Category Archives: PR Ethics

PRSA Silicon Valley Launches New Video Series: “Dose of Diversity”

Call for Interviewees

VanessaVillatoroPRSA Silicon Valley acknowledges the importance of having a strong, diverse community with members of mixed race, gender, ethnicity and sexual-orientation. Raising awareness about diversity concepts, attracting more diverse group members, and providing PR/business professional development and support to all is key to our mission as a chapter.

In an effort to highlight our diverse group, we have developed a new outlet for our members to share their personal and professional stories with the wider community. PRSA SV is delighted to introduce a new video series titled, “Dose of Diversity.” We need your help to build a great lineup of interviewees!

This new outlet will allow business professionals in and outside of our community to showcase their professional development, share what makes them unique and diverse within their communities and industries, and provide insights which will be invaluable for our members who aspire to progress their professional careers.

As a diverse chapter, we bring together different experiences and knowledge in order to collaborate, generate new ideas and spark new conversations – all key traits for a well-rounded PR professional. Help support the cause!

If you’d like to be featured, or know someone who’d be a great fit, please contact Vanessa Villatoro at!


How to Win a PRWeek Award (in Four Easy Steps)

Led by SVP and CMO Blair Christie, Cisco sought to rebuild faith in its leaders, reestablish relevance, and regain its “one to beat” status. To win back Wall Street, the team prioritized transparency. Raising the profile of key executives in addition to CEO John Chambers (pictured) played a vital role.

Led by SVP and CMO Blair Christie, Cisco sought to rebuild faith in its leaders, reestablish relevance, and regain its “one to beat” status. To win back Wall Street, the team prioritized transparency. Raising the profile of key executives in addition to CEO John Chambers (pictured) played a vital role.

By David McCulloch, PRSA-Silicon Valley President and Cisco Director of Corporate Communications

Right, gather around. Here’s how you win a PRWeek Award. OK, actually, I immediately need to disavow you of the notion that I am an expert in winning those coveted accolades. Sadly, I’m not.

I did have the honor of collecting three prizes on behalf of Cisco at last Thursday’s PRWeek Awards in New York, but I’ve been writing PR Week Award entries (and Saber and Anvil Award entries) for the past 15 years and this was the first time a team of mine had won in any of the ‘big’ categories (In-House Team of the Year, Corporate Brand Campaign of the Year, and the overall Campaign of the Year).

It was a huge thrill to mount the stage (without tripping over any evening wear) and collect those trophies, but as I traveled back to San Francisco on a snow-delayed flight, I couldn’t help wondering: Did we just get lucky? Did the judges at PRWeek take pity on me after all those fruitless years, or did I finally figure out the magic formula?

Only editor-in-chief Steve Barrett and the judges really know the answer to those questions, but while the ingredients of Cisco’s 2013 winning campaign submissions are fresh in my mind, I thought I’d offer them up to you here:

1. Focus on Hard Financial or Societal Impact (As Well as Media Results)

Of the many award entries I’ve submitted through the years, the two most successful (Cisco included) demonstrated a hard impact on the valuation of the company. At Cisco, our stock price improved 25% during the course of the campaign period, while direct competitors saw declines. Yes, many factors contributed to that rise, but PR was among them. For NXP Semiconductors (another successful submission), the Text 100 team I led was able to point to the (then) highest private equity valuation of a semiconductor company when KKR, Silver Lake and AlpInvest bought NXP from Philips for $4.4Bn. Bottom line: if you can’t demonstrate an enhanced valuation, revenue growth, cost savings, improved customer loyalty, or something equally impactful (like saving lives or rebuilding communities), then you probably don’t have a winning entry (yet).

2. Write Your Entry Like you’ve Never Been to Silicon Valley

Most of us in Silicon Valley work in, or for, technology companies. Naturally, we all know the difference between a SAN, an API, and a CPU, but frankly the rest of America thinks we’re a bit odd…and doesn’t. That, I suspect, is why our entries lose year-after-year to campaigns run by cat food and insurance companies. Everyone understands what cat food is, and we all have insurance for something. Almost no-one knows what a SAN is. So, if you can possibly avoid it, don’t mention the technology, just talk about what it (very simply) does for customers, and how you did an amazing job bringing it to their attention.

