Category Archives: Meeting Recaps

9/26 Meeting Recap: Striking a Chord

IMG_9985.JPGBy: Leslie Ortega

For our first meeting of the semester, we had a guest speaker from Margin Walker, a live-music promotions marketing company. Matthew Barron started a digital media company to mix digital marketing with creative and experiential marketing, which allowed him attendance at every music festival to take high level pictures for free. This has lead to his current employment at Margin Walker as a creative director. Matthew spoke to Texas PRSSA about experiential marketing and taking a creative approach to advertising.

When taking a creative approach, Matthew emphasized that one-on-one marketing is essential but also said to personalize things and remember to hone in on the audience you want. South by Southwest is one of the biggest events to try out these marketing ideas with big companies going head to head to see who can attract the biggest audience.

Matthew also explained that social media is a 360° appeal because it’s how consumers appraise your company. Digital presence should be a first priority as one represents their company on their social media posts. A great example of this is Wendy’s twitter account as their digital presence is known for their tweets and replies to consumers and other companies.

Lastly, Matthew talked about experiential marketing and creating experiences for your consumers. The epitome of what you give consumers at experiential marketing events is a lasting experience that they can keep forever. Examples of this include limited edition gifts and opportunities, such as hats, posters, and meeting celebrities.

One important thing to remember is that what and who you’re marketing is very important, but make sure to keep your audience in mind when creating these opportunities.


4/18 Meeting Recap: Best Practices for New Business



By: Leslie Ortega


For our final meeting of the semester, Texas PRSSA had Hill+Knowlton Strategies come talk about the steps of acquiring new business within their firm. With over 86 offices in 47 countries, H+K is a full service global strategic firm that helps brands and the public communicate while coordinating with counterparts to pursue global opportunities and campaigns. Here’s a review of their presentation.

First, H+K starts off by finding leads on new business. H+K generates leads through either their website, personal connections, referrals, or even cold calls. After finding these leads, they check to see if this opportunity works with their company by using these 4 objectives:

  • Revenue: making sure their client’s budget is inline with them
  • Relevance: having work examples that can help with the new business or partners with past experience in this field
  • Reputation: is the client company viewed in a positive light?
  • Resources: are there adequate staff and resources to do the work?

If they decide to move forward, H+K schedules a meeting with the client to make sure they tailor to them and start to build a relationship. They have to make sure that they match what they do with what the client is looking for. They also ask questions like why they chose H+K, who they view as their competition and why they issued an RFP (Request for Proposal).  

  • RFP: An RFP typically is a 30-day process but it can vary with each client. A project timeline of a 30-day RFP includes:
    • Day 1: RFP is qualified
    • Day 4: Submit questions
    • Day 10: Written response
    • Day 24: Pitch
    • Day 30: Contract negotiations

Next, H+K gathers research and insights in order to understand the client. This includes finding company profiles as well as information on a company’s board of directors, number of employees, markets they work in and whether they’ve been in the news lately. H+K uses this research as guideposts to shape creative ideas. They first start off with templates and canned language but these are building blocks, not the final products. No matter how big or small the company is, they make sure to customize ideas to their needs.

After gathering research, it’s time to handpick the team that will be pitching to the client. Roles are assigned to each member based on their past experience or relevance to the new client. H+K makes sure to know the team they’re pitching to and where it will be taking place. After collecting this information, the team works on their presentation. Submissions tend to be more text-heavy while pitch presentations more of an emphasis on photos and visuals. Those on the pitch team don’t usually have scripts but rather notes so that they won’t sound too scripted. They also have to be able to read people in the room – it’s important that the client connects with the pitch team.

If they win the account, H+K starts working with other agency partners to help the company. If they don’t win the account, they take steps to find out why and how to prevent losing the next one. It’s important to know the strengths and weaknesses of your pitch team, so asking for feedback afterwards is necessary. Most companies feel comfortable sharing what they didn’t like about the pitch, which makes it easier to improve and grow the company.


