PRSA Boston Blog

This is a blog written by the PRSA Boston president (Tom Nutile for 2008) about events and activities involving PRSA Boston

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Committee declines to issue student award for 2008

Every now and again, an awards committee will decline to issue an award. It isn’t that the applications or the applicants themselves aren’t worthy of consideration. It’s simply that the level of excellence expected by the awarding body has not been met. It happens on occasion with the Pulitzer Prizes, considered the top awards in journalism. According to the plan of the Pulitzer Prize awards, "If in any year all the competitors in any category shall fall below the standard of excellence fixed by The Pulitzer Prize Board, the amount of such prize or prizes may be withheld."

After careful consideration, the PRSA Boston Scholarship Grant Committee has decided not to issue a PRSA Boston Scholarship Grant in 2008. The committee determined that the applicants, although worthy students of public relations no doubt, did not achieve the level of excellence in their grant applications that the committee has come to expect for a winner.

This is the first time in the eight-year history of the scholarship program that the committee has reached this decision.

In the words of the chairman of the Grant Committee, Art Dimond, the decision “was an extremely difficult one for us. Ultimately, we reached it because while we thought that each application had merit, we concluded that no one application had a special quality -- a spark, an originality -- that we have perennially sought.”

As someone who has competed for awards, both in public relations and, before that, when I was a daily journalist, for journalism awards, I can say that the times I did not win were as educational as the times I did win. I used the experience of not winning an award to examine my work, my application and the winners (either that year or in other years) and learn how to do a better job.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We Have Seen the Future of Journalism and It Is ....

Thanks to blogging and social media, within five years the New York Times and other major newspapers might simply be weekly or twice-weekly news magazines. That was one of the predictions at PRSA Boston’s monthly program, “The Future of Journalism in a Social Media World” held last night (May 20) at the American Cancer Society offices in Weston.

The session, put together by PRSA Boston Program Committee member Todd Van Hoosear of Topaz Partners, was moderated by veteran journalist Paul Gillin, author of "The New Influencers" and the upcoming book "Secrets of Social Media Marketing."

The panelists were:
-- Ted McEnroe, director of digital media, NECN

-- David Wallace, adjunct journalism professor at Emerson College who has written for the New York Times and online sites such as TechDaily

-- Robin Lubbock, director of new media, WBUR

-- Howard Sholkin, director of communications & marketing programs, IDG Communications

The sell-out session offered more questions than answers, as do so many thought-provoking takes on the future of a changing industry. But what good questions they were.

For example:
-- Do we need the so-called “traditional” media such as newspapers, radio, television, now that so many people have the ability to publish content and attract readers?

-- With so many people accessing blogs and other web sites handled by so-called “citizen journalists," who are not trained members of the mainstream media, are we going through one of the greatest standard-lowering exercises of all time?

-- Can we trust the accuracy of such blogs?

-- In a bid to reduce overhead and become more profitable through buyouts of reporters with the longest tenure, are newspapers shooting themselves in the foot? After all, the buyouts are offered to the most experienced reporters – those who often have the best sources and the most comprehensive knowledge of their areas of expertise.

One interesting take-away from the session:

The power of the Web allows news organizations to give us far more information than any other outlet all by itself (radio, television, newspaper or magazine) could give us. For example, MSNBC earlier this year examined inspection records for bridge repair throughout the United States and has made all those records available on its web site (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/) so that anyone who wishes to learn how safe the bridges she travels on every day can just click on the site and track her trip.

Does it work? After the session, I tracked the route from my home in Natick to my hometown, Needham, just a few miles away. I found that all the bridges I would need to cross are “functionally obsolete,” yet all met safety standards – as of early 2006, the latest data available on the MSNBC site. Good information. And I’m not dismayed that the data is only available through early 2006. As a veteran newsman who left that field for public relations and marketing, I know that most state and federal inspection data available to news organizations is at least one or two years old.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Not Content with just Content

Do you have a piece of interesting news related to public relations in the Boston area? We're not content to just post content; we'd like to hear about living, breathing news, such as the item on the Sabre awards (see posting below). It could be an issue of concern in the Boston public relations community, it could simply be the news of a new public relations agency that has formed recently or an award your agency has won.

PRSA Boston is looking for news tips, breaking news and story ideas for its blog and for its monthly newsletter, News & Views. If you have any news you believe we should be aware of and possibly write about in the blog or newsletter, please send an e-mail to both Christopher.ranjitkar@gmail.com and tom.nutile@comcast.net. Chris can be reached by phone at (781) 526-6444. Tom is at (508) 397-2810. If possible, include a telephone number where we can reach you during the day as well as your name and e-mail address, if you're not sending your information by e-mail.

Boston makes a strong showing at the Sabre Awards

Last night The Holmes Report held its annual Sabre Awards dinner at Cipriani's in New York City. The Sabre's are one of the most prestigious awards in the PR industry and it is an honor to be a finalist, let alone win.

