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Review of PR in Your Pajamas

Overview of PR in Your Pajamas

 PR in Your Pajamas is a PR blog run by Elena Verlee, an entrepreneur, with a specific focus on educating entrepreneurs and small businesses on various “How to” public relations topics.  This blog has received recognition from PR Web listing PR in Your Pajamas among the “25 Essential PR Blogs You Should be Reading”, InkyBee Software listed it as number eight in the “World’s Best PR Blogs” and Cision ranked it number fifteen in the “Top 50 Marketing Blogs in North America”.  


Verlee posts regularly on her blog, although not necessarily on a weekly basis.  She includes posts on topics such as the evolution of social media, PR professionals’ role as storytellers, as well as posts on behalf of companies such as Visa Business, to name a few of her most recent topics.   In addition to the blog posts, there is a section labeled, “New Here?” which leads to eight subtopics to help get one started in the world of PR.  Each section has at least three hyperlinks to post on advice.  For example there are links to advice on creating a media list, writing a media pitch, and preparing for a media interview.  Some of the other sections of PR in Your

Pajamas include a brief “About” Verlee, testimonials about Verlee’s expertise and   she offers her professional information and a variety of options for obtaining her services.  There is also a section that appears on every page asking for first names and email addresses to subscribe to the blog with the incentive of learning “how to pitch our story and the 5 Keys to getting more PR” for free once subscribed.

Using PR in Your Pajamas for Media Relations


Verlee’s advice to new comers to her blog includes two sections dedicated to Media Relations and writing a media pitch.  Among her posts, she gives tips on how to write a media pitch in three paragraphs, her four types of headlines to get media attention as well as helpful questions to ask when writing a media pitch.  She includes a section on how to prepare for a media interview, which is relevant to our class as we prepare for final presentations.  Her suggestions at first glance seem to be fairly obvious questions and thoughts a PR professional should consider when writing a pitch, or preparing for an interview, etc, however for a person just starting in the PR industry, her lists are detailed and help keep the focus on what is essential to know.  

There is also a section on “What to do when you piss people off (aka Getting Bad Press)” which I think is useful because it goes a step beyond the typical blog post about how to not get bad press.  In reality there is always the chance something might go awry and having advice on what to do next is key.   There is also advice on how to build a media list, and since we worked on building our own earlier this quarter, I was interested to read her tips on the subject. Verlee’s style of blog posts is short and to the point, which is effective in conveying her points quickly to busy and easily distracted Internet readers.  I like this style of writing except when I was reading about building a media list because I found her advice to be limited.   What I took away from her advice is that over the course of one year I should be observing what I read, followed by what my customers read, noting what writer is likely to feature a story for me and by the end of the year I should have a list of over fifty contacts.  However, what happens if I don’t have a year to build my media list?  In the long term, I like this advice, but for instance, I could not really use her method for class. 


My critiques for making this blog better would focus primarily on esthetic appeal.  Her web design is blue, dark gray and white.  The font is nothing special and only the graphics or images pop on the different pages.   Her links in the “New here?” sections are all the type of hyperlinks that can be found in word documents.  Her information is solid but her design is boring and does not entice me to want to read further.  I would also incorporate more about this idea of “PR in Your Pajamas” because besides this being the title of the blog, there is one photo of Verlee in her pajamas at her desk with the caption, “She really does work in her pajamas”.  I was initially interested in this blog because of its name and I would have liked to see her incorporate or connect her blog posts with the name.   Verlee may have great advice nuzzled into her blog, but if the blog name does not connect with her personality or readers become bored by the design, her tips might go unnoticed.

- Jocelyn Finley

Review of “Bad Pitch Blog”

Overview of “Bad Pitch Blog”

You have your story and a killer media list, but you send a bad pitch.  Now all your hours of research, creativity, and writing is worthless.  Bad pitches are unfortunately quite common in the world of media relations.  Realizing this, Kevin Dugan and Richard Laermer created the “Bad Pitch Blog” ( in order to rectify this problem.  Since 2006, their blog has provided users the opportunity to learn from bad (and some good) pitches from real PR practitioners.  The blog also provides some other helpful media relations tips.  

