All of us at Frause were so excited about starting a blog; we spent hours fighting over who would be responsible for the content. We drew straws, played rock paper scissors, even thumb wrestled for the honor. It turns out our interns have some strong thumbs (not to mention opinions). They also have the best opportunity to provide a “fly on the wall” look into the workings of Frause. Without further ado, we present Frause – through the eyes of our interns!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Can’t live with them, can’t live without them

While interning at Frause, I have dabbled in media pitching and observed the delicate dance that takes place between journalists and PR professionals. The relationship is a bit of an oxymoron, where both require the other to function, yet the road to success is imbedded with bumps and potholes of frustration.

Ragan’s PR Daily has also noticed the symbiotic rapport between the media and public relations, recently posting “33 things the media wish PR people knew.” This list of thirty-three insights is a great starting point (especially for learning interns), but the thirty-five comments at the bottom of the article are just as astute as the article’s content. After reading the article and its comments, I have picked several themes worth repeating.

The first piece of advice the article gives is, “not everything your organization does is newsworthy.” While this is not a shocking reality check to most PR professionals, it can be difficult for clients to understand and thus support such an idea. To overcome this, I have noticed scenarios where Frause is able to identify what is or is not newsworthy on a client’s behalf and then recommend an appropriate course of action, thus balancing the client’s and the media’s interests.

Several of the article’s ideas can be summarized as finding alternative methods to sharing your content with the media. The press release is highlighted as a great starting outreach tool, yet it must be combined with something more engaging. This could be a compelling email subject line, using a journalist’s social network to initiate a dialogue or using multimedia messaging like photos and videos.

Close to half of the thirty-three points center on how to mediate the conflict that rises between PR professionals’ goals for coverage and what is of interest to the media. This is likely to be frustrating for both, but as communications professionals, we have the skills to navigate obstacles as, “corporate messaging goals and good journalism are often at odds” or “that spin is downright annoying” or “the media are the filter, not the enemy.”

From my experiences as Frause’s intern, I look forward to the day where I communicate for a living! If the relationship between the media and PR professionals is a delicate dance, as I learn and gain professional experience, I look forward to the day where I have learned the waltz, foxtrot and tango of media pitching. On the other hand, right now I am managing to boogie along with the funky chicken.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Frause Gaudy Christmas!

At Frause we like to make a splash and we made no exception for this year’s “gaudy” themed office Christmas party! We assembled at the Oasis by Herban Feast in Sodo, donning our most glitzy and tacky holiday attire. We sparkled in red, silver and gold, leaving trails of glitter and tinsel in our wake. A personal favorite was Santa with a pillow for a belly and our very own Bob Frause dressed in drag wearing a green plaid kilt and lady’s holiday sweater with shoulder pads.
The bar was serving up a delicious pomegranate martini along with some red and white wines and beer selections. As we sat down to dinner, it was clear the Frause Christmas Committee had decked the venue halls just as thoroughly as the rest of our team decked ourselves out in ornate and showy gear. The tables were beautifully adorned and the room decorations were extravagant with several light-up reindeer and a blow-up snowman and Santa.
Everyone seemed to enjoy their meals as we feasted on several options. I had the citrus miso glazed salmon with orange and fennel salad, while people around me savored the herb crusted beef tenderloin, finished with a port demi-glace, and the butternut squash ravioli with brown butter lemon thyme cream sauce and crispy sage. Dessert came with two options: pumpkin cheese cake or chocolate lava cake. YUM! Bob and Sue surprised everyone with little stockings filled with Nordstrom and Amazon gift cards. In turn, the team presented Bob and Sue with our very heavy gift of the Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking.
Awards for best costumes were also presented! Just to name a few, Brook and Pete took best contemporary couple and Matt and John took best unintentional couple, both dressed as Cousin Eddie from the movie Christmas Vacation.
With dinner over and a few drinks in, we migrated to karaoke – not to be outdone by Krista’s caroling Santa hat. Bob’s cash incentives got the singing going, but soon we were rocking out to hits from the 80s and 90s, the occasional Christmas carol, to a few impressive rap performances.
Frause boogied into the night getting wrapped up in the season’s festivities and merrymaking, so much so that some of the Frausies headed to Hooverville for a nightcap. The Frause gaudy Christmas party was a merry Christmas for all and for all a goodnight!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

