New Pros Summer Book Club – Made to Stick SUCCESs Principles

As communicators, we really only have one goal: make our messages stick. And no book better teaches the key components of a sticky message then Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.

Why do some messages stick and others die? That’s a question that has been plaguing PR and marketing professionals since the dawn of both professions. It’s not uncommon to spend hours or days or even months crafting the perfect messaging (in you or your organization’s opinion of course) just to have it fall on deaf ears.

So how do we make messages stick? The authors say that sticky messages follow the six SUCCESs principles: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional and Stories. A message doesn’t need to incorporate each principle to be sticky, however the authors say the more the better.


Simplicity is about prioritizing, finding the core of your message. No need to beat around the bush or clutter up a good message with meaningless buzzwords and gobbledygook. Keep the message compact, simple and to-the-point. Remember, a person’s attention span is fleeting, so don’t distract with unnecessary words and information.


Grab and hold attention. Have you ever been caught off guard by a message? We all have and those are the messages we remember and pass on. Pique people’s curiosity, and by doing so, your message will more likely stick.


Concrete messages make people understand and remember. When something doesn’t add up, that’s when doubt and confusion sets in. Connect the dots for your audience by providing a solid example or relatable context.


Make your message believable. The credibility of the person and/or organization delivering the message is very important. No one will believe a message if they feel a person is not qualified to deliver it. In cases where the deliverer isn’t believable of their own, then the credibility of the facts and details of the message can help you overcome doubt.


People care about people and even more about their own self interests. Tell your audience why it matters to them. By connecting with them on an emotional level, they are more likely to be moved to action. If they don’t care, they won’t listen.


Tell people how to act through stories. Stories simulate real life situations and provide important clues on how someone is expected to act. By telling a story with your message, you are providing a blueprint and context for action.

Now, whenever I write news releases, website copy, quotes, talking points, marketing collateral, etc., I go through the SUCCESs checklist. It may sound involved and time consuming but it’s not. Why bother spending time crafting a message that won’t stick.

There are many great examples of sticky and not so sticky messages in the book. Next week I will highlight some of the great ones and share a few I’ve found on my own.

What messages have stuck with you? Share with us by commenting below!

new pros update…Gearing up for 2011 at the PRSA Leadership Rally by Sarah Siewert

The first weekend of June, more than 90 PRSA Section and Chapter leaders from across the country traveled to New York City for the 2010 PRSA Leadership Rally to learn how to best serve their members in 2011. As Chair-elect, I took my first trip to NYC to represent the New Professionals Section. Here are some of the highlights from the keynote speakers, as well as a look into what is coming for the New Pros Section:

You’re already doing it: What to do when you can’t not communicate presented by David Grossman, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA; president & founder, The Grossman Group

  • Not communicating is communicating. Everything from what you wear, to what you do or don’t say is communicating.
  • People may be born with the natural skills to be a leader and a communicator, but they still need to be shown how to succeed and need to practice. If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not practicing.
  • Many people assume most PR professionals are extroverts. However, extroverts tend to communicate a lot (high quantity) but what they are saying is not always high quality. Introverts communicate less (low quantity) but the quality of what they say is high.
  • The Great Eight Basics
    • Understand your audience
    • Make your messages clear, compelling and relevant (especially during times of change)
    • Plan your communication (only 10-15% of leaders do)
    • Set context and make information relevant (add value to the information by adding the “why”)
    • Listen and check for understanding
    • Select the right vehicle
    • Communicate with truth and integrity
    • Match words with actions
  • Don’t communicate with emotions. Instead, be purposely passionate focusing on what is possible rather than directing emotions at someone.
  • In negotiations, the person who talks the least usually wins. Don’t forget to listen.
  • Remember, nothing is neutral.

Putting the Public Back in Public Relations presented by Deirdre Breakenridge, president and executive director, communications, Mango!

  • PR is not dead; it is being reinvented by the social web.
  • Communication is about good conversations.
  • The C-suite is the consumer suite – consumers are taking control of communication.
  • The hybrid model is the new standard mixing traditional with social media.
  • Communication planning is more difficult now.
  • No one owns social media; it’s like e-mail or the web.
  • Social media is about sociology and how people interact within communities.
  • The new workflow process is:
    • Observe (learn the culture of the communities your audience lives in)
    • Listen (pay attention to conversations about your brand)
    • Identify (key communities based on frequency of said conversations)
    • Internalize (analyze the feedback you have gathered)
    • Route (channel the information internally to the appropriate group i.e. sales department or customer service)

What’s next for the New Pros Section and how can you get involved?

