I often get asked how we get so much accomplished around here every day or week.  The answer is pretty simple: all of us know what we are doing, like to achieve results for our clients and, most importantly, work really well together and with our clients.

That teamwork — both internal and external — creates synergies so that we’re able to work more efficiently than many others.  And, when we become a part of our clients’ teams…well, that’s when really great things happen.

A big part of teamwork for me is simply knowing that I can rely on my team to complete their tasks and do their job.  If I can focus on my role and have complete confidence that everyone else is doing the same, we build something even bigger.

And…as a great example of teamwork, I ask you to watch this video of the TBDBITL (The Best Damm Band in the Land).  I had the pleasure of seeing this performance in person last weekend and it was even more amazing live.

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 I stared down our Keurig coffee maker yesterday morning.  I lost.

I reeeeeally wanted a cup of coffee and it was taking soooo long to come out that I was getting impatient and considering what other measures I could take when it hit me…

 … that cup of coffee is going to be done in less than two minutes.  And, not three years ago, I would have had to wait like 10 minutes for a pot to brew (I shudder at those memories). So, I sucked it up, counted to 25 and finally had my cup of coffee.

 Our time frame has become compressed these days.  The thought of waiting 10 minutes for a cup of coffee is antiquated.  Can you imagine if we actually mailed pitch letters today and had to wait a half of a week for them to get to a reporter? We don’t even have time to fax something today!

Our patience and attention span have become so compressed that many of us only receive and transmit information in 140 character bursts.  (An admission: when I started in PR, the crafting, editing and sending of a good four paragraph pitch letter could take up to a week.)

But, in the end, the message still matters.  Whether it’s a 140 character tweet, a 400 word blog post or a four page white paper, having the ability to distill information to its core components and then transform that information into something that is compelling and important is still the most crucial element of our business.

Good PR practicioners (and I think all of us are here) can’t get so enamored with the technology and the media that we forget the message.

That’s where creativity matters.  And coffee.  Lots of coffee.

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Ahhh… Labor Day, harbinger of back to school season. Days start to get shorter and summer heat gives way to cooler evenings and changing leaves. It’s also the time of year when we get panicked emails and phone calls from college students looking for internships.

An internship is a wonderful opportunity for students to apply knowledge from their theoretical classes, to learn how to behave in a professional setting, to start to build their network and networking skills and to get a taste of what it is like to work in an agency setting… as a stepping stone to what might be a future career choice.

We enjoy the opportunity to work with and mentor young people, however, there can be a flip side. Sometimes the learning curve is steeper than we’d like, sometimes the potential we think we saw isn’t realized and sometimes we find it easier and more deadline-friendly to do a task ourselves than take the time to explain and/or correct.

At Pierce Communications, we work hard, but we also like to laugh; our interns share in both. We value our interns as members of the team and their projects reflect that – there is no filing, getting coffee or washing cars. We take great pride when we hear a former intern has secured a job, especially if we’ve been able to help make the connection.

A bit of advice for prospective interns:
Do your homework. Know who we are and who our clients are. Check out our website and social media sites. When we ask you if you have questions, have questions.

Be able to demonstrate your experience…in a genuine way that reflects your 20-something years. A multiple-page resume or an inappropriate outfit aren’t going to impress us. All of us are avid readers; we go well beyond the cover of the book.

Follow the news. Learn who the local politicians are and get news – local, regional, national and international – from multiple sources (…make the argument for why BuzzFeed should count). If you don’t know something, look it up; if it isn’t available on the internet, show us your creativity and skills in finding the answer elsewhere.

We take our commitment to our interns very seriously. We try to nurture an individual’s strengths and shore up an individual’s weaknesses. We work hard to make sure that our interns are encouraged and have a quality experience. In return, we hope that they have enjoyed their time with us and understand and appreciate the value of their internship.
We’re all set for this fall, but future candidates should get in touch (at the appropriate time and not at the last minute.)

Have a great semester.

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Four great tips for simplifying your work from the Harvard Business Review:


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Many organizations encourage their employees to actively engage in social media; however, few of them have policies or even guidelines in place to help ensure (a) the company or organization is represented accurately  (b) messages are consistent with organization-wide goals and objectives and (c) the most appropriate person is engaging when a question or issue is raised.

