A Conversation with Molly Given of Metro Philadelphia by Ellie McGarvey

One of the biggest challenges a publicist can face is finding the right person to tell their client’s story. As outstanding as a pitch may be, it’s not doing anyone any good if it’s sent to the wrong contact. For that reason, we at FSPR are always eager to pick editors’ brains to see what news, trends, or events are catching their attention. Molly Given, Features Editor at Metro Philadelphia, met up with us to talk about seeing her name in print for the first time, her process when deciding which Philly events to cover, and what she looks for in a pitch.  

 

Did you always want to be a journalist? How did you get started in the field?

I did actually always want to be a journalist, since I was a kid I had journals filled with writing and stories. When I got to college I knew I wanted to study it, and when I got out of college, it’s not the easiest field to get a job in right away, so I just freelanced for a lot of different places. A lot of times you don’t really get paid for that, but you get a lot of experience. So then, after eventually building up my résumé, I landed a job at a website. I always wanted to work for a paper though, so I kept that in mind and then I got the job with Metro Philly. The first time I saw my name in print, it was kind of a dream come true. 

 

When it comes to Philly news and events, there’s always so much going on – how do you decide what you want to cover?

I always try to have a variety. Food is a big industry in Philly, so I’ll frequently cover that. There’s a good arts and culture scene, good museums, so I’ll always try to include that. And also…people want to drink. People want to go out! So really, I just try to pick and choose a wide variety and think about what I would be most interested in – if there’s a unique twist on an event, that’s always a plus as well.

 

What’s your favorite neighborhood in Philly?

That’s a good question! I love the Old City area, maybe because I’m a big history buff, especially within that time period. It’s so fun to go down there and feel like you’re stepping back in time, seeing all the history. It’s gorgeous there too, it’s by the water, and there’s a lot to offer in that neighborhood. One of my favorite spots for sure.

 

What advice would you give to publicists who want to pitch you?

I would say, have a press release ready, and quotes are always great - from someone who is involved in the event or had a part in making the event happen. Pictures are always great as well. And just put it in your own words, like how you would tell it to a friend. Whatever you find interesting about the event, someone else probably will as well. 

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Skills for Your First Job in PR by Ellie McGarvey

I was disappointed to not have a job upon graduation. After a few months of frustrating job interviews, advertised as PR – but really sales jobs – I was aggravated and felt like I would have to settle for a job I didn’t want. When I finally interviewed at Food Shelter I thought, “Whoa, this is an ACTUAL PR job and I want it. I hope they hire me!” Now, six months after joining FSPR as an Assistant Account Executive, I have learned some crucial lessons on what skills are essential to succeeding in PR. 

 

Passion

First, and most importantly, be excited about what you do. Of course, learning the ins and outs of a new job comes with many frustrating moments. It may take longer to master some skills than others. Passion helps to push yourself forward and brings you to a better place in your work, both in quality and upward mobility for future opportunities. It is that moment of pure pride when you land a media placement or complete a difficult project. Without passion, it will be difficult to excel in any job, so find something you truly enjoy. 

 

Attention to Detail 

A critical lesson I’ve learned is that PR requires a great deal of attention to detail. Always double-check your spelling and grammar, no matter what sized task you are working on. Small typos can make a big difference; carve out time for multiple proofreading sessions. When you feel like you are in a time crunch, check in with supervisors to let them know. They likely will prefer that you take the time to check for mistakes rather than send in work that is sloppily done.

 

Time Management 

Juggling projects and clients is the reality in PR. Prioritization is fundamental, and with that comes the need for time management skills. I often work off of two to-do lists – one handwritten and the other online - that way I have visuals at all times of what needs to be done and when. Time management also means limiting procrastination. If you are wasting time, it usually means you do not know how to or are afraid to tackle the next big task – so ask some questions and get moving. Budgeting time to fit in last-minute tasks is helpful in being successful with all assignments.  

 

Creativity 

It is important to think of new, creative ways to capture an audience – finding ways to think outside the box while also keeping up with industry trends. Speaking up and sharing ideas is all a part of the creative process. When you can bounce ideas back and forth with a co-worker, it is easier to develop a successful idea rather than struggling to come up with something by yourself.  Collaboration and teamwork help influence creativity and expand a simple idea into an effective one. 