One lifetime just isn't enough

This past Tuesday the Frause team and our colleagues at Fundraising Partners Northwest headed down to the Lake Union Café to celebrate Bob at the Puget Sound Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Holiday Gala. It was a happy event full of photos, conversations and smiles. The silent auction featured items like a signed Seahawks football by Leon Washington, a basket of Washington wine and an at home spa kit. Between the silent auction and the live dessert auction, a significant amount of money was raised for the Puget Sound Chapter’s Horace & Susie Revels Cayton and Sally Heet Memorial scholarships. During the dessert auction, the Frause tables snagged the raspberry chocolate torte and gluten-free gingerbread men. Sweets for a worthy cause! Following the dessert auction, the awards ceremony began. R. Danner Graves, APR, Fellow PRSA, of Graves Group was honored with the Hugh Smith Community Service Award; along with Neil Neroutsos, APR of Snohomish County PUD for the President's Award for Volunteerism; and Dave Marriott, APR of Gogerty Marriott, Inc. as the PR Professional of the Year. Finally, (drum roll please!), Bob Frause was introduced by Suzanne Hartman, APR, the 2012 Chapter President-Elect, to receive the Jay Rockey Lifetime Achievement Award! Bob was handed the trophy by the award’s namesake – Jay Rockey.
Jay Rockey shared a humorous and anecdotal speech with the audience about the award that is now in its tenth year. He praised Bob and spoke of how much he values PRSA calling the Puget Sound Chapter the best in the nation. He also joked he was pleased to see the podium on the ground level after almost falling on the stage steps last year. As Bob accepted the award, he took a moment to thank his family, his team at Frause and the many professionals who have guided him throughout his career. The audience was full of warm smiles, in addition to the wet eyes of Bob’s wife, Sue.
The awards ceremony wrapped up with a mini video roast of Bob that also doubled as a tribute from all of us at Frause. The award was no doubt the highlight of Bob’s night, but we think our video and symbolic gift of Heifer International chickens added to the evening's thrill!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Here's to Bob

The stroll from FRAUSE’s reception desk down the hall (past the lovely intern desk) to the conference room is decorated with the awards FRAUSE and agency team members have received throughout the years. I counted a total of seventy-six, although those are just the awards on display – there are many more than those on display in our mini-museum. After talking to various Frause folks here in the Seattle office, favorite awards include the PRSA Puget Sound Totems and the Washington’s Best Workplaces awards given by the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Most recently, we are especially excited about the Jay Rockey Lifetime Achievement Award that will be presented to our Founder and Chairman/CEO, Bob Frause at the PRSA Puget Sound Holiday Gala on December 6. As stated on PRSA’s website, “The Jay Rockey Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 2002 in honor of Jay Rockey’s commitment to the public relations profession. This award recognizes the career achievements of a Puget Sound area public relations professional who has advanced the field of public relations and demonstrated outstanding professional ability and conduct throughout his or her career.”

Here at FRAUSE, we are so thrilled to see Bob celebrated for his work in the industry and his commitment to PRSA and ethics in the PR profession. As the intern, I have the opportunity to participate in office culture, but also observe with the perspective of a fly on the wall. In so doing, I have witnessed and shared in the magical work environment Bob creates daily.

I have noticed Bob leads the FRAUSE team through example. Everyday he is the first person in the office – commuting from his home on Whidbey Island. He constantly lends his counsel to clients and colleagues. And last but not least is the dedication to PRSA Bob illustrates for the FRAUSE team — from paying the PRSA dues for senior staff to encouraging participation in PRSA events.

FRAUSE is a great team, and lucky for us, Bob is the icing on our cake. Here’s to Bob as the 2011 recipient of the Jay Rockey Lifetime Achievement Award!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Decking the Streets

On my stroll into work this morning, it was the first day I noticed that downtown Seattle’s trees are now glowing with Christmas lights. Unless you are Ebenezer Scrooge or the Grinch, it is impossible not to feel your mood elevate as you walk under twinkling lights that for me mark the beginning of the holiday season. At this time of year when the sun doesn’t rise until 7:30am and it disappears over Puget Sound by 4:30pm, the decorative lights of downtown create a holiday atmosphere that I and many of my fellow Frausies look forward to.

