability to provide whatever service it provides. If your crisis plan didn’t address the preparation and outcome of this hurricane, or if you winged it, maybe you should contact a public relations practitioner to help you better prepare for the next literal or figurative storm.

 Hurricane Irene gave us all stories to tell our friends and relatives. But it also should serve as a teaching moment. None of us want to see another Irene. But we will. And before we see a hurricane identified by the National Weather Service, we’ll likely see our businesses rocked by a figurative storm. Here are three lessons that can be applied.

Good luck.

August 30, 2011 at 12:53 pm 1 comment

Whole Foods Serves Some Crisis Management Lessons

If you think you’re immune to a crisis just because you’re not the biggest player around and you try to do things right, take a look at the controversy Whole Foods is dealing with. 

The store is well-known for having ethnic and special foods (disclosure: I shop there because it has products that meet some personal dietary needs). On its shelves are halal products, which are foods that meet Islamic dietary laws. When the company decided to promote those products to people who celebrate Ramadan, a period during which Muslims engage in rituals, including dietary practices, designed to encourage patience, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God (Muslim friends – jump in here if my description is inaccurate), an employee apparently wrote an email to his bosses questioning the idea.

I’m not sure how those goals can be bad, but apparently the employee was afraid that right-wing activists might have a problem with promoting something associated with Islam. His email somehow made it into the Houston Press  and on to Twitter, where it was taken as an official statement that the company was backing away from the promotion and – boom – Whole Foods found itself in crisis mode. 

Libba Letton, a spokeswoman for Whole Foods, Tuesday told me the company became aware of the issue because it monitors its online presence and because of the tweets.

“Folks brought it to our attention and we immediately sat down and figured out what happened,” she said. They quickly tweeted that the promotion was still on and reached out to those who had tweeted to tell them the promotion was not being cancelled. Libba and her colleagues also started calling newspapers where the story appeared. As the word spread, they began fielding calls from the media.

The fast reaction quelled the crisis before it got legs. It was still a story, but the company’s response circulated so quickly that the story was the Whole Foods’ plans to continue the promotion despite the rumor. The company’s blog continues to include lots of information about preparing for the holiday. The rapid response kept the issue from hurting Whole Foods, but Libba thinks it’ll be kept alive for a while by those who only listened to the initial, erroneous reports.

“It’s inconvenient,” she said. “We’ll have to continue to educate people about it on individual levels.”  

A crisis is anything that threatens an organizations reputation and its viability as a business. This certainly threatened Whole Foods’ reputation, but because of the company’s quick response, the damage was minimal.  There are lessons here for the rest of us:

  1. You will have a crisis.
  2. You need to be ready. Libba adds that you must act immediately. “Social media is so much faster than anything else,” she says.
  3. Assume that anything in writing – email, memos, correspondence – will wind up public, even (maybe especially) if marked “confidential.” Keep that in mind before you send counsel or opinions by email or paper memo.
  4. Social media is a two-edged sword. You must stay on top of what others are saying about your business. Your public relations team, whether internal or external, will have tools to help with that. Your PR team also can make sure that you’re ready when a crisis does hit.
  5. (Maybe 4A) There’s nothing wrong with asking colleagues and members of your network to let you know if they see or hear anything about your company. Part of Whole Foods’ early warning system was tweets and calls from people who saw the original postings.

Public relations practitioners are experts in social media and its role in creating and quelling crises. If you and your PR counselor haven’t discussed situations like the one that hit Whole Foods lately, use this column as a conversation starter. And if you need some crisis prevention and management advice, feel free to contact me.

Finally, to our Muslim friends: “Ramadan Mubarak.”

August 11, 2011 at 11:39 am 1 comment

Some “Truths” About Public Relations

I often find myself talking about ethics and transparency with young practitioners and with potential clients. Some people, I think, regard such discussions as quaint or even a joke. To me, these are things that set public relations practitioners apart and are necessary to our task of looking out for the long-term reputation of an organization.

Jeff Domansky, APR, publishes a blog called the PR Coach. His column, called “10 PR Truths: How Do You Measure Up”” is aimed at practitioners. But whoever is communicating on behalf of his or her organization should look at these points.

Jeff’s blog post can be seen in its original format at http://www.theprcoach.com/ten-pr-truths-how-do-you-measure-up/ or you can read it below:

Glenn Ferrell wrote a really thoughtful post about the PR profession- Seven Ways to Change the Perception of PR. It got me thinking about truth and truths in PR or any business.

Here’s the reality of public relations. Our profession is constantly under pressure for results. We get slammed by critics from the media, activists and interest groups not to mention consumers and the general public for spinning or even worse, not always telling the truth.

We operate in real time whether it’s crafting a strategy, launching a product, managing a crisis, pitching the media, communicating to employees or responding to customers. When you add social media into the mix, you can go from hero to zero in moments unless you operate with clear fundamentals.

