Archive for the ‘Nicole Ravlin’ Category

PR Best Practices for Social Media at SXSWi

August 12, 2010

Each March thousands of web and digital strategists, social media “experts”, flacks (like me!), media, and many from other professions flock to Austin, TX for the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference. I attended the event last year and learned a lot.  It was a fun, overwhelming, stimulating, engaging and highly educational experience.

Upon returning home from the event, I started to think about how I might contribute to one of the sessions.  Well, with the help of some friends – I figured it out!

In March 2011 for SXSWi I hope to be part of a four-person panel with Sarah Evans, Ryan Osborn, and Jason Kintzler.  The title of the proposed panel is: Spin Doctors: PR Best Practices for Social Media.

The process to have your panel chosen to be part of the event is three-fold. And is weighted as follows:

30%            Staff Choice

30%            Crowdsource – via PanelPicker

40%            Advisory Board

To vote, log onto the PanelPicker site and register.  Registration is free and is only a few steps.  After you have confirmed your registration, please consider giving our panel a “This idea rocks”-thumbs up.  You do not have to attend the event to vote.

Thanks for your consideration.


I’ll Pencil You In…

July 20, 2010

But, you only get 45-minutes of my time.

The next time you set a meeting with someone consider setting aside just 45 minutes in your calendar rather than the typical hour.   After reading this blog from, I decided to do just that.  It is incredible the amount of time that I seem to have recovered in my day as a result.

I found that if you stick to what needs to be discussed and accomplished in the meeting and each party leaves with a clear idea of what the next steps are, you can spend less time meeting and more time doing.  In a service based business, like mine, the results is what gets you paid – and to achieve those results you have to do… not just meet about what you want to do.

Photo by: Steve Grosbois, reproduced courtesy of Creative Commons Copyright.

Hold on Cobbler’s Kids…

July 15, 2010

I have been know to say (often), “The cobbler’s children have no shoes” when it comes to the work that we do on PMG’s behalf.

As we work on our client’s behalves, our own brand takes a back seat. While that is certainly necessary at times, it is hard to grow your business and scale appropriately when you don’t give your own brand some loving attention.

We have re-jiggered how partners at PMG work on the business of PMG in the past few weeks to make the organization more efficient and effective for our clients. So far, we have seen some immediate results in the earned media we have been achieving for clients and from a less chaotic system. This has allowed us to take a hard look at what we’re doing to promote ourselves as well.

Over the next few weeks, you’ll see PMG become one of, well, PMG’s clients. We will actually start to practice what we preach and share the results – bad and good – along the way.

In keeping with how one of my clients ends many of his emails (I like it!)…


Note to the Cobbler’s Kids: I called Zappos and your shoes are on the way!

Are Embargoed Releases Dead?

March 17, 2010

Note: My first draft of this blog basically listed reasons why I think that the embargoed press release is dead.  After passing the draft around to get some opinions and edits, I was starting to hear, “Nicole, this is great, but I don’t really agree with you.”  So, here I sit with the second go at the entry… and I hope that it sparks some lively discussion from both sides!

When I first started my career in public relations embargoed releases were something that we discussed with clients and within our agency on, at least, a weekly basis.  In my first year of agency life I distributed five embargoed releases on behalf of clients with “breaking” news for next week.

Looking at public relations and the media today, are embargoed releases even necessary?  I think that they are less important than before, and here’s why:

  • Technology. In the mid 90’s email was just coming on line. Agencies used to fax or mail press releases to media outlets.  Publicists used to have to work the phones (gasp!) to pitch media, who were always on deadline and would be anxious to get you off the phone. Setting up a story and sources used to take hours (if you were lucky) and lots of coordination. In today’s world, use of email and mobile applications have sped this process up.  Most of my media contacts appreciate a well-written, concise pitch via email – NOT a traditional press release.  Response to the email can take time, but if your news is time sensitive (read: breaking news) you can reach the media quickly.  A call to the assignment desk if necessary, with a follow-up email if they have requested more information is easily done.
  • Social Media. Sure, it is great if you can get a network evening news program to break your client’s story – but if you are not getting the traction you need, you can break the news yourself via social media.  Stowe Boyd made the “twit pitch” popular. PitchEngine, made an easy platform for creation and distribution of social media releases (SMRs).  These are just two of the many examples of how you can get the message out to traditional and non-traditional press… and go direct to consumer.

Bottom line is getting the story out in a “controlled” way – avoiding information leaks before your client is ready for the news to break.  I have had experiences with a major news network jumping the gun by 20 hours and pushing my story out – Hooray! I got the press for the client, but we were just not ready yet.

So, what do you think? Are embargoed releases still an important way of how we do public relations today? Why or why not?

The Art of the Press Conference

February 26, 2010

Over the past two weeks there have been several press conferences that have drawn national, and in some cases international, attention.  Though there seem to be fewer press conferences called by companies than when I first started in PR, they still do exist.

Typically sensationalized or tragic news bring in larger audiences for media – so with that comes more questions and interest from media outlets to the parties involved.  The easiest way to disseminate information to the press? Gather them in one spot and talk to them.

In most cases, the talking heads of companies have been formally coached by their publicists to stay on message, communicate the prepared remarks clearly, and manage the questions/audience. For those who do not have to speak publicly or at press conferences often, this can be daunting.

