Brothers in Business

As an undergraduate, I majored in business and joined America’s foremost business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi. Our chapter was strong and engaged on the University of North Texas campus. We all took professionalism seriously which was evident by the commitments we made to perfect strangers by becoming brothers. This experience connected me to some of my greatest friends from my college days that I still speak to today.

We bonded over community service projects, tradition and above all, our passion for business and professional development. Online, we formed a community of accountants, finance experts, marketing junkies, entrepreneurs and management gurus that often share articles, stories and contacts with each other. 

The lines of our professional development blur because we combine our career paths with our personal lives by our commitment to the brotherhood and industry. We contact each other when we have great news to share about our careers or we welcome new people to our family. We hold each other’s hands in prayer when we lose one of our brothers. We’re family. 

Like many, we use Facebook to communicate with our family. When I checked my Facebook on Wednesday, over 10 of my brothers had posted quotes
, which is a typical occurrence. But Wednesday’s posts had a theme…

“If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”
"Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude."
"The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now."

Zig Ziglar had passed away.

As business students, we had been encouraged to “read, read, read” and Ziglar’s name was always at the top of our authors list. The marketing majors in Deltasig had something in common with Zig since most of us started our careers in sales. Our professional sales courses took a thing or two from his anecdotes and attitude towards business and friendships. We had come together in an organization to not only advance our own development, but that of our members.

“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”

His philosophy taught us about positivity and living a balanced life. He motivated people to set goals and have tangible ways of reaching them, something any public relations practioner can appreciate. Above all his successful career was built on the same principles that PR follows: realizing true character, taking personal responsibility, and laying groundwork with a calm, good-humored personality.

Seth Godin’s blog celebrates him as good as anyone. Both individuals have written influential books in my library and undoubtedly that of my fraternity cohorts. Who are the influential people in your career? 

Edit 12/6 This video explains what "brotherhood" is all about (from the UC Irvine chapter):

Why “Black Friday” Is a “Thing” and Other History Lessons From the Internet

I am about to debunk the greatest positioning strategy of all time. It’s making me pretty nervous just thinking about it.  I don’t know who the master minds are behind this, but I have a feeling they’ll be kind of angry that I am about to spill the beans.

I’m just going to say it. Chances are you probably already know it.

Black Friday is just some hyped up American holiday invented by the corporations!  A Hallmark Holiday, like Boss’s Day or National Hotdog Day.

When I think about it, it was probably someone at Macy’s or the National Retail Federation that came up with this great American tradition. In the early 1900s, stores offered discounts for holiday shoppers, which led to the start of the retail profit season. The hugely hyped up American standard activity with the moniker “Black Friday” alludes to the day retail earns enough money to bring their businesses out of the red and into the black, the color of profit. At least, that’s the story I got in my sophomore accounting course. It made sense, red denotes debit lines, black denotes credits, and at the end of the day you want your balance sheet to be black. According to this story, a police department coined the term because of stampeding and traffic jams.

I tried to track down the real story after I typed out this line “Not quite sure how A refers to B with that one, so I’ll stick to the story I know since it’s much more colorful.” “Maybe there is more,” I thought as I jumped to the Google machine. But my initial hunch that Black Friday is nothing more than successful PR positioning was correct. If you take the time to read the comments on the AdWeek article, which I do, since I’m such a fan of the blogosphere and crowd knowledge, you will see an informative post from Bonnie Taylor-Blake correctly articulating the origin of Black Friday.

“None other than Denny Griswold is responsible for the first sighting we have of "Black Friday" used with reference to the day after Thanksgiving.  In the 18 December 1961 issue of Public Relations News she mentions Philadelphia police officers,” – Bonnie Taylor-Blake.

As a journalism student, I don’t feel comfortable citing a comment thread, or Wikipedia, but I’m also a strong believer in oral history and storytelling, so just trust me on this one. I tried to track down a “credible” source on this Internet fact, and ended up with some pretty cool crowd sourced knowledge banks. Keep them around if you’re a nerd like me that likes to spread some Internet knowledge at Thanksgiving dinner! (Last year, I explained to my younger cousins how Stan Lee’s characters were Jewish based on a wiki I read then come April this comes out. Trust the Internet, folks.)

Origins of Black Friday

An Education Communicator’s Library

Public relations for education can be a challenging line of work. If you’re good at it, you might find yourself with bylines in the local news, an abundant endowment fund, or as Richie Escovedo of Mansfield ISD found out, a swarm of student protestors.

