We’ve got a new gal on our team. Erin Horne is a foodie, a triathlete and she once took a “goldfish shot” – which is exactly what it sounds like and exactly what you don’t want it to be.
Here’s everything you need to know about the newest member of our crew.
Name: Erin Horne
Job Title: Account Manager
Enneagram Number: 3
Where is home for you?
This is a tough question for me now! My hometown is Chicago, but I have lived in five states (Illinois, Indiana for college, California for an internship with The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Georgia, and now Tennessee). I’ve found it takes about 3 months to start calling a new state my “home.”
What are you most looking forward to about living in Nashville?
I’ve become a huge food and drink enthusiast in the past couple of years. I have a list with more than 75 bars and restaurants to try. I’m looking forward to checking out each one!
I’m also a triathlete, so I can’t wait to explore Middle Tennessee through open water swimming, road biking and running.
If you could be a superhero, which one would you be?
Does Buffy the Vampire Slayer count? I’m a bit of a television nerd (one of my majors was Film Studies), so I love a powerful female lead. Buffy did a lot for “women’s films” and females on television—not to mention she had the best friend crew. She was ahead of her time!
What is a crazy story you love to tell at cocktail parties?
I once took a “goldfish shot.” I had to fish for a live goldfish out of a pond, put it in a vodka shot, and then swallow it whole! People love that story at parties, hah.
Here’s another one—while I was working at Ellen, I got to stand in as a band member during Shawn Mendes’ sound check. I was about 10 inches away while he serenaded an empty room and me! This is definitely one of my favorite Ellen memories.
What do you do for fun?
I love to read, especially magazines. I have a huge stack of Entertainment Weekly, Southern Living, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit and more waiting for me to dig in at home. I also love competitive sports. You can usually find me training for some sort of race or playing on a sand volleyball team.
What’s your spirit animal and why?
I’ll go with a dolphin— I love water, I’m social by nature, and I’m always on the move.
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
As much as I love a good chocolate chip cookie, I have to go with pretzels. They’ve been my favorite snack for as long as I can remember.
My current favorite is this lyric from Lucius’s song Dusty Trails:
‘If we skip to our pre-fulfilled dreams, we’d be lost without our own advice.’
From the moment I decided to move to Nashville, Reed Public Relations was on the top of my list of places to work! I’m thrilled to be here.
After the news broke that 50 high-profile individuals allegedly took part in a long-running scheme of bribery and cheating to get their children into prestigious universities, those ensnarled in the legal scandal also face an uphill PR battle. Our President and Founder Lauren Reed sat down with Liza Graves, CEO and writer for StyleBlueprint, to talk about what is likely going on behind the scenes for those involved, including television stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, and how they can begin to repair their public image.
What’s the lesson learned for all of us here (beyond the obvious of not lying and being truthful!)?
Lauren Reed: You should never do anything that you would regret seeing in the headlines! Deeds done in the dark will almost always become illuminated at some point. Truth has a way of prevailing, and everything is so much more intense when you are in the public eye. This whole situation also has me really thinking about personal core values. What is the legacy we want to leave? Do our actions reflect this?
What are they likely being advised to do?
LR: Because it is an ongoing matter, legal is likely insisting they remain silent. If and when they release something, it will be a brief and strategic statement. For now, though, they are staying off social media and not speaking with media even if they truly desire to respond to their fans. In my experience, that is always the most difficult PR aspect of a crisis situation. Even if they want to be transparent and show remorse publicly, they simply can’t say much yet.
Prepare to see more baby pics and engagement announcements on your Facebook News Feed — the social media giant is changing the way it determines what users see first when they log in.
Mark Zuckerberg recently announced a new algorithm that will prioritize updates from family and friends over posts from businesses, brands and media companies. This is great for keeping up with your great aunt’s trip to Belize, but what does it mean for your company’s social media strategy?
(Wait, you do have a social media strategy, right? If not, let’s fix that first.)
Whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a small business, the new algorithm is sure to impact how you reach and interact with consumers. Here’s what to know and how to prepare for the shift to keep audiences engaged:
Micro-influencers are even more important.
As social media as a whole has changed over the past few years, our strategies have adapted to include partnerships with micro-influencers — individuals with between 1,000 to 10,000 followers who aren’t quite celebrities or media contributors but create quality content and have significant pull with their niche audiences. Their followers trust their opinions and have a genuine investment in what they are up to day-to-day. Because many of these micro-influencers are not considered media or individual brands, they will be key to reaching consumers in coming months. The way we select and work with them may change, but they will be essential to a successful social media campaign nonetheless.
Your ad budget may need an increase.
Facebook says the new algorithm will not affect paid posts on the platform , but it remains to be seen how the changes will affect ad pricing and the bidding process. Posts from brands will not be completely shut out, but they will be ranked as lower priority — unless you’re prepared to pay — and we can infer that fewer chances to reach consumers likely means a higher price tag. Being strategic with your social media ad dollars is crucial. Run multiple campaigns, track results, and if at all possible, hire an expert to manage the process for you.
