Posted by: thormiller | March 9, 2009

First contest of the year announced

Spring is coming!

We’ve had to set our clocks forward, the first bulbs of the year are showing off their bright flowers, and the first surf contest in the Pacific Northwest has been announced for May 15 – 17.

The Clean Water Classic invades Westport, Wash.  for the eighth consecutive year, showcasing some of the best surfers in Oregon, Washington and from far away places like California and British Columbia.

What’s so exciting about this contest, is the proceeds go toward protecting Northwest beaches through the Surfrider Foundation.

As the summer gets into full swing, look for the CSO Open, held at Road’s End in Lincoln City, Ore. Last year’s contest was special because all the profits from the contest went to head judge Gary Smither of North Bend, Ore. who is a cancer survivor.

Hopefully with the trying economic times, other contests will be held this year like the Noll Longboard and the Rogue Gathering, and especially the Cape Kiwanda LB Classic, held at Pacific City in September.

Even if you’re not into surfing, go check out one of the contests and see how good some of the surfers are who grew up honing their craft in the cold, and often trying conditions of the Pacific Northwest.

Posted by: thormiller | March 9, 2009

Linky Love, No. 4

While reading PRWeek‘s blog about what newspaper closures are going to do to PR, it reminded me of how I got back to school in the first place — the closure of the Springfield Beacon.

After working in small-town newspapers for five years and watching the downsizing, the salary caps and editors come and go due to constant corporate re-organizing, I decided to get a degree in public relations.

Let’s face it, print media is walking toward the light. Public relations firms must embrace social media, or they too will be around to read their own epitaphs.

But a good question is, “how are PR professionals going to convince clients that don’t understand social media to use it?” Older clients who barely know how to use the Internet are going to be very suspicious of public relations and marketing that ONLY uses the Internet and its tools like blogs and YouTube.

Public relations professionals are going to have to come up with ways to prove social media’s worth  to business professionals from older generations. Maybe one way is to set up video feeds with professionals like Paull Young and let them see and hear first hand how social media can be used to their benefit.  They would be able to ask questions and have them answered by someone who is very passionate and well versed about social media.

To me it’s still sad to see newspapers close across the country. But I’ve let go and moved on and am trying to embrace social media, and others who practice public relations should to, before it’s too late.

Posted by: thormiller | March 3, 2009

SOLV beach cleanup

Calling all lovers of the Oregon coast.

The 24th annual SOLV Great Oregon Spring Beach Cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, March 28, 2009. Thousands of volunteers are needed to help clean Oregon’s beaches between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

People who love our beaches, like surfers, rock hounds and just people out for a nice stroll should get involved. A few hours out of a Saturday to keep our beaches clean isn’t much to ask.

To participate, simply show up at one of 44 registration sites at 10 a.m. on the 28th to pick up a bag and head out to the beach do your part to keep Oregon beautiful.  Zone Captains and registration sites are listed at or volunteers can call SOLV at (503) 844 -9571 or 800-333-SOLV (7658) for more information.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Posted by: thormiller | March 3, 2009

Linky Love, Part four

I think Joe Loong’s post on Network Solutions‘ blog about watching what you tweet about is a must read for anyone learning social media.

I found it astounding that a professional news reporter thought tweeting at a child’s funeral would be a good choice.

I think that some people may use Twitter kind of like MySpace, just update any mundane event, or even worse, offend, stalk or harrass people via Twitter.

Using the tool this way is a personal choice, but one that shouldn’t be made by any professional using Twitter as a tool to increase their Web footprint.

Hopefully by reading stories like this one, aspiring professionals in public relations and other forms of media will tweet responsibly and leave the tabloid speak to, well, tabloids.

Posted by: thormiller | February 21, 2009

Linky Love, part 3

The Bad Pitch Blog‘s post about pitching is a must read for any aspiring public relations practitioner.

I’ve been on the other side of pitches, and thrown away or deleted more bad pitches than I care to remember. Most of them were tossed because they didn’t directly engage me, or were so vague it was impossible to tell what they wanted the paper to cover. And, sadly, there were many of them that contained glaring simple grammatical errors that immediately sent them into the round file on the floor.

A big problem I’ve seen in many J-school classes at the University of Oregon, is that very few students — including myself sadly — have learned to proofread their work well enough to make it professional. Although instructors stress the point of good proofreading, it doesn’t seem to sink in, or maybe students haven’t been trained how to do it properly.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a class directly geared toward proofreading, and maybe there should be. It could be an elective course that would certainly help out students pursuing a career in reporting, PR or advertising. I would definitely take it, because I know my proofreading skills could use some honing.

Good writing and good proofreading skills go hand in hand. For the PR professional, these are two huge keys to be successful in communicating your company’s message to the mass or social media.

Mastering proofreading could be the difference between landing a good job after graduation, or asking customers if they want straws or a jacket for their lattes.

Posted by: thormiller | February 17, 2009

Paper or Plastic?

It’s a question nearly everyone over the age of 16 has heard in a grocery store: “do you want paper or plastic?” It seems like a very benign question and up until recently, I was like many other people and replied, “what’s ever easier for you.”

That was until I started reading about the plastic bag problem in many of the world’s oceans. The Surfrider Foundation has started a movement to “bag the bag.”