  • We are about to kick-off an effort to connect with local new pros groups across the country. We hope to create a national network of new pros groups to share ideas and resources. Are you a part of a local new pros group or hope to start one? E-mail Crystal at
  • Guest blogging for this blog is open to all members. We are always looking for writers interested in being featured on this national platform. If you are interested in writing for the blog, e-mail Andi at or Brian at
  • Connect with other members on Twitter by using our Section hashtag #npprsa, or by adding your Twitter handle to the e-group discussion here.
  • We want to give members what they are looking for in professional development opportunities. Have a topic idea or know a great speaker? E-mail me at
  • Mentors are a great way to expand your network and gain a valuable perspective from a senior practitioner. We have a mentoring program in the works, so stay tuned!
  • Getting involved with the executive committee allows you to connect with new professionals across the country, and increase your credibility. Interested in helping out this year? E-mail Janet at for potential projects. Want to be on the Executive Board in 2011? E-mail me at

If you have any general suggestions or ideas please feel free to leave them in the comments. I look forward to serving the New Pros members in 2011!

professional development webinar…Build a Thriving Online Brand for Yourself (June 16, 2010)

Just a mere few years ago, a resume was one of the only things a recruiter had access to in order to gain insight into an applicants background, experience and overall personal brand. Well those days are over.

Now a quick Google search can reveal your online footprint – the blog you write, comments you’ve left, your Facebook profile, tweets, pictures you’re tagged in, events you’ve attended, and the lists goes on. It is now more important then ever to be as strategic with you online presence as you are with your resume. Everyone should be asking themselves, “Have I positioned myself well online?”

To help us determine how, when and where to join online conversations, while maintaining our professional credibility, we’ve invited fellow New Pro member Lauren Fernandez to share her secrets to becoming an online influencer during the New Pros webinar “Build a Thriving Online Brand for Yourself,” Wednesday, June 16, 2010 from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. EST.

Lauren Fernandez is an account executive at Moroch | PR, and specializes in social and traditional media relations strategy, working exclusively with the energy sector. In the past, she has worked extensively on behalf of clients across a variety of industries, including health care, motion pictures, technology and higher education. Lauren’s public relations and social media blog “LAF” was awarded “Best Up-and-Coming Blog” at the 2009 PR Reader’s Choice Blog Awards. She is a co-creator and moderator of the popular #u30pro, an ongoing Twitter conversation focusing on professional insight and bridging the generation gap. Connect with Lauren (@CubanaLAF) on Twitter.

For the cost of this event, PRSA members will receive a free New Professionals Section membership (a $20 value). This membership will expire at the time of your PRSA National membership renewal.

For more information or to register, click here.

your PR career… Making a Move by Crystal Olig

It might sound glamorous to move to the big city lights, or conversely romantic to exit urban trials for a small-town life, but there are challenges for PR pros whose networks are lifeblood. Moving means your local personal bucket of journalists, sponsors, donors, and colleagues once again must be filled. But sometimes, life in a new city comes after you – a new opportunity, spouse’s transfer, family responsibilities or a need for a fresh start – and you wind up in a new place, looking for a new job in PR.

For me, my husband’s promotion meant leaving sunny Phoenix for the upbeat Midwestern city of Columbus, Ohio (Following college in Nebraska, moving to Denver, then to Phoenix – all in the first five years of my career). After some months of serious searching, I happily settled into a new job and iteration of my PR career, translating my media skills into the digital world at Oxiem.

Here’s how I did it, and how you can, too.

  1. Get the lay of the land – Chamber packages, local Convention and Visitor’s Bureaus and American Business Journal newspapers’ Books of Lists can be fantastic resources to help you understand the local ecosystem. Who are the biggest employers? What are the leading industries? Finding out will help you ground yourself in the landscape and understand where you might fit.
  2. Lurk online first – One of the best parts about social networking is that you don’t have to be in the same physical location to interact with people. Lurking around the Twitterverse, scouring LinkedIn and friending forgotten college friends on Facebook can help you start virtually growing your networks. The first people I asked to meet up face to face when I moved were people I knew through Twitter.
  3. Start networking early, even before the move – Find out as much as you can as soon as you can, so that when you land in your new spot you can hit the ground running. This could be as early as an exploratory weekend trip or home-finding expedition. Squeeze in a few coffees and lunches with people you’ve interacted with online. They’ll be impressed at your early proactivity.
  4. Join groups and participate in associations and seminars – While most of us attend industry events as our work schedules allow, when you’re new, try to hit as many as humanly possible. Sitting at a table with a stranger automatically connects you, and eliminates the need to reach out online or through a contact. Costs can be prohibitive if you’re not currently working, but don’t be afraid to ask if there is a discounted rate for unemployed pros or if you can pay the student price. Today, it’s not uncommon.
  5. Be the most outgoing version of yourself – For a few months at least, be the most gregarious you possibly can be. You don’t have to be the life of the party, but you do have to be memorable. Play up whatever makes you most interesting – research background, foreign travel, hobbies or talents. People will be interested in you if you demonstrate passion and ability to connect with others.