A traditional PR strategy is still necessary.
A well-rounded campaign should incorporate social media, not rely on it completely. If you already have a traditional PR strategy in place, it will lessen the blow from the Facebook drawbacks. Take the first few weeks of 2018 to get your PR plan in order, including a media and social media strategy, crisis communications plan, community partnerships and involvement in any local or industry events. Ensure you are reaching your audiences in multiple ways and that messaging is consistent across all platforms.
Our Vice President Tori Ross recently joined PR pros from around the country in sharing their best trade secrets with Fit Small Business. What stellar advice did she have to help brands extend their reach to their target audiences? Understand how social media influencers work before dishing out big bucks to the first person with a large following. Tori says:
When it comes to working with influencers such as bloggers, celebrities and other social media personalities to promote your small business, sometimes less is more in terms of followers. You can easily spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for a single sponsored post from big-name influencers. However, studies show that as an influencer’s number of followers increases, their audience engagement decreases.
Individuals with between 1,000 to 10,000 followers – known as micro-influencers – actually hold more power in today’s digital world. These micro-influencers tend to have a more engaged, loyal following. They are more likely to be seen as a trustworthy source of information and recommendations than influencers with hundreds of thousands or millions of followers. They are also usually more open to sharing posts in exchange for goods and services rather than monetary exchanges so they can be a cost-effective in that way as well.
A new season brings a new intern here to RPR, and this one’s definitely got gusto.
Meet Megan Heiner. Megan is finishing up her PR degree at Belmont University this fall, but she’s already accrued real-world experience and several awards including Best Series from the Dallas Morning News High School Paper Competition, #1 Graphic Design and #2 Feature Story from Press Women of Texas and Best Daughter Award from her parents – a truly grueling competition when you have two brothers.
She spends her spare time pining over puppies on the Nashville Humane Association and Great Pyrenees Rescue websites, but she’s waiting until after graduation to adopt one because she’s a responsible person. Here are a few more fun facts about Megan.
It’s no secret that here at RPR, we genuinely love non-profit work. Our projects with organizations like Blood:Water, HOPE International, The Phoenix Club of Nashville, REBOOT Combat Recovery and so many others are some of the most rewarding and awe-inspiring projects we have.
These organizations are one of the reasons we launched our Be The Good travel grant program in 2015 and a division dedicated solely to Cause Marketing in 2016. They do more than turn a profit – they enrich and improve the lives of others – and it is an honor for our agency to be able to help them do that.
In 2015 as part of Be The Good, we donated a portion of our company’s profits to build a classroom for incarcerated mothers and their children in El Salvador. The organization behind the project, Christ for the City International, provides English classes for these women and their children, who also live in the prison until the age of five with no place to play or learn. The prison had finally identified a space for a classroom and they just needed money for the materials, which we were happy to provide.
Due to restrictions at the prison, that classroom was never built. Shortly after the donation was made, the local government closed down all visits to the prisons due to issues with gangs. No visitation was allowed by family, friends, churches or anyone else.
But the money didn’t go unused. This year, Christ for the City International took the donation from RPR and built a home for a wonderful family in need on La Calzada Island. The island is community of about 1,600 people that is isolated from the mainland by a maze of waterways through mangroves. Most of the people there live in extreme poverty, only a few have formal employment and no one on the island has ever received a university degree. Many people live in extreme poverty making $1-2 per day and survive off the land.
Our team is ecstatic to see that our hard work and amazing clients have given a family in El Salvador a safe place to stay with the construction of this new cinder block home. Thank you to everyone who has helped us Be The Good in Nashville and around the world.
SNL has always been known as the best place to get hilarious commentary on everything from current affairs to the latest on pop culture and Hollywood’s favorite movers and shakers. It turns out it’s also a great place to pick up some public relations tips from some of the funniest folks in the game. Keep reading for some of the top PR lessons taken from the 42nd season thus far.
Uber is your friend.
Whether it’s dashing off to a meeting, hitting a networking event or attending a new retail opening, the PR hustle is real. This is where Uber, aka your best friend, comes in. Living in a growing, major city like Nashville, the parking struggle is no joke. Becoming friendly with your local neighborhood Uber drivers is just good business sense. Especially when being late just won’t fly. Watch host Aziz Ansari and longtime castmate Bobby Moynihan reenact the importance of an Uber experience. Don’t forget that five-star rating.
Media is the real MVP.
One of the main pillars of PR is media relations. This makes getting to know your local media market essential. From familiarizing yourself with top reporters’ regular beats to becoming friendly with publications’ upcoming editorial calendars, knowing how best to work with journalists in your community separates the pros from the amateurs. Politics aside, PR professionals should learn from Melissa McCarthy’s fan-favorite turn as White House press secretary Sean Spicer and respect the media’s duty to share news. After all, they’re the gateway to the people. I guess that makes us security? See the SNL guest supreme act it out for us, here.
A little polite stalking is necessary.
