Ad Guy Says PR Is More Relevant Than Ever

April 16, 2009

Next time you need to justify what you do as a public relations professional, point your judge to this article… which was written by an advertising executive, no less. It’s a terrific, inspiring, timely read.

Posted by Joe Paone

How to Ace an Interview

April 6, 2009

Our post last week on Tips for PR Professionals received so many hits, that I thought our readers would enjoy some more information for job seekers in this economy. We all know that the job market out there is weak at best. With more people applying for the same position, job-seekers need to be one step ahead of their competition.

So say one of the thousands of resumes you send out results in an interview. Yay! Now what? We all know that interviews can be daunting. Some people spend hours upon hours agonizing over those questions that you know you are going to be asked: “Tell me about yourself”, or “What is your biggest weakness?”

I have done some searching and found some great tips on how to ace an interview from sites like and the Online Education Database. There are a ton of resources out there for those looking for employment. The key is to narrow down the most credible sources and go from there.

  • Show you are confident, even if you have to fake it. – Have confidence. If you are frustrated with your job search, don’t let that negativity show to the employer. Your pessimism can be a turnoff. Even if it’s a temporary attitude brought on by rejection, the hiring manager might think it’s your overall attitude. After all, you made it to the interview didn’t you?
  • Don’t apologize for being out of work. – A layoff can happen to anyone. What do you do if it happens to you? Don’t be ashamed — in today’s climate, layoffs occur (unfortunately) daily. Many job seekers are in your shoes. Don’t apologize. Instead, focus on the job you are interviewing for by showcasing your skills and exhibiting how you are the best fit.
  • Target your job search. – While you don’t need to possess every single skill listed on a posting, you should at least be qualified for the position and prove that you have transferable skills. Your targeted résumé will help prove you’re a serious candidate and have the right qualifications for the position. If you’re spending time applying for jobs you’re not qualified for, you’re wasting valuable time you could be devoting to a position that’s a better fit. If you recognize where your strengths lie and what transferable skills you possess, you’ll see better results than if you apply to any posting you come across.
  • Get primed. – “Tell me what you know about the company” or “Why would you fit in well here?” have become staple interview questions, so don’t be caught off guard. Shrugging your shoulders and saying, “I don’t know” isn’t going to score you points. Look at the company’s Web site and read press releases and newspaper articles to see what’s going on with your prospective future boss. In addition to prepare for the interview, you’ll learn whether the company and its culture are a right fit for you.
  • They don’t want to hear what you think they want to hear – Interviewers have gotten very smart to picking up if someone’s spewing something they’ve memorized from a book. By only saying what they think the employer wants to hear, job candidates are simply putting on an act, and employers can see right through that. You have to be yourself in an interview and you have to be sincere.
  • They don’t expect you to have all the answers – Employers are more interested in how you find answers to things you don’t know than if you pretend to know something you don’t. In some cases, the interviewer may ask a question that he or she doesn’t expect you to be able to answer simply to see how you handle it. If you ever find that you don’t know the answer to an interviewer’s question, the best thing to do is to admit that you don’t know, but either add that you could give an educated guess or provide a way you might go about finding the answer. Most important, if you don’t know, don’t try to fake it. Not knowing is OK. Making something up or pretending to know is not.
  • They want you to want them – You need to express genuine interest in the job or the company. As much as the recruiter wants to sell the candidate on the position and company, the recruiter also wants to know that the candidate actually wants to work in that position or for that company.
  • Ask questions – You may be attentive, but if you don’t understand something, politely ask for clarification. Ask questions about the company culture and general questions than an interviewer has not mentioned yet. Prepare 5-6 questions to ask before your interview. Most interviewers will ask “do you have any questions?” You should ask a question relating to something that was discussed during the interview. The prepared will help you if you get stuck.

Did I miss one? If you have interview tips for our readers, leave them in our comments.

Next week we will bring you more tips on how to market yourself in this economy.

Posted by: Lauren

Blogs to Keep Print Alive?

January 23, 2009

It’s not hard to see why those in the print publication industry are nervous.  Magazines are folding, downsizing, cutting costs and workers.  Prominent newspapers like The Chicago Tribune have filed for Chapter 11 bankrupcy and others like The New York Times have struggled simply to hold onto their assets.  Late last year, the Times was planning to mortgage its office building for $225 million while publications like The Rocky Mountain News and The Miami Herald were put up for sale. 

The economy is a factor but the decline of print publications can largely be blamed on the internet and the invention of the 24-hour news outlet, the web being able to provide up to the second coverage that print papers could never compete with.  So why does Joshua Karper, publisher and founder of the Chicago-based start-up publication “The Printed Blog” think that the internet will save print? 

