Archive for the ‘Public Relations’ Category

It’s Never Too Soon for Protos Prep

February 8, 2010

For many industries, a new year brings awards. The film industry has the Oscars (Academy Awards), SAG awards, Golden Globes. The music industry has the GRAMMYs, American Music Awards, MTV Music Video Awards. It may not be quite as glamorous as the Hollywood scene, but in the Orange County PR industry, we have OCPRSA’s Protos Awards. And at HKA, Protos are our Oscars and GRAMMYs combined.

For us, the new year comes and we’ve got Protos on the brain. What were our accomplishments? Which media hit are we most proud of? Does that campaign fit in category A5 or A2? Should I submit that project under category B3 or B13? Maybe all four? Protos season is BIG around the HKA office. We look forward to and dread it every year. We dread it because of the late nights and long hours it takes to create our various entries (in addition to our client work) and the high stress levels we often hit. Most importantly, though, we look forward to Protos because we get to look back on the previous year, highlight our accomplishments and quite possibly be awarded for it.

At HKA, we are always busy doing what we do for our clients. I’ve noticed that individually we might get caught up in the hustle and bustle and often don’t congratulate ourselves for a job well done.  Not only that, but when we do accomplish something great, we often think of how we could have done a better job. It’s the high achievers in us.

Luckily, Hilary Kaye, our leader and mentor, is amazingly quick to commend us on every job well done, which always puts a smile of happiness, comfort and confidence on our faces. But individually, we are our toughest critic. Fortunately, Protos forces us to review everything we’ve done the year before and realize, wow, that really was an awesome campaign. I’m not saying we should toot our own horns or that we don’t have room for improvement, but it’s such a motivating feeling to know we’re doing our job right and we’re doing it really well. Whether we win the award or not (though we’d rather win!), just having something worthy enough to be in the running means a lot to us.

Now, OCPRSA may not have posted the 2010 Protos Call for Entries yet, but we’re already preparing–we feel it’s never too early in the year to get ready for it.  So far our list of award-winning possibilities has had to be whittled down a bit–we had too many! The late nights and long hours may be inevitable, but we’ll keep our eyes on the walls and shelves of our office where HKA’s multiple Protos Awards are displayed. We know we have what it takes to add to the collection.


Winning Workplaces

February 2, 2010

I’ve been thinking about my clients’ workplaces a lot the past few weeks. Working in the PR industry, I’ve become accustomed to asking clients the question, “tell me about your workplace – what makes your culture special?” This is a standard question in our industry and a theme we often play off of in our work with the media.

So why has this been on my mind lately? Because I recently finalized a nomination for Inc. Magazine’s Winning Workplaces annual award for one of my clients, global freight and logistics experts Primary Freight Services.

Primary Freight's LA Headquarters Team

The application was long, 7 pages to be exact. But the nomination questions were thoughtful and really got me thinking about what makes a workplace unique and special.  The questionnaire included queries about workplace culture, growing talent within the ranks, team building exercises, and exceptions to the rule made for key staff. Primary Freight Services is a company that deserves to win this award, or at the very least be among those recognized, for a variety of reasons.

I’ve spent some time at Primary Freight’s offices, and one thing I’ve witnessed every time I’ve been there is joy in the workplace. The brother/sister team that has built the company from the ground up (John Brown, CEO, and Kathy Hogan, President) has created a very special environment for their staff. For example, this past year John decided to bring some healthy competition into the office and launched a company-wide Wii bowling tournament. Every staff member participated, from creating avatars to wearing wild-colored matching bowling shirts. Team spirit could not be denied.

The winning Avatar - and yes, they were all this good!

This was in large part done to battle the spiraling morale felt due to the crushing blow of the recession. Despite the business’s need to do a small round of layoffs and require all staff to endure a period of furlough days, team spirit runs deep in the veins of Primary Freight Services staff as a result of the on-going team building.

And as I learn more about each of the staff members, I am struck with their amazing stories of personal and workplace growth. Individuals that the company hired on a “hunch” or identified as “diamonds in the rough” are now leading divisions of the organization, and are viewed as leaders in the industry, thanks to the training, mentoring and quality supervision they were given.

Primary Freight Services is a company that really cares about its staff, and shows it through quality training programs, team building exercises and realistic goals, matched with public recognition and praise. I’m impressed by their workplace; it always feels good to walk down their halls.

So, think for a minute about what your workplace is like and what makes it special?  These really are important questions to ask. I think we should all take some time to think about our workplace and culture, make changes to the elements that aren’t working, and celebrate the things that are!

HKA Turns 25 Through the Eyes of Melissa Rivers

September 17, 2009

IMG_2167Interviewing guests on the exclusive red carpet was a dream of mine since I watched my first Oscar pre-show at age 10.  Joan Rivers would ask celebrities questions that we would all think in our head but never dream of asking out loud.  Before the Botox injections and facial remold, Joan was natural and attractive but it was the in-your-face, New Yorker interview style that made her a household name.  I often envisioned myself as her sidekick, using my hairbrush as a microphone, asking questions to the mirror, bantering back and forth with her.  When I graduated from college and entered the Hollywood scene, the red carpet became my obsession.  Working at the Leeza Show catapulted me into a whole new realm where I rubbed elbows with the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis, Patty Labelle and Jennifer Lopez.  As I facilitated their appearances on the show, I envisioned all of the questions Joan and I would ask and how we would comment on their style and appearance while relaying the latest gossip.  Little did I know that my dream would unravel on the length of a blue carpet where I would join a Joan replica in interviewing guests who were coming to honor a phenomenal woman celebrating 25 years in business: my boss, Hilary Kaye.


