Marlborough School’s Dr. Priscilla Sands advises parents on how to deal with rejection

Admission to top colleges is getting tougher every year. Many schools, including Yale University, Brown University, Duke University and Cornell, reported record high early application numbers for the class of 2021, according to IvyWise, an educational consulting company. Most students have until May 1 to decide where to go. Marlborough School’s Dr. Priscilla Sands spoke to the Wall Street Journal about what she tells students and parents when things don’t necessarily go as planned. Dr. Sands draws from her own personal experience, from working as a waitress from graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a doctorate in Educational Leadership, to illustrate the importance of resilience.

“I talk with parents and the girls about how my life took all sorts of twists and turns, how I was disappointed and didn’t go to the college I wanted or get the job I wanted,” she says. Each disappointment, she tells them, put her on a new path forward.

Read the full article: How to Help When College Rejection Letters Land (The Wall Street Journal)

March 28th, 2017|Categories: Commentary|Tags: , , , , , , |

Q&A: What do journalists want?

Good press, we all know its value. It drives revenue, increases awareness, establishes credibility, creates new opportunities, distinguishes a company from its peers. It’s what companies come to us for.

To offer insight on the inner workings of journalism today we enlisted a journalist we know and respect to share “5 Things to Know About Working With Journalists.”

Laura DunnLaura Dunn is an experienced communications and digital practitioner. Laura has been featured in publications including The Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, The Daily Beast, Politico and the Western Mail. Laura also writes for Fortune and BuzzFeed. She is the founder of Political Style, a global fashion, politics and lifestyle blog. With over 8 years of experience working in the private, public and nonprofit sectors, Laura is passionate about the transformative power of digital media and how new technology and techniques can help businesses and individuals to clearly communicate with their stakeholders. Laura has worked in institutions including the US House of Representatives, The National Assembly for Wales and the UK Parliament, and with clients based across the UK, USA and Asia Pacific.

Laura was named as one of Wales Online’s 35 Under 35 entrepreneurs to watch in 2015, and one of 16 individuals to watch in 2016. Laura was a double finalist in the inaugural Wales Entrepreneur Awards.


  1. Do you feel that journalism has changed since you started your career? If you could do it all over again, would you still pursue journalism?

Since I studied for my degree in Journalism at Cardiff University, the landscape has totally changed. We are now obviously digitally focused, with the dominance of social media, blogs and video completely transforming the way we communicate. I originally wanted to be a newspaper journalist, but early work experience placements set off the alarm bells and I could see the way in which the industry was headed. That’s why I headed straight into blogging and haven’t looked back.

I would definitely study journalism again, and the course I took has helped me in my professional path. If you have a passion for writing and telling a story, these interests can be applied to any field.


  1. What are the biggest challenges of digital journalism?

The biggest challenge of digital journalism is keeping up to speed with the next ‘big thing’ and being the first to report or try something out. In blogging this means being active on the most popular social media platforms, and not being afraid to try out new ways of telling stories and communicating with followers.

Finding fresh things to write about is always a challenge, but it is part of what makes digital journalism a fun path to follow.


  1. What are your pet peeves when being contacted by people pitching you to write about them or their clients? Do you have any advice for people who want to pitch you?

I really dislike being sent pitches that are not relevant to the areas in which I write about as well as being signed up for mailing lists and updates of which I have no interest. Another bug bear is when incomplete information is sent back to me – and this particularly happens when receiving pitches for my independent contributions to Huff Post! Similarly, follow up after follow up becomes absolutely frustrating and will turn me off from working with someone in the future.

My advice for pitchers would be to read all the information you are sent, respect a deadline/time frame that is given (it’s given for a reason!) and follow up sparingly and don’t become a pest.


  1.  What makes a pitch pique your interest?

I look for interesting stories or angles that appeal to my interests and what my followers like to read. A well written pitch doesn’t have to be long or over the top, it needs to be relevant and show personalization for my interests and body of work.

The best pitches are those which contain all the information you need, with the pitcher showing that they’ve done their research on your past posts, structure and your interests.


