Category Archives: public relations

INTEGRATE 2014 Recap


Each year West Virginia University hosts the INTEGRATE conference for Communications professionals. Next year’s conference will be May 29-30, 2015.

One of the ways the c21 team keeps up with the latest strategies in communications is by sharing best practices with one another. At least once a quarter, the team hosts internal Lunch and Learn’s where we share ideas and concepts gained from conferences, seminars and webinars we’ve attended.

I attended the INTEGRATE 2014 conference hosted by West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. I’m currently pursing my master’s degree in integrated marketing communications (IMC) from the university and each year the WVU Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) graduate program hosts the INTEGRATE conference, where more than 200 communications professionals attend innovative workshops and breakout sessions, and participate in thought provoking discussions about IMC trends in our industry.

The IMC graduate program is offered exclusively online and allows communications professionals to re-align their marketing activities to ensure a constant flow of information to consumers from a variety of media. Most IMC students, like myself, are able to continue to work full-time while earning their degree.

The students earn a practical, customizable graduate education that is designed to equip them with the skills to emerge as leaders in the field and immediately apply what they’ve learned to their professional lives. The program is taught by a diverse faculty – from marketing directors to academics to entrepreneurs – who are recognized leaders in their fields.

During the c21 Lunch and Learn, I shared a few of the best practices and most creative IMC campaigns with the team. Even though I’ll obtain my degree this December, I’m definitely looking forward to attending the conference again next year. CLICK HERE to check out some of the thoughts I shared with the team.


What Pew’s State of the Media Report Means to PR Practitioners

Every spring, I look forward to the release of Pew Research’s State of the News Media study.  Besides reading the report with complete and utter nerd excitement, I’m always interested in the media consumption trends that Pew uncovers.  Here are some of the top findings from the 2012 report.

The Rise in Mobile Technology

This year, Pew’s report focused on the rise of mobile technology and its potential to change the news business.  As consumers acquire multiple mobile devices (e.g., smartphones, e-readers and tablets), they are becoming multiplatform digital news consumers.  In fact, Pew dubs these consumers “digital mavens.”  (Too bad “digital mavens” is more than seven characters; otherwise, I’d put it on my next car tag.)

The Impact on Newspapers

It’s no surprise that as mobile audiences multiply, print circulation is declining.  In fact, Pew estimates that since 2000, the newspaper industry has shrunk 43 percent.  Meanwhile, newspaper websites are thriving.  Thanks to mobile devices, traffic to these sites was up nine percent in 2011.

You might think traditional journalism is dying along with the decline of print publications.  Logical connection, right?  Enter the mighty tablet, which allows users to browse with ease and scroll through long websites seamlessly.  The tablet is saving long-form journalism and providing the American public with a new newspaper – one that allows them to read a lengthy article without having to fold over to page D9.  Currently, Pew states that 18 percent of the population owns a tablet, and those users are increasingly demanding digital content from publishers.

The Future

With former print subscribers moving to digital formats, how will the newspaper industry financially survive?  According to Pew, we can expect a lot more digital subscriptions coming our way “as a matter of survival.”  As Pew states, “The move, long anticipated and long delayed, is only partly influenced by the success of The New York Timesmetered model,’ which now has some 390,000 subscribers and resulted in almost no loss in more casual online traffic.”

Subscription-based online news platforms will change the way PR practitioners report audience reach and online impressions.  In addition, the rise of digital media places added pressure on communicators to think “digitally,” “interactively” and “shareably.”  Today’s “digital mavens” are multi-taskers and quick readers with short attention spans who like to share information digitally. In other words, they are quickly changing the PR industry with a few swipes of their index fingers.

Hold tight as the future “un-scrolls!”

–          Anna Ruth WilliamsAnna Ruth, senior account manager

c21 Helps Client Unveil Groundbreaking Antimicrobial Copper Renovation

Last month, the Ronald McDonald House of Charleston (RMHC) opened its doors for an event unlike any other. RMHC staff, copper industry experts, local business and civic leaders, current and former RMHC families and volunteers joined together for the unveiling of the facility’s Antimicrobial Copper retrofit. Months in the making, the renovations will make the RMHC facility even safer for its young guests. c21 provided media relations and social media services to this groundbreaking initiative.

Ronald McDonald House of Charleston unveils Antimicrobial Copper products.

The event celebrated the hard work of the participating copper product manufacturers and installers and the successful collaboration between the Copper Development Association, South Carolina Research Authority and the Ronald McDonald House. Attendees kicked off the evening by touring the Ronald McDonald House to check out the new renovations.

Dr. Michael Schmidt, professor and vice chairman of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina, addresses guests.

Dr. Michael Schmidt, professor and vice chairman of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), educated the audience on the clinical trials that ultimately led to this project as well as the groundbreaking implications it has for other healthcare organizations.

