Much to blog about.

Like any profession, PR takes discipline

April 29, 2011 | by Andy Wilson

What is discipline? In the work force, discipline is improving and wanting to improve no matter how much success you think you have had.

Discipline is not something you’re born with or something that’s given to you. It is learned and then applied. 

Growing up, I was always led to believe that I could achieve anything I set my mind to, but I had to earn it. Over time, I learned that this same principle applies in athletics, schoolwork, learning to play an instrument and in my profession. PR is a discipline.

I also learned that some PR “pros” forget this.  

It’s easy to get lazy in PR and lose focus. It’s hard to quantify results sometimes despite our best efforts. We have to roll up our sleeves and work for results; they don’t just come. This is a discipline, and you either have discipline or you don’t. There is no entitlement in PR.  

A good media buyer knows how and when to place his buys, but whether a media buyer is good or not (and there’s a huge difference between good and bad ones), a sales rep will always take his money. Not the case in PR. If you make a bad pitch, you’re out of luck. If you have only contacts and no relationships, well, you’re in trouble again.  

So, the next time you’re on the fence about whether or not to hire a PR pro to assist you or add to your staff, find out if he or she has the discipline to deliver results and meet your expectations. These abilities are what separate the results-driven PR pro from the others. And, it isn’t easy 

Why? Because disciplined PR isn’t easy.


Fight the interview blues: 5 tips for landing the job

April 28, 2011 | by Bohlsen Group

(by Liesl Kasdorf, BohlsenPR intern)

Job interviews can be a lot like a first date: nerve-wracking, intimidating and sometimes awkward. Your skills on paper are not enough to land you the position – a successful interview and interaction with a potential employer are key.

Here are five important tips for a successful interview:

1. Preparation – Know yourself and the company

  • Before you arrive, create a list of your strengths, experiences and personality traits that could berelevant to the position. 
  • Research the company to identify its history, corporate structure, culture and clients. 
  • Find out who will be interviewing you, and his or her position and experience. LinkedIn is a great resource for this.

2. Arrival – It’s not OK to be fashionably late

  • Give yourself plenty of time in case of bad traffic, weather or construction. 
  • Always arrive early – even if you have to sit and wait for the interviewer. 
  • Your interview begins the minute you walk in. Everyone you see has the potential to speak highly of you.

3. Getting Started – Politeness goes a long way

  • Have your cell phone turned off, not just on silent. Keep the Britney Spears ringtone for after the interview. 
  • Make eye contact and have a solid handshake. 
  • Display etiquette: Wait to be invited to sit, don’t put your elbows on the table and maintain straight posture.

4. The Interview – It’s time to shine

  • Smile – You’re never fully dressed without it.
  • Emphasize the positive about your personality, skills and past work experiences. 
  • Ask informed questions about the company. This is where your research will come in handy.

5. Follow-up – Maybe the most important part

  • Always ask for a business card from each person you meet. 
  • Send a separate, personalized, handwritten thank-you note to each individual you met. 
  • Make sure to spell names (and all words, for that matter) correctly.

And … breathe. Don’t get discouraged if you have a bad interview. Learn from that experience and use it to help you at your next one.

Confidence, poise and a little bit of research will go a long way in today’s tough job market.

Spring in our step

April 26, 2011 | by Jessica Redden

It’s that inevitable time of year when we can see the light at the end of one long winter. The sun is out, flowers are blooming, birds are singing – and some signs of spring that aren’t so cliché. On a beautiful day, it’s not hard to spot these four key players of spring, and in PR we embody their greatest qualities year-round.

The Optimist

You’ve seen her. She’s the one who has rid her closet of winter coats and boots at the first sign of warm weather. She’s broken out the flip-flops, positive that the bright side is here to stay. In PR, our glass is always half-full as we focus on the maximum potential of our best efforts.

The Attention Seeker

This guy embodies the purpose of our work. Tinted windows halfway down, he cruises the streets with speakers blaring, nodding with a knowing smile when someone glances his way. Our sound systems may not compare, but we work every day to be just as loud for our clients. And our hearing is still intact, too.

The Risk Taker

We may be missing the helmet and leather jacket, but we’ve got what the bikers have the most of – guts. When warm weather rolls in, bikers roll out even when there’s a chance for rain. We usually cheat with an umbrella in tow, but professionally, we see risks as opportunities, taking further advantage of our Optimist side. Flip-flops with that motorcycle, anyone?

The Quick Fix

A good PR pro knows to work toward the best but prepare for the worst, making us the flesh-and-blood “convertibles” of the working world. We’re not afraid to take the top down when things are sunny, but we’ve got a plan in our back pocket if the clouds roll in.

So rejoice, PR pros. Even when the coldest winter days return, we’ve always got a spring in our step.


QR codes: Not for entertainment use only

April 21, 2011 | by Bohlsen Group

Is the QR code a tool for marketing or a toy for marketers?