3. Show Your Creativity

Where do you find the time? I know, I know, it seems impossible to try anything new when you’re waging a daily war with an army of press release requestors, but you have to, if you are to win awards. For Cisco, research into how consumers use the Internet (on the move, in bed, all the time…) gave us fresh ways to make our company interesting. We wrote quirky survey questions comparing managing cloud computing projects to having a root canal. Guess what? People took notice. Yes, in some cases we spent tens of thousands of dollars on research, but in other cases, all the hard work was done in-house, and the creativity was always free-of-charge.

4. Above All, Tell a Good Story and Make it Personal

What is it we always tell our executives during media training? A good story contains drama, villains, data, controversy, colorful sound bites, analogies anyone can relate to… But how often do we incorporate all of those elements into our award entries? Cisco’s journey was genuinely full of drama these past 18 months, but capturing the headlines (“Everyone Hates Cisco”); conveying how they made employees feel (by sharing data on employee sentiment), and showing our sense of humor (given Gen Y’s attachment to their smart phones, we proposed that it be classified as the human body’s 207th bone!), it all came together to make our story resonate with the readers on the judging panel.

So, that’s how we did it at Cisco. Maybe it will work for you. Of course, if you don’t win in 2014, don’t blame me. Maybe the real secret ingredient is to make sure you’re sitting at Table 82 on Awards night!

PRSA Silicon Valley Hard at Work for You in 2012

Hello Silicon Valley Communications Pros:

Following is an update on how PRSA Silicon Valley is working for you. This year our goal is to define PRSA Silicon Valley’s brand voice and value through:

  • Fewer, quality signature events
  • Invigorating the board and committees
  • Inspiring action and discussion via the PRSA online and social experience
  • Preparing for and participating in the PRSA Silicon Valley 2012 conference

We are pleased about the results so far:Silicon Valley Future of PR, Leader Dinners, Networking and Inside the Newsroom hosted (90-175 attendees per event and more on the way)

New sponsors and sponsorships


13 active board and committee members:
Both in-house and agency strongly represented (33%increase y/y)


Chapter mentor program: Let chair Mar Junge know if you can participate.


Join us on Facebook, LinkedIn and @prsasv.

Tickets are on sale now for AllThingsD at Facebook HQ. If you would like to sponsor an event or this year’s MEDIA PREDICTS: 2013, please Tweet or email Ellie Javadi.

The PRSA International Conference is this October is coming too. We’ll be there. Will you?

Vanessa Yanez, @vanessa_yanez_
President, PRSA Silicon Valley

Keep your edge sharp with PRSA Silicon Valley Professional Development workshops

Three Friday morning professional tune-ups coming up

David Vossbrink, PRSA Silicon Valley Past President, Director of Communications for City of San Jose,, @dvossbrink

Seasoned PR veterans and up-and-comers can sharpen their professional edge with three great workshops from PRSA Silicon Valley starting Friday, August 3.

We live and work in a fast changing and hard charging world, but we still must take time to learn new skills, and relearn the basics, to do our best for our companies and our clients.  After all, as Gandhi once said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Our first workshop in the series is this Friday, August 3, when David Metz, partner at survey research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, will give us practical advice on a variety of formal and informal research tools that can help us plan our programs and evaluate our results.

Metz will talk about how to ask questions and design surveys; the differences between market research and political research; measurement for PR campaigns; and value of alternatives ranging from casual “dipstick polls” to formal survey research – as well as the use of surveys by PR to generate news.

If you ever have had to answer your boss’s question, “how do we know that?” – you must be there.  Anyone who is considering PRSA accreditation should sign up, since research and evaluation are among the fundamental elements of solid public relations. And just to be better equipped to interpret the vast array of surveys and statistics that fill media channels these days, this workshop will be invaluable.

On Friday, August 17, Carla Oakley, partner at the San Francisco law firm Morgan Lewis will cover PR and the law.  And there is no shortage of legal matters relevant to public relations, such as copyright and fair use; the rights of media, disclosure requirements, privacy and technology; the constantly changing challenges presented by new media; and the relationship and sometimes tension between the lawyers and the PR team within an organization – especially in the face of a crisis.