Approximately 100 students from Timberview High School held a demonstration at the Mansfield ISD administration to show their concern over the decision to transfer a popular coach. Escobedo’s media monitoring story, which is chronicled on his blog, tells of how he successfully managed the media issue.
Public relations for education are not much different than corporate communications. The biggest difference would be the fact that you communicate about a different, less tangible product: trust.  Part of the success plan was to share key messages about positive community engagement to keep the media and key constituents aware of policy changes. In education, as well as business, transparency and honesty are two points that are on the checklist for communications planners.

If you’re looking to read more about this niche in public relations practice, I recommend the following books as a good starting point:

Carnoy, M. (2004). Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education by David Kirp. (N. A.-L. Sutton, Ed.) Comparative Education Review , 48 (4), 466-469.

David Kirp, explores the international trend of commercializing the university. Kirp explores the methods colleges and universities are using to operate more like a for-profit business, and how these methods may propel the missions of the institutions, or in some cases, how institutions are hindered.
Gibbs, F. M. (2009). Marketing higher education theory and practice. New York: McGraw Hill.
The authors include tips on reputation management and marketing of education. The book has a great idea called The FACTS Method that can be applied towards any product.

  • Focus on the quality and the customer.
  • Ask the customers what they need and want.
  • Clarify: your image, identity and product benefits. Clarity builds customer loyalty.
  • Tell: tell your customers about your differences clearly, consistently and frequently. This is the essence of the project achieved by utilizing a variety of communication channels.
  • Show: added value. Design appealing symbols and slogans to give verbal cues of the identity.

Salis, B. (2009). Putting the public back in public relations. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.
This one is not specifically about education, but it important in my library because it’s a reminder about the essence of PR: people. Basically the intention of this book is the transform the public relations industry back into one about the people in the digital age. The book tries to emphasize a new set of priorities in PR brought upon by social media.
Twithchell, J. B. (2004). Branded nation: the marketing of megachurch, college inc., and museumworld. New York: Simon & Schuster.
This book brings together three cultural institutions that have turned to branding to increase their appeal, and then criticizes to no end. I would not really recommend this book to anyone that takes branding seriously, it is always nice to read something that disagrees with the norm, in order to understand different viewpoints and learn from them.

Other sources of vital education and PR trends include: the Chronicle of Higher Education and even some blog entries like The Most Social Colleges  or twitter streams like Educational Marketing Group’s  

Ten Tips To Launch Your PR Career

A crisp Dallas morning greeted guests at the Omni Hotel next to the lake for the Public Relations Society of America Dallas Communication Summit. The scent of Starbuck coffee and designer perfume filled the air and the sights that met me were turquoise and jade jewelry, bright pink petticoats and of course, big hair. My hometown of Big D calls up several archetypes like big jewelry, big hair, big personalities, and big business. After all, it is home to giants like America’s football team, and the internationally known cosmetics and entrepreneurship company Mary Kay.

In true Dallas form, the PRSA had a big morning planned for the guests of summit that included a keynote from MK’s Director of Corporate Relations, Crayton Webb. Other members of the makeup power house corporate communications team were also in attendance including Virginia Hock, Corporate Communications Coordinator.  Virginia, a graduate of the University of Arkansas, and I spoke briefly at the conference about breaking into the public relations industry and transitioning from a different career. She agreed to speak to me further about her experiences and share her tips on how to succeed in corporate communications. I planned to ask her ten questions, and soon after found out the top ten things that every emerging public relations star should keep in their career “makeup” kit.


1.       Pick journalism/public relations

Virginia always had a little bit of that writing bug in her. “I was always really interested in it, always been a fan of different news anchors and I wanted to write. I was also really engaged in government and politics.” She made the decision to get a degree in journalism and political science from the University of Arkansas and graduated in 2009. She originally started out on the path towards broadcast then realized she liked more of the behind the scenes writing and the content creation.

2.       Know Before You Graduate

Building your career starts before you get your degree, which is something not too many college students realize. Virginia says she was lucky to know that the competitive job market required experience as well. Internships are the key to getting a good entry level career job. She had a great opportunity to intern for Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas 1999-2010) as well as for Mary Kay, which she states gave her the experience that was necessary to apply for and ultimately land those entry level public relations jobs. Leaning on experiences, the relationships built from them and the involvement in student organizations helped Virginia thrive in the transition from back pack to briefcase.