While the lights do create a feel-good environment, they also have a strategic purpose. As holiday consumers are making their shopping lists and checking them twice, they head to downtown retailers to cross gifts off their list. The lights cater to shopping festivities and builds upon the giddiness this time of year creates – encouraging many shoppers to do their holiday gift buying downtown and reach deeper into their wallets once they are here. This holds especially true for this holiday season when the economy threatens to curtail purchases and more consumers are doing their gift buying online.

Following General Electric’s release of Christmas light kits in 1903, lights have become a staple of the holiday season in the ranks of Frosty the Snowman and stockings hung by the chimney with care. They light our dark November and December days in the Pacific Northwest and beckon Seattleites downtown for some holiday cheer – something I now get soak up on my way to and from Frause.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Seattle U PRSSA at Frause!

Today, members of the Seattle University Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter visited Frause for a tour of our offices and a sit-down conversation with some of Frause’s team! The conversation started with an overview by Bob Frause of our work and history, interspersed with advice for communications students. Bob shared two main “theories” that are relevant to beginning a career in the industry.

A Tale of Two Theories
#1 First Job Hierarchy. Bob’s first theory pertains to first jobs and their impact on career paths. He recommended, if possible, beginning at a communications agency for the reason that young professionals learn versatile skills that allow for greater flexibility later as they gain experience. If an agency in not an option, go for a corporate in-house communications position. The third and fourth options are nonprofits or NGOs followed lastly by public sector agencies. These two types of organizations made the bottom tier because Bob hypothesizes once young professionals begin their careers in such sectors it is challenging to transition across the job spectrum later due to industry biases.

#2 Informational Interviews Don’t Exist. Bob’s second supposition is the “theory of how to get a job.” According to this theory, there is no such thing as an informational interview. He claims that any interview is a “real” job interview. Subsequently, be prepared to be smart and up sell your skills. Most importantly, always ask for the job if it is the company where you know you want to be. If that company is not currently hiring, ask to get on “the list” of professionals they will be contacting the next time they are interviewing. Lastly, never walk out of an office without two or three names of other professionals to get in contact with.

Separately from Bob’s great knowledge, pertinent advice was passed onto Seattle U’s PRSSA as freely as our business cards! Richard Kendall suggested doing internships in multiple sectors because internships are as much about shaping interests as determining what you are uninterested in. Nathan Hambley recommended coming to interviews with at least two objectives you wish to accomplish during the internship or the next phase of your professional development. He also encouraged doing something that sets you apart from your peers, whether it is a mood board (Bob loves these!) to visually tell a story or a portfolio or an unsolicited letter of recommendation.

Amy Graham shared her unique experience of having interned for Frause and then being hired full-time. She advised the PRSSA students on how to maintain a work-life balance—of making time for things that provide personal happiness while still delivering top notch work and advancing your career.

The Seattle U PRSSA students had the opportunity to ask questions throughout the conversation, guiding the shared dialogue. It was a formative discussion where the students seemed to be curious and appreciative of the opportunity to stop by. The best part was the student group included Emily Nauseda, which made the event a summit of Frause interns past, present and maybe even future.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Window of Opportunity

Frause’s intern desk is a small cubicle in the hallway between the reception desk and the conference room. While it is an unglamorous workstation, it is also a desk of opportunity. It is where I work on diverse client accounts and internal projects.

Every week is a professional adventure right from my keyboard and wheelie office chair. I have explored the ins and outs of the communications industry through online communications, public affairs, social media, community relations and media relations. I have researched, typed, brainstormed, compiled, evaluated, emailed and called. I have listened and been heard. I have gained experience in the industries of hospitality and tourism, consumer and retail, natural environment and community development. I regularly participate in meetings and have even had the opportunity to attend a press release workshop and tour the Gates Foundation.

With all that I have checked-off my revolving to-do list, the amazing thing is that I am only half-way into my internship with Frause. Everything I have learned, attempted and accomplished has been in just the last month and a half!

I have no delusion that the intern desk is glamorous, although I love the way working at Frause makes me feel like a grown-up. About two weeks ago, I printed out a picture of a window opening out to a tropical beach and taped it to the wall behind my monitor. This is my way of personalizing the intern desk, and pretending that I have a window whenever I glance up. During these moments when I glance up from my computer to my window, I reflect on the significance of my seat at the intern desk, and the long-term opportunity this seat in Frause’s hallway is providing my young career. It has become what I dubbed, “my window of opportunity.”