The best organizations recognize that advice from both the legal and the PR teams is essential for success. Oakley will help us understand the issues and the ways we can work with the lawyers to navigate the treacherous waters of communications.

Our final workshop for this year’s professional development series will be on Friday, September 21 when Jim Balassone from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University will discuss Ethics and Public Relations.  He will give us an overview of ethics and ethical decision making; ethical organizational cultures; new challenges and issues emerging from technology; conflicts of interests; telling truth to power; and distinctions between ethical requirements, legal requirements, and perception requirements.

We’ve seen no shortage of organizational meltdowns in the past few years because of ethical breakdowns. PR has a critical role to play to steer a right course that can help prevent and correct them.  Balassone will give valuable insight on how PR professionals can provide this leadership.

All sessions will be held at Friday mornings from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Microsoft’s Mountain View campus at 1065 La Avenida (thank you, Microsoft, for providing the venue for PRSA!).  Your registration fee includes continental breakfast.  Go to to register:

members (and partners) – $25; non-members – $40; students – $20.

You Don’t Need HBO to Get a Look Inside the Newsroom

by Matt Ceniceros | Applied Materials, Director, Media Relations | @mattceni

I’m excited to announce the next edition of the Inside the Newsroom series will feature staff from top technology, Internet and media web site, AllThingsD on Aug 28 and hosted at Facebook in Menlo Park.

Our presenters will include Kara Swisher, Mike Isaac, Ina Fried and Liz Gannes will discuss the trends driving the latest technology, Internet and media investment cycle, their approach to building stories and how they prefer working with PR professionals. And, just maybe a story or two about Yahoo!

The PRSA Silicon Valley “Inside the Newsroom” series provides a unique look inside an outlet’s editorial curtain to reveal the behind-the-scenes environment of some of the biggest, most influential media companies.  Just last month PRSA Silicon Valley hosted the editorial staff at Bloomberg BusinessWeek  discuss how journalists from the online, print and broadcast disciplines come together to provide its audiences comprehensive coverage of the top stories in business. I’d like to again thank our sponsors BusinessWire and our host, Microsoft, and the many companies and agencies who joined us including: Oracle, Intel, Facebook, Global Foundries, Applied Materials, and Fleishman-Hillard, Edelman Access PR, Airfoil and JagWire Group.

With an amazing venue, captivating roster of journalists, there’s not much you can’t “Like” about the program. THE event will be Aug. 28 at will kickoff at 6pm with time for networking, eats and drinks. The panel discussion will begin at 7pm. Information on registration and group discounts can be found on the PRSA Silicon Valley website. You can also follow the conversation on our Facebook page and Twitter feed @prsasv.

The Inside the Newsroom series requires a dedicated group of professionals who take time out of their busy work schedules and personal time to bring this amazing programming to PRSA members. I’d like to especially thank:

  • Emelyne Interior, Katie Sarro, Tim Rathschmidt, Fleishman-Hillard
  • Clark Hsu, Edelman
  • Amanda Crnkovich, Citrix
  • Julie Strong, BusinessWire
  • Ellie Javadi, Stanford Research
  • Camelia Gendreau, Borders + Gratehouse

I’d like to extend a special thank you to our host at Facebook and lead for the AllThingsD panel, Ashley Zandy.

If you appreciate this effort, show it. Attend the event, contact us and volunteer. The industry and your resume will “Like” it.

Thanks for your time and support. I look forward to seeing you in August. Check back here on the blog or any of our social network accounts for updates.

PRSA Silicon Valley in 2012 – Programs Designed for Silicon Valley’s Trusted Advisors

By Vanessa Yanez, PRSA Silicon Valley President

My name is Vanessa Yanez and this is my inaugural blog as President of PRSA Silicon Valley. Let’s talk about good PR.

Whether we agree or not on what the definition of public relations should be, we all, as public relations pros, “know it when we see it” – to quote a famous Supreme Court ruling. Or, rather, we see it when it is well done.

Influencer relations and engagement are today’s game. PR has more constituencies, opportunities and tools than ever and we’re not afraid to partner with non-traditional allies in the ad world.

