Museum of Public Relations Founder Discusses the Evolution of PR

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Shelley Spector has been on a mission to establish and expand the Museum of Public Relations. She founded it in 1997, and recently moved into a space at Baruch College in New York City.

Our own firm has recently celebrated 50 years in the Public Relations industry, and has seen a lot of changes. We spoke with Shelley about the museum, the state of PR, and how she sees the landscape of the industry changing:

 

MEDIA CONNECT: Shelley, what was the motivation behind the Museum’s creation?

Shelley Spector: First, I think that it was an entity that needed to be created. Very few people truly understand the evolution of the field and especially, how the field has helped shaped our history. They might know certain names– like Bernays and Ivy Lee– but beyond that, practitioners today have little knowledge of the why and how modern PR began 100 years ago.

Besides which, unlike most professions, there are very few existing documents or records of the early days of PR, so there is hardly a way for people today to truly get a sense of our beginnings. As Harold Burson said at the museum’s opening, “Public Relations is one of the few professions with no institutional memory of its history.” I know Bernays, too, thought the same. He also felt it was important to preserve the records of that history for future generations. Bernays lived in a Victorian mansion near Harvard. Most of the first floor was lined with bookcases, and these were filled to the brim with very old, very important books, many from turn of the century social scientists. In the study on the second floor hung about 250 original photos and letters, going back to the early 1900s:  Sigmund Freud, Enrico Caruso, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Calvin Coolidge, Eleanor Roosevelt– a pretty impressive collection.

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Author Q&A: Kay Koplovitz Shares Her Expert Tips For Entrepreneurs

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Kay Koplovitz, who founded USA Networks, served as its CEO and was the first woman to serve as the president of a TV network, is the co-founder of Springboard Enterprises, a non-profit dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs raise funds.

They raised 6.6 billion dollars over 15 years for 562 companies, including ZipCar and MinuteClinic. In 1998, President Clinton appointed Kay Koplovitz to chair the bipartisan National Women’s Business Council. She is also an honored member of the Cable Hall of Fame and the Babson Academy of Entrepreneurs.

MEDIA CONNECT is promoting her new book, Been There, Run That. Here is an interview with one of the nation’s leading businesswomen and authorities on entrepreneurship:

 

MEDIA CONNECT: You are among an elite group of what we call Unicorns – people who have built multibillion companies.  Your book highlights the lessons and learnings of entrepreneurs who share similar entrepreneurial DNA. How does Springboard help others?

Kay Koplovitz: Springboard has created an expert network of advisors, investors and influencers who help to guide women entrepreneurs through capital-raising and growth phases of their company all the way to liquidity. This is powerful human capital backing them all the way through liquidity.

 

MC: Been There, Run That, is an actionable collection of advice-filled essays from you and several dozen entrepreneurs. What is its lasting message? 

KK: There are very few technical barriers to starting a business these days, as there were when I started USA Networks but still the most precious resource driving success is human capital.

 

MC: You were a pioneering force in cable television, having been the first woman to found – and serve as president – of a Cable network (USA Network).  What were the drivers that led you to disrupt an entire industry?

KK: I was inspired by Arthur Clark and wrote a Master’s thesis on satellite communications in 1968 and was driven by a vision for opening up the television landscape through satellite connectivity. There were only three broadcast networks then, and I knew expecting to fight my way to the top at those companies was a barrier too high. So I had to build my own. It took seven years of hard labor to get earn my way in, but I always had confidence that I could do it. I had mentors that added much value and I truly believe that if I had had access to the advisors available to the Springboard entrepreneurs today I would have built a 10 billion dollar business.  That’s why we want to share this knowledge network with others.

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#AuthorSay: How a Simple Hashtag Propelled the Biggest Debate in Publishing

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By Anna Patrick, Digital Publicist and Social Media Strategist

 

Self publishing versus traditional publishing: the debate has been raging in the publishing industry for some time, and the embers of each new argument only further kindle the conversation. For most of the life of the publishing industry there was only one route to publication, but digitization forged a new path, and in doing so created a choice.

But how does the existence of an unprecedented choice translate into overall impact when it comes to the landscape of the ever-changing publishing world? All that was missing was the numbers.

Until #AuthorSay.

#AuthorSay is the hashtag created for the “Do You Love Your Publisher?” survey of traditionally published authors, created by UK-based author Harry Bingham and US-based publishing analyst Jane Friedman. The online survey aims hopes to both quantify and qualify a better understanding of authors’ experiences with traditional publishing.

The survey is only 32 questions long, and is aimed only at traditionally published authors to ask them about their experience of the business model. The survey is available worldwide until March 31st, giving authors four weeks in total to weigh in, and the results will be released April 10th in time for the London Author Fair.