“We are trying to be the first daily newspaper comprised entirely of blogs and other user-generated content,” he said. “There were so many techniques that I’ve seen working online that maybe I could apply to the print industry.”  

His paper, which will feature local content and first only be circulated in the Chicago and San Francisco markets, plans to use blog content, user provided photographs and anecdotes to populate the pages.  And – as if that wasn’t radical enough – the paper will be free. 

By selling ad space to local businesses with the promise that the readership will be completely targed towards their audience, Karp hopes to revive the print model by capitalizing on the open source nature of the web.  Of course, there are still costs associated with print that are unavoidable – ink, paper and printing materials to name just a few.  But there are some solutions.  “The Printed Blog” plans to put its printers in the homes of the distribution centers thereby eliminating the cost of having a main manufacturing plant. 

Where does all this content come from?  Karp is working with local and national bloggers to sign agreements that let him and his volunteer staff of 10 repurpose their content for the paper in exchange for a small amount of generated ad revenue. 

“The arrangement is mutually beneficial,” said Lauren Dimet Waters, editor in chief of Second City Style, a Chicago blog that has agreed to be reprinted. “If they can make money off of our blog, I can’t imagine we wouldn’t, too, because of the exposure,” she said. “If it gets us exposure to 20 new people, then I’ll be happy.”

Will this new model save the print industry and revolutionize the notion of the free daily paper?  Joshua Karp certainly thinks so.

via The New York Times

Posted by: Ashley / ashleyatcaster on Twitter

Should We Start Calling it Red Friday?

November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and inevitably that brings around Black Friday, the retail world’s way to ramp up holiday sales by creating a day where highly sought after items are deeply discounted from the early hours of 6 a.m to 12 p.m. Personally, I wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere near a retail store the day after Thanksgiving because one – I just spent the previous day gorging myself on food and alcohol and the last thing I want to do is shuffle my way through crowds of sweaty people and two – I don’t get up at 6 a.m. for anything. Especially not Not even for $99 Blu-Ray players at Best Buy.

But personal feelings aside, investors and economists are making predictions left and right – will Black Friday be yet another down turn for the US economy?  This year, they should really just call it “Help us get out of the Red” Friday because for many companies, Q4 holiday sales are a major portion of their yearly revenue.  The good news is – if you are someone fortunate enough to still have your job and not feel the pinch from creditors, banks, and your boss, you are in for a treat.  Retailers have literally slashed prices on products this season – tech gear especially.  The New York Times reports, “there has already been much chatter about $99 GPS units for sale at Target, $200 Blu-ray DVD players at Circuit City, $250 netbooks at Amazon and, as always, ever larger and more affordable flat-panel televisions, like the $900 42-inch 1080p LCD models for sale at Best Buy.”

I recently went into Best Buy to scope out a new laptop I’ve been eyeing and was almost floored to see how discounted some of the top brands were.  $649 for a 15-inch Toshiba with a decent processor and 350GB of internal memory?  And only about $1k for a fully-loaded model with enough storage to fit every picture you will ever take in your life.  The sales people literally followed every person walking around the kiosks, repeatedly pointing out features and trying to close the deal and watching with disappointment as most customers walked out the door.  At first I was annoyed and kept trying to feign a Russian accent to get them to leave me alone but then I watched in fascination – this is what it has come to, shoppers struggling to justify spending any money at all, even on a great deal and sales associates trying desperately to remind them why America used to love to shop.

I’m not an expert, but my prediction is we’re in for tight holiday budgets and probably a very, very long winter. 

Posted by: Ashley / follow me on Twitter: ashleyatcaster

Retail Therapy and Marketing

April 18, 2008

All the signs are here that we are in a recession. My daily visit to reminds me, the voicemails from my ad reps with their “deals” remind me, the multitude of everlasting For Sale signs on my street remind me.

So I decided to do my part and go shopping. I bought some really sweet vintage Ts for the summer, a great dress for a wedding I have to go to, a cute pair of cropped pants and a chunky necklace. I did these things because the store I went to, a store I LOVE to shop at but don’t frequent, just had an ad in a local magazine. This ad inspired me to go shop.

My shopping spree made me think about marketing. Why is it when a recession hits or times get tight, companies immediately cut their marketing budgets? Out go the ad dollars, tighten the PR budget, cut out trade shows. Why does everyone think, “If we cut it, they will still come?” If I had not seen that ad, I wouldn’t have purchased those cute new Ts. The shop wouldn’t have had that sale.

So are sales down because budgets were cut or are budgets cut because sales were down? And what if your competitor didn’t cut their budget? Did they get your sale?

The way I see it is the economy doesn’t stop; consumers may not spend as much but they still spend. At least some of us do.

A recession is an opportunity to dig in and make a stance. It’s a chance to push your marketing messages, because those who are listening just might need some retail therapy.

posted by KDL