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Founder Bob

On my first day at Frause, I came across a friendly gentleman in the hallway who introduced himself to me as Bob. My excited response was: “Founder Bob!” He chuckled and said, “Yes, Founder Bob.” One month into my internship at Frause, I had the opportunity to sit down and ask questions of the guy who started Frause in 1998. This is what I learned.

What led to the decision to name the agency based on your last name?

Bob mused that when he founded Frause he “only had $72 to his name. I rolled the dice and went for it solo.” In testing a potential name for the agency Bob pretended to answer the phone. He experimented with, “Hi, this is the Bob Group” or “Good afternoon, Creative Communications, this is Bob” and “The Frause Group, how may I help you?” After he pondered it a bit more, Bob realized his advantage was his “black book.” So he wanted to keep his last name in the title. He ultimately decided on The Frause Group, simply because it sounded like there was more than one person working at the agency. As the agency grew, the name evolved to simply Frause, with a logo created from Bob’s own handwriting!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

“The game,” he said. “Having an idea for building a business, seeing if you can make it happen, and then creating a great place to work. That’s the real challenge.” His idea was to create a place to learn and be happy while making some money doing it. For Bob, working at Frause now is different than when he first started. He no longer has to worry about putting his son through college or some of the many challenges he encountered earlier in his career. Today, he says “It is primarily about having fun and doing great work.”

What do you find most challenging?

For Bob, the challenge resides with the “status quo – I don’t like it.” Bob noted people can become buried in the status quo, and he prefers optimism and innovation instead. Now Bob just wants a “transporter so Scotty can beam me up.”

Frause was founded with three guiding principles:
1. Deliver services ethically.
2. Provide an open workplace where employees are given the opportunity to learn about the business of running a business, and cultivate staff as business partners first and communication professionals second.
3. Build a supportive and desirable place to work, such that when looking back on their careers, employees will think of Frause as the best place they ever worked.

What experiences in your personal or professional life led you to develop Frause with these guiding principles?

When Bob founded Frause he only had one thing to prove, “that I could make it on my own.” But as Bob started hiring employees, he wanted to activate those principles. He has found that by “showing people how to be business people where you challenge and support them and pay them well – they stick around.”

What does the post-Frause world look like for you?

Bob is mulling around several ideas of how to spend his time once he “retires.” Bob shared he might, “buy a van and stock it with tools to become a maintenance man for old ladies. Go work at Home Depot and get an orange apron. Write a book on ethics. Start a business with his son, or even go back to school for a Masters of Fine Arts in welding or painting or a degree in integrated communication.” For Bob it all boils down to “Why not try something new? The only disappointing thing is to not have enough time to try everything.”

On Frause’s website a lot of attention is paid to turkeys. It describes you as a “social pillar/turkey killer” who occasionally lives with turkeys, and the “extras” tab on the website sometimes states, “Turkeys can run up to 20 MPH.” How would you describe your relationship with turkeys these days?

Bob does indeed occasionally live with turkeys! He explained, “The ‘social pillar/turkey killer’ mentioned in my bio comes from the chorus of a song my friend wrote for my 50th birthday.” The biggest argument Bob ever had with his wife was whether or not to get chickens. His wife didn’t want to be tied down by poultry, although they did eventually get chickens. After they got their first set of chickens, their animal kingdom grew to include rabbits and even cattle. They decided to ditch the cattle for a baseball field in their backyard, but this created a sort of animal void. Turkeys were the answer. Over the years Bob has “raised and butchered more than a couple hundred Turkeys.”

Frause has a well developed internship program and sponsors the PR education fund that pays the first year of PRSA dues for recent college graduates. Why do you think it is important to provide such professional development opportunities for students and recent grads?

These are opportunities for interns to sharpen practices and acquire news skills. They provide real world foundations to establishing careers. Bob hopes, “Ideally, every intern will learn to pay it forward and do the same thing for the next generation of communications professionals when they are the big shots.”

Fun Facts:
Favorite color: Blue.
Favorite food: Pork.
Favorite pastime: Amateur radio, gardening, art, piano and carpentry.
Favorite memory from Frause: Winning the Washington State Best Companies to Work For in the small business category for the first time in 2002. The second was a Frause retreat to Palm Springs where we had a Project Runway task with two teams sewing dresses.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

We know people who know people

On Friday, Frause had the opportunity to take a private tour of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation! We took an office fieldtrip to the foundation’s new campus, an exciting privilege considering the visitor center is not slated to open to the public until late 2011 or early 2012.