3/21 Meeting Recap: Weekend Language

By: Tiffany Lin

As innate storytellers, Weekend Language is our default when we are out of the office, two days out of every week. Andy Craig, Principal at Elevator Speech Inc., came in to talk to us about weekend language and how we should use our default setting in any professional setting.

On the weekends, we tell stories to our friends, families or even strangers. If the story is good, our audiences tell our stories to their friends, families and strangers to them, which is communication nirvana. Companies want that same effect in journalists and consumers.

When we are placed in front of cameras, we tend to switch to our more “business” side and use the most ridiculous language to sound more professional. Questions like “What do you do” and “What’s going on these days” become the hardest to answer. Interviewees have a difficult time boiling down everything they know into one to two sentences. The downside to complicated language is it turns audiences away, which is bad for business. These same questions translate to “Tell me about yourself” in an internship or job interview setting and how you answer them can greatly impact the end result.

Craig then introduces us to what he calls Magic Words. Magic words like “Imagine… For example… Think about it this way” help translate, summarize, and illustrate your knowledge and experience to your audience to the point where they a) understand and b) care about what you’re talking about. Analogies and metaphors can also do the trick; they are tweetable and relatable. Journalists love them. Next, Craig shows us how we can build a narrative through the lead, story and language.

Firstly, how do you find your lead? Creating your lead is not focused on who, what, when, why and how. It is the entire point of the passage and pulls people in. Journalists have two tasks: report and write. No reader is going to care about all the research journalists have done or how well they have written it if it doesn’t relate to them at first glance. The same thing applies when trying to obtain your next internship or job: find what the interviewer or company cares about and start with that.

The story is the second piece in the narrative puzzle. Anyone can walk down a resume but telling a cohesive story that explains your skills and what you actually did during your time at the internship is what will really grab your interviewer’s attention.

Lastly, the more conversational your language is, the better. Companies typically want to include as much fancy jargon and claims as they can like “leading provider.” But these meaningless words can often chip away at the company’s credibility, and these words can do the same to you when in an interview. Speaking a bunch of complicated words doesn’t mean you are communicating.

Weekend Language helps companies reach their audiences and can help you get your next internship or job — your narrative is what sets you apart.


3/7 Meeting Recap: Illustrator 101

By: Gracyn Green

This week, PRSSA’s creative director Mallie Rust stopped by to give a quick tutorial on Adobe Illustrator! In the world of creative and public relations, Illustrator is a valuable tool to be familiar with. Here are some quick tips and tricks to get you started.

The Selection and Direct Selection Tool
The selection tool is like the home button on an iPhone. You will generally refer back to this action quite often while creating your Illustrator masterpiece, as it selects and moves objects. The direct selection tool, however, is used to select and move anchor points, lines, and used to adjust Bézier curves.

Choosing Colors in Illustrator
Color can be considered a make or break factor in your Illustrator creation as it is one of the first things your audience will see. Because of this, you need to stay ON BRAND. This means that you should generally stick with the color your organization identifies with – PRSSA, for example, identifies with navy. (Hence why our shirts are this lovely shade of blue.)

Each color has a unique, identifying code, called a Hex code. Generally, if your organization has a specific color they identify with, they should have a Hex code. If you’re not sure, ask.

Mallie pro tip – get a Style Guide. A style manual, or style guide, is a set of standards for the design of documents, signage, and any other form of brand identifier. The reason for their existence is to ensure complete uniformity in style and formatting wherever the brand is used to ensure no dilution of that brand.

Control Z is Your Best Friend
One of the best ways to get familiar with Illustrator is to explore on your own! Click different commands, try out different color combinations and options to create something out of this world. If you don’t like it, no worries – control z will have your back every time.

Also, if at any point you want to get rid of a design choice, click on the box with the red diagonal line in the alternate color drop-down menu.