Along with being the co-author of “Bad Pitch Blog”, Cincinnati native Kevin Dugan also maintains another blog called, “Strategic Public Relations”.  He is the Director of Content at Empower MediaMarketing, Editor in Chief at Media Is Power, Brand Marketing Mentor at The Brandery, as well as Founder of Cincinnati Social Media. 

Richard Laermer is the CEO of RLM Public Relations, which he founded in 1991.  He spends his time between New York, Connecticut, and California.  Laermer is the author of 8 books including, Full Frontal PR, Punk Marketing, and 2011:  Trendspotting for the Next Decade.  Before becoming successful in public relations, Laermer worked as a freelance reporter with articles in several reputable publications.

“Bad Pitch Blog” has won an Award of Commendation in the Blog category from the Public Relations Society of America, ranked in the Ad Age “Power 150,” and named one of the top 10 PR blogs by Cision in 2009.

The Good

  • The blog has some valuable tips and tricks for media relations.
  • Visual examples are a great way to learn what to do and what not to do.
  • Both authors are highly qualified, with many years of experience in PR.

The Bad

  • The search function is not very user-friendly.  Unless you know exactly what you want to look for, finding topics can be difficult.  The blog would be benefited by a list of topics.
  • The blog format itself is not very easy to view.
  • Although the authors are continuing their blogging activity, recently the posts have been more infrequent. 

 Using “Bad Pitch Blog” for Media Relations

How can this blog help in practicing media relations?

1)      Pitches:  As its title suggests, the blog teaches how to create the perfect pitch that has the potential of catching the attention of journalists and/or bloggers. 

2)      Media Tracking and Trend Spotting:  The post, “Tracking Trends Through the Media,” describes how it is important to keep up-to-date on current news.  This can help clients land stories in unexpected ways.

3)      Writing and Editing Tips:  Dugan and Laermer discuss writing tactics for other important media relations materials.  News releases and alternatives for them (“12 News Release Alternatives”) are largely popular on the blog.  More specific details are discussed.  This includes boilerplates and typos, which are rudimentary, yet potentially detrimental. 

4)      Social Media:  Posts discuss how social media can be beneficial for media relations in general and when relating to journalists.  Such an example is, “3 Ways National Media Use Social Media to Find Sources.”

5)      Making News Worthy Content:  “Five Questions to Ask Before You Hijack the News”, makes practitioners think about whether or not your idea is newsworthy and therefore, desirable for prime news real estate.    

Overall, “Bad Pitch Blog” is a great media relations tool which helps prepare readers for a variety of situations they may encounter.  This blog is a good resource for either a brand new PR professional or a seasoned practitioner wishing to refresh their media relations tactics.  

-Lindsey Barber



Klout : What’s Your Score?

Klout ( is a widely used social media monitoring tool, but it is also highly controversial. Klout’s algorithms comb through whichever social media sites you choose to monitor and gives you a score based on how many likes, shares, and retweets you receive as well as how many people you reach. On your homepage, you will be given top stories of interest that you can share with your followers. On the “Measure” tab, it shows you your overall score, who is engaging with your posts, and which posts have had the most engagement. In some sense, Klout is a social network in itself because it allows you to search for and connect with like-minded people. When used properly, this could be a valuable way to connect with big influencers.

Some say your Klout score could make or break a job interview for you. This Wired article suggests that in the future, those with a higher Klout score will receive better deals on retail, board planes earlier, and receive better treatment from customer service reps overall. In fact, the article cites the Palms Casino & Resort as a prime example. Last year in Las Vegas, the Palms was checking Klout scores of patrons before they checked into the hotel. Those with a higher score were given room upgrades and other perks without being told exactly why.

Klout already offers perks for its high-scoring users. Those with a high Klout score will receive “exclusive rewards” such as a new Sony camera, or a ticket to Microsoft’s Windows Phone launch party. The idea is that these high-scorers will then promote the brands through their chosen social media platforms and create positive buzz. One problem I see is that this will mean Klout users with lower scores will be trying desperately to reach a score that will provide them with those perks. In that case, you may be doing damage to your online reputation if your posts start to resemble spam more than actual content. 