The latest report released on the ongoing survey reported that more than 630 traditionally published authors have taken it. Among other results, of those 630 surveyed so far:

  • 80 percent are “happy with their cover design.”
  • 75 percent are “either neutral or horrified at the thought of taking control” by self-publishing.
  • 70 percent are “happy with the copyediting received.”
  • 50 percent “had self-published at least one title.”
  • 45 percent said they would stay with their current agents if offered a chance to move to another.
  • 31 percent: indicated that they would stay with their current publisher if that similar deal were offered by another.

While the results released so far are compelling, I’m interested in how the digitization effect, the seed that led to the catalyst of self-publishing in the first place, plays a role in the conversation. The #AuthorSay hashtag has been buzzing with authors, both self-published and traditional, who are lending their voices and opinions to the discussion.

The hashtag itself has become a microcosm for the effect of digitalization on the publishing industry. Where there once was only a traditional way to be published, there are now various avenues. Where the survey only echoes the opinions of traditionally published authors, authors of all platforms are taking to Twitter to spread their blog posts, predictions and theories.

Out of the top 300 tweets posted using the #AuthorSay hashtag so far, here are the results (courtesy of TweetBinder):

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6 African-American Writers to Read for Black History Month

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By Johanna Dickson, Digital Publicist

 

February is Black History Month, the annual celebration of the contributions of people in the African diaspora. The event started as a week-long observance in 1926 and was founded by historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. It was expanded by the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent University in 1969 and then officially recognized on a federal level by President Gerald Ford in 1976 as part of the Bicentennial. The month is now recognized in Canada and the United Kingdom.

It honors the past and present contributions African-Americans have and continue to make to our daily lives and culture, from Garrett Morgan, who created the first traffic signal and the gas mask, to George Washington Carver, who created peanut butter and 400 other plant products, to Lewis Latimer, who created the carbon filament.

In honor of Black History Month, here are six notable African-American writers and authors to read this February.

 

Toni Morrison is a novelist, editor and professor and the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Morrison’s notable works include The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon and Beloved. She played a pivotal role in bringing black literature to the mainstream, editing the works of Henry Dumas,Toni Cade Bambara, Angela Davis, and Gayl Jones. Morrison also wrote children’s books with her son Slade before his death in 2010.

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Four Ways to Embrace a “ScreamFree” Approach to Your Relationship from a New York Times Best-selling Author

By Brian Feinblum, Chief Marketing Officer

 

I am proud to say that I have worked on and off with Hal Runkel and his Scream Free Institute for the past decade, helping him to successfully launch ScreamFree Parenting into a New York Times best-seller, and then to promote his sequel, ScreamFree Marriage. The Atlanta-based LMFT founded a non-profit organization to help couples, parents, teachers, and leaders to embrace a scream-free world.

Runkel believes that it takes a combination of clarity and commitment to help us stay cool and find clarity, both in our relationships and within ourselves. As a dad of two and a husband of two decades, he always strives to practice what he preaches while being open to learning more: “What my wife says I do best, along these lines, is ask for feedback, and ask for help.”

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This Valentine’s Day Make a Pledge to Try the New “72-hour Rule”

By Brian Feinblum, Chief Marketing Officer

 

​ “To have a successful relationship, both partners must adhere to the 72-hour rule,” says marriage therapist Dr. Margot E. Brown, who is represented to the media by MEDIA CONNECT. “This means that, from this moment forward, they are only allowed to talk about the upsetting behavior or situation if it had happened in the past 72 hours.”

Too often couples who are discussing one topic bring up past situations and make it a part of the conversation, and it inserts itself negatively between the partners.

“Forget the past and your conclusion as to what negative impression you have about how your partner keeps doing that same behavior,” says Dr. Brown in Kickstart Your Relationship Now! Move On or Move Out! “Make today a new and fresh day – free of agendas – just this conversation at this moment. Try it as an experiment. The goal is to focus right on what you are thinking and feeling now. When your partner starts talking to you (and you are both facing each other, not doing something else with your back to each other), tell your partner what you heard, how you feel, and what you need, right now! You have nothing to lose except perhaps a large and looming past that always comes between you every time you sit down and talk.”

If couples can abide by the rule, they can bury the hatchet on the past and permit themselves to only focus on the present. It’s like a statute of limitations for crimes, only this applies to marital complaints. On a romantic day like Valentine’s Day, pledging to keep this rule in mind for the future can help ensure future relationship success.

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Beyond Book Trailers: 4 YouTube Strategies For Authors

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By Anna Patrick, Digital Publicist and Social Media Strategist

 

“Booktubers.” A foreign word to some, but for the savvy author it’s a monicker that can’t be ignored – readers and the media alike have YouTube on their radar, because video hasn’t even come close to killing the star author. Especially when you consider that YouTube is the second largest search engine, right behind Google, and is owned by Google.

Many times we hear from the media that writing a book “isn’t enough” on its own, and that an author’s platform and visibility, both online and offline, are the keys to gaining media coverage.

So creating a YouTube channel is a way to attract more media attention while simultaneously making your own coverage, and to further leverage yourself as an expert on your subject matter through your content. Consider YouTube an extension of your brand beyond your book.