3.       If the question is “to write, or not to write,” the answer is always “Write.”

Writing is extremely important in public relations. From writing an email to crafting a press release “knowing your audience is key,” states Virginia. She advises that students get published as a writer and constantly work on their craft. Developing this professional skill will go far in public relations.

4.       Intern, Intern, Intern

If there was one single career choice that led her to where she is now, choosing to intern would be the pivotal moment for Virginia. To stress the importance of internships, Virginia says absolutely, interning and building your network are the two practices that any entry level PR professional needs to be keen on. “My work as an intern at Mary Kay turned into a full time job!”

5.       The first challenge in PR is the interview

The interview process can be daunting. Tackling tough questions in the interview is often the first challenge for young communications professionals. Mary Kay asked Virginia to tell them what she felt the biggest PR challenge was for their company. She answered truthfully and included solutions. “Mary Kay is not your mother’s make up.” Having done her research, an element that helped her ace the questioning, Virginia knew about the company, but most importantly the industry. She impressed the interviewer by knowing about the company’s global status, the cosmetics industry, and where PR fit into the mix. As a savvy job searcher, she knew the application process went farther than an online application. One thing she stressed was that you have to know your company, know your industry, and part of being a good public relations specialist is the know how to follow up, and keep in contact with the people you are applying to work for.

6.       Remember these quick tips for Beginners in the Biz

  • Student organizations are your place to shine- Virginia suggests joining the PRSSA, student chapter of public relations society of America, as well as any other student organization. Student organizations not only give you an extra line on your resume, but students have the great opportunity to head committees on communications, practice grassroots public relations, or simply learn about planning and working in teams.
  • Use your resources- Using your resources on campus such as the career center help you stay current on public relations standards but also offer connections to learn what to expect on your job interviews. You can find mentors at internships or at professional development activities that you can use as sounding boards for advice. Stay on top of the news by following blogs like PR News.
  • Find a niche- Whether it is writing or using social media, finding a niche and working it as a strong suite will get you far.

7.       Never stop learning

Focusing on professional development and staying current in news is essential for a communications professional. As a corporate communications coordinator, Virginia is allotted the time to attend conferences and participate in webinars through Mary Kay’s media monitoring service. Professional development comes in all shapes and sizes, from conferences to local meetings. “You should seek them out anyway,” if your company does not offer participation in the events. After all, they are a direct investment into your career.

8.       Know what you do

Corporate communications involves a lot of media monitoring, internal as well as external communications. Virginia’s typical daily activities include monitoring media mentions, compiling news for the PR team, creating press releases for sales force members, sending memorandums through the intranet, monitoring the media hotline, involvement in interviews, writing different messages for different audiences “lots of writing,” and acting on your feet.

9.       Love what you do &
10.   Share it with others

To wrap up our conversation, I asked Virginia to share with me one of the projects of which she is most proud. “I feel lucky to be with such a great company,” beamed Virginia before she told me not one, but two accounts of her favorite projects. The first included the Lobbying for Good campaign which was launched for Mary Kay’s 50th Anniversary. The campaign instilled the pretty in pink sales force in lobbying for the prevention and end of domestic violence. The social responsibility campaign included videos and activities in capital cities of Texas, California, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Boston, D.C. and Pennsylvania.

The second was a media relations project with local news station WFAA. Mary Kay has a long tradition of hosting a seminar for its independent sales associations, which take place every year from July to August. Seminar events often attract the attention of news media, like was the case when Gloria Campos, WFAA Dallas news anchor approached Mary Kay to do two behind the scenes stories. “Inside the Pink Empire,” were two segments that were featured on the WFAA news. Gloria, a veteran newscaster braved the cameras without makeup on for the first feature- a bit about the new makeover app:

The second story gave Dallasites an inside look at the production plant of the cosmetic giant that promises a low impact on the environment with its products.

Virginia’s involvement included but was not limited to the relationship building and media training of local sales associates. She’s thankful that she has a team that is encouraged to be more creative, and create really great feelings with stories about the company and its league of empowered independent sales consultants. There’s pride in her voice when she talks about the company, and the campaigns they produce. Mary Kay is focused on community and corporate responsibility, which is reflected in their communications and lobbying for change in domestic violence policies. Virginia’s other passion and major in college was political science, and she even thought about going to law school. Now, she’s found her niche as a communicator working for an uplifting organization that is very involved in political reform. It could be more than a coincidence that Virginia signs her emails with a graphic that says “I love my Mary Kay.”