If you want a more tutorial based, outlined guide of how to use Illustrator, ask Lynda. Lynda is an online database for courses, training, and tutorials in business, technology, and creative skills – FREE for all UT students. Expert instructors teach you all about Adobe Illustrator: how to work with layers, create infographics, trace artwork, and use the application’s powerful drawing tools to create vector art like a pro. Lynda’s Illustrator tutorials range from beginner to advanced.


2/21 Meeting Recap: Managing Crises in PR


By: Benjamin Perez

This week, Sylvester Palacios, Jr., an account supervisor from Pierpont Communications, came and spoke to Texas PRSSA about managing crises in PR. Below is a detailed rundown of what he discussed.

First off, if you work in PR in some way, shape or form, you’re going to have to deal with crisis communication. As a PR professional at an entry-level position, you will primarily be doing a lot of the lower level ground work such as research, media monitoring, monitoring mentions on social media, drafting news releases and building media lists. This is the kind of work the higher ups count on to deal with crisis situations quickly. After a few years, your responsibilities will increase to a point where you may be in a position where you’re telling the CEO of a company what to say and what not to say.

In order to rise through the ranks within a PR firm, you have to be assertive. You must be able to get in those meetings between the CEO of a company and a PR professional and you have to listen in to the types of strategies are designed in these meetings. You have to volunteer to work on drafting a crisis communications plan and reaching out to reporters in order to provide any updates on an ongoing crisis situation. These things will help you learn more and will allow you to get your foot in the door. Second, you must also be trustworthy. You must make sure that you’re the type of person your clients can confide in you because the more you’re trusted, the more responsibilities and opportunities you’ll get/be able to handle.

There is no one size fits all for crisis plans, but there is a process that will help you develop a crisis plan. The four steps in this process are as follows:

  • Listen and Anticipate
  • Assess and Diagnose
  • Act and Adjust
  • Review and Recover

Listen and Anticipate:
As a PR professional, it helps to be in the know about what is going on within your company, with your clients and in the PR industry. It also helps to get out of the bubble. You have to be able to interact with employees and companies that you don’t normally interact with. You must be able to listen to the media to see what other sectors are doing along with community groups in the area. By doing this, you can possibly root out potential issues before they escalate.

Assess and Diagnose:
When you’re assessing a situation in order to diagnose a problem, it helps to ask questions. Questions such as “What do we know? What don’t we know? What are we doing now? What do we plan to do in the future? How might this affect our organization?” are the types of questions that we all need to be asking because these questions can help answer the why, the how and the what if. By asking these questions, you will be able to assess a situation and get all the needed information before hand in order to make an informed decision on how to act.

Next, as a PR professional, you want to be first to your story because you want to be able to shape the story. If the media or your competitors get to your story before you do, they will be able to shape it to where it’s advantageous to them and disadvantageous to you. You also want to respond quickly to a story because prompt actions often result in positive feedback. You don’t want to be seen as not taking your job seriously if you’re taking too long to act on a situation. However, before you act, you must be informed. If you’re just focused on reacting quickly to a story rather than taking the time to get informed on what’s going on, more than likely you will just cause more problems.

Lastly, no one person is ever responsible for solving a crisis all by themselves. Therefore, it is important to have a crisis management team assembled ahead of time so that you will be ready to act as soon as a crisis hits.

Act and Adjust Tips:

  • Immediate action plus long-term outlook equals a smart response.
  • Communication style should be straightforward and candid like a real human being.
  • Choose your spokesperson carefully and prepare them effectively
  • People first, always; don’t ever speculate.
  • When you can’t say, say what you can
  • To communicate unpopular positions, focus on the process in addition to the outcome.

When working with executives:

  • Be the source of crucial information.
  • Be the cool head in the room.
  • Your domain is anticipating reaction among external audiences to decisions/announcements (or lack of action); own it and share your perspective.
  • Some of the phrases you must use when talking with executives are “Help me understand how this affects so-and-so? If we were asked… how would we respond? One possibility is… how should we prepare for that?”
  • Don’t be afraid to take on the attorneys to balance legal liability with reputation damage (both of which have substantial cost).