 

The Fastest Four Minutes of Your Life: Tips for Broadcast Appearances by Mackenzie Maloney

So you’re gonna be on the big screen! Securing that first broadcast appearance is always exciting, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed as you get closer to the big day. Whether you have a professional PR agency, are working with a freelancer or secured the segment yourself, it’s important to take time to prepare for the unexpected. If you go in feeling confident and ready for anything, you have a much better chance of succeeding than Mr. Wacky.

Fox 29’s Mike Jerrick catches up with Rich Friedrich, Executive Chef of P.J. Whelihan’s to discuss the best tailgate food found at P.J. Whelihan’s

Fox 29’s Mike Jerrick catches up with Rich Friedrich, Executive Chef of P.J. Whelihan’s to discuss the best tailgate food found at P.J. Whelihan’s

Below are a few basic tips.

Before You Arrive

Make sure you know if the segment is in-studio or outside. Location may determine your entire approach, formal vs fun and casual. Either way, dress appropriately to make sure your attire is true to your brand. Stay away from checks or busy patterns, which show up oddly on camera. Brewers and Chefs may opt for logoed apparel while restaurateurs or real estate developers choose a business casual look instead.

Find out who will be interviewing you and do a little research. PR firms typically provide background on recent segments as well as competitors that were featured but doing your own digging may provide an opportunity to discover a common interest or point of conversation to create an easy on-air rapport. Figure out if you have any shared contacts on social media. 

 

Know Why You Are There

Understand the goal of the segment. Are you promoting a new product, opening a new restaurant, is this a trend piece or national holiday (real or made up food day)?  Are you there not only as a representative of your company but the industry as a whole? If so, you may need to update yourself on critical issues such as tax credits or upcoming legislation that stand to affect your industry.

 

Message Exercise

Now that you have your goal, focus on the message. At Food Shelter, we provide individualized worksheets that prep clients for appearances, working through messaging, identifying any potential stumbling, and highlighting any props or materials necessary to make the segment come alive.

 

As the founder or spokesperson, you know your brand better than anyone, but the challenge can be expressing benefits or ideas in a precise, easily digestible manner. It takes practice (often known in the biz as “message exercises”) to develop a few quick lines that come naturally to describe your company, brand or big idea. You can say something a thousand times in your head but until you hear it out loud, you may not identify critical mistakes, such as forgetting to include the name of your brewery or company.

To reinforce the point above, at Food Shelter, we tell our clients to say their company name at every opportunity.  See what we did there? 

Lastly, don’t forget to smile and check your posture.

And Just Like That - It’s Over

Segments are exciting and fast paced. Unfortunately, basic manners can get lost along the way. This opportunity should be treated like any other high-level meeting. Be gracious no matter what. Don’t forget to thank the host. If you completed a food or product segment, make sure you offer something to the crew. It’s always a good idea to leave product in the green room, either for interns and newsroom staff or even the next set of guests.   

 

Your unofficial “gritty” guide to the holiday season in Philadelphia by Mackenzie Maloney

Philadelphia loves its Christmas traditions – from the ice rink in Dilworth Park to the classic Macy’s light show, some things never change (not that that’s a bad thing!). If you’re a longtime Philadelphian, though, you might be looking for some alternatives to the typical holiday happenings. The FSPR team dug up some fun, unique, and dare we say, “Gritty” holiday activities that are slightly off the beaten path.

Die Hard Christmastime Reading at Tattooed Mom, December 10

Welcome to the party, pal. It’s well established at this point that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, and Tattooed Mom has put together an excellent cast of Philly actors to do a special Christmastime reading of the beloved action film. The event is free, but all donations and proceeds will benefit Theatre Contra's 2018/19 season. First come, first serve!

https://www.tattooedmomphilly.com/event/die-hard-special-christmas-time-reading/  

Art Star Holiday Market at Cherry Street Pier, December 15-16

If you’ve been meaning to check out the recently opened Cherry Street Pier, this is the perfect excuse! The Art Star Holiday Market, open for one weekend only, will feature 30 curated vendors, all selling handmade goods that make for perfectly unique gifts. Find something for everyone on your shopping list while supporting local artists and vendors.  The event will also include Photos with Santa, a gift-wrapping station, and make and takes!