John Green is an excellent example of YouTube done right for authors.

We launched our MEDIA CONNECT YouTube yesterday, which will eventually showcase our authors’ media clips among other things, and it made me think about the ways in which each author can each use their own YouTube channels to further our publicity work together. The following four strategies can help achieve that:

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Why Publishers Should Be Thanking Mark Zuckerberg

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By Cori Cagide, Publicist

The New Year marks the start of new beginnings, “new year, new you” mantras, an influx of gym memberships and an uptick of self-help books being published. New Year’s resolutions are taken pretty seriously by some, who vow to be better, work harder, work less, eat right, get in better shape, etc., with a large majority vowing to do better than last year, and an even larger majority failing to last past the first month of their promise.

Zuckerberg_The End of PowerDon’t fret – it’s not just the common folk of the world who make these resolutions, celebrities are also making promises to themselves on how they’d like to improve themselves or their lifestyles in the New Year.

Take Mark Zuckerberg, for example. For 2015, he is challenging himself to read a new book every two weeks.

He has plenty of encouragement, too – with over 30 million followers and a self-proclaimed “book club” there’s no reason the CEO/Founder of Facebook should have any qualms with completing his challenge. I mean, it’s not like he has to run a company or anything, right?

Zuckerberg announced his plan to do so on January 2nd, encouraging his massive following to join him in a Facebook group aptly named, “A Year of Books” (which has over 67,000 likes to date). According to a piece from Publisher’s Weekly, Zuckerberg says he will be selecting titles with “an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies.”

The first book on his list is The End of Power, by Moises Naim, which was released by Perseus in March of 2013. Although the book is almost two years old, publishers are starting to notice the effects of being a part of Zuckerberg’s book club, with the hardcover skyrocketing to #1 in all of its categories on Amazon.

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Why You Should Make ‘Time to Read’ on January 24

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By Nicole Martineau, Publicist

 

This past July, book lovers across America awoke to the devastating news that the popular book-giving project, World Book Night, will suspend its operations. But thanks to a recent collaboration of top literacy advocates, bookworms have a brand new reading event to look forward to.

Penguin Random House, the National Book Foundation, Mashable and GoodReads have come together to launch National Readathon Day, a “marathon reading session” set to take place on Saturday, January 24 from noon to 4:00pm EST.

During the Readathon, participants will gather and read at homes, libraries, bookstores, schools, and other venues to raise awareness of illiteracy in America and support the efforts of the National Book Foundation.  

According to the U.S. Department of Education, illiteracy is a serious problem in the United States: 14 percent of Americans, or 32 million people, cannot read. The National Book Foundation hopes to combat these alarming statistics through signature programs like BookUp, the National Book Awards, 5 Under 35, the Innovations in Reading Prize and NBA On Campus.

Advocates have been using #TimetoRead, the official hashtag of the Readathon, to spread the word on social media. According to Ad Week, as of January 16,2015, $20,000 has already been raised since the launch of the program.

So if there’s a book you’ve been itching to read, January 24 is the perfect day to start! To see a list of participating venues or to learn more about the event, visit their site here.

MEDIA CONNECT publicists will also be participating, join us on social media using #TimeToRead with your book choice and progress – we will be tweeting from @FPmediaconnect!

 

Related: World Book Night 2014 Recap

 

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Facebook at Work: Will It Work?

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By Dee Donavanik, Publicity Director

 

This week, Facebook announced that it would be launching a new platform that aims to increase office productivity. According to the Wall Street Journal, though in the early stages and currently available to only a number of test companies, Facebook at Work is a “collaboration tool that lets colleagues communicate through a web interface or a mobile app, instead of using email… Facebook says a key feature of the app is Groups, which the company believes could replace email lists that appear never-ending and seem to grow larger with time.”

“We have found that using Facebook as a work tool makes our work day more efficient,” Lars Rasmussen, Facebook’s director of engineering, tells WIRED. “You can get more stuff done with Facebook than any other tool that we know of, and we’d like to make that available to the whole world.”

Though it has been compared to existing programs such as Yammer or Connections, Facebook at Work hopes that the Facebook platform, already familiar to its billion users, will give it an advantage amongst its competitors.

But is this enough to sway users? According to ZDNet: “unlike the social network you already know, however, it won’t have ads nor will it, Facebook promises, track your corporate user data.” However they also point out, users don’t exactly trust Facebook with their privacy anymore given its track record. So if individuals don’t trust Facebook with their personal information, why would organizations trust them with even more delicate and sensitive business data?

There are several other questions that could be raised here. Most of us have smart phones and are usually constantly checking our email anyway, so is another outlet necessary?  Even though the personal and professional networks are separate, is there any chance the information could accidentally overlap, thus revealing private details you didn’t wish to share with our colleagues?

Do we really want Facebook to know all that goes on in both our personal and professional lives? Probably not. But like or dislike, the success of Facebook at Work remains to be seen.

 

Related: Twitter: The Bookstore?

 

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