On August 21st, I was transformed into a bold brunette with long eyelashes and an East Coast accent.  Not only was I Joan’s sidekick, I was her daughter, Melissa Rivers. As I looked at the people lined up to be interviewed I recognized many movers and shakers in Orange County.  As Joan and I pushed the microphone into each of their faces they were beaming, not because they were on camera but because they were excited to recognize Hilary as someone who epitomized humility, character and integrity in the corporate arena.  These traits are a far cry from the qualities found in the heart of Hollywood.  It was then I realized the significance of this milestone and how Hilary had impacted so many lives.  All the glitz and glamour of the paparazzi taking pictures paled in comparison to the snapshots provided by those who wanted to share their heart about who she is and what she meant to them.  Susan Belknapp, assistant editor of OC Metro and OC Family said, “Hilary sets the bar so high that it is hard to rise to it.”  “Without Hilary Kaye where would any of us be?” shared Karen Gifford, president of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO).  Stepping into the role of Melissa Rivers was more profound than I had originally envisioned, and the cast of figures I got to interview alongside Joan surpassed my expectations.  The HKA 25-year anniversary was more than a celebration; it was a reflection of 25 years of hard work, dedication and consistency.  It was through the lens of Melissa Rivers that I caught a true glimpse of the woman who I know as my boss.

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2009

June 12, 2009

EYLogoI had the pleasure of attending the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for Orange County/Desert Cities last night along with Robyn and Hilary. This was my first time attending the event after hearing so much about it, and exceeded my expectations with the gorgeous venue, the great presenters and emcee and of course, the fabulous company. Each of the finalists were recognized with a video that played before the announcement of the winners in each category. This year’s finalists were especially impressive with their growth and success in the face of the current economic recession, and it was moving to see that the “American dream” (in which we can often lose faith because of dismal headlines and depressing stories) remained alive and well. (more…)

Well hello there, Peter Shankman!

April 24, 2009
Our brush with celebrity

Robyn, Peter Shankman, and Mari: HKA's latest brush with celebrity

To anyone in the PR world, Peter Shankman is probably a familiar name, if only for the HARO emails he peppers our inboxes with each day. His Help A Reporter Out email venture, which provides the useful service of bringing an aggregation of reporter queries directly to PR people on a mass scale, is only the very tip of the Shankman iceberg. In fact, as Robyn and I learned yesterday, icebergs actually played a role in making Peter Shankman who he is today.

“It Sank. Get Over It.”

To those of us who were blubbering, emotional preteen girls at the time the epic film Titanic came out, this phrase might not have resonated so well. But to the rest of the world, especially the segment who was underwhelmed with the Titanic mania that engulfed the planet circa 1997, “It Sank, Get Over It” probably reflected their sentiments exactly. As a young guy living in New York City, Peter took his rent money and used it to print up 500 T-shirts emblazoned with this slogan. He sold out  in six hours. And as if that wasn’t great enough, after contacting a reporter from USA Today about his idea and building a super-primitive sales website, he sold over 5,000 of the shirts at $15 each, making $100,000 which he used to start his own PR firm, The Geek Factory.

Why didn’t I think of that.

What makes Peter Shankman such a wunderkind in the PR world today is precisely this, and a collection of experiences much like this, that mix innovative thinking with refreshing simplicity in a way that is nothing short of brilliant. His free HARO email service, which is subsidized by advertising and is said to be worth about $1 million per year in revenues, is the perfect illustration.

This is why Robyn and I, and hundreds of other PR professionals, gathered at the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach yesterday to hear Peter Shankman’s insights into social media, which he quickly characterized a “way to screw up quicker and to  much larger scale.” In the midst of the fascinating stories and observations of this self-described ADD-boy, several particularly interesting insights emerged.

1) Transparency is key. Google has changed the tradition of a lack of transparency in big business with its ability to make fact-finding an everyman operation, and social media only compounds this. If you screw up, admit it and move on. And DON’T be like Motrin, who shockingly took 18 hours to respond to the flurry of negative Twitter activity it sparked by an ad that offended the massive online community of babywearing moms.

2) Listen to your audience. If you’re not distributing the information in the way they want to receive it, then they are not going to come out to you to get it. And don’t Tweet another Tweet until you’ve analyzed if what you’re saying is relevant to your audience. The job of the PR person has changed; it’s now our job to get other people to do our PR work for us. By utilizing social media in the proper way, we are convincing people that what we have is worth them talking about, and that is what creates the kind of buzz that we are constantly trying to achieve.

3) Lastly, brevity, something I have outright failed at in this particular post (too much good info to share!), is an important piece of communication today. The MTV generation has an attention span of about three minutes– about the time it took to watch a music video, back when music videos and MTV actually had something to do with each other. But today’s generation, and don’t laugh, has an attention span of about 140 characters, literally. That’s right, the 2.7 seconds it takes to read one 140-character Tweet on Twitter is about all we have to give as we filter the more than 16,000 hits of information that compete for our time today. For us PR-types, this means that in writing a pitch or a press release, or in trying to be persuasive over the phone, we’ve got about 2.7 second to hook the other party’s attention, or we’re done.

Although Robyn and I got our exercise for the day chasing Shankman down for this photo, it was definitely the cherry on top of the sundae that was the privilege of being there and hearing him speak.  Creative thinkers like him tend to inspire creativity in others, and while one of us HKAers may or may not have the next flash of genius for a T-shirt slogan, we will definitely be able to make better use of the online and social media resources that are at our disposal.