Our client National Grid has a sound set of guidelines in place to help its employees utilize social media outlets effectively and appropriately. Our friend Patrick Stella, National Grid’s senior vice president of media relations for Eastern New York and the lead of the utility’s U.S. social media committee, was happy to let us share these abbreviated guidelines with you.  Perhaps you can modify them to help your organization avoid a social media mess.

Be transparent. Your honesty — or dishonesty — will be quickly noticed in the social media environment.

Be judicious. Make sure your efforts to be transparent don’t violate privacy, confidentiality or legal guidelines.

What you publish is widely accessible and will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully. As with all communication, if you would not want to see what you posted in your local newspaper or on the TV news, don’t post it in the social media space.

It’s a conversation. Talk to your readers like you would talk to real people in professional situations.

Are you adding value? The best way to get people to read your posts is to write things that they’ll value.

Be a leader. Demonstrate your organization’s core values in your communications.

Did you screw up? Social media can be forgiving, so if you make a mistake, admit it. Be up front and be quick with your correction.

If it gives you pause, pause. If you’re about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, don’t shrug it off and hit “send.” Take a minute to review these guidelines and try to figure out what’s bothering you, then fix it.

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When I was growing up, we ate dinner as a family. At 5:00 pm, Dad would get home from work, my sister or I would set the table and Mom would have prepared a meat and potatoes meal. We would watch M*A*S*H reruns and then the news, local then national. At the time, I preferred watching the antics of Hawkeye, Radar and Hot Lips, but the seed had been planted. My curiosity for current events has continued into adulthood. As methods of news delivery have changed, so have I. I still enjoy the feel/smell of a newspaper, reports on public radio and news footage from around the world. But I also like having CNN and The New York Times news alerts come to my email inbox, catching up on my favorite travel, cooking and angsty restaurateurs/fashion impresarios’ blogs… and reading the latest on Facebook and Twitter. Yeeeesssssss… reading, not necessarily posting. I’ve heard the epithets ….stalker, lurker, shadow…. but I have (infrequently) posted to my personal page (as well as client pages), liked things, tagged photos, sent messages and referenced the random (the infamous squirrel bridge tweet of 2012). Just because you don’t know what I had for breakfast, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love you, social media community. I don’t think it’s newsworthy and can’t imagine that you would either. Social media has created a community of exhibitionists/braggadocios/show off monsters who crave the unconditional likes/RTs of a community of cyberfriends…”friends” who in some cases wouldn’t know each other in person, if they tripped over each other. I find it appalling that social media has created a pseudo-community that in the absence of the canons of personal interaction has created an environment where MTV is able to find enough participants for a first season, let alone a second season, of Catfish! I propose we strike a balance … I’ll tolerate your pun-ny word play and outlandish political statements, if we can give real news stories a chance to be heard or read. If you look at my social media accounts, you might not know where I stand on a particular topic, but I AM always willing to engage in a lively and meaningful conversation. There is room in my news consumption for social media alongside more traditional news sources, just don’t look to me to be a major contributor to the noise. I wonder, if Walter Cronkite or Peter Jennings were alive today, would they have a (non-corporate mandated) Twitter account/FB page?

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In recent years, I have been incorporating elements of Eastern medicine into my life. I’m a big fan of massage (who isn’t!?) and meditation, but have also come to know and appreciate the benefits of acupuncture and Chinese herbs. The archaeologist in me has to point out that cultures around the world have been using these practices (and the same ingredients found in modern medicines) to relieve pain or improve quality of life for thousands of years. Ötzi the Iceman, the natural preserved mummy found in the Alps, lived more than 5,000 years ago and has tattoos that are known to be acupuncture/pressure points to relieve arthritis pain. If these practices have been around for thousands of years, it seems like they’ve had plenty of time to work out the kinks. Sort of like fine-tuning messaging…. One of the things that my acupuncture practitioner has taught me is the importance of focus – for meditation, during treatment, in thinking about/letting go of issues. This mirrored for me the process of when we walk a client through developing key messages about their company, a product or in response to a crisis. Key messages should: • simplify complex issues, • serve as touchstones to help focus a conversation and • help give a speaker confidence in presenting the information to an audience. When crafting key messages, jargon goes out the window, short sentences using active verbs describe a situation better than a multiple page treatise and as we always say, honesty and transparency are always the best policy. Focus and key messages are applicable in so many areas of work, life and/or fitting a random archaeological reference into a public relations blog post. I hope in 5,000 years, future public relations practitioners will be discussing the enduring value of key messages as a 21st century Rosetta Stone.

