Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I've moved to Wordpress!

Please visit my new website at www.deannapayson.wordpress.com

Thank you!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Homemade Sauce & Meatballs

Every Italian kitchen has its own secret for the perfect red sauce, and my family is no different. Each generation that the recipe is passed down, the sauce changes slightly, with each person putting their own take on a family classic. The beauty of this sauce is in its flexibility. While I am providing numerical measurements, you can (and should) experiment with the amount of spices, cheese and oil you add to your delicious creation.

You will need:
2 cans crushed tomatoes
Italian seasoning (OR basil & oregano)
Garlic powder
Parmesan Cheese
Olive Oil
1 lb ground beef
2.5 cups Italian bread crumbs
2 eggs

1) In large pot, combine 2 cans of crushed tomatoes with 1 can of water. Coat the top with equal parts garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Set to a low boil, stirring occasionally.
2) Using your hands, blend ground beef, bread crumbs and eggs in a mixing bowl. Mold into meatballs!
3) In a microwaveable casserole dish, place meatballs into 1 inch of water. Cook in the microwave on high for 7 minutes.
4) Add meatballs to the sauce!
5) Continue to stir the sauce & meatballs occasionally on medium-low heat for 2 hours.
6) After 2 hours, add 1 cup of Parmesan cheese and 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the sauce. Stir.
7) Continue to cook the sauce for 1-2 hours, or until it has thickened. Add additional spices to taste.
8) Serve over pasta, and enjoy!


  • If you wish, you can boil your pasta IN the sauce! This gives the pasta more flavor. However, if you're making the sauce with the intention of freezing the leftovers, simply cook the pasta separately.
  • Some people like to add a bit of sugar (about 1/3 cup) to their sauce. This makes it a bit sweeter, which isn't my taste, but if you enjoy this go right ahead!

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Year, New York!

The perfect way to kick off the new year, I embarked on a two-day trip to New York City with twenty-six of my graduate public relations peers.  The whirlwind trip gave us helpful insight into the 'real-world' of public relations and the realities of post-graduate life...both the glory and the gore.
Thanks to our hosts at MBooth Public Relations, Edelman, Marina Maher Communications, Time Warner, Viacom and the talented alumni who spent their Thursday evening with us at the Lubin House!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

#LostInSocial: How is social media best managed?

#LostInSocial from Deanna Payson

We reached quite a few people on Twitter with the presentation!

To prepare, I used a variety of social media tools like G+ hangouts, Pearltrees, Twitter, Slideshare and LinkedIn groups.

#LostInSocial in Deanna (dmpayson)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

PRL 614: Crisis Planning & Press Briefings

            Last week in our public relations writing course, we were assigned teams and simulated crisis press briefings to implement for our classmates.  One of the teams was assigned to develop a crisis plan and execute a briefing for the Costa Concordia crash last January.  Their plan included a comprehensive response outline, including responses for social media and the company's website.  Overall, I was very impressed with their professionalism and key talking points for this simulation! 

"Isolated incident"

            However, one suggestion for improvement would be to avoid labeling this accident as an "isolated incident."  The faux CEOs of Costa and Carnival both used this term occasionally in an attempt to reassure their stakeholders that an accident of this nature would likely not repeat itself.  While I see the value of that reassurance, I believe the wording of "isolated incident" has the side effect of connoting minimization of the event's severity.  That effect was obviously not their intention, and the words "isolated incident" are used quite often in crisis responses by organizations.  However, I would advise CEOs and spokespeople to avoid the use of that phrase.

            I thought that the group's stress on their cooperation with the Italian authorities lent a significant amount of strength to their presentation.  Also, they kept a serious yet positive tone throughout the briefing, which conveyed their wholehearted commitment to remedying the situation.  For example, when the customer service representative (played by Jen Zink) was talking about the reparations being made to the passengers and families affected, she began by saying that "what was lost can never truly be replaced." This validates the emotions felt by the affected customers, showing that the company understands and sympathizes with their plight.

            Overall, the Costa/Carnival group's press briefing was an effective communication of the company's commitment to fixing the situation and taking responsibility for the events that transpired.  It is difficult, if not impossible, for an organization to predict 100% of the possible crises that may arise due to human error or technical failures.  However, if organizations respond as this group did in their simulation, they will likely survive such a crisis. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Starbucks: The Business of the Future?