In doing some more research, I came across a Forbes article which warns users of some of the cons of Klout.
Forbes claims:
1. Klout “collects your data and uses it to help advertisers who want to promote their products using your social influence”. Basically, it’s a way for advertisers to use you to reach their target audience.

2. They give you a very low score at first to grab your attention while you wait for them to calculate your “actual” score. When you initially sign up, Klout automatically gives you a measly score of 10 (out of 100) then says it needs 24-48 hours to calculate your actual score.

3.  Beware of how much you choose to participate: Klout often prompts you to promote your activity on your Facebook and Twitter pages. It’s using you as a promotional tool.

4. Doing the things Klout suggests, will in fact raise your score. However, it may be at the expense of your time while annoying your social connections.

5. You may not necessarily need a high Klout score. Aim for quality over quantity of your social media posts.

For media relations, Klout can certainly be a useful tool.  Unfortunately, you cannot simply type in anyone’s name into their website and find out their score. The good news is Klout has released an add-on for the Google Chrome browser which allows you to see others’ Klout scores on Twitter. When choosing which influencers (journalists, bloggers, etc.) would be best to tell the story of your brand or product, a Klout score would give you a good idea of how influential the person is.
Below are some examples of Tweets with the Klout score listed between the profile picture and user name.


Chelsea Boomer



Review of SHIFT Communications Blog

Overview of SHIFT Communications blog

SHIFT Communications is an integrated communications agency based out of Boston, San Francisco and New York. It started in 2003 as a traditional PR firm, but was an early innovator in social media. According to its website, SHIFT helps companies “find, build and convert new audiences that drive business growth.” In 2012, the company switched to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) format, investing all staff’s interests directly into the company’s financial future. In 2013, it won Holmes Report’s Small Agency of the Year. SHIFT is run by CEO Todd Defran, whose own blog, PRSquared, is also mentioned on top PR sites and provides links back to his company’s blog.

The SHIFT blog was listed on Cision’s 2013 Top 50 PR Blogs and Inky Bee’s Top 60 PR Blogs in the World. Written by SHIFT staff members, from marketing analysts to the vice president, the blog covers topics both relevant to public relations professionals and their clients in a straight-forward, this-is-how-pr-is-done, way. They set realistic expectations, speaking plainly on what can be expected from their, or any other, firm.


The posts are timely, easy to follow and sometimes even a little fun, like predicting Academy Award Best Picture based on data research, or what PR professionals can take away from Scandal’s Olivia Pope. Topics covered span public, crisis and media relations, social media and the benefits of paid-for strategies. SHIFT often does its own research, like figuring out if a Facebook target audience yields a better tangible outcome than a Twitter tailored audience, and posts the results on their blog. They also mention a variety of tools and services, like Google Analytics and AdWords, Outbrain, Taboolah, Feedly and Chatter, provide links to them, and explain their uses and benefits. As you get to the bottom of a post on the blog, a “You Might Also Like…” tab appears, linking you to another related post, hooking you to keep reading.

Although it is plastered at the end of every post and lives on the side of the page, the “How Social Media Broke PR and How to Fix It” e-book by SHIFT’s Vice President of Marketing Technology, Christopher S. Penn, is informative and free when you register. The 42 pages are a quick and easy read, walking you through the importance of using social media to grow your audience, and that, to do so, creating quality content that people will want to share with others is vital. There are other e-books, including “Paid Earned Owned Shared: The Media Recipe for Audience Conversion.”

SHIFT is very active on social media, not only posting on its blog daily, but also providing useful information and links to followers on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, even if it doesn’t directly relate to the company. They offer a weekly newsletter, SHIFT Happens, that gets delivered right to your inbox. There are links not only to the SHIFT website and blog, but also to webinars and events focusing on PR.


There is no list of topics, just a search bar, so you kind of have to know what you’re looking for and wade through the results. Some of the results link you directly to the company’s take on that topic, and some are blank dead ends. The repetitive sight of the e-book reminder is a bit annoying, especially since when you actually download it, the ad doesn’t go away. There are a few posts that tell you what you need to do, like increase a product’s shareability to help increase word-of-mouth marketing, but no mention of tips for how to achieve that end.