How not to respond:

  • Operate at a business-as-usual pace.
  • Point fingers, outside or inside your organization.
  • Assume you can control every aspect of your response.
  • Talk to and make decision based only on those “in the bubble”.
  • Be defensive, in either manner of response or tone of messages/spokespersons.

Remember, crises are fluid. Things tend to change rapidly so you must be able to keep the pulse and constantly assess what’s going on.

Review and Recover:
Usually, crises are not as bad as you think. Make sure that you asses what went wrong and what went right. Remember, dealing with a crisis situation is a marathon, not a sprint. Next, take fuel out of the old story and start a new one. Take the good things that you did and use them to shape a new story that overshadows the bad one. Lastly, some acts of goodwill can go a long way because when a crisis hits, those you have helped in the past will be more forgiving of your mistakes.


2/7 Meeting Recap: The Power of Social Influencers



By: Denise Candelo


At this week’s meeting we had the incredible opportunity to get two PR industry experts come in to talk to us about the power of social influencers.


About the Speakers:

Rachel Shin and Paola Reyes, both University of Texas alumnae, are current account executives in the Austin office of the global communications and public relations agency Cohn & Wolfe.

Working primarily on healthcare and consumer products, the two have gotten to collaborate and work with social influencers like blogger Marianna Hewitt and celebrity make-up artist Allan Avenado. Sound familiar? Marianna runs the popular blog Life with Me and Allan’s clients include celebrities ranging from Gigi Hadid to Chrissy Teigen!


Why Influencers?

Why exactly are social influencers so powerful in this day and age of social media?

  • Cut through the noise of advertising
    They can cut through the noise because consumers view them as people that they can trust.
  • Show, don’t just tell
    They can show their followers how they view a product or service through their eyes.
  • Create authentic and unique content
    They have a greater air of authenticity because the product or service that they are promoting is uniquely specific to their “brand.”
  • Build relationships
    They have an established base of followers who they know how to reach and talk to.
  • Provide bang for your buck
    Influencers have risen to the top and they can, as a result, disseminate your message much further.
  • Convert consumers into advocates
    The influencer themselves is an advocate and because of their unique connection with their followers, they turn them into advocates of the product as well.


Selecting Influencers

How exactly do you go about selecting influencers? Follow the Three R’s!

  • Reach
    Consider who your target audience is and how they get their information. Does your potential influencer reach these people?
  • Relevance
    Think about what values your brand and client stand for. Is your potential influencer authentic in fitting with these values?
  • Resonance
    Does your influencer have the ability to make your brand’s message stick?


Content Creation

What type of content should your influencer be creating and what should it incorporate?

  • Key messages
  • Product images
  • Brand name and website
  • Disclaimers
  • But overall make it personal and relevant!

* Always make sure that your influencer has the power to create unique and authentic content that fits with the brand.


Leveraging Influencer Content on Social

How do you leverage the content that your influencer creates on their platforms on your brand’s social media?

  • Monitor
    Know when they’re going to be posting
    Keep track of the comments that come in
  • Engage
    If someone asks a question, jump in there and answer it
  • Share
    Share their posts on your social media and tag them
  • “Steal”
    Not actually stealing!
    Post the content they create that you have licenses to onto your platforms

    • This is how you can get their followers to come to your channel
  • Amplify
    Always try to grow awareness for their content and your brand


Best Practices

  • Have your client’s back at all times!
  • Trust the influencer
    They’re the expert on the subject matter so they’ll know how to talk to their audience.
  • Plan ahead of time
    Make sure you also have a plan b, because you never know what could go wrong.
  • Be upfront about expectations and timing
    It’s important for influencers to know when they can use content so that they can plan their posting schedules.
  • Compensate accordingly
    How you compensate your influencer varies according to their following and the platforms they use.
  • Keep track of impressions and metrics
    They can help you decide things for future campaigns and clients.
  • Build relationships, not just partnerships
    If you do, they’ll tell others that you’re a great company to work with.
  • Get creative!
    Make sure you post original and unique content.