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A note: Christina DeThomasis is a student at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. It has been a great pleasure having her work with us this summer.  She’s smart, resourceful and well prepared for a successful career in public relations!

It’s hard to believe this summer is already coming to an end.  Two months ago, I first stepped foot in the Pierce office, nervous to write my first real media advisory and make media calls.  Now, these things have become second nature thanks to Penny, Jo Ann and Jon, who have helped me every step of the way.  Working at Pierce has been the best way to put my Newhouse skills to use in a small agency setting.  Whether I am creating media lists for various clients or researching the rarity of the famous orange Price Chopper lobsters — a one in 10 million chance, to be exact — there is never a dull moment in this office.

In a few weeks, I’ll be leaving Pierce and heading back to Syracuse for my senior year.  As excited as I am to be back on campus, it will be a year of many lasts: last homecoming celebrations as a student, last time I’ll cheer in the Dome with 34,616 of my closest friends, last time I’ll make a bid list at 4 a.m. for Phi Sig and, finally, the last time I’ll be able to call Syracuse my home.  As bittersweet as it is to leave the orange nation, I know I’ll be ready to take on the real-world thanks to my experience at Pierce Communications.  While the classroom can teach you the basics, internships are really what prepare you for life after graduation.  Luckily, I’ll be ready for that.

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Seven years ago when we were looking for new office space and discovered what ultimately became our current location, one of the things that attracted us to this building at 915 Broadway in Albany was the roster of other tenants.  It was filled with other “creative types,” including an artist, a medical illustrator, two design agencies and a website firm. We had good vibes about being in this old manufacturing building with its high ceilings, exposed brick walls and hardwood floors.  Our intuition about this being a good place for us was right on.

November will mark the beginning of our eighth year at 915 Broadway. Pierce Communications has grown and thrived here and we attribute some of that success to the open layout of our office space.  No walls separate us so Jon, Penny and I hear each other talk with clients all day long. While you might think that would be distracting (and occasionally it is), we think it contributes to our productivity.  It allows each of us to have an understanding of what is going on with all of our clients and to contribute ideas or information ad hoc when we know something that might help.  Sure, there are battles over the thermostat once in a while, but we work it out.  We love the collaboration that this space engenders.

Our neighborhood has changed dramatically since we moved in; it’s a very different place today than it was then when the only nearby place to grab lunch or meet with a client was the Miss Albany Diner.  Today, we have so many more options. Wolff’s Biergarten is two doors to the south of us, and Sorrentino’s is next door to Wolff’s.  Graney’s Stout is across the street.  Although we haven’t stopped in yet, just down the road is the Barrel Saloon.

Just like Pierce Communications, the neighborhood is more vibrant than ever.   We’re proud to be part of this community and we’d love you to come for a visit!

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For the last seven years or so, the Pierce Communications team has been privileged to work with the good folks at Price Chopper to help with communications at the annual Fourth of July festivities at the Empire State Plaza.  Our work has ranged from arranging pre-event publicity with local and regional media to helping handle some on-site media work to helping with musical and entertainment acts booked by Price Chopper.  In short, we’ve done everything out there except cook the burgers.

We, in the Capital Region, are exceptionally fortunate to have companies like Price Chopper which commit themselves to bettering our community and region.  Hometown companies like Price Chopper are hard to come by. We’re proud to represent a company that does so much good for our region and have committed ourselves to trying to do the same.  You’ll be hearing of some of those projects over the next few weeks.

So…three cheers for the Red, White and Blue and for Price Chopper!

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