Applications to Media Relations

While the blog does stress the importance of hitting all forms of media, it does tend to focus more on social than traditional. In this increasingly digital world, more people are turning to social media for their news, so a media relations specialist needs to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and methodologies. SHIFT makes it clear that someone sharing an opinion about your brand or company on Twitter or Yelp could snowball into a Google search result, a media story excerpt, a blogger post. Media relations professionals need to know how to stay ahead of the curve.

SHIFT blog really runs the gamut of what steps to take before and after the media relations efforts are made, more so than focusing on the process of contacting and pitching to media representatives. SHIFT’s Earned Media Hub Strategy focuses on research and aligning content messaging with a company’s core values before reaching out for coverage. It sounds simple, and it is, but sometimes we need to be reminded of the basics.

The after, measurement, is focused on quite a bit, with posts walking readers through analytic topics like “Google Analytics 101” and “Earned Media Might be Invisible to Your Web Analytics,” and an eight-part “How to Measure PR” series covering both social media and standard media metrics. Once you’ve made your media efforts and your message is out there, knowing how to measure it can be tricky, and SHIFT offers help.


Review of Spin Sucks

Overview of Spin Sucks

All too often, public relations is associated with the practice of “spinning” messages.  To combat this negative perception, Gini Dietrich founded Spin Sucks (, an award-winning PR and marketing blog that chronicles cutting-edge tips and tools for effective, ethical communications. The purpose of Spin Sucks is to teach and promote honest, responsible, and authentic communication.

In addition to establishing Spin Sucks and acting as lead blogger, Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. Dietrich also contributes to Crain’s Chicago Business and various PR/marketing blogs and publications, and is the co-author of the book, Marketing in the Round: How to Develop an Integrated Marketing Campaign in the Digital Era. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is due out later this month and will serve as a guidebook for communication professionals. 

Along with frequent blog posts that are cataloged under social media, communication, entrepreneur and marketing, Spin Sucks includes video content, information on upcoming webinars, and a weekly #FollowFriday post. The blog also features “Inside PR” podcasts that are co-hosted each week by Dietrich and discuss communications and social media.

Spin Sucks has been named a 2012 Cision Top 100 Blog, the 2010 and 2011 Readers Choice Blog of the Year, a Top 42 Content Marketing Blog from Junta42, an AdAge Power 150 blog, and a top 10 social media blog from Social Media Examiner.  

 Recent Spin Sucks posts include:

  • “Four PR Metrics You Can Start Using Today”
  • “The Game Of Content”
  • “Silos: Knock Them Down To Build Business”
  • “Kelly Blazek Proves Communicators Have One Change To Get It Right”
  • “Improve Your Writing With Six Writerly Hobbies”

Readers can also join Spin Sucks Pro, a professional development site where members have access to additional content, webinars, videos and eBooks.

Using Spin Sucks for Media Relations

Spin Sucks provides an array of timely news information and useful tools, making it a valuable resource for media relations professionals who aspire to keep up-to-date with changes and trends in media and PR.  When searching “media relations” using the blog’s search toolbar, a myriad of relevant results appear. For example, “Media Relations: Why The Economist Thinks We Have it Wrong” is a recent post authored by Dietrich that discusses common blunders PR professionals make when reaching out to journalists. In addition, the #FollowFriday posts allow media relations professionals to become familiar with trends and build relationships with influential experts who work in PR or related fields.

Spin Sucks does, however, have some limitations. Although persons can join Spin Sucks Pro for free, members who choose to pay $50 per month do receive additional perks, including access to all downloadable content and a private community where users can interact with other Spin Sucks Pro members.  

Overall, Spin Sucks succeeds in providing a bevy of content in a user-friendly format. Spin Sucks is an invaluable resource for media relations professionals who aim to stay on top of the latest trends, hot topics, and newsworthy information that derive from the worlds of PR, digital marketing, and communications.

Spin Sucks and Dietrich both have extensive followings on Twitter. Spin Sucks (@SpinSucks) has over 13,000 followers and Dietrich (@ginidietrich) has over 32,000 followers.

Teresa Wirtjers