For more information about Antimicrobial Copper, visit or @antimicrobialcu.

Marlena Reed

GASP! Corporate Social Responsibility Can Result in Profits?!?

Last week, the world recognized International Corporate Philanthropy Day to raise global awareness of corporate-community partnerships.  I don’t know about you, but I took a moment to pause, reflect upon my personal charitable contributions and pay-it-forward to a stranger on the street.  Ok, I’m lying.  But it did get me thinking about how public relations practitioners can leverage corporate social responsibility (CSR) to sway public opinion, raise awareness and yes, maybe even increase revenue.

Several recent CSR campaigns have caught my eye.  For example, have you ever been to the Southeast Asian nation of Bhutan? Well, neither have I, but a company called Mountain Hazelnut Venture located in Bhutan is combating deforestation by planting 10 million hazelnut trees in the next five years. Coca-Cola Sustainability Report Meanwhile, in c21’s backyard of Atlanta, The Coca-Cola Company compiled all of its inspiring corporate sustainability efforts into an annual report and then placed it online, rather than in print, to conserve resources.

According to Stephen Jordan, founder and executive director of the Business Civic Leadership Center, “In 2000 there might have been a dozen Fortune 500 companies who issued a CSR or sustainability report.  Now almost all of them do.”

Wall Street even produces a “Corporate Social Responsibility Weekly Recap” each Thursday, which details recent philanthropic headlines from publicly-traded companies.

So is CSR just a buzz word?  A profit-sucking goodwill effort?  Or is it a real public relations tactic that actually provides a true return on investment?

In early February, Burson-Marsteller launched the Global Corporate Reputation Index, which identifies the 25 companies with the best corporate reputation, such as Puma, Lego and Ford.  The study found that most companies underinvest in CSR, but the companies who do put forth effort are rewarded by consumers.

In fact, a 2010 study found that “75 percent of consumers believe social responsibility is important, and 55 percent of consumers said they would choose a product that supports a particular cause against similar products that don’t.”

Clearly, CSR programs attract customers and create a loyal fan base, that can result in increased profits.  And if you meet revenue goals this year, perhaps you can take that trip to Bhutan you’ve always dreamed of.

QTS and YearUpMany of c21’s clients have robust CSR programs.  For a great example, watch this FOX 5 story on leading data center provider, QTS, and its partnership with YearUp.  If your company is interested in how it can leverage CSR through public relations, click here to request a custom capabilities packet today!

Anna Ruth Williams– Anna Ruth Williams, senior account manager

What makes a great news story?

One of communications 21®’s core capabilities is media relations.  For more than 20 years, we’ve helped B2B and B2C clients make headlines.  So, it’s not surprising that clients and prospects come to us frequently and ask, “Can you get us in the news?”  The answer is usually, “Of course, as long as you have a compelling story to tell.”  But don’t worry if you’re unsure, c21 team members are experts at uncovering media-rich narratives.  Here are the elements we look for to develop great pitches and press releases:

  • New – Your company should have something current and fresh to share with your target audiences.  Do you have a new product launch, a new spin on an old way of doing something, or a late-breaking development?
  • Timely – Make sure your news is presented to the media in a timely manner.  For example, if your company reduced its carbon footprint this year, holding that information until closer to Earth Day (April 21) will give the story relevancy and timeliness.
  • Local – The rise of hyperlocal news has made this element more important than ever.  Your story should be relevant to your locale; and remember, even national media outlets like to see how a piece of news impacts a particular community.
  • Human Interest – You might have a great piece of news, but you’ll increase your chances of coverage if you can put a human face to the story.
  • Conflict/Controversy – This component often needs some finessing, but if done right, you can position your piece of news as a long-fought victory or a beat-the-odds scenario.
  • Odd – That’s right, an unusual piece of news often makes headlines.  Does your organization do something out-of-the-ordinary or quirky?

This list is a classic, textbook means of garnering coverage that every public relations student learns in college.  However, in today’s increasingly social world, I would add the following component:

  • Shareable – Your news must be worthy enough to be shared on social media platforms.  The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that six in 10 Americans consume news via the Internet; moreover, 44 percent of consumers like to read news that is “shareable.”

So, now that I let you in on some little PR secrets, here’s a video of c21’s recent media relations successes:

Anna Ruth Williams–          Anna Ruth Williams, senior account manager

PRSA|GA Shadow Day comes to c21

On October 6, c21 participated in the Georgia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s Shadow Day by hosting two University of Georgia graduate students. The following are blog entries about their experience in our office and why they love the PR profession.

Small agencies are the place to be

After making our nail-biting trek down 78 from Athens, my classmate, Joy, and I turned onto North Highland Ave into this quiet, little pocket of town (disclaimer: I am not from Atlanta and am continuously amazed at all of the quaint little areas that are nothing like…well 285) with a comfortable mix of new and old, residential and commercial. Now this is the Atlanta I want to experience!