http://www.delawareriverwaterfront.com/events/art-start-holiday-market

 

Yuletide Cheers & Beers, every Thursday November 15 - December 27

This tour, organized by Historic Philadelphia, will transport you back in time to the winter of 1777, when the British were occupying Philadelphia. A Red Coat soldier provides a tour of four cozy pubs, with a unique perspective on the American Revolution at every stop.

http://historicphiladelphia.org/tipplers-tour/

 

Miracle on South 13th Street, November 28 - January 1

For nearly 20 years, residents of the 1600 block of South 13th have welcomed visitors to take in their truly spectacular holiday lights display. Each household has a unique style that inspires the decorations and adornments that they choose. You can drive down to South 13th (this block is located between Tasker and Morris Streets), but we recommend visiting on foot for the full effect. 

 https://www.facebook.com/themiracleonsouth13thstreet/

 

 

A Conversation with Camille Mola of Positive Publicity Blog by Mackenzie Maloney

At Food Shelter PR, we’re lucky enough to work with a number of creative and talented influencers, whose social media platforms reach thousands of followers throughout the Philadelphia area and beyond. We sat down with Camille Mola (@camille_mola), a Philadelphia-based blogger behind Positive Publicity Blog, a lifestyle blog that strives to inspire others to create, go after what they want in life, achieve their goals, and, of course, be positive. In addition to blogging, Camille works full-time as the PR and Communications Manager at an Opera Training Academy in Philadelphia, a position which combines her two biggest passions, Singing and PR. She is a proud Penn State alum, where she studied public relations. Below, Camille gives us an inside look into the creative life of an influencer!

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●      How did you get your start in the influencer realm?

○      I actually began blogging initially to record memories while studying abroad in college. Fun fact, Positive Publicity was first called An American Girl in London (a very clever name!). And as a PR major in college, blogging was a frequent topic in many of my classes. After graduation, I really got the blogging bug; I began learning as much as I could, started joining online communities and began meeting and collaborating with other bloggers. Receiving that first email in your inbox of a brand wanting to work with you is the most amazing feeling! Seeing the growth of this blog has made me want to work that much harder. 

●       What do you think is the biggest draw to Philadelphia?

○      Where to begin? I truly believe that Philadelphia has everything you could want in a city. From dining and sports, to history and culture, Philadelphia has it all. Being a Philadelphia-area native (shout out to Delco), I might just be a little bit biased. After speaking with people who have moved to Philadelphia, I noticed a common theme about their favorite thing about the city. It’s that Philly has a small city feel while being in a major city. It has a nice balance of having everything you could want in a large city, but not having the overwhelming hustle you may find in other cities. I have a series on my blog called Philly Finds, which focuses on things around Philadelphia I’ve recently checked out or am looking forward to. Each time I work on one of those posts, I’m reminded just how amazing this city is.

●      What advice do you have for bloggers who are trying to get their start?

○      This is a question I’ve actually been getting a lot recently! My advice is always to be your authentic self, collaborate and engage with others, and don’t compare yourself to what others are doing. Don’t get discouraged if things aren’t moving at a pace you’d like them to be; keep working hard and that hard work will pay off. And if you’re unsure about how to start your first blog post, begin by writing what you know. Pick that topic you know you’re an expert in and just write that first post. Everyone is knowledgeable in a certain topic; be excited about sharing that knowledge!

●      What’s your favorite neighborhood in Philadelphia, and why?

○      So many to choose from; they’re all so unique! But I love South Philly so much, specifically the East Passyunk area. It’s a food paradise! In the summer, it’s filled with people dining on the sidewalks, and even in the winter the streets are filled with people admiring the holiday lights. It has that old-school Italian Philly charm, which reminds me of home and my family.

●      What advice do you have for brands who are trying to work with you?

○      Whenever I work with a brand, I strive to be as communicative as possible. I love working with brands that are clear in what they’re looking for, can provide a unique and interesting experience that my readers will enjoy, and communicate well – these are things I also aim to do when working with bloggers in my full-time job. A brand collaboration is that much more successful when everyone is on the same page. Food Shelter PR is the best at this ;)

An Homage to International Women's Day by Lorraine Gimblett

Let’s take this time to celebrate the ways we observe International Women’s Day (IWD) - not just on its yearly global holiday, but every damn day.