The most successful public relations pros I know get results with integrity and grace despite this challenging environment. I thought about what makes them so successful and came up with 10 PR truths they embrace:

  1. Truth – telling the truth is the foundation for their reputation. Everywhere.
  2. Transparency – disclosure is not an option. It’s a standard.
  3. Trust – they create trust with many, as well as trust others to do their best.
  4. Tell it like it is – the fact is, they deal in facts.
  5. Timeliness – operate with a sense of urgency.
  6. Take action – they lead, they act and they make things happen.
  7. Tell stories – they tell stories that mean something, that resonate and stand out from the crowd.
  8. Take responsibility – they usually share success and take ownership of problems.
  9. Tend to the details – sweating the small stuff is a habit.
  10. Trust your instincts – this is the art of PR. Great instincts come from good experience.

Here are a few favorite quotes about truth worth remembering:

It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.
Mark Twain

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.
Buddha

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.
Winston Churchill

Half a truth is often a great lie.
Benjamin Franklin

The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.
Oscar Wilde

Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.
Elvis Presley

Not one of the successful leaders and mentors I know lack any of these 10 important fundamentals. Think about your own PR practices. How do you measure up? The truth is, if you follow these PR truths, you can’t fail! And they would go a long way towards restoring positive perceptions of our profession.

It’s not just the truth, it’s the truths that make the difference.

# # #

What do you think of Jeff’s column? Is it fair to expect your communications representatives to meet these standards?

August 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Blogging is a great tool for small business owners

If the various ways of communicating and engaging on the Internet has “democratized” (is that really a word?) the media, it also has “equalized” (OK, a little better, but I hate ize words) public relations and business communications. One person really can run a worldwide business out of his or her basement.

While public relations used to be something used only by the largest companies, the craft’s ability to engage people means that small business, whether they know it or not, are engaged in PR. With that in mind, I had a great time the other night meeting with a group of small business owners at the Mendham (NJ) Business Association about blogging. The slides I created and presented are on Slideshare and  you can see them here.

Blogging is a great way to engage your customers, clients and even employees. I found some of the reasons people weren’t blogging interesting:

  •  “I have nothing to say.” Of course you do! You’re a business owner, which means you’re knowledgeable and passionate. You could write every day about your customers, tips on doing whatever it is you do or issues in your field that impact your clients (or customers or whatever you choose to call them).
  •  “I don’t know anything about the Web.”  Sites like WordPress and Blogger make it simple and tell you everything you need to know.
  • I don’t have the time.” So who does? Keeping your posts short is one of the keys to good readership. And if they’re not perfectly composed but the info is interesting, who cares?

Blogging is one of those activities that’s easy and fun. It’s just another habit to develop. We talked about the need to be honest and authentic, but when you’re speaking to business owners in a small town, that’s usually a given.

Let’s watch for some new blogs from businesses in Mendham, N.J.

July 22, 2011 at 8:06 am

Apple vs. Android Lawsuits: PR Should Be Part of the Strategy

Apple has filed a lawsuit against several of its Android-using competitors, claiming the Android devices violate certain patents. Earlier this week, a court issued an important first decision in the case. There will be lots of appeals and companion cases.

 

Apple vs. Android

Is that Apple going to diminish the effectiveness of my Android tools? Where's the customer engagement?

I have no clue who will ultimately prevail in this battle. I hope we, the users, will, but I’ve seen no evidence that Apple is concerned about that. I’m an Android user, and I won’t forgive Apple easily if they take away or diminish my HTC Thunderbolt and my new Samsung Galaxy 10.1 (I love toys).

While the Apple vs. Android debate is great stuff for barbecues and water-cooler debates, these legal actions can impact reputations, sales and investor confidence. For that reason, lawyers should include public relations people when they undertake or defend against an action like the one launched by Apple. While the lawyers are worried about the fine points of the law and how to sell them to judges and juries, someone has to worry about the reputations of the companies involved in the lawsuits.

Whatever the legal arguments, public relations people need to:

  1. Explain in simple terms why the highly technical infringements are so important that they threaten the company and – equally important – its customers and employees;
  2. Head off those who will say the company is turning to the courts because it can’t compete in the marketplace through innovation;
  3. Assure customers that they will be protected, no matter what the outcome.

I’m not seeing much of that from Apple or any of the Android manufacturers.

Innovators should profit from their innovation. But high-tech, pharma and other innovating companies know they can’t protect innovations from competitors for long. While innovators certainly have a right to protect their intellectual properties, they should also consider that their defensive actions impact their reputation and the confidence of their customers, employees and others on whom their success depends. Similarly, those accused of violating intellectual property laws also have their reputation and consumer confidence on the line.

PR needs to be part of the intellectual properties strategy for both sides of these controversies. Apple, HTC and Samsung PR folks…where are you on this?

July 20, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Older Posts


Categories

Dougtheprguy

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.