A Profile of a Marketing Nerd

There’s a revolution going on everyone. Have you noticed? Marketing people are letting their creativity show. It’s come in different forms such as a quick adaptability of mobile technologies, or vintage band shirts in the workplace.

Recently, the co-founder of Concur, Mike Hilton, made a splash with his keynote address “Revenge of the Marketing Nerds” by explaining the fundamental transformation of a business due to social discovery, cloud computing and mobile technology.

“You all need marketing nerds within your organization,” Hilton said. “The creative side of marketing really needs the technical side more than ever.”

There’s no magic formula for this coexisting paradoxical marketing team, but here’s a fun description of today’s marketing nerd. Next time you’re in their natural habitat of a local coffee shop, hackathon or Apple store, you’ll be able to spot one:


What marketing nerds dream about...
Yes, the 80s club classic is back. The marketing nerd also knows adding a classic pair of Raybans to your wardrobe is no longer passé. They blogged about iOS and still add vintage layers to their photos with Instagram because people love retro. Social knowledge is a KPI for the marketing nerd. Bonus: they know their acronyms.


Data drives decisions, and the new marketing nerd knows that. Search marketing is highlighted among the top skills on their resumes. Marketing nerds love infographics because they’re backed by data, yet use targeted design communications to create a coherent data solution.


Your typical marketing nerd is a bit more social yet still understands the proliferation of computing in business functions. As customers shifts towards a more self-educated buying process, marketing nerds are savvy enough to jump into a tech problem and are readily available. Since they’re on marketing software more than the IT team in most companies, chances are they’ve had a hand in development and are trained on troubleshooting solutions. And if they write about marketing and communications, your marketing nerd is more likely to have words like “SEO,” “Instagram,” and “infographic” in your MS Word dictionary before your IT team gets the job ticket.

Want More Followers? Share Some Pics

This week I spent some time thinking of ways to incorporate Pinterest into a promotional plan for a conference. A new study shows that 70% of Pinterest users for buying inspiration and I want to see how clear of a connection can be made to planning conference travel and attendance. So I started pinning with good intentions. Then, as 73% of users do, I found the site entertaining and a half hour or so had passed by before I realized my search for infographics had turned into how to rearrange my home office. Addicting, isn’t it?

On a slightly tangential note, I realized I probably spend 15 hours out of the day in an office setting, at work then at home to work on school work. It is important to be comfortable and inspired by your surroundings when you’re in a space for so long. For some reason, I have always been inspired by random office supplies and just random things on my desk. My time at Main Event Entertainment saw a few sets of finger bowling games and fun pens. At UNT I’ve become an office nomad with no permanent location for more than ten months throughout a span of five years but always make an effort to make the temporary spaces a creative zone. Sticky notes- check. Notebooks- check. Hot Wheels monster truck collection- CHECK.

I was really excited when I saw that one of my favorite brands and online communities Apartment Therapy wrote an article about how your workspace can help you accomplish your goals. This comes back to the use of visuals and social communities in marketing, I promise. The premise in the article is to visualize your goals and objectives. This literal pursuit of visual cues leads to motivation. Don’t believe me? Take a look at what Pinterest has done for Carnival Cruise Lines- they’ve quadrupled followers in less than two weeks and turned those followers into vacation planners, voyeurs of voyage, or simply put: sales.

How they succeeded goes back to the use of visualization in marketing. For me, it’s motivation through bright colors, sketching, and fun activities to break away from paperwork and keeps creativity flowing. For more and more consumers, we are finding that social communities are run by pictures. Forty four percent of respondents to a 2012 study by ROI Research said they were more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures than any other media. “Snap,” is my reaction to both reading the news, and my advice on how to grow your followers.   

Even the White House is into it: AP Photographer Pablo Martinez Monsivais’ work goes viral.
I did a little more research and found Moleskine on Evernote. Moleskine, the notebook people! The scribble source for many creative people: there’s an app for that now. I cannot decide which is most creative, the app that uses the cult of the notebook for their product development, or the bounded paper sellers that uses Apple’s iOS to create more cult members of their paper product. Moleskine has harnessed the power of visual media to create one of the world's most active, prolific, and creative online communities. They focus on user generated content to create their visual community, so I’m going to go ahead and give the win to them. 
Here’s Moleskine on Pinterest, which is a perfect segue into more time devoted to pinning. I’ll just tell myself I’m driving my productivity by visualizing it.