Friday, August 26, 2011

How to make PRSA dues fit your budget

As the president-elect of Minnesota PRSA, I talk with many public relations professionals about the benefits of being a PRSA member. There are many important reasons to be a PRSA member, from networking to job leads to learning about new technologies and more.

One topic that has come up this year is a proposed $30 dues increase by PRSA National that will be voted on at the PRSA Leadership Assembly in October. Since PRSA National has not raised its dues since 2002, I think that the time is right for an increase. That being said, here are some ways to make PRSA dues fit your budget:
  1. PRSA financial hardship plan:  If you have been a member of PRSA for a total of three or more years, are unemployed and currently up for renewal of your membership, check this out. The PRSA financial hardship plan (opens Word document) provides a savings of $110, and can only be used once over a member's lifetime.
  2. Associate membership:  There are several different types of PRSA membership available, but the associate membership provides significant savings. If you were a PRSSA member and graduated within the past two years, you can join PRSA National for annual dues of $60. The same price is valid if you are a full-time graduate student working toward a public relations degree.
  3. Quarterly payment option:  PRSA National also offers a quarterly dues payment plan for renewing members. Here is a Word document that includes the application.
  4. Lock-in rate for dues:  If the proposed dues increase passes at Leadership Assembly, PRSA National plans on offering a lock-in rate. This means that if you pay your renewal before Dec. 31, 2011, you can pay at this year's rate; your renewal date then moves back 12 months, at which time the dues would switch to the updated rate.
Many people are unaware of the flexible options that PRSA provides. Hopefully one of these will make PRSA dues fit your budget.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Meet My Keepon, this year's hot holiday toy

It's mesmerizing. Meet My Keepon, originally a $30,000 robot for autism research, and this year's holiday toy hit.

When Hideki Kozima, a Japanese expert in artificial intelligence and robotics at the School of Project Design at Miyagi University, and Dr. Marek Michalowski, a robotics expert collaborated on Keepon (its original name), the result was social media success. Above you can see a video of Keepon dancing to Spoon's "I Turn My Camera On" that has more than 2.6 million plays on YouTube.

This holiday season, Toys "R" Us has the exclusive U.S. rights to sell the robot, which stands about 10 inches tall. While the final price has not been determined yet, it will be less than $50. My Keepon hits Toys "R" Us shelves in late October, and chances are, one will soon be on your shelves at home. (Read more at Bloomberg Businessweek.)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A brief history of portrait photography

Because of my wife's photo restoration business, I am often "exposed" to very old photographs. As I looked at some old portraits recently, I noticed that everyone seemed so formal. I thought, "Did everyone just dress better back in the day?" Perhaps, but a lot of the attire worn was related to what having a portrait photograph meant.

Edward S. Curtis, 1899
According to Robert Leggat, portraits generally were reserved for the wealthy. Before portrait photography, there was portrait painting, which was even more expensive.

Getting a portrait photograph done was a big deal. A person had to dress in appropriate colors, since the process was only sensitive to blue or white. The subject had to sit still for a long time, and devices such as a metal clamp were used to keep people in place.

In the eighteenth century, portrait photography became more accessible thanks to three developments:  the invention of the daguerreotype, the use of miniature portraits and the popularity of profile pictures. The daguerreotype was relatively inexpensive. Miniature portraits also were less expensive. Profile pictures, named after Etienne de Silhouette (1709-1767), involved traces from the shadow cast by a lamp. Studios soon sprang up around the world and portraiture boomed.

Today, of course, digital cameras have essentially made film obsolete. Perhaps we could still dress up formally for portraits, though.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Communicating in the YouTube era

In today's global economy, most corporations have employees scattered in various geographic locations. As a result, video has become an increasingly popular tool for communicating with employees.

Here are some best practices for using video to communicate with employees:
  1. Find the hook. Employees will decide in the first few seconds whether they will watch a video or not. Draw them in with an interesting hook.
  2. Entertain. People love entertainment. A fast-paced and visually interesting video will keep employees' attention to the end.
  3. Keep videos as short as possible. Use only the minimal amount of time necessary to get information across -- in general, the shorter, the better. On average, videos for employees should range from two to five minutes.
  4. Synchronize with the IT department. Know what the capabilities are of your company's computer network and of employees' computers. Employees will not watch even the most exciting video if technical problems make it difficult to view.
  5. Remember that video is a visual medium. Go beyond the talking head. Explore the palette of options that video provides to "show" the story.
  6. Think small (in size). Most employees do not watch videos in full-screen mode on their computer. Use close-ups and ensure that the images are clear even in a small format.
  7. Draw attention to the videos. If possible, place videos on the intranet home page. A video needs to be within two clicks for employees -- buried videos will not get the message across.
  8. Provide alternative ways to get the content. To reach employees who do not have computers, also offer the information in text form, on a DVD, or work with their managers to communicate the information to them.
To read more about communicating with employees via video, read the full article that I wrote for the PR News Employee Communications Guidebook (opens PDF).
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...