I am an agency guy, so my attention was on the agencies...and Boston represented well at the Sabres. No one agency dominated and that is a testament to the great work PR pros in Boston are doing.

Shift Communications was named New Media Agency of the Year. Congratulations to Todd Defren and his gang. They have done a lot in this area and it is a well deserved honor. Shift was also a finalist for a Silver Sabre.

Racepoint won a Silver Sabre for their work on behalf of NeuroLogica - Scan on Demand.

Schwartz Communications (and some of my teams) also did well. Schwartz took home a Gold Sabre for its work on behalf of Digication, a small tech startup in Rhode Island. What makes this especially compelling is it beat out Hitachi, New York Life and Rubbermaid to win. Schwartz was also a finalist for a Bronze Sabre.

It just goes to show you, the awards do not always go to the multinationals. If you do go work for your client, submit it.

I saw Greenough and a few others among the finalists as well. If I left your name out, my apologies. Leave a comment on send me some pictures and I will add them or likes to them. I try to know all PR people in Boston, but I am sure there are some I missed. And for agencies with offices around the country, unless I know the work was done out of Boston...I did not mention it.

Congratulations again to all the winners.

Award season is upon us. The Bell Ringers are in a few weeks and the Silver Anvils follow in early June.


Friday, May 09, 2008

The Future of Journalism in an Online World

A major television news station offers buyouts to some of its best-known on-air talent. The audience -- and the ad revenue -- just isn't there to support the salaries of the television stars.

The editor of a major newspaper writes to me to say that “Ours is a faith-based business: We have to have faith it'll all work out.”

People are getting their news online. Advertising revenue is going there, but not enough, for newspapers with web sites, to offset the lost print revenue. Newspaper publishers still are searching for the right online business model. Does one charge, as does the Wall Street Journal’s site, or does one offer it for free, as does the Boston Globe?

Radio, in the meantime, is making its content available online around the globe, but still has not solved the problem of how to maintain ad revenue.

Where is journalism headed in this increasingly online, social media world? Our PRSA Boston colleague and Program Committee member Todd Van Hoosear of Topaz Partners has put together a top-notch PRSA Boston program to examine this question.

The program, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 20 at the American Cancer Society offices in Weston, will be led by veteran journalist Paul Gillin, author of "The New Influencers" and the upcoming "Secrets of Social Media Marketing".

The program is entitled “The Future of Journalism in a Social Media World.” Todd tells us that the questions the panel will discuss include the following:

  • How are blogs, podcasts and online video impacting the both the business and the reporting of news?
  • Will journalists need to master video, audio and photography in order to practice their craft in the future?
  • How has the journalism profession been impacted by the success of bloggers moving into the reporting business?
  • What does the future have in store for mainstream media? How can those media stay relevant in a changing information world?

Panelists include:

  • Ted McEnroe, Director of Digital Media, NECN
  • Robin Lubbock, Director of New Media, WBUR
  • Howard Sholkin, Director of Communications & Marketing Programs, IDG Communications

To sign up for this important program, click on this link.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Shuffle up and deal for charity

The 2nd Annual PRSA Boston/PR Newswire Charity Poker Tournament was a resounding success. Thanks to the players and PR Newswire's generous sponsorship, PRSA Boston is once again able to give out a $2,000 scholarship to a deserving local college student.

The night was fun and was a mix of agency and corporate players. The trash talking that went on before the event via email and twitter was half the fun. We had people of all skill levels, including my personal nemesis Lauren from Racepoint who had never played before and managed to suck out twice and get runner-runner flush to beat my trips. Luckily I survived and rebuilt my chip stack (although, alas I finished 12th thanks to someone beating my all in pre-flop AK with a T9u...)

To the delight of an agency I will not name, Schwartz employees did not repeat as the 1-2 finishers. (Of course, that agency was *proud* their award was for having one of their people go out first).

Dan Evans, a great PR Newswire executive, proved he can do more than answer frantic phone calls from PR people asking about the excellent suite of PR Newswire products and took down the tourney. He is the 2008 Champion.

Darlene Hollywood (the current VP of Programs for PRSA Boston) and a talented PR counselor proved that she knows her way around the felt and finished second, taking Top Agency Player honors.

Tim Whitman from Schwartz Communications finished 3rd. (And he is still talking about how he lost with Trip Aces)

It was great to see so many new faces, and so many different agencies represented.

Following are some images from the event:

The final table. I forget one person's name her, so I am slighting you all...

The champions

David Weiner, PR Newswire
Darlene Hollywood, Top Agency Player
Daniel Evans, PR Newswire - Champion and Top Corporate Player
Mark W. McClennan, APR - Tourney organizer and immediate past-president, PRSA Boston

The winner received a special surprise, but I am keeping that for another post...

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