Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Give Your Blank" Urges New Yorkers to Volunteer

The city of New York is encouraging its citizens to floss their volunteer chops with the "Give Your Blank" campaign. According to AdAge, the idea is that everyone has something to give, from time to skills. In an awesome display of goodwill, about $5.4 million in ad space has been donated to the campaign. Awesome!

Check out one of the spots below...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

"So What Exactly Does a PR Intern Do?"

For the past two months, I’ve had the opportunity to work as an intern in the Chicago office of a leading worldwide public relations firm. For some, the idea of being a 20-something intern is at the top of their “No Thanks” list, but I was all over the idea. For starters, I’ve spent months trying to steer my passion for communication, brands, and conversations into a public relations career but I knew that there were some fundamental skills that I needed to build. So, here I am...Karyn Brianne, Intern.

Many of my friends have asked me, “What does an intern do?” While it can vary from day-to-day, I thought I’d give you a peek into a typical day.

8:23a - Stumble off the bus and throw today’s RedEye in my bag.
8:28 - Grab a cinnamon raisin bagel from Corner Bakery.
8:30 - Walk into the “pit” and greet the four other interns. There are four intern pits in the office containing 5-6 people at a time. Great experience because there’s always somebody to talk to or ask a question.
8:35 - Grab coffee while PC loads up.
8:40 - Open Outlook and get ready to scroll through the 20+ Google alert emails related to my Clients.
8:50 - Remember that I need to send my daily update to the my team members and the Intern Coordinators. This helps them monitor my daily workload and to chart my overall progress in the program.
8:54 - Start monitoring for my accounts and preparing the daily reports for my teams. I currently monitor for three accounts: a consumer health/wellness product, a high-end appliance company, and an education institution. Every account has a different set of monitoring terms and that keeps me coming across some great stories. I use a combination of Google News, Yahoo! News, Factiva, and Radian 6 (social media monitoring). This spread makes sure that we have a good idea of what conversations are happening around our brand/the industry.
11:10 - Send my last monitoring report. Each account has a different setup for reports. My consumer health brand is probably the most demanding of all of my reports. Each media hit requires a detailed summary, and because we’re in the health arena, that can mean summarizing clinical studies and more. Luckily, my pharma background served as good prep. What’s also pretty cool is that my summaries (plus or minus a few changes) are gathered in a report to send to the Client each week. He sees my words. Pretty cool.
11:15 - Take a look at my emails and my to-do list to determine the next task. Although interns often receive requests to run errands to complete tasks, monitoring is our first morning priority, unless otherwise noted or OK’d by someone.
12:15 - Pry myself away from my creating a media list to run over to the hospital cafeteria and grab some lunch. I often dream about meeting a cute doctor over there. So far, no luck.
12:30 - Return to my desk and research the top radio stations in a market. Cision gave me a listing for every radio station in Charlotte, but every station won’t be an ideal way to reach our target audience.
1:30 - Add today’s media hits into a massive spreadsheet also known as “The Tracker.” This document captures every hit, impression numbers, the estimated value of the coverage, and how the hit measured up to a few key criteria. In addition to the updating the tracker, we also create “mock-ups” of each hit, so there’s record on file in case we (or a Client) needs to refer to a specific mention.
2:00 - Weekly meeting with the team members for one of my accounts. They discuss upcoming or current programs, go through tasks and responsibilities, and present any questions. Sometimes, I come out of these meetings with specific things to do (in addition to my regular duties), sometimes not. It depends on the week.
2:30 - Return back to my desk for the afternoon haul.
2:35 - Start feeling sluggish. Get up to grab a chocolate milk from the fridge. I am not a huge milk drinker but having chocolate milk at my fingertips has done wonders for my calcium levels, I hope.
2:40 - Research mommy bloggers for outreach. Due to the nature of many of our brands, our firm has great relationships with mom bloggers. Don’t quote me, but they’re like gold.
3:50 - Decide that I will need Pandora to help me finish out the rest of this day. Favorite stations: Erykah Badu, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Jay-Z.
4:15 - Receive an email asking if I can run an errand and grab 50 white, glossy folders for Staples. Our team needs these folders to stuff press kits for a media event. Errands are pretty common. Whether you’re asked to grab 18 boxes of cookies, or pick up stickers from a vendor, every task is important and there is a reason behind it. Plus, it gives us interns a chance to get some fresh air and hand the snooty cashier a corporate AMEX (even if it isn’t ours).
4:45 - Return to the office and see what emails I missed. My Account Exec needs something scanned, my Senior AE would like me to look through some magazines for a Client mention, and a fellow intern wonders if anyone has the latest issue of Shape because she needs to pull a Client story.
5:20 - Survey what I’ve accomplished for the day and begin making my to-do list for tomorrow. If it’s something that needs to get done during monitoring hours, I have to put a post-it on my screen before I head home. Or else, I am liable to forget until after 11a...Then it all comes back to me.
5:30 - Day’s done. Time to head home and get ready to do it again. NOTE: There are days when quitting time slides past 5:30 but you all get my drift!