Public relations in Silicon Valley has always been defined by agility and opportunism. Those two qualities are more valuable than ever before, thanks to the information explosion – news, defined and redefined, comes at us faster and in larger quantities.

Trusted advisors make sense of it all, while positioning, aligning and storytelling through new mediums. So, what is PRSA Silicon Valley doing to lift its members to new levels?

Since the 50’s, PRSA Silicon Valley’s community efforts have included research, discussion and study of the problems and techniques of the profession. In that spirit, I’m pleased to share with you plans on tap for 2012 and 2013. If you’d like to get involved, click links to send direct messages.

•    The Blockbuster/Inside the Newsroom series starts June 12, running through 2013: WIRED, Bloomberg/BusinessWeek (just confirmed for June), and VentureBeat are lined-up. Matt Ceniceros, Media Relations Director, Applied Materials @mattceni
•    Senior Leaders events are engaging the cream of the Valley PR community. Dinners are invite-only and quarterly. David McCulloch, Public Relations Director, Cisco Systems @DavidMcCulloch
•    Professional development workshops on ethics and crisis communications. Upcoming sessions in July and August. David Vossbrink, Director of Communications, City of San Jose
•    The 2012 PRSA National Convention is coming to the Bay Area. Our PRSA Silicon Valley delegation is preparing and partnering with the PRSA San Francisco chapter for the coming 2012 convention. Clark Hsu, Edelman @clarkhsu23
•    Mentorship program – Young Professionals group. Mar Junge, Principal & Founder, c3PR @c3PR
•    Signature Event – MEDIA PREDICTS: 2013. Paula Dunne, President & CEO, Contos Dunne Communications @BRAND_BUILDPWR
As the new president of the Silicon Valley chapter of the PRSA, I’m here to tell you: get excited! Follow me and our board on Twitter and check back soon for our bi-weekly contributed series.

Vanessa Yanez
President — PRSA Silicon Valley

Event Summary | Inside the New Huffington Post

Inside the New Huffington Post
April 15, 2011
Four Seasons Silicon Valley, Palo Alto, California

Moderator: Cathy Brooks, Founder & Host, The Conversation

Adam Rose, Standards Editor
Taylor Gray, SVP Marketing
Cindy Murphy, Director Sales
Victoria Fine, Impact Editor
Ryan McCarthy, Business Editor

So, What’s Changed?

TG: The merger is tremendously exciting. We have access to more tools that we can use to help our clients with content creation. But, the most exciting thing is our new ability to dramatically amplify the implementation of HuffPost’s vision. We’re doing what we wanted to do, but we’re doing it all at once with a higher level of quality.

CM: The merger has added a whole new contingent of offices and colleagues on the West Coast. And, AOL’s expertise helps tremendous in explaining the value of socialization of content to prospective clients.

AR: Think about it like this: We went from driving a really fast car to piloting a jet. Our destination is the same; our speed is greater. The ability to report news in real time is a practical reality. We have more talent, more expertise, more technologies, and more boots on the ground, which allow us to empower people in ways we could not have done before the merger.

Is HuffPost at Risk of Falling Victim to Profit over Purpose?

TG: This has not been an uncommon thought among people throughout the merger, but HuffPost will always be driven by purpose. At huffpost we are free to do our work. We have entrepreneurial reporters and editors who all want to make the news better.

VF: Purpose is front and center with impact and education sections. Not only do we link impact and education stories to ways that people can take action but we are able to put the idea of taking action into the minds of readers–the merger has only expanded our ability to do that.

Should Bloggers Be Paid?
HuffPost is a unique organization being a hybrid of staff reporters and editors with an army of freelance bloggers—some of whom feel they should get a fair share monetarily speaking.

AR: The blog team is handled separately from the news team. Reporters and editors are staff—they are tied to being in the office regularly and at other times as needed, they have meetings, they must meet deadlines, and they are responsible for providing comprehensive news coverage. The majority of content at HuffPost is paid content, produced by staff, from AP, etc. Bloggers are a fantastic and critical aspect of who we are and how we do what we do, and the vast majority of bloggers love huffpost. Our bloggers provide opinions, perspectives, and commentary on the news we report—a highly valuable contribution that stimulates dialogue about the news.