I watched the SeaWorld press conference today with great interest.  Here is a really unfortunate situation that happened and now a well-respected company has to jump into crisis pr mode.  At the top of the conference, the press is told what the flow will be, how to obtain the written information and who will be available for one-to-one interviews post event.

And then Dan Brown, CEO of SeaWorld began to speak.  He made a brief statement and read prepared remarks from the victim’s family, and then opened it up to questions. Questions from the press ranged from soft balls (when would various attractions re-open?), to very pointed questions that were asked repeatedly in a variety of ways (is this same whale has apparently killed three other people?). Brown managed the questions well.  He answered each question, and for those that he was unable to discuss he stated that he would not comment on until after an investigation was complete.  His message was consistent and clear.

Of course, there are others in the media and the general public that think this event was a disaster.  But, purely from a pr perspective, it was a success: 1.  SeaWorld communicated their message clearly and, 2.  They have now set the stage for communicating out their findings after the investigation.

Kudos to SeaWorld and their PR team for handling a tough situation with grace and professionalism.


November 7, 2009

Giving back to our local community is very important to all of us at PMG.

Due to H1N1 and concerns around the wellness of children in relation to this, we have been advised and have decided not to host the Vermont Toy Share this year.  Our intention is to return in November 2010 with this event.  Thank you to the local community for all of the interest and support for this event – it has been overwhelming.

When one door closes, another opens. After making the decision to shelf Toy Share for this year, we started to ask ourselves: how can we continue to make a difference within our local community? Sure, we could donate money to some non-profits… and we do.  We could provide some services pro bono to worthy causes… and we do that too.  We wanted to feel more tied to an organization and that our efforts were directly benefiting someone in our local community.  After some brainstorming we got it!

Ken and I do a fair amount of public speaking in Vermont and across the US.  Most times, we are offered an honorarium, and in most cases we politely decline. Preparing for these presentations, traveling to them and then presenting at them take time. And while we do not typically take the honorarium, we will now. We have decided that all honorariums that we collect between November 1, 2009 and October 31, 2010 we will donate to a charity.

For 2010, we are proud to announce that Spectrum Youth and Family Services will be our first partner in this effort.  All monies for speaking honorariums collected by PMG during this time period will be donated to Spectrum to help them continue the great work that they do with teens in the Burlington, VT area.

Want to join us in supporting Spectrum? Here’s a couple of options:

  • Ask a PMGer to speak at your next event. For more information drop me a line at nicole(at)peoplemakinggood(dot)com

How Do You Self-Educate?

November 6, 2009

I have always been a big believer that you need to consistently be feeding your brain to be happy in life. I think most people feel that way.

When it comes to my career, I long ago realized that my education did not end when I graduated from college.  That was merely a starting point.  As a professional, I need to consistently educate myself on new trends, practices within my field, changes in business, etc., etc., etc.

Sure, in the past my employer has paid for me to attend seminars and get certifications.  The problem with most of those “educational” experiences is that you lose what you learn within six months.

When you are self-guided in your education, you are more vested. I also think that that is the turning point when your job becomes your career.  You see spending time outside of the office on this type of education as an investment in yourself.

At this point in my career I am still working at it.  At the moment I am reading and studying the ever-changing world of social media. I am also reading up on sustainable business and corporate responsibility.

What are you working on?

It’s an honor…

August 21, 2009

…to be nominated, really!

Sarah Evans (of Mashable, #journchat, and Twitter fame) started the Top 50 Tweeples to Follow on Twitter.  Now in it’s second year, this award is a “people’s choice” style award where nominations come from the community and voting is open to anyone.  The idea is that this list of 50 are the best people to follow to help other better understand Twitter and how to use it.  There are several categories.  Being nominated for this is really an honor for me as we do spend a lot of time trying to better understand social media tools and how to use them effectively in marketing and public relations.  And as with social media – sharing what you know with others in the online community is part of the gig.

You can find more details here.

You can vote and see results here.

I am delighted to see PMG clients GreenHomes America and Boloco also nominated.

Good luck to all.  Voting ends September 1st.

Who are your Tweeps?

August 16, 2009

I have been a little slack in updating the PMG blog, but with good reason… as they say, the cobblers children have no shoes. I have four, what I think, are great posts in the works.  Watch for them to make it to the blog over the next week or so (I have a lot of plane time!).

In the mean time, Sarah Evans (who is one to watch in her own right) is bringing the Top 50 Tweeps award to Twitter once again.  Check out the details on her blog, and then search #Top50Tweep on Twitter to see who has been nominated. Nominations are open until THIS tuesday, August 18, 2009.

Talkin’ Social Media

May 28, 2009

Last week I was invited to talk about the basics of social media on the Mark Johnson Show on WDEV as part of my participation in Vermont Business & Industry Expo.

As always, Mark was delightful to chat with. In case you missed it, here it is: Nicole’s Interview with Mark Johnson

Thanks again to Mark for welcoming me to the show.

If you missed the Expo video that we produced for the show, you should see it.  Izabela Socha at PMG scrambled to get this together and did a great job!  We now call her “Hollywood” – look for more from her soon!