When it comes to getting the information you need in PR, some sleuthing is key. Whether it’s finding contact information for an unlisted reporter or pulling a press clip from a small community newspaper, research is part of the job. It’s important to have savvy discovery skills so that when a client needs the Facebook of a potential connection or you need to track down that blogger you just met at an after-hours networking event you can rise to the occasion. Watch guest Kristen Stewart and popular SNL staffer Pete Davidson’s coffee shop meet cute with a side of light investigating, here.
Depending on your industry, you can spend anywhere from 40-60 hours a week with colleagues. That may be more time than you spend with your family or friends, so your interactions shouldn’t be limited to work tasks and meaningless small talk. What’s the last non-work related activity you did with your coworkers? And no, hour lunches and post-work happy hours don’t count.
The RPR team recently went to Escape Game Nashville, figured our way out of The Heist – a room with a 27 percent success rate – and strolled out like bosses. Why? Not because it was someone’s birthday or an exclusive activity for just a few coworkers after work. It was a part of our company retreat, a quarterly practice in which we set aside a day to refocus and regroup. Whether it’s a day at the pool that turns into a failed attempt at teaching me how to swim or gathering everyone to watch an epic skit from the account services team about our core values, we always make a point to have fun.
But it doesn’t stop there.
We’ve rock climbed, taken a company spa day, cruised around the city singing karaoke while looking at Christmas lights and a number of other outings that range from mental to physical and everywhere in between. The one thing they have in common – they have absolutely nothing to do with our work.
It’s easy to become so consumed with work that you think of your coworkers as just another part of the job. While your colleagues don’t have to be your BFFs, there should always be mutual respect, trust and support. Take these relationships a step further by incorporating team activities within your company – it will help combat those monotonous days and alleviate stress.
While some of the more daring women of RPR consider swimming with sharks and bungee jumping ideal activities, there are enjoyable outings for every work group, big or small.
Attend a sporting event
Paint and drink art gallery
Go to a festival
Wine and cheese tasting
Tour a historic landmark
Volunteer at a local charity
Activities don’t necessarily have to take place outside of the office to be effective. In October we had a pumpkin painting party complete with Angry Orchards and homemade trail mix to celebrate fall. We’ve also been known to squeeze in an hour of in-office power yoga. We’ve even implemented TEDTalk Tuesday, a casual biweekly discussion of our favorite TEDTalks.
The bottom line is you shouldn’t let your work relationships be characterized by business conversations, status meetings and countless emails. Want to help build a stronger-knit team? Invest some time, money
and creativity in occasional company activities. When done right, your team will appreciate you for it and your company will reap the benefits through improved performance and stronger bonds. At RPR, our close connection has created an even deeper respect for one another and provides reassurance that we have each other’s back.
San Francisco: the city by the Bay. Famous for the oldest Chinatown in North America, clam chowder in bread bowls and, of course, the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s also home to one of the best PR firms in the country: Landis Communications Inc. Because of Reed PR’s membership in the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), I was fortunate enough to visit their agency and see how PR is done on the West coast with a team that is actually 60 percent male – a rarity in our industry. Here’s what I picked up:
Educate them. A PR professional should never assume a client knows what they want or the best way to achieve it – that’s what they’re paying us for, right? But it actually goes further than that. Because we develop launch plans and pitch media and create traditional & digital campaigns every day, it can be easy to forget that clients are experts in their fields, not ours. When they say press release, they may actually mean internal newsletter for their customers. When they agree that they should be positioned as thought leaders, they may not realize that means attaching their names to bylined columns and doing media interviews. It’s no one’s fault, but it’s our job to explain our tactics to clients and set clear goals so we’re all on the same page.
Educate yourself. The Landis Communications team places a huge emphasis on staying “plugged in.” That means staying on top of PR industry trends and their clients’ industry trends. One way they’re doing this is by attaching a sticky note to every magazine that comes in their door with a place for each team member to sign off once they’ve read through it. This goes for everything from San Francisco’s newest high-end glossy mags to the latest edition of AARP. We have a similar set-up at RPR minus the sticky note (we might have to steal that one from you, LCI) and we’ve recently adopted Ted Talk Tuesdays, where each month a team member shares a Ted Talk and we meet to discuss how it can help us grow both inside and outside of PR. It’s an easy way to stay in tune with how industries and our team members are evolving.
Don’t be afraid to push back. At RPR, we’re far from Yes Men (or Women?). But it was nice to hear from another agency that sometimes pushback is necessary to keep a client on track and help them reach their goals. We’re not advocating forcing a program onto a client or pushing them too far out of their comfort zone, but making firm recommendations for when and how an announcement should be made, which events will have the most impact and which tactics we think make the most sense is essential for both the PR team and the client.
Overall, it was an amazing trip that left me with a greater appreciation for the small PR agency environment. Once I got back to Nashville, I learned that Landis was given the ACE Award for America’s #1 #PR agency (small) from Ragan Communications and PR Daily. So congratulations to Landis and thank you for letting me see a small part of what you all do each day!