Employee Travel: Preparing for Summer Travel

For Kimball Communications, summer is packed with conferences, workshops and events. Our employees attend conferences across the U.S., and since we cannot physically be together each day it’s important to have a plan before traveling. You, too, can keep everything running smoothly by following this simple, yet effective strategy.

Eelke de Blouw / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)
  • Prepare ahead of time. Have an internal meeting to go over everyone’s travel plans. Be sure you know when and where everyone will be throughout the summer. Keep a calendar of employee’s travel arrangements and daily schedules.
  • Stay connected. Technology is key. Skype, voice call, text and email will keep everyone informed.
  • Be aware of time zones. Remember, there’s a good chance you will not be on the same time zone. Schedule calls with each other appropriately.
  • Delegate tasks. Make sure all your bases are covered. Assign timely tasks to colleagues. This will ensure deadlines are still met and will simplify things tremendously.
  • Reach out to clients. Ensure clients are aware when you’ll be out of the office. It’s important to let clients know there will always be someone they can reach out to if a problem or question arises.

How do you stay connected during travel? Follow #KPRontheroad to see where we’ve been, and where we’re going, this summer.

Photo credit: Eelke de Blouw / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)


Don’t be a phony: Wikipedia and PR

David Kracht / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0The PR industry extended an olive branch to Wikipedia this week.

Earlier this week a consortium of PR agencies released a joint statement on their intention to comply with Wikipedia’s terms of service. This may seem like an empty gesture, but it is considered a significant step towards resolving a conflict between the communications industry and Wikipedia’s vigilant volunteers.

If you are not familiar with this conflict, here’s the short of it: Edits to a Wikipedia entry by a paid representative of an individual or organization constitute a conflict of interest and violate Wikipedia’s terms of service and goals. However, PR pros and freelancers have been paid to edit entries for nearly as long as the online encyclopedia has been around. Read up on the 2011 dust up between a British PR firm and the online encyclopedia for a clearer picture of the relationship.

Though I generally disagree that someone involved with an organization is incapable of updating basic information about that company without falling susceptible to promotional urges, I understand Wikipedia’s policy. It helps keep entries honest, factual and balanced. But more importantly, I understand that it is a community with rules and guidelines; it doesn’t matter whether or not the PR industry likes them. We have to play by the rules or risk our clients’ reputations and exclusion from the community.

Plus, trying to control a conversation—whether through spin or ham-fisted encyclopedia edits—necessarily relies on subterfuge and dishonesty. That never ends well. Instead, PR pros need to make their clients a part of the conversation.

On Wikipedia, that means requesting an edit and making your case for it. There’s even a page full of resources for paid editors, including the proper channels for requesting a change. If you need to make a change to a client’s Wikipedia entry, start there.

For a bit more inside baseball on the relationship between Wikipedia and the communications industry, check out the entry on conflict-of-interest editing, WikiProject Cooperation and WikiProject Integrity. These—and the terms of service—are essential reading if you are considering editing a Wikipedia page for a client or employer.

To get a peek into how Wikipedia’s community of moderators and editors resolves perceived conflicts of interest, check out the talk section of the Cracker Barrel page.

There are as many opinions on this matter as there are Wikipedia pages. Where do you stand? Does editing Wikipedia entries for pay violate your professional ethics? Have you done it? Talk to us about it in the comments.

Get Heard With Fewer Words

As people get more and more news from blogs, Facebook posts and tweets, content is becoming shorter and shorter. In fact, new guidelines put out by the Associated Press request that stories be no more than 500 words. Simply put, people want to read something short, sweet and to the point.

Fletcher Prince / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The same is true with journalists and editors. They get hundreds of emails a day, so chances are they aren’t interested in reading a long, detailed pitch and press release from you. They want to know the important facts as quickly as possible.

If your story isn’t getting heard, try making brevity and succinctness your focus. Here are some ways to do that:

Media Pitches:

  • Have a strong, attention-getting and short subject line
  • Make the media pitch a short and intriguing summary of the story in the body of the email
  • Be sure to focus on the timeliness and the local connection of the story, if applicable
  • Encourage interaction by providing multiple ways for the journalist to contact you, should they want more information

Press Releases:

  • Write more like a journalist, focusing on the news aspect of the story
  • Include the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How in the first couple paragraphs – that way if that’s the only thing they read they still get the gist of the story
  • Always limit press releases to one page
  • Save them as PDFs so they can be universally opened and send them as an attachment to your pitch email
  • Attach pictures if you have them that journalists can use to go with the story

Another suggestion is to use your media contact database to its full potential; at Kimball Communications our database tells us an editor’s preferred form of contact. Some prefer phone, email or Twitter, this is a good thing to use in order to follow up with them and gauge their interest in your story.