VF: Not everyone who blogs wants to become a journalist. Most of the people who blog for impact and education due so because they have a passion that they want to share and would not otherwise be heard in mainstream media.

AR/RM: Every large site within AOL will be interacting with huffpost in some significant way at some point—some things will take longer than others to figure out—still early in the process.

CM: Easy share features of huffpost will be available across AOL outlets—great opportunity to expand communities.

TG: AOL is a different company now. On the inside, it really looks like the huffpost bought AOL. AOL has given Ariana the keys to build the editorial team.

A question was asked as to why HuffPost had a divorce section but not a jobs section.

CM: Actually my question was why we have a divorce section and not a family section. Regardless, the verticals at HuffPost have develop out of passions expressed by staff, readers, social communities, etc. We currently have entertainment, food, divorce, and many others. We will likely have a section on jobs. HuffPost will always be focused on helping people express themselves about the topics they are most passionate about.


TG: AOL is more conservative than huffpost. The two pieces of the business do target different audiences, and will continue to have different home pages with different styles of entry. But, there is more diversity in both of those audiences than people realize. HuffPost has many conservative banks as advertisers, and they are happy advertising with HuffPost.

AR: HuffPost is trying to move beyond left and right. For example, we do not view unemployment as left or right; it’s an issue that affects the ability of people to put a roof over their family’s heads and that’s what matters. HuffPost embraces and welcomes different political viewpoints and will continue to do so.

Working with Brand & Social Media Experts

CM: The Univ. of Phoenix did a social media program with HuffPost last year that deliberately elicited comments on the content they posted. When negative comments to their content showed up, they were prepared to respond at the brand level; however, they did not have to. An individual who participated in the program at the Univ. of Phoenix responded in a post that described the positive experience that individual had with the program and the benefit they obtained from it. The negative comments were addressed in the natural course of the conversation that the Univ. of Phoenix stimulated.

CM: HuffPost is often the party that brings the brand experts and social media experts at a client together.

TG: Often, clients don’t put specific money aside to engage in social media programs. Often we can combine a brand/media buy with the social marketing programs we put together. Our goal is to evolve beyond that—to get to a point where we are publishing client content and messaging across HuffPost as well as other sites.

RM/AR: One way to integrate social media with reporting the news about corporate brands is to allow people to comment on the news via a blog account so that all who read the news will see the comment.

TG: The traditional media way was to report the news and require people to come to you to get it. The new media way is to report the news and allow people to comment on it, become part of it, and/or take action as a result of it—to participate in the news wherever it is.

What About Patch & Localization

AR: We have locals for New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Denver.

RM: We are using Patch now and it will continue to be rolled out over the next couple years. We’re actually doing a Patch integrated story next week on the job crisis, which is a good example of how the AOL merger is turbo charging what HuffPost has always wanted to do.

Will You Follow the NYT and Have Paid Subscriptions?
HuffPost will always be free.

Tips for PR Professionals Who Want to Work with HuffPost

  • Don’t pitch. Just talk with us about trends, new developments, etc.; share interesting information that our readers will want/need to know.
  • Be authentic, be honest.
  • Tell stories: Stories that depicts one moment that illustrates your message—the how of what happened and the effect it had on people you are trying to help; or stories that illustrate successes and failures within your initiatives with the intent to support the success of others.
  • When news about your organization breaks, HuffPost will fix it quickly—our goal is 100% correction rate. Just hit the “Report a Correction” button at the bottom of the page.


In Brief: With the merger, HuffPost has access to new technologies, new resources for clients, more boots on the ground, broader and deeper expertise which means that we will be able to achieve our original vision much more quickly. We can report more comprehensively, enable more integration with social to stimulate dialogues, encourage people to take action, allow people to express their passions—and continue to put purpose over profit, providing content free to anyone with an Internet connection. It’s all good, and it’s likely to get even better. Stay tuned.

Contributed by Lisa B. English, PhD, APR; Silicon Valley PRSA Board of Directors; Vice President HiveMind Marketing, Inc. (