First, what exactly is a QR code? Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota in Japan, created the original QR code (pictured) as a way to track parts in vehicle manufacturing. Similar to bar codes, QR codes can store data that can be read by a scanner. What makes them better than the familiar bar code, however, is that a QR code can store up to several hundred times more data in a smaller space.

The chatter lately, though, has surrounded the QR code’s use in marketing.

To be clear: QR codes are not a form of marketing. A QR code is simply another tool for engaging consumers as a component of an overall marketing strategy.

Now that marketers have discovered them, QR codes are being used in ads and on business cards, websites, packaging … you name it. They are storing web addresses, contact information, product features, raw data, etc. The most popular marketing use for QR codes is to help consumers link to websites or share their personal contact information with a company.

Am I the only one thinking, “So what?”

QR codes aren’t making my life (me, Joe Consumer) easier. Sure, being at a meet-up and having the option to scan a QR code instead of taking a business card is convenient, but I’m not so sure I want to give up the experience of the actual card exchange. (And how will I dodge stalkers and people I don’t want to have my info?  “I’m sorry, I must have lost my QR code” doesn’t have the same ring as, “Oh, sorry, I’m out of business cards.”) 

If using a QR code doesn’t save me time, effort or money or create a fun experience, then I can’t see a reason why I would care to engage. 

So why the clamor to implement QR codes in marketing? Sure, the public needs yet one more way to get discounted products, free experiences and other ways to devalue your product/brand (sarcasm intended). To quote a good friend, Vince Freeman:

“Tactics without strategy are useless.”

So my question is directed to the digital marketers of the world:

How are you using QR technology to create value for your organization instead of using it merely as a vehicle for product depreciation?

Incentives such as discounts and free stuff can be ways to train consumers to utilize QR codes. Beyond that, here are my thoughts on how you can leverage QR codes to your benefit:

  • Track effectiveness of tangible marketing collateral: Assign a unique identifier to each piece of collateral you release so you can measure relative impact. Do you have brochures or fliers in various locations? How about posters, print ads, TV and movie spots, video game product placements? What about billboards
  • Identify your audience: What if you loaded a QR scanner into your company’s mobile app? Use the app to identify people scanning your codes to better track their habits so you can adjust your marketing tactics.
  • Complete the sale FASTER: Now that you are using QR codes to identify your audience and validate your marketing, push the consumer into the sales process. Turn the tangible world into a virtual mall: Use a QR code to process food delivery/take-out orders in less time. Advertise a Prada handbag and sell it on the spot.

The QR code’s true power lies in its ability to bridge the gap between tangible and digital. But it’s not really the QR code that’s exciting, it’s what the tool represents – a new era in marketing. An era where we can identify our audience’s habits and interests, then make more than just our best guesses by drawing educated deductions from harvested data. An era when we marketers can measure the value of ads not by estimated impressions, but by actual engagement and identification.

What if …

A professional sports team identified all its mobile app users, then built a QR reader into the app. Then, a fan like me might come across an ad for a special on team can koozies. I’d scan the ad to get the special, the team would ship my purchase to my home, and voilà – the transaction is automated because my contact info is already in the team’s secure database. DONE! And I’m still on my couch.

If I didn’t want to purchase at that particular moment, the team could create and email (or mail) a rain check to me, which could prompt other purchases the next time I go to a game. 

So, do I think QR codes are the future? NO.

Do I think QR codes are getting us there? YES. 

What about you? 

Selling Kevin Bacon

April 19, 2011 | by Bohlsen Group

At Indiana State University (go Trees!), I remember being told by more than one professor that 75 percent of all students with a communications or public relations major would end up with a career not in communications or PR, but in sales.

Now, I’m sure that exact statistic was somewhat fabricated (or at least this is what my Googling efforts lead me to believe), but upon hearing such a scary and disheartening statement, I remember thinking one thing:

No. Possible. Way.

I grew up with sales in my family. My dad and grandparents owned a salad dressing company (J. D. Mullen Company, if you’re interested in tasting the world’s best dressing), and my grandpa was a natural-born salesman who had the ability to sell shoes to a guy with no feet, or however that saying goes. But in no way did I ever see it as something I wanted to do. Ever.

So imagine my surprise when I began work as a media specialist and found out that my entire job consisted of … selling. Leave it to those sneaky PR people to leave “sales” off the term “pitching.”

I’ve since accepted the sales component of publicity, but it wasn’t until I was reading up on some tips and tactics from the sales training gurus at Indianapolis-based Lushin & Associates that I stumbled on this gem of a statement and truly began to embrace the overlap of the industries:

“The real challenge of selling is the ability to relate the unrelated.”

Believe me, I’m not saying that we publicists sit around playing the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game all day (although it would be fun), or that you should redraw your family tree to make your boyfriend your third cousin (because that’s gross). What I am saying is that sometimes the angles that seem the most practical and strategic don’t always cut it.

So whether you’re lugging encyclopedias door to door or trying to get your client on Oprah, kick off your Sunday shoes and cut footloose.

Kevin Bacon would want you to.