                Last Friday, Newhouse welcomed back many distinguished alumni for "PR Day," a day of lectures and discussions aimed at providing current students with valuable insights into their future careers.  The morning session was led by Jim Olson, Vice President of Global Corporate Communications for Starbucks.  Equipped with twenty-one years of experience in the field since graduating in 1991, he shared his, and Starbucks', vision of what "21st Century Leadership" means. 
                The lecture began with Olson explaining the transformation of Starbucks from a company of "commoditization" to one based on values and experience that began in 2007, with a memorandum from Howard Schultz to the corporate leadership.  In this memo, Schultz stressed that in order to not fail as a corporation, they must get back to "the core" of the company: the Starbucks experience.  The tumultuous period following this memo included a sharp dive in stock prices and store closings to re-train employees.  However, as Olson put it, "it was an investment we had to make."
"Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time"-Starbucks' mission statement
                In the years since Starbucks' dramatic transformation, the corporate leadership, particularly Howard Schultz (CEO), has led the company toward a unique business strategy based on values, community and social responsibility.  Rather than corporate social responsibility (CSR) being a function only of the public relations or community relations department, the values behind CSR drive all decision-making at the organization.  For example, in August 2011, as the United States seemed to be drowning under a weight of debt and unemployment, Schultz saw himself in a unique position to make a change in the communities in which Starbucks operates.  With Olson and the communications teams' help, Schultz and Starbucks began inspiring CEOs to take a serious look at the state of federal politics and to focus on job creation within their own organizations rather than petty partisan arguments.  Rather than being reactive in their approach to CSR, and only implementing programs directly linked to a tangible ROI for the company, Starbucks was proactive in "using its scale for good" across the country.
                The idealist inside each of the many public relations students attending this lecture was inspired by Olson's presentation.  Could this be the business of the future?! Corporations holding strong to their mission, making business decisions based on values, not just financial value?!  If public relations as a practice goes the way that Newhouse teaches us to practice it, I'd like to think this will be the business environment of the future.  Fundamentally, the success of every organization is linked directly to the well-being of its constituents.  In order to be successful in business, organizations must also be successful in people.  As Olson informed us, "a successful business all starts with culture."   

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ethics in Public Relations ≠ Public Relations Ethics

Being "rational" isn't enough.  

I'd like to think that I am a rational being, who weighs both sides of an issue and uses critical thinking before coming to a conclusion.  In the study of ethics, however, the idea of 'rational' thinking becomes complicated by the co-existence of two equally 'rational' means of making a decision.  Utilitarianism says that an action is ethically good if maximizes the positive outcomes for the greatest number of people possible.  On the other hand, deontology says we are all duty-bound, and an action is ethically good if it can be universalized (if everyone repeated this action everywhere, would it be okay?), if it maintains the respect and dignity of all people and if it is done with good intentions.  Both are arguably valid ways of analyzing an ethical dilemma, but given the myriad ways in which utilitarianism can be manipulated to serve horrible intentions, I choose to ascribe to deontology. 

What does this have to do with public relations?
In last week's PR theory course, we spent close to an hour debating the idea of whether or not we, as future public relations practitioners, would work for a major tobacco company or other unethical organizations.  The class was split; half of us believed we would do whatever work was available, as we would separate our work from ourselves and our own morals.  The other half of us believed we would not work for such a company, with blatantly unethical practices, even if it meant struggling more with our personal finances.  I would argue that those who would take such a job were applying a form of utilitarianism.  To them, the greatest good would be maximized by them being employed and able to feed their families.[1]  The deontologists in the group felt duty-bound, as members of society, not to lend their skill sets to an unethical cause.  This class debate clearly showed the need for a better instruction on ethics in public relations courses nationwide.  Whether we work for unethical companies, or are simply faced with ethical dilemmas in the course of our work (which is inevitable), we will need to be equipped with the decision-making skills to choose the ethical path. 

Ethics in Public Relations ≠ Public Relations Ethics

As the "corporate conscience" of an organization, public relations practitioners are increasingly called upon to be the ethical voice in a time of tumult.  As such, public relations students must be taught how to be autonomous, unbiased and ethical decision-makers.  However, the day-to-day ethical decisions we will make are not the same as an industry-wide code of ethics to which practitioners must adhere.  While organizations like the Public Relations Society of America do have a code of ethics, such codes often lack enforcement and/or a true understanding of public relations' role as corporate conscience.   

For these reasons, I believe public relations educators must do two things. First, they must integrate some sort of course on ethics and ethical philosophy into their curricula.  Students in public relations must be informed of the pros and cons of applying both utilitarianism and deontology to dilemmas with which they are faced in the real world.  They must be taught to apply ethics IN public relations.  Second, public relations educators must craft their own list, alongside industry professionals, of public relations ethics.  Without these steps, future public relations practitioners will be ill-equipped to face the ethical quandaries they will undoubtedly stumble into during their careers.   Whether or not we would choose to work for a tobacco company, we should at the very least be empowered with the understanding of ethical analyses that can help us make any and all decisions we face in the most ethical way possible.           

[1] However, they were forgetting that a greater number of people are harmed by the manufacture and marketing of tobacco products than would be helped by their employment there.