UGA Professor Wanted for Murders

On Saturday afternoon, April 25, a tragic event happened in Athens, Georgia.  The University of Georgia marketing professor, George M. Zinkhan III, 57,  was accused of shooting and killing three people and wounding three others.  Zinkhan opened fire outside a community theater and then fled the scene.  The victims included his wife Marie Bruce, Ben Teague, and Cole Tanner.  The shooting was said to be a “crime of passion.”  Airports are being monitored in case Zinkhan tries to head to a house he owns in Amsterdam.  Authorities have launched a nationwide search for Zinkhan, but have yet to find him. 

I believe UGA has handled this crisis very well.  They immediately notified students on the campus website with his pictures and information about the shooting.  Public relations played such an important part in this event because it was UGA’s priority to protect their students and also their reputation as much as possible.

Published in: on April 29, 2009 at 2:54 am  Comments (2)  
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Swine Flu

The Swine Flu has put people in Mexico and the United States in a frenzy.  There have been 68 people in Mexico who have already died, and there are eight cases discovered in the United States.  The U.S health experts have found that more than 1,000 people have gotten sick with the swine flu.  The swine flu has been found in California and Texas and is now spreading to other states too.  Schools in Mexico have been closing down, and travel to Mexico has also been put on hold.  I saw on the news that teenagers in the U.S. have gone to Mexico for spring break trips, and several of the people have come down with symptoms on the swine flu. 

This is a major crisis happening right now.  Public relations people will obviously play an important role in informing the public about the swine flu.  The public is concerned with where the swine flu is and how it will affect them.  It is up to PR people to attempt to control the crisis and find ways to help the situation. 

As for me, my family and I were supposed to travel to Cancun, Mexico the weekend after finals.  After hearing about all of the swine flu on the news, I was honestly too scared to go down there.  My Dad found out that the airline we were going to travel with is refunding all tickets to Mexico.  Needless to say, I am extremely relieved.  The point I was also going to make was that, along with the PR people controlling the swine flu in general, PR people for airlines are also having to come up with ways to turn this crisis around for people. 

As of now the swine flu is not considered a pandemic, but according to Dr. Jay Steinberg, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University Hospital, “History predicts that flu pandemics tend to occur once every 20 years or so, so we’re due for one.”

Published in: on April 26, 2009 at 6:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

PR and Twitter

Lately, Twitter has been all over the news!  So many celebrities and people in the business world are using Twitter as a way to promote themselves and network.  Thanks to our PR teacher Barbara Nixon getting our class involved with Twitter, we have gotten the opportunity to “follow” people in the PR field.  It is so interesting to see all of the different types of projects they will tweet about.  I have even found that our classmates will post links with information and tips about public relations, which I have found to be extremely helpful.  Twitter has become full of possibilities for people in public relations.  It has gotten to be such an incredibly big social network, and I’m glad I have been getting experience using it now rather than later.

Published in: on April 21, 2009 at 3:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Miss USA Controversy

In the Miss USA pageant, Miss California, Carrie Prejean struck up quite the controversy with her answer to judge Perez Hilton’s question on legalizing gay marriage.  Prejean replied to his question by saying,

“We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite.  And you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman.  No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.”

Perez Hilton, an openly gay gossip blogger, was less than impressed with her reply.  He even released a video with his thoughts on her response, calling her a “dumb b*tch.” 

Miss California obviously caused an uproar between herself and Perez Hilton.  I believe that it goes to show people how very important it is to keep in mind the way you phrase things when speaking in public.  Though it is her right to have her own opinion, she possibly should have gone about her response in a more  “politically correct” way.

Published in: on April 20, 2009 at 3:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with a PR Professional

For my interview with a PR Professional, I contacted Jeremy Pepper, a PR Generalist, via Twitter for an interview.  I fortunately received the privledge of asking Mr. Pepper some questions about his work in Public Relations.   


MS: What is a typical week like?  (If no week is typical, what
was last week like?)

JP: Each day is pretty similar, but it really changes week to week.
Morning starts where I scan the news – national, local and trade
press. I then scan for coverage of Boingo (I’m the internal PR manager
at the firm).

From there, I look over the list of things to do and start the work.
That can range from media outreach, to PR planning and strategy, to
writing press releases. I write two a month, and the internal and
external process tends to get sticky.

There’s also the typical weekly marketing and PR firm meetings, as
well as one-on-ones with the boss.

MS: What is a specific project you worked on that you are
especially proud of?

JP: It depends on what project.

Early in my career, I was most proud of working on the breast cancer
stamp project, helping it become a reality – the stamp has raised tens
of millions of dollars for breast cancer research; I continued working
with the surgeon, trying to get license plates in various states to
support breast cancer treatments – to help underinsured or uninsured
women get mammograms.

I am also proud of the work I did at Ofoto – took the company from
launch to acquisition. During that process, I worked with a reporter
from the Wall Street Journal on online photography, and from my work
with her, we dominated the article.

While working with Kodak, one of my proudest moments was working
closely with a reporter and being the main focus on a digital
photography and camera story for Communication Arts 40th Annual
Photography edition, a key publication for the professional

At my last job, I was proud of the work in social media that I did
with large Fortune 100’s, including Cisco, Verizon and Clorox and
integrating social media into the traditional campaigns.

MS: How important is writing in your career?

JP: Very important – whether it’s a press release, or a pitch letter, the
newsletter for customers that I write articles about – it’s the key
component of public relations.

Most of outreach is now done via email, and if you cannot write a
concise, smart and targeted pitch – you’re done.

MS: What three tips would you offer someone starting off in Public

JP: * Don’t be afraid of picking up the phone – it’s a key part of the
public relations practice, and the best way to build relationships
* Remember that the client comes first – too often in PR now,
practitioners are pushing themselves first, before the client. Clients
pay the salary, remember to do the work for them
* Hone your writing. Practice your writing. Learn AP style. The most
important thing in PR – besides relationships – is writing ability.

MS: What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?

JP: I read the trades – PR Week, O’Dwyers, Bulldog Reporter. I attend
conferences – BlogHer, BlogWorld Expo, Third Thursday in SF, etc. I
talk to other practitioners that I respect, and share ideas on private
back channels. I read various blogs on the industry.

But, at the end of the day, I’m a geek that likes new technology – and
I’m an early adopter:

MS: What has surprised you most about working in PR?

JP: When I left agency life, went in house and then had my own agency – I
eventually made it back to large agency. What’s surprised me is how
much PR had changed. People were not picking up the phone anymore, but
only using email. People were not networking as much, but only doing
what needed to be done. And, many agencies are afraid to give honest
counsel to clients, but instead just go along with everything the
client wants.

MS: What do you wish you would have known before you started working in PR?

JP: I went into PR totally blind. My background is philosophy, and I wrote
at the college newspaper and worked in student government.

The one thing I wish I knew was how stressful the industry can be.
(WSJ noted it as a top 10 stressful profession back in the mid-90’s).

MS: When your company is hiring for an entry level PR position,
what makes a candidate stand out?

JP: I’m in-house, and likely the team won’t grown beyond me. However, when
I interviewed at the agency, I looked for well balanced students. I
want traditional and social media understanding, someone that reads
the press and understands how to put together a story.

After interviewing Jeremy Pepper, I would say that I am even more interested in PR than before.  I especially enjoyed the projects he shared with me and can only hope to be involved in something so rewarding, such as raising money for breast cancer research.  Once I graduate next May, I am more than thrilled to start interviewing for jobs in PR.  There are so many different opportunities, and I can not wait to be a part of it!

Published in: on April 8, 2009 at 2:07 pm  Comments (1)