So, there you have it! A day in the life...What did you think? Not bad, huh? Later on this week, I’ll present the top lessons that I’ve learned thus far now that I’ve reached the halfway point in the programs!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

You Can't Blur These Lines - Pfizer and the FDA

Yesterday, Pfizer agreed to pay $2.5 billion in damages related to charges that the firm illegally marketed the drug, Bextra, and other medications. Bextra, which is no longer on the market, was approved by the FDA to treat pain associated with arthritis and menstrual cramps. The case charged Pfizer with instructing "its sales representatives to tell doctors that the drug could be used to treat acute and surgical pain and at doses well above those approved."

When I read the sentence above in the New York Times' article, my first thought was "Wait, it's NOT approved for acute pain?" In college, I had a sales internship with Pfizer and Bextra was one of my products. While I honestly don't remember the exact sales messages, I just remember always thinking that the drug was a rapid pain reliever.

Having spent 3 years in pharma advertising, I know that we would deal with some brutal medical/legal/regulatory reviews to make sure that every message and image was in accordance with FDA guidelines. However, I'm also hip to the fact that companies can't really control what happens in the field.

Pfizer has been nailed 4 times for similar violations since 2002! When you're a global leader, I understand the pressure to try and keep your sales high. But when dealing with healthcare, where do ethics and corporate responsibility come into play? I took a Health Ethics course in college, and there are many decisions that can boggle the mind and the conscious for PHYSICIANS. So, perhaps, certain pharma leaders believe that they too can toe the ethics line and promote (directly or indirectly) off-label marketing practices.

However, I do know that, much like the IRS, the FDA does NOT play that. If you try and blur the lines on them, they will react. Some kind of way...some kind of how. It happens. So, my advice? Just play inside of your approved lane unless you have $2.3 billion to spare and enjoy drawing the ire of the government AND the public during a heated healthcare debate.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

This Pepsi's For You, Mike! (VIDEO)

Today marks the 51st birthday of The King of Pop, Michael Jackson! Like the rest of the world, I was completely stunned and saddened when I learned of his passing. As we all gathered our memories, I couldn’t complete my personal tribute without watching his famous Pepsi commercials.

These commercials not only captured his larger-than-life style and dominant celebrity, but the ads reinforced Pepsi’s claim to be the drink of the “younger, cooler generation.” They've definitely not been afraid to put their money behind the idea either. Past ads have included Britney, Beyonce, Shakira, J.Lo,, and more, not to mention their print and TV salute to the Obama generation! I could go on and on about why Pepsi is cool, but this post is all about MJ!

So, here we go...Enjoy these AMAZING MJ x Pepsi commercials while I enjoy my second can of the evening. Booyah! I only remember the first commercial (w/Carlton and the Jackson crew), but I'm glad that I came across the others! This man was LARGE!

In other MJ news, Advertising Age reported that MJ tribute mags and publications generated $55 million in additional revenue for media companies. "Additional" means that your normal publication coverage of Michael's death isn't included in this figure. Considering he only passed two months ago, that's a staggering amount of money. Between this and the number of MJ records sold post-mortem, I'm convinced that there will never be another person who can top or even come close to having this effect on the world.

Yes, I said it! So, there...



If you really, like really know me, then you know that I am head over heels for all things advertising, marketing, consumer behavior, etc. If you think I'm kidding, then just say the word "insight," and see what happens. So, being a fan of blogging (*cough* The Fabulous Giver *cough*), I decided to release my inner nerd to the Internet.

The world gives me the ingredients (topics), I add my flavor, and VOILA! Passion Stew. If you're all about fresh perspectives in marketing, then we will get along just fine! If this isn't your cup of tea, or stew, no worries. It happens to the best of us!

I'm really excited about this new venture. I hope you enjoy!