    My rule is that I can’t say no to any invitation, be it professional or social, for the first year in a new city. Even if you don’t connect personally with the person who invited you, they might have awesome friends or coworkers.

  6. Give back even before you have been given anything – When you’re new, you have to earn people’s trust and time drop by drop. They’ll be more interested in you if you can show you’ve already gotten involved in your new city and are trying to use your skills for the greater good. Volunteering, planning charity events, doing pro bono PR work, or joining a committee can help.
  7. Play the newbie card liberally – The great thing about being new is it’s a free pass to reach out to connections. You don’t need a reason other than trying to learn about local media, agencies or companies. I can’t tell you how many times I discussed what suburbs were best, local Columbus attractions, and the Ohio State Buckeyes vs. my alma mater’s team, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Your fresh eyes and new perspective are always of interest to locals, so they’ll want to hear about your take on their town as well.

New professionals have an advantage in today’s economy because of our mobility. We can pick up and move for a job when others can’t, and most of us are excited to gain life and career experiences in a new place. All it takes is to make that first big, scary step off the ledge. When you land, follow this guide and you might find the fall wasn’t so far after all.

CRYSTAL OLIG is National PRSA New Pros Chair for Chapter Development, Sponsorship & Mentorship, a current Central Ohio PRSA University Liaison committee member, and the former Phoenix PRSA New Pros Committee Chai. She is an account manager with Oxiem Marketing Technology. She can be reached at colig[at] or through @sparklegem on Twitter,, or through her whY genY blog.

professional development teleconference…Master’s Degree vs. APR (April 30, 2010)

As PR professionals find it harder and harder to gain employment in these tough times, many are asking themselves if going back to school for a master’s degree will make them more competitive or would APR accreditation be the better option. To help us answer this question, we’ve invited Laura Reilly, APR, to talk about her passion for learning during this month’s Brown Bag teleconference on April 30.

Laura is currently the director of communications for the Georgia School Boards Association.  Laura is active with the Public Relations Society of America and is involved in the accreditation process with PRSA. In addition, Laura has earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in advertising and a Master of Journalism degree.

We spoke with Laura about some of her education decisions and asked her to share the experiences she’s gained from them.

1. How has obtaining a master’s degree benefited your career?

I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Advertising/Design and a Master of Journalism. The two disciplines have merged nicely during my career and assist greatly in all marketing and communications efforts.

2. How has obtaining APR accreditation benefited your career?

The song, “The Climb,” describes it nicely: It’s not about what’s on the other side, it’s about the climb. Earning and maintaining an APR can be a career-long experience. I learned a tremendous amount about public relations through the process and I continue to benefit greatly through my involvement as an APR panelist and the maintenance process.

3. What lessons have you learned during your career and how did you gain this knowledge?

I’ve learned many, but one that resonates continually is that we have to listen first in order to be heard. That applies to the practice of public relations in that we must do research first before committing to a plan of action. I used to be much more subtle in suggesting this to my bosses, etc., but today I’m very assertive about this belief. Engaging stakeholders in the process can be scary, but it is always worthwhile. I learned this first through graduate school and the APR process, and then by watching the negative consequences when this is not done.

4. Why did you decide to further your education?

As an advertising design specialist, I watched others in the agency business formulate entire communications and marketing strategies. I wanted to be at that level of the decision making process.

5. Why did you decided to get accredited in PR?

It is always important to continue learning. I engaged in the APR process after I had five years experience and it was perfect timing. Going through the process helped me recognize that we’re never through learning from others. I don’t care who you are and how long you’ve been doing this work, if you open yourself up to it you can continually experience new aspects of our profession.

Laura Reilly, APR will be instructing our New Pros of PRSA Brown Bag teleconference, “Master’s Degree vs. APR” on April 30, 2010 at 2pm EST. To register, click here.