We disembarked from the Monorail in the shadow of the Space Needle and crossed the street to 500 Fifth Avenue North. The moment we were inside the lobby there were oohs and ahhs about the architecture, furnishings and art. After making it past security with a new visitor badge, you can’t help but feel like you are in a place where awesome things happen. Our tour started with a presentation about the Foundation’s work and how the new campus came to be from the desire to create a place that both showcases the foundation’s work around the globe and reflects the natural beauty and innovative culture of the Northwest.

We noticed the communal desk layout that far surpasses the den-like environment cubicles can foster, the use of natural light to reduce the need for electricity and the worldwide representation of museum-quality art from many of the foundation’s grantees. A favorite art piece was a wall instillation called “Seeds of Hope” by Ghanaian artist El Anatsui. He visited during the construction and observed the open space of the campus’ central atrium. The piece was made specifically for the central atrium where it now hangs out of discarded metallic liquor labels and bottle tops held together with copper wire. The name “Seeds of Hope” was inspired by the foundation’s works.

In our admiration of the different facets of the campus, “We need to get that for Frause’s office!” echoed throughout our tour.

The Foundation’s new campus was recently awarded LEED-Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, one of the highest ratings for commercial building energy conservation and environmental design. Along with the flood of natural light, other environmentally-friendly and sustainable design highlights included living roofs and marshlands that mimicked the natural surroundings; a million gallon cistern tapped to water plants and toilets; and a heating system the works to heat “the individual” in the building rather than the entire building. There was even a happy family of ducks that had already made their home in one of the campus ponds.

After coming to the conclusion if we at Frause were ducks, we too would live at the Gates Foundation, it is a safe assumption that we really enjoyed the tour!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Frause Portland: Through the eyes of Krista Hildebrand

There are 174 miles, seven right-hand turns and three to the left between the Seattle and Portland Frause offices. A small distance when considering the exceptional collaboration that exists between the two offices. Because I am currently the only intern, the Portland office has received short shrift from the intern blog. A negligence that is at last being given attention via a Q&A with Krista Hildebrand, the Managing Director of Frause Portland.

1. What sorts of expertise do you (and your staff) have that is localized to the Portland office?
Matt Smedley, the Portland Account Supervisor and Social Media Practice Lead, and I both have areas of expertise, but they are not localized to just Portland. Matt’s deep knowledge of social media benefits the entire Frause team and our clients, whether they are in Portland or Seattle.

When I started at Frause almost five years ago, I brought more than six years of experience in economic development communications. This experience has grown into one of Frause’s knowledge centers, which now has several members both in Portland and Seattle.

Elana Silverman, the Portland Assistant Account Executive, brings the ability to successfully pitch just about any story to the media and has lent this skill to landing stories for clients in Oregon and Washington.

2. What is it like to collaborate with the Seattle office through mostly technological means?
Technology certainly helps us stay in touch on a regular basis, especially for our daily morning huddles when we actually “join” the Seattle office through Google+. It is a far cry from trying to sort out what is going on, and who is saying what, over a conference call, which is what we did for the last three years. GoToMeeting is another tool we have that allows us to see presentations real-time, making us feel like we’re in the same room.

However, there is no replacement for personal contact and interacting with the team on a one-on-one basis. So, I try to get to Seattle regularly. Matt is a frequent visitor as well, especially when he lends his social media expertise to client meetings and new business presentations. We love when the Seattle folks come work out of our office and lend their expertise to our clients. Matt, Elana and I always feel very connected and rarely out of the loop.

3. What do you most enjoy about your job?
It sounds corny, but I love working with my clients. I am blessed to work with smart people who understand the value of strategic communications and consider Frause an important part of their marketing teams.

4. What sort of growth and development do you predict for the Portland office?
I wish I had a crystal ball, but with the economy still struggling, it’s hard to predict. We were fortunate to weather the past three years and, in spite of the poor economy, brought on some significant long-term clients. I would hope to do the same in the next year or so.

5. Are the walls of the Portland office also bright green like they are in Seattle?
Yes, of course. Our office is just a mini-Seattle!