At Food Shelter, we pride ourselves on being a women-owned business which employs a team of talented ladies. We’re a group that celebrates each other’s achievements and uniqueness. Regardless of age, experience or job title, we mentor each other and share  knowledge and experiences, recognizing we have more in common than differences.

Over the past year, women’s rights dominated the news with reports of misconduct from high level execs and entertainers, causing a ripple effect of women speaking up about their experiences and gaining the courage to end their silence.

While we could spend days talking about pay gaps and harassment, we’d rather focus on our future and how as a group we are evolving now, more than ever, and celebrate the theme of IWD 2018: #PressforProgress.

Here’s our short list - a brief nod to the growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support surrounding gender parity and sexism.  We’d like to celebrate them for well, what should be the obvious reasons.

·      Meryl Streep

·      Michelle Obama

·      Catt Sadler

·      Chrissy Teigen

·      Hillary Clinton

·      Savannah Guthrie

·      Geena Davis

·      Alicia Keys

·      Issa Rae

·      Sheryl Sandberg

·      Melinda Gates

·      Ilana Glazer

·      Abbi Jacobson

·      Serena Williams

·      Ashley Graham

·      Margaret Booth *

·      Roxanne Donovan *

Cheers to strong (and might we say, badass) women: may we know them, may we be them and may we raise them.

This year’s International Women’s Day will be on Thursday, March 8. We hope to see you out there celebrating.

**paved the way and were instrumental to the co-founders of FSPR for which they are both eternally grateful

Interviewing Clients: A Necessary Art by Lorraine Gimblett

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Interviewing potential clients should go beyond the obvious questions of their goals, business objectives and budget – and determine whether the work and the relationship are a good fit for the present and in years to come.

You wouldn’t go into a blind date without looking up your date on Facebook – seeing if you have any mutual contacts or interests – and the same goes for your working relationships. Check out a potential client’s website, blog and social media pages to get a feel for the company vibe to see if you think the work and personalities will be complementary. Is it a good feeling you’re getting? Is their photography hip and on point? Are their photos taken in bad lighting or with a shaky hand?

We try to get to know the people who we may take on as clients so we can build trust, bond and understand their personalities and communications styles, because harmony goes a long way in an agency-client relationship. Over the last 12 years Food Shelter has interviewed many potential clients – and while they were getting to know us just as much as we were getting to know them – there’s always the determination of whether or not we would move forward. And while we can’t give you the skills to read people, make connections, or charm someone with your wit or experience, we can give a few questions that should be asked to gauge what the scope of work, and feel, of your relationship might be.

Here are four essential questions to ask when interviewing clients.

1.     What do you want your organization to look like in one year, two year or five years?

2.     How are decisions made and who makes them?

3.     What do you like about what other firms do, and what do you wish they would do differently?

4.     What do you and don’t you need?

All of these questions help get to the core of their goals with PR and to help the agency identify and solve for their pain points. They’re necessary questions in identifying how to help grow their brand and utilize the tools needed to get results.

But often, client relationships end up spanning years and blossom into real friendships. It’s good to know who you’re working with, their expectations, and communication style before you sign the contract. We choose our clients just as much as they choose us. We’re proud be the agency of record for the P.J.W. Restaurant Group over the last 8 years. When we were first introduced by a mutual industry friend, the restaurant group had no marketing person at all. And it was the level of trust that our referral came with that helped us make recommendations about internal operations and play an exciting role in the growth of their company. Plus, we also like to text each other podcast recommendations, so we’ve got a good balance of communication between work and fun, and look forward to the growth of the P.J.W. Restaurant Group to come.

Don’t be afraid to ask more personal questions and get a feel for the individuals you’ll be working with. Experience has shown us that combining facts and fun lead to the most fruitful working relationships.

We’re happy to represent a group of clients who we’re proud to not only do good, results driven work for – but share a few laughs and drinks with from time to time, too.

Quit Labeling: What ‘Titles’ Really Mean in a PR firm … According to Someone Else* by Lorraine Gimblett

You’ve been hired as Account Executive at a PR Firm. The job description explained the responsibilities include pitch creation, execution of daily client goals, content creation and overseeing campaigns.