Welcom to c21Over the next couple of hours at communications 21, we met each member of the team and learned not only about their clients, but also how each of their skill sets work together to best serve the clients’ needs. There are no silos here—there is a great support system in place and collaboration is key. We experienced this for ourselves when we sat in on a brainstorming session for a new client pitch.

I think the most important attribute of a work environment is a collaborated team; that is the top goal for my next career venture. I need (yes, need) a culture of creative collaboration.   At c21 collaboration was a reoccurring theme mentioned by each team member.  Most of my past professional experience has been in a corporate environment where I was a team of one. This often left me feeling a little isolated when it came to creative strategy. 

I also realized today that while my experience and formal education are in advertising, I don’t think PR is out of the question. Especially an agency like c21 where there is more going on than the stereotypical press release. Email marketing, social media, analytics, event planning, PPC….wait, sign me up!

So like the headline reads—it appears small agencies are the place to be—that was my takeaway from my PRSSA|GA Shadow Day experience at c21. Thanks for a great experience!

Elizabeth Hagin is a second year graduate student at the University of Georgia and hails from Marion County, Ga.

Gaining a real world PR perspective

As a second year graduate student studying public relations and social media at the University of Georgia’s Grady College, I am happy to have the fantastic opportunity to experience “a day in the life” at c21.  It truly deepened my understanding of the real PR world beyond textbooks and papers.

My undergraduate studies were in telecommunications: video/film production and journalism. After thinking about the different creative processes including films, TV shows commercials, I realized that much of their successes and failures involved more than their quality as a product. It involved many factors including advertising, marketing and absolutely PR. Learning about the effects of PR campaigning is what really made me see the significance of building relationships between consumers and products. What I really like about the PR field is the wide range of responsibilities and duties involved in the job. I feel that PR is fresh and new on a regular basis especially after my visit to c21 today. I would like to pursue my career in agency environment rather than at a corporation because I would like to gain diverse hands-on experience and participation in various accounts.

We ended the day with cupcakes and Q&A!

My adventure today at c21 not only allowed me to have direct conversations with all of the agency’s passionate PR practitioners, but also gave me the opportunity to participate in a brainstorming session for a potential new client! So now, I can easily see the power and importance of PR and the need to pursue it as a career. Although PR can often be a stressful profession, I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem at c21 due to the agency’s friendly and supportive environment. Plus, we had cupcakes!

Joy Li He recently moved to the United States from China, and is a second year graduate student at the University of Georgia.

Signs You Work in Public Relations…Continued.

Last week, c21’ers came across a funny list – 11 Signs You Work in Public Relations. We decided to take it upon ourselves to compile our own list full of 21 quirky little things most of us do on a daily basis. Don’t worry. #WeKeepItClassy. (See #8)

  1. You feel obligated to open and click an email you signed up for even if you know you aren’t interested just to help the brand with the open and click-through rates.
  2. You copy edit road signs and menus.
  3. You threw your hands up in the air and shouted, “FINALLY!” when AP Stylebook changed “e-mail” to “email”.
  4. When you are out and about and you meet someone who works in “media” you instantly start thinking which client you could pitch.
  5. You have a shelf at your desk solely dedicated to snacks.
  6. You consider a thesaurus one of your closest companions.
  7. You sometimes think you might be slightly busier than the President of the United States when you take a look at your weekly calendar in Monday morning staff meetings.
  8. You catch yourself creating clever hashtags whenever possible. And then you feel proud.
  9. You refer to time in 15 minute billing increments, such as – I’ll be there in .25 or I ran for .75 today.
  10. You publicly profess your love of grammar on a regular basis.
  11. You feel obligated to respond to the email and Facebook messages of your favorite brands to tell them why they are out of compliance with best practices, CAN-SPAM or Facebook’s Terms of Use.
  12. You snicker at typos in your client’s competitors’ emails.
  13. You plan events in your head…all night long.
  14. You find it hard to say “no” to any nonprofit…they all seem worthy and in desperate need for PR help.
  15. You always have a bowl of assorted chocolates in the break room.
  16. You have heated arguments with people who “just don’t see the point” of Facebook and/or Twitter.
  17. Before you tell your friends a story about your weekend, you ask yourself “Is this local, prominent, timely or novel? And does it involve conflict, loss of life or a major impact?”
  18. When you plan a vacation, you immediately think about what media market you’re traveling to.
  19. You set up Google alerts for anyone, anything, EVERYTHING that has a connection to your client.
  20. You read/watch the news and imagine how you would have crafted the pitch.
  21. You know your coworkers really REALLY well. After all, you specialize in COMMUNICATION.

–          Alex