According to an article in the National Geographic, plastic bags are being found in the ocean floating along like artificial jellyfish, and even worse, they’re being found in the stomachs of dead sea birds and mammals like endangered sea turtles.

plastic bag in a reef courtesty of the Monterey Bay Aquarium

plastic bag in a reef courtesty of the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Many cities in California are already on board to stop plastic bags from being used in grocery stores and other shops. San Francisco and Los Angeles are the two major cities to stop plastic from clogging up land fills and ending up in the ocean. Even China has banned the bag and home furnishings giant IKEA has stopped using plastic bags in its stores.

The beauty about this movement, it the ease of doing your part. When asked a simple question like, “paper or plastic,” just choose paper, or better yet, shop at stores like Trader Joes or Market of Choice that give customers a small discount for using their own reusable nylon bag.

Posted by: thormiller | February 17, 2009

Job Interviews

Barbara Nixon put an interesting video on her blog, titled “A minute with Phil” which asks PR professionals, what’s the one question you always use in a job interview?

Many of the questions the PR pros at Edelman asked were interesting, and very different from questions I’ve been asked in prior job interviews… and I’ve had many of them.

So, I’ve tried to remember what the questions were, and what jobs they were for.

“What’s interests you the most about community journalism,” asked by the editor of The Cottage Grove Sentinel.

“What’s your best quality in a crises situation, or how would you handle an irate customer when the book they paid hundred of thousands of dollars to produce is printed incorrectly,” asked by my supervisor at RR Donnelley.

“What can you bring to our sports department that would separate you from the other hundreds of applicants,” asked by the editor of the daily newspaper in Kalispell, Montana.

The list goes on and on, but what I found interesting about the post is that in PR, employers are asking questions that relate to YOU and not what you can do for the company in a specific capacity.

Posted by: thormiller | February 10, 2009

Linky love response, two

Jim Tobin brings up some very good points in his post about the re-emergence of MC Hammer, the early 90’s iconic rapper who’s probably most well known for the satirical commercials he stars in about losing all of his money.

First, people and companies can bounce back from the brink of destruction if they become transparent and are open to poking fun at themselves and the errors they’ve made, and what they have to offer customers now. It seems that many times if a company has financial trouble, or gets negative press for doing something the public sees as bad, they tend to hide behind gimmicky marketing and don’t tell customers why they should trust them.

Secondly, Tobin said that consumers have no problem hating a brand, but will generally give people a chance. Companies can use this to their advantage if they chose to use social media to make them more human, or more approachable, and less like a traditional brand.

It’s surprising that more companies don’t follow Tobin’s advise and be more transparent in the marketing of their products.

Posted by: thormiller | February 10, 2009

Proletariat bikes

Eugene is considered one of the biggest biking communities in the state. We’re lucky enough to have some very good and well known custom bike manufacturers in town like Burley and Co-motion. These companies have been in business for some time and have enough money to market their product in traditional media, like magazines and newspapers.

The Eugene area also has a small custom bike shop that makes a quality bike — just ask those who own them — for a reasonable price. Proletariat Bikes are designed, manufactured and painted all in Eugene and Springfield. They’ve only been in business for a short time, and like many small start-up businesses, they are short on resources when it comes to marketing their products.

Finished Proletariat road bike from the company's Web site

Finished Proletariat road bike from the company's Web site

This is where social media, like blogs, YouTube and Facebook could really help a small company on a very limited budget. Proletariat’s Web site has links to blogs about biking, but they don’t maintain their own blog, or a way for current owners to blog about their love of all things Proletariat and have them link back to the company.

Proletariat co-owner, Todd Gardner, has a Facebook page that links people to his company’s Web site, but they don’t maintain a company Facebook page, which would be very helpful in getting out their company’s message: “high-class bicycles for hardworking people.”

To get started in social marketing, Proletariat should create a blog for current owners of their bikes to talk about the experience of watching a hand-made bike being built. Owners could blog about where they’ve gone with their bikes and include pictures of their travels to get other people interested in owning a Proletariat. They should start a Facebook page for the company with plenty of photos and a link to their existing Web site. The Facebook page could also inform people about the company’s current bikes in production and other news that’s much harder to put on a full Web site.

With a small monitary investment and some time, Proletariat could position itself on the top of the podium in the Eugene bike market.

Posted by: thormiller | February 3, 2009

Winter responsibility

It seems that every winter in Oregon, someone is pulled out to sea while surfing. The culprits are rip currents, but where does the responsibility lie when often the surfers pulled out are inexperienced, or young?

Surf shops need to make money, and especially in these trying economic times, a buck is a buck. But when the surf is heavy, and the rips are, well ripping, should the shops collect their $20 rental fee and put someone’s life at risk?

Everyone who has surfed knows the risks — there are sharks, rip currents, other surfers and very cold water to deal with. When you enter into surfing as a past time, way of life, or just something to try one time you assume these risks. But when a 13-year-old girl is pulled out to sea and needs to be rescued because she’s exhausted, cold and probably scared to death, shouldn’t someone step in and say, “maybe today isn’t the best day to learn.” Not to say that the parents shouldn’t be held responsible for their children, but plenty of adults get pulled out to sea every year and many of them rented their equipment.

Again, the shops need to make money, especially in the beach towns of Oregon who depend on tourism for their very livelyhood since the logging dollars have dried up. It just seems to me that warning inexperienced surfers during the winter of the danger of rip currents is the responsible thing to do and that human life is worth more than a $20 rental fee.

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