Day 1: Printer is jammed and as AE, there is the expectation to fix it. 2 hours and one toner-doused ruined outfit later, ‘Advanced Computer Technician’ can be added to the skills section on the resume.

Day 2: Who is going to get in a cab and messenger highly perishable caviar packages to every morning show in NYC? Voila! Add ‘Highly-seasoned navigator’ to that growing list of skills.

What’s in a job title, anyway? It can be argued, most titles have little to no meaning or confined to one descriptor. In a smaller, boutique firm, everyone’s roles flow into the other and professionals are expected to wear many hats regardless of ‘titles’. In a larger firm, titles only serve as a daily reminder of rank with little to no regard for actual skill.

We wanted to share the most recent industry titles, descriptions and what their job entails versus what we secretly know they actually do. It begs the question: In a world where Highway Environmental Hygienist means Road Sweeper, have job titles have lost their meaning and are they going the way of the corner office, fax machines and dinosaurs?

President/Founder/CEO- Provides leadership to externally position the company at the industry forefront. Develops strategic plans to advance the company's mission and objectives and to promote revenue, profitability and growth as an organization. Oversee company operations to insure production efficiency, quality, service, and cost-effective management of resources.

Reality - Face of the company and is responsible for everything that ever happens (or doesn’t) ever. Shoulders and head are always VERY heavy – and not from a golf swing or too much sun.

VP -  Manages overall administration of PR programs for assigned clients, including staff administration, PR planning, financial management, budgeting, professional systems development, staff training and professional development.

Reality: The right hand man everyone needs time from and/or goes to.  A very important agency figurehead and function. Usually the President’s scapegoat whenever possible. Is able to shake blame off very quickly and passes bucks so fast it makes they eyes hurt.

Senior Account Executive - Manages multiple accounts with multiple elements and multiple teams. Focuses more on day to day client work and reporting those results to upper management. Rarely asked to be involved in any new business or macro-level initiatives.

Reality: Cleans up everything people below them didn’t get right. Traffics the ever-shifting unexpected snafus account work brings, gets barraged daily by supervisors, is apprised of the details the higher ups are never aware of and brings meaning to the word middle inmiddle management. Biceps are huge due to the heavy lifting; feet are fast from all the tap dancing; and the large hands prove useful for the juggling.

Account Executive- Responsible for the content output and promotional initiatives within an organization. Promotes and enhances profiles of clients through blogs, press releases and  pitches. Creates all status/clip reports and agendas.  

Reality: One supposed step closer to not having to deal with intense media outreach every single day.  One supposed title away to not having clip report nightmares every single night. Ears are usually very sensitive from all the barking and yelling – both from peers and press.

Assistant Account Executive- Responsible for performing research, developing media lists, handling schedules for higher ups, edits releases before it supposedly goes back up the change and then to the client. Works side by side with account executives to enhance client image, but rarely has the opportunity for face time with them much less give opinions or ideas.

Reality: Being handed over the less creative duties that have to get done. Lots of clip and media reports, frustrating back and forth confirmation mails about meeting dates, gift bag stuffing and RSVP event calls. The first of many checks to write in the world of paying your dues.  The first rung in the very tall ladder.

Intern-  Responsible for juggling multiple projects simultaneously, such as planning marketing events, writing press releases, and creating media kits and digital campaigns. Interns should also spend time with upper management learning about clients and developing skills to pave the way for either their future at the agency or at the very least credit at respective colleges.

Reality: Spending half the day trying to decipher instructions from the Senior Account Executive without asking too many questions, trying to track down that one media contact from that one blog, who wrote one article that one time in 2005. Oh, and maintaining and completing all the work that the aforementioned, have not (or don’t want) to complete.

 

Do your opinions match ours? We'd love to hear from you. We are always looking for talented rockstars to join our team! Send us your resume and tell us why you want to join our team.

[email protected]

 

* At FSPR there are no titles on business cards. We believe titles are about as useful as a bicycle is to a fish and not because we are small. It’s because we think it builds a more rounded professional and every voice or idea, no matter how large or small, counts. The Co-founders still pitch media, what would be considered an Assistant AE attends new business meetings and interns have an all access pass to see the back page of decks.