  1. What’s your advice to people who want to pursue journalism?

For those looking to become a journalist I say start early. Create a portfolio as soon as possible, and ensure it is digital. You don’t need to be a whizz at creating a website, use free sites such as WordPress which provide portfolio style templates and can help you present your work professionally. Look to contribute to websites that are relevant to your areas of interest, and also create a blog where you can develop your own style of writing and creative media.

Look for internships or work placements at local publications, hyperlocal sites or anywhere that will let you get out and interview people. Don’t be afraid to dream big and apply for big name placements or even start your own newspaper or magazine. Creativity is key.

It’s also important that you read as much as you can- newspapers, magazines, journals, blogs, thought leadership to understand the different style and broaden your mind to the many possibilities journalism can offer.


*Fun question: Do you have a favorite journalist whose work inspires you?

My favourite journalists are Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour, Lyse Douchet – all for their tenacity and grit to tell a story. In the online space, Arianna Huffington is so inspirational and I’m excited to see where her new business adventure, Thrive Global ends up!

The evolution of 21st century public relations

The terms “advertising” and “public relations” are often confused. Until recently, the easiest explanation was that advertising is paid media — print ads, commercials and billboards — vs. public relations which is earned media or news coverage.

As technology continues to advance to help companies better communicate with customers and prospects, the lines are blurred even more. Earned media is still the bread and butter of PR, but other equally important categories continue to evolve and gain traction: owned media, shared media and paid media.

A recent study by USC’s Annenberg Center for Public Relations surveyed PR firms and in-house communications professionals, and compared the breakdown of these four categories now and projections for 2020. Today, earned media is just 41 percent of the total PR resources allocated, followed by owned media (26 percent), shared media (17 percent) and paid media (13 percent). The numbers are expected to shift even more dramatically by 2020 with earned media sliding to just 31 percent, followed by owned (28 percent), shared (24 percent) and paid (15 percent).

Companies must embrace these additional categories and challenge their PR firms to deliver balanced communications programs that take advantage of all opportunities. Like a good investment portfolio, you must diversify to manage risk. A balanced PR portfolio also helps you weather the storm and stay relevant with all audiences while you’re waiting for that Wall Street Journal article to run.
Even the term PR is changing to include these other categories. Instead of standing for public relations, PR now encompasses four categories of publishing and relations (P+R):

Earned Media — Earned media cannot be purchased and will always carry the most credibility — estimated at 10 to 1 vs. advertising. Profiles on your business and articles that include you as an industry source remain key for driving bottom-line business results.
Taboola helps extend the reach and lifetime of the best articles about your business.

Owned — Blog postings, long-form LinkedIn posts, online newsrooms and shorter posts on all social media platforms allow you complete control of the message with anyone actively engaged in digital platforms.

Shared — Think of social media in terms of shares and engagement. It’s important to build followers, but how you interact with those followers is key. What’s your engagement percentage and how is that flourishing over time?
Paid — This can be as simple as distributing your news releases through a wire service such as Business Wire or include paid guest articles, radio news releases, print article services like NAPS, Twitter ads, boosted Facebook posts, etc. The Los Angeles Times has paid online ads that look like news articles and can reach 100,000 or more people. Taboola and Outbrain are services that take earned media that has already appeared on another site touting your business and extends its reach and lifetime. Instead of just appearing on one site, the article appears on sites throughout the Internet. These are those stories you can’t help but click on at the bottom of your favorite sites.

The proliferation of platforms and need to engage appropriately keeps us on our toes and always looking forward. Like Einstein said: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
June 30th, 2016|Categories: Commentary, OWC News|Tags: , , , |

The Usefulness of Twitter

For OWC, in the world of public relations, Twitter is a 140-character news feed. For public relations practitioners, this billion-dollar social media platform has become a lifeline for making news and in times of crisis, becomes our go-to for reaching our clients and reacting in a timely manner.

According to Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal, “it’s OK to use Twitter only as a real-time news wire, and only launch the app when you want to keep up with live events like the Oscars, presidential debates or the NCAA tournament. You’ll likely find it to be faster, franker and funnier than Facebook.”

Read the full article: How to Make Twitter Actually Useful. (The Wall Street Journal)


March 21st, 2016|Categories: Commentary|Tags: , , |